Thousands of people marched in Pittsburgh Tuesday to protest President Trump’s visit to the city and the Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 Jewish worshipers were shot and killed Saturday in what has been described as the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. President Trump was accompanied by his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. They were greeted by the synagogue’s rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. Trump’s visit came despite many local leaders publicly boycotting it, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, the former leader of the synagogue and a group of local Jewish leaders who told the president he is not welcome in Pittsburgh until he “fully denounces white nationalism.” This is Stephen Miller’s uncle, Dr. David Glosser, speaking on Democracy Now! earlier this week.
Dr. David Glosser: “Mr. Trump has made it his policy to vilify and dehumanize Hispanics, Muslims, nonwhites, calling them subhuman animals that are infesting our country like so many insects or rats. Make no mistake about it: This is the same kind of propaganda that is identical to the racist rants at Nazi Party rallies in Germany in the 1930s.”
As the Trumps visited the synagogue, protesters marched in the synagogue’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. As Trump’s motorcade left the area, some turned their backs and took a knee in protest. This is Pittsburgh protester Jim Skiff speaking Tuesday.
Jim Skiff: “We’d like to ask President Trump to please stop with all of the hate speech. … And I think the people of this country are really weary of the whole dialectic. We want people to come together in love and peace, and truly make America kind again. That is what we would like.”
The first three funerals for victims of the shooting took place Tuesday, for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal and Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a celebrated doctor who treated many AIDS patients at the height of the epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s. More funerals are planned for today.
Democratic leaders, civil rights groups and legal experts are blasting President Trump for saying he’ll sign an executive order ending the constitutionally protected birthright citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil. Trump’s statements came with the midterms just one week away and amid an onslaught of anti-immigrant rhetoric from the president. In the interview with reporters from the new series “Axios on HBO,” Trump falsely claims that the U.S. is the only country with birthright laws. In fact, at least 30 other countries have similar laws, including most nations in North and South America. The ACLU tweeted Tuesday, “This is a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms. The 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear. You can’t erase the Constitution with an executive order, @realDonaldTrump.” On Tuesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would introduce a bill to support Trump’s citizenship plan. However, other Republicans have criticized the proposal. This is House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking to Kentucky radio station WVLK.
Speaker Paul Ryan: “You obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution. And I think, in this case, the 14th Amendment is pretty clear.”
We’ll have more on Trump’s attempts to circumvent the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause after headlines with historian and author Martha Jones.
The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Representative Steve Stivers, blasted Iowa Congressmember Steve King on Twitter Tuesday, saying, “Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.” The tweet came as corporate supporters of King, including Intel, Land O’Lakes and Purina PetCare, said they would no longer fund King’s campaigns. Rep. King recently endorsed far-right Canadian Faith Goldy for Toronto mayor and has amplified racist and anti-immigrant posts on social media, including publishing a racist tweet in support of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders last year. Last week, it was reported that King met with a neo-Nazi Austrian group during an August trip that was funded by a Holocaust memorial nonprofit. King later told The Washington Post, “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.” Until last year, King displayed a Confederate battle flag on his desk in his Capitol Hill office. King is up for re-election and is polling just one point ahead of Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten, in a district that Trump won in 2016 by a 27 percent margin.
Meanwhile, attorneys representing three Kansas men convicted of a 2016 plot to bomb a mosque and murder Somali Muslim refugees are arguing that Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric should be taken into account and result in a more lenient sentencing. The lawyers say that their clients, who face life sentences, were supporters of then-candidate Trump. In a court filing, the lawyers write, “The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president.”
In Boston, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interrupted by two religious leaders at a Federalist Society event Monday where Sessions was speaking about religious freedom. United Methodist Pastor Will Green stood up and recited biblical verse before appealing to Sessions directly.
Pastor Will Green: “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.”
Jeff Sessions responded to the pastor by saying, “Thank you for those remarks and attack.” A second pastor, Darrell Hamilton of the First Baptist Church in Boston, then stood up to speak, but was booed by the other attendees and quickly removed by security.
In Brazil, far-right leader and President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has announced he wants Sérgio Moro, the judge who convicted former President Lula da Silva of corruption, to join his government as justice minister when Bolsonaro takes office on New Year’s Day. Bolsonaro also accused a São Paulo daily newspaper of publishing “fake news.”
President-elect Jair Bolsonaro: “Almost all the fake news that was said about me came from the daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, including their last story, where they said I had hired companies outside of Brazil to create a campaign of lies against the Workers’ Party. That’s a big lie. Once again, fake news from the São Paulo newspaper, sadly.”
This comes as witnesses are sharing accounts of violence in the immediate aftermath of Bolsonaro’s victory, including a police attack on Workers’ Party supporters in the city of Salvador da Bahia minutes after Bolsonaro’s victory was announced. Video shows a young woman bleeding profusely from the head after she was struck by a police baton at a peaceful protest. Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to São Paulo to speak with journalist Bruno Torturra about the rise of Bolsonaro.
In environmental news, humans have annihilated wildlife over the past half-century, threatening life on Earth as we know it. That’s according to a damning new report by WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. The report finds that human activity since 1970 is responsible for wiping out 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles—with the remaining animals threatened by a degraded, over-exploited environment and the effects of climate change. This is Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF.
Mike Barrett: “What we need now is for heads of state to step up and take ownership of this problem and show real leadership. … Politically, 2020 is going to be an absolutely crucial year. It’s the point at which the world comes together to review its progress in starting to act on the Paris climate agreement, and we’re going to really need to ramp up our efforts if we’re going to avoid dangerous climate change across the world.”
The U.S.-backed, Saudi-UAE-led coalition in Yemen has sent more than 10,000 additional troops toward the Houthi rebel-held port city of Hodeidah, according to Yemeni government officials. A new military offensive in the region is expected to start within days. Last week, airstrikes in Hodeidah killed dozens of civilians, and the U.N. warned that 14 million people in Yemen face possible famine. This comes as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have called for a Yemen ceasefire. The U.S. is the largest supplier of arms to the Saudi-UAE military coalition in Yemen. In August, a bomb that appeared to be manufactured by U.S. company Lockheed Martin killed over 40 schoolchildren in an airstrike.
In Sri Lanka, over 10,000 protesters took to the streets in the capital Colombo Tuesday amid an unfolding constitutional crisis on the island. The unrest began Friday, when Sri Lanka’s president ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, then immediately replaced him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been accused of human rights abuses and corruption. The ousted premier called the move unconstitutional and illegal, resulting in the temporary suspension of Sri Lankan Parliament. Human rights advocates fear the return of Sri Lanka’s former president could put an end to ongoing investigations, including into crimes committed during his rule. At least one man was killed Sunday when a bodyguard opened fire on a crowd of protesters.
In Japan, the newly elected governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, called Tokyo’s continued construction of a new U.S. military base on Okinawa “disrespectful to our democracy.” Tamaki was elected last month on a platform of opposition to U.S. bases. Many residents of the small island have opposed the U.S. military’s presence for decades.
Back in the United States, special counsel Robert Mueller has referred allegations of a plot to mount false accusations of sexual misconduct against him to the FBI. Several women reportedly were approached to make accusations of sexual harassment against Mueller in exchange for money. The allegations, which many media outlets are now calling a hoax, possibly involving false identities, appear to stem from a scheme by social media personality and fervent Trump supporter Jacob Wohl and conservative conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman. Mueller is expected to deliver key findings in his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, soon after the November midterm elections.
In Washington, the Interior Department has referred Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation. Details of the probe are not known; it comes as federal officials have launched at least 18 formal ethics investigations into Zinke’s conduct at the Interior Department. Earlier this month, the Interior Department’s independent watchdog concluded that Zinke had violated department travel policies.
And notorious South Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was beaten to death by fellow prisoners Tuesday, a day after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison. Whitey Bulger was convicted in 2013 of a host of crimes, including 11 murders, and sentenced to life in prison. Bulger served as an FBI informant, and the agency helped enable his reign of terror in the 1970s and 1980s. He fled from public view in the mid-1990s following a tip from an FBI agent about an upcoming indictment. In 2011, authorities found Bulger in Santa Monica, California, where he had more than $800,000 in cash stashed in the walls of his apartment. Whitey Bulger was the brother of Billy Bulger, a powerful Massachusetts Democrat who was the longest-serving president of the state Senate.