CSI DC: Forensics Becomes The Latest Battleground In Trump’s War On Science

[DIGEST: Washington Post (a, b, c), PBS, Justice.gov, Common Dreams, NY Times]

In U.S. history, it would be hard to find a presidential administration that displayed more contempt for science than the Trump administration has in just its first three months.


A few of the lowlights include:

  • President Trump's pick to head up the Environmental Protection Agency had sued the agency 13 times and denies the reality of human-caused climate change.
  • Trump proposed a devastating 19% cut to the National Institutes of Health, which funds cutting edge medical research at hospitals and universities around the world. 
  • As of a month ago, the administration had moved to fill just 1 of 46 science and technology roles in the government.
  • In filling the role of Energy Secretary, President Trump replaced a nuclear physicist with a former governor who supported eliminating the Energy Department altogether.

And more recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science when it expired on April 23rd. 

The commission is an independent panel of scientists, attorneys, and members of law enforcement who advise the justice department on the use of scientific evidence in the criminal justice process. It was created by the Obama administration in 2013 to help ensure the highest standards for the use of forensic evidence in criminal justice proceedings. 

The Justice Department's decision comes just days after the commissioners sent AG Sessions a letter urging him to renew the commission's charter. 

Attorney General's proposed alternatives to an independent commission include the appointment of "a Senior Forensic Advisor to interface with forensic science stakeholders and advise Department leadership."

In other words, not independent at all.

As U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York said: "It is unrealistic to expect that truly objective, scientifically sound standards for the use of forensic science...can be arrived at by entities centered solely within the Department of Justice."

Sessions has also suspended an expanded review of several evidence gathering techniques the FBI has relied on when offering expert testimony in criminal cases. The accuracy of these techniques had been called into question by Obama administration experts and a review had been ordered late last year.

In addition, the Obama administration initiated agreements between the civil rights division of the Justice Department and troubled police departments around the country to implement reforms to ensure the civil rights of citizens are protected. In January, the Obama DOJ came to an agreement with the Baltimore Police Department in response to the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured while in police custody in 2015. Jeff Sessions has already asked for a 90 day delay on implementation of this agreement and intends to review all of the others currently in effect.

@RiegerReport/Twitter

On Tuesday during a press gaggle, President Donald Trump responded to comments made by his Attorney General William Barr.

Barr told ABC News that Trump's incessant tweeting made his job harder.

Keep reading...
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images // George Frey/Getty Images

President Donald Trump awarded far-Right radio host Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom at his State of the Union address earlier this month.

Days later, Limbaugh made even more headlines when he scoffed at the idea that gay South Bend, Indiana Mayor and 2020 presidential contender Pete Buttigieg would kiss his husband on a debate stage next to "Mr. Man" Donald Trump.

Despite massive outcry against the homophobic remarks, Limbaugh has yet to apologize.

Now, we know why.

Keep reading...
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Stephen Miller, the white supremacist Trump administration official behind some of President Donald Trump's most insidious anti-immigration policies, was married at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. this past weekend.

While he and his new wife, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Waldman, enjoyed a day of blissful matrimony, others called attention to the numerous immigrants and refugees whose lives have been ruined by policies Stephen Miller helped build.

Among them? Miller's own uncle.

Keep reading...
Arte & Immagini srl/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images // Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Nearly 90 percent of the United States Congress is Christian, and every single President in U.S. history has been Christian, while Christians only make up 65 percent of Americans.

That's not enough representations for the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a Conservative Christian group dedicated to influencing America's politicians to favor Christianity over constituents.

Keep reading...
Mark Wilson/Getty Images // Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump and those who work for him routinely tout the United States' low unemployment numbers and economic prosperity as evidence that his term as President so far has been a success.

They'll frequently deploy some iteration of the phrase "lowest unemployment ever," while reminders that a consistent downward trend in unemployment began years ago—under former President Barack Obama.

Keep reading...
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump took the opportunity to hype his pet project—bollard fencing along the southern border—to a meeting of the National Border Patrol Council.

The NBPC—a union organization not part of the federal agency—is "the exclusive representative of approximately 18,000 Border Patrol Agents and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Border Patrol."

Keep reading...