What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Suspected Russian Spy Attended Donald, Jr. Meet; DACA Under Threat

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

Suspected Russian Spy Attended Donald, Jr. Meet

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A very bad idea for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or is likely to get sick –> That’s how Ezra Klein at Vox describes the new version of the Senate repeal bill. It contains the same steep cuts in Medicaid, but adds some money for what are effectively high-risk pools. And it contains Sen. Ted Cruz’s amendment that would allow insurers to sell bare-bone plans as long as they also offer an ACA-compliant plan in the same state. Based on what various senators have said in the past weeks, this should fail to reach 50 votes, but one never knows.

One reluctant senator, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, may have been bought off with a “polar payoff.” Anna Edney, Hannah Recht and Laura Litvan report for Bloomberg that a provision in the bill “would send hundreds of millions of extra federal dollars to Alaska.”

Klein’s colleague, Sarah Kliff, notes that “Senate Republicans included a provision that exempts members of Congress and their staff from part of their latest health care plan.” It’s a bit wonky, so click through for the details.

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet –>  Slate’s Fred Kaplan says that French President Emanuel Macron has learned that you just need to butter up Trump, hence the invite to join him for Bastille Day — the rough equivalent of our Independence Day. Kaplan adds some color: “Macron may have been amused when, during his opening statement, Trump said, ‘France is our oldest ally,’ then — in an apparent departure from text — looked up and said, ‘A lot of people don’t know that.’ Of course, everyone who knows the slightest thing about the American Revolution — or who has ever heard the soundtrack of Hamilton — knows that. When Trump says a lot of people don’t know something, it usually means that, until he read it in the speech before him, he didn’t know it.”

And Grey Anderson writes at Foreign Policy that the holiday is “an annual pageant that’s always been less about liberty, equality and solidarity than tanks, drones and guns.”

Also, in case you’re not yet tired of winning, this happened…

DACA –> Maria Sacchetti reports for The Washington Post that “Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that an initiative that grants work permits to more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants [who were brought here as children] may not survive a looming legal challenge.” According to Sacchetti, “Members of the Hispanic caucus said they urged Kelly to support bipartisan legislation known as the Bridge Act that would effectively preserve the DACA program. But they expressed skepticism that the Republican-controlled Congress would pass any law to spare undocumented immigrants from deportation — or that the Trump administration would defend DACA in court.”

Cybercrime –> Two former staffers for a sitting Democratic member of Congress were indicted on charges related to the release of nude photos of the representative that were stolen from her phone. Nick Statt has the details of this odd and troubling story at The Verge.

War on drugs –> “Mexico now ranks alongside Iraq as the deadliest country in the world for journalists in 2017,” writes Manuel Bojorquez for CBS News. “It has even surpassed war-torn Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.” According to the report, “several factors have brought cartel violence roaring back in Chihuahua and other parts of Mexico — from fragmented cartels fighting for turf and influence over government officials to rising opioid use in the United States.”

#Resistance –> Last week, we mentioned that while much of the GOP agenda’s been stalled on Capitol Hill, the Envrionmental Protection Agency has been rolling back environmental regulations at a record clip. But they do have to follow a process, which includes public input. At Hill Heat, Brad Johnson writes that “Save EPA, a volunteer organization of former Environmental Policy Agency staffers, has released a guide for activists who wish to counter attempts by the Trump administration to roll back public protections.”

Kremlingate –> The person Donald Trump Jr. described as a “translator” who was present during his meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya turns out to have been “a Russian-American lobbyist” who is also “a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some US officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence,” according to Ken Dilanian, Natasha Lebedeva and Hallie Jackson at NBC News. Any three senior Trump campaign officials could forget taking such a routine meeting.

And Craig Unger has a must-read piece at The New Republic detailing Russian mobsters’ long association with the Trump Organization. “So far, when it comes to Trump’s ties to Russia, there is no smoking gun,” he writes, but “a review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia… [that] provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image and launch his career in television and politics.”

Peter Smith, the veteran GOP operative who claimed that he was working with the Trump campaign as he sought out various hackers in an attempt to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails, committed suicide shortly after giving the story to The Wall Street Journal, according to Katherine Skiba, David Heinzmann and Todd Lighty at the Chicago Tribune.

And Buzzfeed’s Salvador Hernandez and Craig Silverman explain “how a false conspiracy theory about the Russian lawyer who met with Don Jr. spread” from a right-wing website to Donald Trump himself.

They’re losing it –> On a related note, Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay report for The Daily Beast that in the wake of recent revelations about Trump Jr., the White House is looking for “traitors” within their midst. “The news,” they write, “sent many of President Trump’s closest advisers, confidants and aides into a state of frantic finger-pointing and evidence-free speculation over who could have possibly been among the ‘three advisers to the White House’ who ratted Junior out to The Times.”

And yesterday we mentioned the Propublica report about how Trump’s personal attorney may have trouble obtaining a security clearance because of various allegations against him. According to a follow-up by Justin Elliott, the lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, lost his temper in a big way — walking the line between tough talk and illegal threats, according to legal experts — when a random person politely suggested he resign. Caution: this story features emails from Kasowitz that contain obscenities.

Corporate culture –> With unemployment low, you may have noticed that employers are complaining about not being able to find qualified workers but not raising wages enough to attract them. Slate’s Daniel Gross writes that in the wake of the Great Recession, “companies have forgotten how to compensate workers fairly — and workers have forgotten what they deserve.”

Interesting settlement –> Last year, a story went viral about an AirBnB host who cancelled a reservation at the last minute with a text message reading, “I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth” and “One word says it all. Asian.” When the renter, who is an American citizen who came to the US the age of 3, said that she would complain, the woman replied: “It’s why we have Trump … and I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.” Fast forward to Thursday, when The Guardian’s Olivia Solon reported that after a legal process, the host was “ordered to pay $5,000 in damages for racial discrimination and take a course in Asian-American studies.”

Quote of the day –> The honors, via The New York Times, go to president Trump, who told reporters why the wall that Mexico will totally pay for, believe me, must be see-through:

If you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall. And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.

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.