Day 963: "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME"
1/ An Air National Guard crew stayed at Trump’s Turnberry golf resort in Scotland in March. The Air Force plane stopped at a nearby airport to refuel both en route to the Middle East and back, with the crew staying at the resort, which lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The Air Force confirmed that crew members stayed at Turnberry, but said “it did not appear” that they stayed at the hotel on the way back. There are more than two dozen hotels, guesthouses and inns a few miles from the Prestwick airport with most of them much less expensive than the $380/night advertised rate at Trump Turnberry. The fuel would have also been cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. (Politico / New York Times)
2/ Trump denied being involved in the stays at Turnberry by Air Force crews, tweeting that “I know nothing,” but that “they have good taste!” Air Force crews will typically stop at U.S. military bases in Europe to refuel, where it’s cheaper to do so. Trump added: “NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.” (Politico)
- The Air Force ordered a review of how it chooses hotels after military personnel stayed at Trump properties on multiple occasions. In one case, air crews were found to have occasionally stayed at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland while refueling at Prestwick Airport, a nearby commercial airport. Another time, the Maine Air National Guard also landed at Prestwick on its way back from Qatar and stayed at Turnberry. An Air Force spokesperson said the branch is reviewing “all associated guidance” related to personnel lodging because “lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.” (Politico)
3/ In 2017, the U.S. extracted one of its highest-level covert spies from inside the Russian government. The previously undisclosed secret mission was driven, in part, after Trump shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in a May 2017 Oval Office meeting. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
📌 Day 111: Trump met with Putin’s top diplomats at the White House. The talks came one day after Trump fired the FBI Director, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson earlier in the day and sarcastically acknowledged the dismissal of James Comey by saying “Was he fired? You’re kidding. You’re kidding.” The Kremlin said Trump’s firing of Comey will have no effect on bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump also met with Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the Flynn investigation. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post / NPR)
📌 Day 112: The White House was misled about the role of the Russian photographer and were surprised to see photos posted online showing Trump not only with Sergey Lavrov but also smiling and shaking hands with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Russian officials described the person as Lavrov’s official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass, a Russian state-owned news agency. (Washington Post)
📌 Day 118: Putin offers to provide Congress with the transcript to prove Trump didn’t pass Russia secrets, turning up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. Putin said Russia could hand over a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Lavrov, if the Trump administration deemed it appropriate. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)
4/ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA employees after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted Trump’s claim that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian. Ross directed Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president. Jacobs initially objected to the demand, but was told by Ross that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not resolved. NOAA then sided with Trump over its own scientists, stating that Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time of Trump’s tweet that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department. (New York Times / Washington Post)
NOAA officials warned staff not to contradict Trump. The warning came nearly a week before the NOAA publicly backed Trump over its own scientists. After Trump claimed Alabama “would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian, NOAA staff were told to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon.” They were also told not to “provide any opinion” on the matter. The order was understood internally as a reference to Trump and his false statements about Dorian. (Washington Post)
NOAA’s acting chief scientist is investigating whether the agency’s response to Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of policies and ethics. The director of the National Weather Service, meanwhile, broke with NOAA leadership, calling the agency’s response “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.” (Washington Post)
5/ Trump dismissed the idea of allowing Bahamians into the United States on humanitarian grounds following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. Hours earlier, the acting Customs and Border Protection chief suggested that the idea was worth considering. Trump said that those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas should go to the “large sections” of their country that were not hit, because he’s concerned that “bad people” could exploit the U.S. refugee process. (NBC News / Washington Post)
6/ The House Judiciary Committee will vote this week to define its ongoing “impeachment investigation.” The vote would detail the parameters of its investigation and formalize procedures for an impeachment inquiry. Democrats say the move will allow the panel to work faster and potentially acquire more information about possible obstruction of justice and abuses of power by Trump. The resolution will also mark the first recorded vote related to impeachment by lawmakers, even though the committee has already informed federal courts and the public that it is currently in the midst of a full-scale impeachment inquiry. (New York Times) / Politico)
7/ Trump called off a secret meeting with Afghan and Taliban leaders at Camp David to negotiate a peace deal to end the 18-year-long war. Trump called off the meeting after the Taliban admitted to a suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint near the American Embassy in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 others. The secret peace talks were slated to happen two days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times)
8/ Michael Flynn refused to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena for testimony and documents as part of its Russia investigation. The committee is now demanding that Flynn appear on September 25th and provide documents by September 18th. (Politico / CNN)
poll/ 58% of Americans have confidence that stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings, while 41% remain skeptical. 76% think improved mental health monitoring and treatment would reduce mass shootings. 89% support background checks for gun purchases, including for sales at gun shows. 86% support “red flag” laws that allow police to take firearms away from people found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. (ABC News / Washington Post)
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