(Maurizio Gambarini/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images) P resident Trump sent European Union leaders reeling with his demands that their countries “buy American” during his combative mid-July tour of the continent. But in the president’s continuing quest to contradict himself and discombobulate opponents, federal transit officials back home are going through an elaborate show of garnering public feedback on a potentially explosive topic that could undermine the Reagan-era Buy America program that helps protect certain American industry jobs. “What is a Federal Project?” is a seemingly innocuous question posted in the Department of Transportation’s “Ideas” online forum, which solicits feedback on prospective initiatives. In this case, the Federal Transit Administration wants to speed up the conception, construction, and delivery of transit projects by recasting how “federal projects” are defined. Federal transit officials intend to “review the thresholds for defining whether a project or...
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png D emocrats, Republicans, and independents don’t agree on much in an era when politics is all vinegar and venom. But as the urbanized Northeast Corridor verges on 24/7 gridlock, most people can get over the political divide and agree that getting where they want to go, when they want to get there, is well-nigh impossible. They want to see transportation arteries revitalized, quality public transit options worthy of this century, and serious attention paid to health threats like air pollution and climate change. That’s the upshot of a new Sierra Club survey on transportation modernization in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic that finds deep, bipartisan impatience with the status quo in 11 states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia—plus resounding interest in concrete regional approaches to dealing...
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Pedestrians hold up signs that read "Very Fake News" and "Welcome Home President Trump #MAGA" as the motorcade carrying President Donald Trump makes its way towards Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. A s technology giants and news media titans wrestle with fact-checking, algorithm-tweaking, and outright lies, Americans remain susceptible to a more pernicious threat: fake news. Fake news is just one tool in President Trump’s disinformation toolbox, one that administration officials wield, not only to discredit the news media, but also the judiciary, individual members of Congress, and the intelligence community. It’s a classic tactic that wannabe autocrats deploy to undermine democracy: consolidating power by sowing distrust in major institutions. Political commentators Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Yevgeniy Golovchenko, and Gianni Riotta took up the topic of fake news and authoritarianism at the 2018 Social Media Weekend in New York. Sree Sreenivasan, a former New York...
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) A Washington Metro station H ow desperate is the state of public transit this Infrastructure Week? So desperate that the Washington Metro Area Transportation Authority turned to a foreign government to secure the $100,000 it needed to keep Metrorail open late, so that hockey fans could get home from National Hockey League Eastern Conference Playoff Game 4 on Thursday at a downtown arena. Ponder that for a second: District of Columbia transit officials decided to rely on the government of Qatar’s munificent gesture. And recall that a Qatari government-affiliated company may bail President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his family out from under an onerous Manhattan office building mortgage; that Trump attorney Michael Cohen tried to woo Qatar as a client for his “consulting” services; and that Qatar has been embroiled in a long-running political crisis that resulted in a trade embargo against the country by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia,...
As the White House continues to blast his very existence, former FBI director James Comey rides the wave atop The New York Times bestseller list. His book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is a tell-not-as-much-you’d-really-like-to-know account of his law enforcement career and its abrupt denouement courtesy of the 45th president.
Predictably, Comey did not offer up much of anything new (want more about Roger Stone and Wikileaks? Keep waiting) during his recent conversation with The Washington’s Post’s Carol Leonnig in front of a rapt audience of roughly 200 people at the newspaper’s downtown headquarters. But a former FBI director is hardly going to drop stunning revelations during a public event at one of the country’s top newspapers.
Yet simply observing one of the principal dramatis personae of the Trump Era was worth the price of admission (free). The smooth, controlled, lanky ex-G-man swerved around probing questions and doubled down on his damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t defense of his Hillary Clinton’s email server decision-making.
He did discuss how the bureau wrestled with the rogue president. Asked whether FBI and Justice Department officials could ever have educated Trump on government norms and traditions, Comey responded: Maybe, but likely not. “It’s possible we could have tried to offer more instruction,” said Comey. “But he’s utterly uninterested in you telling him things about how he should do his job.”
As Americans know well by now, what animates Trump is loyalty uber alles. Of his infamous dinner with the allegiance-demanding president, Comey returned again to the issue of educating an unschooled president, emphasizing that Trump is more interested in “a personal, transactional loyalty” than understanding anything about norms of the relationship between of the president, the FBI, and the Justice Department.
Comey’s comments about Rudy Giuliani set the room set the room chuckling as he described how impressed he was as a young prosecutor working for Giuliani, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“I loved that my boss was on magazine covers, standing on courtroom steps with his hands on his hips,” Comey said. “It fired me up.” But there was a dark side to Giuliani’s confidence, too: He didn’t have much humility, Comey concluded. “It’s really important for a leader to have that balance.”
Comey saved some of his harshest commentary for Clinton’s email “excesses.” He wasn’t aware, Comey noted, that any of her aides had firmly counseled her against installing the ill-fated email server.
“We didn’t investigate her leadership style,” said Comey, “but [her style] at least raises the prospect that she created a culture around herself as a leader that people wouldn’t tell her when she is full of it; it’s really important as leader to do that.”
As for his take on Trump’s complicity in the swampy dealings consuming his presidency and the cavalcade of problematic associations, from Vladimir Putin to Stormy Daniels, Comey was pure prosecutor: “It’s always struck me as strange when someone always continually denies something—it makes me interested,” he said. “His continual denial of something that’s being investigated by some of the best people in the country is strange.”
The most disturbing aspect of this historical moment for the former FBI director is the erosion of country’s norms around lying. Unlike so many news reporters and pundits who skirt the issue, Comey went straight for the jugular: “The president of the United States lies constantly,” he said, and Americans have become “numb to it,” or worse, “imitate it.”