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Daily Reads: How Senators Might Get the Goods on Gorsuch; The Reclusive Billionaire Behind Breitbart and Trump

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Daily Reads: How Senators Might Get the [...]

Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court Justice nominee, during a meeting with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in her office, February 9, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings begin –> Starting today at 11 a.m., President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will face Congress for what are expected to be four days of hearings. C-SPAN will stream the proceedings and SCOTUSBlog will live blog the entire hearing.

Over at Slate, court watcher Dahlia Lithwick says that Democrats, by virtue of just showing up for the hearing, have already given up on their best argument against Gorsuch: “that the nomination is wholly illegitimate.” “Gorsuch may or may not be a good judge,” she writes, “but there is no principled reason for him to have a hearing when Merrick Garland did not.”

At The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse offers her thoughts on the line of questioning senators should follow. To avoid the usual response wherein nominees say they can’t comment on cases that might come before the court, she recommends that “Senators should ask how he would have decided Supreme Court cases from the past.” She includes a list of settled cases that she would like to hear Gorsuch’s thoughts on.

At Mother Jones, Rebecca Leber writes that Gorsuch is not a fan of Chevron deference, a Supreme Court precedent that holds that courts should give agencies some leeway in interpreting the laws Congress makes. That’s particularly important for the EPA, which under Obama used that leeway to create regulations addressing climate change. (We have more on the GOP’s efforts to toss out Chevron deference at our site.)

Clarity from Comey? –> The director of the FBI will testify before Congress this morning, and will face questions about Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped and questions about the relationship between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Comey’s hearing is streaming over at C-SPAN3.

Collision course –> The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are looking for the best way to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a consumer watchdog agency championed by Elizabeth Warren and put in place after the financial crisis. The Justice Department, for instance, has declared that the agency’s structure, with a single director instead of a board making decisions, is unconstitutional. That puts Trump and Warren on a collision course for a public dispute, Alexander Zaitchik writes for The New Republic.

What a terror attack would mean under Trump –> The courts have struck down Trump’s travel bans twice now, and even suggested they are unconstitutional, but Peter Maas writes for The Intercept that “a terror attack on US soil will be used by the White House as an excuse for implementing an extra-legal agenda that could only be pushed through in a time of crisis.” There is historical precedent for this; Maas looks at a few.

DNC diversifies –> In response to criticism from progressives, the Democratic National Committee added six new members on Saturday, including supporters of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and Keith Ellison’s bid to run the DNC.

Some facts on the Fed –> You may have heard that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week. At The Nation, William Greider provides some background on what that means — and argues that we rely so heavily on the Fed to grow the economy and create jobs only because politicians have dropped the ball.

The deconstruction continues –> Steve Horn reports for DeSmogBlog that the Trump administration is considering a fracking lobbyist to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Bill Cooper is best known among industry insiders as the man who successfully pushed the “Halliburton loophole,” a provision that exempted fracking from EPA oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act, making it more complicated for regulators to crack down on gas drillers who polluted water supplies.

New Koch? –> The New Yorker’s tireless muckraker Jane Mayer has a profile of Robert Mercer and his daughters, whose money seems to be showing up everywhere. A hedge-fund tycoon who helped build the investment firm Renaissance Technologies, Mercer is the Koch brother of the Trump era. A reclusive mathematician who doesn’t believe in climate change, prefers the company of cats to people and believes that humans’ worth is directly proportional to the amount of money they earn, Mercer has poured millions into various right-wing causes, including Breitbart, the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company that worked for both the Trump and Brexit campaigns.

Softballs only –> Trump and his administration are keeping the press at arm’s length. But not all press, Margaret Sullivan observes at The Washington Post. One conservative opinion writer for Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze received a personal call from the president to thank her for her coverage. When Rex Tillerson took his first trip to Asia at a critical time, he brought along only one reporter, a recent hire for the conservative web publication Independent Journal Review.

Trump sends hate group leader to UN conference –> “Members of the president’s delegation to the United Nations’ annual summit on women are opposed to the UN as a whole and the fundamental rights of women in particular,” Christina Cauterucci writes for Slate. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Center for Family & Human Rights, members of which are representing the US at the UN, as a hate group.

R.I.P. –>Newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin died yesterday at the age of 86. Anyone who has taken a journalism class might be familiar with Breslin for his famous 1963 reporting on John F. Kennedy’s funeral; while other reporters were covering the spectacle of the funeral, Breslin sought out and interviewed Clifton Pollard, the man who dug the president’s grave. “It’s an honor for me to be here,” Pollard said. The Long Island newspaper Newsday, one of Breslin’s employers, also republished some of Breslin’s writing on Donald Trump. Trump survived, Breslin wrote, through “Corum’s law,” named after sportswriter Bill Corum: “A sucker has to get screwed.” In Trump’s case, Breslin observed in 1990, the suckers were the press and the financiers taken in by the “razzle dazzle” Trump was proffering.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Theresa Riley.

 


 

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