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Shrinking Monuments

Tuesday, December 5, 2017Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 12.19.40 PM

Good Tuesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump sharply reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah by some two million acres, the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.

  • Mr. Trump said Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girlswas needed for important votes in Congress. Following Mr. Trump, the Republican National Committee reinstated its support of Mr. Moore, bringing its financial might to the Alabama Senate race.

  • The Supreme Court allowed the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue. The decision was a victory for the administration after its mixed success before the court over the summer.
  • When Congress’s nonpartisan tax scorekeeper found that the tax bill would balloon the budget deficit, Republicans went on the offensive to discredit an agency they had long praised.

  • In the New York area, the tax legislation could send home prices tumbling, increase the region’s tax burden, and make it harder for local governments to pay for infrastructure.
  • Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. directordefended his work force in an email, a day after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the agency’s standing was the worst in History and its reputation was in Tatters.

— The First Draft Team

Can Presidents Obstruct Justice? The Latest Trump Fight, Explained

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
President Trump at the White House on Monday.

President Trump at the White House on Monday. Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump’s assertion that he fired his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in part because he knew that Mr. Flynn had lied to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador — for which Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday — has intensified accusations that the president committed obstruction of justice.
Critics of Mr. Trump have portrayed the statement as a confession that he knew Mr. Flynn had committed a crime — not just that Mr. Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence, the initial justification the White House gave for his firing — when he pressured James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director at the time, to drop the investigation into Mr. Flynn, according to Mr. Comey’s testimony before Congress. Mr. Trump later fired Mr. Comey.
Mr. Trump has denied that he pressured Mr. Comey to drop the investigation. And one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, has since said that he, not the president, drafted the tweet about firing Mr. Flynn because he lied to the F.B.I. Mr. Dowd has also claimed that the president, as a matter of constitutional law, cannot violate obstruction of justice statutes anyway.
Read what you need to know to make sense of this »
Corrine Brown, a former United States representative from Florida, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for operating a fake charity that she used to fund personal expenses.

Ex-Congresswoman Who Ran a Sham Charity Gets 5 Years in Prison

By MATTHEW HAAG

Corrine Brown, a former representative from Florida, was convicted of fraud after using more than $300,000 from the charity for personal expenses, including tickets to a Beyoncé concert.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, last month at the federal courthouse in Washington. The filing on Monday is the first official effort by the special counsel’s team to connect Mr. Manafort to Russian intelligence.

Manafort Associate Has Russian Intelligence Ties, Court Document Says

By KENNETH P. VOGEL

In the document, the special counsel cited an op-ed article drafted by Paul Manafort and his Russia-linked associate to shape public opinion about consulting work in Ukraine.

The old city of Jerusalem on Monday. The plan by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would overturn decades of American policy.

Macron Warns Trump Over Plan to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

By MARK LANDLER

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, joined leaders from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and the Arab League in speaking out against the move, which would overturn decades of American policy.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, was optimistic that the House and Senate would be able to bridge gaps between the tax bills.

Republicans Meet to Merge Tax Plans as Corporations Fret

By ALAN RAPPEPORT

Lawmakers are scrambling to fix a last-minute provision inserted into the Senate tax bill that could nullify tax breaks many corporations rely on to help fund research.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas proposed an amendment to the tax bill that expands an education-related tax break to help private schools.

Tax Bills Could Expand Private School Benefits and Hurt Public Education

By ERICA L. GREEN

The tax bills in final talks would allow tax-favored savings for private school tuition, but by curtailing state and local tax deductions, they could hit public schools.

K.T. McFarland, President Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, during her confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Singapore in July.

McFarland Contradicted Herself on Russia Contacts, Congressional Testimony Shows

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT AND SHARON LAFRANIERE

President Trump’s former aide K.T. McFarland had told lawmakers that she knew nothing of the national security adviser’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. But emails undermine that claim.

Mr. Anderson in July 1980 during a news conference in Washington.

John Anderson, Who Ran Against Reagan and Carter in 1980, Is Dead at 95

By ADAM CLYMER

Drawing support from moderate to liberal Republicans and liberal Democrats, Mr. Anderson held the spotlight for a while before voters turned to candidates who they believed could actually win.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey spoke to reporters on Monday after the Supreme Court heard arguments in his state’s case against a gambling ban.

Justices Skeptical of Sports Gambling Ban

By ADAM LIPTAK

A federal law barring states from authorizing commercial wagering on sports seemed to be in trouble at the Supreme Court.

F.B.I. Destroyed Flynn’s Life for Lying, Trump Says, but Nothing Happened to Clinton

President Trump spoke to reporters at the White House on Monday.By EILEEN SULLIVAN

The president did not specify what he thought Hillary Clinton lied to the F.B.I. about.

Wendy Gooditis, a real estate agent in the Northern Virginia suburbs, decided to run for office when she heard her state delegate suggest that he had fought gerrymandering in Virginia when his record said otherwise.

Women Line Up to Run for Office, Harnessing Their Outrage at Trump

By MICHAEL TACKETT

The election of the president, the Women’s March and a flood of sexual assault charges against powerful men have combined to build a wave of political activism among women.

Fane Lozman, shown in 2012, won a Supreme Court victory against Riviera Beach, Fla., in 2013, when the court ruled that the city had misused maritime law to seize and destroy his houseboat. Now he has pulled off the rare feat of hauling the city into the Supreme Court in a separate case.
SIDEBAR

This ‘Tenacious Underdog’ Won His First Supreme Court Case. Now He’s Back.

By ADAM LIPTAK

The justices will consider whether a Florida city violated the First Amendment rights of a persistent critic by arresting him at a public meeting.

The Kennedy Center Honors recipients, from left, during a gala on Sunday: Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie.

Kennedy Center Honors Evoke Politics, Even Without Trump

By EMILY BAUMGAERTNER

The five artistic trailblazers who were recognized spoke openly about the president and his policies. He skipped the gala to avoid “political distraction.”

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
Bre Payton in The Federalist:
“Trump and his associates did contact foreign dignitaries before he took office. If that is a crime, Barack Obama is also guilty.”
Ms. Payton reacted to the news of Michael Flynn’s guilty plea by listing past instances of American politicians’  meeting with foreign dignitaries before they were sworn into office. None of them, she points out, were prosecuted for any crimes. Read more »
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From the Left
Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker
“That Mueller would treat Flynn as someone worth flipping, presumably in pursuit of a bigger case, is, to say the least, suggestive.”
Ms. Sorkin sees Friday’s news as the sign of “a new, significant chapter in the story of the magnetically charged interaction of Michael Flynn and Donald Trump.” Moreover, she writes, the larger issue at play in the men’s relationship is how “conspiratorialism was intertwined with real influence.” And extremism of that sort, she argues, can’t be solved with a special counsel. Read more »
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