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Daily Reads: Will We Always Have Paris? And, Comey Before Congress

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

Will We Always Have Paris?

White House Counsel Don McGahn at Trump Tower in November 2016 in New York City. McGahn has made the case that the Paris Agreement will not allow Trump to roll back Obama's greenhouse gas-cutting regulations. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Battle over the Paris Agreement heats up –> The White House is now leaning toward bailing on the agreement entirely, despite lobbying from corporate America and from within the White House. White House Counsel Don McGahn is arguing that the US is not allowed to reduce its emissions targets under the deal, Politico reports — which means, McGahn argues, the deal could interfere with Trump’s desire to roll back Obama’s climate change agenda. State Department lawyers and diplomats disagree with McGahn’s reading of what’s allowed under the deal, but Trump is reportedly convinced.

Ben Geman reports for Axios that advocates of remaining in the deal “are upping their efforts to have heads of state directly weigh in with President Donald Trump in favor of remaining, similar to how the leaders of Mexico and Canada reportedly called Trump and persuaded him to renegotiate instead of terminate NAFTA.”

Nobody’s a fan, apparently –> The day after Hillary Clinton, declaring herself “part of the resistance,” blamed her election loss on FBI Director James Comey (resulting in cable news coverage that seemingly prompted Trump to tweet “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”) the man himself will appear before Congress for a routine oversight hearing. But the tone of today’s hearing is likely to be anything but routine. He “is expected to be grilled Wednesday by lawmakers in both parties who have sharply questioned his judgment on the investigations into both Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and Russian meddling in the presidential election,” Adam Goldman writes for The New York Times.

The hearing is already underway — if you’d like to watch live, you can do so via the PBS NewsHour website.

Quite the euphemism –> Trump may sign a “religious liberty” executive order tomorrow. A draft of this order leaked to The Nation last winter, and journalist Sarah Posner called it a way for the administration to “legalize discrimination,” continuing: “The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.”

The backlash gave the administration pause, Politico reports, but a largely unchanged version of the order may be signed tomorrow to celebrate the National Day of Prayer, during which Trump is supposed to meet with religious leaders. “The new draft is being tightly held, but one influential conservative who saw the text said it hasn’t been dialed back much — if at all — since the February leak,” Timothy Alberta and Shane Goldmacher write for Politico.

Voter ID confusion –> Voting in Texas in 2016 was an absolute mess. “The state’s efforts to enact and enforce the strictest voter ID law in the nation were so plagued by delays, revisions, court interventions and inadequate education that the casting of ballots was inevitably troubled,” Jessica Huseman writes in an article jointly published by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. She details some of the problems, including the crash-and-burn failure of the state’s program to inform voters about the new ID law.

Lobbyists hard at work –> As we reported last week, the Republican Congress is running out of time to use a little-known rule, the Congressional Review Act, to repeal last-minute regulations put in place by the Obama administration. So far, they’ve repealed 14 — but roughly 50 rules are vulnerable. Wealthy interests are pushing hard for members of Congress to take action on their pet issues. In particular, David Sirota reports for the International Business Times, “lawmakers’ financial industry donors have been lobbying hard on legislation that could prevent states from offering low-cost retirement savings accounts to millions of workers.”

No surprises here –> The EPA hosted a call-in session yesterday, encouraging Americans to weigh in on what regulations the agency should cut. Instead, Scott Pruitt “got an earful Tuesday from people who say federal rules limiting air and water pollution aren’t tough enough,” the Associated Press reports. “During Tuesday’s listening session, only a handful of callers said EPA regulations were too strict… the overwhelming majority of those who called or wrote to EPA urged the agency to strengthen its enforcement measures to hold polluters accountable.”

A crime we’ve all committed –> During Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings last January, a woman in the audience was taken into custody by police. The arresting officer was a “rookie cop who had never conducted an arrest before nor worked at a congressional hearing,” Ryan Reilly reports for HuffPost. “Nevertheless, prosecutors persisted this week in pursuing charges against the 61-year-old woman the rookie had taken into custody.”

Her crime? Laughing briefly when Sessions’ fellow Alabama senator said that Sessions record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”

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



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