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This Week: Ryan Zinke’s High School Football Teammate Reviews Research Grant Applications

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August 23, 2018 6:37 p.m.

Sometimes we have a hard time defining “Trump Swamp.” (It’s the sabotage of the Executive Branch by the people in charge.) Sometimes, defining it is easy.

A high school football teammate of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke must approve all “grants and cooperative agreements” above $50,000. Steve Howke has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, the Guardian reports, and prior to occupying this government job — the sole purpose of which now seems to be interfering with the funding of crucial scientific research — he’d “spent his entire career working in credit unions.”

The Washington Post first reported the politicized science review process in January, complete with receipts. The Guardian has surveyed the damage done.

Zinke, apparently, also tried to get away with selling off more than 1,600 acres of public land, despite repeated pledges not to. He was caught red-handed and backed off.

President George W. Bush’s Veterans Affairs secretary found it astounding” that three men whose only qualification was their willingness to give the President their money had secretly played a major role in internal department affairs.

Sure, the Trump administration keeps losing environmental court cases. But that doesn’t mean it’ll stop successfully acting as the agent of polluting industries, as industry lawyer and current Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum’s 10-month tenure has shown. A week before his confirmation, his future office received a 13-page document that had “formed the basis of” a presentation by Wehrum himself at an industry conference two months earlier. The memo, the New York Times reported, now “almost reads like a playbook for the 10 months since Mr. Wehrum arrived at the E.P.A.”

A White House speechwriter was fired after CNN inquired about his attendance, days before the 2016 elections, at a conference stocked with white nationalists. One of those white nationalists was Peter Brimelow. Turns out, Brimelow’s old friends with the White House’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow. Brimelow attended Kudlow’s birthday party, at Kudlow’s home, on Kudlow’s invitation, a day after the speechwriter’s dismissal.

In April, when he was still employed by taxpayers, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said it was “rare” that he needed to use the $43,000 illegal soundproof phone booth he’d installed in his office. Turns out, “rare” means he used it “exactly once.”

“Each suit tells a story”: The Center for Public Integrity reported on the invasive searches Customs and Border Protection has used on women and children, and the corresponding lawsuits against the agency. The Daily Beast detailed Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of family re-separation as punishment (you read that right). And Mother Jones reveals the religious motivations of the Trump administration official hell bent on restricting abortion access from migrant girls in the government’s custody.

Scott Lloyd, the bureaucrat at hand, wrote in a now-surfaced law school paper: “The martyrs that built our church sacrificed their bodies to the most violent, tortuous treatment. All our Church requires is that a woman has the child growing inside of her, and you’re willing to turn your back on the Church for that?”

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