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Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 52
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - A smoldering Washington intelligence mystery exploded late Wednesday into a full-on confrontation between House Democrats and the White House over communications between President Donald Trump and an unidentified foreign leader. A showdown over a whistleblower's "credible and urgent" complaint was revealed -- first by The Washington Post and later confirmed by CNN -- to concern the President himself, raising new questions about the motivation of the acting director of national intelligence's refusal to reveal details of the case to Congress. The revelations have unleashed a new firestorm in the nation's capital over Trump's perplexing foreign policy dealings and the administration's across-the-board efforts to frustrate Congress' constitutionally authorized role of oversight of the executive branch. But they will also open debate about the extent of the President's powers, which give him expansive latitude in national security. The whistleblower's claims are also certain to bolster the belief among Trump and his supporters that nefarious forces are operating within America's intelligence establishment to undermine him -- a refrain conservatives have used in the wake of the Russian election interference operation. And they will likely further damage the President's trust in America's spy agencies. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump had made while communicating with a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. CNN has not confirmed the detail about the "promise." It is unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time. The President dismissed the reporting on Thursday morning, rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe" it.

Donald Trump has denied saying anything “inappropriate” to a foreign leader after a Washington Post report, confirmed by other news outlets, revealed that a whistleblower in the US intelligence community filed a formal complaint alleging that the president made a troubling “promise” to that leader. In a series of tweets, Trump said he is aware that US intelligence agents and their foreign counterparts listen to these phone conversations and asked if there was “anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated’ call.” Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, is facing sharp questions from Democrats who are uneasy with his career as an attorney for corporate clients. Scalia, who was introduced to the committee by Transportation secretary, who was the former labor secretary under president George W Bush (and is the wife of the Senate majority leader) Elaine Chao, said in his opening remarks that his previous work as the department’s top lawyer proved that, once there, he “had new clients, new responsibilities and a public trust.” The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, opposes his nomination. They have described Scalia as a “union-busting lawyer seeking new opportunities to ruthlessly advance corporate interests”. Democrats have accused Republicans of rushing the confirmation hearing, giving them little time to scour his record. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP committee, has defended the decision.


By Zachary Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's communications with a foreign leader, which included a "promise," sparked the whistleblower complaint that has led the acting director of national intelligence to agree to testify amid a showdown with Congress, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. It's unknown which leader Trump was speaking to and it's the first time his direct involvement in the complaint has been reported, according to the Post. The complaint was filed on August 12 and White House records show Trump had spoken to or interacted with five foreign leaders in the previous five weeks, the Post reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the Emir of Qatar. However, it's not clear that the communication that inspired the complaint was with any of those leaders. The White House did not respond to the Post's requests for comment and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment to the Post. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment when reached by CNN on Wednesday. The complaint has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. Maguire has agreed to testify next week in an open session before the committee after refusing to comply with Tuesday's deadline to hand over the whistleblower complaint, which had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be "credible and urgent." The committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced Wednesday that Maguire will appear at 9 a.m. on September 26. The California Democrat also announced that the intelligence community inspector general will brief the House committee Thursday behind closed doors about how it handled the whistleblower complaint. In a subpoena issued last week, Schiff said he would force the acting intelligence chief to testify this Thursday if he did not comply with a request to turn over the complaint and all corresponding records. On Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to Schiff and ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, saying not only that Maguire was refusing to provide the requested information -- as the complaint "does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern' " -- but also that he would not appear before the committee as scheduled because he "is not available on such short notice." But by Wednesday, the two sides appeared to have reached a compromise, if only on the timing of the hearing, setting the stage for what could be a contentious public hearing. Maguire will likely be grilled by lawmakers concerned that the administration may have violated whistleblower protections and whether President Donald Trump or top White House officials were involved in the case. Schiff said Monday that he does not know the exact nature of the complaint, as he has not yet received the details from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, nor does he know the whistleblower's identity. He has argued that Maguire has taken unprecedented steps to withhold the information from Congress. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's letter Tuesday to Schiff, obtained by CNN, the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather "stakeholders within the Executive Branch." As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of "urgent concern" to the office.

By John Haltiwanger
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday acknowledged that the current crisis with Iran is a "direct result" of actions taken by President Donald Trump. Since Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, his administration has engaged in a "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran in an effort to cripple the Iranian economy with harsh sanctions. The end goal of this is to squeeze Iran into coming back to the negotiation table to agree to a more stringent version of the nuclear deal that prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons. But so far, Trump's hard-line strategy has not been successful and there's little evidence this is changing. Pompeo defended this approach to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, stating, "There is this theme that some suggest that the president's strategy that we allowed isn't working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA." He was referring to the formal name of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The secretary of state was addressing the recent attack on two major Saudi oil facilities, and facing questions on how the attack was possible despite Saudi investments in US defense technology as well as how such incidents can be deterred moving forward. Though Pompeo conceded the attack was "of a scale we've just not seen before," he made the case that without the Trump administration's sanctions Iran could have access to even more complex and dangerous weapons systems. In the process, he inadvertently captured why the US and Saudi Arabia are in the situation in the first place — Trump's decision to pull the US from the Iran nuclear deal — as he stated "what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA." 'There is a direct line you can draw from Trump's violation of the Iran deal and the risk of conflict today.' Since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, relations with Iran have rapidly spiraled downward. The situation has become so contentious in recent months that it's raised fears of a new conflict in the Middle East. As the Trump administration has ramped up the economic pressure on Iran, the Iranians have responded with aggressive behavior in an effort to cause problems for the US and its partners. If Iran is indeed responsible for the Saudi oil field attacks, experts and former US officials say Trump's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA opened the door for the attack as well as the broader tensions surrounding it.

The spending paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said.
By NATASHA BERTRAND and BRYAN BENDER
Since Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has spent nearly $200,000 at the president’s luxury Scotland resort, according to figures and documents the Pentagon provided to the House Oversight Committee. The spending, which has all occurred since August 2017, paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms at the Turnberry resort over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said. The Air Force confirmed last week that its crews had stayed up to 40 times at Trump’s property since 2015, but it has not provided a breakdown of the number of stays since Trump was elected. The figures provided to the House Oversight Committee suggest the vast majority of stays have occurred since Trump took office, raising concerns among Democrats about a conflict of interest. POLITICO first reported earlier this month that the Oversight Committee had been probing military spending at Turnberry since April to determine whether the money constituted a violation of the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving any compensation from the federal government other than his salary. After being elected, Trump chose not to fully divest himself from his business interests, choosing instead to put his holdings in a trust that he can receive money from at any time. The committee’s probe has ramped up in the wake of POLITICO’s reporting on several overnight stays at the resort by U.S. Air Force crews, some of which have been multinight stays involving dozens of crew members and passengers. The Pentagon documents showed that U.S. taxpayer funds “have been used to pay for more than three dozen separate stays involving hundreds of nights of rooms — all after the President was sworn into office,” according to a letter the committee’s chairman, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote to acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday.

By Augie Martin and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
(CNN) - A federal judge has ordered a temporary injunction against the California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to secure a spot on the state's presidential primary ballot -- a law aimed at President Donald Trump, who has not released his tax returns. In a ruling Thursday, US District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr., said that California cannot force candidates to disclose their tax returns as outlined in the state's "Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act." England said he would make his final ruling on the law before October 1. Even as the temporary injunction will likely face appeals from state officials, the decision marks a clear victory for Trump who sued California last month to challenge the state law. The Trump administration has resisted various large-scale efforts to obtain the President's tax returns, a battle that has largely played out in courts. Trump has claimed that ongoing IRS audits have stopped him from making his tax returns public, even though audits don't prevent individuals from releasing tax returns. While the law in question covers all presidential candidates, those in court Thursday acknowledged it was all aimed at person. "The elephant in the room is President Trump's tax returns," England said. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law in July. "The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement," he said in a statement at the time. Another lawsuit was filed in July by Republican voters along with the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of California who argue that this a political maneuver that takes voting rights away from Trump's supporters.

By Caroline Kelly and Kate Sullivan, CNN
(CNN) - California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed the Trump administration and Republicans for their "complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise" in light of President Donald Trump's decision to curtail state-set emissions standards. "They're calling private sector corporations to the mat and threatening them," Newsom, a Democrat, told CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday night on "CNN Tonight." "I don't think this, I know this from the personal conversations I've had and by the actions of the Department of Justice," he continued. "What happened to the Republican Party?" Newsom, who frequently spars with the President, made the comments as Trump scraps with California's Democratic officials over auto-emission standards and the state's homeless crisis. Earlier this month, the Trump administration opened an antitrust investigation into four auto companies -- Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen -- that agreed with the state of California to raise their fuel economy standards in coming years. "Federalism be damned; state rights, 10th Amendment be damned; Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon be damned," Newsom said Wednesday when asked why he thought a Republican administration was exerting its power over a state-level decision -- traditionally a cornerstone of conservative policy. Newsom pointed to Reagan's efforts as the state's governor in 1967 to address smog in Los Angeles, arguing that it led to the bipartisan Clean Air Act signed by Nixon, a fellow California Republican, in 1970. "They'd be rolling in their graves right now of what the Republican administration is doing," Newsom said. "And moreover, what the Republican Party is doing -- complicit, complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise."

By Maggie Haberman
When President Trump attended a fund-raiser at a private home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, there was a familiar face in the crowd: Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the billionaire investor and old friend of the president’s who has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors looking into possible foreign influence over Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. Mr. Barrack was among Mr. Trump’s relatives, party and campaign officials and the well-heeled attending the event at the home of Geoffrey Palmer, a real estate developer, according to two people familiar with what took place. Mr. Barrack spoke during the round-table portion of the event, and the president acknowledged him pleasantly, one of the people said. Mr. Barrack also attended a fund-raising breakfast for Mr. Trump on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. And he has given $360,600, the maximum amount allowable, to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint entity between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to three people familiar with the donor list. As federal prosecutors examine the presidential inaugural committee, which Mr. Barrack led, and possible lobbying efforts by foreign governments looking to influence the new administration, Mr. Barrack is sending signals that the attention on him has not deterred his interest in engaging in the 2020 campaign. People close to both Mr. Trump and Mr. Barrack said that talk of a permanent strain in their decades-long relationship has been overstated. The two men still speak, those people say, and Mr. Trump appeared pleased to see Mr. Barrack at his events. Whether Mr. Barrack will become more involved in the campaign, either by advising the president or fund-raising for him, as he did in 2016, remains to be seen.   

By Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney
Senate Republicans are responding cautiously to a new proposal to expand background checks for gun sales that the Trump administration is circulating on Capitol Hill. President Trump has yet to endorse the proposal, but the White House is taking the temperature of Senate Republican support for the idea. “There are some ideas floating around that different members of the administration are coming up with and at this point it’s probably too early to say” if Republicans will support it, said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.). “Our members are going to be very — proceed with caution — very skeptical of some of the ideas that have been put out there in the past, but I think they’re willing to listen,” Thune added. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he has not yet reviewed the administration’s memo on expanding background checks, which is along the lines of the amendment sponsored in 2013 by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “I haven’t seen it but I talked to [Attorney General William] Barr yesterday. He’s going around talking to people. If he’s good with it, I’m good with it,” Graham said of the memo. The memo, titled, “Idea for New Unlicensed-Commercial-Sale Background Checks,” proposes expanding background checks to all advertised commercial sales, including sales at guns shows, along the lines of the Manchin-Toomey proposal. The document was first reported on by The Daily Caller.

By KYLE CHENEY
The nation's top intelligence official has refused to comply with a House Intelligence Committee subpoena to provide the contents of a whistleblower complaint a government watchdog deemed "urgent" and credible, the panel's chairman, Adam Schiff, said late Tuesday. The California Democrat warned the agency might be acting to conceal high-level wrongdoing by President Donald Trump or his immediate advisers. "The committee's position is clear — the acting DNI [Director of National Intelligence] can either provide the complaint as required under the law, or he will be required to come before the committee to tell the public why he is not following the clear letter of the law, including whether the White House or the attorney general are directing him to do so," Schiff said. "He has yet to provide the complaint in response to the committee's subpoena, so I expect him to appear on Thursday — under subpoena if necessary,” he added. Schiff sounded an alarm last week after acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire intervened to block Congress from receiving the contents of the still-secret whistleblower complaint. Maguire, according to Schiff, diverted it to the Justice Department and told the committee he would refuse to share it because it involved someone outside the intelligence community and might involve matters of confidentiality and privilege. Schiff ripped Maguire for breaching a law that requires him to share with Congress any whistleblower complaint deemed urgent by the intelligence community's inspector general. He said the confluence of factors led him to believe the complaint involved Trump or other senior executive branch officials. But DNI general counsel Jason Klitenic insisted in a letter to Schiff on Tuesday that Maguire had followed the letter of the law in blocking the transmission of the complaint to Congress. The whistleblower statute governing his agency, he said, only applies when the complaint involves a member of the intelligence community. Because it was aimed at a person outside the intelligence community, he said, the whistleblower statute does not apply to this scenario.

California originally was granted authority to set tougher standards as an acknowledgement of the poor air quality in cities such as Los Angeles.
By Paul A. Eisenstein
President Donald Trump on Wednesday barred California from setting its own vehicle emissions standards, kicking off a battle that is likely to last well beyond the 2020 presidential election. "The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, noting that the move will lead to "older, highly polluting cars" being replaced by "new, extremely environmentally friendly cars." The widely anticipated move comes as the White House also prepares to roll back the strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set under President Barack Obama. Using its authority to set emissions targets, California had set even tougher standards that effectively required the auto industry to begin rolling out fleets of zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, pure battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars. California has already filed legal efforts to forestall such a move and has been joined by other states that have adopted the stricter California mandates. "There will be very little difference in emissions between the California Standard and the new U.S. Standard, but the cars will be far safer and much less expensive." Trump wrote. "Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business." California originally was granted authority to set tougher standards as an acknowledgment of the poor air quality in cities such as Los Angeles. Responding to reports that the White House was preparing to follow through on plans to eliminate that waiver, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement warning the move “could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe, if California were to roll over.” The administration is engaged in a “witch hunt against California and carmakers,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, picking up a phrase that Trump often applied to the Mueller investigation into possible collusion with the Russians. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced an antitrust investigation into the deal reached with California regulators by four automakers — Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — that would have them hold to stricter emissions and mileage standards than the Trump administration is expected to set under the revised CAFE mandate.   

By Yun Li
Oil prices retreated on Wednesday, extending the decline in the previous session after President Donald Trump said he ordered the Treasury Department to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran. Trump’s announcement follows attacks on the world’s largest crude-processing plant and oil field in Saudi Arabia that had forced the kingdom to cut its production in half. Oil prices jumped the most in history on Monday due to the disruption. Brent crude oil futures were down 36 cents, or 0.56%, at $64.21 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 64 cents, or 1.11%, at $58.68. The latest comment from the president marks a softening in his rhetoric as he had warned on Sunday that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” to respond to the Saudi incident. Oil tumbled as much as 7% on Tuesday after the Saudi energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said oil production capabilities were fully restored and that oil output will be back to pre-attack levels by the end of September. Fifty percent of the oil production loss from the attack has been restored in the past two days, bin Salman said, adding that production capacity would reach 10 million barrels of crude per day (bpd) by the end of this month and 12 million bpd by the end of November. Trump said Monday he’s in no rush to respond to the coordinated attack. When asked if Iran was behind it, Trump said “It’s certainly looking that way at this point.”  

By Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday morning, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded to a tweet from President Donald Trump that insinuated she held a party on September 11, saying that Trump's "lies" endangered her life. Earlier Wednesday, Trump had retweeted a video from comedian Terrence Williams that had accused Omar of having a party on the anniversary of 9/11. "You were seriously partying on the anniversary of 9/11?" Williams says in his video. Omar said Williams was wrong and that the video showed her at a Congressional Black Caucus event from that weekend to celebrate black women in Congress. "IIhan Omar, a member of AOC Plus 3, will win us the Great State of Minnesota," Trump wrote. "The new face of the Democrat Party!" Omar responded. "The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk," she wrote on Twitter. Omar responded. "The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk," she wrote on Twitter. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a progressive political action committee, tweeted to say the video had been cut from a video filmed by their founder Adam Green. According to Green, the video had been of Omar dancing to a Lizzo song at an event on Sept. 13, not Sept. 11. Green posted the video on Sept. 13.


By Kevin Liptak and Nicole Gaouette, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump said Wednesday he's ordered new sanctions on Iran, the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries and one that follows the attack over the weekend on Saudi oil facilities that US officials have pinned on Iran. "I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump tweeted. The President made the announcement as some Republican lawmakers have called for military strikes against Iran and Vice President Mike Pence has suggested a military response is possible. But Trump, who campaigned on getting the US out of foreign entanglements, faces a battle for reelection that would be complicated by a new war. The sanctions announcement may signal his desire to avoid military conflict, analysts said. "This is important because it appears to be Trump's effort to respond to the Iranian attack by sanctions measures and not by military steps," Henry Rome, an Iran analyst at the Eurasia Group, said about Trump's Tuesday tweet. "The way I look at it, this is the substitute for a military response, not the prelude to it." 'Fairly marginal' It wasn't immediately clear to whom or which sectors the new sanctions would apply. The US has ratcheted up sanctions on the country after withdrawing last year from a multi-nation nuclear deal that constrained Iran's nuclear activity in return for an easing of economic sanctions. The US "maximum pressure" policy has undermined the nuclear deal, creating tensions with European allies who are trying to keep the nuclear deal afloat. The Trump administration has sanctioned all key Iranian economic sectors, including aviation and shipping. And in May, it hit the lifeblood of Tehran's economy, sanctioning its energy exports. The Trump administration has ratcheted sanctions up to the point that, Rome said, "at this point the US is scraping the bottom of the barrel with sanctions. After the decision to sanction Iranian oil in May, everything else is fairly marginal. When you look at effectiveness or impact, you're really out of significant sanction tools at this point." Iran, unable to gain the economic benefits promised under the nuclear pact, has begun to violate certain aspects of the agreement.

By Daniel Dale, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump spoke for 95 minutes at a campaign rally in New Mexico on Monday night, among the longest speeches he's given as President. We're still working through the long transcript, but we know he made at least 27 false claims -- most of them ones he's said before in recent months. Here's the list so far: Trump repeated his claim that a "Google executive," someone who "worked at Google," reported that Google bias may have cost Trump up to 10 million votes in the 2016 election. That flawed study (which we fact-checked last month) was conducted by a psychologist, not a Google employee or executive. Trump said Venezuela was "one of the wealthiest countries in the world" 15 years ago, when it wasn't. Venezuela was 67th in the world in GDP per capita in 2004. He boasted that he was the one who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed, saying, "They've tried to get that for 45 years. They haven't been able to get it. But I'm good at getting things." The program was created in 2014 in a bill signed by President Barack Obama. He said of his USMCA trade agreement, "Unions love it." The agreement is generally opposed in its current form by major US unions, who have demanded changes to the text; the president of the AFL-CIO federation says it will be a "disaster for workers" if it is not amended. He said, "They wanted a wall in San Diego -- good mayor in San Diego, by the way. They wanted a wall." There is no apparent basis for this repeated claim; even that mayor, Republican Kevin Faulconer, opposes the wall.

The USDA wants to “modernize” inspections of slaughterhouses. Critics say they’re letting the industry rule itself.
By Kelsey Piper
Federal inspectors make regular visits to the nation’s slaughterhouses where they do quality control, test for diseases, and look out for unsafe slaughter practices that might result in contaminated meat. But now, the process they use is set to change, and critics say it will give pork producers far too much power and leave consumers in danger. The US Department of Agriculture moved forward this week with new regulations that will simplify oversight of slaughterhouses where pigs are killed and processed. The new regulations have been under consideration for a long time, but while under previous administrations they were repeatedly delayed for more research, under the current administration they’ve raced ahead. Most Americans don’t pay attention to regulatory requirements at slaughterhouses — at least, until there’s a massive outbreak of foodborne illness as a consequence of inadequate safety procedures. Critics of the USDA’s new regulations argue that such an outbreak is nearly inevitable because, they say, the new process doesn’t allow for adequate food safety testing. The way we raise and slaughter animals on factory farms makes for cheap meat, but also introduces serious public health, sustainability, and animal welfare problems. The cramped conditions on factory farms are perfect for breeding disease, and the mass use of antibiotics to manage that disease risk leads to antibiotic resistance. Pig factory farms produce huge amounts of biohazardous waste that is poorly contained in large hog waste lagoons, which overflow during serious storms. All in all, it’s a mess, one that, ideally, regulators would be fighting to improve. We have to do better, and the new regulations for pork slaughter are a move in the wrong direction. The new pig slaughter regulations and what they mean: Our current procedures for oversight of pig slaughter facilities are decades old and there’s no question that they need to be reconsidered. But critics worry that the new regulations in effect privatize many of the key duties of USDA inspectors and make the rest of their duties harder.

By Zachary Cohen and Alex Marquardt, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by acting director Joseph Maguire, has refused to comply with a deadline to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be "credible and urgent." Tuesday night, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and ranking Republican Devin Nunes of California, saying the complaint "does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern' because it does not relate to 'intelligence activity.' " The complaint "involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch," a copy of the letter, obtained by CNN, says, adding that complying with the committee's requests "will necessarily require appropriate consultations." In the letter, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reveals that the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather "stakeholders within the Executive Branch." As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of "urgent concern" to them. The office says it plans to work with the House intelligence Committee but given that executive branch members are involved, there are "confidential and potentially privileged matters" that "will necessarily require appropriate consultations." Maguire won't appear at Thursday hearing Schiff's subpoena was issued Friday evening, and the national intelligence director's office says that wasn't enough time to comply. Maguire will also not appear at a scheduled congressional hearing on Thursday; his office says he "is not available on such short notice." In response, Schiff said: "The IC IG determined that the complaint is both credible and urgent, which is why the Committee must move quickly. The Committee's position is clear -- the Acting DNI can either provide the complaint as required under the law, or he will be required to come before the Committee to tell the public why he is not following the clear letter of the law, including whether the White House or the Attorney General are directing him to do so. He has yet to provide the complaint in response to the Committee's subpoena, so I expect him to appear on Thursday, under subpoena if necessary."

By Greg Sargent
At a rally in New Mexico on Monday night, President Trump ridiculed the idea that Democrats might impeach him based on the special counsel’s findings. He claimed the investigation was run by “18 Trump haters,” but that “after two years, they found nothing.” In so doing, Trump suggested that the investigation was deeply corrupt while simultaneously claiming it totally exonerated him — two big lies in one. Yet even as Trump lied to his rallygoers’ faces, we learned that the White House counsel has ordered two top Trump advisers to defy subpoenas for testimony to the Judiciary Committee, which is considering articles of impeachment against Trump, while sharply limiting a third former adviser’s testimony to the panel. Which raises a question: If the case against Trump’s corruption were so weak, then why would Trump and the White House have to go to such extraordinary lengths to stonewall Congress’ ability to exercise its most basic and fundamental oversight authority? This juxtaposition will be on full display on Tuesday afternoon, when former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies to the Judiciary Committee. The White House has placed sharp limits on what Lewandowski can discuss, ordering him to discuss only what’s in the Mueller report, and not to discuss any private communications that go beyond this. At the same time, the White House has also directed two others to refuse questioning: former White House secretary Rob Porter, and former Trump campaign adviser and White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn. In all three cases, the White House’s arguments are absurd. The White House is claiming that Congress’ subpoena power is null and void because Dearborn and Porter have absolute immunity from testifying. While it’s true that other administrations have held the position that close advisers have absolute immunity to congressional subpoenas, to protect presidential prerogatives, in this case the White House has exercised it again and again, as part of a strategy of absolute, maximal resistance to oversight on just about every conceivable front. Meanwhile, the White House has claimed a more limited form of executive privilege to restrict what Lewandowski can say — even though Lewandowski didn’t actually work for the White House. As Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told Washington Journal, it’s deeply absurd to claim Lewandowski is covered by executive privilege, given that he’s “never worked in the executive branch." Raskin added: “Where does that doctrine come from? Did the stork bring that?” Bottomless corruption: It’s important to note that these three men were witnesses to some of the most shocking acts of corruption on Trump’s part, as the special counsel’s report details. Porter, for instance, was in the middle of Trump’s efforts to get former White House counsel Donald McGahn to deny ever trying to get him to fire the special counsel. Trump directed Porter to tell McGahn to create a false record to this effect — which McGahn refused to do.

The Taliban have told the BBC that their "doors are open" should US President Donald Trump want to resume peace talks in the future. Chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai insisted negotiation remained "the only way for peace in Afghanistan" during an exclusive interview. Mr Stanikzai's words came a week after Mr Trump declared the talks "dead". Earlier this month, the two sides had appeared close to a deal to end the 18-year conflict. Mr Trump had even invited senior Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to meet at Camp David on 8 September. But a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on 6 September, which killed a US soldier and 11 others, prompted Mr Trump to pull out, saying the group "probably don't have the power to negotiate" if they were unable to agree to a ceasefire during talks. Late on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning recent Taliban attacks, saying the group "must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace". Mr Stanikzai dismissed American concerns, telling the BBC the Taliban had done nothing wrong. "They killed thousands of Talibans according to them," he told the BBC's chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet. "But in the meantime, if one [US] soldier has been killed that doesn't mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides." "From our side, our doors are open for negotiations," he added. "So we hope the other side also rethink their decision regarding the negotiation."   

New report suggests law enforcement as ‘tool’ to deal with crisis, as Trump laments people sleeping in ‘best entrances to buildings’
By Sam Levin
The White House has said it is exploring using police to remove homeless people from the streets, a vague threat that has escalated concerns about Trump pushing a law enforcement crackdown in California. A new report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said “policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing where they can get the services they need”. The policy document was published just before Trump’s visit to California on Tuesday and comes amid his increasing attacks on Democrats in Los Angeles and San Francisco over the homelessness crisis. Trump further griped about the presence of homeless people while speaking to reporters on Tuesday, saying they live in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings” where people “pay tremendous taxes”. He said LA and San Francisco “destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening” and that some residents want to move away because of tent encampments. The president further mentioned the creation of an “individual taskforce”, but did not provide details, saying: “We’ll be doing something about it.” Advocates across the Golden State, which has a growing homeless population and severe affordable housing shortage, have urged the US government not to further criminalize people living in poverty and instead increase funding for housing and other services, some of which Trump has cut in his budgets. The president, who is visiting the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles this week for fundraisers, has made his attacks on liberals in California a theme of his campaigning, and Democrats in the state have sued his administration dozens of times. Los Angeles’ Skid Row, an area considered the epicenter of the homelessness crisis, has also received increasing national attention, including a tour by Trump administration officials last week and a visit Tuesday by the Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. The CEA report noted that almost half of all unsheltered homeless people live in California, and said that “policies such as the extent of policing of street activities” may play a role in why some states have larger homeless populations. The report also said “more tolerable conditions for sleeping on the streets … increases homelessness”. Tom Philipson, the CEA chairman, did not elaborate on how policing could be used in a call with reporters, according to the Washington Post. It’s unclear if the president would have any legal authority to use law enforcement to move people from the streets, and homelessness is an issue typically handled by local governments.   

Trump spurns Dems on universal background checks
By MARIANNE LEVINE
President Donald Trump will not consider the House-passed universal background checks bill as part of his proposed gun package, according to a source familiar with the conversation on guns. Trump’s position on the House-passed bill is not exactly a surprise. The White House issued a veto threat against the bill in February. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called on Trump repeatedly to bring up the House-passed universal background checks bill. Over the weekend, Pelosi and Schumer issued a statement following a phone call with Trump that anything other than the House-passed bill “will not get the job done.”  Schumer reiterated his calls Monday for the White House to back the House proposal. “We’re certainly willing to discuss the finer points of legislation with our Republican colleagues, but we made one thing clear to the president — the effectiveness of gun safety measures will be severely compromised if we allow the loopholes in our background check system to remain intact,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. But Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday that Schumer and Pelosi were merely trying to score political points. “The things that they are proposing just aren’t realistic and they know that and so it’s designed more to talk to their political base and it’s a lot more about that than I think an actual solution,” Thune said. Trump met again with aides Monday to discuss proposals to address gun violence. The White House expects to release the package of proposals this week but Trump is on a campaign trip to New Mexico and California though Wednesday night. On Friday, he will host an all-day state visit for officials from Australia. His schedule makes Thursday the most likely day, though nothing has been scheduled. While Trump will not support the House-passed universal background checks bill, he could still back a more limited form of background check legislation as well as so-called red flag laws. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is working on a red flag bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that background checks and red flag bills should go hand in hand.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski proves to be an uncooperative witness for House Democrats in hearing
By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – House Democrats resumed Tuesday what they call an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump and immediately ran into a roadblock as his former campaign manger, Corey Lewandowski, largely refused to answer lawmakers' questions and two other Trump aides refused to appear at all. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Lewandowski to describe what special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation concluded were attempts to thwart the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Investigators said Trump instructed Lewandowski to pass on an order to limit the scope of the Russia investigation to prevent meddling in elections, but he never delivered it. The combative campaign operative, who remains friendly with Trump, instantly proved an uncooperative witness for Democrats trying to shine a spotlight on Trump's conduct during the investigation that clouded the first two years of his presidency. He quarreled with Nadler and refused to answer a succession of questions about his interactions with Trump.  

A coalition of the few: U.S. and Saudi Arabia stand alone against Iran
By WESLEY MORGAN
The United States and Saudi Arabia lack virtually any allies as they consider how to respond to this weekend's attacks on Saudi oil refineries, raising doubts about whether the Trump administration could build any coalition for military action in the region. The attacks have crippled Saudi oil production, creating one of the largest oil disruptions in decades. But while Defense Secretary Mark Esper tweeted that the U.S. is working with "our partners to address this unprecedented attack,” President Donald Trump has alienated key allies by unilaterally pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposing sanctions. It has already been unable to enlist allies to protect shipping in the region from Iranian attacks. “In a normal administration, we should be able to get 40 or 50 countries on board for something like this but we can’t because nobody trusts the Trump administration and everybody thinks they’re going to take them into war," said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration national security official who worked on Iran policy at the Pentagon, referring to the maritime security initiative — which he called "pathetic.” “There is no offensive coalition against Iran, not there or anywhere else in the world right now,” added Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who studies Iranian military activity in the Middle East. Even leading Republicans in Congress called on Trump to take action only with the help of allies. "The best way to counter Iran is by working by, with and through regional partners — including making sure they have what they need to defend themselves and our shared interests," Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement late Monday. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said earlier that “I hope our international partners will join us in imposing consequences on Iran for this reckless destabilizing attack.” Successive U.S. administrations have used coalitions to bolster the legitimacy of military actions and to relieve some of the pressure on heavily used U.S. military forces — from the 1991 Gulf War and the Clinton administration’s actions in the Balkans to the much-maligned “coalition of the willing” that the George W. Bush administration recruited for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Defense Department has decided not to proceed with three border wall projects in California and Arizona, citing "insufficient contract savings," according to a court filing. The move appears to be a setback for President Donald Trump, who has sparked controversy for dipping into Pentagon funds to build his signature border wall, though it's unclear what will happen to the projects listed in the filing. Last month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper approved an additional 20 miles of 30-foot-high barriers for the southern border using $2.5 billion in funds redirected from a counter drug account, which is authorized to spend money on border barrier construction for the purpose of blocking "drug-smuggling corridors." Although then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had earlier approved some 135 miles of fencing requested by the Department of Homeland Security in the Yuma, El Paso and Tucson sectors, the cost of constructing that section of the border wall was less than originally anticipated, freeing up funds to support the additional 20 miles approved by Esper. The Pentagon notified the court of the additional miles at the time, noting the Army Corps wouldn't know the exact amount of savings to move forward with the projects until later in the fiscal year. Monday's court filing, however, reveals that there were not enough funds to cover the costs of the projects.

VIP pins, Scottish shortbread and plush surroundings greet officers who choose Trump Turnberry for their layovers.
By BEN SCHRECKINGER
TURNBERRY, Scotland— Air Force officers who have earned medals for their tours of duty can pick up some more brass with a short pit stop in Southwest Scotland. As part of its relationship with the Air Force, the Trump Turnberry resort occasionally gifts high-ranking officers a version of its “Pride Pin,” a lapel pin featuring the property’s iconic lighthouse — an honor reserved for VIPs — upon their arrival, according to a resort staffer familiar with the practice. Rank-and-file members can expect a more basic welcome package in their rooms, featuring goodies like Scottish shortbread. A five-day visit to Turnberry and the surrounding region revealed that the regular visits from Air Force crews on layovers from Prestwick Airport have become a major facet of the life of the resort. It also revealed that, rather than being restricted to single-night refueling stops, some visits last multiple nights, expanding the known dimensions of the relationship between the president’s luxury resort and the U.S. military. One reason for the multinight stays, which were described by a half-dozen staffers, is inclement weather that prevents the crews from taking off from the airport 40 minutes up the road. In at least one instance earlier this year, a crew was laid up for multiple nights while its plane underwent repairs, allowing the group to hit the links on Turnberry’s world-class course and purchase mementos from the pro shop, where a child’s golf shirt runs 55 British pounds, about $68. A Trump Organization spokeswoman did not respond to an email requesting comment. The extended contact has allowed service members to bond with staff, who are tickled that the airmen sometimes address them as “sir” or “ma’am,” rather than vice versa. Occasionally friendships continue on social media.

Donors are snapping up tickets, even if they don’t know exactly where the events are being held.
By CARLA MARINUCCI
SAN FRANCISCO — Donald Trump remains unpopular in the state where he lost to Hillary Clinton by a landslide: His job approval ratings in California are among his worst in the country. But among state Republicans here, it’s a different story. And they’ve snapped up tickets to four sold-out, high-dollar fundraisers for the president. The events are shrouded in secrecy to a large extent, necessitated by the deep hostility many in the state feel toward the president. Still, the tickets have sold “faster than Mick Jagger,’’ laughs former state party chair Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committee member and a Trump bundler. “There’s a lot of love here for him,” says Steel, pointing to more than 1,000 Republicans, “donors at every level,” who have clamored for tickets to four events within the next 24 hours including a lunch Tuesday in Silicon Valley, two events in the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills area — a dinner Tuesday and a breakfast Wednesday — and another lunch in San Diego on Wednesday. Already, state donors have given generously to his reelection campaign and the joint fundraising committee with the RNC, ponying up $6.5 million in checks from January to June of this year alone. At the Sept. 17 luncheon stop in the Bay Area, ticket prices range from $1,000 to $100,000. This week, Trump’s California fundraisers have attracted a new set of Republican donors and bundlers eager to be in the room with him in Northern and Southern California events, which will raise upwards of $15 million, party insiders say.

By ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY
President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sent Democrats into a rage Tuesday as he swatted down dozens of questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president while using the tense hearing as a launchpad for a possible U.S. Senate campaign. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski tailored his remarks to the liking of his former boss, while Democrats tried with limited success to get the Trump loyalist to detail efforts by the president to effectively end former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But the hearing armed Democrats with what they see as key ammunition in their drive toward impeachment of the president. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that Lewandowski’s refusal to answer questions about his conversations with Trump — at the behest of the White House — bolsters Democrats’ case to impeach the president, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains opposed to the idea. “When you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see: the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction,” Nadler told Lewandowski. “And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress,” Nadler added.

“Saudi Arabia pays cash.”
By Matthew Yglesias
Saudi Arabia announced this weekend that attacks on two of its state-owned oil facilities — launched either by Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen or by Iran itself, depending on whom you ask — had disrupted the country’s oil production. President Donald Trump’s response was unusual, even for him. Normally, Trump takes a crass, transactional view on foreign policy, rejecting the pro-forma assumptions about maintaining good diplomatic relationships with allies. Instead, he made a glaring exception to those rules on behalf of Saudi interests. First, the president argued that “we don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas.” Then he made an apparent vow to not only come to Saudi Arabia’s assistance anyway but also to completely defer to the Saudi royal family as to “under what terms we would proceed.” Saudi Arabia does not have a formal treaty of alliance with the United States — meaning there is no piece of paper obligating the US to do anything whatsoever in response to an attack against Saudi Arabia. And while the US has been intimately involved in the Saudi oil industry going back to the 1930s, nobody has ever claimed there is a deep connection grounded in values between our two countries. But the Saudi royal family does seem to have a special relationship with Trump, who has repeatedly bucked bipartisan congressional majorities to back the Kingdom on topics ranging from its disastrous war in Yemen to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

By Ashwin Phatak
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee continues its investigation of whether to recommend impeachment of President Donald Trump with testimony from former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Keeping with its unprecedented obstruction of House oversight efforts, the White House has sought to place extraordinary limits on Lewandowski’s testimony and separately block two former White House aides from testifying on Tuesday. This latest blockade of information comes just a few days after another extraordinary effort to block the committee’s investigation in the courts. Fortunately, however, the recent attempt by the administration to prevent the committee from accessing certain evidence underlying special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation should end in defeat—and hopefully soon. On Friday, the administration argued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Congress has no right to access portions of Mueller’s report on Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election—and on Trump’s efforts at obstructing that investigation—that had been redacted because they concern grand jury matters. The administration’s arguments are at odds not only with the law, but also with the executive branch’s own past positions. It is true, as Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly noted, that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) generally requires that grand jury matters be kept secret. However, the rule includes several exceptions that permit the District Court to release such materials where appropriate, including “preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.” Citing that provision, in July, the House Judiciary Committee requested that the District Court overseeing the Mueller grand jury release several portions of the Mueller report that had been redacted under Rule 6(e). Because impeachment is a judicial proceeding, the District Court plainly has authority under Rule 6(e) to grant the House’s request. Although impeachment may not take place in a courtroom, Congress acts as a judicial forum when it decides impeachment. The House functions as the equivalent of a grand jury that decides whether to bring impeachment charges, and the Senate as a tribunal—over which the chief justice of the United States presides—that decides whether to remove the official from office. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifically uses the language of judicial proceedings when referring to impeachment, stating that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments,” that “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present,” and that “judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” Further, Article III, Section 2 says that “the Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury,” implying that impeachment is a type of “trial” for “crimes.”

National security expert Josh Geltzer on why we should be prepared for the worst.
By Dahlia Lithwick
In February, Georgetown Law professor Josh Geltzer began to ponder aloud what would happen if President Donald Trump refused to leave office were he to be defeated in 2020. It sounded far-fetched, but Geltzer isn’t a conspiracy theorist. Actually, he served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and, prior to that, as deputy legal adviser to the NSC and counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security. When he wrote his essay suggesting that perhaps it was time to start preparing for if Trump, who has repeatedly shown a willingness to overstep his constitutional authority, simply refused to leave the Oval Office, he was met with silence. When Michael Cohen warned in his March testimony before Congress, “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power,” he too was met with awkward silence. But the anxieties gradually began to grow. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fretted about this possibility in a May interview in the New York Times. When Politico probed the question this summer, it noted: “Constitutional experts and top Republican lawmakers dismiss the fears as nonsense, noting there are too many forces working against a sitting president simply clinging to power—including history, law and political pressure.” But commentators now seem less confident in those forces. On Thursday, Edward Luce at the Financial Times noted how often Trump jokes about having a third term, observing that, because of Trump’s belief that he could face prosecution after he leaves office, “no other US president has faced the prospect of being re-elected or going to jail.” He added that for Trump, losing the 2020 election is an existential threat, and he has openly invited foreign interference, while Mitch McConnell refuses to even consider legislation to secure the vote. And even if Trump is truly joking when he tweets that he deserves to be credited two extra years in his existing term, years he believes were lost to the Mueller probe, or riffs on staying on the job long after he’d been term-limited out, the tweets send a dangerous message to his loyalists.

By John Wagner
President Trump lashed out Sunday night at the news media for reporting that he would meet with Iranian leaders with “no conditions” — something Trump has said on camera at least twice and that senior administration officials repeated to reporters just last week. “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!),” Trump wrote to his more than 64 million Twitter followers. In fact, Trump said as much during a June 23 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after host Chuck Todd asked if he had a message to deliver to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, about his country’s potential development of a nuclear weapon. “You can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years,” Trump said. “No preconditions?” Todd asked. “Not as far as I’m concerned. No preconditions,” Trump replied. That echoed Trump’s comments at a July 30, 2018, joint news conference at the White House during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Asked about a potential meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: “I believe in meeting. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready yet.” “I’m ready to meet anytime they want to,” Trump added. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, we’ll meet.” During a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Trump remained open to such talks. “The president has made clear, he’s happy to take a meeting with no preconditions,” Mnuchin told reporters. “The president’s made it very clear: He is prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said shortly afterward.

The FBI, the DOJ, SCOTUS—Trump controls it all.
By Dahlia Lithwick
It’s already been widely noted that the New York Times buried breaking news about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged tendency, as a college student, to touch people with his penis when intoxicated. On Sunday, when the Times ran a forthcoming book excerpt from its own reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, it not only put the news in its Opinion section, it also placed the details of the second allegation in a remote paragraph under an appallingly random headline: “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not.” Don’t even get me started on the grotesque tweet that accompanied the excerpt (which had to be deleted and then apologized for), or the editor’s note that popped up Sunday night to clarify that the story had previously failed to mention, “reports that the female student [whom Kavanaugh allegedly touched with his penis] declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.” The entire debacle detracts from what is, by all accounts, a deeply researched and reported book. But the real sin unearthed by the excerpt isn’t that there was a second account, that another former Yale student allegedly remembers seeing Brett Kavanaugh behave in disturbing and inappropriate ways. The real sin is that this former student, Max Stier, went to Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and then the leadership of the Senate, way back in the fall of 2018, to try to tell them what he remembered. And the real sin is that the FBI never investigated it. Indeed, the FBI didn’t talk to any of the 25 individuals given to them by Debbie Ramirez’s lawyer, or any of the multiple witnesses who came forward to the FBI of their own volition (including a former roommate who believed Ramirez and published his own account of Kavanaugh’s college behavior in Slate). But the FBI didn’t talk to these people because the FBI never even spoke to Brett Kavanaugh about the alleged events. The FBI never spoke to Christine Blasey Ford, either. The FBI did interview Ramirez last October and found her “credible,” but then just left it at that. According to the new reporting, an agent told her lawyers that “We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else.” They did not get that authorization, and they did nothing else.

By Ari Natter and Ryan Beene
The Trump administration will announce it is rescinding California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles at an event at the EPA’s Washington headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, according to people familiar with the matter. The Environmental Protection Agency intends to announce it will revoke the so-called waiver underpinning California’s power to set vehicle greenhouse gas standards separately from the Trump administration’s broader rule to ease federal vehicle-efficiency standards, which is expected in the weeks ahead, the people said. The people asked to not be identified discussing plans prior to announcement. Among those invited to the agency’s headquarters are free-market groups that have championed the Trump administration’s rollback of automobile fuel economy and emissions standards adopted during the Obama administration. Plans for the announcement are still being developed and could change, one of the people said. The procedural move would allow the California attacks to proceed while the Trump administration continues to finalize federal fuel economy and emissions regulations for new autos after the 2020 model year. The plan also leaves intact California’s power to regulate smog-forming pollutants from autos and other sources. The measures need approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review before they can take effect.

The president made a rally pitch for Hispanic voters in a state he lost by 8 points in 2016: “Nobody loves the Hispanics more,” he said at a rally Monday night.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Monica Alba
RIO RANCHO, N.M. — President Donald Trump, looking to put New Mexico in play in 2020, sought to win over Hispanic voters at a rally here Monday. The president's pitch to Hispanic voters seemed to silo them off from the rest of the electorate, including the rally crowd ("We love our Hispanics"). It featured an assertion that they had a greater understanding of the source of the drug problem than other Americans. And it included a section in which Trump wondered how CNN contributor Steve Cortes could be Hispanic even though, the president said, he appeared to be of Northern European descent. “He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do,” Trump said of Cortes, who was in the audience. From the stage, he asked Cortes: "Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?” Cortes appeared to mouth “country,” to which Trump replied: “I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics.” Trump later said Hispanics should support him and his efforts to build a border wall because they understand the roots of the drug problem better than other voters. "And at the center of America's drug crisis, this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody, people said, 'Oh, the Hispanics won't like a wall.' I said, 'I think they are going to love it,'" Trump said. "You know why? Because you understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don't understand it."  

By Pamela Brown, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The White House is asserting that two former senior White House aides have immunity from testifying and is directing former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski not to answer questions about events that occurred after President Donald Trump was elected. The White House sent letters to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday about the testimony of Lewandowski and former aides Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who were all subpoenaed to appear on Tuesday. The White House asserted immunity for the former White House aides not to testify and instructed Lewandowski not to answer questions about his conversations with the President where the White House could invoke executive privilege, beyond what's already in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report. "Mr. Lewandowski's conversations with the President and with senior advisers to the President are protected from disclosure by long-settled principles protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests," wrote White House counsel Pat Cipollone, "and, as a result, the White House has directed Mr. Lewandowski not to provide information about such communications beyond the information provided in the portions of the Report that have already been disclosed to the Committee." The House Judiciary Committee last month subpoenaed Lewandowski, Dearborn and Porter, but the two White House aides are not expected to appear, sources said, citing the White House arguments, while Lewandowski is unlikely to engage on the episodes detailed in the special counsel's obstruction of justice report where he was involved. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have rejected the Trump administration's legal arguments of immunity and the right to claim executive privilege. In a statement Monday night, House Judiciary Committe Chairman Jerry Nadler said the decision to keep the aides from testifying was "a shocking and dangerous" use of executive privilege.

By Miranda Green
A pro-democracy group sued the Trump administration Monday to force the release of public documents they believe will shed light on politicization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Democracy Forward filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the administration to release requested public documents related to the removal of Tim Gallaudet from his position as acting administrator of NOAA in February. The group has raised concerns over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to remove Gallaudet from the acting post earlier this year. Gallaudet last December told a science conference that President Trump had never asked to be briefed on climate-related matters by the agency. NOAA is the nation’s leading science agency. Democracy Forward first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents in May. “The Trump administration’s attacks on scientists speaking the truth are dangerous. We’re suing to expose improper attempts to politicize NOAA because the public needs to be able to count on science agencies to do their jobs without political interference,” Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.

Investigators demanded the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
By William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess
State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose. The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election. Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair. It was unclear if the broad scope of the subpoena indicated that the office had expanded its investigation beyond actions taken during the 2016 campaign. A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., declined to comment. The state prosecutors are seeking a range of tax documents from the accounting firm, Mazars USA, including Mr. Trump’s personal returns and those of his business, the Trump Organization. The subpoena seeks federal and state returns for both the president and the company dating back to 2011, the people said. The investigation by Mr. Vance has been focused on $130,000 that Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, just before the election. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to breaking federal campaign finance laws and received a three-year prison sentence. While the federal prosecutors who charged Mr. Cohen stated in a court filing in July that they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry into possible crimes committed by the company or its executives, Mr. Vance’s office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated any New York state laws. In particular, the state prosecutors are examining whether the company falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. In New York, filing a false business record can be a crime.


Is the Trump administration squelching a whistleblower — and a major scandal?
Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff thinks there's a major scandal brewing — and it may touch Trump personally
By Sophia Tesfaye
America's system of government has always worked on the honor system. With so few Senate-confirmed Cabinet and federal agency heads, and so many “acting” officials working in the Trump administration, people who are constantly forced to audition for permanent positions are now under tremendous pressure to protect a president hellbent on breaking every norm of good governance. Now a new possible political scandal could be brewing in the Trump administration that tests the loyalty of these “acting” officials — pitting their allegiance to the nation against their desire to impress their boss. While President Trump and his administration, namely former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, loudly complained about leaking from the early onset and pushed people to go through the proper channels with complaints, there is now a serious allegation that even whistleblowers have been silenced by the administration. According to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a whistleblower who lodged an urgent complaint about wrongdoing within the intelligence community has gone ignored and left unprotected. In a letter released on Friday, Schiff accused a “top intel official of illegally withholding” a “whistleblower” complaint described as “urgent” by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) — and one that could implicate the White House. "A month ago, a whistleblower within the intelligence community lawfully filed a complaint regarding a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law, or deficiency within the responsibility or authority of the Director of National Intelligence," Schiff said in a statement. The IC IG first notified the committee of the whistleblower complaint on Sept. 9. The next day, Schiff requested a full, unredacted copy of the complaint, the ICIG's findings related to the matter, and all records connected to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) involvement, "including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House."

Trump rages after New York Times updates story to say alleged Kavanaugh victim ‘does not recall’ incident
By Kevin Breuninger
President Donald Trump on Monday tore into The New York Times after the newspaper updated its report about accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to clarify that one alleged victim says she “does not recall the incident.” The Times’ report, published Saturday evening, detailed a previously unreported accusation from Kavanaugh’s time as a student at Yale University. The newspaper reported that a student at the school “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” On Sunday, the Times updated its report with an editor’s note: “An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.”

Trump launches ambitious play to turn New Mexico red
The strategy centers on wooing Hispanics in the state, which has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992.
By GABBY ORR
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John McCain lost New Mexico by nearly 15 percentage points in 2008. Four years later, Mitt Romney pulled two top staffers from the ground here with weeks to go before Election Day — admitting defeat even before Barack Obama trounced him by 51 points in the Santa Fe area. The Land of Enchantment has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992. With a considerable nonwhite voter population and all-Democratic congressional delegation, it’s not exactly fertile ground for a surprise GOP victory. But then, President Donald Trump has seldom shied away from a long-shot challenge. Despite the Democratic Party’s statewide success here last November — winning two congressional seats up for grabs, defending a third and defeating Republican nominee Steve Pearce for the governor’s mansion — Trump and his aides are betting they can flip New Mexico next fall and expand his electoral playing field. Their efforts begin Monday night with a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, which sits in a county Trump lost by 1,800 votes in 2016. The Hispanic-heavy city is four hours north of El Paso, Texas, where the president held a reelection rally in August that prompted campaign manager Brad Parscale to add New Mexico to his “watch list” — a list of nontraditional battleground states, including Maine, Colorado, Minnesota and Virginia, that the Trump campaign has its sights set on. “I’ve continued to say the president’s policies are a win for Latino voters across America … and one of the first symbols of this was the El Paso rally,” Parscale told reporters on a call last week. “We saw in the data thousands of voters who did not vote for the president in 2016 show up to a rally, come listen to the president and register [to vote].” “As we started doing polling there, we saw a dramatic increase from 2016 and I went over this with the president and he said, ‘Let’s go straight into Albuquerque,’” Parscale recalled.

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