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This Week: Trump Cancels Federal Employees’ Raises

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August 30, 2018 6:28 p.m.

President Donald Trump, who signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law and further stuffed America’s already-obese military budget, has decided federal employees don’t deserve a raise next year. Congress could act to raise salaries on its own, if the House and Senate agree on a number.

The New Yorker revealed a war-like memo circulated in the White House detailing an imaginary plot by Obama White House staffers to undermine the Trump administration’s foreign policy goals. The memo sounded a lot like others written by the Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are apparently so worried that Democrats could take back control of a chamber of Congress — and therefore, have subpoena power — that they’ve compiled a list of Democrats’ outstanding document requests. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee told TPM that, yes, Republicans should expect subpoenas if they win back control of the committee.

The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously overturned a Trump tariff on imported Canadian newsprint Wednesday. The private equity firm One Rock Capital played a large role in the tariff’s implementation.

Donald Trump personally intervened in the FBI’s search for a new building, which will now remain a half-block away from his hotel. His White House Counsel’s office then told General Services Administration employees to keep quiet about the details of his conversations with their boss.

And yes, White House Counsel Don McGahn got the ol’ Trump Twitter Send-Off. But McGahn’s already achieved his goal of stacking the courts.

Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke’s outgoing chief of staff Downey Magallanes was intimately involved in the downsizing of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and the scrapping of post-Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rules. She’ll start at BP’s government relations team next week.

Speaking of Zinke, Politico reported in June on a shady land deal: A Zinke-founded charity is letting a Hallburton-chairman-co-owned company use land it’d been gifted, originally meant to be a park, to build a park…ing lot for an adjacent microbrewery. A new report from the liberal Center for American Politics argues this kind of behavior is the norm. Special attention is paid to Zinke’s conflict-addled deputy secretary of the Interior, an ex-oil and gas (and everything else) lobbyist.

The EPA told the Supreme Court not to bother considering an appeal of a court ruling overturning the EPA’s earlier effort to limit hydrofluorocarbons, a class of greenhouse gasses.

President Donald Trump invited a QAnon conspiracy theorist to the White House. The Daily Beast reported: “Those familiar with how this Oval Office operates say that typically the only way that an Oval photo op between President Trump and strangers would even happen is if a senior official vouched for the guests and waved them in.”

The New York Times editorial board condemned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for “working hard to protect the scandal-ridden for-profit education industry from accountability.” The AP detailed students’ continued struggles against for-profit schools, now without the support of an uncaring federal government. And the government’s top student loan watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Student Loan Ombudsman, quit this week with an angry, revealing letter to acting CFPB director Mick Mulvaney.

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