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Vox Sentences: Leaks, and the leaking leakers who leak them

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Sessions vows to crack down on leaks; Trump visits coal country; Brazil's president narrowly avoids a corruption trial.


“We are taking a stand”

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that his office will aggressively go after leaks to the media, tripling the number of leak investigations that the Obama administration conducted. [NYT / Charlie Savage and Eileen Sullivan]
  • In many ways, leaking is a problem of Trump’s own making. The Trump White House is famous for warring factions and infighting, and it’s been plagued by leaks from the beginning. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • That only appears to be getting worse; this week, the entire transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia got out. That’s never happened before. [Washington Post / Greg Miller, Julie Vitkovskaya, and Reuben Fischer-Baum]
  • Sessions revealed a two-pronged approach to deal with the problem: Crack down on leakers inside the government, and crack down on the journalists they’re leaking to. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • There could be another reason for the timing of this announcement — Sessions wants to repair relations with his boss. [New Yorker / Jelani Cobb]
  • Judging from Trump’s recent tweets calling Sessions “beleaguered” and “VERY weak,” the attorney general is in deep trouble with him over (what else) the Russia investigation. Trump has long called for a crackdown on leakers, which Sessions is now delivering. [HuffPost / Same Levine]
  • If Trump cracks down on leaks, it will be with a playbook from the Obama administration. Federal prosecutors under the Obama administration filed nine cases against leakers under the Espionage Act, three times the number filed by all previous presidents, combined. [Politico / Josh Gerstein]

Despite what Trump says, coal is still in trouble

Andrew Lichtenstein/Contributor/Getty Images
  • On Thursday night, President Trump held a rally in West Virginia coal country, the place that’s become synonymous with his election to the presidency. [The New Yorker / Larissa MacFarquhar]
  • Trump made the appearance during a week of very good economic news: The US posted strong jobs numbers on Friday morning, and despite the political turmoil coming out of the White House, the stock market had a record-setting week. [WSJ / Eric Morath]
  • As he’s done in the past, Trump promised rally attendees that under his administration, good-paying coal jobs will come back en masse. [Newsweek / Alexander Nazaryan]
  • But the overall outlook for coal jobs in West Virginia is bleak, and has been for a while. And there's probably not a lot Trump can do about it. [Vox / David Roberts]
  • That has some to do with environmental regulations (as Trump argues) but a ton to do with cheaper energy alternatives like natural gas taking coal’s place. In order to truly bring back the coal industry, the US would have to scrap natural gas, and that's probably not going to happen anytime soon. [Forbes / Jude Clemente]
  • Coal and other manufacturing jobs Trump has promised to bring back face another problem: Robots are replacing human workers in coal mines. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • So when you hear Trump say the US has added 45,000 coal jobs during his presidency, be skeptical. It’s more like 800. [PolitiFact / Louis Jacobson]

Brazil’s president is clinging to power by a thread

Ricardo Botelho/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images
  • Brazilian President Michel Temer barely escaped being put on trial for alleged corruption this week, when legislators narrowly spared him from being prosecuted. [NYT / Ernesto Londono]
  • Temer was facing potential bribery and corruption charges that he helped protect a major meatpacking executive, and video recently surfaced of a Temer associate receiving a suitcase full of cash that was allegedly part of a multimillion-dollar bribe. [The Washington Post / Marina Lopez]
  • Some news outlets described the reaction in Brazil to Temer’s close escape as a "collective shrug," but the fact remains that the center-right president is extremely unpopular; his approval rating is hovering at just 5 percent. [Associated Press / Peter Prengaman]
  • Brazilians have a lot of other things to worry about, too — most notably, that country’s economic crisis (which can be traced back to yet another political scandal). Brazil is still in the grip of a recession, and unemployment there is high. [CNN Money / Patrick Gillespie]
  • But Temer is not out of the woods yet. Even with this latest vote, the Brazilian attorney general has signaled he wants to charge the president next year on obstruction of justice charges. [The Atlantic / Yasmeen Serhan]
  • Even if Temer steps down, it’s unclear who would succeed him, because just about every prominent Brazilian politician is implicated in a corruption scandal. [BBC]

Miscellaneous

  • While people in the United States await the arrival of the solar eclipse in a couple of weeks, Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica get to enjoy another celestial spectacle: a lunar eclipse. [NYT / Nicholas St. Fleur]
  • London is experiencing an exodus, as people move to smaller — and more affordable — cities elsewhere in Britain. [The Guardian / Rachel Banning-Lover]
  • The prince of Denmark is very upset that he was never made king consort — so upset, he does not plan to be buried with his wife, thank you very much. [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • More young adults with developmental disabilities are heading to college with dreams of doing a job that matters to them, rather than menial work. They still face a lot of challenges reaching that goal. [NYT / Kyle Spencer]
  • Bogs aren’t much to look at, but as massive carbon sinks, they are hugely important tools to combat climate change. [Atlas Obscura / Sarah Laskow]

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