Progressive Breakfast for January 16

Morning Message Miles Mogulescu

Trump Violates Law by Stealing Putin Notes

Trump “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter. This is chilling and unprecedented, as fourteen U.S. intelligence agencies have already concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections. Without a written record, there is no way to know what promises he may have made to the Russians, or even what instructions he may have received from Putin. Taking such extraordinary steps at concealment violate Article 2 of the Constitution and the Presidential Records Act, and are also evidence of intent to break the law. When will Congress - including the Republicans who control the Senate - finally step up to their responsibility as a co-equal branch of government to stop Trump?

Court Blocks Census Citizenship Probe

Courts thwart Trump’s bid to enact hard-line immigration agenda as Congress dithers. WaPo: “President Trump’s efforts to remake the immigration system through executive power have been repeatedly thwarted by the federal courts, exposing the limits of his strategy to circumvent Congress and hampering his ability to deliver on promises to crack down on illegal immigration. The Trump administration’s latest legal defeat came Tuesday, when a U.S. district judge in New York blocked its attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The ruling extends a string of setbacks, as federal courts have halted the president’s efforts to end a deferred-action program for young undocumented immigrants, bar Central Americans from seeking asylum in the United States, withhold funds from ‘sanctuary cities’ that do not cooperate with federal enforcement operations and separate immigrant families at the border.”

More Federal Employees Ordered To Work With No Pay

Shutdown shrinks as thousands more employees called in to work without pay. Politico: “Thousands of aviation safety inspectors and hundreds of food, drug and medical inspectors are heading back to work without pay — and so will tens of thousands of Internal Revenue Service employees if the government shutdown is still in place when tax season begins Jan. 28. In addition, the Interior Department is bringing back dozens of furloughed employees to work on selling oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico — key to President Donald Trump’s priority of promoting U.S. fossil fuel production. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency has recalled dozens of employees, according to its revised shutdown plan. The recalls come as federal agencies cope with the 25-day-long impasse by expanding the types of duties they consider essential, including tasks that have fueled public relations nightmares for agencies in charge of health and safety.”

GOP Blocks Bill To Reopen Government

McConnell blocks second bill aimed at reopening the government. ThinkProgress: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked another bill aimed at reopening the government Tuesday, as the record-breaking shutdown stretches into its fourth week. The legislation would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 and the rest of the agencies affected by the shutdown through September. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) asked for the Senate to take up the package, but McConnell said Tuesday that he would not ‘participate in something that doesn’t lead to an outcome.’ The shutdown, now on its 25th day, first began back on December 21, after President Donald Trump and his Republican congressional allies refused to budge on his demand for $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats have so far refused to acquiesce to that demand, and some House Republicans have since joined them to help push legislation to re-open the government through the House. Already, the shutdown has had a dramatic effect on federal workers and millions of other Americans across the country.”

Ocasio-Cortez Joins Financial Services Committee

Ocasio-Cortez to join House panel overseeing financial sector. The Hill: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is slated to join the committee leading the House’s oversight of U.S banks, lenders and financial markets. Ocasio-Cortez has been recommended by Democratic leaders for a spot on the House Financial Services Committee, a Democratic source told The Hill on Tuesday. The full roster of Democrats joining the committee is expected to be released as soon as Tuesday night. The assignment will give the influential Democratic freshman an powerful perch to push her party toward the left on critical financial issues. While New Yorkers often land seats on the Financial Services panel, those who do are often more sympathetic Wall Street. Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic-Socialist, often touts her refusal to accept corporate donations and criticizes colleagues with close ties to the financial sector. Ocasio-Cortez spoke out against a GOP proposal to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law in 2017, and supports reimposing a 1930s separation of investment and consumer banking. She’s also advocated for a drastic expansion of federal housing aid.”

Trump Dines Alone On 1,000 Hamberders

Cold Whoppers in the White House: A visual metaphor for the Trump presidency. Salon: “Boxes of McDonald’s Big Macs and Filet-O-Fish, along with burgers from Wendy’s and Burger King, stacked on silver trays, alongside fast food salads and a bounty of McNuggets. Fries and Domino’s pizzas provided variety. Handfuls of sauce tubs piled inside grand gravy boats; the room’s dim lighting aided by candlelight from gold candelabras. This was the dinner provided by President Donald Trump at the White House Monday evening for the celebration of the national college football champions, the Clemson Tigers. Trump, in his uniform of an ill-fitting coat and a red tie, grinned at the fast food feast before him as he told reporters that it was a spread of ‘great American food.’ He added, ‘I like it all.’ Over the last two years, Trump’s chaotic presidency has slid up and down a spectrum of bizarre to terrifying, so little that the president does anymore is particularly surprising. But still, the dollar menu millionaire spectacle broke new ground even in Trump’s White house, and people on social media had a field day with the visuals.”