What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Republican Seeks to ‘Curtail’ Mueller Probe; Harvey Raises Stakes of DC’s Fiscal Showdown

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

Republican Seeks to 'Curtail' Mueller Probe

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The deluge continues –> Heavy rains from Hurricane Harvey are expected to continue to soak Texas through Thursday, according to The Weather Channel’s Jon Erdman and Chris Dolce. And The Associated Press reports that “bands of heavy rain… lashed southwest Louisiana on Monday, and the state’s governor said potential flooding could pose a ‘dangerous situation.'” As of this morning, the storm has taken 14 lives.

Only 15 percent of homes in Harris County, which includes Houston, have flood insurance, according to Chris Isidore at CNN.

Stan “The Budget Guy” Collender writes for Forbes that in normal times it wouldn’t be difficult for Congress to fund relief efforts in Harvey’s wake, but Trump’s threat to shut down the government if he doesn’t get a pile of money to build his wall means these are not normal times.

One can’t blame climate change for any single event, but Vox’s David Roberts explains why it’s “grossly irresponsible to leave climate out of the story” because “climate change is, as the US military puts it, a threat multiplier.”

The infamous Texas Legislature just passed a law that will let insurance companies that drag their feet paying claims get off easily, among other things that favor the industry. The Texas Tribune’s Alana Rocha writes that victims of Harvey would be well served getting their claims in before it goes into effect on Friday.

And Harriet Sinclair reports for Newsweek that “Donald Trump signed away Obama-era flood standards just weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, in a bid to get infrastructure projects approved more quickly.”

The most brazen provocation of Kim Jong Un’s five-year-long rule –> That’s how The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield describes North Korea’s launch of a missile over Northern Japan early this morning.

Drip, drip, drip –> At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall pulls the strings of several recent reports about Trump, his lawyer Michael Cohen, real estate developer Felix Slater, a Moscow building project and the 2016 campaign together and explains why it looks like it might be a very big deal.

NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Tom Winter report that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators are looking into whether Trump engaged in a cover-up when he authored a statement on Donald Trump Jr.’s behalf claiming that the now-famous meeting to discuss getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government was no big deal. 

And Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) “is pushing an amendment to severely curtail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia,” according to Austin Wright at Politico.

Some progress –> Ari Berman reports for Mother Jones that on Monday, Illinois became “the 10th state to pass or enact automatic voter registration since 2015.” The law is expected to result in one million new registrations. Berman writes that “voting rights advocates see the reform as the future of voter registration… and an antidote to laws passed in Republican states making it harder to vote.”

Seen this one before –> “US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement, in an echo of the politicisation of intelligence that led up to the Iraq invasion,” writes Julian Borger at The Guardian.

At the same time, Joshua Keating reports for Slate that despite the Trump regime’s tough talk about rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, “things are continuing to work out pretty well for Tehran’s regional ambitions.” The slug on his piece reads, “Iran is winning so much it’s getting sick and tired of winning.”

It’s no hurricane –> The Miami Herald’s Maria La Ganga reminds us of the everyday tragedies that don’t get wall-to-wall cable news coverage. She profiles Betsy Winkler, a 60-year-old Florida woman who “eats out of dumpsters so she can afford long-term care for her husband,” an Air Force veteran suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s. The couple takes in $51,600 per year, but his care at an assisted-living facility costs them $48,000.

Indirectly related –> At The American Prospect, Zephyr Teachout writes that, “in an epically unequal society, with a constitution built for equality, we won’t last long. Unless something changes quickly, we may experience revolution, instability, coup attempts, and violence, common fates of unequal societies.”

A Department in shambles –> Column Lynch reports for Foreign Policy that, in advance of Trump’s first address to the United Nations, the State Department has faced a bunch of resignations by senior diplomatic officials.

This comes amid reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may not remain on the job much longer. MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin points to this truly remarkable moment in a Fox News interview with Tillerson on Sunday.

Speaking of hollow diplomacy –> Jared Kushner’s peacemaking trip to the Middle East is being widely panned in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, but Benny Avni writes for The Daily Beast that a meaningless PR tour is “just fine by Israeli government officials, who quietly express hope that Kushner’s latest trip, and perhaps future ones as well, will yield no earth-shaking results.”

As if on cue, Yotam Berger reports for Ha’aretz that during an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank on Monday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are here to stay, forever… We will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle.”

Lame efforts in ‘whataboutism’ –> At the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Cohen writes that conservative attempts to defend Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio by comparing it to Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s lengthy prison sentence “tell you how indefensible it actually was.”

Here’s the president explaining why the pardon wasn’t really announced in a Friday evening news dump.

And Jane Chong and Benjamin Wittes argue at Lawfare that “it’s now time to begin a serious conversation about the impeachment and removal of President Trump by opening a formal impeachment inquiry.”

The Green Great Wall –> China has undertaken a “staggeringly ambitious” plan to fight desertification by planting billions of new trees in a 3,000-mile green-belt that will be up to 900 miles wide in some places, but Vince Beiser reports for Mother Jones that “plenty of scientists remain unimpressed” with the scheme.

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

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