Welcome to the latest installment of Norms Watch, our series tracking both the flouting of democratic norms by the Trump administration and the erosion of those norms in reactions and responses by others. This is our collection of the most significant breaks with democratic traditions that occurred in July 2018.
The Trump administration struggles to meet court-ordered deadlines for reuniting immigrant families
Nearly three months after the Trump administration announced its new “zero-tolerance” border policy, more than 700 children remain separated from their parents while new reports continue to surface alleging physical, emotional, sexual and labor abuses in detention centers and shelters.
Trump Administration in Chaotic Scramble to Reunify Migrant Families – New York Times’ Caitlin Dickerson
Hundreds of migrant children remain in custody, though most separated families are reunited at court deadline – Washington Post’s Nick Miroff and Samantha Schmidt
More Than 450 Migrant Parents May Have Been Deported Without Their Children – New York Times’ Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson
Separated: Children at the Border — PBS’ FRONTLINE
The “Ineligible” Families — New York Times’ The Daily podcast
The Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked bipartisan outrage and frustration after Trump publicly broke from U.S. intelligence findings about Russian election interference and failed to unequivocally reject the idea of allowing Russian investigators to question former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. In the days after the summit, it became clear that few in his administration understood what transpired while the two leaders met in private.
Putin: I wanted Trump to win the election – POLITICO’’s Stephanie Murray
Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election – New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis
White House: Trump will consider letting Russia question investor, former ambassador – POLITICO’s Eleanor Mueller
As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity – Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Anton Troianovski
Trump to Invite Putin to Washington, Blindsiding His Intelligence Chief – New York Times’ Mark Landler
Trump continues to downplay threat of Russian interference despite clear concern from his administration
The president repeatedly dismissed Russian election interference as a hoax this month, even after his own statement to the contrary, made in the wake of public criticism for his comments on the subject during the Helsinki summit.
As midterm elections approach, a growing concern that the nation is not protected from Russian interference – Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg
Pence condemns Russian meddling, an issue that has vexed Trump – Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima
Facebook says it has uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation ahead of the 2018 midterm elections – Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm
Trump again reverses course on Russian interference, calls it ‘all a big hoax’ – Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez
Trump Undermines NATO, EU Relations
Before leaving on his trip to Europe at the beginning of the month, Trump criticized U.S. allies for not contributing enough to NATO and predicted his visit with Putin would be the “easiest” part of his travels. Once in Europe, Trump criticized Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany; he undercut British Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit; and praised her political rival, Boris Johnson.
In Interview, Trump Appears To Question NATO’s ‘Collective Defense’ Clause – NPR’s Scott Neuman
Trump opens NATO summit with blistering criticism of Germany, labels allies ‘delinquent’ – CNN’s Jeremy Diamond
Trump’s NATO trip shows ‘America First’ is ‘America Alone’ – Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor
Trump Says He Sees The European Union As A ‘Foe’ Of U.S. – NPR’s Merrit Kennedy
Donald Trump’s Disastrous Trip to Europe — The New Yorker’s John Cassidy
As May’s Government Teeters Over Brexit, Trump Gives It a Shove — New York Times’ Stephen Castle and Julie Hirschfeld Davis
House Republicans continue to attack the Justice Department to discredit the Russia investigation
House Republicans continued their assault on Justice Department leadership, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a so-far unsuccessful attempt to prematurely end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign helped in those efforts.
Insults, fighting, shouting: Strzok hearing boils over – CNN’s Stephen Collinson
House Republicans Mount a Long-Shot Bid to Impeach Rod Rosenstein – New York Times’ Katie Benner
Giuliani says Mueller probe results should be dismissed after Strzok testimony – Washington Post’s John Wagner
FISA application released for first time in history
The Justice Department released a heavily redacted version of its application to surveil on Carter Page, who served as a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign in 2016. The administration made the previously classified documents public after media organizations sued for them under the Freedom of Information Act.
What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications – Lawfare’s David Kris
Carter Page FISA Documents Are Released by Justice Department — New York Times’ Charlie Savage
Trump cabinet continues to be plagued by ethics scandals
Even as Scott Pruitt departed the EPA, the cloud of scandals appeared simply to migrate over to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns Amidst Scandals – The Atlantic’s David A. Graham
Scandals Pile Up For Interior Chief Ryan Zinke – Huffington Post’s Chris D’Angelo
Interior watchdog opens probe of land deal linking Zinke, Halliburton chairman – POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre
Trump’s businesses raise ethics and conflicts of interest concerns
As a lawsuit proceeds against Trump alleging his violation of the Emoluments Clause, the president and his family continue to flout ethics norms with costly business trips, undisclosed contacts and pursuit of foreign projects. The Trump Organization’s pursuit of new foreign deals violates the promise Trump made in his January 2017 press conference before taking office.
Trump’s Scottish resort to expand, raising ethics concerns – AP’s Bernard Condon
Trump Must Face Emoluments Lawsuit Over D.C. Hotel Profits – Bloomberg’s Andrew M. Harris
The Trump administration adds new obstacles to government transparency
The Trump administration continued this month to take further steps limiting media access, retaliating against news networks whose coverage it doesn’t like, resisting public scrutiny and decreasing government transparency.
Exclusive: White House stops announcing calls with foreign leaders – CNN’s Kaitlin Collins
‘We are fighting for information about war’: Pentagon curbs media access – POLITICO’s Jason Schwartz
Help us identify Trump’s unknown golf partners – Washington Post’s Philip Bump
White House held just 3 daily press briefings in July – The Hill’s John Bowden
White House bans network pool reporter from Rose Garden event – CNN’s Brian Stelter
Trump pardons Oregon ranchers
On July 10, the president issues another controversial pardon, this one of brothers Dwight and Steve Hammond, the Oregon ranchers convicted of arson for starting a fire on federal land that burned over 100 acres. The Hammonds have a history of confrontation with federal law enforcement, and their case sparked the 2016 occupation of federal land by a right-wing militia group led by Ammon Bundy.
Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Whose Case Inspired Wildlife Refuge Takeover – New York Times’ Eileen Sullivan and Julie Turkewitz
This is the message that Trump’s latest pardon sends to the radical right – Washington Post’s Leah Sottile and Ryan Haas
Trump’s Militia Pardon is Another Blow to Federal Law Enforcement – Just Security’s Barbara McQuade
Setting the Record Straight: The Pardon Power is Part of the Rule of Law – Just Security’s Sam Morison
Trump steps up attacks on journalists, news media
Trump escalated his ongoing attacks on the press this month at home and abroad, refusing questions from CNN and NBC, and telling his supporters at a rally not to believe what the news media reports. Further evidence emerged that Trump’s anti-media message is taking hold among his supporters, who again heckled CNN’s Jim Acosta with shouts of “traitor” and “liar” at a rally where many chanted “CNN sucks.”
Trump calls ‘fake news’ media ‘the real enemy of the people’ over Putin summit – ABC News’ Nataly Pak and Matt Seyler
What despots hear when Trump calls the press the “enemy of the people” – Baltimore Sun’s Editorial Board
Trump’s latest speech compared to ‘1984’: ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening’ – The Independent’s Kimberley Richards
Spotting CNN on a TV Aboard Air Force One, Trump Rages Against Reality – New York Times’ Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman
Trump uses Twitter to promote video of supporters chanting ‘CNN sucks’ – Washington Post’s John Wagner
‘Fake News’ Goes Global as Trump, in Britain, Rips the Press – New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum