Wednesday’s Mini-Report, 8.2.17

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Perhaps the most significant bill signing of the year to date: “President Donald Trump signed a bill on Wednesday imposing new sanctions on Russia, putting to rest questions about whether he would support the legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week. Nonetheless, he still excoriated the measure as ‘significantly flawed.’”

* Affirmative action: “The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.”

* An important ruling: “President Donald Trump’s power to clamp off critical Obamacare subsidies took a hit after a federal court ruled that a group of states can join a legal battle over the payments.”

* EPA: “Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Southerland loved her work at the Environmental Protection Agency. Then Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt came along. Now Southerland, who was director of science and technology in the agency’s Office of Water, said she is ‘heartbroken about the impact of the new administration on environmental protection in this country.’ After 30 years at EPA, her last day was Monday.”

* On a related note: “The United States will waive environmental rules so extra barriers can be built to bar illegal immigrants from crossing the border with Mexico near San Diego, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday.”

* Seems significant: “A former U.S. Justice Department official has become the latest lawyer to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a spokesman for the team confirmed. Greg Andres started on Tuesday, becoming the 16th lawyer on the team, said Josh Stueve, a spokesman for the special counsel.”

* Federal prison system: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that he has named an Army general to be in charge of the U.S. federal prisons system. Gen. Mark Inch, who had served as a military policeman and recently as head of Army Corrections, was named the director of the Bureau of Prisons. Inch is ‘uniquely qualified’ to head up the federal prisons system, Sessions said.”

* This isn’t a persuasive argument: “The State Department said Wednesday that the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) provides sufficient legal grounds to shoot down Syrian government jets if they interfere with the fight against the Islamic State group.”

* OPM: “President Trump’s choice to head the Office of Personnel Management has withdrawn from consideration…. [George Nesterczuk], whose letter was earlier reported by GovExec, a news service for the federal workforce, had been sharply criticized by unions representing government employees.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.