Sessions Questioned

Wednesday, January 24, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 9.09.13 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Both the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been interviewed by the special counsel’s office as part of the inquiry into Russia’s meddling in the election and whether President Trump obstructed justice after taking office. Mr. Sessions’s interview last week is the first time investigators are known to have questioned a member of Mr.  Trump’s cabinet.

  • Senate negotiations on immigration went back to Square 1 when Senator Chuck Schumer withdrew the Democrats’ offer to fully fund Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall.
  • Under fire for using taxpayer money to settle a sexual misconduct complaint from a former aide, Representative Patrick Meehan, Republican of Pennsylvania, said that the woman specifically invited his intimate communications.

  • Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, told colleagues that he intended to run for re-election this year after all, ending a flirtation with retirement.
  • At a solar farm in North Carolina, workers are bracing for the effect of a new tariff from the Trump administration on imported solar cells and modules.
  • Jerome H. Powell will take over from the departing Federal Reserve chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen. He sailed to Senate confirmation with a final vote of 84 to 13.
— The First Draft Team

Senators Race to Protect Immigrants, and Restore Their Institution

From left, Senators Joe Manchin III, Susan Collins, Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons helped end the government shutdown.

From left, Senators Joe Manchin III, Susan Collins, Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons helped end the government shutdown. Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The bipartisan group of senators who intervened to help end the government shutdown now faces an even more formidable task: freeing the Senate — and perhaps Washington — from its dysfunctional rut.
In sidestepping Senate leaders of both parties, members of the group have taken it upon themselves to not only quickly resolve an immigration dispute that has long defied answers, but also prove that the Senate’s frozen legislative gears can still turn.
“Part of our biggest challenge is letting the Senate be the Senate,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and one of about two dozen lawmakers who came together to pressure Republican and Democratic leaders to abandon the shutdown.
Read more »
Turkish soldiers at the Syrian border on Monday. The United States has not chastised Turkey for attacking its allies, the Syrian Kurds.

As Turkey Attacks Kurds in Syria, United States Is on the Sideline


Turkish forces continued their attack on the Kurds, America’s closest ally in the war on the Islamic State, with the apparent blessing of Moscow.

Refugees at a detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, in November. Fifty-eight men are on their way to be resettled in the United States, after an earlier group of 54. Still more are to follow.

Why the U.S. Is Taking 58 Refugees in a Deal Trump Called ‘Dumb’


The Obama administration agreed to settle the men, detained offshore by Australia, if Australia would take Central American asylum seekers in exchange.

Tom Steyer at his office in San Francisco. He has built a sprawling political operation with more than 200 staff members around the country.

A Billionaire Keeps Pushing to Impeach Trump, Rattling Some Democrats


Tom Steyer, a major Democratic donor, has become one of President Trump’s most visible antagonists, firing up angry Democrats and unnerving his own party with the ferocity of his efforts.

The dry bed of Lake Poopó in Bolivia, where steady warming over the last 30 years evaporated what little water was left.

Fighting Climate Change? We’re Not Even Landing a Punch


Decades of diplomatic efforts to stem global warming have proven ineffectual because too many strategies have been taken off the table.

A solar panel project, at left, in Wuhan, China. The United States accuses China of swamping the market with cheap, subsidized solar panels. But those panels are increasingly made in other countries.

U.S. Tariffs, Aimed at China and South Korea, to Hit Targets Worldwide


Broad levies taking direct aim at the two countries would most likely affect other trading partners of the United States, illustrating the complexity of global commerce.

A man vaped during lunch time in central London.

Vaping Can Be Addictive and May Lure Teenagers to Smoking, Panel Finds


A report from the National Academy of Sciences said that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking, but not quite safe, and may cause teenagers to take up tobacco.

People received medical attention at a makeshift hospital following an alleged chlorine gas attack on the rebel-held part of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on Monday.

U.S. Accuses Syria of New Chemical Weapons Use


The U.S. said that Syria’s government had used chlorine bombs on civilians and that Russia was complicit. At least 13 people were injured.

Dipayan Ghosh at New America, a Washington think tank. He and Ben Scott, both members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, contend in a new report that the profit model of digital advertising also promotes disinformation.

Once Cozy With Silicon Valley, Democrats Grow Wary of Tech Giants


A new paper by two former Hillary Clinton aides, criticizing digital advertising as a tool for disinformation campaigns, captures a party’s increasing mistrust.

Known as a dogged political fighter, Mike Pompeo was an unlikely choice as director of the C.I.A.

An Unexpectedly Smooth First Year for Trump’s C.I.A. Director


In a pair of public appearances this week, Mike Pompeo marked his first year as C.I.A. director — a span that has gone more smoothly than many would have guessed.

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, requested zero funding for the agency this quarter from the Federal Reserve and froze a rule drafted by his predecessor that would have cracked down on the predatory practices of payday lenders.

Consumer Bureau Director Calls for ‘Humility and Prudence’ From Staff


Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fired off a mission statement instructing staff to not “push the envelope.”

Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., had previously flirted with an alliance with President Trump but delivered a searing critique of his first year.

Union Chief Says Trump, Having ‘Actively Hurt’ Workers, Is Losing Support


Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., delivered a searing critique of the president’s first year, saying his policies favored corporations over workers.

A rally for President Trump last month in Pensacola, Fla.

One Year Later, a Look at Trump’s Pledges About the Presidency


On golf, vacations and draining the swamp: Here’s a progress report on Mr. Trump’s campaign promises about his approach to the presidency.

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
Jim Geraghty in National Review:
“The bottom line is that most Americans don’t like government shutdowns, and will rarely find other political goals sufficient to justify them.”
If there’s one lesson to take away from the three-day government shutdown, Mr. Geraghty writes, it’s that Americans really don’t like government shutdowns. They didn’t like them in 2013, when Senator Ted Cruz of Texas led his fellow Republicans in a shutdown over the Affordable Care Act. And the same will be true in three weeks when Democrats hope to bring DACA to a vote: “Americans will still like DACA, but not enough to accept a government shutdown over it,” Mr. Geraghty says. Read more »
From the Left
Alex Shephard in New Republic:
“For the moment, at least, Democrats appear to have squandered a three-day shutdown and the leverage it provided.”
Democrats may be hoping the government shutdown is a “win-win,” Mr. Shephard explains, “either the legal status of the Dreamers is resolved in the next three weeks or they head in to a second shutdown with greater leverage.” But, he warns, there’s no reason to feel hopeful that Republican leaders will keep their promise to bring DACA to a vote. Read more »
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