It's Friday: that means it's panel time. We'll turn to them to get analysis on the important stories of this week!
Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump. The suspect is Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Fla. It was not clear whether the authorities were seeking other suspects, or if they believed Mr. Sayoc acted alone. The details surrounding this event are being fairly clearly hashed out. Sayoc has been charged in Manhattan with five federal crimes, including the interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, making threats against former presidents, threatening interstate communication and assaulting former and current federal officers. With that said, why is Sayoc not being charged with terrorism? Is US President Donald Trump an aberration, an outlier or the culmination of a history of anger and vitriol?
President Trump is considering a major speech on Tuesday to announce a broad crackdown on the southern border. He is expected to use the remarks to outline his plans to fortify the border, including executive actions he is considering to deny entry to Central American migrants and asylum-seekers, and the deployment of hundreds of United States Army troops to aid in the effort. It is being reported that he plans to invoke broad presidential powers to bar foreigners from entering the country for national security reasons — under the same section of immigration law that underpinned the travel ban — to block Central American migrants from crossing the southern border. Trump reportedly plans to put in place new rules that would disqualify migrants who cross the border in between ports of entry from claiming asylum. Exceptions would be made for people facing torture at home. According to American immigration law, people arriving at ports of entry on the United States border have the right to seek asylum, and, if they demonstrate a "credible fear" of returning home, to have their claims processed with the possibility of eventually being granted legal status to stay. Those who do not go to a checkpoint but are apprehended crossing the border without authorization can also make such a claim and must, under the law, be afforded a chance to have their cases heard.
CIA Director Gina Haspel, or "Bloody Gina," as she is affectionately known, briefed President Trump yesterday about her trip this week to Turkey, where she listened to audio purportedly capturing the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, as Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that its agents murdered the dissident Saudi journalist in what Saudi public prosecutors called a "premeditated" operation. That was another change in the Saudis' story. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his father, King Salman, have both repeatedly assured Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who traveled to Saudi Arabia last week, that they had no knowledge of a plot to kill Khashoggi. Trump initially described the Saudi explanation last Saturday as credible. But in recent days he has expressed doubt, calling it "the worst cover-up ever," although he has not directly pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership. Instead, Pompeo announced that visas held by the Saudis arrested in connection with the case were being revoked, and the White House on Monday dispatched Haspel to Turkey.
Megyn Kelly will not return to her 9 a.m. program on NBC, the network said today, as the beleaguered host remains in negotiations over a likely exit from the NBC airwaves. After her time at Fox News, where in 2013 she argued, "Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have- he's a historical figure; that's a verifiable fact. As is Santa. I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?," she then went to NBC and was confused this week about why wearing blackface at Halloween is no longer in vogue. "But what is racist? You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween… That was OK when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing as a character," Kelly said.
Molly Ball writes at TIME: "Michael Avenatti, the lawyer and possible presidential candidate, caused a stir with his contention that there's only one type of candidate who can beat President Trump. In an interview with TIME published Thursday, Avenatti said the Democrats' 2020 nominee 'better be a white male,' because society affords more credibility to white men than it does others." Here's another quote from the longer interview piece from Thursday, written by Ball and Alana Abramson: "A run for President would thrust Avenatti into the middle of the party's identity crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic number of women and people of color for the office. But when it comes to the party's presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. 'I think it better be a white male,' he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren't so, but it's undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it's why he's been successful representing [Stormy] Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. 'When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,' he says. 'Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.'" Does Avenatti's lingo in his statement sound as bigoted as the people he's accusing of being bigoted?
Shermichael Singleton — Political analyst.
Jon Jeter — Author and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist with more than 20 years of journalistic experience. He is a former Washington Post bureau chief and award-winning foreign correspondent.
Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. He has appeared on Russia Today, PressTV, TeleSur and CNN. He has reported from across the United States, as well as from Iran, the Gulf of Aden and Venezuela.
Colin Campbell — Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies at Howard University's School of Communication.
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