Salman Rushdie once said that there are, “Two things form the bedrock of any open society — freedom of expression and rule of law. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a free country.”
When you challenge both those ideas, the bedrock transforms into sandstone, easily carved into something else, something unexpected. The Washington Post uses the tag, “Democracy dies in darkness”, which when they started using it felt darkly hyperbolic, but if these trends keep happening unchallenged, they may well be justified.
In the last two days, the President has used his office to order an investigation into the investigation into himself, the Department of Justice has capitulated, and the EPA has banned certain news outlets from covering them. Can our democracy survive attacks to the rule of law, and the silencing of dissent?
We can only hope so, but one thing we know for sure… the times they are a-changin’.
My name is Mckay Williams and this is your Daily Brief:
We talked a bit yesterday about President Trump’s tweet “hereby demanding” an investigation into the investigation into the Trump Campaign. All jokes aside about the absolute silliness of the phrase “hereby demand”, which sounds like a TV writer trying to sound lawyerly, this is a scary thing for the Rule of Law.
The leadership of the DOJ has met with the President and agreed to allow Republicans access to view “some” information regarding the FBI investigation into the President’s campaign, but has not invited any Democrats.
Let me ask a simple question in allegory form:
Let’s say there’s a guy named Bob, and Bob has an unexplained large amount of apples. Bob hires Frank, who the police think is an apple thief. The police think that maybe if Bob is ok with hiring Frank, an apple thief, that there may be a connection to the apples that Bob has.
The police know a guy named Joe, who knows Frank, and they ask Joe to go talk to Frank and see if all the apples are stolen.
Bob then goes on to become the Mayor of Appletown, and he hears the police had sent Joe to talk to Frank. Then he tells the Police that they have to turn over all the evidence that Joe got about Frank that may hurt him. Then he says only his friends can come look at the evidence to see if he is guilty of stealing apples.
Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me either. That’s what’s happening with the President of the United States and the Department of Justice right now.
“Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a publication that covers energy and environment issues, were barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously invited by the agency the day before. […]
CNN was also blocked from attending the summit. A CNN photographer was screened by security guards before the event and was waiting for an escort or further information. Wilcox arrived soon after and provided security with a list of news outlets and reporters, instructing them not to let anyone not on the list into the event. The CNN photographer then asked if he could enter the event and was told by security he couldn’t.
Separately, a CNN reporter and producer lined up with members of the public and presented their IDs and credentials, identifying themselves as reporters. The individual manning the door said he needed to ask the press office if they could be permitted to enter. A few minutes later, he returned and said the CNN journalists were not allowed in.” – Oliver Darcy and Gregory Wallace for CNN.com
This is America, indeed.
This is breaking news as I’m writing this Daily Brief and haven’t had a chance to dive in yet, but it’s interesting in the context of the surprise deregulations we talked about yesterday surrounding arbitration restrictions. These regulations were put in place after the housing market crashed and burned in 2008 due to predatory low bar loans.
Watch this story for more connecting of the dots in the next few days.
And finally, in funny news… a storm has opened a sinkhole in the White House lawn, so the White House is quite literally draining the swamp DC was built on. Ok, so Washington DC wasn’t REALLY built on a swamp, but a tributary marshland. But c’mon… it’s a great joke.
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