TrumpWatch, Day 18: Courts and the Muslim Ban, An Attack on Journalists, DeVos Confirmation on Knife-Edge


PHOTO: Donald Trump speaks at MacDill Air Force Base on Monday

Developments on Day 18 of the Trump Administration:

*Both the Trump Administration and the states seeking to overturn the administration’s “Muslim Ban” file arguments with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The three-judge court has scheduled an hour of oral arguments on Tuesday on the January 27 executive order that suspends the visas of citizens of seven mainly-Muslim countries, affecting more than 60,000 people. The order, drafted by White House advisors Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, initially included US permanent residents from the seven countries, until the Department of Homeland Security intervened.

See US Analysis: Trump’s Immigration Strategy Comes Straight From the Middle East
US Podcast: Trump, the Judges, and the Muslim Ban

Donald Trump has questioned the legitimacy of the “so-called judge” who initially suspended the ban on Friday night. He followed this on Sunday night with the claim that judges will be responsible for any terrorist attacks inside the US, and pressed again on Monday night:

*Continuing his attack on the media and trying to push through the Muslim Ban, Trump claims that journalists “have their reasons” for not reporting on attacks at home and abroad by “radical Islamic terrorists”.

Speaking to military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Trump gave no examples. Challenged that attacks have been extensively covered, the White House later put out a list of 78.

These included high-profile events such as attacks in Paris, Nice, and Brussels and mass shootings in Orlando, Florida and San Bernardino, California. Others on the list, such as a shooting in Bosnia in April 2015, were extensively covered at the local level.

While Trump’s remark appeared to fly in the face of reality, it is in line with the claim of right-wing conspiracy websites, such as InfoWars, that the media is covering up attacks to protect Muslim immigrants and refugees.

A New York Times correspondent responded with a reference to the false declaration by Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway of a “Bowling Green Massacre” committed by two Iraqis admitted into the US:

*With confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on a knife-edge, Senate Democrats begin a marathon session, speaking through the night.

After controversy over DeVos’ views on public v. private and charter schools and her poor performance in confirmation hearings, two Republican — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — said they will vote no.

Those two defections, combined with the opposition of all 48 Democrats, would produce a 50-50 outcome. That would force Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote on Tuesday in favor of the Michigan billionaire.

But the office of North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis has said he is undecided, raising the prospect of the first rejection of a Trump nominee.

*An open letter from former employees of the Environmental Protection Agency opposes the confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruett to lead the agency.

The letter was sent to the Senate by 441 former agency officials:

Mr. Pruitt’s record raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.

While serving as Oklahoma’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Pruitt issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards to limit mercury emissions from power plants, reduce smog levels in cities and regional haze in parks, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and control greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, none of Mr. Pruitt’s many press releases refer to any action he has taken to enforce environmental laws or to actually reduce pollution.

About 300 people — 1/3 of whom work for the EPA — protested outside the agency’s Chicago office on Monday during a lunch break.

EPA PROTEST 06-02-17

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