Exposing Secrets

Tuesday, May 16, 2017Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.56.54 AM

Good Tuesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team

How Government Secrets Are Declassified and Disclosed

President Trump spoke at a memorial for peace officers on Monday.

President Trump spoke at a memorial for peace officers on Monday. Doug Mills/The New York Times

The news that President Trump disclosed highly classified information about the Islamic State during a meeting with Russian officials, jeopardizing an ally’s intelligence source, has raised interest in legal issues surrounding disclosures of classified information.
Who sets the rules for declassifications or disclosures?
The classification system is regulated by executive orders, which presidents periodically update and replace. The current version is Executive Order 13526, which President Barack Obama signed in late 2009. Under its rules, “original classification authorities” — like the heads of various departments and agencies — can normally classify and declassify information “owned” by their organizations. They can then authorize its disclosure to someone who has the proper security clearance and is deemed to need to know it. But the president oversees all the agencies and can also directly exercise his powers.
Read more »
Hillary Clinton speaking in New York this month. Mrs. Clinton said on Monday that Onward Together would encourage people to “get involved” and “even run for office.”

Hillary Clinton Starts Onward Together, a New Political Group


The nonprofit will look to support grass-roots organizations that are part of a progressive movement against the president’s policies.

3 Judges Weigh Trump’s Revised Travel Ban, but Keep Their Poker Faces

People protesting President Trump’s immigration policies outside a courthouse in Seattle on Monday as a three-judge panel was weighing an executive order.By ADAM LIPTAK

The jurists heard arguments on whether the executive order, partially blocked by a judge in Hawaii, constitutes religious discrimination against Muslims.

Mika Brzezinski, left, and Joe Scarborough, the hosts of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, in 2014. The TV personalities criticized the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday.

‘Morning Joe’ Hosts: Conway Said She Needed a Shower After Speaking for Trump


Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough said that Kellyanne Conway told them privately during the presidential campaign that she had only taken a job with Donald Trump for the money.

Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer (third from left) urged wealthy Chinese in Shanghai on May 7 to invest in a Kushner Companies luxury apartment complex in New Jersey.

Chasing After the Kushners in China


“As journalists in China, we are accustomed to dealing with harassment. But we don’t typically encounter bullying at events where American companies hold court.”

Senator Luther Strange, Republican of Alabama, is seen as vulnerable largely because of the man he owes his seat to: Robert Bentley, the governor who appointed him and later resigned amid a sex scandal.

In One-Party Alabama, Senate Primary Sinks Into ‘Swamp’


An untidy race is developing for the coveted Republican nomination in what could be the party’s first major primary clash of the president’s administration.

Medicaid spending on prescription drugs is growing much faster than spending on other items, said Greg Moody, director of the Office of Health Transformation in Ohio.

Medicaid Expansion, Reversed by House, Is Back on Table in Senate


Senate negotiators, trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act while avoiding the pitfalls of the House bill, may relax the House’s big Medicaid cuts.

Bryant Neal Vinas provided extensive detail to the authorities about the inner workings of Al Qaeda.

Service to Both Al Qaeda and U.S., With Fate Hanging in the Balance


A judge sentencing Bryant Neal Vinas, a former altar boy from Long Island who later plotted attacks, had to weigh cooperation that dealt the terrorist network a staggering blow.

Barron Trump with the first lady, Melania Trump, and President Trump during the White House Easter Egg Roll last month.

Trump’s Youngest Son to Attend Maryland Prep School


Barron Trump will enroll at St. Andrew’s Episcopal, affirming the first family’s plans to reunite in Washington after living apart since January.

David Friedman, center, the United States ambassador to Israel, at the Western Wall on Monday.

Before Trump’s Visit to Israel, Small Issues Prove Thorniest


The White House ran into static with Israel on Monday on a series issues ranging from the status of the Western Wall to the president’s promise to move the American Embassy.

Benjamin Poehling, a former finance director at UnitedHealth Group, in Minneapolis. He contends that his company and other insurers have been systematically bilking Medicare Advantage for years.

A Whistle-Blower Tells of Health Insurers Bilking Medicare


A former executive at UnitedHealth says he was paid bonuses to make patients look sicker than they were, which led to bigger reimbursements.

Chlorpyrifos is still on the market as an agricultural pesticide, routinely sprayed on common crops like apples, oranges, strawberries and broccoli.

A Strong Case Against a Pesticide Does Not Faze E.P.A. Under Trump


For decades, scientists have warned of mounting evidence that exposure to chlorpyrifos may threaten children’s development.

Representative Stacey Abrams, 43, a likely Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs in 2018


From Massachusetts to Florida, lawmakers and others planning campaigns for governor are rejecting the view that their party must court white voters.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, seen from the Senate. Congress requires the Supreme Court to hear appeals in some areas of election law, and Wisconsin officials have filed such an appeal.

When Does Political Gerrymandering Cross a Constitutional Line?


A test to decide when politics has unduly warped redistricting has long been a constitutional “holy grail.” A new Supreme Court case may establish that test.

If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy


Most Americans could not identify the country in a survey, and those people tended to view military action more favorably.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• John Podhoretz in Commentary:
“There are […] reasons for everyone, including Trump supporters, to be furious.”
To be fair, John Podhoretz is no great fan of the president. This might explain why he feels comfortable calling the news that President Trump shared classified information with Russia “the worst thing yet.” He points out that these actions will make it harder for prosecutors to build a case against lower-level leakers, and questions how many more self-inflicted wounds the administration can sustain. [Note: Commentary allows readers one free article a month.Read more »
From the Left
• Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo:
“The only reason I can think of to be totalizing in general and lawyerly and non-denialing in the specifics is that you’re trying to deny something that actually did happen.”
“Classic nondenial denial.” That’s Josh Marshall’s gloss on Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster’s response to The Washington Post report on the president divulging classified information to the Russian foreign minister. Read more »
More selections »