What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Trump, Conservative Media Escalate Attacks on Robert Mueller

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

Trump, Conservative Media Escalate Attacks on Robert Mueller

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



Suspect in custody –> Subways and the Port Authority bus station are reopening in New York City after a nonlethal bomb attack this morning. The suspect, whose device did not fully detonate, is in custody. Four injuries have been reported.

An attack on the rule of law –> David Smith and Ben Jacobs report for The Guardian that “the rightwing media and Trump loyalists have been scrambling to discredit” special counsel Robert Mueller and smear his Russia inquiry as a liberal plot.”

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress, and Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post that “Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee launched an all-out assault on the special counsel and the FBI — choosing to protect Trump at the cost of Americans’ faith in the justice system.”

And Jared Yates Sexton writes for The Daily Beast that white supremacist inclinations have always run in his family, but his relatives kept their sentiments private until the 9/11 attacks gave them license to indulge in their prejudices. “The diehard Trump supporters aren’t being fooled,” he writes. “The [Roy] Moore voters aren’t pinching their noses. A large portion of Americans actually agree with the hateful things these men spew.”

Speaking of Roy Moore –> As Alabama voters prepare to go the polls tomorrow for a special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the US Senate, Will Bunch reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer that the race may swing on a surge in black turnout.

Facebook recently unveiled a number of new policies designed to minimize the influence of anonymous outside actors — including foreign actors — on the social media giant’s election-related content, but Ben Collins and Ben Desiderio report for The Daily Beast that the same kind of shadowy, undisclosed ad content that relentlessly promoted Trump’s candidacy are now flooding Alabamians’ pages in support of Roy Moore.

And Edward Isaac-Dovere writes for Politico that it’s a win-win for Democrats, who “will either pick up a seat in the Deep South or have Roy Moore to campaign against in the midterms.”

Farewell, free internet? –> At Business Insider, Steve Kovach writes that “this week, the Federal Communications Commission will drive a stake in net neutrality,” and explains how “it could radically reshape the internet by giving an already powerful group of telecommunications companies a great deal of control over what you can see and do online. It will also likely leave you with higher prices and fewer choices.”

We’ve mentioned that the FCC’s public comments on this matter were marred by fraud, with over a million submitted under the names of real people who had not actually weighed in. At Wired, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel adds that “as many as half a million additional comments were filed from Russian email addresses. And 50,000 FCC consumer complaints are missing from the record, even though this is just the kind of data the FCC should be using to inform its efforts.” She writes: “In light of the lack of integrity in our record, I have called for the FCC to do something simple: It should get out from behind its computers and desks and hold public hearings on the changes it has proposed.”

Run for something –> Haley Britzky reports for Axios that “as of Dec. 7 there were 369 women running or planning to run for Congress in 2018, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, which would be the most women House candidates ever.”

Giving Big Oil the key to public lands –> Adam Federman reports for The Nation that under Trump, “the Bureau of Land Management is rapidly opening previously off-limits areas to oil and gas drilling.”

Meanwhile, Eric Lipton and Danielle Ivory report for The New York Times that under Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, the agency has dramatically decreased the number of enforcement actions it’s brought against polluters. Also, EPA “officers across the country no longer have the authority to order certain air and water pollution tests, known as requests for information, without receiving permission from Washington.” They add that those “tests are essential to building a case against polluters, the equivalent of the radar gun for state highway troopers.”

A nightmare –> Last week, we mentioned that while overall deportations are down since Trump’s election, the share of immigrants being removed for minor infractions — and immigrants who have no criminal records at all — has ballooned. Now Debbie Nathan reports for The Intercept that “in Texas, state troopers have become frontline enforcers of federal immigration laws.” Nathan explains that the Texas Highway Patrol “has developed a well-oiled deportation machine that scoops up drivers who’ve committed minor traffic infractions, then funnels them to the Border Patrol and sometimes Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Passengers and pedestrians who weren’t even driving are also taken into custody.”

Kremlingate –> “Special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to piece together what happened inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that national security adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia,” according to Carol Lee and Julia Ainsley. It looks like the focus on this period is related to the question of whether Trump obstructed justice.

And Julia Ioffe writes for The Atlantic that while many Americans have an image of Vladimir Putin as a savvy “puppetmaster” pulling various levers of international intrigue from behind the curtain, he’s really “just a gambler who won big” in the 2016 election.

Taxation, but no representation for a while –> Rochelle Riley writes for the Detroit Free Press that “it is absolutely ridiculous” that “Democrats drummed two of their most important members out of Congress — Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota” — without demanding Trump’s resignation. But that’s not all. “Here’s the ridiculous part: Gov. Rick Snyder has set the special election to replace Conyers for next November. Next year. Yes, 11 months from now.”

The fallout continues –> Violence marred protests outside the American embassy in Lebanon following Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Nada Homsi and Anne Bernard The New York Times.

And while it hasn’t been confirmed that an arson attack on a Swedish synagogue was related to nearby protests against the US and Israel, authorities suspect it was. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the damage was minimal. According to The Local, police have made three arrests in the attack.

Only the best people –> We’ve mentioned that in his first year, Donald Trump nominated twice as many judicial candidates who were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (ABA) as the previous four presidents combined. Now Seung Min Kim and John Bresnahan report for Politico that Republicans have begun attacking the credibility of the nonpartisan legal association.

And the White House has named an Iran hawk who has “no prior diplomatic experience and has not earned a reputation as an established expert on Iran” to an influential post shaping Middle East policy within the State Department, according to Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer and Dan DeLuce.

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.