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Friday Trump Roundup - 5

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

Although I usually only post these updates every few weeks, and the last update was just a week ago, a lot happened in the past week worth mentioning. Here are today's links:


NPR - Trump Denies Allegations Of Secret Ties, Collusion Between Campaign And Russia

[Let me stress that the document mentioned is still unverified. If it's true, it's huge news, but it may just as well turn out to be false. For now, this is just a story to keep an eye on.]
"Top U.S. intelligence officials have briefed leaders in Washington about an explosive -- but unverified -- document that alleges collusion between Russia and President-elect Donald Trump, NPR has learned." ... "NPR is not detailing the contents of the brief because it remains unverified, but it describes a concerted effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate a relationship with Trump and his camp. The document, which describes information provided by Russian government and other sources, details behavior by Trump that could leave him open to blackmail, as well as alleged secret meetings between Trump aides and Russian officials called to discuss the campaign against Clinton and potential new business relationships."


The Atlantic - Donald Trump's Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet
A semi-comprehensive list of the business concerns that may influence the president-elect as he prepares for the nation's highest office

"Since his election, an ever-increasing level of attention has been paid to the unprecedented conflicts of interest that President-elect Donald J. Trump seems likely to bring with him when he assumes office. His responses to the concerns have been varied and, at times, contradictory." ... "Unless Trump acts to put appropriate distance between himself and his business ventures, these questions are likely to continue throughout his time in the Oval Office. Below is an attempt to catalogue the more clear-cut examples of conflicts of interest that have emerged so far" The article then goes on to detail 20 different cases.


Vox - US spies just briefed Trump on the Russia hack. His response barely mentions Russia.

"It's important to take stock of how astounding this is. A Republican president-elect is signal boosting the ideas of a Russian-linked, anti-American activist who literally published a book titled The World According to US Empire. It's a telling little moment that offers a glimpse of just how strange international and domestic politics are going to be in the Trump era." ... "What this statement reveals, more than anything else, is Trump's priorities. He is not interested in a dispassionate assessment of the Russian hack of the election, or the threat such hacking poses to US democracy. He is interested in minimizing any perceived threat to his own legitimacy from people who decide he owes his election to backing from the Kremlin."

Related: Vox - Trump is siding with Julian Assange against the US intelligence community


CNN OpEd - The folly of Trump's palace guard

"At the end of the day we might conclude that the private security detail isn't that big of a deal -- it satisfies the President-Elect's princely pretensions and gives him an excuse to keep his buddies close by. But make no mistake: There is much at stake when it comes to tolerating such a detail. Acquiescence signals a willingness to credit arguments that an elite federal institution such as the Secret Service is unreliable, that armed contractors acting somewhat under the color of state law are acceptable, and that self-funded bureaucratic fiefdoms insulated from congressional control are anything but constitutionally offensive. "


CNN OpEd - Donald Trump is 'gaslighting' America

"Mental health professionals have made much of the practice [gaslighting], said to be a favorite of narcissists and abusive spouses. But more recently the tactical tampering with the truth has become a preferred method of strongmen around the world. Gaslighting by other means was always a common feature of dictatorships, but it has found new vogue as a more subtle form of domestic political control even in countries with varying degrees of democracy. / Now Trump has brought it to the United States. The techniques include saying and doing things and then denying it, blaming others for misunderstanding, disparaging their concerns as oversensitivity, claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings, and other forms of twilighting the truth." ... "In the end, few people can keep up with all the facts all the time. And as he [Trump] tries to undercut the credibility of serious journalists, he makes it even harder for everyone else to find an easy path to the truth." ... "The challenge will be a steep one for journalists and for all Americans, when so much of what comes from the next president has to be checked and double-checked. The first step is to establish when there is a gaslighting operation in progress. / Then comes the battle to hold on to the facts."


Slate - Ethics Office Warns Trump Cabinet Confirmations Are Moving Too Quickly

"The nonpartisan federal agency that is in charge of vetting those who have been selected to take a seat in President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet says confirmation hearings are being scheduled before ethics reviews can be completed. In a letter to Democratic Senate leaders on Saturday, Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub said the schedule for confirmation hearings is 'of great concern' because his office has not had time to review everyone's potential conflicts." / " 'The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE's staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews,' wrote Shaub. 'More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.' " / "Shaub noted this situation appears to be pretty unprecedented. 'I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process,' he wrote."


Washington Post - Donald Trump's 'first attempt to ignore the law'

[Referring to anti-nepotism laws and Trump appointing his son-in-law as a senior adviser] "Is Trump going to be able to get around this, because I see this as Trump's first attempt to ignore the law, act in violation of the law, and he's going to see if he can get away with it. We have a statute that names the president, that names the son-in-law relationship, that Congress identified a problem and enacted a statute prohibiting a president from hiring a son-in-law. President-elect Trump, in my view, is testing the waters to see if he can get away with violating what I would call this government ethics provision. And whether President-elect Trump gets away with this depends, it seems to me, in part on the public response as well as the congressional response.... / We'll see whether President Trump is required to follow the law or not. And so, I think this is enormously significant, because it's an initial test of whether -- we've seen as a candidate, Donald Trump has violated norms, and now we're going to see whether he also plans to violate the law."


Politico - Why Trump's Meeting With RFK Jr. Has Scientists Worried

"Of all Donald Trump's conspiratorial obsessions, perhaps one of the most dangerous has been his long promotion of the much-debunked theory that vaccines cause autism." ... "Now, Trump is going to be the president of the United States, and doctors and scientists are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of having a man in charge of the country's public health system who dabbles in discredited scientific theories. / Those concerns only grew on Tuesday, when Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer who has long been immersed in those discredited theories." ... "Which is why the news of the meeting--and Kennedy's subsequent confirmation on Thursday that he will leave his environmental group to chair a vaccine safety commission for the president--has sparked immediate condemnation from experts in the medical and scientific communities, who worry about what Trump's choice of advisers says about his public health agenda."


---

The remainder of the linked articles deal with some of Trump's cabinet picks, demonstrating his poor judgment in picking such people.


L.A. Times - Rocky confirmation hearing expected for Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for America's top diplomat

"As chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., Tillerson championed energy development projects in Russia and developed such close personal ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is one of the few Americans ever awarded Russia's 'Order of Friendship.' / Their relationship has raised questions about whether Tillerson would take a forceful position against an adversary that, U.S. intelligence agencies say, used hacked emails, propaganda and fake news to try to help Trump win in November and to "harm" Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's chances."


Wired - Tillerson's Hearing Seals It: the US Won't Lead on Climate Change

"At Exxon, Tillerson was charged with maximizing profits even at the expense of a warming planet. As secretary of state, he'll play a key role in negotiating a global strategy to combat climate change. The question is whether he'll be able to set aside his allegiance to the fossil fuel industry in favor of true progress on the climate. His noncommittal answers at today's hearing --including his refusal to admit that the scientific evidence for human-caused climate change is conclusive--didn't inspire confidence."


Politico - Flynn under fire for fake news

"As Donald Trump's national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will have to advise the president of the veracity of foreign and domestic threats, separating those that require immediate policy action from propaganda or misinformation. / But Flynn himself has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months -- pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9, according to a POLITICO review of his Twitter posts. Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has 'secretly waged war' on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a 'jihadi' who 'laundered' money for Muslim terrorists. / Now some say Flynn's fondness for spreading fake news casts doubt on his fitness to serve as the White House's national security adviser, suggesting that he either can't spot a blatant falsehood or is just ideologically bent to believe the worst of his perceived enemies."


Chicago Tribune - More than 1,100 law school professors oppose Jeff Sessions's nomination as attorney general

"A group of more than 1,100 law school professors from across the country is sending a letter to Congress Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general." ... " 'We are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation's laws and promote justice and equality in the United States,' says the letter..." ... "The law professors wrote that some of them have concerns about Sessions's prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, his support for building a wall along the nation's southern border and his 'repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.' "


Huffington Post - An Open Letter From Urban Affairs And Housing Scholars To The Senate: Reject Ben Carson As HUD Secretary

"Some of the nation's leading scholars on housing and urban affairs have signed an open letter opposing president-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The letter, addressed to Republican Senator Michael Crapo, chair of the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democratic on the committee, notes that Carson not only remains dismissive of government responses to poverty in general, he has publicly expressed disdain for HUD's particular mission to ensure a safe home for every American."

Full Letter


NBC News - Trump Picks Energy Department Opponent Rick Perry for Energy Secretary

"President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- who famously once forgot that he wanted to abolish the Energy Department -- to be secretary of energy, two sources familiar with the transition process told NBC News on Monday night." ... "As governor, Perry championed the oil industry, questioning science that shows that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and deriding what he called 'the secular carbon cult.' / At a presidential town hall in 2011, he said, 'I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.' "


CBS News - Trump official Monica Crowley accused of numerous instances of plagiarism

"Monica Crowley, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to run communications for the National Security Council, is being accused of numerous instances of plagiarism that took place throughout her career. / CNN reports that HarperCollins will no longer sell new copies of Crowley's 2012 book after a number of instances of plagiarism were found. And according to a Monday report by Politico Magazine, Crowley plagiarized a number of passages in her 2000 Columbia University PhD dissertation." ... "In a statement to CNN, the Trump transition team initially defended Crowley ... 'Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.' "

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