At EPA, guarding the chief pulls agents from pursuing environmental crimes

The following article by Juliet EIlperin and Brady Dennis was posted on the Washington Post website September 20, 2017:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Scott Pruitt’s round-the-clock personal security detail, which demands triple the manpower of his predecessors at the Environmental Protection Agency, has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes.

The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has summoned agents from various cities to serve two-week stints helping guard Pruitt in recent months. While hiring in many departments is frozen, the agency has sought an exception to hire additional full-time staff to protect Pruitt. Read More

Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House

The following article by Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman was posted on the Washington Post website September 20, 2017:

President Trump has weighed in on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election time and time again. Here’s a look at how he can limit the probe, and what Congress is trying to do about it. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests. Read More

Mueller Seen To Be Probing Trump Like A Mob Boss

The following article by Greg Price with Newsweek was post on the National Memo website on September 20, 2017:

Bonanno, Gambino…Trump?

The first two are recognizable as bosses of the notorious Five Families, as the leading organized crime outfits of New York and other areas of the country were once known, and the third obviously belongs to the president of the United States and his famous New York real estate family. Other than location, location and location, the three names also have something else in common: aggressive federal investigations. Read More

Trump Offers a Selective View of Sovereignty in U.N. Speech

The following article by Mark Landler was posted on the New York Times website September 19, 2017:

President Trump delivering his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump, in declaring Tuesday that sovereignty should be the guiding principle of affairs between nations, sketched out a radically different vision of the world order than his forebears, who founded the United Nations after World War II to deal collectively with problems they believed would transcend borders.

Mr. Trump offered the General Assembly a strikingly selective definition of sovereignty, threatening to act aggressively against countries like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, whose policies he opposes, yet saying almost nothing about Russia, which seized territory from its neighbor Ukraine, and meddled in the American presidential election. Read More

RNC taps legal account to help pay for lawyers for President Trump and son Donald Jr. in Russia probes

The following article by Mattea Gold was posted on the Washington Post website September 20, 2917:

The RNC paid $131,250 last month to Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump’s legal team. (Steve Helber/AP)

The Republican National Committee is using a pool of money stockpiled for election recounts and other legal matters to pay for President Trump’s ballooning lawyer fees related to the multiple Russia investigations, directing more than $427,000 so far to lawyers representing him and his eldest son, party officials confirmed Tuesday.

The RNC will report that last month it paid $100,000 to Trump’s personal attorney John Dowd, and $131,250 to Jay Sekulow, another member of his legal team, in a Federal Election Commission report set to be filed Wednesday. Read More

Senate Intelligence Committee interview with Trump lawyer abruptly canceled

The following article by Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian was posted on the Washington Post website September 19, 2017:

Michael Cohen, a lawyer for President Trump, briefly addressed journalists on Sept. 19 at the Capitol. He had been scheduled to speak with staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the meeting was canceled. (The Washington Post)

The Senate Intelligence Committee has unexpectedly canceled a Tuesday session to interview Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for President Trump’s business and a close associate of the president.

The meeting was scheduled as part of the committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Cohen arrived for the interview with his attorney Tuesday morning, but left the closed door session after about an hour, informing reporters waiting outside that committee staff had suddenly informed him they did not wish the interview to go forward. Read More

Trump pays tribute to the military, the U.N. and Americans by paying tribute to himself

The following article by Philip Bump was posted on the Washington Post website September 18, 2017:

President Trump paid his first visit to the United Nations as the country’s chief executive Monday, making the 20-block trip from Trump Tower to meet with other world leaders and offer his thoughts on the future of the international organization.

He began his remarks in a way we no longer even find terribly surprising.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley introduced Trump, saying the president was “no stranger to change.” Read More

FBI wiretap of Manafort is big news, but not because it vindicates Trump’s claim

The following article by Aaron Rupar was posted on the ThinkProgress website September 19, 2017:

Trump’s accusation remains as groundless as ever.

Credit:  Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post

On Monday night, CNN broke news that federal agents wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during stretches of time both before and after the 2016 election, including early this year — “a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

Not only does CNN’s report suggest there could be records of communications Manafort had with Trump, but it indicates investigators had good reason to believe Trump’s former campaign chairman was serving as an “agent of a foreign power.” Manafort reportedly made millions working for an oligarch closely tied to Putin, and presided over the Trump campaign during a time when it first came under FBI scrutiny for its Russia ties. CNN reports that “[t]he FBI interest in Manafort” dates back to when he was working on behalf of pro-Putin interests in Ukraine in 2014. Read More

Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees

The following article by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Somini Segupta was posted on the New York Times website September 18, 2017:

A Syrian family in Fresno, Calif. The draft report by Health and Human Services officials, which was completed in July but not released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.

The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises concerns about terrorism.

Advocates of the program inside and outside the administration say refugees are a major benefit to the United States, paying more in taxes than they consume in public benefits, and filling jobs in service industries that others will not. But research documenting their fiscal upside — prepared for a report mandated by Mr. Trump in a March presidential memorandum implementing his travel ban — never made its way to the White House. Some of those proponents believe the report was suppressed. Read More

With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone

The following article by Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman was posted on the New York Times website September 18, 2017:

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, in June 2016. Prosecutors in the Russia investigation told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, two people close to the investigation said. Credit Brendan McDermid/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry. Read More