January 9, 2017 Last Updated 9:12 am

Another Monday morning, another Tweet story, another controversy; FBI makes arrest in Volkswagen emissions scandal

Morning Brief: Like previous flaps, this one involves the reaction to outside criticism, rather than any original pronouncement, a sign that president-elect’s skin is dangerously thin

This author is not a big fan of award shows, or even awards. I recognize the very human desire to get attention and to be rewarded for one’s work, but I see too many companies taking advantage of this by creating new awards to be given out every week.

So, since I did not watch the Golden Globes last night I had no idea what the hell the president-elect was talking about early this morning when he tweeted this:

Quite a tweet storm… and quite a deflection.

The Los Angeles Times immediately responded with a story on the incident which originally had the headline Donald Trump couldn’t let Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech go unanswered. Now the story has been placed in a live blog situation under a different headline which recognizes that the real story may not be that Trump had words with an actress, but that once again he can’t admit to what he so obviously did over a year ago. It is, in other words, another incident of trying to shape the truth.

Los Angeles Times,

Trump denies again that he mocked reporter with disability

“I was never mocking anyone,” Trump told the Times. “I was calling into question a reporter who had gotten nervous because he had changed his story. … People keep saying I intended to mock the reporter’s disability, as if Meryl Streep and others could read my mind, and I did no such thing.”

At a campaign rally in 2015, Trump spoke disparagingly about the reporter, Serge Kovaleski, while waving his arms, widening his eyes and adopting a mocking tone.

“Poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said of Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, which affects his joint movements. The moment became the subject of attack ads by Hillary Clinton supporters.

It might be good to, rather than replay Hillary Clinton’s attack ad, go to the original report on the incident that occurred in November of 2015. Here is CNN’s original report:
 

 
What many forget is that Trump did his impression of the reporter because he was defending himself from a discredited claim that he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. It was a window into what we could expect when Trump is contradicted or criticized – he strikes back, often in such a way that it creates another, often bigger, controversy.

It means that he will be easy to set up, simply attack and wait for the response, making the response the news.



With the Streep-Trump brouhaha, this story might just slip by unnoticed.

It is interesting to think how the world might be different had the Obama administration made it a priority to go after bankers for the financial crisis, or those that ordered torture for their actions in Iraq. But they didn’t, and we now will be seeing many of the same actors in power soon.

So, this action, rather than the above tweets, were the real surprise to me this morning.

The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Hiroko Tabuchi:

F.B.I. Arrests Volkswagen Executive on Conspiracy Charges in Emissions Scandal

he Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Volkswagen executive who faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two people with knowledge of the arrest said on Sunday, marking an escalation of the criminal investigation into the automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal.

Oliver Schmidt, who led Volkswagen’s regulatory compliance office in the United States from 2014 to March 2015, was arrested on Saturday by investigators in Florida and is expected to be arraigned on Monday in Detroit, said the two people, a law enforcement official and someone familiar with the case…

…Starting in late 2014, Mr. Schmidt and other Volkswagen officials repeatedly cited false technical explanations for the high emissions levels, the state attorneys general said. In 2015, Mr. Schmidt acknowledged the existence of a so-called defeat device that allowed Volkswagen cars to cheat emissions tests.



Yesterday morning an acquaintance of mine was driven to the airport for a return flight to the Bay Area. In an odd twist, rather than worrying about the winter weather here in Chicago, the concern was the large storms hitting Northern California.

That a storm might topple a tree wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, be big news. But the tree that fell was one of the iconic, carved trees.

Los Angeles Times, Paige St. John and Matt Hamilton:

An iconic tunnel tree in a California state park is no more after huge storm

The toll from the powerful winter storm rolling through Northern California included one of Calaveras County’s oldest residents, a giant sequoia called the Pioneer Cabin.

The tree, named for the tunnel that had been carved into its broad base 137 years ago, was located in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park and toppled Sunday.

“We lost an old friend today,” wrote county resident Jim Allday, who posted a picture of the fallen titan on his Facebook page.

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