Shortly after Yahoo News reported on turbulence in former Boeing executive and then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s past — apparently the White House had long known about it — Shanahan’s nomination to be permanent secretary was pulled and he was replaced by Army Secretary Mark Esper.
Esper, as Shanahan, has roots in the weapons industry: A longtime top Raytheon lobbyist, he earlier represented the Aerospace Industries Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Trump administration announced its proposed, considerably more relaxed, replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan Wednesday, called “Affordable Clean Energy.” It’s a long-sought victory for fossil fuel interest groups, who’ve had quite a bit of access to the Trump EPA. Earlier this week, in fact, HuffPost revealed that top three EPA staffers attended an event hosted by the right-wing-donor-funded “Cooler Heads Coalition” group, which peddles climate science denial.
Associate administrator Tate Bennett, senior counsel David Harlow and then-spokeswoman Liz Bowman, since departed from the agency, gave what science denier and Trump transition team member Myron Ebell later described in an email as a “presentation,” followed by Q&A.
The EPA protested that the meeting was “no different” than other instances in which the agency “takes time to meet with stakeholders.” But these “stakeholders” are unusual, HuffPost described: “The Cooler Heads Coalition formed in the late 1990s as mounting evidence of global warming began to fracture the industrial alliance that mobilized a decade earlier to downplay the threat of unfettered greenhouse gas emissions.”
In recent years, the group has seen an influx of funding from “far-right philanthropists and dark-money groups,” including the Mercer family and groups like Donors Trust, which funnels money from anonymous donors to a host of right-wing causes.
Over to the Department of the Interior: RollCall reported Tuesday that some documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act were withheld after being reviewed by political appointees.
“[P]olitical staffers,” RollCall reported based on a review of documents obtained by Earthjustice in a lawsuit, “regularly delayed the release of government records. In some cases, records were prevented from release following the reviews.”
An agency away, the Democratic chairs of three House committees asked DHS for proof that the current acting administrator of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, is actually legally allowed to hold that job.
Usually, because Cuccinelli was neither the first deputy secretary or otherwise Senate-confirmed, he would have had to spend at least 90 days of the previous year at USCIS prior to former agency head Lee Cissna’s forced resignation.
But he didn’t. To circumvent the law, DHS appears to have simply created a new position higher up the ladder than the existing deputy director, therefore providing some legal basis, however thin, for Cuccinelli’s authority.
Finally, President Donald Trump has reportedly been brainstorming ways to oust his own Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell. Though with the Federal Reserve Act only allowing demotions “for cause,” Trump may have a legal barrier in his way. Surely, that will remain the case.
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