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Daily Reads: Kris Kobach Wants Every American’s Voting Info; What Will Trump Give Putin?

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

Daily Reads: Kris Kobach Wants Every American's Voting Info

Voting. (Photo by justgrimes/ flickr CC 2.0)

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This could be really bad –> Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, co-chair of Donald Trump’s “Election Integrity” commission, has a history of disenfranchising eligible voters and has falsely claimed that millions of illegal votes are cast in American elections. Brandon Carter reports for The Hill that Kobach “sent a letter to all 50 states Wednesday requesting information on their voter rolls.” Kobach wants to create a nationwide database with “several pieces of information about voters, including their names, birthdays, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history dating back to 2006.”

Vanita Gupta, Obama’s former head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, says Kobach is “laying the groundwork for voter suppression,” according to David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement.

At least three states refused to hand over the information, according to Josh Deck at The Hill.

Trumpcare’s still in play –> Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have come up with a scheme that could break the GOP log jam and get them a repeal and replace bill that more moderate senators could live with, but it is a long shot. It’s a bit wonky, but one key piece is that it would allow any insurance company that sells Obamacare-compliant plans in a state to also sell insurance that doesn’t meet the ACA’s minimum benefits requirements. Sounds less awful than previous schemes, but it could easily lead to a death spiral in the exchanges, as Vox’s Dylan Scott nerdsplains.

It’s a fluid story, and Caitlin Owens reports for Axios that Cruz’s plan is not being greeted warmly by Republican leaders because a decent chunk of their caucus doesn’t want to get rid of Obamacare’s guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, one of Obamacare’s provisions that polls really well.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is a key player in all of this, as he’s long been a big proponent of slashing entitlement programs but has been very wary of the Senate bill’s approach. John Bresnahan and Seung Min Kim report for Politico that Portman and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “close allies and typically mild-mannered men, got into a heated exchange over Medicaid at a meeting earlier this week. “Sources say “McConnell sided with conservatives eager to dramatically slow the program’s growth, and laid into Portman for opposing it.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters: “Here’s what I would tell any senator: If you’re counting on the president to have your back, you need to watch it… If you’re looking for political cover from the White House, I’m not sure they’re going to give it to you.” Jordain Carney has that story for The Hill.

Inching closer to collusion –> Shane Harris reports for The Wall Street Journal that a longtime GOP operative with possible ties to former Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn was working with hackers to find what they believed to be emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server. According to Harris, “US investigators probing Russian interference in the elections… have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to US officials with knowledge of the intelligence.”

A consistent theme in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee is that Trump has shown no interest in Russian attacks on our electoral process, and yesterday we mentioned that his own staff was frustrated that he wouldn’t take the threat of future interventions seriously. Now Julian Borger reports for The Guardian that “Trump has told White House aides to come up with possible concessions to offer as bargaining chips in his planned meeting next week with Vladimir Putin.” Borger adds that “National security council staff have been tasked with proposing ‘deliverables’ for the first Trump-Putin encounter, including the return of two diplomatic compounds Russians were ordered to vacate by the Obama administration in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election,” despite “strong resistance in the NSC and state department to one-sided concessions aimed simply at improving the tone of US-Russian relations.”

And Dan Friedman reports for Mother Jones that “Democrats on two House committees want the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions violated his pledge to recuse himself from any investigations into the 2016 election when he participated in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.”

Eight months of grinding urban warfare” –> Khaled al-Ramahi and Maher Chmaytelli report for Reuters that after a long and grueling campaign, Iraqi forces have taken “the ruined mosque at the heart of Islamic State’s de facto capital Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group’s self-styled caliphate at an end.” Scattered fighters remain, but Iraqi officials expect the battle to come to an end in the coming days. Al-Ramahi and Chmaytelli write that “the fall of Mosul would in effect mark the end of the Iraqi half of the IS caliphate, although the group still controls territory west and south of the city, ruling over hundreds of thousands of people. Its stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, is also close to falling.”

Boor-in-Chief –> You’ve probably heard that Washington was lit up on Thursday by some seriously offensive tweets Trump directed at MSNBC personality Mika Brzezinski (whose father, former counselor to the president and national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, we’d note, died just a month ago). Elected officials were deeply unhappy about his “unpresidential behavior,” but Slate’s Michelle Goldberg was happy about his lack of discipline because “it’s better for Trump to show us all who he really is than to let his lackeys pretend he’s remotely worthy of his office.”

And in her first column for The Globe and Mail, Melissa McEwan recalls an earlier contretemps between Trump and a female reporter: “After a 1990 interview with Connie Chung that didn’t go the way Mr. Trump might have hoped, he unleashed on Ms. Chung during a subsequent interview with Joan Rivers, calling Ms. Chung ‘a disaster’ and saying she was ‘like a little child. I mean this girl — this woman — has less talent than anyone I know of.’ He went on to disturbingly recount that, when Ms. Chung sent him roses after the interview, ‘I cut ‘em up and sent ‘em back. I sent her back the stems… but I kept the top.”

And this morning, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski ran an op-ed in The Washington Post basically saying that Trump’s mentally unfit for the job.

Promises –> Ethan Earle reports for In These Times that, “in an act of political judo, Trump is trying to use the same anti-establishment, pro-American rhetoric from his campaign to craft a neoliberal NAFTA renegotiation that will include everything demanded in the recently scuttled [Trans-Pacific Partnership] — and more.”

Meanwhile, Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan report for Axios that, “with more than 20 top officials present… the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they’re hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20 percent range — on steel, and likely other imports.” Most of those in the room “were adamantly opposed, arguing it was bad economics and bad global politics,” but while “one official estimated the sentiment in the room as 22 against and 3 in favor… since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed.”

If you think those two stories seem contradictory, you’re right.

Poised to become even crueler…” –> Earlier this year, in “an unexpected moment of mercy,” Trump announced that he would renew the Obama-era program that allowed undocumented children who were brought to this country at a young age to stay here, but Ian Millhiser reports for Think Progress that a group of hardline anti-immigration state attorneys general — and one governor — are threatening to sue the regime if they don’t roll back the program. And if they do take Trump to court, Millhiser says they’ll be arguing their case in front of a very friendly federal judge.

Franco Ordoñez reports for McClatchy that “the Trump administration has begun a new surge of immigration enforcement targeting parents who have paid to have their children illegally brought to the United States. The recent arrests, which had been largely rumored but not confirmed until now, have set off a new wave of confusion and fear through immigrant communities that have already been subject to greater enforcement.”

Josh Gerstein reports for Politico that “the state of Hawaii is asking a federal judge to rule that the administration’s latest plan to carry out President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order defies the ruling the Supreme Court issued on the subject just four days ago.”

And Khaled Almilaji, a Syrian doctor who was studying at Brown University got caught on the wrong side of Trump’s policy when he took a brief trip to Turkey. The doctor, who “coordinated a campaign that vaccinated 1.4 million Syrian children and risked his life to provide medical care during the country’s civil war,” is withdrawing from Brown and moving to Canada. Jennifer McDermott has that story for the AP.

Are they trying to start a civil war? –> Natasha Bertrand writes at Business Insider that “a chilling National Rifle Association ad gaining traction online appears to be ‘an open call to violence.'” Bertrand notes that “conservative columnist Anne Applebaum also denounced the ad, saying it called on Americans “to arm themselves to fight liberals. Violence is coming,” but Dana Loesch, who appears in and narrates the ads “doubled down” on Wednesday night, saying that “violence is the language of the left.”

That’s pure projection, according to a new database of domestic terrorism compiled by David Neiwert for The Center for Investigative Journalism’s Reveal News. Since 2008, right-wing extremists were responsible for 115 attacks, dwarfing the numbers by both Islamic extremists and perpetrators on the left.

Andat The New Republic, Aaron Hanlon, a professor at Maine’s Colby College, recounts the flood of vile threats that he received after an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox, and says that this is not uncommon when progressives appear on Fox. He writes, “The attempt by right-wing media to frame suppressive violence as a leftist tactic is a form of projection, meant only to obscure and deflect from the extent to which hatred and violence have come to define the right in the Trump era.” NOTE: this piece contains descriptions of threats and highly offensive language that Hanlon and others have received.

Headline of the day –> “NASA Denies That It’s Running a Child Slave Colony on Mars.”

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

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