Attorney General William Barr criticized President Trump Thursday, saying Trump’s tweets about the case of his longtime friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone are making it impossible for Barr to do his job. This is Barr in an interview with ABC.
Attorney General William Barr: “To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
Earlier this week, Barr intervened in Stone’s case after Trump went on a late-night Twitter rampage attacking federal prosecutors and calling the initial sentence of seven to nine years a “miscarriage of justice.” Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case, and one resigned from his job entirely, over the intervention. Democratic lawmakers are criticizing Attorney General Barr, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling him one of Trump’s “henchmen” and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal calling on Barr to resign.
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is facing criticism over a recently resurfaced video clip that shows him blaming the 2008 mortgage and financial crisis on the elimination of a long-standing racist lending policy known as “redlining.” This is Michael Bloomberg speaking to Georgetown University President John DeGioia in 2008.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “It probably all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone. 'Redlining,' if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, 'People in these neighborhoods are poor. They're not going to be able to pay off their mortgages. Tell them, your salesmen, don’t go into those areas.’ And then Congress got involved, local elected officials, as well, and said, 'Oh, that's not fair. These people should be able to get credit.’ And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like.”
Historians condemned Bloomberg’s comment as widely inaccurate. As Ta-Nehisi Coates has explained, the long history of discriminatory housing practices, like redlining, actually helped set the stage for the financial crisis — not the elimination of these racist policies. Award-winning author and professor Ibram X. Kendi said the recently resurfaced audio of Bloomberg is “Beyond racist & disqualifying. … Redlining stopped our wealth building. The 2008 crisis led to largest loss of Black wealth in history. This is a double-punch into the historic gut of African Americans.”
Meanwhile, GQ magazine is reporting Bloomberg and his companies have faced nearly 40 sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits brought by 64 women over the past several decades.
In more presidential election news, former Vice President Joe Biden held a pair of fundraisers in Manhattan Thursday night with top Wall Street executives. Among those on the guest list obtained by CNBC were Jonathan Gray of Blackstone, Alan Hartman of Centerview Partners, Ray McGuire of Citigroup, and John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley. The fundraisers come as Biden lagged far behind in the first two primary contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, the Iowa Democratic Party chair has resigned after the caucus results were delayed and riddled with errors and inconsistencies.
Former Ohio State wrestler Adam DiSabato accused Republican Ohio Congressmember Jim Jordan of begging him not to corroborate the widespread sexual abuse perpetrated by university doctor Richard Strauss, after DiSabato’s brother Mike exposed the abuse. This is Adam DiSabato testifying Wednesday in a public hearing in the Ohio state Legislature.
Adam DiSabato: “Jim Jordan called me, crying — crying — groveling, on the Fourth of July, begging me to go against my brother — begging me, crying for a half-hour. That’s the kind of cover-ups that’s going on there.”
In environmental news, a series of recent measurements are raising alarm bells about the accelerating climate crisis. Temperatures in Antarctica soared last week to nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The World Meteorological Organization is reviewing the temperature reading to decide whether it qualifies as the continent’s hottest temperature on record. Measurements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, show the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high Monday. And last month was the hottest January on record. NOAA says the four hottest Januaries on record have all occurred since 2016.
Indigenous protests and blockades across Canada have forced CN Rail and Via Rail to shut down huge swatches of their railway lines as First Nations across Canada resist the construction of TransCanada’s 400-mile, $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. The blockades have crippled rail transportation across Canada, as Mohawk and other indigenous land defenders demand the Royal Canadian Mounted Police withdraw from the Wet’suwet’en sovereign territory in northern British Columbia. Click here to see our full coverage of the pipeline struggle.
The Intercept reveals how a Canadian fossil fuel company essentially bought a unit of an Oregon sheriff’s department in order to monitor opposition to its proposed liquid natural gas pipeline and export terminal. The investigation reveals how Pembina Pipeline Corp., the owner of the planned Jordan Cove project, was the sole funder of the unit of the Coos County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon that has spent years surveilling opposition to the project’s construction in southern Oregon. Last year, staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the Jordan Cove project would adversely affect at least 18 threatened and endangered species in and around Coos Bay.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked Microsoft from working on a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract. The ruling comes after Amazon sued to block the contract, alleging the Defense Department did not fairly evaluate Amazon’s bid because Trump had intervened, telling former Defense Secretary James Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the deal in 2018. This claim surfaced in a book written by Mattis’s former speechwriter. Amazon argued its bid was not fairly evaluated because Trump considers Amazon head Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, as Trump’s “political enemy.”
The nation’s second-largest publisher of local newspapers has filed for bankruptcy in the latest signal of the financial crisis in the journalism world. McClatchy is the owner of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, among other local papers. It recently won a Pulitzer Prize for the Miami Herald’s reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, but it has been plagued by layoffs and financial troubles. McClatchy says it plans to stay in business and will use bankruptcy to shed legacy debt and pension obligations.
In California, at least 17 people were arrested during the third day of a wildcat strike by graduate students at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The graduate students are demanding a cost-of-living adjustment of $1,412 per month, which student educators say is necessary to avoid living on the brink of homelessness as they teach classes and provide essential work to keep the university running in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country. The strike is not authorized by the local UAW union that represents student workers across the University of California system.
The Trump administration is facing public outcry over a proposal to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act. The law was enacted in 1970 to address growing concern with runaway pollution and the potential impacts of major projects like highways, dams and mines. The Trump administration is attempting to fast-track new rules that govern how NEPA is implemented — slashing the environmental review time while eliminating any consideration of climate change as a potential impact of a project. Supporters of the changes include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers-funded American Petroleum Institute.
Earlier this week, the Council on Environmental Quality held a public hearing in Denver on the rule change. An indigenous-led rally opposing the NEPA regulatory rollback was held nearby, criticizing the proposed rules as well as the limited access the public had to the hearing itself. Advance online registration for the hearing was required and filled up within two minutes. Among those few who did get access to make a formal statement at the hearing was Alma Sanchez of the group Defenders of Wildlife.
Alma Sanchez: “I’m a 28-year-old Mexicana-Guatemalteca who cares deeply about the environment, wildlife, our nation’s public lands and the health of all of our communities. While I am only 28, I am wise enough to understand and old enough to have witnessed that it is communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities that disproportonately are the victims of environmental contamination and pollution. Highways, refineries, power plants and toxic waste are more likely to end up in my commnunity. Our children are more likely to have asthma. NEPA is fundamental to protecting the health and rights of minorities and marginalized communities. NEPA forces the federal government to daylight its actions along with an accounting of the environmental effects. It gives the public a voice in the decision-making. That won’t be the case under these proposed new rules. The government will not be obligated to consider and disclose the full array of environmental effects. Worse still, especially to my generation that has inherited the consequences and burdens of climate change, the government won’t have to tell us how its actions, like leasing land for oil and gas development, will affect climate change. This is unacceptable to me. We all have a right to know what the government is doing and what the environmental fallout will be. This rule-making is yet another gift to polluters and yet another blow to a clean environment and healthy communities. The Trump administration must withdraw this harmful proposal and stop harming communities like mine.”
That was Alma Sanchez of Defenders of Wildlife at the NEPA regulatory rollback hearing in Denver on Monday. The second and final planned public hearing is scheduled for February 25 in Washington, D.C.