We start today with another big New York Times scoop, from Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton (105,000+ shares). As Schmidt tweets, the “White House lawyers warned the president in a memo that he could be impeached if he tried to get the Justice Department to investigate his rivals.” Adds Haberman, “These are the kinds of comments from Trump that his advisers often rationalize as ‘just how he talks.’ In the case of going after Clinton and Comey, McGahn memorialized it with a memo that suggested he saw it as a potential threat.” Karen Tumulty is now calling him a “Banana Republican,” while Ron Charles has a reasonable request: “For those of us trying to keep up, couldn't President Trump limit himself to being the subject of just two scandalous stories per day.”
We will remember you, Jamal Khashoggi
Of course, the other big story yesterday afternoon is “Mohammad bin Salman first in line for Thanksgiving Day pardon from @realDonaldTrump,” as Nick Gillespie tweets. He’s referring to the exclamation-point-stuffed Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia (77,000+ shares), about which Radley Balko says, “What a goddamn embarrassment.” “America first? Oil first? Terrorism first? Intelligence agencies last? Human rights last? What a hateful statement from @realDonaldTrump on ‘Standing with Saudi Arabia,’” says Antonia Zerbisias. Also, as Matthew Garrahan points out, “It’s hard to believe the US president doesn’t have anyone to write his official statements but having read this apparently not.”
Mark Landler covers the story at The New York Times, In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing (210,000+ shares). Tweets Connie Schultz, “This is appalling, but not surprising. Donald Trump hates journalists, and loves Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. We will remember you, Jamal Khashoggi.”
At The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey writes, Trump defends Saudia Arabia’s denial about the planning of Khashoggi’s death (100,000+ shares), and William Booth is “Wondering if Turks now leak the tape.” Also at The Post, Aaron Blake provides Trump’s full statement giving the Saudi royal family a pass for Jamal Khashoggi, annotated. The short version, courtesy of Carl Bildt, “Summary of Trump statement today: If you buy US weapons and if you are against Iran - then you can kill and repress as much as you want.”
Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan released a statement saying, in part, “President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships.”
And in her latest column, Khashoggi’s editor at The Post, Karen Attiah, writes that Khashoggi’s murder will stain Trump (and America) forever.
Dangerous for journalists, activists and academics
Meanwhile, “Grim reading on the women’s rights activists jailed in Saudi: Several of the women were administered electric shocks or flogged. Other women displayed what witnesses said were apparent signs of abuse, including uncontrollable shaking or difficulty standing,” tweets Loveday Morris. Kareem Fahim of The Washington Post has that story, Saudi women’s rights advocates reportedly abused while in prison. “A very dangerous world indeed,” tweets Tamer El-Ghobashy, alluding to Trump’s statement.
Margherita Stancati and Summer Said of The Wall Street Journal are also following this story, Saudi Arabia Accused of Torturing Women Activists in Widening Crackdown on Dissent. Tweets Borzou Daragahi, “‘A great ally’: ‘Saudi security officers tortured jailed women’s-rights activists as part of a government campaign to squelch criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that began before last month’s killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.’”
“Meanwhile, in the U.S.’s other top Gulf ally: British PhD student Matthew Hedges sentenced to jailed for life after UAE accused him of spying on the government for Britain. His trial lasted less than 5 minutes. His lawyer was not present.” Robbie Gramer links to the BBC News story, Briton on UAE spy charge jailed for life, and Liz Sly notes, “The UAE sentences the British PhD student Matthew Hedges to life in prison after accusing him of spying. He was conducting research into the UAE’s foreign policy. The Middle East is a dangerous place for academics as well as journalists & activists.”
Kale Caesar, anyone? (Anyone?)
Welp, forget your Thanksgiving Day Caesar salad, because the CDC is warning U.S. consumers that romaine lettuce is not safe to eat (410,000+ shares), report Joel Achenbach and Lena Sun of The Washington Post. And the CDC is not playing around: “Restaurants should not serve it, stores should not sell it, and people should not buy it, no matter where or when the lettuce was grown. It doesn’t matter if it is chopped, whole head or part of a mix.” “Kale Caesar, anyone? (Anyone?)” tweets Joe Yonan. Lizzie O'Leary shares, “I had E. coli the week before my wedding. Do not recommend, though certainly has emergency diet effects.” If that doesn’t make you queasy, there’s this tweet, from Alex Howard: “Toss it, they say. (Hopefully, this is not just the tip of the iceberg.)”
Here’s the CDC’s full statement: Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce, and Jessica Wohl tells us, “I've done my food reporter job for the day ... saw this and immediately stopped a colleague from having her sad salad for a late lunch. Instead, she's having a doughnut.” Now, that’s a true friend.
Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post found out that a conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million (52,000+ shares). The gist, tweets John McQuaid, “Anonymous funders of the ‘Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust’ (FACT) that paid Whitaker $$$ have an anonymous spokesman whose job is to say nothing.” Or as Garance Franke-Ruta puts it, “A dark money charity where Whitaker was the sole employee, highly paid by those mysterious actors, and working on air to trash Clinton & Mueller.” Nice! “it's almost like we usually have confirmation hearings, and Senate vetting, for Cabinet-level posts for a reason,” says Catherine Rampell. But as Will Bunch notes, “It's amazing how much money you can make on the right wing's rubber bullshit circuit.”
Too many white supremacy oopsies
So, you may have seen this — as James Arkin of POLITICO reports, Mississippi’s embattled Cindy Hyde-Smith posted a photo of herself in a confederate hat. Beth Fertig asks, “Don't they always warn politicians visiting someplace, ‘never wear the hat’? Or is that just on VEEP?” As Stephanie Strom says, “Oh, for Pete’s sake .... too many white supremacy oopsies with this gal.”
What you might not have seen yet is this scoop by Lachlan Markay of The Daily Beast, Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker Funded Race-Baiting Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Super PAC. Tweets Sam Stein, “EXCLUSIVE -- Sean Parker is the biggest funder of Cindy Hyde-Smith's super PAC. His spox tells @lachlan he denounces her public hanging remarks but isn't asking for the money back.” And Spencer Ackerman says, “I didn’t care for the first movie but this @Lachlan scoop makes me want a Social Network 2.”
Whew, let’s switch gears. “You guys, something really interesting is happening with Amazon workers in Minnesota. A group of Somali workers organized and appear to be the first known group in the US to push Amazon to the table.” Karen Weise directs us to her story in The New York Times, Somali Workers in Minnesota Force Amazon to Negotiate. However, “Amazon would like everyone to know that it's ‘engaging’ with workers, not ‘negotiating’ with them,” Lydia DePillis points out. Tweets Noah Buhayar, “One side sees a negotiation. The other ‘community engagement.’ Fascinating look from @kyweise at Amazon fulfillment center workers who are advocating for their rights in Minnesota.”
There’s no Glamour in print
Also at The New York Times, Jaclyn Peiser has the scoop that Glamour Magazine is going to cease regular print publication. She tweets, “SCOOP: Conde Nast's @glamourmag ceases regular print edition. EIC @samanthabarry said they will invest more in digital, which has grown since she took the helm. ‘That monthly schedule, for a Glamour audience, doesn’t make sense anymore,’ she told me.” As Daniel Gross points out, “Several years ago, I started telling people that there is no glamour in print. Now there's no Glamour in print.” “I did a stint at @glamourmag before landing at @InStyle and am super proud of the print bylines I got there. Excited to see what @samanthabarry and team do with this big step forward,” tweets Laura Norkin. Adds Clara Jeffery, “Very sorry to hear this though I’m sure @samanthabarry will continue to kick ass in the pixels.”
The one with the definitive ranking
OK, here’s something non-political you can argue about over kale Caesars at Thanksgiving tomorrow. At Vulture, Brian Boone has compiled A Definitive Ranking of Friends Thanksgiving Episodes, “from least-best to most-best.”
Matt Mencarini, Kara Berg and RJ Wolcott of the Lansing State Journal report that Ex-MSU President Lou Anna Simon has been charged with lying to police about the Nassar investigation.
Julia Edwards Ainsley of NBC News has learned that DHS has paid undercover informants in the migrant caravan. The 4,000 migrants have used WhatsApp text message groups to communicate along their journey, and DHS personnel have joined those groups to gather info.
An AP exclusive from Ken Sweet finds the government questioning unfair student loan practices. Tweets Steve Silberman, “Big @kensweet scoop: Under Betsy DeVos, US Dept. of Ed steered borrowers already struggling with repaying student loans to HIGHER cost repayment plans.”
A breaking story this morning from Bradley Hope at The Wall Street Journal, Abu Dhabi Fund Sues Goldman Sachs Over 1MDB Scandal. The sovereign-wealth fund says the bank played a “central role” in the saga.
Also breaking today, BBC News reports that Interpol has elected South Korean Kim Jong-yang as its president, rejecting the controversial Russian frontrunner Alexander Prokopchuk, who has been accused of using Interpol’s arrest warrant system to target critics of the Kremlin.
“The Guardian has a populist quiz with a snazzy populist plot.” Mark Di Stefano links to How populist are you? the quiz developed by Antonio Voce and Frank Hulley-Jones of The Guardian.
RIP, Jane Maas, the inspiration for Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen. Judann Pollack of Ad Age has the obituary, Jane Maas, copywriter considered “the real Peggy Olson,” dies at 86.