What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Bernie Sanders on Nissan’s “Vicious” Anti-Union Campaign; Mueller Probe Widens

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

Bernie Sanders on Nissan's "Vicious" Anti-Union Campaign

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Kremlingate heating up –> Special counsel Robert Mueller impaneled a second grand jury, located in DC, in addition to the one in Virginia that has been looking at Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. At The Hill, Jonathan Easley explains what that means, and why the move “has shaken Washington.”

And Karen Freifeld and John Walcott report for Reuters that “subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer.”

At Vox, Murray Waas reports that numerous senior FBI officials have been informed that they should prepare to testify. Waas explains why this signals that the potential obstruction “case against Trump is stronger than outsiders have thought.”

Trump has said that if Mueller would be crossing a red line if his probe went beyond the issue of possible collusion with the Russians; at CNN, Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz say Mueller’s shot right past that line without any hesitation and is “following the money.” They also report that “intercepted communications appear to show efforts by Russian operatives to coordinate with Trump associates,” including former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Trump is probably itching to fire Mueller right about now, but senators introduced two bills that would create additional protections against the removal of the Special Counsel. Matthew Kahn reports for Lawfare that senators from both parties introduced not one, but two bills on Thursday which aim to protect the prosecutor’s independence.

And Ali Watkins reports for Politico that a dossier on Trump compiled during the campaign by former British intel operative Christopher Steele is “inflam[ing] simmering tensions between House and Senate investigators as they pursue parallel probes into the Trump-Russia connection.”

Voting in Canton –> Auto workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi have until this evening to cast their ballots in a racially charged union election. At In These Times, David Mosberg writes that the organizing effort by the United Auto Workers is a battle for the entire labor movement.

And Sen. Bernie Sanders writes at The Guardian that the company’s efforts to beat back the union have constituted “one of the most vicious, and illegal, anti-union crusades in decades.”

We don’t know whether to laugh or cry –> Transcripts of calls between a newly inaugurated Donald Trump and his counterparts in Mexico and Australia were leaked to the press on Thursday. Sadly, the president doesn’t seem more honest and articulate, or less prone to bluster and self-flattery, in high-level conversations with world leaders than he does during public appearances. The texts, which you can read at the link in their entirety, are really remarkable.

If you’re pressed for time, The Washington Post’s Greg Miller has highlights of Trump desperately imploring the president of Mexico to stop saying his country won’t pay for the wall — and calling New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” — and at New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait concludes that after explaining a simple policy to Trump over and over again, to no avail, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must have realized that Trump “is a complete idiot.”

According to the transcript, Trump became infuriated with Turnbull and basically hung up on him, which reminds us of this…

Mixed news for the parties –> Some good news for Republicans: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat, announced on Thursday night that he’s “flipping to the GOP,” according to Reid Wilson at The Hill. Justice is a coal magnate and the state’s only billionaire.

Some bad news for Republicans: According to Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, writing at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a typically reliable election model projects that, based on current polling, Democrats would pick up as many as nine governorships if the 2018 midterms were held today.

A New Jersey-sized “dead-zone” –> The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that this year’s Gulf “dead-zone,” an oxygen-depleted area caused by nutrient pollution primarily from agricultural runoff, is the largest ever measured.

OK, we’ll bite –> You may have noticed that we’re not big fans of dark money around here, but at The American Prospect, Nan Aron and Abby Levine offer an unexpected defense of its use in the age of Trump.

Canada’s facing a surge in asylum-seekers from the US –> “A temporary welcome centre has been opened at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to house a new wave of asylum seekers coming from the US to Quebec, many of them Haitians,” according to the CBC’s Kate McKenna. Canadian officials say they’ve never seen anything like it before.

The Clarence Thomas Takeover –> That’s the title of Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern’s long-form report at Slate about how the hard-right Supreme Court justice’s “once-fringy ideas are suddenly flourishing — not only on the high court, through his alliance with [Justice Neil] Gorsuch, but also in the executive branch.”

Trump may send “The Only Adult in the Room” to Afghanistan –> Daniel Chaitin reports for The Washington Examiner that Trump is considering sending HR McMaster to take over the war in Afghanistan, which Trump says we’re losing, and bringing in former CIA head Mike Pompeo to take over as national security adviser.

New allegations –> Andy Kroll reports for Mother Jones that Caroline Heldman, “a former frequent on-air guest at Fox News,” alleges that Woody Fraser, who was a top lieutenant to Roger Ailes, “sexually harassed her repeatedly for more than a year.” Heldman’s statement was made under oath “as part of a potential lawsuit involving separate Fraser accusers.”

At Washington Monthly, Martin Longman replies, noting that humans are very good at pattern recognition, and while some on the left see these politicians’ relationship to donors as the tie that binds them, they should probably understand that others see a pattern of three charismatic African-Americans being put under a microscope by the left.

We love this story so much –> Phil Mick is a sixth-grader from Georgia who faced some serious bullying. It was so bad that he had contemplated suicide. But when a group of bikers who combat bullying and youth suicide heard about his plight, everything changed. Angelica Robinson reports for WANE News that the middle school student was blown away when 50 bad hombre bikers escorted him to his new school riding a growling pack of Harleys. Now, mom says, “Phil comes home every day smiling.”

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

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