Norms Watch: Damage to Democracy and Rule of Law in June 2018

We’re reviving Norms Watch, our series tracking President Donald Trump’s divergence from democratic norms, as well as the ways norms are sometimes discarded in reaction to the Trump administration. While the original version of Norms Watch was published on a weekly basis, our new edition seeks to provide a quick summary of the most significant breaks with democratic traditions that have occurred each month. Here’s Norms Watch for June 2018. Let us know if you think we missed any.

Separating children from their parents at the border

The Trump administration continued its “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who is caught crossing the border illegally, which in turn has led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents without any apparent plans for reuniting the families. Trump administration officials have described family separation as a tool for deterring future migrants from coming to the United States.  

Here are the administration officials who have said that family separation is meant as a deterrent — the Washington Post’s Philip Bump

Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the BorderProPublica‘s Ginger Thompson

Separated immigrant children are all over the U.S. now, far from parents who don’t know where they are —  Washington Post’s Maria Sacchetti, Kevin Sieff and Marc Fisher

The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained —  Vox’s Dara Lind

At least 3 tender age shelters set up for child migrantsAP’s Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza

Trump Retreats on Separating Families, but Thousands May Remain ApartNew York Times’ Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough and Maggie Haberman

Exclusive: Navy Document Shows Plan to Erect ‘Austere’ Detention CampsTime’s Philip Elliott and W.J. Hennigan

Pruitt racks up more scandals (which helps precipitate his resignation in July)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt faced at least 14 federal investigations by late June.

Scott Pruitt Has Spent a Total of $4.6 Million on Security, New Disclosures Show —Including $1,500 on “Tactical Pants”The Intercept’s Lee Fang, Nick Surgey

Scott Pruitt had aide do various personal tasks, including hunt for a used Trump hotel mattressWashington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Brady Dennis

Pruitt faces another probe for employee retaliation allegationsPOLITICO’s Emily Holden

Scott Pruitt enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife find a job — with Chick-fil-AWashington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Josh Dawsey

A Courtside View of Scott Pruitt’s Cozy Ties With a Billionaire Coal Baron —  New York Times’ Steve Eder, Hiroko Tabuchi and Eric Lipton

EPA’s Pruitt spent $1,560 on 12 customized fountain pens from Washington jewelry storeWashington Post’s Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin

Commerce secretary faces accusations of insider trading

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also faced new allegations of ethics violations, including a potential case of insider trading. Ross called the allegations “completely false.”

Lies, China And Putin: Solving The Mystery Of Wilbur Ross’ Missing Fortune — Forbes’ Dan Alexander

Commerce chief Wilbur Ross’ financial holdings get new scrutiny in report that highlights short sale of Russian-linked shipping firm CNBC’s Dan Mangan

Senators Ask SEC To Launch Insider Trading Investigation Into Wilbur RossForbes’ Dan Alexander

Watchdog group calls for investigation into Wilbur Ross’s financial dealings Washington Post’s  Steven Mufson

Pardons

Concern over Trump’s use of the presidential pardon power continued, especially in relation to its potential use in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and even the dramatic claim that the president could pardon himself.

Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself of federal crimes but denies any wrongdoing — Washington Post’s John Wagner

President Trump ‘probably does’ have the power to pardon himself: Giuliani — interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos

Rudy Giuliani says Mueller probe ‘might get cleaned up’ with ‘presidential pardons’ in light of Paul Manafort going to jailNew York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt

Trump expresses his affinity for dictators while scorning traditional U.S. allies

In June, Trump attended the G7 Summit in Canada before flying to Singapore for his much anticipated meeting with Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea. Trump left Quebec alienating America’s closest allies with his pursuit of punishing trade policies, rejecting a joint communique he initially agreed to, and leveling personal attacks against the Canadian prime minister. This stood in stark contrast to his treatment of Kim, whom he praised repeatedly. Trump said that Kim Jong Un “speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” Trump later said, in response to a reporter’s question, that he was being sarcastic.

‘Dictator envy’: Trump’s praise of Kim Jong Un widens his embrace of totalitarian leaders —  Washington Post’s Philip Rucker

A Fox News anchor argued with Trump about Kim Jong Un’s human-rights violations while Trump praised his leadershipBusiness Insider’s David Choi

Trump faces backlash after saluting North Korean generalPOLITICO’s Rebecca Morin

Donald Trump calls for G7 to readmit Russia ahead of summitGuardian’s Julian Borger and Anne Perkins

Trump Refuses to Sign G-7 Statement and Calls Trudeau ‘Weak’New York Times’ Michael D. Shear and Catherine Porter

Peter Navarro says ‘there’s a special place in hell’ for Justin TrudeauCNN’s Eli Watkins

Concerns grow over U.S.-NATO and U.S.-E.U. relations

Trump’s public outreach to Russia and his negative commentary on members of NATO and U.S. allies raised alarm.

As Summit Nears, NATO Allies Have One Main Worry: TrumpNew York Times’ Steve Erlanger

Trump-Putin meeting to follow NATO gathering at tense momentAP’s Jonathan Lemire and Catherine Lucy

Scoop: Trump’s private NATO trashing rattles alliesAxios’ Jonathan Swan

Trump is trying to destabilize the European UnionWashington Post’s Josh Rogin

Trump Leaves Door Open to U.S. Recognizing Russia’s Crimea GrabBloomberg’s Margaret Talev and Toluse Olorunnipa

Trump told Macron EU worse than China on tradeCNN’s Matt Korade and Elise Labott

New York Attorney General files civil suit against Trump for misuse of charity funds

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a civil suit against Trump and his charity, the Trump Foundation, as well as Trump’s three eldest children, who have been official board members of the foundation for several years. The suit alleges, among other things, that Trump repeatedly misused his charity’s funds, including to benefit his presidential campaign, to pay off his creditors and decorate one of his golf clubs.

New York files civil suit against President Trump, alleging his charity engaged in ‘illegal conduct’ — Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold

Sanders, Trump publicly condemn a private business over its treatment of the press secretary

On June 23rd, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used her official government twitter account to complain about being asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant, a private business in Lexington, Virginia. Two days later, the president also criticized the restaurant over Twitter.

Trump lashes out at restaurant that asked Sarah Sanders to leaveGuardian

Debate over the role of civility in politics and public discourse is renewed

Sanders, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and White House adviser Stephen Miller were met with personal protests in June over the migrant family separation policy. A public feud also erupted between Trump and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who urged her supporters at a rally, “If you see anybody from that [Trump] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

The decision by the Red Hen owner and Rep. Waters’ remarks launched a national debate about civility. The Council on Foreign Relations’ president Richard Haass said the action of the restaurant owner “violates the spirit” of the Civil Rights Act.

Trump to Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters: ‘Be careful’BBC News

Public shaming of Trump officials sparks debate over protest and civilityPBS Newshour’s William Brangham

White America’s Age-Old, Misguided Obsession With Civility New York Times op-ed by Thomas J. Sugrue

Sometimes There Are More Important Goals Than CivilityThe Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II

Rep. Maxine Waters owed an apology from top Dems for not protecting her against ‘uwarranted’ Trump verbal attacks, nearly 200 black female leaders say — ABC News’ Mariam Khan

The civility debate may be a distraction, but it’s also a symptom of an ideological rift — Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram

Maxine Waters isn’t standing down: “If you shoot me, you better shoot straight”Vox’s Emily Stewart

Trump advances his immigration policy with racially charged tactics

In June, Trump continued to use dehumanizing language and false criminal statistics to characterize migrants and undocumented immigrants. He and other anti-immigration advocates also called attention to Europe’s migrant crisis, suggesting the US could face a similar fate.

Trump Says Democrats Want Immigrants to ‘Infest’ the U.S.The Atlantic’s David A. Graham

Trump hosts victims of undocumented migrants amid family separations rowBBC News

FACT CHECK: Trump, Illegal Immigration And CrimeNPR’s Scott Horsley

The dark history behind Trump’s inflammatory language — Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum

Trump falsely claims rising German crime rate as he pushes immigration debateCNN’s Betsy Klein

Congressman Steve King Retweets a Nazi SympathizerNew York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg

There Is No Immigration CrisisThe Atlantic’s Peter Beinart

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images: A migrant child looks out the window of a bus as protesters try to block a bus carrying migrant children out of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Detention Center on June 23, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

 

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