I’ve just read the latest Times dissection of the reporting and sexual/relationship history of its reporter Ali Watkins. This is the star reporter who carried on a three year relationship with the senior Senate staffer now charged with lying to investigators in the course of a leak investigation. I cannot help but think, all the complexities considered, that the Times is falling into the trap of interrogating Watkins’ sexual and relationship decisions and history in a way that strikes me as deeply unfair. While she was vague on some points, what stands out to me is that Watkins revealed the relationship to her various employers and she at least claims that the Senate staffer, James Wolfe, was not a source during their relationship.
But reading this piece, everything else receded to the background because of this part of the story: the role of an apparently rogue Customs and Border Protection officer who was almost certainly not acting alone.
I was mainly offline for a few days. So when I plugged back in last night I realized that we are in the throes of another debate about the decline of “civility” in public life. This is a mealy mouthed word that has no clear meaning beyond social delicacy and the importance of not speaking up too aggressively. As a society the line we should guard is opposition to violence, physical intimidation and menace as tools of civic life. These are wrong in principle, ineffective in practice and tools which the fascistic elements in society will always be able to use more consistently and coherently than those who believe in free society and the rule of law.
Good morning; happy Monday.
I am about at my wit’s end with Times‘ analysis and trend pieces. Just stop! (A subject for another day.) But this one on Trump’s deal-making and actual failure to make really any deals in 17 months as President contains a highly salient quotation, which we will need to think about a lot over the coming years. The words are from Daniel M. Price, a Bush era trade advisor. “What the president seemingly fails to understand is that in foreign policy and in trade policy — unlike in real estate transactions — the parties are all repeat players. The country you insult or seek undue advantage over today you will have to work with again tomorrow.”
Happy Friday! Here’s what we’re following today.
Good morning. Here’s what our writers and editors have their eyes on today.
Interesting bit of background from one of my colleagues. As I mentioned below, a briefing from the DOJ’s Gene Hamilton this afternoon makes clear what we discussed: the Executive Order is illegal on its face. The White House knows this. You can’t detain kids for more than 20 days. (Technically, the child separation policy isn’t detention. They’re separated from their parents, turning them into abandoned kids — “Unaccompanied Minors” — which the government then must house.) Hamilton made clear that what happens from here is that the administration will begin detaining families intact with a 20 day countdown until President Trump blames a court for forcing him to separate families again.
And there you have it. DOJ confirms that the White House knows the President’s executive order is in fact illegal on its face. What it does is set a 20 day countdown until Trump blames a court for forcing him to separate more families again.
JUST IN: Senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton confirms the Flores settlement still controls, and that unless Congress or the court acts, the government can only detain families together for "up to 20 days."
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) June 20, 2018
Fascinating, convoluted and really complicated story today in The Guardian. The gist is that top Putin-aligned oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s U.S. lobbyist, Adam Waldman, met repeatedly in 2017 with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Deripaska is Manafort’s guy. Or rather, Paul was Deripaska’s guy. He was the one Manafort was offering private briefings to when he was riding high as Trump’s campaign manager in the summer of 2016. He was also the one Manafort owed some $20 million to and who wanted to collect his debt. Waldman met repeatedly with Assange over the course of 2017, with meetings heavily weighted toward the first months of the year.
In Michael Cohen’s letter resigning his position as a Deputy Finance Chair at the RNC he also took a moment to call the President’s family separation policy “heart wrenching” and said that “children should never be used as bargaining chips.”
As it attempted to stave off public outcry about the border crisis, the Trump administration argued that it was helpless to take action. This is a law, or maybe a policy, representatives of the administration said; its hands were bound.
From a column in The Houston Chronicle from a flight attendant refusing to fly more flights in which migrant children separated from their families are being transported …
I have told my story to many of my flight attendant colleagues and they have pledged to do the same.
Since sharing my story, I learned from a fellow flight attendant that he was lied to by an ICE agent who said the children on the flight were part of a soccer team. When pressed, the agent finally admitted that they were, indeed children who were being relocated to assigned camps.
This inhumane separation of migrant children from their families is against the morals and principles instilled in me, as well as my religious and spiritual teachings.