MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en John Cornyn Promised . . . Absolutely Nothing Today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. John Cornyn, the #2 Republican leader in the Senate, took some questions today about the GOP replacement for Obamacare.&nbsp; <a href="" target="_blank">TPM's Lauren Fox reports:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When Cornyn was asked if he was concerned about people who've benefited from Medicaid expansion losing coverage, he said it was a shared concern. "We're all concerned, but it ain't going to happen," Cornyn said. "Will you write that down... It ain't gonna happen."</p> <p>Reporters followed up. "You're saying nobody's going to lose coverage?" one asked. "Nobody's going to lose coverage," Cornyn said. <strong>"Obviously, people covered today will continue to be covered. And, the hope is we'll expand access. Right now 30 million people are not covered under Obamacare."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>When you're dealing with Republicans and health care, you have to be mighty careful. Cornyn <em>didn't</em> say that people covered by Medicaid would continue to be covered <em>by Medicaid</em>. He just said they'd be "covered." This could mean anything. It could mean giving the poor a $1,000 refundable tax credit they can use toward buying coverage on the open market, which would be useless. It could mean giving the poor access to tax-favored HSAs and catastrophic coverage, which would also be useless. It could mean keeping them on Medicaid but instituting a 50 percent copay to make sure they have "skin in the game."</p> <p>Reporters need to step up their game. If they're going to ask about stuff like this, they have to demand enough detail for the answer to mean something. Cornyn may <em>sound</em> like he promised something here, but he didn't. And I assure you he chose his words very carefully.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:23:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 323596 at Riveting Moments From Donald Trump Inauguration Protests — Updated <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the coming days, crowds of Donald Trump supporters will take to the streets to welcome the new president, including at Thursday's Make America Great Again rally at the Lincoln Memorial and Friday's inaugural parade outside of the White House.</p> <p>But a whole lot of people <a href="" target="_blank">are organizing to protest</a> Trump, including more than <a href="" target="_blank">one million</a> people who are expected to participate in women's marches around the world.</p> <p>Here are highlights from some of the protests. Come back here for more news as we update this story.</p> <p><strong>January 19</strong></p> <p>Protesters rally outside the Trump International Hotel in New York. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to march alongside actors Mark Ruffalo and Alec Baldwin, as well as filmmaker and activist Michael Moore. "This is New York," de Blasio <a href="" target="_blank">tweeted</a>. "Nothing about who we are changed on Election Day. Let's get to work."&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">HAPPENING NOW: Protest outside of <a href="">#Trump</a> International Hotel in D.C. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Robert Way (@iamrobertway) <a href="">January 17, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I'm rallying at Trump Int&rsquo;l Hotel at 6PM on Jan. 19 because our next president needs to hear from all NYers before he takes office. Join us.</p> &mdash; Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) <a href="">January 16, 2017</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Crowd is gathering! NYC Anti-Trump rally, 6pm, Trump Hotel on Columbus Circle! Join me, Robert DeNiro, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin, Cher, YOU!</p> &mdash; Michael Moore (@MMFlint) <a href="">January 19, 2017</a></blockquote> <p><strong>January 18</strong></p> <p>Hundreds gather for a "Queer Dance Party" outside of Vice President-elect Mike Pence's Chevy Chase house. Firas Nasr, founder of WERK for Peace, <a href="" target="_blank">tells</a> DCist that the event is meant to show that "homophobia and transphobia is wrong and should be resisted." As Indiana's governor, Pence had a poor <a href="" target="_blank">record</a> on LGBT rights, signing a bill to protect businesses that discriminated against gay people.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hundreds are dancing to <a href="">@rihanna</a> outside of VP Elect Mike Pence's DC house to protest what they view as his anti-gay policies. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Ellison Barber (@ellisonbarber) <a href="">January 19, 2017</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">LGBT activists had a dance party protest in Mike Pence's neighborhood <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; TIME (@TIME) <a href="">January 19, 2017</a></blockquote></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Top Stories Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:29:18 +0000 Julia Lurie and Edwin Rios 323591 at The Press Corps We Deserve <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="mobile-css-hide"> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=";pub_code=SDN&amp;term_pub=SDN&amp;term_pub_override=SDN&amp;b_country=United+States&amp;list_source=7H71CEN1&amp;term=XX.1.20.00.SDN.D.0.3832&amp;t=244de234198ei49d4ca06bn94cd30c59200" target="_blank"><img alt="Reader support makes scoops like this possible: please donate to Mother Jones" class="image" src=""></a></div> </div> <p><span class="section-lead">"FAKE NEWS&mdash;A TOTAL </span>POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" President-elect Donald Trump's Twitter account <a href="">blared</a> last week, after CNN reported that US intelligence officials had briefed him and President Barack Obama on an alleged Russian operation to co-opt him and gather compromising information.</p> <p>The allegations, summarized in a memo that a former foreign intelligence official passed to the FBI last summer, were not new. They were <a href="">first reported</a> by <em>MoJo</em>'s David Corn on October 31. That was, to state the obvious, eight days before the election; it was also three days after FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau had discovered what might be a new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails. Though those emails hadn't yet been reviewed (and turned out to <a href="" target="_blank">reveal nothing</a>) Comey thought they were significant enough to bring them to the world's attention. He did not make a similar announcement about this other trove of information. Make of that what you will.</p> <p>Nor, it should be noted, did the rest of the press devote even a fraction of the attention it lavished on the email announcement to the Russia story; some even speculated that a batch of Russia-related <a href="">stories</a> that broke that day had to be the result of an "<a href="" target="_blank">oppo</a><a href="" target="_blank"> dump,</a>" suggesting that the journalists were covering this issue simply because Clinton forces were pushing it. (This assumption is still poisoning the debate, but that's for another day.)</p> <p>Let's be absolutely clear: David's story was the result of enterprise reporting and fact-checking. <em>Mother Jones</em> did not choose to publish the memos themselves or detail the specific allegations because we were not able to independently verify them. (As David <a href="">noted</a> on Twitter, "even Donald Trump deserves journalistic fairness.")</p> <p>What we were able to verify, though, was that the former intelligence professional was who he said he was, that he had the respect of many others in his field, that he'd taken his information to the FBI, and that the bureau had <a href="" target="_blank">followed up</a>.</p> <p>That an authoritarian foreign power might be seeking to compromise the next president of the United States was news, and it deserved further investigation by the FBI as well as the press. (<em>Mother Jones</em> will definitely stay on the beat&mdash;just a few hours ago, David published his <a href="" target="_blank">latest scoop</a> on this matter.) That neither institution drew sufficient public attention to it may prove to be an error of historic consequence. But that moment has passed. Now, with Trump taking office as the 45<sup>th</sup> president, the urgent task is to learn from it.</p> <p>One lesson is that fearless, independent reporting is more critical than ever. If you believe that, consider supporting our nonprofit newsroom. <a href=";pub_code=SDN&amp;term_pub=SDN&amp;term_pub_override=SDN&amp;b_country=United+States&amp;list_source=7H71CEN1&amp;term=XX.1.20.00.SDN.D.0.3832" target="_blank">Your donation goes directly to the work that David and his fellow reporters and editors do every day</a>.</p> <p>Another lesson is that journalists' reflexive instinct to undercut or ignore each other's work&mdash;standard competitive point-scoring in a normal environment&mdash;may have a cost. Because we are no longer in a normal environment. That was chillingly demonstrated in Trump's response when the Russia dossier story finally became blew open last week.</p> <p>First came those tweets calling it fake news&mdash;a term, don't forget, that came into use to describe made-up stories intended to boost Trump. (Trump isn't alone with this rhetorical sleight of hand. Lots of people, on the right and the left, now use "fake news" as a synonym for "news I disagree with." That's a perversion of the concept.)</p> <p>Then, with the press corps assembled at his tower the next morning, Trump sent out his spokesman and his vice president to slam and humiliate the outlets that had made the story big news again, lumping together CNN, which had been careful not to publish the memos or details, and <em>BuzzFeed</em>, which had made the controversial choice to run the documents in full. "Sad" and "pathetic" were some of the <a href="">kinder terms</a> used.</p> <p>Finally, Trump went in for the kill. He called <em>BuzzFeed</em> a "failing pile of garbage." He refused to take a question from CNN's Jim Acosta, calling CNN "fake news." His spokesman later <a href="">told</a> Fox News that he would "remove" Acosta if he demanded the right to ask a question again.&nbsp;</p> <p>This response deserves a little unpacking, because it is a dry run for what we can expect going forward. In just a couple of tweets and a handful of comments, Trump sought to (a) discredit all of the press for the decisions of some; (b) neutralize a term that describes, in part, propaganda ginned up by Moscow to help his candidacy; (c) use that term to dismiss a story of enormous concern to the public; and last but not least, (d) play a divide-and-conquer game with the press itself.</p> <p>The president-elect had started the news conference by complimenting some news outlets (that he did not name) for the "professional" manner in which they handled the Russian intelligence story. But then, as Acosta asked him to "give us a chance to ask a question, sir," he <a href="" target="_blank">shook his head</a>: "Not you. Your organization is terrible. Quiet!"</p> <p>Sorting the press into "good" and "bad" is a tried-and-true tactic of media manipulation. It aims to push reporters to conduct themselves in a way that will land them on the good list, to be rewarded with access, and to fear ending up on the bad list that may come in for punishment and exile. <em>Quiet</em>. Or else.</p> <p>(What that punishment could look like is already becoming apparent, with Trump <a href="" target="_blank">demanding</a> that Congress investigate NBC's decision to report a leak of another element of the Russia story.)</p> <p>The president-elect and many of his supporters have long made clear their contempt for reporters who pursue inconvenient stories. When they impugn real reporting as "fake news" and use that slur to dodge vital questions, it's an attack on all journalists&mdash;and on the audience. On you.</p> <p>As citizens, as participants in democracy, you deserve journalists who ask hard questions and refuse to back down when the president tells them to shush. You deserve a press that doesn't wave off conflicts of interest and possible ties to foreign autocrats as just another wrinkle in the who's-up-who's-down of political competition. You need a Fourth Estate that goes exactly where powerful people don't want it to go.</p> <p>But the economics of media are such that we are not assured that kind of watchdog press unless we build an alternative to a model where newsrooms are owned by entertainment corporations and financed by <a href="">cheap advertising</a>. Those corporations and advertisers have lots of <a href="">interests</a>; a vigorous and unrestrained press is not necessarily the first one. <a href=";pub_code=SDN&amp;term_pub=SDN&amp;term_pub_override=SDN&amp;b_country=United+States&amp;list_source=7H71CEN1&amp;term=XX.1.20.00.SDN.D.0.3832" target="_blank">If you sign up as a sustaining donor to <em>Mother Jones</em>, you become part of building the alternative</a>.</p> <p>Journalists don't always talk about the backstory to our reporting, and that's been to our disadvantage. Here at <em>MoJo</em>, we have been seeking to jump-start that conversation with our series of <a href="">articles</a> on the media business and our own <a href="">campaign</a> to build a reader-supported model. In the coming year, we hope to roll out more ways for you to participate in that conversation, and in the journalism itself. But don't be shy to jump in right now: What did you think of how Trump characterized the press? Do you think <em>MoJo</em> should have published the Russia memos? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, or by sending us an email.</p> <p>P.S. Just have to add this other bit of news that broke just as we were about to publish: <em>Mother Jones</em> has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards (the Oscars of our industry), for general excellence, reporting (for Shane Bauer's <a href="" target="_blank">prison investigation</a>), and Magazine of the Year. That's a huge honor to the insanely hard-working team here&mdash;and to you, our readers, who make it all possible. Thank you.</p></body></html> Media Full Width Money in Politics Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:18:21 +0000 Monika Bauerlein 323416 at Thanks For Everything, President Obama. We're Going to Miss You. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's less than 24 hours until Barack Obama leaves the White House. In eight years, here's my top ten list of what he accomplished:</p> <ol><li>Affordable Care Act</li> <li>Stimulus package</li> <li>Climate actions: Paris agreement, EPA power plant standards, auto mileage standards, etc.</li> <li>Dodd-Frank financial reform</li> <li>Iran nuclear treaty</li> <li>Killed Osama bin Laden</li> <li>Allowed gays to serve openly in the military</li> <li>New START treaty</li> <li>Delivered 74 consecutive months of job growth</li> <li>Declined to get seriously involved in Syria</li> </ol><p>I'm keenly aware of all the criticisms you can make of this list: the stimulus wasn't big enough; Dodd-Frank didn't go far enough; Obamacare doesn't have a public option; cap-and-trade failed; the surveillance state became permanent; there was no help for underwater homeowners; there are still troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; and so forth. These are all legit. Nonetheless, if you compare this list to other presidents of the past century, there aren't more than three or four who can match it. Here in the real world, that's pretty good.</p> <p>On foreign affairs, Obama got better as he spent more time in office. In 2009 he approved a huge surge of troops into a hopeless fight in Afghanistan. In 2011, he resisted intervening in Libya but eventually agreed to a middling-size offensive. Finally, by 2013, he had learned his lesson and simply refused to allow more than a modest bit of engagement in Syria. And thank God for that. If we had committed seriously to Syria, we'd be fighting a massive two-front war there to this day. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just not paying attention.</p> <p>In the end, Obama wasn't a transformative president. But that's a high bar: in my book, FDR and Reagan are the only presidents of the past century who qualify. Still, Obama turned the battleship a few degrees more than most presidents, and we're all better off for it. He also brought a certain amount of grace and civility to the White House, as well as a genuine willingness to work across the aisle. In the event, that turned out to be futile, because Republicans had already decided to oppose everything he did sight unseen. But he did try.</p> <p>I don't know how much of his legacy will survive. A fair amount, I think, since repealing things like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the Iran treaty are harder than they look. But some of it will fade or evaporate in the Trump era. And Obama was never able to make any headway against the anger that festers in the hearts of so many Americans toward the poor, the non-white, the non-male, the non-straight, and the non-Christian. Now this anger will guide our next four years. I miss him already, the best president of my lifetime.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:22:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 323571 at Climate Change Means Fewer Days of Perfect Weather <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Picture the perfect picnic day: It's neither too hot nor too cold, neither too humid nor too dry. The sun is shining, and there's little chance of rain. For many of our outdoor activities, these are the days we care about and plan for. And yet, in the last few decades of climate research, scientists haven't spent much time researching these&nbsp;"mild weather" days.</p> <p>"In standard climate science research, we either focus on changes in the mean climate&mdash;what is the average annual temperature globally and how does that change in time, or what is the average annual rainfall amount and how does rainfall amount change in a region&mdash;or we look at extreme weather and storms, so hurricanes or floods or droughts," says Sarah Kapnick, a climate scientist at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But today, Kapnick, along with two colleagues at NOAA and Princeton University, have released the very first study on global shifts in "mild weather" over the next century, and the results are not looking good.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mild%20weather%20now.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Annual number of mild weather days right now. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mild%20weather%202100.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Changes in annual mild weather days in years 2081-2100. </strong></div> </div> <p>Using a climate simulation model to analyze mild weather days worldwide, the scientists found that today a person, on average, experiences 89 mild days&mdash;but by 2100 she will only experience 78. Moreover, though the latter half of the century will see the fastest decline in mild days, we will begin to see the effects within the next twenty years. The model projects that by 2035, our global average of mild days will fall by four. To put this into perspective, El Ni&ntilde;o&mdash;one of the largest natural climate-changing events&mdash;only chips off one mild weather day per year from the global average.</p> <p>Of course, these mild weather changes are not evenly distributed around the world. For example, the majority of Africa, as well as, parts of Asia, eastern Latin America, and northern Australia&mdash;regions most hard-hit by other studied climate change impacts&mdash;will also suffer the greatest losses in mild weather, upwards of 25 fewer days, over the next century. That isn't to say that the US will ride through the upcoming decades unscathed. A table published along with the study shows exactly what key American cities should expect within the next twenty years. Take two examples: Miami, which currently experiences 97 mild weather days per year, will lose 16 of those days by 2035; DC, currently tallied at 81, will lose 7.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mild%20weather%20us%20chart.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Changes in annual mild weather days for key cities in the US. </strong>Karin van der Wiel, lead author of the study</div> </div> <p>Ticking off a couple of days here and there doesn't sound too bad when you're planning for picnics or hikes. But, as Kapnick points out, mild weather days also affect critical economic activities, including construction, infrastructure projects, agriculture, and air and rail travel. Such shrinking and shifting of mild weather could lead to significant negative economic consequences, not to mention a threat to our global food supply. Even for the handful of regions around the world where mild weather is predicted to increase, there could be unexpected consequences. "People in sunny California know that just because you have sunny, lovely weather, mild weather, doesn't mean that it's necessarily a good thing for your water resources," says Kapnick.</p> <p>Now that a model exists for studying the everyday impacts of climate change, Kapnick hopes other scientists will build off of her team's work. She says, "We have started with mild weather, but future work can look at other ranges of climate that interest people for specific purposes or activities."</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Science Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:35:29 +0000 Karen Hao 323516 at Report: Trump Team Wants to Slash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Everything Else Except Defense <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest news on squeezing our bloated government <a href="" target="_blank">down to size:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending. Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday&rsquo;s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, <em>The Hill</em> has learned....Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump&rsquo;s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is terrifying, of course, but it's also puzzling. $10.5 trillion over ten years? That's a trillion dollars a year. If you eliminated the domestic discretionary budget entirely, you'd only save half a trillion bucks. So how do they do it?</p> <p>Well, we're told that the proposed budget cuts "hew closely" to a recent <a href="" target="_blank">Heritage Foundation report,</a> so I went and took a look. The answer, of course, is that the only way to cut that kind of money is to take a meat axe to everything, including Social Security and Medicare. Here's a chart:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_heritage_budget_cuts.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Let's break this down. How does Heritage manage these whopping cuts? According to a modest little footnote in the appendix on page 165, here's the answer:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Medicaid:</strong> No details. There will be a spending cap, and all mandatory spending will somehow be cut to fit.</p> <p><strong>Medicare:</strong> Increase eligibility age, add a "temporary" premium for Part A, increase premiums for Parts B and D, phase out subsidies for seniors with "significant" income, "reform" cost-sharing arrangements, transition to <strike>vouchers</strike> premium support starting in 2021.</p> <p><strong>Domestic Discretionary:</strong> Magic spending cap.</p> <p><strong>Social Security:</strong> Increase retirement age, index retirement age so it keeps going up, reduce benefits by adopting chained CPI for inflation adjustments, and "transition the payment to a flat, anti-poverty benefit focused on individuals who need it most," whatever that means.</p> </blockquote> <p>In fairness, there's a bit more detail on the domestic discretionary side. Actually, a mountain of detail: over the course of 140 pages, Heritage recommends cuts to over a hundred programs. These include catfish programs, the Ex-Im bank, climate programs, Amtrak, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc. etc. This might turn out to be harder than they expect, since some senator somewhere probably thinks very highly of the USDA Catfish Inspection Program, but I guess they can try. In any case, about 80 percent of the savings come from a small number of programs:</p> <ul><li>Energy subsidies: $28 billion</li> <li>Land and Water Conservation Fund: $20 billion</li> <li>Various HHS/HUD jobs program: $10 billion</li> <li>Davis-Bacon: $9 billion</li> <li>Federal Transit Administration: $4 billion</li> <li>Nine climate programs: $4 billion</li> <li>Military health care: $4 billion</li> </ul><p>So there you have it. Slash a bunch of hippy-dippy stuff (clean energy, water conservation, transit, climate); some employment stuff (jobs programs, Davis-Bacon); and military health care spending. Then take a meat axe to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and everything else, and you're done! Piece of cake.</p> <p>Perhaps someone should start asking our president-elect if he's on board with this stuff.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:39:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 323556 at Obama Writes a Thank You Note to America <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With just one more day as president, Barack Obama <a href="" target="_blank">published a letter on Thursday</a> thanking Americans for being a source of hope for him throughout the past eight years as commander-in-chief. He expressed gratitude for making him not just a better president but a "better man." Obama noted that while it was long-established tradition for sitting presidents to leave a letter of advice for his successor, he wanted to take the time to express his gratitude directly to the country first.</p> <p>"Before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th," he wrote. "Because all that I've learned in my time in office, I've learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man."</p> <p>The president also pledged to support Americans "every step of the way" going forth&mdash;a promise that appeared to echo remarks he made in his <a href="" target="_blank">final press conference</a> on Wednesday when he described working as a private citizen to fight against policies that threatened certain "core values," such as systematic discrimination and efforts to disenfranchise voters. Obama reportedly met with Democratic leaders just last week to discuss his post-presidency plans aimed at <a href="" target="_blank">fighting Republican gerrymandering</a> in congressional districts.</p> <p>"All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work&acirc;&#128;&#138;&mdash;&acirc;&#128;&#138;the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there's an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime." The letter concluded with Obama's signature campaign slogan, "Yes, we can."</p></body></html> Politics Obama Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:37:20 +0000 Inae Oh 323546 at Donald Trump Might Cut Violence-Against-Women Programs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Donald Trump has big plans to reduce the federal budget. <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Hill </em>reported</a> on Thursday morning that his transition team has been working off a Heritage Foundation blueprint and pulled together a list of government agencies they hope to wipe out. The plans include privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (so long, Big Bird), cuts in nuclear physics research at the Department of Energy, and ending money spent on the historic Paris climate agreement. The National Endowment for the Arts will disappear if Trump gets his way. Trump apparently hasn't<strong> </strong>told his Cabinet nominees that they'll soon be in charge of diminished budgets. In total, Trump's cuts to federal programs would reportedly slice $10.5 trillion in spending over the next decade.</p> <p>Add to the list of government programs on the possible chopping block: Violence Against Women grants in the Department of Justice. The office that handles those grants had a $480 million <a href="" target="_blank">budget</a> in 2016. As Twitter user Caroline Q. <a href="" target="_blank">pointed out</a>, it currently oversees 25 grant programs that help women who have been victims of domestic violence.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#BREAKING</a>: Trump team is planning to ELIMINATE the DOJ's 25 Violence Against Women grant programs (listed below). <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) <a href="">January 19, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Our future president is <a href="" target="_blank">fond of bragging about how he can get away with sexual assault</a>, and he was <a href="" target="_blank">accused of rape</a> by his ex-wife. More than <a href="" target="_blank">a dozen women</a> came forward during the presidential campaign with allegations of sexual assault. Programs that deal with helping women who face violent men may not be high on his list of presidential priorities.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Donald Trump Sex and Gender Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:34:34 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 323531 at Steven Mnuchin Forgot $100 Million In His Financial Disclosure Forms <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Donald Trump's nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has revised his <a href=";utm_term=.33fe510d4352" target="_blank">financial disclosure form:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>According to the memo, Mnuchin submitted answers Dec. 19 to a standard committee questionnaire seeking information about his financial and business interests. At the time, Mnuchin verified that those responses were accurate and complete.</p> <p>However, Mnuchin had left out <strong>$95 million in real estate</strong> from his initial disclosures, according to the memo....Mnuchin also at first failed to disclose his role as <strong>director of Dune Capital International,</strong> which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, the document shows.</p> <p>....According to the memo, <strong>Mnuchin characterized the missing information as inadvertent mistakes,</strong> and he updated his answers to the committee&rsquo;s questionnaire on Saturday, less than a week before his hearing.</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. Mnuchin's earlier disclosure form revealed a net worth around $400 million, far higher than the earlier consensus estimate of $40 million. I guess when you're worth that much, it's easy to forget that your four homes (in Los Angeles, England, and two in New York) are worth another $95 million. It could happen to anyone.</p> <p>Anyway, the bottom line is that Mnuchin is actually worth about half a billion dollars, which makes a lot more sense for a Goldman Sachs/hedge fund lifer. The previous estimates of his net worth always struck me as surprisingly paltry.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 15:59:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 323536 at Investigators on the Trump-Russia Beat Should Talk to This Man <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/millian-trump-630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Sergei Millian, left, pictured with Donald Trump and Jorge Perez </strong>Millian's Facebook page</div> </div> <p>Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> it was commencing an investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign that would include an examination of connections between Russia and the Trump camp. And a veiled but public <a href="" target="_blank">exchange</a> between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the committee, and FBI Director James Comey during a hearing on January 10 suggested the FBI has collected information on possible ties between Trump associates and Russians and may still be probing this matter. So with subpoena-wielding investigators on this beat, here's a suggestion: The gumshoes ought to talk to an American from Belarus named Sergei Millian, who has boasted of close ties to Trump and who has worked with an outfit the FBI suspected of being a Russian intelligence front. If they haven't already.</p> <p>Millian, who is in his late 30s and won't say when he came to the United States or how he obtained US citizenship, is an intriguing and mysterious figure with a curious connection to Trump. He is <a href="" target="_blank">president</a> of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA (RACC) and the owner of a translation service. The RACC, a nonprofit that Millian <a href="" target="_blank">started</a> in Atlanta in 2006 and that has survived on shoestring budgets, advocates closer commercial ties between Russia and the United States and assists US firms looking to do business in Russia. In 2009, the group <a href="" target="_blank">called for</a> the US Congress "to foster necessary political changes to produce a healthier economic environment" and grant permanent normal trade relations status to Russia. Its website <a href="" target="_blank">notes</a> that it "facilitates cooperation for U.S. members with the Russian Government, Russian Regional Administrations, U.S. Consulates in Russia, Chambers of Commerce in Russia, and corporate leaders from CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries."</p> <p>The Russian-American Chamber of Commerce's <a href="" target="_blank">2011 tax return</a> reported the group was based in an apartment in Astoria, Queens, where Millian lived&mdash;though the group's letterhead that year listed a Wall Street address&mdash;and that year it brought in only $23,300 in contributions and grants and $14,748 in program revenue. The tax return noted that the chamber "successfully hosted four universities from Russia in New York City" and hosted a trade mission from Belarus. In 2015, Millian <a href="" target="_blank">received</a> a Russian award for fostering cooperation between US and Russian businesses.</p> <p>On his LinkedIn <a href="" target="_blank">page</a>, Millian notes he is also the vice president of an outfit called the World Chinese Merchants Union Association, a group that has only a slight presence on the internet and that seems to have an address in Beijing. According to a LinkedIn <a href="" target="_blank">post</a> published by Millian in April 2016, he met that month in Beijing with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino to discuss industrial and commercial cooperation between China and Russia.</p> <p>Millian's online bio notes he graduated from the Minsk State Linguistic University with the equivalent of a master's degree in 2000. His bio <a href="" target="_blank">says</a> he is a real estate broker who works in residential and commercial properties in the United States and abroad. He used to go by the name Siarhei Kukuts&mdash;that's how he's listed on <a href="" target="_blank">tax returns</a> for the RACC&mdash;and it is unclear why he changed his name. Millian also has repeatedly claimed he had a significant business association with Trump.</p> <p>In an April 2016 <a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> with <em>RIA Novosti</em>, a Russian media outlet, Millian described his history with Trump. He said he met the celebrity real estate developer in 2007 when Trump visited Moscow for a "Millionaire's Fair," where he was promoting Trump Vodka. Millian noted that Trump subsequently invited him to a horse race in Miami. "Later," Millian said, "we met at his office in New York, where he introduced me to his right-hand man&mdash;Michael Cohen. He is Trump's main lawyer, all contracts go through him. Subsequently, a contract was signed with me to promote one of their real estate projects in Russia and the CIS. You can say I was their exclusive broker."</p> <p>Millian said he had helped Trump "study the Moscow market" for potential real estate investments. In the April 2009 issue of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce <a href="" target="_blank">newsletter</a>, Millian reported that he was working with Russian investors looking to buy property in the United States, and he said, "We have signed formal agreements with the Richard Bowers and Co., the Trump Organization and The Related Group to jointly service the Russian clients' commercial, residential and industrial real estate needs." Millian's claim did <a href="" target="_blank">jibe</a> with what Donald Trump Jr. said at a 2008 real estate conference in New York. Trump's son noted, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets." He added, "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."</p> <p>In the 2016 interview, Millian asserted that Trump would be good for Russia if elected president. Trump, he noted, would improve US relations with Russia and lift economic sanctions imposed by Washington on Russia. He said Trump was interested in doing business in Russia: "I don't want to reveal [Trump's] position, but he is keeping Moscow in his sights and is waiting for an appropriate time." Millian added, "In general Trump has a very positive attitude to Russians, because he sees them as clients for his business. Incidentally, he has done many projects with people from the Russian-language diaspora. For example, Trump SoHo in New York with billionaire Tamir Sapir." (Sapir, who died in 2014, was an American billionaire real estate developer from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.)</p> <p>Millian apparently was proud of his association with Trump. In 2014, he <a href=";set=pb.712148228.-2207520000.1484778072.&amp;type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">posted</a> on Facebook a photograph of him with Trump and Jorge Perez, the billionaire real estate developer in Miami who owns the Related Group.</p> <p>Millian seemed delighted to spin for Trump and push the impression he was a Trump insider. During the Republican convention, he <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> the<em> Daily Beas</em>t that Trump was a "powerful, charismatic, and highly intelligent leader with a realistic approach toward Russia." He added, "I, personally, wholeheartedly support his presidential aspirations. It's been a great pleasure representing Mr. Trump's projects in Russia." But weeks later, as the Russia hacking controversy was heating up, Millian, in <a href="" target="_blank">another exchange </a>with the<em> Daily Beast</em>, downplayed his connection to Trump. And the website reported that after its reporter spoke him, Millian removed mentions of his Trump association from an online biography. It also appears that references to the Trump Organization working with the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA were at some point <a href=";cd=2&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">scraped</a> from its <a href=";combine=" target="_blank">website</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Millian's activities and ties to Trump have raised questions. In October, the <em>Financial Times</em> mounted an <a href="" target="_blank">investigation</a> of him and the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. It reported:</p> <blockquote> <p>Most of the board members are obscure entities and nearly half of their telephone numbers went unanswered when called by the Financial Times. An FT reporter found no trace of the Chamber of Commerce at the Wall Street address listed on its website. At the same time, the chamber appears to have close official ties, arranging trips for visiting Russian regional governors to the US.</p> </blockquote> <p>As part of its inquiry into Millian, the newspaper pointed to Millian's connection to <a href="" target="_blank">Rossotrudnichestvo</a>, a Russian government organization that promotes Russian culture abroad. In 2013, <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that <a href="" target="_blank">Rossotrudnichestvo</a> was under investigation by the FBI for using junkets to recruit American assets for Russian intelligence. Through cultural exchanges, Rossotrudnichestvo, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Russian Foreign Ministry, was bringing young Americans&mdash;including political aides, nonprofit advocates, and business executives&mdash;on trips to Russia. The program was run by Yury Zaytsev, a Russian diplomat who headed the Russian Cultural Center in Washington, DC.</p> <p>Americans who participated in the exchange trips and were later questioned by FBI agents told <em>Mother Jones</em> that the agents' questions indicated the FBI suspected Zaytsev and Rossotrudnichestvo had been using the all-expenses-paid trips to Russia to cultivate Americans&nbsp;as intelligence assets. (An asset could be a person who directly works with an intelligence service to gather information, or merely a contact who provides information, opinions, or gossip, not realizing it is being collected by an intelligence officer.) After <em>Mother Jones</em> published a story on the FBI investigation, the Russian embassy in Washington issued a statement: "All such 'scaring information' very much resembles Cold War era. A blunt tentative is made to distort and to blacken activities of the Russian Cultural Center in DC, which are aimed at developing mutual trust and cooperation between our peoples and countries." (A year later, in November 2014, Zaytsev <a href="" target="_blank">spoke at a Moscow press conference and said</a>, in reference to the upcoming US presidential elections, "It seems to me that the Russian 'card' will certainly be played out." He added, "I think that this presidential election first of all will very clearly show a trend of further development" in US-Russia relations.)</p> <p>Millian has collaborated with&nbsp;Rossotrudnichestvo. In 2011, he and the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce worked with Zaytsev and the Russian group to mount a 10-day exchange that brought 50 entrepreneurs to the first "Russian-American Business Forum" in Moscow and the Vladimir region, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">letter</a> Millian sent to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after the initiative. In that letter, Millian praised Rossotrudnichestvo, and he added, "My entire staff, fellow participants, and I, here at the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA, very much look forward to assisting Rossotrudnichestvo with the preparations for next year's trip." (Millian now says, "We are not affiliated with [Rossotrudnichestvo] in any way.")</p> <p>Toward the end of the presidential campaign Michael Cohen, the Trump lawyer, told the <em>Financial Times</em> that Millian's claims of working with Trump were "nothing more than a weak attempt to align himself with Mr. Trump's overwhelmingly successful brand." But the newspaper reported that Cohen "did not respond to questions about whether he interacted with Mr. Millian or why Mr. Millian is one of only 100 people he follows on Twitter." (Cohen no longer follows Millian on Twitter.) Hope Hicks, Trump's campaign spokeswoman, told the paper that Trump had "met and spoke" with Millian only "on one occasion almost a decade ago at a hotel opening."</p> <p>Cohen, Hicks, Sean Spicer, Trump's designated White House press secretary, and the Trump presidential transition team did not respond to a request for information regarding Millian's interactions with Trump and his associates.</p> <p>Reached by telephone this week, Millian said he would not discuss his relationship with Trump and requested he be sent questions via email. <em>Mother Jones</em> subsequently sent him a list. Millian responded in an email with answers to a different set of questions, and he noted he would not answer any queries about his personal background or provide any details beyond what was in this reply. He said in the email, "I have a solid reputation with businesses around the world. It's a common practice for immigrants to change name upon immigrating to the USA.&nbsp;I am US citizen and do not have and never had Russian citizenship. I live and work in NYC."</p> <p>In the email, Millian asserted, "I have never said that I worked personally for Trump. I said I was a broker for one of his many real estate projects. There are several brokers who work on such real estate projects. I never represented Mr Trump personally and I am not working with Mr Trump." He added, "I have signed an official&nbsp;contract with talks of exclusivity&nbsp;that authorized me to represent Trump name&nbsp;project in Russia and CIS." But he said he had never been paid by Trump for any work. He maintained that the last time he spoke to Trump was in 2008.</p> <p>Millian insisted he had "never worked for Russian Government or&nbsp;Russian&nbsp;military as a&nbsp;translator or in any other capacity." He said, "We&nbsp;never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo." And he made this point: "I'm a member of the Presidential Trust of NRC-GOP and&nbsp;supporter of Mr Trump who contributed to his campaign just the same way as&nbsp;many millions of Americans. I'm proud that Mr Trump&nbsp;became our president. I'm sure he will rebuild our&nbsp;great nation&nbsp;to the highest standards just as he did with his distinguished buildings. We desperately need better infrastructure, airports, railways in this country. Also, high time starting paying off national debts. I feel upset that press tries to distracts&nbsp;him from making our&nbsp;country great again by distributing fake news." (A search of campaign finance records revealed no contribution from Millian to the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee; a contribution of $200 does not have to be itemized.)</p> <p>Millian's response ignored several questions <em>Mother Jones </em>sent him. He would not say when he left Belarus or explain how he became an American citizen. He would not discuss the details of the deal he previously claimed to have struck with the Trump Organization. He would not say how many times he worked on projects or exchanges with Rossotrudnichestvo. (His response seemed to suggest he had nothing to do with the Russian organization, yet the 2011 letter he wrote indicated his Russian-American Chamber of Commerce had collaborated with Rossotrudnichestvo.) He did not explain why references to the Trump organization had been scraped from the RACC's website and his bio. And he did not answer this question: "In the last year and a half, have you had any contacts with Donald Trump or any of his political or business associates?"</p> <p>Various media outlets that have examined links between Trump and Russia have focused on Carter Page, a Moscow-connected foreign policy adviser for Trump 's presidential campaign (whom Trump spokesman Sean Spicer recently <a href="" target="_blank">falsely claimed</a> Trump did not know) and Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime presidential campaign manager who had <a href="" target="_blank">business ties</a> to Russians and Putin-allied Ukrainians. Any official investigators would likely be interested in these two men. They also should schedule a sit down with Millian.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Crime and Justice Donald Trump Foreign Policy International Thu, 19 Jan 2017 15:15:53 +0000 David Corn 323316 at