THE BIG IDEA: President Trump won another significant immigration victory last night from the Supreme Court, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor sounds hopping mad.
Administration officials say they will begin immediately rejecting asylum requests from migrants at the southern border who have traveled through Mexico or another country without first seeking protection, and being denied, elsewhere. The goal of this policy is to deter migrants who fear persecution if they stay in their home countries from trying to seek asylum in the United States. It’s a centerpiece of Trump’s nativist crackdown on legal forms of immigration and seeks to scuttle a system for processing asylum claims that’s been in place since 1980.
The high court’s ruling overturns both a national injunction put in place on Monday by a district judge in California, which prevented the Trump administration from blocking these asylum seekers while a legal challenge played out in the lower courts. It also overturns a more tailored injunction by an appellate court, which effectively blocked the implementation of the new Trump policy in just California and Arizona.
No vote was recorded in the Supreme Court’s order, which is standard on a matter like this, but Sotomayor wrote an uncharacteristically blistering five-page dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cosigned.
“The rule here may be, as the District Court concluded, in significant tension with the asylum statute,” Sotomayor said. “It may also be arbitrary and capricious for failing to engage with the record evidence contradicting its conclusions. It is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere.”
Sotomayor, 65, was appointed by Barack Obama in 2009. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, she’s the first – and, so far, only – Latina justice. Trump’s new asylum policy will impact Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans more than any other nationality.
The district judge who issued the national injunction, Jon Tigar, reasoned that a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups represented by the ACLU is likely to prevail on the merits in his courtroom, and that forcing asylum seekers to stay in violent areas of Mexico in the meantime could cause irreparable harm.
Sotomayor appeared to concur with this rationale. “Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees—and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher—the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law,” she wrote.
-- The bulk of Sotomayor’s critique relates to process. She argues, essentially, that it’s in poor form for the Trump administration to immediately come running to the Supreme Court, with two Trump appointees and five of the nine justices appointed by Republicans, every time a lower court puts on hold a policy while legal challenges are being heard. She would prefer to let the process play out the way it has in the past.
“By granting a stay, the Court simultaneously lags behind and jumps ahead of the courts below,” Sotomayor complained. “And in doing so, the Court sidesteps the ordinary judicial process to allow the Government to implement a rule that bypassed the ordinary rulemaking process. I fear that the Court’s precipitous action today risks undermining the interbranch governmental processes that encourage deliberation, public participation, and transparency.”
The justice, who graduated from Yale Law School and Princeton, cites a forthcoming law review article by University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck that shows the extent to which Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s office “has sought emergency or extraordinary relief from the Supreme Court with unprecedented frequency.” (You can download a free PDF version of Vladeck’s 37-page article here.)
“The lower courts’ decisions warrant respect. A stay pending appeal is ‘extraordinary’ relief,” Sotomayor argued, pointing to multiple precedents. “Given the District Court’s thorough analysis, and the serious questions that court raised, I do not believe the Government has carried its ‘especially heavy’ burden.”
Trump administration officials have said that they’re only seeking injunction relief so often because lower-court judges are issuing more injunctions to thwart Trump policies than they did in the past. Critics say that’s because previous administrations of both parties were more careful to follow the law by crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s before introducing regulatory changes.
Francisco also argued in a recent filing for this case that Congress gives the departments of Justice and Homeland Security authority to impose additional restrictions on asylum seekers beyond those in federal law.
Sotomayor pointed to a case last December in which the court blocked Trump’s first attempt to change asylum policy. The court voted 5-to-4 vote not to lift a stay on Trump’s policy to deny asylum requests from anyone who entered the country at any place other than an authorized “port of entry.” Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four justices appointed by Democrats.
“Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively,” Sotomayor wrote. “Not long ago, the Court resisted the shortcut the Government now invites. … I regret that my colleagues have not exercised the same restraint here.”
Vladeck, the law professor who conducted the study that Sotomayor cited, interpreted last night’s ruling as evidence that the justices are generally skeptical of injunctions against the government, whether they’re nationwide or localized. “The harder question is whether that hostility is Trump-specific—whether it’s about the policies or the principle,” he said.
Regardless of the motivations of each justice, Trump celebrated the news as a “BIG … WIN.” He later tweeted that he had “an excellent telephone conversation” with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador about border security.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency “will commence implementing the asylum rule ASAP.” “While Congress continues to do nothing,” Cuccinelli tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump’s administration uses every tool in the toolbox to try and solve the crisis at our southern border.”
MORE FROM THE FRONT LINES OF THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The U.S. government's apparent refusal to offer temporary protective status for Bahamians while they recover from Hurricane Dorian should be viewed as part of Trump's broader agenda to make it harder for needy people to seek refuge here. Hannah Knowles reports: “When Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake in 2010, the Obama administration gave almost 60,000 of its citizens permission to stay in the United States rather than return home to a humanitarian crisis. … Reports Wednesday that the Trump administration will not grant the same legal protection to Bahamians ... were met with some confusion given that humanitarian history. But the news was familiar in other ways, the Migration Policy Institute’s Doris Meissner [said] — a seeming continuation of Trump officials’ efforts to cut back a program that grants temporary U.S. residence to more than 300,000 people from 10 countries. … News of the Bahamas decision, which government officials have not confirmed to The Post, comes a day after members of Congress introduced a bill to give citizens of the Bahamas the special status — and two days after acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan said a TPS designation for the country would be ‘appropriate.’ ”
-- The official death toll in the Bahamas remains at 50, but Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warns that the number will rise “significantly.” Around 2,500 people are still listed as missing. (Reuters)
-- A 12-year-old Bahamian girl who was separated from her family at a South Florida airport after fleeing Dorian’s destruction ended up in a Miami home for migrant kids. From the Miami Herald: Kaytora Paul, who traveled with her godmother, “had flown from Nassau to West Palm Beach Sunday night after being evacuated from the hurricane-ravaged Abaco island. However, when the two landed in Florida, U.S. Customs and Border Protection transferred them over to Miami International Airport and ultimately separated the pair because the woman wasn’t the child’s biological parent, the girl’s mother, Katty Paul, [said] Tuesday. Officials also refused to give the girl’s biological aunt, who had come to pick her up at the airport, custody. The young evacuee is currently being housed at His House Children’s Home in Miami Gardens, under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."
-- The administration has few answers for critically ill immigrants who are no longer protected from deportation despite receiving medical treatment in the U.S. Abigail Hauslohner reports: “More than a month after the Trump administration canceled a legal provision that allows critically ill migrants to stay in the United States while they receive medical treatment, administration officials appearing before Congress on Wednesday said they were unable to explain how or why the policy came about, who ordered it — or what it actually means. Word of a policy shift spread after 424 people, including seriously ill children and their caregivers, received letters from the government last month saying that they had 33 days to leave the country or risk deportation. … Following public outrage from activists and lawmakers, USCIS announced last week that it would reconsider those 424 denials — but offered little further explanation.”
-- A 37-year-old Mexican man died in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody on Tuesday, the eighth person to die in ICE custody this fiscal year. The man had been in ICE custody since Sept. 3 in Woodstock, Ill. ICE officials had issued him a notice to appear in immigration court for deportation proceedings. (BuzzFeed News)
-- Senators from both parties chastised Trump’s nominee to the 2nd Circuit yesterday over his refusal to answer questions about the work he’s done as associate White House counsel, specifically regarding the role he played in formulating or justifying the administration’s policy of separating families. Colby Itkowitz reports: “Steven Menashi refused to answer most questions related to his work at the White House … The nominee would only say that he gave legal advice to senior policy advisers on a number of issues, including immigration, but would not say to whom or on what specific policies he advised the administration.
“At one point, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) expressed his frustration with Menashi’s guardedness around his work at the White House. ‘That’s not an unfair question. Did you work on the subject matter?’ Graham said. … After a back-and-forth during which Menashi wouldn’t offer any specifics on his work or his personal beliefs, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told him it was ‘inappropriate’ for him to seek the position if he was going to ‘stonewall’ the committee.
“Menashi, 40, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., was also criticized by Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) for not providing, in the senator’s view, a thorough answer to a hypothetical question about violent words on social media leading to gun violence. ‘Counsel, you’re a really smart guy, but I wish you’d be more forthcoming,’ Kennedy told Menashi. ‘This isn’t supposed to be a game; we’re supposed to try to understand not how you’re going to rule but how you’re going to think.’”
A little context on why appointments like this matter so much: Sotomayor sat on the 2nd Circuit before her elevation to the Supreme Court.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The third Democratic debate is tonight in Houston at 8 p.m. ET. Elizabeth Warren, who has been surging this summer, is expected to be the center of attention. Ed Rendell accuses Warren of hypocrisy in a new op-ed for today's Washington Post. The Biden surrogate, a former DNC chair and Pennsylvania governor, writes: “Warren attacked former vice president Joe Biden for holding a kickoff fundraiser in Philadelphia in April, which she criticized as ‘a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors’ in an email to supporters the next day. Well, I helped organize that affair, and I thought her attack was extremely hypocritical because nearly 20 of us who attended the Biden fundraiser had also given her $2,000 or more in 2018 at closed-door fundraisers in ‘swanky’ locations.”
-- Warren claims her tax plan only asks the super-rich for “two cents.” But how much of a hit would billionaires and their peers really take if she implemented a 2 percent annual wealth tax on people with more than $50 million of assets? Annie Linskey reports: “The 15 largest fortunes in the country would be, on average, half their current size if the tax had been in place since 1982, according to new figures published by a pair of economists who helped Warren write her wealth tax proposal. Instead of $97 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates would now have $36.4 billion, according to the figures. Rather than $44.9 billion, Walmart heiress Alice Walton would be sitting on $15 billion. Instead of $160 billion, Amazon founder (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos would have $86.8 billion. Some economists, seizing on such numbers, say Warren’s tax could do more than just make the wealthy uncomfortable: It could erase great fortunes.”
-- Matt Viser tells you what else to keep an eye on during tonight’s debate: The most compelling storyline centers on Biden and Warren, who haven’t yet faced each other on the debate stage. Biden may also face challenges from Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), who have scrutinized his record in the previous debates. Health care, gun control and climate change will almost certainly come up again.
-- Despite complaints, the Democrats didn’t seriously consider any drastic changes to the current debate model that has been used for decades in America. Isaac Stanley-Becker previews tonight: “Strip away the extravagant backdrops and the dramatic intros, and the process is not so different from when primary debates began proliferating in the 1980s, alongside the growth of cable news. For years, candidates and their allies have complained about the strict time limits, the glib questions from moderators and the emphasis on conflict over substantive exchange. … The party has insisted on certain changes, such as no weekend debates and the inclusion of a woman and a person of color among the moderators for every showdown. … Otherwise, Democrats hewed to tradition.” (The Washington Post will stream a live debate preview show at 7:30 p.m., and you can tune in afterward to see The Fix’s winners and losers. Watch at washingtonpost.com or wapo.st/debate.)
-- The House Democratic campaign arm, the day after losing a special election in North Carolina, tapped a Hispanic woman to be its new executive director. From Politico: “Lucinda Guinn, a former executive at EMILY’S List, will serve as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s top staffer. … [She] comes into the role after more than a month-long search following a mass exodus of senior staffers in July, including the former executive director Allison Jaslow. The upheaval followed outcry from Democrats over a lack of diversity at the campaign arm.”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, reached a tentative deal with 23 states and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company over its role in the opioid crisis. Lenny Bernstein, Aaron C. Davis, Joel Achenbach and Scott Higham report: “The executive committee of lawyers representing cities, counties and other groups in a federal lawsuit against Purdue and other drug companies is recommending the deal be accepted. But more than half the state attorneys general in the nation balked, saying they planned to continue pursuing the company and its owners, the Sackler family. Under terms of a plan negotiated for months, the Sacklers would relinquish control of Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma and admit no wrongdoing. The company would declare bankruptcy and be resurrected as a trust whose main purpose would be producing medications to combat the opioid epidemic. If the deal becomes final, it would be the first comprehensive settlement in the broad effort to hold drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic. To date, Purdue has also settled with one state, Oklahoma, for $270 million, and won a victory when a North Dakota judge threw out that state’s case against the company.”
-- Citing a surge in youth vaping, the Trump administration is moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Laurie McGinley reports: “In an Oval Office meeting Wednesday that included first lady Melania Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner Norman E. ‘Ned’ Sharpless, President Trump said: ‘We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.’ He added that the first lady, who Tuesday tweeted a warning about vaping, feels ‘very, very strongly’ about the issue because of their 13-year-old son, Barron. The administration’s move comes as health officials across the country investigate more than 450 cases, including six deaths, of lung disease linked to vaping. Many patients have reported using cannabis-related products, but authorities have not ruled out any specific type of vaping. With the picture still murky, critics have seized the moment to press for tougher regulation of conventional e-cigarettes, which come in sweet and fruity flavors that have been favored by many young people.”
-- The administration finalized a repeal of the 2015 water rule that Trump called “destructive and horrible.” Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “In the halls of Washington and on sprawling farms and ranches, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, a legal tug of war has unfolded over a 2015 rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency much broader authority over the nation’s waterways. Critics say the Obama rule gave the federal government far too much power; supporters countered it would prevent the loss of vast swaths of wetlands. Court rulings have temporarily blocked the regulation in 28 states, while keeping it in effect in 22 others. On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as ‘waters of the United States’ under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986. ‘What we have today is a patchwork across the country,’ EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an interview. ‘We need to have a uniform regulatory approach.’"
-- Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world, leading to warmer waters with catastrophic consequences. Chris Mooney and John Muyskens have an alarming report: “Around the planet, enormous ocean currents are traveling to new locations. As these currents relocate, waters are growing warmer. Scientists have found similar hot spots along the western stretches of four other oceans — the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, the South Pacific, and the Indian. A Washington Post analysis of multiple temperature data sets found numerous locations around the globe that have warmed by at least 2 degrees Celsius over the past century. That's a number that scientists and policymakers have identified as a red line if the planet is to avoid catastrophic and irreversible consequences. But in regions large and small, that point has already been reached.
“Some entire countries, including Switzerland and Kazakhstan, have warmed by 2C. Austria has said the same about its famed Alps. The percentage of the globe that has exceeded 2C varies depending on the time periods considered. Over the past five years, 8 to 11 percent of the globe crossed the threshold, The Post found, while over the past 10 years, the figures drop slightly to between 5 and 9 percent. Considering just the past five years increases the area by roughly 40 percent. These hot spots are the scenes of a critical acceleration, places where geophysical processes are amplifying the general warming trend. They unveil which parts of the Earth will suffer the largest changes.”
-- There may have been dozens more deaths linked to the Flint water crisis than previously known. Kim Bellware reports: “The Flint water crisis may be best recognized for reigniting concerns about the levels of lead in municipal drinking water, but it’s less often associated with a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease — a severe form of pneumonia caused by waterborne bacteria that can be lethal if left untreated. ‘Flint’s Deadly Water,’ the new PBS Frontline investigation that first aired Tuesday, lays out a devastating case for why the extent of Flint’s 2014 Legionnaires’ outbreak — and the attending death toll — may be far worse than previously reported. For years, state health officials in Michigan have set the official death toll for the Legionnaires’ outbreak amid the Flint water crisis at 12 people. But during the roughly year-and-a-half the outbreak spanned, Frontline reporters found that 115 people in Flint died of non-viral pneumonia.”
-- Trump officials toured an unused Federal Aviation Administration facility in California in search for a place to relocate homeless people after the president directed aides to launch a major crackdown on homelessness in the state. Jeff Stein, Josh Dawsey and Tracy Jan report: “The FAA facility toured by administration officials is located in or near Los Angeles, but its precise name or whereabouts — or whether it is a current or former government facility — were not immediately known. It also remains unclear how the federal government could accomplish getting homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles, or what legal authority officials would use to do so. … Some administration officials expressed skepticism that the federal government wanted to get in the business of operating a large homeless shelter in Los Angeles. There were also questions about the feasibility of turning the FAA facility into a shelter and how it could legally be done.”
-- California could become the largest state to ban facial recognition in law enforcement body cameras. Reis Thebault reports: “The state Senate approved the three-year moratorium on Wednesday, sending the legislation back to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass. The ban has earned praise from privacy and civil rights advocates, who have long argued that the technology could be deployed for mass surveillance and lead to more false arrests.”
-- The North Carolina House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of the state budget in a surprise vote held while almost half of lawmakers were absent, including some who were participating in a 9/11 commemoration event. From the News & Observer: “Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, made the motion to reconsider the state budget, and chaos in the chamber quickly ensued. Democrats in the chamber vehemently objected to the bill being brought up, saying they were told there would be no votes during the 8:30 a.m. session and that the session was just a formality so work could begin. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, denied that such an announcement was made, and even asked the House Clerk to back him up. … Moore ignored the objections of the Democrats who were in the room and instead mowed through the vote with only 64 members voting. The vote was 55-9. Later, multiple Democratic House members who were there but who weren’t able to vote in time had their votes recorded as ‘no.’ … Gov. Roy Cooper decried the vote to override his veto of the budget: ‘Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive, surprise override of my budget veto.’”
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
-- The administration is considering double-tapping Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for national security adviser now that John Bolton is out. From CNN: “That would make Pompeo the second person in history to have both jobs at the same time. The first, Henry Kissinger, was already President Richard Nixon's national security adviser when he was appointed secretary of state in 1973, and filled both roles for two years. It's unclear how seriously Trump is considering this possibility, and a source familiar with the process says that Pompeo has given the President a list of other names to consider. On Wednesday, when asked about his top picks to replace Bolton, the President said, ‘I have five people that want it very much... Five people that I consider very highly qualified, good people.’ Tuesday night, attending a Washington charity ball with his wife, Pompeo laughed with friends about Bolton being fired. The two were often at odds with each other and had even stopped talking to each other outside formal meetings. Pompeo was jovial and his mentality was ‘what a day, what a life, what a job,’ explained a source who was at the event.”
-- Trump said Bolton made “some very big mistakes.” Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa and John Hudson report: “‘John’s known as a tough guy,’ Trump said disparagingly. ‘He’s so tough he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.’ He added, ‘John wasn’t in line with what we were doing.’ Bolton initially declined to comment in response to Trump’s remarks. He then texted back a few minutes later: ‘I will have my say in due course.’ Several Bolton allies said privately that he was closely watching the news coverage of his exit and the president’s comments, and has not ruled out further remarks as events unfold. One of the Bolton allies, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, called the president’s criticisms ‘odd’ and ‘off’ but said Bolton was not surprised by Trump’s latest outburst after working alongside him and becoming familiar with his behavior.”
-- Bolton broke unspoken rules set by Trump. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report: “The rupture between Trump and Bolton, as chronicled in public and in private accounts of administration officials, is a case study of the president’s sometimes Kafkaesque management style — an unusual set of demands and expectations he sets for those in his direct employ. The episode also illustrates the varied forces that propel advisers into the president’s inner circle — and often churn them out with similar velocity. … Trump’s desires for his advisers range from the trivial — someone who looks the part — to the traditional — someone willing to vigorously support him and defend his policies in media appearances. But these demands can be grating and at times terminal for members of his staff — especially for those who, like the national security adviser, may find themselves at odds with the president on critical issues.”
-- “Bolton was Trump’s best match, until he wasn’t," by Foreign Affairs: “Each of Trump’s three national security advisers has tried, with mixed success, to tailor to the president’s instincts a process that brings government expertise to bear on decision-making. Bolton was perhaps substantively and temperamentally the most suited to help Trump pursue his ‘America first’ foreign policy. But even he found himself on the outs with this decidedly mercurial president. And Bolton’s core style—rushing to decisions, excluding advisers with dissenting views—may have brought short-run results, but over time it was a recipe for policy disaster.”
-- Trump told his staff that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to correct a statement contradicting the tweet he sent, which incorrectly claimed that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama. Andrew Freedman, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin and Jason Samenow report: “That led White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue ... Trump had complained for several days that forecasters from [NOAA] contradicted his Sept. 1 Alabama tweet ... Mulvaney then called Ross, who was traveling in Greece, and told him that the agency needed to fix things immediately ... Mulvaney did not instruct Ross to threaten any firings or offer punitive actions. But Ross then called NOAA acting administrator Neil Jacobs...”
-- Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale claims he’s taking a relative pittance to run the 2020 operation. But that’s not true. From ProPublica's must-read profile: “Like Trump, Parscale is largely unencumbered by the concerns for consistency and accuracy that are the hobgoblins of smaller minds. ‘When I give a speech, I tell it like a story,’ Parscale says when asked about his biographical embellishments and errors. ‘My story is my story.’ Consider what Parscale has said about his own compensation this campaign season. He has repeatedly emphasized that he is refusing to take the customary cut of the campaign’s digital ad spending. … Instead, he said, he is accepting ... an annual ‘retainer’ of $300,000, plus unspecified bonuses. … But that wasn’t the full story. Parscale’s no-commissions policy did not apply when the client was the Republican National Committee, whose main mission, at least when it comes to employing Parscale’s firm, is reelecting Trump. That work represented $18 million in billings for Parscale Strategy since he was named 2020 campaign manager, dwarfing the $4.8 million his companies have received directly from Trump committees. In an interview for this article, Parscale confirmed he was taking commissions on the portions of the $18 million that was used to buy advertising, but he declined to discuss specifics. ...
"He has also spearheaded what appears to be the Trump campaign’s takeover of the RNC to the benefit of the president — and the seeming detriment of other Republican [down-ballot] candidates. Other presidents have consolidated control over their party; similar criticisms were made of Barack Obama. But the extent of Trump’s takeover is unprecedented, according to experts. They say it inflicted damage on Republican congressional candidates in the 2018 elections, and could do so again in 2020. One previously unreported example: Since Trump’s election in 2016, critical 'voter scores' — sophisticated polling-based analytics that the RNC provides to party committees and candidates — have conspicuously omitted an essential detail for any down-ballot race: how voters in specific states and congressional districts feel about Trump. Republican insiders believe these analytics are being withheld to try and prevent GOP candidates from publicly distancing themselves from the president or leaking unfavorable results that embarrass Trump."
-- Michael Cohen, the president’s former fixer and personal attorney, entered into an agreement with New York City prosecutors investigating the Trump Organization. From NBC News: “Representatives from the District Attorney's office met with Cohen on Aug. 20 at Otisville Prison, in upstate New York, where he's serving a three-year sentence, according to the source. ... The deal stipulates that he will cooperate with the Manhattan District Attorney's office in its investigation. Proffer agreements allow defendants and suspects to provide information to prosecutors without incriminating themselves.”
-- House Judiciary Committee Democrats have privately mapped out possible impeachment articles against Trump. Rachael Bade reports: “The closely held, informal discussions between some committee lawmakers and aides close to the investigations say the charges include a range of allegations — some that echo charges against former president Richard M. Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas, as well as violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment ... The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, episodes Democrats will explore further during a hearing Tuesday with former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski and other ex-Trump aides.”
-- Vice President Pence’s stay at Trump’s resort in Ireland cost American taxpayers nearly $600,000 in ground transportation fees alone, according to State Department receipts. From NBC News: “The receipts totaled more than $599,000 in conjunction with the vice president's stay, which required him to travel back-and-forth between Doonbeg and Dublin, where his official meetings were set to take place. During then-President Barack Obama's three-day visit to Ireland in 2013, the State Department spent just $114,000 on ground transit, paying the same limousine company. The government paid the same company nearly $1 million for Trump's ground transportation during a June visit to the property.”
-- Michael Williams, a deputy assistant to the president, has previously worked for the National Rifle Association and the American Suppressor Association, which represents silencer manufacturers and dealers. From Vice: “Williams has been one of the White House’s main points of contact on gun control in recent weeks, sources on Capitol Hill and in the White House [said]. Before working for Trump, Williams spent almost two years as the top lawyer for the [ASA]. Before that, in 2013, he worked as a law clerk for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. … Williams still has ties to the industry: His brother, Knox Williams, is the executive director and president of the American Suppressor Association. In an interview, Knox Williams confirmed that Michael Williams used to work for the group. The two brothers are in ‘close’ contact about gun issues, Knox Williams said. He said his brother ‘wore many hats’ at the trade group, including drafting state and federal legislation.”
-- The chief executives of 145 companies -- including Twitter, Levi Strauss and Dick’s Sporting Goods – urged Senate leaders to act on gun violence and expand background checks to all firearms sales.
-- The Education Department has threatened to suspend an employee who provided The Post with a draft of the administration’s 2017 budget request. Valerie Strauss reports: “Rebecca Delaney, an analyst in the Education Department’s Office of Finance and Operations since 2016, received a letter dated Aug. 30 from the director of the Budget Service telling her about the proposed suspension. The letter, which noted that she admitted to providing the information to the press, said Delaney knew the data was ‘subject to an embargo’ and that it is ‘uncouth or unprofessional’ to violate the embargo. It accused her of ‘conduct unbecoming a federal employee.’ … Delaney’s attorney, Cathy Harris, said in a statement: ‘This is one of the starkest examples of direct retaliation for whistleblowing that I have seen. The Department of Education is threatening to suspend an employee for blowing the whistle, which is wholly protected under the law. The Department should be thanking Ms. Delaney for her courage, not retaliating against her for exercising her right to blow the whistle by contacting the press about what she saw as gross mismanagement by public officials.’”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Israel was accused of planting cellphone surveillance devices near the White House and other sensitive locations around D.C. From Politico: “Unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior … The devices were likely intended to spy on [Trump], one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates -- though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.”
-- The Israeli government is denying the Politico report that it used spying devices in D.C., Ruth Eglash reports.
-- In the Jordan Valley, Palestinians fear further displacement now that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex large parts of the West Bank. James McAuley reports: “In the Palestinian communities on the map that Netanyahu presented, his words were not seen as a political game. They have been taken as a sign that life may get much worse, and fast. … Hussein Atiayat, 65, the deputy mayor of Auja, described what could soon happen to this small farming community known for its bananas, oranges and melons. ‘I’m a simple person, but my vision of what might happen is that we will be locked in our town. Literally it’s going to be a jail,’ he said. ‘They’ll put up checkpoints, and if you want to go to Jericho, you have to cross a checkpoint. Life will be miserable. They will bring us back to the way it was under the intifada.’”
-- Trump is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion bailout to Iran if Tehran comes back into compliance with the nuclear agreement that Trump himself blew up. From the Daily Beast: “Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including [Pompeo], are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year. … The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called 'maximum pressure' campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran."
-- On the 18th anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. military is still wrestling with wars that won’t go away. Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan write: “Speaking at the site where an airliner ripped into the Pentagon 18 years ago, Trump said Wednesday that the United States is hitting ‘our enemy harder than they have ever hit before,’ days after he called off negotiations aimed at winding down the war in Afghanistan. … The comment also underscored a fundamental issue for the military and the Trump administration: Although the president has pledged to end America’s ‘endless wars,’ there are no easy solutions in sight. … Clashes between U.S. and Afghan forces and the Taliban have increased across the country, a defense official familiar with the ongoing operations said. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, attributed the fighting to ‘jockeying’ ahead of Afghan presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, an increase in violence as Afghanistan’s traditional fighting season comes to a close and uncertainties created by the abrupt end of negotiations between the Trump administration and Taliban officials on Saturday. U.S. defense officials have declined repeatedly to address what could come next for the military in Afghanistan. The negotiations called for the Pentagon to withdraw about 5,400 of the 14,000 U.S. troops deployed, and it is not clear whether Trump will still pursue that level without a deal with the Taliban.”
-- During the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial ceremony, Trump vowed to strike back with power the U.S. has “never used before” if the country faces an attack similar to what occurred in 2001. Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner report: “At the Pentagon on Wednesday, Trump told attendees that ‘for every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul.’ … The president went into greater detail Wednesday than he has previously in discussing what he was doing when he heard the news of the attacks 18 years ago. He said he was at home watching television. ‘I vividly remember when I first heard the news, I was sitting at home watching a major business television show early that morning,’ Trump said. ‘Jack Welch, the legendary head of General Electric, was about to be interviewed when all of a sudden they cut away.’ He also claimed he had watched from his apartment, which is about four miles from the World Trade Center, as the second of the planes hit the site on the morning of the attacks. ‘I was looking out a window from a building in midtown Manhattan directly at the World Trade Center when I saw a second plane at a tremendous speed go into the second tower,’ he said. ‘It was then that I realized the world was going to change.’”
-- Hong Kong activists called off protests in remembrance of 9/11 and denounced a Chinese state newspaper for reporting they were planning “massive terror” in the city. From Reuters: “ ‘Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,’ the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on its Facebook page, alongside a picture of the hijacked airliner attacks on the twin towers in New York. ‘The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires.’ … ‘We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news,’ said one protester, Michael, 24, referring to the China Daily post. ‘The state media doesn’t care about its credibility.' "
-- Trump delayed his planned increase in tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks as a “gesture of good will” to advance trade talks. David J. Lynch and Anna Fifield report: “The president acted several hours after a conciliatory Chinese move to grant 16 U.S. products a one-year exemption from Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs. In a pair of tweets, Trump said he delayed his scheduled Oct. 1 increase at the request of China’s chief trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, to avoid imposing the tariffs as the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary. Oct. 1 is a politically sensitive date on the Chinese calendar in any year, but President Xi Jinping has been preparing for an elaborate celebration this year to showcase the country’s emergence as a global power. Liu is expected to lead a Chinese delegation to Washington for the resumption of the stalled trade talks some time next month.”
-- The State Department approved the sale of 32 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Poland for an estimated $6.5 billion. The sale is part of an expanded military partnership between the U.S. and Poland. The deal should allow the American-made jets to gradually replace Poland’s fleet of Russian-made jets. (Aaron Gregg)
-- The Treasury Department admitted that Valentin P. Gaponsev, a Russian-born physicist, shouldn’t be on a list of oligarchs that it cribbed entirely from a Forbes article. Steven Mufson reports: “Gapontsev, who has built a $6.8 billion company called IPG Photonics based in Oxford, Mass., was No. 27 on the list of 96 Russians that Treasury gave Congress when lawmakers were eager to retaliate for Russian interference in U.S. elections. In the letter Treasury issued Wednesday, it said it was revising its view ‘based on information we did not have at the time the report was submitted to Congress.’ Gapontsev has said that he never belonged on the list and that he had feared that Congress might use the list as a tool for applying pressure on the Kremlin. He said that unlike the Russian oligarchs, he built his company over three decades based on its advanced laser technology, not Kremlin connections.”
-- Europeans once hoped the British would reverse Brexit, but now they can’t wait for their departure. Michael Birnbaum reports: “E.U. leaders would almost certainly agree to a delay beyond the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, if [Boris] Johnson asks for one — as a new law passed by the British Parliament compels him to do. The Europeans don’t relish the prospect of an abrupt and economically destabilizing no-deal Brexit, without an agreement to manage the withdrawal and ease the transition to new trade terms. At the same time, though, E.U. negotiators are eager to usher Britain out. Policymakers in Brussels and in capitals throughout Europe worry about the consequences of continued uncertainty — and some say Britain is so poisoned on E.U. issues that it might be more destructive inside the bloc than outside of it.”
-- Johnson said he didn’t lie to the Queen about his controversial suspension of Parliament. “Absolutely not,” Johnson replied after being asked if he had lied to the monarch. “The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide.” A Scottish court ruled earlier this week that Johnson’s government advice to the Queen was “unlawful.” (CNN)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who was just endorsed by the president, didn't have a response when asked about his past criticism of Trump:
Just asked @BenSasse how he squares his previous (intense) criticisms about Pres Trump in 2016 with accepting his endorsement for reelection, and he said, “I don’t have anything for you right now.”— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 11, 2019
Trump suggested that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's opinion of Bolton had something to do with his firing:
"He wanted nothing to do with John Bolton," Trump says of Kim Jong Un, as part of a long explanation of his ouster.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) September 11, 2019
George Conway, husband of White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, sent a snarky reply to a tweet by the president suggesting that he could run again in 2024:
if this is his parole date I’m okay with it https://t.co/OV3w51SLfi— George Conway (@gtconway3d) September 11, 2019
Two 2020 contenders found themselves reunited in the friendly skies:
2020 hopeful Julián Castro poked fun at his and Sen. Cory Booker's (D-N.J.) body doubles:
Another 2020 candidate seems to have some surprises planned for today's debate:
Andrew Yang’s campaign manager just called to tell me that at tomorrow night’s debate, Yang will be doing "something no presidential candidate has ever done before in history.” He declined to go further than that.— Sam Stein (@samstein) September 11, 2019
The president's reelection campaign will fly a banner above Houston as the third Democratic debate happens but, as a Post reporter noted:
The debate will be... not outside https://t.co/VUVE0klQrb— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) September 12, 2019
A strategist for a Democratic super PAC poked fun at a now-deleted tweet by Trump's reelection campaign manager:
This just screams “Digital Genius” pic.twitter.com/J65IsN6nte— Josh Schwerin (@JoshSchwerin) September 11, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "And that's how the first lady got involved. I mean, she's got a son -- together -- that is a beautiful, young man, and she feels very, very strongly about it. She's seen it,” Trump on why first lady Melania Trump got involved with legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes. (BBC News)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trump has told many tall tales related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:
Samantha Bee thinks it might be time to end the electoral college:
Stephen Colbert reviewed the comments on Bolton, North Korea and vaping that Trump made today to the press:
And Seth Meyers took a closer look at Bolton's exit: