Sandwiched

200+ Republicans avoid holding town-halls during Feb. break; Trump org. recruiting "enthusiastic patriots" for a rally tomorrow; and more.


  • People are illegally crossing from the United States into Canada, seeking asylum, Kathleen Masterson reports for NPR, including whole families with children. “People who work with immigrants in Canada say these border-jumpers would rather be arrested in Canada than live in fear of how U.S. officials might handle their cases,” she reports from a crossing point in northern Vermont.

  • Opposition watch: The Oklahoma County Court has ordered Trump EPA nominee Scott Pruitt to release more than 2,500 emails from his service as the state’s attorney general that he has withheld from a public records request filed by the Center for Media and Democracy. The emails are expected to shed more light on Pruitt’s relationships with the industries he will be in charge of regulating, but will likely not be released in time to affect today’s Senate vote on Pruitt’s confirmation.

  • Many EPA workers are calling their Senators urging them to reject Pruitt, Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times.

  • Here is an archived version of what the EPA website contained on January 19, 2017.

  • It looks like the grassroots movement to hold demonstrations on April 15, Tax Day, demanding Trump release his returns is taking off, as Conor Friedersdorf reports for the Atlantic. As he writes, that movement just got a big boost from Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee, who rejected en masse an amendment from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) seeking to invoke a 1924 law allowing congressional committees that set tax policy to examine tax returns.

  • Just launched: WeWillReplaceYou.org is a new PAC started by #AllofUs that plans to recruit and fund primary opponents to Democratic members of Congress “that it feels are not aggressive enough in fighting” Trump, Alex Seitz-Wald reports for NBC News. Its founders and advisors include Claire Sandberg, one of Bernie Sanders’ top digital organizers; Waleed Shahid of the Pennsylvania Working Families Party; and May Boeve, the head of 350.org.

  • Shopify is feeling intense pressure to stop hosting the online store of Breitbart News, reports Sarah Niedoba and Catherine McIntyre of CanadianBusiness.com. Its CEO Tobias Lutke insists that as long the products being sold are legal, it wants to remain a neutral platform. In addition to a SumOfUs online petition with more than 136,000 signatures, some merchants are starting to abandon Shopify in protest, they report.

  • The volunteer coders of the Progressive Coders Network have rebuilt Indivisible’s map for showing all the groups, meetings, and actions that are flying under Indivisible’s banner, using code repurposed from the Bernie Sanders map. Now you can see the more than 4,600 groups across the entire country in one fell swoop. Kudos to our friend Rapi Castillo and crew!

  • Marci Harris of PopVox reports that the Trump administration has released its first new health care regulation for public comment and explains how you can do so.

  • Trump watch: Yesterday, during a marathon press conference, President Trump called on Jake Turx of Ami Magazine, an Orthodox Jewish weekly based in Brooklyn that has a newly minted White House press corps seat. Trump said he was looking for a “friendly reporter” to ask him a question. Then, after Turx complimented him on his Jewish grandchildren and asked him what he was going to do about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent months, including bomb threats to Jewish centers around the country, Trump interrupted him, calling it “not a simple question, not a fair question.” Trump then claimed that he was “the least anti-Semitic person in the world,” at which point Turx attempted to interject to bring the president back to the question he was seeking an answer to. At which point Trump said Turx “lied about asking a straight, simple question.” Or, as CNN’s Eli Watkins summarized things, “In response to a question Thursday about threats to Jewish centers nationwide, President Donald Trump called a Jewish reporter a liar, told him to sit down and later said anti-Semitism was coming from ‘the other side.'”

  • Trump also took a question from April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks about meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss his urban agenda, and after expressing confusion about the group, Trump asked the reporter if he wanted “to set up the meeting,” adding, “Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting.”

  • More than 200 Republicans are avoiding holding town-halls with their constituents during the February recess this next week, Alex Thompson reports for Vice News.

  • Trump, at yesterday’s press conference, on Americans attending town-hall meetings with their members of Congress: “I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our that representatives are representing.”

  • The White House’s comment line is back open for your calls, reports Emma Sarran Webster for Teen Vogue.

  • You can also take the Trump-Pence “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,” an unscientifically written poll posted on Trump’s campaign website. Here’s an example of the kind of questions it contains: “On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans? (Select as many that apply.)”

  • Ret. Vice Admiral Bob Harward has turned down President Trump’s offer that he step into the role of National Security Advisor, with CNN reporting that “A friend of Harward’s said he was reluctant to take the job because the White House seems so chaotic. Harward called the offer a ‘shit sandwich,’ the friend said.”

  • As Fred Kaplan, Slate’s veteran defense analyst points out, Harward also turned down the offer because Trump wouldn’t let him “fire several officials that Flynn had hired for his staff and install his own team instead.” As Kaplan writes, “Trump was given a choice: cater to the loyalty and ambitions of his political operatives, who have no competence whatsoever in national security affairs—or install a professional who can build and maintain a functioning national-security apparatus. He chose the former.”

  • Cybersecurity experts are warning that the Confide app, now in heavy use by Washington’s chattering class and a number of White House staffers, “is rife with security concerns,” Sheera Frankel reports for BuzzFeed.

  • A top staffer on Trump’s National Security Council, Michael Anton, made more than 40,000 comments on the men’s fashion site StyleForum, and as Peter Maass reports for The Intercept, he appears obsessed with nuclear apocalypse and fine wines.

  • On Craigslist, the Trump organization is seeking “enthusiastic patriots” for a rally the President is holding tomorrow in Melbourne, Florida, and promising people who respond to the ad that they will be given a “complimentary gift or cash voucher as a gesture of appreciation for coming out.”

  • ACT for America, a group that believes that sharia law is being spread by Muslim jihadists across America, says it has “a direct line” to the president, Abigail Hauslohner reports for the Washington Post. Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo has spoken at several ACT conferences and sponsored an ACT meeting at the Capitol, and Brietbart.com published several articles written by the group’s founder.

  • Kendall Taggart of BuzzFeed talked to 13 former employees, campaign staffers, and executives at Republican consulting firms who have seen Cambridge Analytica’s work, and produced a great piece debunking the many stories floating around about CA’s supposed “AI Superpowers.” She reports that CA’s highly-touted psychometric targeting “was not actually used by the Trump campaign and, furthermore, the company has never provided evidence that it even works. Rather than a sinister breakthrough in political technology, the Cambridge Analytica story appears to be part of the traditional contest among consultants on a winning political campaign to get their share of credit — and win future clients.” Among the people questioning CA’s claim to have produced more than 175,000 Facebook ad variations in a single day: Gerrit Lansing, who worked with the Trump campaign as the RNC’s digital director and is now the White House’s chief digital officer, who called that boast “a lie.”

  • Now where have we read about this already?

  • Writing for Civicist, Andy Zack of Share Progress says that there are things the left can genuinely learn from Trump’s analytics team.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has updated his company’s mission statement, offering a full-throated defense of the idea of “building a global community.” He writes, “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

  • He also wants to figure out how to use artificial intelligence to detects warning signs of self-harm or bullying, and to identify crime risks or evidence of someone “trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization,” which as Alex Kantrowitz and Mat Honan of BuzzFeed point out, is “wading into Minority Report territory.”

  • This is civic tech: The Latin American Alliance for Civic Technology is seeking applications for support. The deadline to apply is March 31. The Alliance, which goes by the acronym ALTEC, is a joint project of the Omidyar Network (a major supporter of Civic Hall and Civic Hall Labs), Avina Americas, and the Avina Foundation.