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Trump Administration Tells States to Not Release Unemployment Numbers to the Public



“States should not provide numeric values to the public”

The Trump administration has instructed state labor officials to not release unemployment numbers, in a clear effort to minimize the severity of the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the markets.

The New York Times reports the U.S. Dept. of Labor “instructed state officials to only ‘provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)’ until the department releases the total number of national claims next Thursday.”

Gay Gilbert, the administrator of the department’s Office of Employment Insurance in an email instructed: “States should not provide numeric values to the public,” The Times notes.

The U.S. Secretary of Labor is headed by Eugene Scalia (photo), who happens to be the son of the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.

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Why Has Trump’s New Chief of Staff Not Resigned From Congress but Is Representing the White House in Coronavirus Negotiations?



U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows was appointed by President Donald Trump to be the latest White House Chief of Staff on March 6, but the Republican representing North Carolina’s 11th District has not officially resigned from Congress. Nevertheless he is representing the White House as Chief of Staff, and even working on vital coronavirus legislation – not in his role representing the people of North Carolina, but in his role representing the White House.

Last week Congressman Meadows posted to Facebook that he was “working at the White House again this week transitioning into the Chief of Staff role – working with Mick Mulvaney and the team here to ensure the switch is as smooth as possible. Things are going well,” he said.

Washington Post congressional reporter Paul Kane tweeted on Tuesday that Meadows was back in Congress, but as the official Chief of Staff, and that Meadows himself admits he still has not resigned as a U.S. Congressman.

The U.S. Constitution is clear:

“No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased [sic] during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.”

The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution explains:

“To ensure the separation of powers among the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, Article I, Section 6, prohibits a senator or representative from holding any other federal office during his or her service in Congress.”

Meadows self-quarantined after he was announced, and his appointment technically is effective April 1, but he has been working inside the White House for well over a week.

He is still using his official verified Twitter account that identifies him as a U.S. Congressman: @RepMarkMeadows, and he is still using his Facebook page that identifies him as a U.S. Congressman.

On March 13 he wrote a lengthy letter to his constituents, saying in part: “While I haven’t officially started the Chief of Staff job yet, we’ve been hitting the ground running in the midst of a few weeks transition. I’ll still formally be a member of Congress until I resign and join the White House full time, which should be sometime over the next couple weeks. I’ll keep you all updated with as much info as we can. NC-11 constituent services will continue both now and after I step away, as we’ll make clear with more info soon. Stay tuned.”

Calls to Meadows’ D.C. and North Carolina offices went unanswered, and did calls to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s office. All used recording saying due to COVID-19 they were unable to answer the phone.

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Trump Has an ‘Enemies List That Is Growing by the Day’ and Wants to Criminally Investigate John Bolton: Report



‘Payback Time’

President Donald Trump is out for “revenge,” and “has an enemies list that is growing by the day,” according to a report by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, quoting GOP sources.

“Republicans briefed on Trump’s thinking believe that the president is out for revenge against his adversaries. ‘It’s payback time,’ a prominent Republican told Sherman.

“Trump’s playbook is simple: go after people who crossed him during impeachment,” Sherman says, citing another GOP source.

Among Trump’s targets are his former National Security Advisor John Bolton, top Democratic House chairmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, and Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney.

Bolton is at the top of Trump’s enemies list.

“Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton,” a source briefed on the private conversations said. The source added that Trump wants Bolton to be criminally investigated. A person familiar with Trump’s thinking said Trump believes Bolton might have mishandled classified information.

According to a former official, the White House is planning to leak White House emails from Bolton that purportedly allege Bolton abused his position at the National Security Council. The official said that West Wing officials have discussed releasing emails “showing [Bolton] was doing pay-to-play,” the official said. A person close to Bolton dismissed the story. “John plays things straight,” the person said.

It is very well likely illegal for President Trump, or any president, to demand political prosecutions of his enemies.

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US Diplomat Fired by Trump-Appointed Ambassador for Merely Mentioning Obama in a Speech: Report



A career foreign service officer says he got fired by a Trump-appointed ambassador simply for mentioning former President Barack Obama during a speech.

Journalist Julia Ioffe reports in GQ that Lewis Lukens, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, was fired shortly after delivering a speech at an English university in which he touted the benefits of America’s relationship with the United Kingdom.

During the speech, Lukens told a brief story about how Obama had handled a disagreement over LGBT rights with the government of Senegal. The former diplomat tells Ioffe that Woody Johnson, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the U.K., approached him shortly after and told him to pack his things, seven months before he was scheduled to take on a new assignment.

The State Department declined to comment when Ioffe asked them to verify Lukens’s account.

“This incident, which has not been previously reported, offers a stark example of the politicization of the foreign service under Trump,” writes Ioffe. “It’s also a grim illustration of how the administration — through three years of attempted budget cuts, hiring freezes, and grotesquely personal attacks — has eviscerated the country’s diplomatic corps and put highly sensitive matters of national security in the hands of politically appointed novices.”

Read the whole report here.

Image by Penn State via Flickr and a CC license

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