What We're Reading

Daily Reads: GOP Tax Bill Inches Toward the Finish Line; Roy Moore’s Loss Reignites Republican Civil War

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

Roy Moore's Loss Reignites Republican Civil War

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.



Down to the wire –> Yesterday, congressional Republicans announced that House and Senate negotiators had come to an agreement on a final tax bill. Jim Tankerseley, Thomas Kaplan and Alan Rappeport run down some of the compromises that were made at The New York Times.

Noah Lanard and Hannah Levintova report for Mother Jones that “Republicans are pushing a tax bill that specifically advantages rich people who don’t work. But they aren’t applying that standard for poor people.”

Somewhat relatedly, at Axios, David Nather and Chris Canipe look at which states are running out of money to insure low-income children 75 days after Congress failed to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Anti-Trump protestors get a small win –> A federal judge dismissed charges of inciting a riot against the first six of nearly 200 people potentially facing years in prison for protests during Trump’s inauguration. Defense lawyers noted that there was no evidence that the defendants had destroyed property, while prosecutors claimed that they nonetheless bore responsibility for scattered acts of vandalism in DC. Alex Lubben and Tess Owen report for Vice News that the six still face a number of other felony charges.

An unchecked threat –> Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker interviewed nearly 50 sources for a long-form report in The Washington Post about Donald Trump’s refusal to take the intelligence community’s assessments about Russian meddling in the 2016 election seriously — and the consequences that his obstinance has had on US policy toward the Kremlin.

More allegations –> Dan Johnson, a Republican state representative from Kentucky, appears to have shot and killed himself after leaving a rambling message on Facebook denying that he had molested a teenage girl whom he had ministered when he served as pastor the Heart of Fire City Church. Johnson had previously made headlines for repeatedly comparing Barack and Michelle Obama to monkeys.

A male former staffer for Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) testified before the House Ethics Committee that the Congressman is “verbally abusive and sexually demeaning,” and described his congressional office as “an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.” Farenthold has been defiant in the face of multiple charges of harassment. CNN’s MJ Lee has that story.

Salma Hayek has penned an intense story of her own abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein for The New York Times. Hayek goes beyond the facts of the matter to look at how Hollywood’s culture consistently disadvantages women artists.

Kyle Potter reports for the AP that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointment of Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken’s Senate seat until next year’s election is causing a “mess” in the legislature, as it elevates a right-wing Republican, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, to take Smith’s job. That may shift the balance of power of the Senate into Dems’ hands, but it’s causing a ruckus. Smith also announced that she will seek the office permanently next year and not simply serve as a caretaker as had been previously reported.

Documentarian Morgan Spurlock recalls being accused of rape in college and later settling a harassment claim with a former assistant, and writes that he is part of the problem. More on that at The Hollywood Reporter.

We mentioned that a clumsy attempt was made to peddle a false harassment charge against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier this week. At The Daily Beast, Kelly Weill follows up, noting that the phony complaint was an altered version of a real one filed against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and that the story was eagerly promoted by alt-right “journalists” like Mike Cernovich and Charles Johnson.

Back to square one –> “When President Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal, he was punting the question of whether it should be torn up to Congress,” writes Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem. But “Congress just punted it back to him — and he’s back to square one, with the deal he promised to scrap still in place.”

Finger-pointing –> Andy Campbell reports for HuffPost that “all the Republicans at Roy Moore’s party had the same reaction” as the results showing Doug Jones winning rolled in: “Blame everyone. Except the candidate accused of sexual assault.”

That sentiment wasn’t limited to the candidate’s supporters in Alabama. Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt report for Politico that Doug Jones’ victory “touched off another round of internecine GOP infighting over who’s to blame for the party’s loss in one of the most conservative states in the country.”

And Moore’s campaign spokesman was responsible for a remarkable television moment.

Snubbed –> Most reports about Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have focused on the Muslim world’s reaction to the news, but Christians in the region are also outraged. Julia Manchester reports for The Hill that the custodian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christendom’s holiest sites, announced that he would not receive Vice President Mike Pence when he travels to the Middle East in the coming days.

Last week, the Pope of Egypt’s Coptic Christians also said he wouldn’t meet Pence, according to The Times of Israel. (Pence’s trip has been delayed in order to make him available to provide a tie-breaking vote on the tax bill, if necessary.)

Defamation –> Stephen Rex Brown reports for the New York Daily News that “Fox News host Jeanine Pirro smeared Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson by claiming he directed violence against a Baton Rouge police officer in 2016, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.” Mckesson said Pirro’s comments have “endangered his safety.”

Scorched earth –> The San Francisco Chronicle has a gallery of before-and-after photos of areas in Southern California that have been consumed in a series of wildfires that continue to burn.

That’s a big penguin –> Finally, over at The New York Times, Carl Zimmer offers a look at a “57 million-year-old fossil [that] is both fearsome and comical: a long-beaked penguin that stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 220 pounds.”

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



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email.