First they came for the Agriculture Department’s Instagram account, but we did not speak out because we follow the Interior Department.
On midnight Tuesday morning the U.S. government began shuttering its websites along with its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, apparently inciting American outrage.
“An absolute disgrace,” said user @johnjw8 in a comment for Interior’s Instagram feed. “So depressing!” added @whatjordiesees. “Especially on the date of Yosemite’s anniversary :’(“
A survey of which U.S. government agency websites would be going dark and which would stay in operation during the shutdown reveals a strange mishmash. The comprehensive list, which includes information about whether government sites are up or down, and what, if any, notice they are giving to their visitors, is well worth visiting.
Posting updates is more work than, say, simply ceasing to maintain an account. And the excellent Tom Lee over at the Sunlight Foundation notes that the government has stipulated sites must be shut down regardless of whether doing so is more expensive than keeping them online. From the relevant Q&A section of the Office of Management and Budget’s memo:
What if the cost of shutting down a website exceeds the cost of maintaining services?
The determination of which services continue during an appropriations lapse is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services.
The question then becomes, why is the government bothering? Perhaps posting sad messages on social media is an important government tool for rallying citizens. In which case, perhaps we’re simply doing the government’s PR work for it with this roundup of the saddest shutdown messages from government Instagram accounts.
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"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.
At an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA chief John Brennan said he saw information on Trump-Russia contacts that were worth a further look. "Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians do. They try to suborn individuals," Brennan said. "And they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, whether wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, and so therefore by the time I left office ... I had unresolved questions in my mind."
"President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year’s election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort. By Monday, a list of finalists for the legal team had emerged, according to four people briefed on the discussions."