Monday, January 28, 2019

PICS OF THE WEEK - Trump & Cute

Trump Files

Cute But Pertinent

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 1/25/2019

"Shields and Brooks on shutdown resolution, Roger Stone indictment" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2019


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the deal to reopen the government temporarily, the President’s falling approval ratings and the indictment of former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  Now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Hello to both of you.

We meet just a matter of hours, Mark, since the President announced that he was going to go along with a Democratic plan in the short-term just to get the government back open.

But we just heard Amna speaking to these two, the federal employee Brad Hufford, LaJuanna Russell, who's a contractor.

You get a sense that this really did harm people.  The 35 days, it wasn't just a blip.  It was something that affected people's lives.

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  I don't think there's any question, Judy.

And particularly with the move, pushed by Vice President Cheney, but endorsed by Republicans, and not totally resisted by Democrats, to privatize by contract so many federal responsibilities.

And these people are not federal employees.  They are not going to be reimbursed for the time off, the time off, the time out of work.

And so I think, you know, it's being felt everywhere.  And it was capped by Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, absolutely insensitive remarks about, why don't you just take a loan?

I mean, get a payday loan?  How about that?  That's a pretty good deal.  And if they dismantle the Consumer Protection Agency anymore under Mick Mulvaney, it'll even be probably 35-percent-a-week interest.

So it just — it does.  It hurts.  And there's pain all the way around.

Judy Woodruff:  David, what about that?

And we just heard Ms. Russell say at the end, if nothing else, maybe the public gets a little bit of an education about what the federal government means.

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes, I'm more on the conservative side.  Not always a fan of gigantic government, but always been an admirer of federal workers.

When you get inside these agencies, you see how good and how high-quality the people are.

I had a chance to talk to Brad backstage.  And he's traveling a lot for FEMA, going to where people are in need, inconveniencing himself, living out of a suitcase, for a government worker, and for us, for the citizens.  And those people really do sacrifice.

I recommend a book by Michael Lewis, or a podcast by Michael Lewis, on the National Weather Service.  And you see from this podcast, which you can get on Audible — not to do an ad for Michael — but how fanatical they are about trying to get the weather forecast correctly.

And they're making public sector incomes, but these people are generally — whether you like big government or small government, the people who do this work are dedicated to that work.

Judy Woodruff:  It makes a difference.

So, let's talk about this agreement, or temporary agreement, Mark.  Three weeks, no money in there for the border wall, but the President is right now saying, I want it to — it's got to be in there, or I'm not going to sign a permanent funding deal.

Mark Shields:  A very respected national Republican said to me this afternoon, everybody knows what happened.  Five weeks, and the President got nothing.

It was a cave.  It was a total fold.

I give both Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer credit for not doing a victory dance in the end zone or spiking the ball today, and being rather generous in their remarks.  But this was a total — I mean, the President insisted and demanded the money for the wall.  It's not in it.

He demanded to speak to the nation from the House chamber, the majestic, historic setting, not the state capitol in Lansing or Charleston, West Virginia, that was offered to him.  He didn't get it.

So, it was — it was a total defeat for him.  And, believe me, Judy, there will not be the will among Republicans in three weeks to go back and do this again.  Once it's open, it's going to be opened.

Judy Woodruff:  And what does that mean, David?


David Brooks:  Yes, I agree with that totally.  It was a total victory.

It's so unfair.  Mark's football team is going to the Super Bowl.  The Democrats have this big triumph.


He paid his dues in years past, as a Boston sports — sports fan.

But it is a total — a total victory for the Democrats.

I turned on some conservative talk radio, the Sean Hannity show this afternoon.  And Sean was trying to defend it, but his callers were having none of it.  They thought, this is a collapse, this is a defeat, we're really downhearted.

And they understood what happened, that the poll ratings were just terrible.  His poll ratings have dropped to 37 percent.  I saw in one poll today 34 percent, which is an all-time low.

And now they're likely to go a little lower, by the way, because now he's base is a little upset with them.  And you think, three weeks in advance — I would say this to federal workers — the Democrats are feeling great about themselves.

If Donald Trump wants bring this on again, they're happy.  If — the Republicans are miserable.  They never want to come back to where they are right now.  And so the odds that we will have another shutdown strike me as low.

And it would be — for Trump, it would be suicidally low to — just to try this again.

Judy Woodruff:  But he's sticking.  I mean, Mark, the President right now is saying, I'm going to have money for the wall.

Mark Shields:  No, he is saying that.

I — just to pick up on one point that David made, a Marquette University poll, which is a respected poll in Wisconsin, reported that not only simply that 29 percent supported the shutdown and 66 percent opposed it, but the important question came out this week, their results; 27 percent would definitely vote to reelect Donald Trump, 27 percent, and 49 percent would definitely vote for anybody else.


Judy Woodruff:  And this is a state [Wisconsin] he won.

Mark Shields:  And it's a state that he carried.

And it's a state where yesterday, Ron Johnson, the Republican senator, chastised and publicly scolded the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, for allowing this to happen.

So if one wants to see how things do develop here in Washington, and we do listen to the people back home, I think this is a case of the Republicans listening to the people back home.

David Brooks:  McConnell's whole affect today was a masterpiece in, 'I have nothing to do with this.'  He was like, that happened in some other universe, it wasn't me.

And so nobody wants to be associated with this.


Mark Shields:  The thing, Judy, he had no next move.  I mean, Donald Trump…

Judy Woodruff:  The President.


Did he have an alternative?

Mark Shields:  He had no alternative.

And what's remarkable is, the difference in real estate, in real estate — respect to the profession — I tell David, oh, no, we just had the plumbing done a year-and-a-half.  Oh, no, the roof is in great shape, because it's a one-off deal.  I mean, if it isn't David, then I'm doing with Mr. X, OK?

In politics, your word is the coin of the realm.  That's what — the one thing you have, and seeing the same colleagues every day.  And if the word gets out that Shields can't be trusted, that Shields folds, that Shields doesn't keep his word, then you're dead — you're dead meat in a legislative body.  No one's going to trust you.

And Donald Trump doesn't understand that.  He comes out of real estate.  You cut the deal, then you move on.  But now he's got the same people he's dealing with.

And part of Mitch McConnell's timidity, beyond natural caution, was he was terrified.  He knew exactly that Trump had broken his word just in December.

Judy Woodruff:  But he's still the President, David.  He still got a Republican Senate.

David Brooks:  Right.  But I'm not sure how many of them will want to walk in any difficult confrontation with him.

And just the — as Mark said, it's always great to declare a shutdown, because you get that first burst of, oh, yes, we're really standing up.  But then you have to have step two, three, four, five, and you have to have a path to victory.

And in every government shutdown, from the Ted Cruz one to this one, they have never had a path to get there.  And it's always hurt the side that instigated it.


aka "Another Trump Hood in the Docks"

"After indictment, pressure on Stone is ‘significant,’ says former prosecutor" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2019


SUMMARY:  Former Trump adviser Roger Stone has been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on seven counts, including obstructing an investigation, making false statements and tampering with a witness.  The indictment focuses on the relationship with WikiLeaks head Julian Assange and damaging emails released by WikiLeaks.  Nick Schifrin reports and discusses with former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

PRISONER - Journalist Jason Rezaian

"How an American journalist survived 18 months in an Iranian prison" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2019


SUMMARY:  Journalist Jason Rezaian was the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran until 2014, when he and his wife, Yeganeh, were arrested by Iranian authorities.  She was released after three months, while Jason was held for another 15.  He describes the harrowing experience in his memoir, “Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison,” and talks to Judy Woodruff about why he believes he was targeted.

THE LONG HAUL - Career Truck Driving

"A career truck driver on why his is no longer ‘a middle-class job’" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2019


SUMMARY:  Jobs in the trucking industry are increasingly threatened by technology and the rise of driverless trucks.  But what explains the contradictory dynamic between fears of job elimination and a current shortage of truck drivers in the U.S.?  The NewsHour returns to the unusual story of driver Finn Murphy, who left college and a literary family for the open road.  Paul Solman reports.

CAPTIVE IN SYRIA - Majd Kamalmaz (U.S. citizen)

"Family of American grandfather imprisoned in Syria asks Trump for help" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2019


SUMMARY:  The family of an American who disappeared in Syria two years ago is going public with their story, hoping to persuade President Trump to intervene.  American citizen Majd Kamalmaz came to the U.S. as a child.  He dedicated much of his career to helping people affected by war and natural disasters.  According to his family, he was also the "glue that brought everybody together."  Nick Schifrin reports.

MEMORIAM - Russell Baker 1925-2019

"Remembering Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning writer and humorist" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  Author, columnist and humorist Russell Baker has died at age 93.  We remember the media icon, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing and hosted "Masterpiece Theater" for more than a decade.


"In Thailand, tracking animal health to prevent outbreaks of human disease" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  Viruses like avian flu, Ebola and Marburg often fester in animals before moving into human populations.  Animals in regions that are geographically remote present particular challenges for disease containment.  But in Thailand, local residents are using technology, including digital scanning, to track animals and stop outbreaks before they start.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.

SHATTERED DREAMS - Boston’s High School Valedictorians

"Why so many of Boston’s high school valedictorians struggle to succeed" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  High school valedictorians are the best in their class academically.  But a new report finds that the top graduates of Boston’s public high schools are encountering great obstacles to attaining educational and economic milestones.  John Yang talks to the Boston Globe's Malcolm Gay, one of the story's reporters, about how former stars are struggling and why success takes more than scholarship money.

FRONTLINE - 'Coal's Deadly Dust'

"Coal miners have been inhaling deadly silica dust for decades.  Now they’re dying" PBS NewsHour 1/22/2019


SUMMARY:  For decades, coal miners have been inhaling silica dust on the job.  The extremely fine particles, generated when the quartz-rich limestone surrounding coal seams is cut, lodge in the lungs, obstructing respiration.  According to a Frontline/NPR report, both the industry and the government understood the hazard for decades but did little to contain it.  Howard Berkes of NPR joins John Yang.

John Yang (NewsHour):  Judy, this is all due to minors inhaling silica dust.

While regulations about monitoring mine dust have been on the books since the mid-1970s, this new investigation finds that federal regulators failed to pay close enough attention to their own data.  Since 2010, the government has counted 115 cases of advanced black lung nationwide.

But the NPR/"Frontline" investigation identified more than 2,300 cases in just five Appalachian states.

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Transgender Military and Guns

"Supreme Court takes action on transgender military ban, gun case" PBS NewsHour 1/22/2019


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court dealt with some of the most politically charged issues in the nation on Tuesday.  National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why the Court's removal of the injunction on banning transgender military service people was "a little surprising," as well as an upcoming gun case with broad implications for public carry of weapons.

"What serving in the military means for this transgender sailor" PBS NewsHour 1/22/2019


SUMMARY:  Megan Winters, a transgender sailor, says being able to transition while maintaining her Navy role left her personally and professionally “rejuvenated."  Although the military cites little evidence that the presence of transgender service members jeopardizes military readiness, the Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to ban them.  Nick Schifrin reports.

MLK DAY - Poor People’s Campaign

"On MLK Day, the need for a ‘deeply moral argument’ about American injustice" PBS NewsHour 1/21/2019


SUMMARY:  On Martin Luther King Day, we return to a segment we first aired last year, about an effort to revive one of Dr. King’s signature programs, what he called the Poor People’s Campaign.  Judy Woodruff sat down with Reverend William J. Barber, co-chair of the 2018 organization, to discuss its mission of reducing poverty and inequality and tackling issues of social injustice.

MARRY JANE - Marijuana Edibles

"Consumption of marijuana edibles rises amidst scarce research into their health impact" PBS NewsHour 1/21/2019


SUMMARY:  As more states legalize recreational use of marijuana, edible forms of the drug are also becoming increasingly popular.  But little research has been done on potential complications of consuming the substance, and some scientists believe they can cause hallucinogenic reactions.  Special correspondent Lori Jane Gliha of Rocky Mountain PBS reports on the controversial trend.

KINGPIN ON TRIAL - Trial of 'El Chapo'

"The ‘remarkable’ courtroom revelations in trial of ‘El Chapo’" PBS NewsHour 1/21/2019


SUMMARY:  Joaquín Guzmán, commonly known as the Mexican drug lord “El Chapo,” is on trial in federal court in New York City for running a multimillion-dollar narcotics operation across the United States border.  Keegan Hamilton of VICE [News] joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss El Chapo's violent legacy as head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, how the FBI eventually tracked him down and the dramatic courtroom revelations.

TRUMP SHUTDOWN - End to Hostage Crisis, Maybe

Trump the Hut

"Why Trump is ‘edging closer’ to declaring a national emergency over border wall" PBS NewsHour 1/21/2019

aka "Dictator-want-to-be to Ignore Congress"


SUMMARY:  On day 31 of the partial government shutdown, the only deal on the table is the one President Trump proposed Saturday, which would provide temporary protection for DACA recipients in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall.  Democrats immediately rejected the plan, but Sen. Mitch McConnell is expected to bring it to a vote.  Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor for more.

"As Trump and Pelosi spar over State of the Union, Democrats consider funding compromise" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  On day 33 of the government shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House won't host the President's State of the Union address until the shutdown is resolved.  In response, President Trump said Pelosi is "afraid of the truth."  Meanwhile, some Democrats are considering a new plan for $5.7 billion in border security, but no wall.  Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins.

"Trump and Pelosi must ‘both give a little,’ says Sen. Rounds" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  As the Senate prepares to vote on two funding proposals Thursday, what are their expectations for making progress to end the government shutdown?  Judy Woodruff speaks to Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) for his take on how we got to this point, what Democrats and Republicans should do next and why the President's request for additional miles of border barrier is "not unreasonable."

"‘End this shutdown madness,’ says Sen. Van Hollen" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2019


SUMMARY:  The Senate is scheduled to vote on two funding proposals Thursday, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) says he hasn't given up hope that the one to reopen the government for two weeks will pass.  Judy Woodruff talks to Sen. Van Hollen about the "poison pills" included in President Trump's most recent proposal and why the short-term funding deal represents a bipartisan "best alternative" for now.

"On day 34 of shutdown, signs of progress toward resolution" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2019


SUMMARY:  Two bills to end the government shutdown failed in the Senate Thursday, as expected.  But there are a few signs of progress, with support building for a proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).  Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers will miss another paycheck this Friday.  Judy Woodruff is joined by Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor for the latest.

Nancy Pelosi gets partial win (aka spanks little boy Donny)

"How ‘pressure mounting’ on Trump led him to make temporary deal" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2019


SUMMARY:  On Friday, President Trump announced a deal to reopen the government for three weeks.  The funding plan does not include immediate money for a border wall.  It will allow Democrats and Republicans to negotiate a longer-term solution without the shadow of the shutdown hanging over them -- in theory, at least.  Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff with the latest.

"Of temporary funding deal, Rep. Lujan says ‘we’re all moving forward’" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2019


SUMMARY:  After President Trump reached a deal with Congress to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks, “we’re all moving forward,” says Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.).  He talks to Judy Woodruff about what he sees as the administration’s “lack of empathy,” why the President should take responsibility for the shutdown and anticipating a “robust conversation” about border security.

Friday, January 25, 2019

AMERICAN POLITICS - Resist Trump 1/25/2019

TODAY IN PICS - Life Today

TRUMP ANTI-IMMIGRATION - The Evil of Xenophobia

I am tired of this use of immigrants as being criminals by our obviously racist President.  What he has done by slamming the door closed to people that we once welcomed is nothing more that an old dictator's tactic of finding someone to falsely blame for problems to whip-up supporters.  The U.S. should be a welcoming nation, especially since today's America is made up of families that were once immigrants.

"Asylum seekers forced to wait across border" by Molly O'Toole & Kate Linthicum, San Diego Union-Tribune 1/25/2019

NOTE:  Article form e-newspaper therefore no link.

DHS policy begins today to block migrants from entering United States

The Trump administration said Thursday night that it would start requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are considered in the United States, a dramatic escalation in its immigration crackdown.

Border officers will start returning asylum applicants back across the border as soon as the implementation becomes operational today, beginning at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, according to Department of Homeland Security officials.

Until now, most migrants seeking asylum were released from detention into the United States while awaiting a court hearing, a process that can take years due to backlogs.

Migrant advocates say implementing the plan will put asylum seekers at risk by requiring them to wait in Mexican border cities with some of the deadliest homicide rates in the world.

On Dec. 20, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the policy shift to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, hailing the measure as “historic.”  Operations on the border did not change over the past month, however.

On Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials briefed asylum workers on how to interview individuals affected under the new policy, saying it would be rolled out imminently, according to a federal employee who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal planning.

Arturo Rocha, a spokesman for Mexico’s foreign ministry, said Thursday that U.S. officials had not informed the Mexican government that they were beginning to implement the policy.

“We have not been officially notified by the U.S. government of their intention to implement today,” Rocha told the Los Angeles Times.

Mexican officials said in December, when Nielsen announced the plan, that they would cooperate on a temporary basis, allowing non-Mexican migrants to remain in Mexico for humanitarian reasons.

It wasn’t clear Thursday how Mexico would respond to U.S. officials pushing asylum seekers back, however.

The crackdown comes as President Donald Trump continues to clash with Congress over his demands for $5.7 billion for a border wall, a dispute that led to a partial government shutdown on Dec. 22.

On Saturday, Trump said he would consider a deal to end the impasse that would include temporary deportation relief for some immigrants already in the United States.  Democrats have said they will negotiate after Trump agrees to reopen the government.

The new asylum policy could directly affect thousands of migrants from Central America who are stuck on the Mexican side of the border, or are now approaching it in hopes of seeking asylum.

In Tapachula, on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, more than 10,000 migrants have applied for humanitarian visas to head north, and the group continues to grow.

“I actually think they encourage the caravans because they want to get rid of the people from their country,” Trump said of Central American countries Wednesday at a White House meeting with conservatives to discuss his immigration proposal.

“We have a lot of very dangerous people that want to come into our country,” he added.  “And we’re not letting them in.”

Since December, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services personnel have been stationed at the San Ysidro crossing and other Border Patrol stations in California, and a recent recruitment effort added to their ranks.

They will be charged with carrying out the new policy and conducting interviews to determine whether asylum seekers will be returned to Mexico.

A Homeland Security official said Customs and Border Protection personnel will take applicants who they determine must wait in Mexico to a gate at San Ysidro typically used for deportations.

In her Dec. 20 announcement, Nielsen said the Trump administration had decided on its own to change longstanding immigration policy that enabled most asylum seekers to be released in the U.S. while awaiting a hearing.

Immigrant rights groups opposed the move, saying it violates U.S. and international asylum laws and could potentially face court challenges.  “The President thinks he can do this unilaterally,” said Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies.  “But it’s a blatant rejection of current law.”

U.S. officials have provided few details about the new plan or how it will be implemented.

On Wednesday, a reminder went out to Citizenship and Immigration Services employees not to leak documents or information, saying it would “risk harm to our operations, create confusion, threaten the safety of the American public and law enforcement, and may even provide an opening to individuals to exploit those seeking to access our immigration system and programs,” according to a BuzzFeed News report.

Before the asylum applicants are released from U.S. custody and returned to Mexico, they will get a date for their hearing on a “notice to appear.”

There will be a hotline they can call for updates on the status of their cases, and the policy of returning applicants to Mexico will not be applied to unaccompanied minors or other vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women or migrants who are ill, Homeland Security officials said.

Asylum processing at the San Ysidro port of entry, between San Diego and Tijuana, appeared normal early Thursday.

U.S. officials accepted 39 asylum seekers, fewer than on a typical day.  Families from Mexico, a family from Russia and a man from Eritrea were among those taken in vans by Mexican officials to make their claims for asylum in the U.S.

Violence is on the rise in all of the Mexican border states and a record number of people were victims of homicide last year in Tijuana — more than any city in Mexico.

With 133 killings for every 100,000 people, the sprawling border metropolis now ranks as more violent than the capitals of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the countries that most migrants who arrive at the southern border are fleeing.

The new approach represents a significant departure from long-standing asylum-screening procedures and comes as the administration struggles to handle a record surge of Central American families coming to the southern border.  In fiscal 2018, 107,000 migrant family members were taken into custody by U.S. border security officials, surpassing a record set in 2016.

Trump administration officials have acknowledged that the President’s proposed border wall would have little effect stemming the flow of migrant families seeking asylum as they often surrender to authorities, in accordance with the law, once they arrive on U.S. soil.

The new initiative is one of several measures the administration has sought to implement at the border, including the deployment of several thousand military personnel and the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families — a policy Trump eventually reversed after widespread condemnation.

O’Toole and Linthicum write for the Los Angeles Times.  U-T staff writer Kate Morrissey contributed from Tijuana.  The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Monday, January 21, 2019

POLITICS - American and Britain Competition

PICS OF THE WEEK - American Politics

IN PICKS - American Politics, Native American View

OPINION - Brooks and Marcus 1/18/2019

"Brooks and Marcus on shutdown stagnation, Michael Cohen report" PBS NewsHour 1/18/2019


SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the historic government shutdown, a report that President Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, and the growing list of possible Democratic candidates for President in 2020.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  So, the shutdown was just one of a handful of major stories this week to rattle Washington and point directly to the Oval Office.

To help make sense of it all, the analysis of Brooks and Marcus.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.  Mark Shields is away.

Hello to both of you.

Ruth Marcus, Washington Post:  Hi.

Judy Woodruff:  So, the shutdown.

David, they were it again this week, but no movement.  Is one side — we saw what the poll results are saying, but is one side winning this, or not?

David Brooks, New York Times:  No.  They're all losing.

It's gone from like junior high food-fight to nursery school sandbox fight.  I don't know.  It just gets worse.

And, weirdly — I don't want to get too grandiose, but it reminds the World War, the lead-up to World War I, where each side thinks the other side, surely, they will cave.  But neither — and they're both vastly misestimating the other side.  And neither side thinks they're going to cave.  They both took the other side will cave.

And so it gets worse and worse.  I have been moderately hopeful in the last couple weeks.  That's all evaporated for me.

And I blame Trump, mostly.  I blame the Republicans in the Senate a lot.  I really think, if there's a key leader who can get us out of this gridlock, it's Republicans taking some control in the Senate and saying, we're going to go forward with something.  If Pelosi and Trump want to come with us, that would be good.

There has to be some way forward to get out of just the gridlock.

Judy Woodruff:  But Mitch McConnell, Ruth, has he's not going to touch this until he knows what the President would sign.

Ruth Marcus:  Indeed.

And he — his view is, let everybody else work it out.  I — when I was negotiating that — and finding deals, that was with a Democratic President.  So now let the Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, let him handle it.

Nobody wants to be involved in this, because it's so — it's both solvable and intractable at the same time.  It's solvable for all the reasons that caused David's optimism, and it's intractable because there is nothing to gain with your own base that you have to worry about by solving it.

And you started out by saying that nothing happened this week.  But I think, as David said, actually, something did happen this week.

Judy Woodruff:  Well…

Ruth Marcus:  It got worse.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, forgive me.


Ruth Marcus:  We're worse off this week than we were a week ago.

Judy Woodruff:  Yes.

And now, we are told, the President is going to make a — quote, unquote — David, "major announcement" about all this tomorrow.  Somebody was speculating maybe he's going to announce an emergency, the government's going to take over this and do the wall itself.

But a lot of — there's some reason to think he might not do that.

David Brooks:  Yes, I hope he doesn't.  I think he won't.

Often, major announcements are only major in the minds of those doing the announcing.  They seem like just restatements of the same position over and over again.  So, we could see that.  Who knows.  I don't know.

I would be surprised if he did the emergency thing.  That — there's just so much upset, even in the Republican Party, about that.  That — if there's anything that would lead to the weakening of the Republican-being-stuck-with-Trump position, that would do it.

Judy Woodruff:  But, Ruth, you don't see any inkling that one side is feeling more heat than the other side?

Ruth Marcus:  I don't.  I think they are each dug in.

They want the solution, but they want the other person on the other side to blink first.  I thought I — earlier today, I was worried that I was being too negative.  So I did a round the phone calling on the Hill.  And what I discovered was that I simply wasn't being negative enough, that I talked to folks who were like, I have been around for all these shutdowns, and this is the worst I have seen it, and I don't see the way out of it.

I almost wonder if there wouldn't be some element, as much as people would balk at the notion of declaring the emergency at this point, since it seems so bleak, to get out of it, if they wouldn't give a little bit of a pass for that.

I think that — I'm not encouraging that.  I think it would be dangerous and constitutionally dangerous.  But we have to find some way out of this also.

Judy Woodruff:  So maybe it is World War I all over again.

So, the other thing that happened overnight, David, is, you have this report — only one news organization so far — but BuzzFeed is reporting, they're quoting law enforcement sources as saying that the investigators have evidence that the President told his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

David Brooks:  Yes.

This is significant for a couple reasons.  One, it's a felony the President allegedly committed while being President, unlike all the previous stuff.  And then it is a bit of a — he's President of the United States or running for office, and he puts the U.S. national interest behind his own interest in getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow.

And so these are both very serious things.  David French of "National Review" pointed out that, in Michael Cohen's sentencing agreement months and months ago, this was right out there in the open for all of us, that Cohen's lawyers said he did — he lied to Congress because person number one, Donald Trump, told him to do it, and he didn't have the strength to resist.

And so that suggests there's some meat to this.  BuzzFeed is a real news organization, it should be said.

And the final thing, the thing that is of interest to me in the BuzzFeed report, you can't tell whether they have written evidence.  They say there's a trove of documents.  They say there's a trove of e-mails and texts.  But is there an actual piece of paper with Donald Trump saying, lie to Congress?  That would be pretty explosive, if that exists.

Judy Woodruff:  Or a recording.

Ruth Marcus:  Or a recording.  'Lordy, let there be tapes,' as somebody said.

If true, this is beyond explosive.  It's not just an impeachable offense, but an offense that you could actually imagine even this Republican Congress not just impeaching the President for, because, of course, that's up to a Democratic House, but convicting him and removing him from office for.

But it would require not only for it to be true, but for it to be evidence that's more than simply a swearing contest between one person with a history of less than truth-telling, the President, and another person who is an admitted liar, Michael Cohen.

So, not the — not the best witness for the prosecution or the impeachment prosecution.  But if you had evidence to back it up, this is really, really a serious allegation.

Judy Woodruff:  But it looks as if, David — I mean, talking to Jamie Raskin, who's involved in House leadership few minutes ago, it looks as if at least the Democrats are talking about an investigation, whether they move on to the impeachment.

David Brooks:  Right.

And a lot of this is about putting the Republicans — the Democrats where they are — where they — are we really going to impeach, or are we not?  Where does their emphasis go?

This is an interesting debate on the left.  Do we want this guy impeached, or do we want to vote him out?  Which is better for the country?  I think voting him out would be better for the country.

But if — as the evidence mounds, you really have no choice.

Ruth Marcus:  It's interesting.

I know many Democratic members of Congress who believe, as David said, they would be better off running against Donald Trump than against whoever the Republicans would put up in his place.

But this is, as Jamie Raskin was suggesting, an insult to the very constitutional system, the notion that you could, as a sitting President, suborn perjury, about an — not just about a general matter of government, but tell somebody to lie in order to protect your own business interests and your own private conduct.

That cannot be allowed.  The reason we know it can't be allowed is that Bill Barr, the nominee for attorney general…

Judy Woodruff:  Said so.

Ruth Marcus:  Said so in hearings with questions that now sound prescient.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Maine River Ice Disk

"Giant ice disk forms in Maine river, enthralling residents" PBS NewsHour 1/18/2019


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, an unusual phenomenon has appeared in a river in Westbrook, Maine: A giant ice disk that spans about 100 yards across and spins counter-clockwise.  The disk is a natural although uncommon occurrence documented in other parts of North America as well as in Scandinavia.  Julia Griffin, in collaboration with Maine Public Television, has the story.

THE INVESTIGATIONS - Trump Ordered Cohen to Lie?!

"What it means for Trump if he ordered Cohen to lie to Congress" PBS NewsHour 1/18/2019


SUMMARY:  BuzzFeed reported Friday that President Trump personally directed Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, to lie to Congress about a potential Trump hotel project in Moscow.  In response, some congressional Democrats said ordering a subordinate to commit perjury "is an impeachable offense."  Judy Woodruff is joined by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md) a member of the House Judiciary Committee, to discuss.

Editor's Note: After this story aired, a spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller's office released a statement: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate."  BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said the organization stands by its reporting.

IMMIGRATION - Family Separation Numerical Error?!

"Report: Number of families separated at the border unknown due to bad bookkeeping" PBS NewsHour 1/17/2019


SUMMARY:  The Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services paints the most detailed picture to date of the Trump administration's actions to separate immigrant families at the southern border.  The report found that the government was separating children long before it announced its policy; thousands more may have been separated than previously reported.  Amna Nawaz joins Judy Woodruff.

TECH INDUSTRY - "Curse of Bigness"

"Why tech industry monopolies could be a ‘curse’ for society" PBS NewsHour 1/17/2019

aka "Trump Government Run by Big Corporations"


SUMMARY:  In the early 20th century, Standard Oil was broken up because of its vast power.  Today, many think Facebook, Google, or Amazon present similar threats, but they proceed unchallenged.  In "The Curse of Bigness," law professor Tim Wu argues that America has abandoned antitrust enforcement and left us with an economy dominated by de facto monopolists.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  At his confirmation hearing this week, William Barr, the nominee to be Attorney General, told senators — quote — "A lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers."

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Veteran's Appeal on Defense Contractors Case

"Supreme Court declines to hear case about toxic burn pits on military bases overseas" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from veterans who had sued defense contractors over claims that toxic smoke from open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan caused them serious health problems.  One of the contractors, KBR, countered that waste elimination procedures were directed by the military itself.  As Hari Sreenivasan reports, the afflicted soldiers have no remaining legal recourse.

SYRIA - Deadliest Day to Date

"After deadliest day for U.S. forces in Syria, withdrawal could get more complicated" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019


SUMMARY:  ISIS claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in northern Syria's Manbij that killed four Americans, countering the Trump administration's assessment that the terrorist group had been defeated.  While Vice President Pence repeated that the U.S. is now able to "hand off" that fight to allies, other officials expressed concern that withdrawal plans have enlivened the enemy.  Nick Schifrin reports.

MEMORIAM - Carol Channing 1921-2019

"Remembering Carol Channing, theater star who didn’t let life pass her by" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  Carol Channing passed away Tuesday at the age of 97.  The Broadway legend won fame as Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly!" and performed it more than 5,000 times.

Hello, Dolly! - Carol Channing (1979)

UNITED KINGDOM - Brexit Goes Down in Flames

As I've said before, Brexit was a very bad idea promoted by extreme nationalism.

"Parliament rejects Brexit deal, leaving May to scramble for a plan B" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  Just 10 weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to press ahead despite the overwhelming rejection of her Brexit deal in Parliament on Tuesday.  If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, many worry it could plunge the economy in recession or worse.  Special correspondent Ryan Chilcote joins Judy Woodruff for more.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - Nominee for U.S. Attorney General

The question, is William Barr really a Trump stooge?

"William Barr Has a Long History of Abusing Civil Rights and Liberties in the Name of ‘National Security’" by Manar Waheed and Brian Tashman, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 1/14/2019

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on William Barr’s nomination to be the next attorney general of the United States, offering senators an opportunity to scrutinize his record and views.

Such scrutiny is especially crucial in the Trump era.  As we’ve seen throughout his time in office, from imposing the Muslim ban to the recent shutdown fight over border wall funding, President Trump has tried to use “national security” as a pretext to justify discriminatory or otherwise illegal policies.

That’s why his nomination of William Barr should concern everyone — because Barr has a long record of doing the same thing during the George H.W. Bush administration.  If confirmed to be Trump’s attorney general, Barr could enable the President to act on many of his worst instincts.

Defending discriminatory profiling

In the lead up to the Persian Gulf War, the FBI questioned hundreds of Arab-Americans.  It claimed these interviews were to solicit information about terrorism.  Barr, who served as deputy attorney general at the time, defended the FBI’s actions, insisting that they were needed “to solicit information about potential terrorist activity and to request the future assistance of these individuals.”

Community activists said that the FBI was singling them out and questioning their loyalty because of their identity.  Many of the people who were questioned said that they were interrogated about their political views and travel plans and if they personally knew terrorists — based not on actual evidence, but on national origin.  As an official charged with upholding the law, Barr should know not only are such practices offensive, ineffective, and a waste of limited resources, but they also undermine the very constitutional rights he swore to protect.

Supporting secret military trials

And Barr’s history doesn’t stop there.

Following the 1988 Lockerbie Bombings, Barr floated the idea of the President convening secret military tribunals to try people accused of involvement with suspected terrorist activities.  Barr revived the idea of secret military trials after the 9/11 attacks and testified in support of President George W. Bush’s decision to order them without congressional authorization.

Barr told the Senate that the President has the power to order such trials as long as he cites “national defense” interests.  Barr said that “no war need be declared for this power to come into being,” and that there is “no geographical limit” for the President to exercise such powers.  Anyone declared a foreign adversary, he said, “is not entitled to constitutional protections.”

More recently, Barr’s belief that the President has virtually unchecked security powers is also seen in his defense of the first version of Trump’s Muslim ban.

Such beliefs are in keeping with his sweeping views of executive power.  Indeed, Barr has said that “the real threat to domestic liberties is the artificial restriction of our powers of national defense by gratuitously expanding constitutional guarantees beyond their intended office.”

Endorsing detention and denying rights

Barr’s nomination should trouble anyone worried about executive overreach, especially as Trump is trying to go beyond his authority to ban asylum-seekers and expand detention, including the separation of parents from their children.

During the George H.W. Bush-era, Barr endorsed the administration’s use of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to detain Haitians seeking asylum in the U.S., denying them access to legal advice during their asylum proceedings.  A federal judge rebuked the government for indefinitely detaining the Haitians and denying them access to legal counsel.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has announced that it will force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims for protection are processed.  And right now, the President is threatening to formally declare a national emergency in order to build his border wall without congressional approval or appropriations.

As Trump leads attacks on civil liberties and the rule of law, often by making false claims about national security, senators must ask Barr about his troubling record and make sure that he will not become a rubber stamp for the President’s unlawful actions.

"Barr pledges to protect Mueller probe from partisanship and ‘personal interests’" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  In his confirmation hearing, William Barr wasted no time declaring independence from the President who nominated him.  President Trump's pick for attorney general vowed not to fire -- without just cause -- special counsel Robert Mueller, nor interfere with the probe into Russian election meddling.  Yamiche Alcindor reports.

"Klobuchar ‘very concerned’ about Barr’s independence in light of Mueller memo" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) said she has serious concerns about Attorney General nominee William Barr’s stances on the Mueller investigation, but that it was positive to hear him say he would let the probe run its course.  The senator joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Barr’s answers on obstruction of justice, voting rights, his rhetoric on immigration and more from Tuesday’s hearing.

"Barr’s Mueller probe memo shouldn’t be disqualifying, former deputy says" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  Lots of lawyers have thoughts about the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference, said former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger, and the fact that Attorney General nominee William Barr shared his thoughts isn’t “really unusual.”  Terwilliger joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the confirmation hearing, including immigration issues wrapped up in the government shutdown fight.

TRUMP SHUTDOWN - America Hostage Crisis

"As shutdown drags on, Trump tries to reassure farmers feeling burned" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  On Monday [Day 24], President Trump said he is hesitant to declare a national emergency to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that Congress should resolve the "simple" disagreement that's keeping the government partly closed.  He also said he had rejected a proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to reopen the government temporarily.  Yamiche Alcindor reports on the shutdown's latest impacts.

"Shutdown comes at a ‘tough time’ to be an American farmer" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  President Trump promoted his trade policies Monday at the American Farm Bureau Federation.  But the government shutdown has hurt farmers seeking loans needed for upcoming crop seasons, and certain provisions in the newly signed Farm Bill cannot be administered until USDA offices reopen.  Farm Aid’s Joe Schroeder joins John Yang to discuss how the shutdown has come at a "tough time to be a farmer."

"Native American tribes are ‘starting to feel the impact’ of shutdown funding delay" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  The government shutdown has affected Native American tribes who rely on federal funds allocated by treaty rights.  For the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin, funding goes towards services like public safety and elder healthcare.  Now the tribe is awaiting more than a million dollars owed by government.  Marisa Wojcik of Wisconsin Public Television reports.

"Shutdown takes a bite out of business in South Florida" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  [Day 25] The gates are open at the Everglades National Park, but with no one to collect entry fees, business is drying up.  The partial government shutdown couldn't come at a worse time for the region, which depends on tourists and is suffering its second bad season in a row.  From TSA officers to hurricane scientists, John Yang reports on how residents are hurting.

"How the State of the Union became ‘leverage’ in shutdown debate" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019

IMHO: Trump childish behavior.


SUMMARY:  [Day 26] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested President Trump’s State of the Union be postponed for safety reasons related to the shutdown, although the Department of Homeland Security countered it is able to handle the event.  Meanwhile, President Trump met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to negotiate, as another payroll deadline approaches.  Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins.

"These 2 cities illustrate the shutdown’s profound national impact" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019


SUMMARY:  While lawmakers in Washington, D.C., battle over whether to reopen the government, the ripple effects of the shutdown are extending far beyond the Beltway.  Two mayors, Republican David Holt from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Democrat Michael Passero of New London, Connecticut, tell Judy Woodruff how the stalemate is affecting their cities' federal workers and even their populations as a whole.

"New to Capitol Hill, Reps. Riggleman and Spanberger face shutdown’s added pressure" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019


SUMMARY:  Two new House members, Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va), and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va) belong to the largest congressional freshman class in decades.  Even before their offices were fully set up, these Capitol Hill newcomers had to cast votes on how to handle a government shutdown that's stretched on for weeks.  Lisa Desjardins accompanies Riggleman and Spanberger on their first days in Congress.

"With much of the EPA closed, industrial safety and pollution inspections come to a halt" PBS NewsHour 1/16/2019


SUMMARY:  Andrew Wheeler, the EPA's acting head, appeared before a Senate committee for confirmation hearings in his bid to keep the position on a permanent basis.  But the government shutdown has brought many of the EPA's daily operations to a halt, so most safety and pollution inspections are skipped.  Judy Woodruff looks at reporting by Coral Davenport of The New York Times and the AP's Ellen Knickmeyer.

"Trump’s move to cancel congressional trip during shutdown raises debate" PBS NewsHour 1/17/2019


SUMMARY:  On day 27 of the partial government shutdown, President Trump rescinded approval for a military plane, effectively canceling a trip to Afghanistan planned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation.  The move comes after Pelosi asked to postpone the President’s State of the Union Address over safety concerns.  Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff for an update on the shutdown.

"Why many stores can’t accept food stamps during the shutdown" PBS NewsHour 1/17/2019


SUMMARY:  While so far there have been no major lapses in benefits for the nearly 39 million people who depend on food stamps amid the partial government shutdown, 2,500 retailers around the country are unable to take any form of SNAP EBT payments.

"Shutdown’s lost pay, dwindling business send more people to D.C. food banks" PBS NewsHour 1/18/2019


SUMMARY:  [Day 28] The government shutdown has stifled business in the nation's capital.  Many contractors are barely getting by without their paychecks, and unlike permanent federal workers, they will never recover the income they lose.  Food banks are experiencing spiking demand, even though some visitors feel guilty about asking for help.  And local shops and cafés sit empty.  Lisa Desjardins reports.

"Trump’s proposal to end shutdown still includes $5.7 billion wall" PBS NewsHour 1/19/2019

"Temporary" protections for a "permanent" expensive wall (or whatever you want to call it)?


SUMMARY:  President Trump offered on day 29 of a partial government shutdown what he described as a proposal to end the impasse, but it was one that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already rejected before his announcement.  NewsHour White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor talks to Hari Sreenivasan about the latest.

TRUMP - Russian Agent?

"Denying he ever worked for Russia, Trump calls the question a ‘disgrace’" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  On Monday, President Trump denied being a Russian agent after The New York Times reported the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was acting on Russia’s behalf.  He called the FBI officials who launched the inquiry “scoundrels” and “dirty cops.”  But questions remain about his interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Nick Schifrin reports.

"Sen. Warner [D-Va]: ‘Legitimate questions’ need to be answered about Trump and Russia" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  The New York Times reports that the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump was working on behalf of Russia after Trump fired FBI director James Comey.  Today, the President denied being under Russia's influence.  Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) tells Judy Woodruff whether he believes Trump and what we still don’t know about Trump’s meetings with Vladimir Putin.

"‘Plenty’ is still unknown about Trump’s interactions with Putin, says former NSC staffer" PBS NewsHour 1/14/2019


SUMMARY:  Questions remain about President Trump's meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as about Trump's broader ties to Russia.  To analyze why the corresponding counterintelligence investigations are 'unprecedented,' Judy Woodruff sits down with Andrew Weiss a former National Security Council staffer, and David Kris previously the Justice Department's top national security official.

"‘I really don’t’ believe Trump acts in ways that help Russia, Sen. Risch [R-Idaho] says" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2019


SUMMARY:  Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) the new Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that there is no feeling that he knows of, in Washington, that Russia can be trusted or embraced.  Risch talks with Nick Schifrin about why he sees China as the U.S.’s “largest concern,” the pain for American farmers caused by the President’s trade war, the American commitment to Kurdish forces in Syria and more.