By Robert A. Vella
The leaked diplomatic memos in which the U.K. ambassador to the U.S. disparagingly but accurately described Donald Trump has expectedly riled-up the American president who has yet to devise any other form of retribution than to get snippy with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May. Maybe he’ll impose an import tariff on English Bulldogs, we’ll see – lol! Meanwhile, Trump’s friendship with billionaire and fellow playboy Jeffrey Epstein has come back to haunt him since his buddy was charged with sex trafficking years after Alex Acosta (Trump’s current Secretary of Labor) gave Epstein a privileged non-prosecution deal for the same crimes. Oh, by the way, the head of Trump’s legal defense team (i.e. Attorney General of the United States) William Barr has recused himself from the Epstein case. Trump has lost two more court cases – one involving a “White House initiative” (i.e. an executive order) intended to compel the pharmaceutical industry to list its drug prices on its TV advertising, and another challenging his discriminatory Twitter practices. Speaking of Big Pharma, Johnson & Johnson lost a court action in Oklahoma asking the judge to dismiss an opioids-related case filed by the state attorney general’s office. The ACLU won a court action in Missouri asking an appellate court to allow the state’s recently enacted anti-abortion law to be put before the people for a vote. An Italian court has sentenced 24 individuals with life imprisonment for human rights violations committed by dictatorships in 1970s South America which had brutally cracked-down on dissent. Trump’s anti-immigration officials are exploiting information obtained through international agreements, intended to counter drug trafficking by organized crime, to target undocumented residents. Former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot has died.
“We will no longer deal with him,” Trump continued.
There’s not really anything in the messages written by Darroch and published by the Daily Mail that breaks new ground in criticism of the president. When more than half of Americans regularly tell pollsters that Trump is not levelheaded and say he doesn’t have good leadership skills, why should we assume no foreign diplomat shares that assessment? When the media has repeatedly reported that Trump’s approach to decision-making eschews nuance, why is it odd to learn that Darroch came to the same conclusion?
The ambassador’s job certainly entails building a close relationship with Trump and the White House — something that reporters like The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey say he accomplished, contradicting Trump’s tweet. It does not, however, entail misrepresenting his views of the president in private communications to leaders in his own country. Sycophancy dies in darkness.
Britain seems willing to move on. It responded to Trump’s move with a statement supporting Darroch — but also highlighting the long-standing bond between the two countries. That Trump would be incensed on a personal level by the publication of Darroch’s criticism is, after all, something that the British should have anticipated.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine that year for a story headlined “Jeffrey Epstein: International Moneyman of Mystery.” “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge Monday blocked a major White House initiative on prescription drug costs, saying the Trump administration lacked the legal authority to require drugmakers to disclose their prices in TV ads.
An appeals court said Tuesday President Donald Trump cannot legally block users on Twitter.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York judge’s ruling and found that Trump “engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit certain users’ access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech.”
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has a legal case to answer over accusations that it drove the US opioid epidemic now claiming 130 lives a day, an Oklahoma judge has ruled.
After a fiery hearing on Monday, with accusations of lying, Judge Thad Balkman dismissed a motion by the company to toss out a multi-billion dollar lawsuit by Oklahoma’s attorney general. He said the state has presented sufficient evidence for the trial to continue.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An appellate court panel ruled Monday that the American Civil Liberties Union can soon begin collecting signatures that would put a new Missouri law banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy to a public vote.
A three-judge panel of the state’s Court of Appeals found that GOP Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was “without authority” to reject petitions on constitutional grounds. The 31-page ruling was issued just hours after the panel heard oral arguments in the case.
ACLU of Missouri acting executive director Tony Rothert had argued that time was of the essence. Most of the new law, including the eight-week abortion ban, takes effect Aug. 28. The ACLU needs to collect more than 100,000 signatures by then to put the law on hold until a public vote in 2020. Rothert had argued that the signature gathering should begin by July 18; the court gave Ashcroft about two weeks to approve the sample petition for circulation.
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — A court in Italy sentenced 24 people to life in prison for their involvement in human rights crimes committed during the “Operation Condor” offensive by South American governments to hunt down dissidents within the region and beyond, the Uruguayan government said Monday.
South American dictators in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay set up Operation Condor in the 1970s as a coordinated effort to track down their opponents across borders and eliminate them.
With scant public notice, federal immigration officials are relying on databases run by foreign police and militaries to check whether migrants crossing the United States border have gang affiliations, which would allow officials to detain and eventually deport them.
The information is being provided through a new “fusion” intelligence-gathering center in El Salvador that is funded by the State Department and works in tandem with the Department of Homeland Security.
But legal experts and human rights advocates say the government has kept the use of databases at the border largely secret, subverting potential challenges to the reliability of the information in them. An attorney in Texas recently discovered that her Salvadoran client had been falsely accused of being in the MS-13 gang based on intelligence from the center. The man was jailed in a maximum-security facility for violent criminals for six months, and his two children were taken away.