We have a set of stories on environmental issues and government suppression of data. "Trump's actions raise fears about access to government data," "Inside the GOP's Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA," and the terrible clickbait headline "This climate lawsuit could change everything. No wonder the Trump administration doesn’t want it going to trial" for which the Washington Post should be embarrassed. On a not-unrelated note, we also have "Conservation group maps land protection strategy in 3 states." Being private, hopefully _that_ one won't get shot down.
In other reality-altering news, we have "Trump's budget director claims Obama was 'manipulating' jobs data" - they're doubling down (of course) on the claim that the Obama-era jobless numbers were "fake" but their identically-derived numbers are "real" now because they're coming from the Trump administration.
20/20 (on ABC News) had a story on Gay Conversion Camps, the fundamentalist abuse and torture facilities used to try to turn queer kits straight. "Undercover at a so-called gay conversion camp" is only the short form for the longer story, but it's what I have online.
Russians and impeachment: "Trump Adviser Had Twitter Contact With Figure Tied to Russians," "If Russia Inquiry Is Not ‘Legitimate,’ Democrats May Abandon It" (meaning they won't participate in a coverup or sham investigation - hopefully), "Flynn told Trump team he might register as a foreign agent," meaning more lies from the Trump administration about this whole thing, "Democracy 21 letter to United States Attorney Preet Bharara" - the request to investigate that probably got Mr. Bharara fired, and "Donald Trump could be impeached on four grounds, former Labor Secretary says."
Five Thirty Eight talks about the surprise factors in the election in "There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble."
A couple of health-care updates: "What Do Republicans Believe?" (spoiler: FUCKING NOTHING) and "What the GOP health-care plan might mean for Washington state."
And finally, two other miscellaneous: "During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address," and "Emboldened by Trump, some police unions seek to overhaul Obama’s reforms."
----- 1 -----
Trump Adviser Had Twitter Contact With Figure Tied to Russians
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and MAGGIE HABERMAN | The New York Times
MARCH 11, 2017
WASHINGTON — Roger J. Stone Jr., an off-and-on adviser to President Trump for decades, has acknowledged that he had contact on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the mysterious online figure that is believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials.
It is the first time that someone associated with Mr. Trump has confirmed any type of contact with Guccifer 2.0, which claimed to be a Romanian hacker and took credit for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
But Mr. Stone insisted in an interview that the contact had been brief and involved nothing more than the exchange of a few direct messages, well after the party committee had been hacked. “Even if he is a Russian agent, my cursory exchange with him happens after he releases the D.N.C. stuff,” Mr. Stone said on Saturday. “There’s only one exchange with him. I had no further exchanges.”
Mr. Stone said the exchange took place after he had published an article on Aug. 5 on the Breitbart News site about the hacking, which the American government has tied to a Russian effort to meddle in the election. After Guccifer 2.0 had been suspended by Twitter, Mr. Stone posted a message against “censorship,” and he later had what he called an “innocuous” exchange over direct message.
----- 2 -----
If Russia Inquiry Is Not ‘Legitimate,’ Democrats May Abandon It
By EMMARIE HUETTEMAN | The New York TImes
MARCH 11, 2017
WASHINGTON — They agreed just a week ago to the terms of a House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But now some of the panel’s Democrats are warning that they may pull their support for the inquiry if it becomes mired in party-line politics.
When that might happen is unclear, and Democrats know that the current moment of even tentative comity on the Republican-controlled panel may offer their best chance for scrutinizing links between people close to President Trump and Russian officials.
Still, Democrats are bracing for fights over subpoenaing witnesses and documents — including, possibly, Mr. Trump’s tax returns — since Republicans have balked at an outside, independent inquiry into what intelligence officials say was an unprecedented intrusion into an American election by a foreign power.
“I’m not going to be part of a dog-and-pony show that is not a serious effort to do an investigation because this is really serious,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California. “If it’s not a legitimate and comprehensive and in-depth investigation, why would we be party to it?”
----- 3 -----
Emboldened by Trump, some police unions seek to overhaul Obama’s reforms
By Julia Harte and Timothy Mclaughlin
Reuters January 30, 2017
WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, had a blunt message for Donald Trump during a meeting in September: court-ordered reforms aimed at curbing police abuses in the midwestern city are not working.
Loomis and two other attendees said Trump seemed receptive to Loomis's concerns that federally monitored police reforms introduced during the Obama administration in some cities in response to complaints of police bias and abuse are ineffective and impose an onerous burden on police forces.
Trump, Loomis said, was “taken aback by the waste of money” when the union chief told him that federal monitors overseeing his city’s police department earned $250 an hour - a standard salary for the position.
----- 4 -----
Exclusive: Trump admin. plans expanded immigrant detention
By Chris Hayes and Brian Montopoli | MSNBC
03/03/17 08:13 PM
The Trump administration is planning to radically expand the program and facilities for the detention of immigrant families seeking asylum in the United States, according to documents obtained exclusively by All In.
In a town hall with Department of Homeland Security staffers last month, Asylum Division Chief John Lafferty said DHS had already located 20,000 beds for the indefinite detention of those seeking asylum, according to notes from the meeting obtained by All In. This would represent a nearly 500% increase from current capacity.
The plan is part of a new set of policies for those apprehended at the border that would make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to end the practice critics call “catch and release.”
“If implemented, this expansion in immigration detention would be the fastest and largest in our country’s history,” says Andrew Free, an immigration lawyer in Nashville who represents clients applying for asylum. “And my worry is it’ll be permanent. Once those beds are in place they’ll never go away.”
Reached by phone, Lafferty said he was not authorized to speak on the matter. The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to a request for comment.
The plans for the expansion reflect the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of U.S. policy for dealing women and children seeking asylum, thousands of whom continue to show up at the southern border fleeing violence, vengeance and sexual assault in Central America.
Under the plan under consideration, DHS would break from the current policy keeping families together. Instead, it would separate women and children after they’ve been detained – leaving mothers to choose between returning to their country of origin with their children, or being separated from their children while staying in detention to pursue their asylum claim.
----- 5 -----
Flynn told Trump team he might register as a foreign agent
By Ashley Parker | The Washington Post
March 10, 2017
Attorneys for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, informed the incoming White House legal counsel during the transition that Flynn might need to register with the government as a foreign agent — a phone call that raised no alarms within Trump’s team, despite the unusual circumstance of having a top national security post filled by someone whose work may have benefited a foreign government.
The firm Flynn headed, Flynn Intel Group, was hired last year when Flynn was an adviser to the Trump campaign by the Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV, which is owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin. Alptekin has close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Although the contract ended after the election, new details about the work Flynn did for Inovo resurrect the controversy over his short tenure as Trump’s top national security aide.
The national security adviser is supposed to be an honest broker within the executive branch, pulling together military and diplomatic options for the president so he can decide what policy to pursue. But Flynn’s work potentially benefiting Turkey meant he was representing the interests of a country other than the United States at the same time he was advising Trump on foreign policy during the election.
Flynn’s firm was paid more than $500,000 by Inovo for public relations and research work, including looking into exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania. His extradition is being sought by Turkey, which has accused him of fomenting a coup attempt last year.
Flynn wrote an op-ed on Nov. 8 for the Hill newspaper in which he called for Gulen’s extradition — a controversial diplomatic issue for the United States.
“The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former president Clinton once called his ‘friend’ in a well circulated video,” Flynn wrote.
“Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist,” he wrote.
----- 6 -----
During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address
By Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg | The Washington Post
March 11, 2017
In the three years before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon lived as a virtual nomad in a quest to build a populist political insurgency.
No presidential adviser in recent memory has followed such a mysterious, peripatetic path to the White House. It was as though he was a man with no fixed address.
He owned a house and condo in Southern California, where he had entertainment and consulting businesses, a driver’s license and a checking account. He claimed Florida as his residence, registering to vote in Miami and telling authorities he lived at the same address as his third ex-wife.
At the same time, he routinely stayed in Washington and New York as he engineered the expansion of Breitbart News and hosted a live Breitbart radio program. By 2015, Bannon stayed so often at Breitbart’s townhouse headquarters on Capitol Hill that he kept a picture of a daughter on a mantle piece, beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
Bannon told a friend that year he was living in multiple cities, including Washington, New York, London and Miami, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.
The issue of Bannon’s legal residency has been simmering since last summer, shortly after he became chief executive of Trump’s campaign. The Guardian reported in an Aug. 26 story that he was registered to vote at a then-vacant house and speculated that Bannon may have signed an oath that he was a Florida resident to take advantage of the state’s lack of state income taxes.
In California, where Bannon had lived and owned property for more than two decades, income tax can exceed 12 percent.
----- 7 -----
Democracy 21 letter to United States Attorney Preet Bharara
March 8, 2017
[This letter was followed by Preet Bharara being fired as US Attorney]
The Honorable Preet Bharara
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
One St. Andrew’s Plaza
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Bharara:
Democracy 21, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Campaign Legal Center request that you undertake an investigation to determine if the Trump
Organization LLC, the Trump Organization, Inc., and any related Trump businesses based in the Southern District of New York are receiving payments and financial benefits from foreign governments that benefit President Donald Trump and that do not comply with Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, the “Foreign Emoluments Clause.”
We also urge you to take whatever steps may be necessary and appropriate to ensure that the Trump Organization and related Trump business enterprises do not receive payments and financial benefits from foreign governments that benefit President Trump and that do not comply with the Emoluments Clause.
The Trump Organization has its main offices in New York City, and resides in the Southern District of New York. Thus, your office has jurisdiction and is the appropriate arm of the Justice Department to conduct an investigation and take appropriate action in this matter.
We believe the Justice Department has a broad mandate to ensure compliance with provisions of the Constitution that relate to Federal officeholders. For example, in written answers provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation proceedings, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that while he was not aware of a federal law that directly charges the Justice Department with enforcing the Emoluments Clause, he recognized that the Justice Department has the responsibility “to ensure that officeholders comply with their constitutional obligations.”
Published reports indicate that the Trump Organization and related Trump business entities have been receiving payments and other benefits from foreign government sources which benefit President Trump through his ownership of the Trump Organization and related Trump business entities.
A failure by your office to investigate these reports and to take appropriate action will leave the Nation exposed to foreign governments directly and indirectly providing payments and financial benefits to President Trump when those foreign governments may be seeking to influence Executive Branch policies and positions. This is precisely the kind of problem that the Founding Fathers acted to prevent by including the Foreign Emoluments Clause in the Constitution.
----- 8 -----
Trump's actions raise fears about access to government data
The Associated Press
Updated 9:14 pm, Saturday, March 11, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — Wondering who is visiting the White House? The web-based search has gone dark. Curious about climate change? Some government sites have been softened or taken down. Worried about racial discrimination in housing? Laws have been introduced to bar federal mapping of such disparities.
Since taking office, the Trump administration has made a series of moves that have alarmed groups with a stake in public access to information — historians, librarians, journalists, climate scientists, internet activists, to name a few. Some are so concerned they have thrown themselves into "data rescue" sessions nationwide, where they spend their weekends downloading and archiving federal databases they fear could soon be taken down or obscured.
Previous presidential transitions have triggered fears about access to government data, but not on this scope.
"What is unprecedented is the scale of networking and connectivity of groups working on this, and the degree it is being driven by librarians and scientists and professors," said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks transparency in government.
----- 9 -----
Inside the GOP's Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA
By Emily Atkin | Newsweek
As many conservatives see it, environmental science is an enabler of dreaded government regulation. When enough studies show that there is no safe level of lead in water, then we have to regulate lead pollution. When scientists agree that mercury pollution can effect developmental health, then we have to regulate mercury. And when scientists agree that excessive carbon emissions threaten public health and welfare—well, you get the point.
An obvious solution, for those seeking to avoid such regulation, would be to prevent that science from seeing the light of day. That’s exactly what Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman from Texas, is trying to do. On Thursday, the House Science Committee passed two of Smith’s bills: The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act) and the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act. Combined, they would significantly change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to create rules that protect human health.
The HONEST Act is essentially a re-brand of Smith’s notorious Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would have required the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. The SAB Reform Act would change the makeup of the board that reviews the “quality and relevance” of the science that EPA uses: Scientists who receive EPA grants would be forbidden from serving, while allowing the appointment of industry-sponsored experts who have a direct interest in being regulated—so long as they disclose that interest.
In a press release, Smith said these bills would help promote “an open and honest scientific process” at the EPA. He says past regulations have been “based on hidden science” and that the SAB needs “a more balanced group of scientists to assist EPA in fulfilling its core mission.”
But several scientists, science advocates and former EPA officials told me this week that these bills are a solution in search of a problem. The bills, while couched in good intention, will add significant expense and delay to the scientific process, effectively preventing the EPA from using the best available science to protect the public from pollution. Worse, they said, the bills would embolden polluters and discourage good scientists from working in government.
“I’ve always had a hard time understanding why members of Congress like to tell scientists how to conduct their research,” said Democratic Representative Bill Foster, one of only two scientists in Congress. “Scientists should set the standards for research. Not politicians.”
----- 10 -----
Conservation group maps land protection strategy in 3 states
Keith Ridler, Associated Press
Updated 9:49 am, Sunday, March 12, 2017
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A conservation group has created maps identifying key landscapes in three Western states most likely to sustain native species amid climate change and is distributing money to protect private lands in those areas through use-limiting easements or outright purchases.
The Nature Conservancy says it has $6 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that it's now distributing among land trusts that must come up with five times the amount in matching funds for approved easements or acquisitions.
"We're protecting lands in the three states that are identified as being resilient," said Ken Popper, senior conservation planner with The Nature Conservancy. "In the short term, we're looking at wildlife movements and in the long term movements of habitats. Certainly, the species present will change in the future, and habitat could even shift from forestland to grassland."
The maps and associated information, called the Terrestrial Resilience and Regional Connectivity reports and maps, cover some 355,000 square miles in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and parts of Montana, Nevada, California and Utah.
----- 11 -----
It’s Still a Muslim Ban
David Cole | The New York Review of Books
March 11, 2017
When President Donald Trump directed his travel ban, the most aggressive executive order of his first week in office, at foreign nationals, he was following a well-trod path. It is always easier to sell a national security measure if it sacrifices the rights of others rather than those of citizens. But as I explained in an earlier post, the strategy failed. State attorney generals, university presidents, leading science associations, major technology companies, and former national security and foreign service officials all came out strongly against the order. Tens of thousands of Americans gathered at airports across the country to protest the order—even though it did not implicate their rights directly. And the courts immediately responded by blocking the order’s enforcement.
Now, Trump has issued a replacement executive order, one that his lawyers evidently felt would be easier to defend. Where the original order barred all immigration for ninety days from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the new one bars immigration from six of the original seven. Iraq was removed from the list, apparently after substantial behind-the-scenes pressure from government officials who were worried that we had jeopardized our relationship with Iraq, an important US ally. The new order does not bar lawful permanent residents and others from those six countries who have already been granted visas. It applies only to those seeking new visas. And where the initial order suspended refugee admissions from Syria indefinitely, and from all other countries for one hundred twenty days, the new order subjects Syrian refugees to the same suspension as everyone else.
Most importantly, the new order still shares the central defect of its predecessor: it is a “Muslim ban” in intent and effect. The strongest objection to the initial order was that it was designed to target Muslims, fulfilling Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge to keep Muslims out. Removing Iraq from the list still leaves six countries, all of whose populations are at least 90 percent Muslim. And all the evidence that pointed to the illegal intent underlying the first order applies with equal force to the second order. It consists of the many times Trump promised to ban Muslims during the campaign; the explanation from his advisor Rudy Giuliani that Trump asked him how he could put a Muslim ban into effect that would survive a legal challenge; and Trump’s own admission, the day the first order issued, that it was designed to prefer Christians over Muslims. These are smoking guns, admissions of illegal intent, because the Establishment Clause forbids the specific disfavoring of any specific denomination.
----- 12 -----
BBC reporter Benjamin Zand harassed, questioned about ancestry at US customs
@BenjaminZand on Twitter
11 Mar 2017
Flew to the US for the first time in a while yesterday, and what fun it was.
Was actually recognised by face by US customs officials walking through Frankfurt airport, and then questioned about my “Iranian roots”
[long thread, including]
Then he said they're told to stop people who look Arabic or Persian, or have an Arabic or Persian sounding name.
----- 13 -----
What Do Republicans Believe?
Where is the conservatism in the GOP's health care reform bill?
Noah Rothman / Mar. 7, 2017
Republican are furious, and they are directing their rage at their favorite target: other Republicans. Amid a furor over some typically savage presidential tweets, House Republicans revealed their long-awaited replacement for the Affordable Care Act. The reaction from knowledgeable wonks on the right has been… skeptical.
Avik Roy’s take on the bill—its few redeeming traits, and its myriad flaws—is indispensable. Pradheep Shanker’s vivisection is a must-read. His observation that the tradeoffs in the bill please no one and, thus, ensure that it has no core political constituency cannot be dismissed. Philip Klein has identified both the political pitfalls and the policy shortcomings, but he also touches on perhaps the most crucial failure of this philosophically unmoored bill. “Liberals,” he wrote, “have won the central philosophical argument, and Republicans are reduced to fighting over the mechanics.”
They do not, however, touch on the deeper explanation for why the American Health Care Act is failing to satisfy conservatives who had hoped to see Republicans advance a market-driven alternative to ObamaCare: The bill is the product of a messy divorce between conservatives and conservatism.
----- 14 -----
Donald Trump could be impeached on four grounds, former Labor Secretary says
'The fifth seems to be on its way'
Samuel Osborne | The Independent
Thursday 9 March 2017
There are now four grounds to impeach Donald Trump and a fifth is "on its way", according to former Labour Secretary Robert Reich.
Posting on Twitter, Mr Reich outlined the four reasons he thinks Mr Trump could be impeached.
He said Mr Trump is "'unfaithfully' executing his duties" by accusing former President Barack Obama of "undertaking an illegal (and impeachable) act."
Last weekend, Mr Trump accused Mr Obama of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower, though he provided no evidence for his claim.
A spokesman for Mr Obama denied he ever ordered the wiretapping of any US citizen.
Mr Reich also said although part of the constitution forbids government officials from taking things of value from foreign governments, "Trump is making big money off his Trump International Hotel by steering foreign diplomatic delegations to it, and will make a bundle off China's recent decision to grant his trademark applications for the Trump brand — decisions Chinese authorities arrived at directly because of decisions Trump has made as president."
China recently granted preliminary approval for dozens of Trump-branded businesses, including new hotels, spas, massage parlours and personal security services.
----- 15 -----
There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble
Groupthink produced a failure of the “wisdom of crowds” and an underestimate of Trump’s chances.
By Nate Silver
Published Mar. 10, 2017
Last summer, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in what bettors, financial markets and the London-based media regarded as a colossal upset. Reporters and pundits were quick to blame the polls for the unexpected result. But the polls had been fine, more or less: In the closing days of the Brexit campaign, they’d shown an almost-even race, and Leave’s narrow victory (by a margin just under 4 percentage points) was about as consistent with them as it was with anything else. The failure was not so much with the polls but with the people who were analyzing them.
The U.S. presidential election, as I’ve argued, was something of a similar case. No, the polls didn’t show a toss-up, as they had in Brexit. But the reporting was much more certain of Clinton’s chances than it should have been based on the polls. Much of The New York Times’s coverage, for instance, implied that Clinton’s odds were close to 100 percent. In an article on Oct. 17 — more than three weeks before Election Day — they portrayed the race as being effectively over, the only question being whether Clinton should seek a landslide or instead assist down-ballot Democrats:
This is not to say the election was a toss-up in mid-October, which was one of the high-water marks of the campaign for Clinton. But while a Trump win was unlikely, it should hardly have been unthinkable. And yet the Times, famous for its “to be sure” equivocations, wasn’t even contemplating the possibility of a Trump victory.
----- 16 -----
Undercover at a so-called gay conversion camp
10 March 2017
[cw: beatings, torture, other forms of child abuse]
[This is a preview video form a longer report on 20/20]
----- 17 -----
What the GOP health-care plan might mean for Washington state
By Bob Young | The Seattle Times
Originally published March 11, 2017
The early prognosis for the Republican health-care plan in Washington state is gloomy if not grim.
Unless state leaders come up with more than $1 billion a year in cuts or taxes, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians, mostly low-income workers, would likely lose the coverage they gained under Obamacare.
State and federal analysts are still modeling outcomes for the GOP bill unveiled last week, based on factors such as reduced federal support for the Medicaid expansion that gave 600,000 Washingtonians health insurance.
But doctors, hospitals, insurers and regulators here say impacts also could include more out-of-pocket expenses for seniors, longer waiting lines in emergency rooms, less access to contraceptives, rural hospital closures, and a roiled market for individual insurance, with a shrinking pool, rising premiums and fewer plans to choose from — putting the entire market at risk of collapse.
“It’s hard to find anyone happy with this bill except the people who wrote it,” said Dr. J. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Healthcare, which provides insurance in 12 states and has the largest Medicaid plan in Washington.
It’s important to note these are preliminary analyses of the bill. Players in the industry are awaiting the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast of the plan’s costs and cuts in coverage. Gov. Jay Inslee has directed state offices to come up with more details specific to Washington; those are expected in the coming week.
----- 18 -----
This climate lawsuit could change everything. No wonder the Trump administration doesn’t want it going to trial
The Washington Post
By Chelsea Harvey March 9, 2017
A groundbreaking climate lawsuit, brought against the federal government by 21 children, has been hailed by environmentalists as a bold new strategy to press for climate action in the United States. But the Trump administration, which has pledged to undo Barack Obama’s climate regulations, is doing its best to make sure the case doesn’t get far.
The Trump administration this week filed a motion to overturn a ruling by a federal judge back in November that cleared the lawsuit for trial — and filed a separate motion to delay trial preparation until that appeal is considered.
The lawsuit — the first of its kind — argues the federal government has violated the constitutional right of the 21 plaintiffs to a healthy climate system.
Environmental groups say the case — if it’s successful — could force even a reluctant government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take other measures to counter warming.
“It would be huge,” said Pat Gallagher, legal director at the Sierra Club, who is not involved in the case. “It would upend climate litigation, climate law, as we know it.”
----- 19 -----
Trump's budget director claims Obama was 'manipulating' jobs data
by Jill Disis | March 12, 2017: 3:32 PM ET
President Trump's budget director claims the Obama administration was "manipulating" jobs data.
Mick Mulvaney told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that he has long thought the previous administration framed data to make the unemployment rate "look smaller than it actually was."
"What you should really look at is the number of jobs created," Mulvaney said on "State of the Union." "We've thought for a long time, I did, that the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers, in terms of the number of people in the workforce, to make the unemployment rate -- that percentage rate -- look smaller than it actually was."
Trump repeatedly railed on the unemployment rate during Obama's time in office as a "hoax."
Trump once claimed that he had "heard" the rate could be as high as 42% -- even though at the time it was about 5%.
Economists debate the best way to calculate statistics. But there is no evidence that the Bureau of Labor Statistics fudges its unemployment data.
The BLS is the Department of Labor agency responsible for compiling a vast store of government data about jobs that is used by businesses, economists and investors to judge the health of the U.S. economy.
"During the four years I served as commissioner, the administration didn't try to manipulate the numbers at all," said Erica Groshen, who served as BLS commissioner from January 2013 to January 2017.
The agency has used the same method for calculating the unemployment rate since 1940.
----- 20 -----
After Pledging to Donate Salary, Trump Declines to Release Proof
Ari Melber, Diana Marinaccio
12 March 2017
President Donald Trump pledged to forego a presidential salary, but as his second payday approaches, the White House is declining to say if the president has donated any of his earnings yet.
During the campaign, Trump promised he would take "no salary" if elected — a pledge he reiterated after he won.
"I'm not going to the take the salary," he told "60 Minutes" in November.
The Constitution, however, requires that the president receive a salary, and that it not be reduced during his term. Federal law mandates the president receive a $400,000 annual salary, paid out once a month.
Trump aides have previously said Trump would donate his salary to the Treasury Department or a charity.