All across the country, local editorial boards are taking Donald Trump to task – on everything from his disastrous climate policies to empty promises on health care to voter suppression tactics thinly disguised as his so-called “voter fraud commission.” That’s in addition to serious condemnation over new evidence of Donald Trump Jr.’s “flat-out wrong” meeting with a Russian operative after more than a year of lies from the President, the campaign, and the White House.
Below is a roundup of what Americans are reading in their local newspapers this week:
Albany Times-Union: Get serious on health care
Mr. Trump seems stuck in campaign mode, no more aware of the complexities of governing than when he declared at a rally last October, “You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost — and it’s going to be so easy.”
The last six months have proven that promise empty. The House of Representatives’ bill to replace the Affordable Care Act was so abhorrent that some representatives tried to justify their shoddy work by saying the Senate would fix it. The Senate, though, did little better. Where the House bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured, the Senate bill would hurt “only” 22 million — mostly poor people, children and older Americans. It would mean higher out-of-pocket costs for less coverage. Older people — those most likely to use health insurance — could be charged much higher premiums, contrary to the whole notion of health insurance as a way to pool risk to create affordability.
And all that misery, for what? To pay for a huge tax cut for the well-to-do.
Lansing State Journal: Get past voter fraud distraction
Not only are these claims of fraud unsubstantiated, the commission itself is an overreach.
The commission’s request for voter information – made by Kris Kolbach, vice chair of the commission and Kansas Secretary of State – is illegal.
Michigan state law, like many others, protects the personal information of citizens from requests of any outside body. Public information from voter registrations includes names, birth years and whether or not a person voted. Driver’s license and Social Security numbers are especially protected.
Asbury Park Press: Trump-Russia story still untold
It all continues to stink. It may be no more sinister than Trump trying to protect the legitimacy of his victory. Maybe he believes any acknowledgment of Russian meddling will put an asterisk next to his presidency. We still don’t know enough about Trump’s business interests in Russia. He could be worried about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation will unearth, whether or not there was any actual collusion involved between Russia and Trump or Trump’s allies.
Mueller, we hope, will eventually have some answers.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Donald Trump Jr.’s troubling meeting with a Russian lawyer
This episode should appall any American, no matter their politics. How could Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner believe it was acceptable to meet with a foreign national intent on influencing our election? It’s not acceptable. It’s flat-out wrong.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers around the same time as the Veselnitskaya meeting. Damaging emails stolen from the DNC were released by hackers just before the Democratic National Convention the next month. Both the CIA and FBI have concluded that Russia was trying to help Trump win the election.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Ethics chief’s departure opens door for Trump to appoint a patsy
If America has learned anything about Trump, even if it’s from watching reruns of The Apprentice, it is that he values loyalty above everything else. Shaub’s early departure allows Trump to act now to find a replacement. Who knows? It might be someone who uses Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, to interpret ethics laws for government officials.
All joking aside, with both houses of Congress controlled by fellow Republicans and a Supreme Court that has tilted further to the right with the appointment of Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, Americans have to be concerned about the remaining bulwarks need to restrain Trump’s tendency to act like a boss accustomed to getting his way.
No one is above the law, not even a president. The next ethics director should not be someone afraid to remind Trump of that fact.
Kansas City Star: Why every Republican should care about Russian incursions
Whether you are R, D, I or none of the above, the Russians, whose cyber capabilities are second only to our own, are coming for your power grid, your voter rolls, and your democracy. Which we know because they already have done all of those things. It was the Russians who hacked into the company that runs the Wolf Creek power plant near Burlington, Kan., who viewed voter registration rolls in Illinois, and who, yes, tried to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
Whether they succeeded in that last is unknowable, but also beside the point. Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who has adversaries and journalists killed, happens to have tried to help a Republican in ‘16. But only because he and his government are deeply anti-democratic.
Gainesville Sun: Voter commission should focus on real problems
The Presidential Advisory Commission for Voter Integrity was created on the false premise that millions of illegal voters cost Donald Trump the popular vote. Actual evidence has found tiny numbers of non-citizen voters, while efforts to purge non-citizens from voter rolls are much more likely to ensnare legitimate voters.
Florida experienced such a purge before the 2012 election. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration initially claimed about 182,000 suspicious voters but ultimately ended up removing only 85 from the rolls, while legitimate voters including military veterans were identified by false positives that could have kept them from voting if not caught.
A real problem facing Florida and other states is the attempted hacking of U.S. elections systems by the Russian government. A National Security Agency report found Russia’s military intelligence service used falsified email in a failed attempt to access U.S. election systems, including systems here in Alachua County.
Tri-City Herald: Voter fraud commission should let it go
It is a relief state election officials can, for now, stop wasting their time on this ridiculous issue. Although it’s too bad it took filing lawsuits to halt the process.
Judges are busy enough with legitimate concerns. This is an unnecessary attempt by Trump to support his baseless claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election and explain why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman rightly called the allegation “ludicrous on its face.”
Chicago Sun-Times: Trump Jr.’s Russia emails raise troubling questions
President Trump, a master of obfuscation, and his administration think they can do whatever they want as long as they can’t be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. But we expect a much higher standard from a president. If, in the end, it turns out there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, Trump still will have proved himself unworthy to be our leader. His nonstop stream of lies, shady business dealings, undermining of American interests, blatant conflicts of interest and inveterate name-calling have dragged a proud office into the mud.
York Dispatch: Trump-Russia allegations mount
That a president who claims to be the smartest guy in the room could have been unaware of the lengthening list of contacts between his campaign and Russian interests is beginning to stretch credulity to the breaking point.
Recall, these latest revelations come after reports of similar undisclosed meetings involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Kushner and others.
That the Republican-led Congress has continued to largely sit on its hands while the campaign and, now, the administration have downplayed and dismissed allegations of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election is egregious.
Mercury News: Trump administration doesn’t want more Elon Musks and Sergey Brins in America?
Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a tech-supported immigration advocacy group, told Bay Area News Group reporter Lou Hanson this is “unquestionably a setback for the United States in the global race for talent. We should be encouraging innovators to bring their new ideas, expertise, and unique skills to our country, rather than incentivizing them to put their talents to work for our competitors abroad.”
A global economy has built America’s success over the past 50 years. If “America first” translates to isolationism — discouraging even legal immigration of the best and brightest — it will not make us “great” again.
Quite the opposite.
Anniston Star: What about President Trump now, Rep. Rogers?
In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. was promised the Russian government could produce information that would be damaging to Clinton. Trump Jr. should have informed the FBI. Instead, he told an intermediary that “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” He then brought Trump’s top advisers into a meeting with a Russian lawyer said to be a conduit to the information.
These revelations come after a year of Russian-connection denials from President Trump and his advisers. As mentioned above, they also come at the one-year anniversary of Republicans making their Trump calculation.
Just before the November election, Rep. Rogers pondered a Trump win or a Clinton win and said, “We’ll survive either one of these folks.”
Depending on who he meant by “we” and what he meant by “survive,” we wonder if the congressman would like to reconsider that prediction.
We applaud Hickenlooper’s decision to rally the state to a common-sense plan to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by one-fourth. It may not be enough to stop of even slow impending climate-change calamities, but it’s a start.
More important, it’s the end of obstruction by nonsensical flat-earthers who see indisputable science as debatable as a favorite TV sitcom.
If President Trump and a shrinking handful of GOP state and federal lawmakers are too ignorant or corrupt to do the right thing, Hickenlooper and others will grab the wheel before these ignorant legislators drive Colorado and the planet over the cliff.
Tampa Bay Times: Under Trump, U.S. retreats on climate change, environment
With Trump resisting calls at home and abroad to be tougher on Russia, and to join Europe in expanding multilateral trade, the summit exposed sharp divisions between the United States and its postwar allies, and it showed a Europe more resilient and resigned to go it alone. Beyond the diplomatic niceties, Germany and France have signaled their intentions to depart publicly from Washington on a range of security and economic issues, from climate and trade to regional security. The meeting’s host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, opened the session by hailing the spirit of compromise but acknowledged: “We can also say we differ.” Trump’s complaint that the United States is taken advantage of in global trade deals and his seeming indifference to a strong, consistent embrace of NATO has made him a lone ranger within the alliance — and to America’s detriment.
Chicago Tribune: Trump’s Russian circus: Scandal hijacks the administration’s agenda
Meanwhile, the president goes on acting as if Vladimir Putin may still turn out to be a best friend forever, instead of the dangerous geopolitical adversary most Americans recognize. At their meeting last week, Trump missed a chance to confront Putin publicly about Russia’s meddling in the election. Instead, Trump in a tweet proposed teaming up with Putin to form “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to guard against hacking. The idea, akin to partnering with the fox on henhouse security, made no sense, and hours later Trump acknowledged as much.
So here we are at another twist in Trump’s presidency, not focused on jobs or tax reform or the replacement for Obamacare. Instead, we’re (a) trying to understand if the president’s son broke the law, while (b) we’re keeping an eye on confirmation hearings for the next FBI director, as we (c) try to divine whether the president obstructed justice, because (d) Trump fired the previous FBI director, who (e) was conducting the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian collusion allegations. Whew.
Every day this scandal continues, it kills another day’s chances of Trump working his agenda. But, hey, at least the circus is in town.
Fresno Bee: The Trump-Russia probe is not a witch hunt
Investigation into his campaign’s possible ties with Russian meddling in the 2016 election is the greatest witch hunt in political history.
It most certainly is not, as shown by a growing pile of evidence, including the bombshell reports this week about Donald Trump Jr. eagerly meeting a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Just ask Trump’s own nominee for FBI director, who testified under oath Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe isn’t a witch hunt and that Russia interfered in our democracy. Christopher Wray pledged “strict independence” and declared that any effort to impede Mueller is unacceptable – no small matter since the president fired James Comey as FBI director over his handling of the Russia issue.
Baltimore Sun: Alternative fact: Putin likes Clinton better
One can understand why Mr. Trump wants a Putin-Clinton love affair to be true. It’s just a lot more convenient for a president who doesn’t want to be seen as illegitimate. But coming up with alternative facts that are so clearly untrue isn’t even much of a smokescreen. It only underscores the Russia-like disinformation campaign coming out of the White House. Say what you will about Donald Jr.’s inexperience and naivete, but the emails he released this week make it pretty darn clear he expected a “Russian government attorney” to produce some damaging “very high level and sensitive” and incriminating material about the Democratic nominee, not about his own dad. You simply can’t read the correspondence any other way — it’s explicit.
East Bay Times: Even Trump’s FBI nominee thinks probe is warranted
The question on the floor is whether the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 national election is a witch hunt or a substantive matter?
President Donald Trump says it is the former. In fact, it is the greatest witch hunt in political history. Oh yes, and it is “sad,” too.
However, the man who Trump himself has nominated to replace fired FBI director James Comey says the investigation is not only NOT a witch hunt but a matter of grave importance.
Christopher Wray, Trump’s nominee to lead the FBI, said during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday that the investigation currently being conducted by former FBI director Robert Mueller is needed and warranted. Wray also pledged that, if he is confirmed, he will not try to influence that investigation in any way and declared that any effort to do so is unacceptable.
Chicago Sun-Times: Senate health care plan ignores the health part
Among the insidious features of the latest bill is that it would allow some insurers to sell relatively cheap, bare-bones policies that don’t cover everything. Major health care groups say healthier Americans would gravitate to those plans, leaving sicker people to share the spiraling cost of comprehensive coverage. Eventually, many of them would simply be priced out of health insurance. Say goodbye to the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Even people who paid insurance premiums for years when they were healthy could find themselves denied affordable health care when they need it. People would suffer — and die — unnecessarily.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: When Trump’s arrogance causes the government ethics chief to quit, something is badly wrong
Public complaints, calls and inquiries increased by more than 5,000 percent after Trump’s election. His refusal to divest his business assets — as his own Cabinet members had to do — was particularly galling. Daily he violates the Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause” as foreign governments do business with Trump entities.
“I don’t think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America,” Shaub said in January.
It now falls to Trump to name Shaub’s successor. Trump can do himself and the country a favor by naming a true watchdog. Unfortunately, the smart money is on a lapdog.
Virginia Pilot: Public deserves the truth from Trump about Russia
This week’s revelations lend some clarity, but also more urgency to fully resolving that unknown. Committees in both houses of Congress as well as a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller III, have expressed interest in hearing from all those involved.
Their task would be easier — indeed, the whole nation would benefit — if this president and those around him were more honest and forthright about what happened. Their refusal to do so has swaddled the country in uncertainty and put on hold the pressing needs of the American people.
The possibility that anyone connected to the president colluded with a foreign government to affect the election is no longer abstract. The emails released by Donald Trump Jr. are evidence. They are serious and they are shocking.
The White House needs to stop playing games on this issue. The public deserves the truth, and they will have it from this president and his team one way or another.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Trump trying to run the country like a business isn’t working for him or the nation
Trump’s knee-jerk reaction to adversity is to circle the wagons and show no sign of weakness. Like the philandering husband caught in the act, Trump seems determined to deny the truth, no matter how clear it may be.
He continues to dismiss credible evidence of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, tweeting Wednesday that an ongoing federal investigation was the “greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”