What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Trump Orders Agencies to “Blow Off” Dems; Fact-Checking GOP Claims About the Paris Accord

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

Fact-Checkers Shred Trump's Paris Deal Claims

The Larsen B Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Global warming and climate change eventually led to the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica during 2002. Satellite image taken on Feb. 21, 2000. (Photo by USGS/NASA Landsat data/Orbital Horizon/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Timing is everything –> As expected, Donald Trump announced to applause on Thursday that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. He did so just hours after George Dvorsky reported for Gizmodo that a team of scientists studying the Antarctic coastline announced that a “giant rift in the Larsen C ice shelf has grown an additional 11 miles (17 km) since last week…[and] there’s now very little to prevent a complete collapse — an event that will produce one of the largest icebergs in recorded history.”

According to Rodrigo Campos and Nichola Groom at Reuters, “coal company shares dipped alongside renewable energy stocks” at the news, reflecting “concerns, raised by some coal companies in recent months, that a US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement could unleash a global backlash against coal interests outside the United States.”

Brian Resnick reported for Vox earlier in the week that Trump was weighing the move “with virtually no science advisers” but “a lot of climate change denying voices” on his staff. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Josh Dawsey covered the internal wrangling over Paris, with Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt, Trump’s climate change denying EPA director, ultimately gaining the upper hand over Ivanka Trump and others. “Those who want Trump to remain,” they write, “faced an insurmountable hurdle: The president has long believed, rightly or wrongly, that the US is getting a raw deal under the accord, and it proved nearly impossible to change his mind.” At New York magazine, Jonathan Chait shreds conservatives’ central argument against the deal, writing that it “has proven incontrovertibly false.” And according to The Washington Post fact-checker, Trump relied on numerous false and misleading claims to justify the move.
Here, CNN’s Dana Bash says Trump’s announcement sounded like “Mad Libs for conservatives.”

Mother Jones’ Rebecca Leber argues that Trump “doesn’t have any sense of the backlash that’s coming for him and the US now that he’s kickstarted the process of pulling out, which won’t be official for another three years.” And while this is very bad news for the climate, at In These Times, climatologist Glen Peters explains to Kate Aronoff why it’s “not the end of the world.”

Heating up –> CNN’s Ted Barrett and Tom LoBianco report that Democratic senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken wrote multiple letters to then-FBI Director James Comey and later to Acting Director Andrew McCabe raising the possibility that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had committed perjury when he failed under oath to disclose multiple meetings with Russian officials during his confirmation hearings.

And at Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff writes that, “unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.” Obama administration officials and career foreign service officers pushed back on the effort.

And Austin Wright, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney report for Politico that the House investigation is bogged down in partisan fighting as Republicans seek to justify Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his campaign offices. 

Used, abused and abandoned” –> During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump often invoked the victims of various crimes committed by immigrants. He formed an alliance with a Texas-based nonprofit called the Remembrance Project, which purportedly helps the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants, several of whom appeared on stage during the Republican National Convention. But according to Politico’s Kenneth Vogel, “now some of those families are alleging they were exploited by both the nonprofit group and — to a lesser extent — by President Trump.” At issue is the money the “charity” supposedly raised for their cause. According to Vogel, “Families affiliated with the Remembrance Project say they’ve not received any direct help from the group, despite several requests, and the group’s leader says that was never the intention.”

No guns for goons? –> The Turkish security detail that brutalized a group of protesters in Washington, DC last month was poised to purchase a large order of handguns from a New Hampshire-based manufacturer, but the sale could be blocked as a result of the incident. Nicholas Fandos has more details at The New York Times.

I’ll see you in court” –> The Trump regime is taking its travel ban to the Supreme Court, according to Talking Points Memo’s Caitlin MacNeal.

Politicizing the bureaucracy –> Politico’s Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey report that “the White House is telling federal agencies to blow off Democratic lawmakers’ oversight requests.” This “appears to be a formalization of a practice that had already taken hold, as Democrats have complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained the rationale.” Experts say that politicizing the bureaucracy is typical of authoritarian governments.

Hardliners –>  The CIA has a new section chief for Iran. Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman write in The New York Times that the appointment of Michael D’Andrea, who is known as “the Dark Prince” or “Ayatollah Mike,” is “the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the president took against Iran during his campaign.” They add that the appointment is “one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to espionage and covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman.”

Well I’ll be buggered, there’s a shark in my boat!” –> Aussies are a tough lot, and none more so than Terry Selwood, a 73-year-old man who was surprised when a great white shark launched itself into his small boat as he fished off the coast of New South Wales. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation — their ABC — Selwood was wounded by the shark’s pectoral fin as the 450-pound animal flew over his motor. He described the scene that followed: “There I was on all fours and he’s looking at me and I’m looking at him and then he started to do the dance around and shake and I couldn’t get out quick enough onto the gunnel,” he said.

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

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