EPA Chief Pruitt’s Spokesperson to Atlantic Reporter: ‘You’re a Piece of Trash’

The Environmental Protection Agency’s spokesperson, Jahan Wilcox, was not exactly in the mood when a reporter from The Atlantic called to ask him about the abrupt departure of an EPA staffer shortly after her Congressional testimony was made public.

In fact, in lieu of civility, Wilcox refused comment and said this to The Atlantic‘s Elaina Plott: “You have a great day, you’re a piece of trash.”

Wilcox’s remark to Plott came after the reporter asked about the departure of top EPA aide Millan Hupp.

While Hupp’s name may not be well-known outside of EPA circles, the director of scheduling and advance —  who will officially leave her post on June 8 — is at the center of a number of scandals plaguing EPA head Scott Pruitt from her non-House sanctioned pay raise to calling to inquire about a used mattress from a Trump hotel.

Her testimony also contributed to the growing laundry list of scandals surrounding Pruitt, from the aforementioned used mattress call to using work computers and time for Pruitt’s personal errands and his too good to be true sweetheart apartment rental.

The 26-year-old Hupp, who worked for Pruitt in Oklahoma before coming to Washington was reportedly tired of “being thrown under the bus by Pruitt,” according to the source that informed The Atlanticof her departure.

While Wilcox refused comment on Hupp’s leaving, The Atlantic also confirmed her departure via correspondence and a second EPA source.

UPDATE: In addition to Hupp’s resignation, Scott Pruitt’s counsel also reportedly resigned.

[Mediaite]

Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help Far-Right Nationalists Take Power Across Europe

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT demanded a formal explanation from the United States on Monday of what, exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, meant when he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists inspired by Donald Trump take power across Europe.

In an interview with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he was “excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

Grenell was apparently not asked if that group includes the far-right Alternative for Germany — known by its German initials AfD — the largest opposition party in the German parliament, but he did praise Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who is in coalition with the Freedom Party, which was formed in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had “asked the U.S. side for clarification” as to whether the remarks “were made as reported.”

Grenell, a former Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had already alienated many Germans, tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by his claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and their bubble. Led by Trump.”

Leaving aside that Trump was, in fact, elected by a hypervocal minority of American voters, his envoy’s apparent willingness to cast off diplomatic neutrality and meddle in the internal affairs of European countries caused an uproar.

Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the left-wing German opposition party Die Linke, suggested that Grenell had revealed himself to be Trump’s “regime change envoy.”

The leaders of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner in Merkel’s government, were similarly unstinting in their condemnation. “Europe’s citizens cannot be told how to vote by a Trump vassal,” the party’s vice chair, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, wrote on Twitter. “A U.S. ambassador who meddles in democratic contests is simply out of place,” he added, perhaps hinting that the ambassador could be asked to go home.

Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democrats, accused Grenell of behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial officer.”

Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Green party, told Der Spiegel that “the American people should be able to expect partisan neutrality from their representative in Germany, because he represents all Americans, not just Breitbart and Fox News.”

Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in the European Parliament, tweeted: “We have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt added the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.

There was, however, one political leader in Berlin on Monday who demonstrated his support for the embattled American ambassador. Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at a news conference with Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting with Grenell, at the ambassador’s request, before leaving the German capital.

Before he was confirmed by the Senate, Grenell — a hyperpartisan Republican activist whose farewell party in New York was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wayne Newton, and a half-dozen Fox News personalities — had promised to stay out of German politics.

[The Intercept]

Trump tweets that ‘disrespectful’ Eagles were disinvited because not enough would attend

President Donald Trump spoke out about the whirlwind he caused, by uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House ceremony.

In a tweet President Trump said: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

CNN’s Don Lemon remind viewers on Monday night that not one Eagles player kneeled during the season and called President Trumps’s actions a political stunt.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said President Trump “is the most disrespectful person on earth,” during an interview with Lemon.

[Raw Story]

Trump cancels Philadelphia Eagles visit to the White House

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit has been canceled due to the controversy over standing for the National Anthem at NFL games, President Donald Trump announced Monday.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

It’s an unprecedented move by Trump. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors declined an invitation from the President to visit the White House after winning the 2017 championship, but presidents typically honor their invitations to championship teams. Players also have refused those invitations in the past — Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas declined to visit the White House in 2012 over disagreements with President Barack Obama’s policies.

The President typically invites the champions of major professional and college sports to the White House for a visit as a part of their victory celebrations.

Last month, the NFL announced it would require athletes to stand during the National Anthem in response to players who took a knee as protest to what some players see as the systemic oppression of people of color, including by police.

The movement was initially started by Colin Kaepernick, who was formerly with the San Francisco 49ers. He drew national attention for refusing to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to kickoff.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in August 2016.

Trump has repeatedly criticized players for not standing for the anthem and has gone as far as to say team owners should fire players for doing so.

The new NFL policy gives players the option of remaining in the locker room during the playing of the anthem if they do not wish to comply.

Players on the Eagles are some of the most outspoken social justice activists in the NFL, and multiple players took part in the protests during the anthem over the last two seasons. Many players from the team were not planning on attending the ceremony as a protest of Trump, his policies and his outspoken criticism of players who chose to kneel during the anthem.

The Eagles were originally invited to the White House after their win in February’s Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. It was the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

In response to Trump’s announcement, former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith, who was a member of the championship team and was traded during the off-season, called the move “a cowardly act.”

“So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump ‘insists’ folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military,” he said in one tweet.

Smith continued: “There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”

Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he’s skipping the White House event, and instead invited the team to take a tour of the US Capitol.

“I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?” Casey wrote on Twitter.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement, where he said Trump’s decision “proves that our President is not a true patriot.”

“The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it’s no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great. Their athletic accomplishments on the field led to an historic victory this year,” Kenney said.

“Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend,” he later said in the statement.

“City Hall is always open for a celebration,” he added.

Trump said in Monday’s statement that the fans are still welcome to come and partake in a “different kind of ceremony.”

“One that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” he said.

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short told CNN’s Erin Burnett he was unsure who canceled on whom.

“It’s unfortunate when politics gets in the middle of this,” Short said.
Trump said he will be at the ceremony alongside the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus at 3 p.m. Tuesday to “celebrate America.”

[CNN]

‘Stormtrooper tactics’: Trump compares his own Justice Dept. to Nazi assault troops

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team was similar to Nazi “stormtroopers.”

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump quoted Mark Penn, a former Democratic strategist.

“Why are there people from the Clinton Foundation on the Mueller Staff? Why is there an Independent Counsel? To go after people and their families for unrelated offenses…Constitution was set up to prevent this…Stormtrooper tactics almost,” the tweet quoting Penn said.

Trump added: “Disgrace!”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also compared FBI agents to “stormtroopers” last month after they raided the office of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

“I know the New York FBI,” former FBI Director James Comey tweeted in response to Giuliani. “There are no ‘stormtroopers’ there; just a group of people devoted to the rule of law and the truth. Our country would be better off if our leaders tried to be like them, rather than comparing them to Nazis.”

[Raw Story]

Reality

Trump is referring to Jeannie Rhee, who did in-fact represent Hillary Clinton in a 2015 lawsuit that sought access to her private emails. She also represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering lawsuit, that was quickly thrown out for being frivolous and “did not allege any facts.”

What escapes Trump’s criticism is Rhee also has the experience and credentials to be a part of this investigation, having once served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General under former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Trump Implies It’s a Total ‘Double Standard’ That Roseanne Was Fired and Samantha Bee Wasn’t

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Friday, questioning why comedian Samantha Bee hasn’t been fired by TBS for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c***” during a monologue earlier this week Full Frontal with Samantha Bee show.

Trump seemed to suggest it was a “total double standard” that Bee hadn’t been fired when Roseanne Barr’s show was cancelled by ABC following her racist tweet. Barr posted a tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett, a former President Barack Obama adviser, to an ape. “A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!” Trump tweeted.

While Trump has not directly addressed Roseanne’s cancellation, he did criticize Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger shortly after ABC axed the show.

On Thursday, Bee apologized to the First Daughter after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called her profane comment “vile and vicious.”

“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it,” Bee wrote on Twitter.

Shortly after Bee’s apology, TBS issued a statement accepting that it had been a mistake to air the comedian’s words. “Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night. Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it,” the statement read.

[TIME]

The feds lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children

The Trump administration recently announced a new, get-tough policy that will separate parents from their children if the family is caught crossing the border illegally.

It was a big news story. So big it overshadowed the fact that the federal government has lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children in its custody.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress that within 48 hours of being taken into custody the children are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which finds places for them to stay.

“They will be separated from their parent,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

“Just like we do in the United States every day,” Nielsen replied.

Except that the states, unlike the federal government, have systems in place to better screen the people who become guardians of the children and much better ways to keep track of those children.

And not lose them.

That is what happened to 1,475 minors swept up at the border and taken into custody by the federal government.

Gone.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement reported at the end of 2017 that of the 7,000-plus children placed with sponsored individuals, the agency did not know where 1,475 of them were.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said, “It’s just a system that has so many gaps, so many opportunities for these children to fall between the cracks, that we just don’t know what’s going on — how much trafficking or abuse or simply immigration law violations are occurring.”

A documentary from the PBS program Frontline said that the federal government has actually released some of the minors to human traffickers.

Imagine that.

And now we want to dramatically ramp up the number of children who are removed from their parents?

When pressed about safety concerns Secretary Nielsen said, “I just want to say, I couldn’t agree with your concerns more, period. We owe more to these children to protect them. So I’m saying I agree, we’ve taken steps and we will continue to strengthen what our partners do to protect these children.”

There are 1,475 reasons not to be reassured by the secretary’s promise.

If anything, it would have been better to have a policy in place, with protections, and safe places to stay, and safe people to stay with, and personnel on the government payroll to check-up on them before the administration’s new policy was implemented.

Secretary Nielsen said, “My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted. If you are parent, or you’re a single person or if you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry we will refer you for prosecution. You have broken U.S. law.”

We all get that. And we all want a secure border. But we don’t want to trade in our humanity in the process.

As Sen. Portman told Frontline, “We’ve got these kids. They’re here. They’re living on our soil. And for us to just, you know, assume someone else is going to take care of them and throw them to the wolves, which is what HHS was doing, is flat-out wrong. I don’t care what you think about immigration policy, it’s wrong.”

He’s right.

[USA Today]

Donald Trump Says ‘our Ancestors Tamed a Continent’ and ‘we Are Not Going to Apologize for America’

President Donald Trump said at a Naval Academy commencement address Friday that “our ancestors tamed a continent,” adding that “we are not going to apologize for America.”

“Together there is nothing Americans can’t do, absolutely nothing,” Trump told 2018 graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. “In recent years, and even decades, too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history.”

He added: “America is the greatest fighting force for peace, justice and freedom in the history of the world. We have become a lot stronger lately. We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America.”

Before Europeans arrived in what became the United States, Native Americans occupied the land but were forced to relinquish territory as the new Americans pushed westward as part of what was termed “manifest destiny.” In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which led to the deaths of thousands of Native Americans.

Trump previously caused controversy when he held an event honoring Native Americans in the Oval Office last November with a portrait of Jackson in the background. Trump has regularly praised Jackson, although at times with a questionable grasp of history. He has also repeatedly referred to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed Native American heritage,” as “Pocahontas.”

“A nation must have pride in its history to have confidence in its future,” Trump said Friday. The president’s comments mirrored a tweet he sent out in March celebrating National Agriculture Day.

“Our Nation was founded by farmers,” he wrote. “Our independence was won by farmers. And our continent was tamed by farmers. Our farmers always lead the way — we are PROUD of them, and we are DELIVERING for them! #NationalAgricultureDay

Trump added Friday it was a great time for the graduates to be joining the Navy. “We are witnessing the great reawakening of the American spirit and of American might,” he said. “We have rediscovered our identity, regained our stride and we’re proud again.”

[Newsweek]

Trump on Abused Immigrant Children: “They’re Not Innocent”

In April of 2017, when Donald Trump ordered his first missile strike in Syria, the president said that he was moved by the images of children killed in suspected chemical attacks. It was a rare moment of Trump being moved by compassion, and it hasn’t been replicated.

Now the Trump administration, and John Kelly in particular, have been criticized for its decision to break up families crossing the border illegally, and for their careless planning about what to do with those children one they’re shoved into detention centers on military bases. But Trump is doubling down, claiming that those children are nothing more than criminals in the future. Per the Washington Post:

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately.

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added:

“They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

Trump’s not alone in thinking that. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein claimed that the gang activity that happened during his tenure U.S. attorney for Maryland was fueled by undocumented children. According to Rosenstein, those children roam the streets like Oliver Twist until they’re absorbed into criminal organizations. “We’re letting people in who are creating problems. We’re letting people in who are gang members. We’re also letting people in who are vulnerable.”

First and foremost, this is Minority Report nonsense. The argument that we have to treat as criminals anyone who might be a criminal is the logic of a full-on police state. It’s also maddening that Rosenstein would claim that it’s immigrants who are creating problems when, broadly speaking, they’re fleeing violence, economic instability, and political corruption that the U.S. exported in the first place. But what’s most infuriating is that he would use the vulnerability of children and families as a cudgel against them, essentially arguing that they need help too badly to be allowed in the country.

On the same day that Trump and Rosenstein explained why children have to be treated as a national security threat, the ACLU released a report detailing a long history of child abuse at detention centers for immigrants. According to 30,000 pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU alleges that Customs and Border Patrolofficials are responsible for sexual abuse, physical assault, and denial of medical care, clean water and food. A small sample of the abuses committed by officials includes:

Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room

Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth

Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed”

Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice

Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.

Officials have denied the allegations, calling them “unfounded and baseless.” All of these reports pre-dated the Trump administration, and there’s no reason to assume that CBP has become more transparent or accountable since then. Besides, this fits nicely into Trump and Kelly’s entire reasoning for the need to imprison children in the first place: subject them to so much cruelty that others won’t try to come to the US at all.

[GQ]

Reality

First, “pre-crime” is something you would find in a sci-fi dystopian nightmare society, such as in Phillip K. Dick’s “Minority Report.”

Finally, Trump regularly falsely conflates “immigrant” with “criminal”, which primes his already xenophobic base to be more suspicious of non-Americans. The reality is immigrants contribute to our society, even illegal ones, and commit crimes at lower rates than native populations.

Trump administration nominates immigration hard-liner for migration post at State Department

The Trump administration has tapped immigration hard-liner Ronald Mortensen to be the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Mortensen, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that advocates restricting legal and illegal immigration, previously worked for the State Department as a foreign service officer, according to his biography on the center’s website.

Mortensen’s nomination was announced by the White House on Thursday, among several others, and has to be confirmed by the Senate.

The bureau that Mortensen would be in charge of is expected to provide “protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world on behalf of the American people,” according to its mission statement.

According to the State Department, this includes working with refugee and at-risk populations to offer protection and aid.

Mortensen has written several articles published on the Center for Immigration Studies website that are highly critical of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program put in place by the Obama administration that offers protection from deportation for certain individuals who were brought into the United States as children.

In a post he penned in 2009, Mortensen claims that “illegal immigration and high levels of identity theft go hand-in-hand,” “children are prime targets” of identity theft by undocumented immigrants and “Illegal aliens commit felonies in order to get jobs,” among other things.

In February 2017, Mortensen wrote that “President Trump’s Executive Order 13768, ‘Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior United States’, has shocked illegal aliens and their supporters because, unlike the Obama administration, the Trump administration will not ‘exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.’ This means that the vast majority of people unlawfully in the United States are once again subject to deportation.”

[CNN]

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