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Daily Reads: A Whole Heap of New Questions About Flynn; Trump Punts on Paris, Again

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

Daily Reads: A Whole Heap of New Questions About Flynn

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Early warnings ignored –> Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee yesterday that she warned Donald Trump’s team twice in January about former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “We believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised,” she said. “To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians. You don’t want the Russians to have leverage over the national security adviser.” Despite the warnings, Flynn didn’t resign until the middle of the following month — 18 days after Yates’ first warning.

This testimony raises a bevy of new questions about how the Trump administration dealt with Flynn. Among them: “Yates’ characterization of Flynn’s conduct as problematic appeared to challenge previous White House efforts to argue that there was nothing improper about Flynn’s underlying actions and that he was only fired because he had misled Pence,” Inae Oh writes for Mother Jones.

Delay, delay, delay –> Trump’s widely anticipated decision on whether or not to stay in the Paris Agreement was expected this week, as early as this evening. His advisers were scheduled to meet with the president today and figure out what they would do. But that meeting, Politico’s Andrew Restuccia reports, has been postponed.

Ivanka Trump, reportedly, is in charge of making sure her father has all the facts. “Though Trump’s inclination has been to leave the agreement, he’s allowed his daughter, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, to set up an extensive review process, a senior administration official said,” the Associated Press reports. “The goal is to ensure Trump receives information from both government experts and the private sector before a making a decision.” That offers a glimmer of hope for those who hope the president remains in the agreement — as of last week, reports indicated that Steve Bannon and White House legal counsel Don McGahn had used bogus legal ideas to convince the president to bail.

Giving up the game –> “In a brief defending its ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department approvingly cited a segregation-era Supreme Court decision that allowed Jackson, Mississippi, to close public pools rather than integrate them,” Nick Baumann and Julia Craven report for HuffPost. In addition to allowing segregation, the decision maintains that officials’ motivations (i.e., potential racism) cannot be used to determine if their actions are legal. In this case, the Trump administration wants to argue that Trump’s oft-repeated desire to ban Muslim immigration does not mean that his ban on travel from Muslim majority countries should be construed as an illegal “Muslim ban.”

Undermining transparency –> “At least three federal government agencies have agreed to seemingly conceal official communications with a congressional committee from public information requests, following letters sent last month by the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services,” Mary Ann Georgantopoulos reports for Buzzfeed. They did so at the request of Jeb Hensarling, one of Wall Street’s best friends in the House of Representatives. He “sent letters in April to the heads of several federal agencies his committee oversees, declaring that communications and documents produced between the two offices will remain in the committee’s control and will not be considered ‘agency records’ — therefore exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.”

Out of the frying pan, into the fire –> Rep. Rob Blum (R-IA) agreed to give an interview to a local television station before a town hall in which his staff would be checking IDs — in an effort, he said, to make sure all of those who asked questions were from within his district. (For some reason, Blum insisted that the interview be conducted while he was surrounded by children.) When the reporter asked if Blum would take money from people outside of the district, Blum walked out of the interview. Perhaps it was a sensitive topic.

“A few hours later, Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him,” The Washington Post reports.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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