What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Trump Builds an Opaque, Lobbyist-Filed Administration; Turkey Slides Toward Dictatorship

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Trump Builds an Opaque, Lobbyist-Filed Administration

U.S. President Donald Trump laughs during a town hall meeting with executives on the America business climate in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Trump has vowed to flatten regulatory hurdles for American business, and Congress's proposed EPA rules for science would make commerce easier. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Hundreds of thousands of anonymous visitors –> The White House announced Friday that it would not be releasing visitor logs; a spokesperson told NPR that doing so would be a “grave” national security risk. This is a reversal from the Obama administration, which released the names of 6 million visitors, including lobbyists, to the White House — though an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found those records to be incomplete.

“From dismissing decades of tradition by declining to release his tax returns to refusing to place his assets in a blind trust, President Trump seems to be going out of his way to fan distrust and doubt about the way his White House works,” Meredith McGehee, policy chief for the money-in-politics reform group Issue One, said in a statement.

In fact, though the president was elected on promises to decrease lobbyists’ control over government, his administration is welcoming them with open arms. “President Trump has stocked his administration with a small army of former lobbyists and corporate consultants who are now in the vanguard of the effort to roll back government regulations at the agencies they once sought to influence,” Justin Elliot reports for ProPublica.

Tax day push –> Tens of thousands of people rallied on Saturday, April 15 to call on Trump to release his tax returns. At Common Dreams, Lauren McCauley rounds up some photos. One rally in Berkeley turned violent, and though the media framed the clash as one between Trump opponents and Trump supporters, the truth, Natasha Lennard writes for Esquire, is that the clash was between anti-fascists and neo-Nazis who were counter-protesting the tax day marchers. “The masked, black clad anti-fascist protesters did not amass in Berkeley to confront a gathering of people who just happened to vote for Trump.”

Slow simmer –> A North Korean missile test over the weekend failed — possibly because of a US cyberattack against the missile program — but tensions between the US and the country remain high. Mike Pence is in South Korea to rattle his saber within sight of the border.

Decision time –> Trump’s advisers plan to sit down tomorrow and figure out what they’re going to do about the Paris Agreement on climate change. But reaching consensus might not be so easy, Politico reports: “Bannon and Pruitt are said to be strongly opposed to remaining in the agreement, while Kushner and Tillerson are said to be in favor of staying. Cohn and McMaster have not yet staked out a position in internal discussions at the White House, but they are also expected to argue for staying in the pact.”

Lucrative decision –> Paul Ryan snubbed his constituents during a congressional recess in February, refusing to hold a town hall. Lee Fang writes for The Intercept that “newly filed campaign filings show what Ryan was doing instead: jetting around the country, raking in a whopping $657,400 in contributions in just nine days.”

Shh –> “Despite concerns that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline could threaten the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, a federal judge ruled that the pipeline’s developer can keep some information about spill risks secret from the public” writes Natasha Geiling for ThinkProgress. The judge claimed that keeping this information secret would help prevent vandalism.

New threat to immigrants –> “Emboldened by President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies, landlords across California are threatening to report undocumented tenants to immigration authorities,” Kristin Capps writes for The Atlantic’s CityLab. “Landlords looking to evict their tenants, raise their rents or stifle their complaints about their living conditions are exploiting undocumented tenants’ fears about being deported, according to housing advocates and attorneys.”

Turkey slides toward dictatorship –> Turks voted to allow President Erdogan to expand his powers; 51.4 percent voted “yes” on a referendum that included people in the country and those living outside of it. The role of president was once a relatively weak one, but Erdogan has expanded it increasingly rapidly following a coup attempt last year. Following this referendum, he could potentially stay in office until 2029. At Jacobin, Guney Işıkara, Alp Kayserilioğlu and Max Zirngast call it the “coup after the coup.”

Great point –> While home in their districts, some Republican lawmakers are facing questions from angry constituents about why they voted to undo an Obama-era ban on ISPs selling customer data. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had one idea for constituents upset by the move: “Nobody’s got to use the internet at all.”

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.

 


 

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