What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Top Dem Says Russian Hacking “Broader Than Reported”; Trump Picks Christie Lawyer to Head FBI

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

Daily Reads: Top Dem Says Russian Hacking "Broader Than Reported"

Screen viruses list at the LHS (High Security Laboratory) of the INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation) in Rennes. (Photo DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

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That’s just low –> Dan Alexander reports for Forbes that Eric Trump’s foundation raised a bunch of money to help kids suffering from cancer, some of which was then funneled into the The Trump Organization. It’s a tough story to summarize, but the gist is that Donald Trump’s second son told donors that The Trump Organization would effectively donate a golf course and catering for an annual charity event, which would allow all of the proceeds to go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. But instead, they charged inflated fees, not all of which they can account for, and also diverted some of the funds to Donald Trump’s charity, which has used its resources to settle legal claims against Trump’s businesses and for other dubious purposes.

The Washington Post’s David Farenthold, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Donald Trump’s not-so-charitable activities, has some questions based on the Forbes story…

The extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported” –> That’s what Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, had to say about The Intercept’s report that Russian military intelligence may have breached some election systems, according to Susan Page at USA Today. “None of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day,” he added.

Adam Entous reports for The Washington Post that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA chief Mike Pompeo to try to get then-FBI director James Comey to drop his probe into Trump’s campaign. It had previously been reported that Trump had asked the two top spies to say publicly that he wasn’t implicated in any investigation. And Entous’ colleagues Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report that “Trump — frustrated and defiant — has been spoiling for a fight, according to his confidants and associates.” They paint a picture of an increasingly isolated Trump “chaf[ing] against the pleas for caution from his lawyers and political advisers, tweeting whatever he wants, whenever he wants.” And he may live-tweet James Comey’s much-anticipated congressional hearing tomorrow, although advisers “hope to keep him busy Thursday with other events meant to compete for his — and the news media’s — attention.”

ISIS claims responsibility for Iran attack –> According to the AP, “gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Iran’s parliament and the shrine of its revolutionary leader on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people, wounding dozens and igniting an hours-long siege at the legislature that ended with four attackers dead.” ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks and released video taken during the standoff. If confirmed, this would mark the first time the group mounted an attack in Iran. Iran backs Hezbollah, which has battled ISIS in both Lebanon and Syria.

Christopher Wray –> Is Trump’s pick to head the FBI. He announced the decision in a tweet this morning. Wray represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal. Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld-Davis write for The New York Times that “Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics.”

A backdoor public option? –> Nevada’s legislature passed a bill last Friday that would open up Medicaid to all residents, regardless of age or income. The plan would be available through the state’s ACA exchange, making it a de facto public option. Vox’s Sarah Kliff calls it “a massive health insurance expansion.” Kliff offers more detail at the link, including some reasons why expanding Medicaid may have some advantages over opening up Medicare.

A natural experiment –> In Kansas, the results of Gov. Sam Brownback’s experiment in ultra-conservative, ultra-austere government appear to have come in as the GOP-dominated legislature voted on Tuesday to override Brownback’s veto of a bill that will raise tax revenues by $1.2 billion over the next two years. In 2012, Brownback promised that his deep cuts would unleash a torrent of economic growth and ultimately pay for themselves, but that never happened. The legislature has struggled with massive budget gaps, and in March, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that Kansas wasn’t adequately funding education. Hunter Woodall has more details at The Kansas City Star.

More intrigue around the Gulf crisis –> On Monday, we mentioned that at the heart of the crisis consuming the Gulf States was a report carried by Qatari state-run media that suggested a prominent Emir had praised Iran and Hezbollah, infuriating Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Gulf states. But the Qatari government insisted that the story was false, and claimed that hackers had penetrated the Qatar News Agency’s computer system and published the article to sow division within the alliance. (We recommended this Washington Post piece for some background.) Last night, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz reported for CNN that “US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies.” According to the report, “The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident.”

A spectacular but definitive end” –> It’s not exactly breaking news that Republicans are struggling to coalesce around a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Dylan Scott reports for Vox that while “Senate Republicans are pushing desperately this week to find” a plan that can unite their party, “hopes are fading, even among lawmakers.” Now, writes Scott, some “observers in Washington think the Senate is preparing to take a failed vote that would bring a seven-year quest to repeal and replace Obamacare to a spectacular but definitive end.” One unnamed Republican lobbyist told Scott, “They have to be able to show the electorate a body, to say that they tried and failed.”

Women: fired up, ready to go –> Jocelyn Noveck reports for the Associated Press that “legions of enthusiastic, mainly liberal-leaning women inspired by the election of President Donald Trump” are running for office at the state and local level. Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, told Noveck that the infusion of first-time women candidates “is unprecedented… We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Don’t feed the trolls –> At Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau argues that liberal and progressive columnists who embrace the conservative “frame” that the left are a bunch of condescending snobs who live on the coasts and eat arugula only plays into the right’s messaging. “What is it about liberals that makes us so reluctant to speak our own truths?” she asks. “Since when did it become elitist to condemn things like racism and sexism or to believe in science?”

Hate not heritage –> The next battle over statues of Confederate Civil War heroes is likely to unfold in Arizona, where African-American leaders are “joining an overall cry across the nation by those who know that the monuments celebrate slavery and racism and, generally, just the wrong side of history,” writes Breanna Edwards at The Root. Opponents of removing the monuments disagree, insisting that they symbolize their heritage and not hate, but Arizona differs from some other states where this fight has played out in that it became a state in 1912, almost a half-century after the Civil War came to an end.

My administration is determined to restore law and order… and we’re going to do it quickly” –> That was Donald Trump on the campaign trail. But on Tuesday, The New York Times editorial board pointed out that upon assuming office Trump fired half of our 93 United States Attorneys, the other half resigned, and four months into his presidency, “he has yet to replace a single one.” They add that, “as is usually the case when confronted with his own incompetence, Mr. Trump has spent his time looking for somebody else to blame.” In this case, he blames Democrats for not approving his nominees, but as The Times notes, he has yet to nominate anyone for the vacancies.

Speaking of lawyers –> Four top Washington law firms have signaled that they have no interest in representing Donald Trump as he faces various probes into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia, according to Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News. Among the reasons big-shot law firms are wary of taking on the president as a client: The belief that he won’t listen to their advice and concerns that he might not pay his legal bills.

Don’t cuddle with your dinner –> Backyard bird husbandry is becoming increasingly popular, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there’s a downside: outbreaks of salmonella. Karin Brulliard reports for The Denver Post that the agency is “once again telling flock owners to hold back on the heavy petting. That’s not a metaphor: An agency study on the rise of these outbreaks found last year that “nearly half of the hundreds of salmonella patients surveyed acknowledged ‘snuggling’ baby birds.” Don’t do that, because “even the fluffiest, most huggable chickens can be regular disease traffickers.”

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

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