Thursday, January 28, 2021

2015 Baltimore protests

On April 12, 2015, Baltimore Police Department officers arrested Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland. Gray's neck and spine were injured while he was in a police vehicle and he went into a coma. On April 18, there were protests in front of the Western district police station. Gray died on April 19. Further protests were organized after Gray's death became public knowledge, amid the police department's continuing inability to adequately or consistently explain the events following the arrest and the injuries. Spontaneous protests started after the funeral service, although several included violent elements. Civil unrest continued with at least twenty police officers injured, at least 250 people arrested, 285 to 350 businesses damaged, 150 vehicle fires, 60 structure fires, 27 drugstores looted, thousands of police and Maryland National Guard troops deployed, and with a state of emergency declared in the city limits of Baltimore. The state of emergency was lifted on May 6. The series of protests took place against a historical backdrop of racial and poverty issues in Baltimore. On May 1, 2015, Gray's death was ruled by the medical examiner to be a homicide. Six officers were charged with various offenses, including second-degree murder, in connection with Gray's death. Three officers were subsequently acquitted; in July 2016, following the acquittals, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against the remaining three officers. Events- April 12: Gray's arrest: On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., a 25-year-old African-American man, was arrested by the Baltimore City Police Department for possession of a “switchblade”, in the 1700 block of Presbury Street in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. Two weeks later, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby revealed that Gray had actually been carrying a legal pocketknife, not an illegal switchblade as alleged by police. Gray was seen to be in good health at the time of the arrest. While being transported in a police van, Gray sustained injuries to his neck, including his vocal box and spinal cord. He fell into a coma and was taken to a trauma center. The BCPD could not immediately account for the injuries and released contradictory and inconsistent information regarding the timeline of the arrest, transportation and whether Gray had received appropriately prompt medical treatment. On May 23, 2016, officer Edward Nero was found not guilty of all charges against him in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. Shortly after that, the remaining officers who had not yet stood trial had all charges against them dropped. April 18–24: Protests begin: On April 18, 2015, immediately outside the Western District police station, hundreds of Baltimore citizens protested against the apparent mistreatment of Freddie Gray as well against inadequate and inconsistent information on police actions during the arrest and transport. Gray died at approximately 7am on April 19, 2015. Later that day, in response to Gray's death, Baltimore City Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts said, "I extend my deepest sympathies to his family" while also saying, "All Lives Matter" in a nod to the "Black Lives Matter" mantra shouted at protests. Protests continued during six nights in Baltimore's streets. On April 21, 2015, the Baltimore City Police Department released the identities of the six officers involved in Gray's arrest. That evening, protesters marched from the site of Gray's arrest to the Western District police station. On April 23, two people were arrested. Tensions flared, but according to the Baltimore City Police Department, the remaining protesters that day were peaceful. On April 24, a coalition of organizations including the ACLU, the NAACP, CASA de Maryland, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle requested Governor Larry Hogan to act and address issues of police brutality. April 25: Violence escalates: On April 25, 2015, protests were organized in downtown Baltimore. Protesters marched from the Baltimore City Hall to the Inner Harbor. After the final stage of the official protest event, some people became violent, damaging at least five police vehicles and pelting police with rocks. Near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, some groups of violent protesters also smashed storefronts and fought with baseball fans arriving at the stadium for a scheduled game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. As a result of the violence, those attending the baseball game were forced to remain inside the stadium for their safety. At least 34 people were arrested during the riots, and six police officers were injured. J.M. Giordano, a photographer for Baltimore City Paper, was taking pictures of the protest when he was "swarmed" and beaten by two police officers in riot gear. Sait Serkan Gurbuz, a Reuters photographer with visible press credentials, who photographed the scuffle from a public sidewalk, was tackled, handcuffed and walked to the Western District station. He was cited for failure to obey and later released. Subsequently, City Paper published a video on its website documenting the violence. During a press conference, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, "most protesters were respectful but a small group of agitators intervened". She also stated that "It's a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate." The phrase "we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well" was interpreted by some conservative-leaning news sources as an indication that the mayor was giving permission to protesters to destroy property. Two days later, the mayor's Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, Howard Libit, released a statement clarifying the mayor's remarks: What she is saying within this statement was that there was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate. The police sought to balance the rights of the peaceful demonstrators against the need to step in against those who were seeking to create violence. The mayor is not saying that she asked police to give space to people who sought to create violence. Any suggestion otherwise would be a misinterpretation of her statement. April 27: Funeral: A funeral service was held for Freddie Gray at the New Shiloh Baptist Church on April 27 at 11 a.m., after a one-hour public viewing. A large attendance included civil rights leaders, families of other people killed by police, and politicians including Congressman Elijah Cummings, Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, White House adviser Heather Foster, and Elias Alcantara of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Gray is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Baltimore County, Maryland. Preemptive actions: A photograph of the April 25 rioters standing on a Baltimore police car was superimposed with the text "All HighSchools Monday @3 We Are Going To Purge From Mondawmin To The Ave, Back To Downtown #Fdl" ("Purge" being a reference to the film series) and distributed on social media and as flyers. In response, Mondawmin Mall was closed at 2:15 p.m. and police in riot gear were deployed to the area. In preparation for the 'purge' police shut down the Mondawmin metro stop and also blockaded many of the nearby streets. As a result, students from Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from Mondawmin Mall, had considerable difficulty leaving the area via public transportation when their classes ended an hour after the "purge" began, and contributed to the swelling crowd. According to eyewitness reports, expecting the "purge" to start at 3 p.m., Baltimore police pre-emptively de-boarded all buses going through the area, shut down the nearby Mondawmin Metro station and cordoned off the area around the mall. Eyewitnesses saw police detain students in that general area. The police, in full riot gear, detained the students for a full half-hour before the first brick was thrown. Meghann Harris, a teacher in the Baltimore school system, said on Facebook, "If I were a Douglass student that just got trapped in the middle of a minefield BY cops without any way to get home and completely in harm's way, I'd be ready to pop off, too." Other closings in preparation or response to the riot included the University of Maryland Baltimore, which closed its campus in downtown Baltimore at 2:00 p.m. citing a police warning regarding "activities (that) may be potentially violent and UMB could be in the path of any violence", Baltimore City Community College, Coppin State University, the Lexington Market, the National Aquarium, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library system. The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race was rescheduled from May 2 to June 14. A Baltimore Orioles baseball game against the Chicago White Sox scheduled for the evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the first of a three-game series, was also postponed due to the unrest. Spread of violence: Initially 75–100 people who appeared to be high school students began throwing bricks and bottles at police near Mondawmin Mall after police refused high school students access to their primary means of getting home (the transportation hub at Mondawmin Mall), while ordering them to disperse and go home. The violence rapidly spread, and by later that day two patrol cars were destroyed and fifteen officers were injured. A police cruiser was destroyed, and some officers suffered broken bones. A CVS Pharmacy location in West Baltimore was looted and burned by rioters; no one in the CVS was hurt because employees had been evacuated before the CVS was looted and burned, but a fire hose used later to put out the CVS fire was punctured by a rioter. In East Baltimore, the Mary Harvin Senior Center, an under-construction senior housing and services project, burned to the ground; it was rebuilt and opened in April 2016. April 28: Morning: At about 6:00 a.m., Baltimore television showed firefighters putting out fires and residents cleaning up after the overnight rioting. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard arrived in Baltimore to provide security to vital infrastructure and to give additional support to police. At about 7:35 a.m., the Baltimore mayor's office reported that there were 144 vehicle fires, 15 structural fires, and nearly 200 arrests. One person had been badly hurt due to an arson. At 8:25 a.m., it was announced that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was temporarily moving his office from Annapolis to Baltimore and that Hogan would visit scenes around Baltimore. At approximately 9:00 a.m., Hogan visited an intersection on West Baltimore that was heavily affected by the rioting with damaged vehicles and a looted convenience store, thanking those in the area for help cleaning up the streets. In one incident that went viral during the previous night, Baltimore mother, Toya Graham, repeatedly struck and berated her son on TV for throwing rocks at police. Graham stated that she didn't want her son to end up like Freddie Gray, but also that he shouldn't seek justice by rioting. At 11:15 a.m. on April 28, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts praised Graham, stating, "I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there." Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter also announced that Security Square Mall was going to be closed for the rest of the day following the spreading of rumors that planned actions were going to occur there. The Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also closed. Afternoon and evening: At 12:00 p.m. in the area where Freddie Gray was arrested, volunteers numbering in the hundreds were seen cleaning up debris left from the rioting. Police blocked off some of the area to assist with the cleanup while hardware stores in the neighborhood donated trash bags and brooms and city workers drove in trucks to carry away piles of trash and shattered glass. At 12:55 p.m., President Obama stated that there have been too many worrying interactions between police and black citizens, but said there was "no excuse" for the violence of rioters in Baltimore. At about 1:30 p.m., crowds gathered at a damaged drug store where Rev. Jesse Jackson was visiting, with Jackson stating, "It was painful because it destroyed a lot of neighborhood businesses and hurt a lot of people, but the violence is driven by that alienation." At a 2:30 p.m. speaking event by Capt. Eric Kowalczyk discussing incidents that occurred on April 27, demonstrators gathered peacefully, though one individual was arrested and pepper spray was used when some protesters became disorderly. At 3:00 p.m., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took back comments calling rioters "thugs", saying that occasionally, "my little anger interpreter gets the best of me." Baltimore religious leaders announced that 14 churches throughout the city were open to give food to children that relied on schools to provide daily meals. At 8:30 p.m., the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, Gregory Thornton, announced that Baltimore City Public School classes and after-school events would occur on April 29. Just before 9:00 p.m., several hundred protesters gathered around the CVS store that was looted, with some individuals separating the protesters and police, while a local pastor told demonstrators over a loud speaker to respect the curfew, saying, "Let's show the world, because the eyes of the world are on Baltimore right now." A police spokesman, Captain Eric Kowalczyk, stated that authorities were attempting to inform Baltimore residents of the 10:00 p.m. curfew in multiple ways, through police in patrol cars, sending messages through a police helicopter over the city and by calling residents through a Reverse 911 system. At 10:15 p.m., hundreds of demonstrators, some throwing bottles at police, remained in the streets while police in riot gear began to move the crowds with speakers from helicopters overhead broadcasting, "You must go home. You cannot remain here. You will be subject to arrest." Tensions began to grow after individuals began to throw objects at police. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., smoke bombs or fireworks were thrown from the crowd and police equipped with riot shields began to slowly advance on the gathering with some people beginning to disperse. At 10:32 p.m., Baltimore Police tweeted that "Officers are now deploying pepper balls at the aggressive crowd". They then tweeted at 10:34 p.m. "People who remain on the street – who do not meet the exceptions – are now in violation of the emergency curfew" with police moving across the intersection and the crowd dispersing down side streets away from the area. At 10:50 p.m., military vehicles were seen driving through the streets to disperse the remaining crowd numbered with dozens of people. At 11:00 p.m., the CVS intersection was clear except for police and media workers who were exempt from the curfew. At 11:40 p.m., Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts stated that the curfew seemed to work and that ten people were arrested; seven for violating the curfew, two people for looting and one for disorderly conduct. Between start of curfew and late night, thirty-five people, including one juvenile, had been arrested for violating the curfew. April 29 – May 3: After the riots, many small business owners struggled to clean up. Over 200 small businesses were unable to reopen by April 29. Residents of all ages, genders, and races came together to help clean Baltimore's streets. Eighteen were arrested for curfew violations on April 29. From April 29-May 3, 2015 FBI surveillance aircraft used FLIR cameras to record video of civil unrest. In August 2016, 18 hours of footage was released following a FOIA request from the American Civil Liberties Union. By April 30, over forty Korean American-owned businesses had been damaged by the riots. Chinese American and Arab American owned stores were also targeted, with looters directed by African American gangs towards those businesses. Forty people were arrested for such night violations on May 1. After the largest peaceful rally on Saturday, May 2, 2015, 46 people were arrested during the night time curfew. One person arrested on May 2 was News2Share journalist Ford Fischer. He was handcuffed and initially charged with violating curfew, despite the police confirming that he was credentialed media. After confirming the charge as "curfew violation" to another journalist, the police changed it to a civil citation for "Disorderly Conduct." As of May 21, he still faces that citation. This all came after the police department had confirmed that media are exempt from the curfew via Twitter. The night curfew on the city was lifted on May 3. Meanwhile, all charges against violators were dropped. It was found that in section 14-107 of the state's public safety code, only the governor and not the mayor has the authority to issue a curfew. It was decided that the arrests of violators were punishment enough. Those who committed violations of the law other than curfew violations have still been prosecuted. The Maryland National Guard withdrew completely from Baltimore on May 4. Result of investigation: Initially, the Baltimore Police Department suspended six officers with pay pending an investigation of Gray's death. The six officers involved in the arrest were identified as Lieutenant Brian Rice, Sergeant Alicia White, Officer William Porter, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Caesar Goodson. On April 24, 2015, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said, "We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times." Batts also acknowledged police did not follow procedure when they failed to buckle Gray in the van while he was being transported to the police station. The U.S. Department of Justice also opened an investigation into the case. Charges filed, acquittals, and charges dropped: On May 1, 2015, after receiving a medical examiner's report ruling Gray's death a homicide, state prosecutors said that they had probable cause to file criminal charges against the six officers involved. Mosby said that the Baltimore police had acted illegally and that "No crime had been committed by Freddie Gray". Mosby said that Gray "suffered a critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the BPD wagon." Mosby said officers had "failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray's arrest, as no crime had been committed", and charged officers with false imprisonment, because Gray was carrying a pocket knife of legal size, and not the switchblade police claimed he had possessed at the time of his arrest. All six officers were taken into custody and processed at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. The trial of Officer William G. Porter, a black officer and the first of the six charged officers to go to trial, ended in a mistrial. The Prosecution had intended to have Porter testify against both his supervisor on the day, Sgt. Alicia White, and the driver of the van, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. The trials ran into significant delays due to multiple motions being filed by both sides in the cases. On May 23, 2016, Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all four counts he was charged with, including two counts of misconduct in office, misdemeanor reckless endangerment, and misdemeanor assault in the second degree. In addition to Nero, two others officers were subsequently acquitted. In July 2016, following the acquittals, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against Porter and the remaining two officers. Related protests: On April 29, 2015, protesters marched through New York City, blocking off traffic in key areas, including the Holland Tunnel and West Side Highway. Carmen Perez, director of the criminal justice reform group Justice League, said, "It's all about solidarity, We're here to spread the message of peace from Baltimore's initial protests." More than 100 people were arrested, and the police did not allow the protest to take form before making arrests. Anti-police brutality protests were also held in Denver in solidarity with the Baltimore protests. Eleven people were arrested on April 29, 2015 following physical altercations in which police used pepper spray on protesters who rallied around Colfax Avenue and Broadway street. The confrontation occurred shortly after 7 p.m. when an officer was knocked off his motorcycle by a protester and assaulted by five others. Police reported force was used in response to the incident. By 7:40 p.m., Broadway street was cleared for traffic as protesters relocated to the 16th Street Mall. There were also solidarity protests in the cities of Ann Arbor, Albuquerque, Boston, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Oakland, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Reactions- Preventive actions- Government actions: At a press conference in the evening, the mayor announced there would be a citywide curfew of 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. starting April 28. The Baltimore solicitor's office stated that a limitation of the curfew to only certain neighborhoods could potentially be viewed as racial discrimination. Neighboring Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties cancelled school field trips and activities scheduled in Baltimore City until May 3. Officials also announced that Baltimore's city schools would be closed on Tuesday. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the Maryland National Guard. Major General Linda Singh of the Maryland National Guard commented that there would be a "massive number" of soldiers in Maryland on the night of April 27, and that up to 5,000 soldiers could be deployed. Maryland State Police activated 500 officers for duty in Baltimore, and requested an additional 5,000 state police officers from other states. Business owners in the city complained that the curfew required establishments with later hours to close their doors early, thereby costing them revenue from later hours customers and hurting their employees by forcing them to work fewer hours. Some businesses complained that the curfew cost them as much as $50,000. While those with night jobs were given an exemption to be allowed to travel to work, early closing hours continued to cost employees work hours. Despite criticism of curfew enforcement, Mayor Rawlings-Blake stood by the curfew, saying it was necessary to maintain control. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requested an independent civil rights investigation into the Freddie Gray case in hopes of calming the violence in Baltimore. Sports actions: The Baltimore Ravens had canceled their NFL Draft party in response to the riots. After consulting with Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles announced that their second game in a series against the Chicago White Sox would also be postponed, and that their game on April 29 would be played in the afternoon behind closed doors. This was believed to be the first behind closed doors game in Major League Baseball history (it is occasionally seen in soccer as punishment for spectator behavior). The attendance for the game was officially recorded as zero, thus breaking the previous record (of six, set in 1882) for the lowest attendance at a Major League Baseball game. The two cancelled games were made up as a doubleheader on May 28. The team also moved its May 1–3 series against the Tampa Bay Rays from Camden Yards to Tropicana Field, but still played as the home team (despite the Rays hosting it). Gang involvement: After Baltimore police determined there was a "credible threat" of gang violence against police officers across the country, many departments across the US heightened their security in response: for example the Los Angeles Police Department ordered their officers to ride in pairs. Baltimore police claimed evidence to support the idea that the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods, and the Crips were "teaming up" to target police officers. Later, however, leaders of both the Bloods and the Crips denied the allegations, released a video statement asking for calm and peaceful protest in the area, and joined with police and clergy to enforce the curfew. At one occasion, gang members helped to prevent a riot at the Security Square Mall by dispersing would-be rioters. On other occasions, rival gang members helped each other to protect black-owned businesses, black children, and reporters, diverting rioters to Korean-, Chinese-, and Arab-owned businesses instead. On yet another occasion, the Bloods, the Crips, and the Nation of Islam were seen taking a picture together and working together to dispel violence while peacefully demonstrating. Critical opinions: On April 28, President Barack Obama strongly condemned the violence during a White House press conference, saying, "There's no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. ... When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they're not protesting. They're not making a statement. They're stealing. When they burn down a building, they're committing arson. And they're destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities. That robs jobs and opportunity from people in that area." Obama went on to applaud the actions of peaceful protesters who he felt were being undermined by the violence, and called upon the nation to take meaningful action to collectively solve poverty and law enforcement issues fueling what he described as "a crisis". On social media and elsewhere, Mayor Rawlings-Blake and President Obama were criticized for calling the rioters "thugs" on April 28. When asked about the postponement of the Baltimore Orioles game, the Orioles' chief operating officer, John P. Angelos, said: My greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy ... is focused neither upon one night's property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships ... plunged tens of millions of good hard working Americans into economic devastation and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American's civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state. The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids' game played tonight, or ever.... Online reaction: The protests were originally covered on social media with the hashtag #BaltimoreRiots. However, by April 28, the more popular hashtag to cover the protests became #BaltimoreUprising. The change may have occurred in response to a decline in violent actions, or may have been the promotion of a new political narrative by social media users. Dr. Denise Meringolo, an Associate Professor and public historian at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Joe Tropea, Curator of Films & Photographs at the Maryland Historical Society, co-founded the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising digital archive to capture images and oral histories related to the protests directly from the local community. Increase in violence and decrease in policing: Baltimore recorded 43 homicides in the month of May, the second deadliest month on record and the worst since December 1971 when 44 homicides were recorded. There have also been more than 100 non-fatal shootings in May 2015. Police commissioner Anthony Batts blames looted drugs, stolen from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics, as well as street distribution and turf wars for the spike in crime. The increase in shootings has occurred along with a 50% decline in arrests since the charging of six officers in Gray's death in custody. The heavy police presence in crime-ridden neighborhoods is no longer apparent with one resident stating, "Before it was over-policing. Now there's no police." One officer speaking anonymously stated, "After the protests, it seems like the citizens would appreciate a lack of police presence, and that's exactly what they're getting." Batts stated that his officers are "not holding back" despite encountering hostility in the Western District whenever they make an arrest with "30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time;" he also stated that his officers feel "confused and unsupported" in the wake of the charges. The president of the police union said his members are "afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly." According to media reports, looting at 27 drugstores and two methadone clinics resulted in an increase in black market access to opiates.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

2018–2019 United States federal government shutdown

The United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019 occurred from midnight EST on December 22, 2018, until January 25, 2019 (35 days). It was the longest U.S. government shutdown in history and the second federal government shutdown involving furloughs during the presidency of Donald Trump. It occurred when the 115th United States Congress and President Donald Trump could not agree on an appropriations bill to fund the operations of the federal government for the 2019 fiscal year, or a temporary continuing resolution that would extend the deadline for passing a bill. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal departments or agencies from conducting non-essential operations without appropriations legislation in place. As a result, nine executive departments with around 800,000 employees had to shut down partially or in full, affecting about one-fourth of government activities and causing employees to be furloughed or required to work without being paid. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the shutdown cost the American economy at least $11 billion, excluding indirect costs that were difficult to quantify. The shutdown stemmed from an impasse over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall. In December 2018, the Senate unanimously passed an appropriations bill without wall funding, and the bill appeared likely to be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Trump. After Trump faced heavy criticism from some right-wing media outlets and pundits for appearing to back down on his campaign promise to "build the wall", he announced that he would not sign any appropriations bill that did not fund its construction. As a result, the House passed a stopgap bill with funding for the wall, but it was blocked in the Senate by the threat of a Democratic filibuster. In January 2019, representatives elected in the November 2018 election took office, giving the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives. The House immediately voted to approve the appropriations bill that had previously passed the Senate unanimously (which included no funding for the wall). For several weeks, Trump continued to maintain that he would veto any bill that did not fund an entire border wall, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the Senate from considering any appropriations legislation that Trump would not support, including the bill that had previously passed. Democrats and some Republicans opposed the shutdown and passed multiple bills to reopen the government, arguing that the government shutdown amounted to "hostage-taking" civil servants and that negotiations could only begin once the government was reopened. On January 25, 2019, Trump agreed to endorse a stopgap bill to reopen the government for three weeks up until February 15 to allow for negotiations to take place to approve an appropriations bill that both parties could agree on. However, Trump reiterated his demand for the border wall funding and said that he would shut down the government again or declare a national emergency and use military funding to build the wall if Congress did not appropriate the funds by February 15. Trump's approval rating decreased during the shutdown. A majority of Americans opposed exploitation of the shutdown as a negotiating strategy and held Trump responsible for the shutdown: A CBS News poll found that 71% of Americans considered the border wall "not worth the shutdown" and a The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53% of Americans blamed Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, compared to 34% who blamed Democrats and 10% who blamed both parties. On February 15, 2019, Trump declared a national emergency in order to bypass the United States Congress, after being unsatisfied with a bipartisan border bill that had passed the House of Representatives and the Senate a day before. Background: During his 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump promised to build a wall along the Mexico–United States border for which Mexico would pay. The president of Mexico rejected the idea of providing any funding for a U.S. border wall. In 2018, Trump requested $18 billion in federal funding for some 700 miles (1,100 km) of barrier on the border, mostly to replace 654 miles (1,053 km) of aging fence built under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. On December 25, 2018, Trump reversed course, suggesting that he might accept 500 to 550 miles (800 to 890 km) of either mostly refurbished barrier (rather than new barriers in locations that did not previously have them) by November 2020. Trump's proposals and public statements on the wall have shifted widely over time, with varied proposals as to the design, material, length, height, and width of a wall. In September 2018, Congress passed two "minibus" appropriations bills for the 2019 United States federal budget, which began on October 1, 2018. These bills combined five of the 12 regular appropriations bills covering 77% of federal discretionary funding, and included a continuing resolution until December 7 for the remaining agencies. On December 6, Congress passed a second continuing resolution to December 21, to give more time for negotiations on Trump's proposed border wall, which had been delayed due to the funeral of George H. W. Bush. A Senate Homeland Security appropriations bill, negotiated by both parties and reported by the committee to the Senate, provided for $1.6 billion for border security, including funds for "approximately 65 miles of pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector". The bill did not receive a vote on the Senate floor, although House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer indicated that such a proposal could be acceptable to House Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Democratic Party would not support $5.8 billion for the border wall. At a press conference before the government shutdown, he noted "the $1.6 billion for border security negotiated by Democrats and Republicans is our position. We believe that is the right way to go." Beginning of shutdown: On December 11, President Trump held a televised meeting with Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office and asked them to support an appropriation of $5.7 billion for funding of a border wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. They refused, resulting in an argument between Trump and both Congressional leaders. During the contentious discussion, Trump remarked, "I am proud to shut down the government for border security ... I will be the one to shut the government down. I'm not going to blame you for it ... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down." Schumer replied, "We shouldn't shut down the government over a dispute." Ten days later, Trump blamed Democrats for the impending shutdown. Three days later, Politico reported that Trump was willing to sign a bill with no funding for a border wall that delayed a government shutdown into 2019 and the new Congress. On December 18, following a meeting with Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the government would not shut down on December 22 and that Trump was "flexible" over funding for a border wall. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby commented that the most likely resolution was a bill that funded the government until early February. Schumer added that his caucus would "very seriously" consider such a bill and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said "I don't know anybody on the Hill that wants a shutdown, and I think all the president's advisers are telling him this would not be good." On December 19, the Senate passed a second continuing resolution (H.R. 695) that would fund the government until February 8, 2019. Pelosi announced that House Democrats would support the measure, meaning it would overcome opposition from conservative Republicans and pass the House. On December 20, following increased criticism from conservative media, pundits, and political figures, Trump reversed his position and declared that he would not sign any funding bill that did not include border wall funding. The same day, the House passed a continuing resolution that included $5 billion for the wall and $8 billion in disaster aid. This bill failed in the Senate. Trump's changing position caused consternation among Senate Republicans. Shutdown: The shutdown started December 22 and Trump announced that he would cancel his planned trip to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas and stay in Washington, D.C. The meaning of the term "wall" was expected to be an aspect of the negotiations. Legislation- 115th Congress: Congress adjourned on December 22 for the Christmas and holiday season, with many predicting that the shutdown would not be resolved until the start of the 116th Congress. The Senate reconvened on December 27 for four minutes, with Republican Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) presiding over the session. The House briefly reconvened as well, with Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) saying that members should not expect any further votes for the rest of 2018. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) went to the House floor to try to force consideration of a short-term funding bill to end the shutdown that the Senate had already passed, but the Republican Speaker-pro-tem refused to let him speak. Congress then adjourned again until December 31, 2018, for a pro forma session. On January 2, 2019, the last full day of the 115th United States Congress, there was a pro forma session scheduled to last several minutes. 116th Congress- House: The new Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2019, and one of the first orders of business in the House after electing the Speaker and swearing in the new members was a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security until February 8 (H.J.Res. 1), which passed by a vote of 239–192; and a package combining five appropriation bills funding the rest of the government for the remainder of the fiscal year (H.R. 21), passed by a vote of 241–190. The bills contained $1.3 billion of funding for border security, but no additional funding for a border wall. Beginning on January 9, the Democratic-controlled House voted on four appropriations bills individually: -Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 264) – bill to restore appropriations to the Treasury (including the Internal Revenue Service), federal judiciary, District of Columbia, and a number of independent agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, General Services Administration, and Securities and Exchange Commission. The House passed the legislation on January 9, on a 240–188 vote, with every Democrat and eight Republicans voting yes, and all other Republicans voting no. -Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 265) – bill to restore appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (including food stamps), the Food and Drug Administration, and related entities. On January 10, the House passed this bill 243–183. -Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 267) – bill to restore Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (including some federal mortgage programs). On January 10, the House passed this bill 244–180. Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 266) – bill to restore appropriations to the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies, including the Smithsonian Institution. On January 11, ten House Republicans voted with Democrats in a 240–179 vote to end the shutdown of Interior-Environment programs. It was the most recent of a "series of standalone appropriations measures" the House sent to the Senate. This strategy has been compared to one used by Republicans during the 2013 shutdown in the form of a series of fourteen mini-continuing resolutions. Senate: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that the Senate would not consider the House bills to reopen the government, indicating that Senate Republicans would not support any bill unless it had Trump's support. In January 2019, McConnell and Senate Republicans came under increased pressure to break the impasse and reopen the government. Three Republican Senators—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Cory Gardner of Colorado—called for an end to the shutdown. Senators Collins and Gardner said they supported the House's budget bills to end the shutdown. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito said that she could support ending the shutdown provided border wall talks continued. Pat Roberts of Kansas said that shutdowns "never work" and only turned affected federal workers into "pawns" and that, although the time had not yet come for Senate Republicans to override any possible Trump veto and end the shutdown, "we're getting pretty close." Johnny Isakson of Georgia echoed that sentiment, saying that support for McConnell's refusal to support bills that do not include funding for a wall would not last indefinitely: "There's a time when that may run out." On January 16, McConnell again blocked the House appropriation bills to reopen the government from being considered on the Senate floor. The following day, McConnell blocked consideration of bills to reopen most of the closed government agencies for a third time. On January 23, McConnell blocked a bill to reopen most of the government for the fourth time. On January 22, McConnell stated that the Senate would be voting on two different bills to end the shutdown on January 24. The first vote is on a bill to reopen the government which includes Trump's proposal to provide $5.7 billion for a border wall and temporary protections to some immigration classes. The other bill is a three-week continuing resolution to fund 25% of the government through February 8. On January 22, Senator Mark Warner introduced a bill to keep the federal government running in the event of future shutdown events. The bill is called the "Stop Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years Act" or the "Stop STUPIDITY Act". Late January legislative votes: On January 24, the Senate held two votes on competing Democratic and Republican proposals to end the shutdown. The Democratic proposal was largely similar to the measure that had previously passed the Senate unanimously in the 115th Congress, and then been passed by the Democratic-controlled House in the 116th Congress. It provided funding for the government with no money for the border wall. The Republican proposal incorporated Trump's proposal, which would fund a border wall; temporarily extend TPS and DACA for three years, but would substantially narrow eligibility for DACA; and make significant legal changes to make it more difficult for persons escaping violence and persecution to be granted asylum in the United States. Neither proposal was able to attain the 60 votes needed for passage. The Trump plan failed in a 50–47 vote. The Democratic plan failed in a 52–44 vote. Most Republicans voted for Trump's plan and against the Democratic plan. Most Democrats voted for the Democratic plan and against Trump's plan. Republicans Tom Cotton and Mike Lee voted against both plans. Democrat Joe Manchin and Republicans Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Johnny Isakson, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney voted for both plans. Not voting on either were Republicans Rand Paul and Jim Risch and Democrat Jacky Rosen. Republican Richard Burr voted for Trump's plan and did not vote on the Democratic plan. On January 25, House Democrats prepared a compromise proposal to reopen the government, which would provide $5 billion for border security but no wall construction. However, the shutdown ended the same day. Negotiations: On January 4, after the new Congress was sworn-in and Pelosi regained the speakership, she and Schumer, as well as congressional Republican leadership met with Trump at the White House. Pelosi and Schumer argued that the shutdown needed to end and reported that Trump refused. They said that Trump threatened to "keep the government closed for a very long period of time. Months or even years." Later that day, Trump admitted to "absolutely" making that threat, adding, "I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing." Trump then said that he was considering declaring a national emergency to use military funding for the wall. At the meeting, Trump reprimanded his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for attempting to propose a compromise between Trump's $5.7 billion demand for a border wall and the Democrats' proposal of $1.3 billion for border security. Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. EST on January 8, in a nationally televised address broadcast on both network and cable television. In his speech, Trump asserted that there was a "growing humanitarian and security crisis" on the Mexico–United States border that could only be solved by appropriating $5.7 billion for construction of a steel wall. Trump did not make any new proposals in his speech to break the impasse. Immediately after Trump's speech, Schumer and Pelosi delivered a response on behalf of the Democrats, in which they demanded an end to the shutdown and said: "President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government." January 9 meeting: Trump met with congressional leadership again on January 9, in a meeting lasting 14 minutes. Trump asked Pelosi, "Will you agree to my wall?" and when she replied that she would not, Trump said "bye-bye" and walked out of the meeting, later declaring it "a total waste of time". Schumer accused Trump of throwing a "temper tantrum" and slamming his hands on the table. Trump rebuked Schumer's comments on Twitter. Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Trump remained calm and never raised his voice. On January 10, Pelosi described the preceding day's meeting with Trump as "a setup" staged by White House aides so that Trump could walk out of the meeting. Pelosi described Trump as "un-presidential"; accused him of "exploiting this situation in a way that enhances his power"; and said: "I don't think he really wants a solution. I think he loves the distraction." After Trump walked out of the January 9 meeting with congressional Democratic leaders, no further negotiations were conducted. Several Republican senators met in the office of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, after the meeting to discuss a compromise to end the shutdown. They discussed agreeing to Trump's demand for border wall funding and offering the Democrats help for Dreamers, refugee protections and extensions to H-2B visas. On January 13, Graham proposed that Trump agree to a congressional vote to reopen the government pending the resumption of negotiations. Graham suggested that if Trump and congressional Democrats did not come to an agreement at that time, Trump could declare a national emergency. Trump rejected this proposal the next day. Trump's proposal: On January 19, Trump proposed a temporary extension of the two programs that protect about 700,000 immigrants from deportation—Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—in exchange for funding for the border wall. The protections would be temporary, with no path to citizenship. Trump had previously revoked TPS for people from a number of Latin American and African countries, and taken steps to rescind DACA. In his remarks at the White House, Trump referred to a "barrier" rather than a "wall" and indicated that he aimed to erect "steel barriers in high priority locations" rather than "a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea." In addition to funding a border wall, the 1,300-page Republican bill released after Trump made his proposal would make major changes to U.S. immigration policy (which were not included in Trump's public announcement). The legislation would severely restrict the ability of children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to apply for asylum in the United States. Specifically, participation in the Central American Minors Program would be subject to an annual cap and migrant children would be barred from applying for asylum in person at the border, and only migrant children with a "qualified" parent in the U.S. would be eligible to apply. The bill would also create a new, more burdensome application process for TPS holders, and would exclude TPS holders from Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. The American Immigration Lawyers Association government relations director said that the proposal "would categorically block tens of thousands of children from ever applying for asylum," while a Cato Institute immigration analyst wrote that the proposal would not extend DACA, but rather replace it with "a totally different program that will exclude untold thousands of Dreamers who would have been eligible under DACA. Democrats rejected Trump's proposal: In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: "The president's proposal is one-sided, harshly partisan and was made in bad faith. The asylum changes are a poison pill, if there ever was one." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said extending the DACA proposal temporarily was "unacceptable" and a "non-starter" because it did not "represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives." Analysts pointed out that Trump had previously rejected a deal that would have provided funding for the border wall in exchange for further protection for DACA recipients. Conversely, Republicans reacted positively to Trump's proposal, and Mitch McConnell said he would bring it to a vote in the Senate. Related disputes- Trump's threat to declare national emergency: During the shutdown, on January 8 in a press conference, a reporter asked Trump if he was considering declaring a national emergency, to which Trump replied, "I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want" and suggested that he could declare an emergency. After this, Trump repeatedly threatened to declare a national emergency to unilaterally order wall construction without congressional authorization. Some of Trump's advisors, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, reportedly attempted to dissuade him from doing so. Administration officials considered diverting hurricane-relief and wildfire-relief funds from a $13.9 billion February 2018 emergency supplemental appropriations bill (for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California, among other places) in order to fund a wall, and directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look into this possibility. An attempt by Trump to invoke emergency powers would almost certainly have prompted a lengthy legal challenge in court. Democrats responded that Trump lacked the authority to declare a national emergency; Representative Adam Schiff called it a "non-starter" and said that "if Harry Truman couldn't nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this President doesn't have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion dollar wall on the border." Democratic Representative Nydia Velázquez said the notion of redirecting disaster-relief funds to a border wall was "beyond appalling". Presidents have declared emergencies in the past, but none has "involved funding a policy goal after failing to win congressional approval". Yale Law School professor Bruce Ackerman wrote that the declaration of a national emergency to build a wall as Trump suggested would be unconstitutional and illegal. Other scholars, such as Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice, believed that Trump could make a colorable argument that diverting military-construction appropriations for border-wall construction was legal, but that doing so would be an abuse of power. Law professor Ilya Somin stated that in the unlikely case that Trump succeeded in using the emergency powers in this way, it would set a dangerous precedent, which Republicans would come to regret next time the president was a Democrat. On January 11, Trump—while maintaining he has the authority to do so anytime—said he was not in any rush to declare a national emergency to secure wall funding, saying he would rather see Congress "do its job" and that the Democrats "should come back and vote." The next day he again threatened to use emergency powers if Democrats did not "come to their senses." State of the Union Address: On January 16, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump that indicated the House would be unavailable for the 2019 State of the Union Address that was scheduled for January 29. Pelosi wrote, "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29." The delivery of the State of the Union address had been delayed or substantially changed on only two occasions since 1913. In a letter sent to the Speaker the next day, Trump said she would not be allowed to take military transport aircraft on scheduled visits to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan. Trump replied, "We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over." Pelosi and a congressional delegation had planned on visiting overseas American military personnel. On January 23, Trump sent a letter to Pelosi insisting that there were no security concerns and that he would hold the State of the Union Address as scheduled. Trump wrote, "Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of our Union." In a letter sent in reply, Pelosi stated that the House would not consider a concurrent resolution to authorize the State of the Union Address in the House Chamber until the shutdown ended, writing, "Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened." Trump later stated he would look for an alternative, but then retracted that statement in a pair of tweets announcing that he would wait until the end of the shutdown to give the address in the House Chamber. Resolution: On January 25, Trump announced his support for a three-week funding measure that would reopen the government until February 15. The deal, which also moved forward with long-term Department of Homeland Security funding, did not include funds for a wall. As expected, the agreement provided federal employees with back pay. Both the Senate and House of Representatives passed the funding measure by voice vote, sending the resolution to the President's desk. Trump signed the bill the same day, ending the shutdown. Later in January, Republican senators voted unanimously against a bill to provide back pay to federal contractors. Aftermath: As of February 11, four days remained in the countdown to fully fund the Federal government. Short of agreement between House and Senate by February 15, the shutdown would then begin anew. A bipartisan group reached an agreement "in principle" on February 11 but Trump did not say whether he would sign it. Included was $1.375 billion for 55 miles of steel border fencing. Both houses passed the bill February 14 with enough votes to override a veto if that happened. On February 13, it was reported that, against the wishes of Democratic leaders and many Republicans, Trump was blocking the provision of back pay to federal contractors who were still out of pocket from the shutdown. On February 15, at the White House Rose Garden, Donald Trump announced that he had signed the spending bill to keep the government open. He also declared a national emergency, hoping to get access to $8 billion to use for border security. Effects: Agencies funded by two "minibus" appropriations bills passed in September 2018 were not affected by the shutdown. About 380,000 federal employees were furloughed, and an additional 420,000 employees for the affected agencies were expected to work with their pay delayed until the end of the shutdown, totaling 800,000 workers affected out of 2.1 million civilian non-postal federal employees. As only about a quarter of the government was shut down, many people who are not federal employees did not fully realize the effects of the shutdown. On federal employees: Jobs affected included staff throughout the United States, not just DC area employees. FBI agents, federal corrections officers, FDA inspectors, NASA employees, TSA staff, Border Patrol staff and CBP officers, census staff, National Park Service staff, members of the Coast Guard, and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers either worked without pay or were furloughed, with increasing numbers of unpaid essential employees failing to show up for work. On January 11, 800,000 workers for agencies shutdown or furloughed missed their first paycheck. Federal workers normally receive pay on federal holidays, which include Christmas, New Year's Day and potentially Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The shutdown affected the employees' entitlement to paid holidays due to the shutdown. Unemployment assistance to federal workers furloughed under the government shutdown varied by locality. Only non-reporting workers were eligible for assistance, whereas furloughed workers who still reported to work were not. Workers who received unemployment assistance were required pay it back after the shut down ended and they received backpay. Some furloughed workers sought other employment opportunities while they were idled. However, external employment must meet agency-specific ethics guidelines, and mandatory reviews of external employment were also curtailed as most ethics officials were also furloughed. Federal employees were not able to use vacation or sick leave during the shutdown so scheduled holiday vacation time either became unpaid if the worker was deemed non-essential or was cancelled if the worker was deemed essential. In many cases unused leave over a certain threshold expired at year-end, but employees who had leave scheduled in advance of the shutdown did not have "use or lose" leave balances deducted from their accrued leave. Many furloughed employees took to crowd-funding campaigns to raise cash to replace missed paychecks, but these types of solicitations also run afoul of government ethics rules. As furloughed federal workers and their families shared stories of their hardships, such as not being able to meet rent or mortgage payments and missed bills, the hashtag "#ShutdownStories" went viral on social media. The federal government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM) responded by publishing sample letters that employees could send to their creditors. One read, in part, "I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses." Other federal workers reached out to other news outlets to share stories about having to stretch their budgets and the impact of the shutdown on their families. In addition to being unable to meet rent or pay bills, many federal workers around the country were unable to pay for groceries and turned to food banks. One federal prison guard in Louisiana attempted suicide after posting about the financial pressures of the shutdown on Facebook. The OPM also suggested that employees who had landlords write: "I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments" and suggested those who lacked funds to pay bills should hire personal attorneys to assist them. Other organizations also posted advice on how to "find supplemental income"; the Coast Guard suggested that Coast Guard members "have a garage sale, offer to watch children, walk pets or house sit" while furloughed. On January 4, The Washington Post reported that because the shutdown was triggered by the failure to enact spending bills that continued a federal government pay freeze, hundreds of senior Trump administration political appointees would receive a roughly $10,000 pay raise the following day. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the pending pay raise was an "unnecessary byproduct of the shutdown." On January 10, the Senate approved by unanimous consent a bill (S.24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019) providing that furloughed federal employees would receive back pay for the period of the furlough once appropriations were restored; the bill was approved the next day by the House on a vote of 411–7. Trump signed the bill into law on January 16. On Native Americans: Native American tribes were not paid for treaties negotiated with the United States government. These treaties specified that the federal government must provide funding for health clinics, employee salaries, education, infrastructure and other services, which were not paid during the shutdown. Native lands are "owned, managed and maintained by the federal government." Native Americans who receive a per capita check for profits from oil and gas sales from tribal land did not receive check for the month of February. Roads were not plowed on tribal land, and some areas received significant snowfall. This caused people of the Navajo Nation to become trapped inside their homes. Food services, which fed 90,000 Native Americans in 2017, were halted. Native American communities had a high percentage of individuals who worked for the federal government and lost income during the shutdown. In North and South Dakota, one of the largest employers is the Indian Health Service. The Chippewa tribe reported an economic loss of nearly $100,000 daily in funds that the federal government was supposed to provide as a treaty obligation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was closed for the shutdown. However, 60 percent of the Indian Health Service (IHS) continued to work without pay. IHS provides care for 2.2 million Native Americans and on January 23, began to deny care that was not considered "life threatening." The Bureau of Indian Education was able to stay open because it was funded on a different schedule. Unlike other government shutdowns, there was little outreach from the Trump Administration to Native Americans and the Chippewa tribe in Michigan was given a 24-hour notice that the shutdown would take place and affect the tribe. On the military: The only military branch that was affected by the shutdown was the Coast Guard because it was part of the Department of Homeland Security, while the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps were all funded through the Department of Defense. Officials were able to fund payment on December 31, 2018, but were not able to do so for the paychecks of January 15 and 30, 2019, along with the pay and benefits for civilian workers and retirees. During the shutdown, the Coast Guard continued to engage in patrolling the American coastline and carrying out overseas missions in locations such as the Persian Gulf along with the Navy and in the Caribbean. Other issues arose in the payment processes for Coast Guard members Tricare Health and Dental Program payments, although the individuals were still covered. Military schools, such as the Coast Guard Academy and the National War College, lost funding due to the shutdown and the schools had to work to find funds to pay professors. Although the Department of Defense was not shut down, the February 4, 2019, date for release of the Pentagon's 2020 budget was delayed by at least one month. This had repercussions on the interim period which is usually used by Pentagon planners for adjustments before the 2020 fiscal year which will begin in October 2019. The White House Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the Pentagon request, was shut down when the Pentagon budget arrived in December, and remained inactive, so no work was done on the budget. On February 25, 2019, the Pentagon's counter-drug (interdiction) funding has up to $85 million not yet obligated, but that money was planned for the known corridors in El Paso, Tucson, Yuma, and El Centro for border fencing, lighting, and road projects, so any funds which might possibly be intended for additional projects elsewhere along the border must be obligated by September 30, 2019, in order not to affect the known corridors. Otherwise appropriations above the $85 million not yet obligated for additional interdiction border projects will have to be approved by additional Congressional appropriations, to reach the $2 billion target. Economic impact: A January 28, 2019 Congressional Budget Office report estimated that the 35-day partial government shutdown cost the American economy at least $11 billion, including $3 billion in permanent losses; the CBO estimate excluded indirect costs that were difficult to quantify. The furloughing of 145,000 federal workers and 112,500 federal contractors in the Washington Metropolitan Area cost the regional economy $119 million each day, or 7.3% of the region's total output. That reduced GDP by over $2.8 billion in the Washington DC area alone. The shutdown also had a noticeable impact on hunger in the national capital region: food pantries in Washington DC and Northern Virginia reported an increase of around 10% in the number of people coming to pick up groceries, with most of that increase coming from federal workers and contractors. Fitch Ratings warned that an extended shutdown might lead to a downgrade in the U.S.'s Triple-A credit rating if lawmakers were unable to pass a budget or manage the debt ceiling. That in turn would make borrowing more costly for companies and American households, because it is the benchmark for many other lines of credit. The only time the U.S. credit rating has been downgraded by S&P was during the United States debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. Some economists believed that an extended shutdown would weaken consumer confidence and heighten the risk of pushing the U.S. economy into a recession. Between 800,000 federal government employees and some 4 million federal contractors, the shutdown directly affected nearly 3% of the labor force of the United States; in a typical recession, unemployment increases 2–4%. The reduction in spending by those households combined with the reduction of government services could have macroeconomic results similar to a typical recession. The shutdown had an adverse effect on the budgets of state and local governments, as states covered some federal services (particularly the most vulnerable) during the shutdown. By mid-January 2019, the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimated that each week of the shutdown reduced GDP growth by 0.1 percentage points, the equivalent of 1.2 points per quarter. CEA chairman Kevin Hassett later acknowledged that GDP growth could decline to zero in the first quarter of 2019 if the shutdown lasted the entire quarter. Taxes: As tax season began in the United States on January 28, some 46,000 Internal Revenue Service workers were called back to work to ensure tax refunds and returns were not affected by the shutdown. The recalled workers allowed the department to continue operations that were automatic and those deemed necessary for the safety of human life or protection of government property, such as processing electronic returns, returns with payments, mailing tax forms, appeals, criminal law enforcement investigations and technical support. Food stamps, inspections, and school lunches: During the shutdown, 95% of federal staff for the USDA's Food and Nutrition Services were furloughed. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the food-stamp program, could be funded through a $3 billion contingency fund appropriated by Congress in 2018; if the shutdown had continued through March 2019, those funds would have been exhausted, leaving some 38 million Americans without food stamps and endangering food security. Concerns were raised that continuation of the shutdown could delay the issuance of some $140 billion in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees most of the food supply in the U.S. In early January, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, reported that the FDA suspended food inspections. He noted that inspection of foreign food was continuing as "almost normal," because they are considered vital. Around January 14, "high-risk" food inspections resumed. As of January 22, 2019, 46 percent of the FDA were working, though 20 percent of them were working without pay. During the shutdown, two new recalls for contamination with Listeria or Salmonella took place. Consumer advocacy groups advised of food safety issues during the shutdown. Food safety attorney, Bill Marler, advocated against eating "fresh, uncooked products on the market place." Because there was a shortage of FDA inspectors, many imported perishable items, such as produce or flowers, were at risk of spoilage. Meat and some egg products are inspected by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Federal legislation required those inspectors to remain working without pay. School administrations raised concern about how to feed children who purchase food at the schools for lunch, as funding concerns caused some districts to conserve food and funding. Many limited the amount or variation of foods available for the children to purchase, and alerted parents to the concerns and the limited availability of some of the items. Most schools affected were in high-poverty areas, and depended on federally funded lunch programs, such as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) a federal grant established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and operated through the Department of Agriculture. Some 22 million students in nearly 100,000 schools received school meals through that operation. National parks and capital museums: As with the January 2018 shutdown, national parks were expected to be open to the extent practical, though there would be no staff and buildings would be closed. The shutdown affected national parks unevenly, some were accessible with bare-bones staffing levels, some operated with money from states or charitable groups, and others were locked off. Diane Regas, president and chief executive of the Trust for Public Land, called upon Trump to close all national parks to protect the public: by the third week of the shutdown, three people had died in national parks. This number was reported as being within 'usual' levels. At Yosemite National Park, on January 4, 2019, a death from a fall went unreported for a week. By January 1, 2019, the problems of neglected trash pileup, overflowing public toilets, and access to first aid were repeated across the Park system. Health and safety concerns were raised, with concerns by scientists that the expansive amount of garbage and human waste could impact water and soil quality, or cause damage to animals in the parks. Other issues that arose due to the shutdown included illegal campsites, protected agriculture being damaged, damaging of government property and trespassing on foot and by vehicle. Closures or limited access: New York kept the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open, as it did during the January 2018 shutdown. Arizona and Utah were able to keep Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park open and provided services including public restrooms, shuttles and trash collection. Utah's funding included visitor centers. The sites closed outright in the southwest alone included Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico, White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, Petrified Forest National Park in northern Arizona and Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in south-central Arizona. Access to major parts of Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks were closed, and at Joshua Tree National Park, the administration policy of leaving parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs resulted in park damage, including the toppling of protected trees. In Texas, Big Bend National Park had no visitor services, such as restrooms. Some trailheads were closed. Regulations continued to be enforced, as the park remained open. Visitors were reminded to remove their own trash and toilet paper. The Alamo remained open but no NPS services were available at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Channel Islands National Park remained open to public access, although services normally provided by the national park service were instead provided by Island Packers Cruises, the company normally in charge of ferries to the islands. The National Archives and Records Administration closed immediately on December 22, 2018. The Library of Congress, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Capitol Visitor Center, and the U.S. Capitol Building remained open as they were funded by the 2019 Legislative Branch appropriations bill. The Smithsonian Institution operated on "prior-year funds" through January 1, 2019. On January 2, 2019, the Smithsonian Institution initiated an orderly shutdown of all its facilities, including 19 museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City, the National Zoo, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The following day, the National Gallery of Art was closed. The National Zoo also closed on January 3, 2019. Tourism attendance on the National Mall was affected. On January 5, 2019, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt directed the diversion of fee revenue defined by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to be used to fund minimal maintenance activities so as to preserve access to highly visited parks. Airspace and aviation workers: According to a January 12, 2019, article in The Economist, on January 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was unable to pay its workers who had not been paid since December 22; 55% more of them called in sick than in January 2018. As the air traffic controllers were deemed essential employees, they were required to work without pay. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents air traffic controllers, filed a lawsuit against the federal government for the shutdown on January 11, 2019, claiming that requiring 16,000 air traffic controllers to work without being paid violated their constitutional rights and federal minimum wage law. That was the third lawsuit filed against the federal government since the beginning of the shutdown. Airline and aircraft safety inspectors, on the other hand, were deemed nonessential and furloughed. A news report on January 12, 2019 stated that the Federal Aviation Administration had returned 500 furloughed safety inspectors back to work and would return more to work in the following weeks. As the airline and aircraft safety inspectors were furloughed, the certification process of the Airbus A220 in the US was stalled. Delta Air Lines was forced to delay the launch of the new aircraft, and to use other models of aircraft to serve those routes that was supposed to be served with A220. Many TSA employees also called out sick, most of them because they were trying to find other jobs that would provide immediate paychecks. The shutdown initially prevented the National Transportation Safety Board from assisting the Mexican government's investigation of the 2018 Puebla helicopter crash that killed a state governor and senator; an exception allowed the NTSB to assist with the Mexican government in the investigation along with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The NTSB also had to delay several investigations until the government reopened and only continued investigations into accidents that were considered the most serious. Issues in receiving certification and oversight from the FAA led to a month-long delay in the commencement of passenger service at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. As the shutdown continued into its fourth week, the unions representing airline pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers issued a statement asserting, "we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play" because of the shutdown. On airports: Some airports such as the Philadelphia International Airport, launched food and item donations for federal employees who were affected by the shutdown. Other airports such as the Miami International Airport, and the George Bush International Airport, closed down terminals in order to spread out the TSA workers that were available. On January 25, flights destined for LaGuardia Airport in New York were halted to a groundstop by FAA officials due to staffing shortages directly as a result of the shutdown. As a result, several flights to and from neighboring airports in the Northeast, specifically Philadelphia and Newark, suffered significant delays of their own. Soon after that, appropriations passed and the government reopened. The shutdown delayed software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX airplane which may have caused the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Judiciary and law enforcement: During the shutdown, court-appointed private lawyers who represent indigent defendants worked without pay. The Federal Judiciary initially had a goal of sustaining paid operations through January 18, 2019. It said it would run out of money to sustain court operations no earlier than January 25, but perhaps as late as February 1. Failing funding, the Judiciary would operate under the terms of the Antideficiency Act. This Act does not allow federal agencies to expend federal funds before an appropriation, nor to accept any voluntary services. The judiciary had 33,000 employees nationwide. Under the Constitution, Supreme Court Justices, appeals court judges and district judges would continue to be paid. The shutdown caused many delays and disruptions in cases. Budgets were watched carefully to be able to pay public defenders, DNA testing, informants, and travel costs to interview victims and witnesses. Staffing issues also brought about concerns and constraints with prisons lacking the staff to safely hold attorney-client visits, and caused a delay in bail hearings. Investigation and enforcement: Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed in a report released on January 22, 2019, by the FBI Agents Association, that several different investigations were compromised by the shutdown. The report was called "Voices from the Field" and was 72 pages long. FBI agents were unable to pay Confidential Human Sources which risks losing that informant permanently. Some FBI divisions no longer have Spanish-speaking staff on hand and could not work with informants who only speak Spanish. Some agents reported that they did not have the funds to assist in joint operations with local law enforcement. Federal law enforcement agencies working on Native American land worked without pay through the shutdown. Homeland security: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was forced to cancel a trip to the United States/Mexico border in early January due to the shutdown. DHS was also unable to inspect Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities during the shutdown to ensure that immigrants were being held in facilities appropriately. During the shutdown, the federal government's e-Verify system—a system for employers to check the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States—was halted. During the shutdown, a wave of Domain Name System (DNS) attacks on government sites was detected by Homeland Security. The attacks were serious because these Internet sites could be hijacked. Other agencies: Official websites for agencies were rendered insecure or inaccessible through the shutdown, as the expired digital certificates were not renewed. On January 23, DHS asked all government agencies to secure their DNS records; however, many agencies were not able to respond quickly to this request. Executive and legislative affairs of the local government of the District of Columbia continued operating through the shutdown, due to a provision previously enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017. The District's local court system, including the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, are part of the federal judiciary. Thus, they were partially shut down, preventing District residents from accessing services such as marriage licensing. The District of Columbia government said it would take over trash collection and snow plowing operations for National Park Service facilities in Washington. The shutdown also interfered with the response to the 2018 Sunda Strait tsunami, as the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta's Twitter account was unable to tweet updates, and the United States Geological Survey was unable to provide data on the tsunami. The American weather model, the GFS, suffered a significant drop in forecast quality when a data format change during the shutdown prevented certain weather data from being recognized by the GFS, and the shutdown prevented the bug from being corrected. By mid-day Thursday, January 3, 2019, the FCC had suspended operations. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his trip to the Consumer Electronics Show. The FTC also suspended certain online operations. The EPA and Department of Energy's Energy Star website was not available for the duration of the shutdown. Makers of alcoholic beverages were unable to receive approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for new labels and recipes during the shutdown. Based on the recalculation of their operating reserves, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would have had to cease patent operations in the second week of February. A cadre of personnel was allocated to continue receiving patent applications, receive payments, and maintain the IT infrastructure. Even though the USPTO is self-funded, a Congressional appropriation is required to permit the USPTO to spend money. The pipeline of patent applications at the time took 15.8 months for a response from an examiner. The Smithsonian Institution shortened to two days and downscaled its scheduled ten-day 2019 Folklife Festival on the National Mall because of the shutdown's effects. Sabrina Motley, the director of the festival, said that initially, crucial funding for the June—July event arrived later than expected, slowing preparations. Motley stated: "The government opened back up, but it took a while for systems to come back online. ... We looked at our production schedule, and it became clear we would need more time than we had." Reactions- Protests and lawsuits: On January 10, the American Federation of Government Employees, along with several other unions, announced plans to protest the government shutdown at 1:00pm EST in Washington, DC. Leaders of the National Federation of Federal Employees stated they had hoped that bringing federal workers to the President's doorstep would show him that it was the individual workers that the shutdown was hurting the most. President Trump had left to visit the US–Mexican border in Texas earlier in the day. Similar protests took place in Philadelphia and St. Louis, among other cities. On January 15, representatives for Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans of America along with others called for an end to shutdown, but avoided placing any blame on political parties. Shortly after the protests, the American Federation of Government Employees sued the Trump administration to challenge the arrangements for work without pay during the shutdown. A similar suit was raised and won during the 2013 Federal Government shutdown. The Air Traffic Controllers Association also sued the Trump administration, as the shutdown allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay the workers at least a minimum wage during the shutdown. Members of Congress donating or refusing salary: As the salaries for members of Congress are written into permanent law and not funded through annual appropriations, the government shutdown did not affect their salaries. Senators and Representatives were still paid their biweekly salaries of $6,700 towards at least $174,000 a year. Several Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives said they would donate or refuse their salary during the shutdown. Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw stated that he would refuse his salary, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto indicated she would donate hers to a Nevada charity, Senator Mazie Hirono said she would donate her salary to Hawaii food banks, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said she would give hers to refugee non-profit HIAS, New York Congressman Max Rose stated that he would give his salary to charity and outgoing Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota pledged hers to charity, along with her Republican colleague John Hoeven. Republican senator Kevin Cramer, who defeated Heidi Heitkamp in the 2018 midterm elections, refused to donate his salary, calling the move "gimmicky". Representative Brian Fitzpatrick urged all members of Congress to decline their paychecks. He said, "If you're in Congress, don't just delay your pay -- forfeit it, write a check back to the US Treasury. Then you'll feel the pain of federal workers." By January 17, 2019, 102 members of Congress—20 Senators and 82 Representatives— chose to decline their paychecks or were donating their paychecks to charity. Aid for federal employees: During the shutdown, many federal workers used food banks and food pantries in order to feed themselves and their families. Many food pantries waived certain restrictions in order to help government workers have access to food. During the shutdown, the Salvation Army Emergency Disasters Services program provided meals for federal workers. Chef Jose Andres created the #ChefsForFeds program to feed federal workers in Washington, D.C. and by January 21, made announcements to expand the program nationwide. Some states such as California, offered furloughed employees unemployment benefits, although the Trump administration allegedly told states that they could not do so with federal funds. Organizations such as state Attorney Generals offices, and credit card companies posted statements to their websites to offer a means to help to consolidate debt, meet mortgages or other payments such as child support or tuition. An employment law firm offered pro bono legal advice to furloughed federal employees. School districts opened up free or reduced lunch options for children of federal employees, and looked into other options to aid parents amid concerns that financial stress at home would adversely affect families and children. Every mainline denomination in America has contributed to efforts to provide relief. One Baptist church emptied its entire disaster fund to aid federal employees. Statements by Trump administration officials and family members: On January 24, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross downplayed the financial difficulties faced by the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, stating that they should borrow money to "tide them over" until the shutdown ends. Critics and Democrats criticized the statement as inappropriate, noting that Ross' own net worth is estimated at almost $700 million, accusing him of being out of touch with the workers. Ross also said that he "did not understand" why people who were not getting paid due to the shutdown were visiting food banks. When asked about Ross' statement, Trump, suggested that grocery stores will "work along" with the government by voluntarily extending credit to those who are out of funds to buy food. National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow characterized the shutdown as a "glitch" and suggested that federal workers who were required to work without pay were "volunteering" to work for their love of the country and "presumably their allegiance to President Trump." In a video message to staff, FBI director Christopher Wray stated, "Making some people stay home when they don’t want to, and making others show up without pay, it’s mind-boggling, it’s shortsighted and it’s unfair. It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time." Lara Trump, a daughter-in-law of the President, drew outrage after an interview in which she stated that while "It's not fair to you..." the shutdown was "...a little bit of pain, but it's going to be for the future of our country, and their children and their grandchildren and generations after them will thank them for their sacrifice right now." Her comments drew criticism by politicians, celebrities, and the general public who felt the advisor and spokeswoman for the Trump 2020 campaign was out of touch, however Lara Trump later claimed the comments were taken out of context. Public opinion: In January 2019, a CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that 56% of the responding public opposed a wall while 39% favored it, and 45% viewed the situation at the border as a crisis. The numbers were similar to the poll in December 2018 yet a later poll by ABC news showed that as the partial shutdown entered its fourth week support for building a wall was increasing. A poll done through YouGov between December 23–25, 2018, reported that 51% of respondents thought Trump deserved "a lot" of the blame, 44% thought congressional Democrats and 39% thought congressional Republicans. Similar results were reported by a December 21–25 survey done by Reuters and Ipsos in which 47% of respondents said that the shutdown was the President's fault and 33% blamed Congressional Democrats. Over the course of the shutdown, Trump's approval rating marginally declined while his disapproval rating marginally increased. His net approval rating was by the middle of January 2019 at its lowest point since February 2018. On December 27, 2018, it was reported that Trump's approval rating of registered voters was at 39%, with 56% disapproval. Broken down the rating was split across party lines, with Republicans reporting an 80% approval rate while Democrats and independents reported a 90% and 57% disapproval rating, respectively. The poll was conducted through Morning Consult between December 21–23. The poll also reported that 43% of respondents blamed Trump for the shutdown, with 31% blaming congressional Democrats and 7% congressional Republicans. Another poll through The New York Times Upshot/Siena College reported that 89% of voters' views on Trump and the wall were aligned, suggesting that support for the wall was a function of support for Trump. The Washington Post–ABC News poll published on January 13, 2019, found that a larger number of Americans blamed Trump and congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats for the shutdown. A PBS NewsHour–Marist poll found that on January 15, 2019, a majority of Americans thought that President Trump was to blame for the shutdown. A January 2019 poll conducted by telephone for CBS News found that 70% of Americans polled did not want a government shutdown over the issue of building a border wall; 66% believed that Trump should agree to a budget without wall funding.

2019 college admissions bribery scandal

In 2019, a scandal arose over a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. The investigation into the conspiracy was code named Operation Varsity Blues. The investigation and related charges were made public on March 12, 2019, by United States federal prosecutors. At least 53 people have been charged as part of the conspiracy, a number of whom pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty. Thirty-three parents of college applicants are accused of paying more than $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to William Rick Singer, organizer of the scheme, who used part of the money to fraudulently inflate entrance exam test scores and bribe college officials. Singer controlled the two firms involved in the scheme, Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network (also known as "The Key"). He pleaded guilty and cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in gathering incriminating evidence against co-conspirators. He said he unethically facilitated college admission for children in more than 750 families. Singer faces up to 65 years in prison, and a fine of $1.25 million. Prosecutors in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, led by United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, unsealed indictments and complaints for felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud against 50 people, including Singer, who has been "portrayed as a criminal mastermind", university staff he bribed, and parents who are alleged to have used bribery and fraud to secure admission for their children to 11 universities. Among the accused parents are prominent business-people and well-known actors. Those charges have a maximum term of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $250,000 fine. One month later, 16 of the parents were also indicted by prosecutors for alleged felony conspiracy to commit money laundering. This third charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $500,000 fine. The investigation's name, Operation Varsity Blues, comes from a 1999 film of the same name. The case is the largest of its kind to be prosecuted by the US Justice Department. Discovery and charges: The FBI alleged that beginning in 2011, 33 parents of high school students conspired with other people to use bribery and other forms of fraud to illegally arrange to have their children admitted to top colleges and universities. Authorities became aware of the scheme around April 2018 when Los Angeles businessman Morrie Tobin, who was under investigation in an unrelated case for alleged pump-and-dump conspiracy and securities fraud, offered information in exchange for leniency in the previously existing, unrelated case. An alumnus of Yale, he told authorities that the Yale women's soccer head coach, Rudolph "Rudy" Meredith, had asked him for $450,000 in exchange for helping his youngest daughter gain admission to the school. As part of his cooperation with the FBI, Tobin wore a recording device while talking to Meredith in a Boston hotel on April 12, 2018; Meredith subsequently agreed to cooperate with the authorities and led them to Singer. Meredith pled guilty as part of his cooperation with the prosecution. Tobin has not been charged in this case, but in February 2019 he pled guilty in the unrelated securities fraud case. US sentencing guidelines, to which judges often refer when deciding sentences, call for between eight and ten years behind bars. According to The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and CBS, prosecutors are recommending 36 months of supervised release. In addition, Tobin has agreed to forfeit $4 million as part of his plea deal. Tobin was scheduled for sentencing at a hearing in June 2019, but this did not in fact take place. On March 12, 2019, federal prosecutors in Boston unsealed a criminal complaint charging 50 people with conspiracy to commit felony mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349. Those charges have a maximum term of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $250,000 fine. The charges were announced by Andrew Lelling, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Rosen, Justin O'Connell, Leslie Wright, and Kristen Kearney of the securities and financial fraud unit are prosecuting the case. FBI special agent Laura Smith signed the 204-page affidavit in support of the charges. On April 9, 16 of the original 33 charged parents (i.e., Lori Loughlin, her husband Mossimo Giannulli, Gamal Aziz, Douglas M. Hodge, Bill McGlashan, Diane and Todd Blake, I-Hsin "Joey" Chen, Michelle Janavs, Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, Elisabeth Kimmel, Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh, and Robert Zangrillo), who had not pled guilty to the original charges, were additionally charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering by federal prosecutors in Boston in a superseding indictment. The indictment added those defendants to an existing case against David Sidoo, another of the 33 parents, that was already pending before Judge Nathaniel Gorton. The indictment alleged that the parents engaged in a conspiracy to launder bribes paid to Singer "by funneling them through Singer's purported charity and his for-profit corporation." This third charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $500,000 fine. Allegations: Federal prosecutors alleged a college-admission scheme that involved: -bribing exam administrators to facilitate cheating on college and university entrance exams; -bribing coaches and administrators of elite universities to nominate unqualified applicants as elite recruited athletes, thus facilitating the applicants' admission; -using a charitable organization to conceal the source and nature of laundered bribery payments. Court documents unsealed in March 2019 detail a scheme led by William Rick Singer, a 58-year-old resident of Newport Beach, California. Wealthy parents paid Singer to illegally arrange to have their children admitted to elite schools by bribing admissions testing officials, athletics staff, and coaches at universities. Payments were made to Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit organization owned by Singer and previously granted 501(c)(3) status; that status allowed him to avoid federal income taxes on the payments, while parents could deduct their "donations" from their own personal taxes. Singer offered college counseling services as The Edge College & Career Network, a limited liability company registered in 2012, which he operated out of his home in Newport Beach. Methods of fraudulent admission: Singer primarily used two fraudulent techniques to help clients' children gain admission to elite universities: cheating on college entrance exams and fabrication of elite sports credentials. Cheating on college entrance exams: Singer arranged to allow clients' children to cheat on the SAT or ACT college admission tests. Singer worked with psychologists to complete the detailed paperwork required to falsely certify clients' children as having a learning disability; this in turn gave them access to accommodations, such as extra time, while taking the tests. Singer said he could obtain a falsified disability report from a psychologist for $4,000 to $5,000, and that the report could be re-used to fraudulently obtain similar benefits at the schools.Once the paperwork was complete, Singer told clients to invent false travel plans to arrange to have their children's test locations moved to a test center under his control, either in West Hollywood or Houston. Parents might also be advised to fabricate a family event that could provide a pretense for the student to take the SAT, ACT, or other test at a private location where Singer could have complete control over the testing process. In some cases, the student was involved directly in the fraud. In others, the fraud was kept secret from the student and corrupt proctors altered tests on their behalf after the fact. In some cases, other people posed as the students to take the tests. Mark Riddell, a Harvard alumnus and college admission exam preparation director at IMG Academy, was one of the stand-in test takers who took over two dozen exams; he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and one count of money laundering, and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Prosecutors said he was paid $10,000 per test, and the government is seeking to recover almost $450,000 from him in forfeiture. Riddell did not have advance access to the test papers, but was described as "just a really smart guy". He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, but reportedly prosecutors said that because of his cooperation they will instead likely recommend 33 months imprisonment at his November 1 (originally July 18) sentencing hearing. According to recorded phone calls, the transcripts of which were included in court filings, Singer claimed that the practice of fraudulently obtaining accommodations such as extra testing time, intended for those with bona fide learning disabilities, was widespread outside of his particular scheme: Yeah, everywhere around the country. What happened is, all the wealthy families that figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test. So most of these kids don't even have issues, but they're getting time. The playing field is not fair. For example, Jane Buckingham was arrested on March 12, 2019, for allegedly submitting false paperwork saying her son had a learning disability, and paying $50,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation for a proctor to take the ACT on her son's behalf, scoring a 35 out of 36. The goal was entrance to the University of Southern California (USC). Portions of recorded conversations between Buckingham and a cooperating witness were included in the FBI's affidavit. Fabrication of sports credentials: Singer also bribed college athletics staff and coaches. At certain colleges, these personnel can submit a certain number of sports recruit names to the admissions office, which then views those applications more favorably. Singer used his Key Worldwide Foundation as a money-laundering operation to pay coaches a bribe for labeling applicants as athletic recruits. He also fabricated profiles highlighting each applicant's purported athletic prowess. In some cases, image editing software (e.g., Photoshop) was used to insert a photograph of a student's face onto a photograph of another person participating in the sport to document purported athletic activity. In one such incident, Michael Center, the men's tennis coach at the University of Texas (UT), accepted about $100,000 to designate an applicant as a recruit for the Texas Longhorns tennis team. A similar fraud occurred at Yale, where the then-head coach of the women's soccer team, Rudolph "Rudy" Meredith, allegedly accepted a $450,000 bribe to falsely identify an applicant as a recruit. USC's senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic allegedly received $1.3 million and $250,000, respectively, for similar frauds. They were indicted alongside former USC women's soccer coaches Ali Khosroshahin and Laura Janke. Coaches at two other Pac-12 programs, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) men's soccer coach Jorge Salcedo and Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, have been charged with accepting bribes. Vandemoer admitted that he accepted $270,000 to classify two applicants as prospective sailors, and agreed to plead guilty to a charge of racketeering conspiracy. At Wake Forest, head volleyball coach William "Bill" Ferguson was placed on administrative leave following charges of racketeering. Former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon "Gordie" Ernst is alleged to have facilitated as many as 12 students through fraudulent means while accepting bribes of up to $950,000. On March 20, 2019, the University of San Diego (USD) revealed that its former men's basketball head coach Lamont Smith allegedly accepted bribes. Hours after that revelation, Smith resigned from his position as assistant coach at the University of Texas at El Paso. Two San Diego families were accused of paying $875,000 as part of the scheme. Bill McGlashan, a private equity investor, allegedly discussed using Adobe Photoshop to create a fake profile for his son as a football kicker to help him get into USC. Similarly, Marci Palatella, wife of former San Francisco 49ers player Lou Palatella, allegedly conspired with Singer to pass her son off as a long snapper recruit for USC. In one of the most notable cases, actress Lori Loughlin, famous for her role on the American sitcom Full House and the drama When Calls the Heart, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli of Mossimo fashion, allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to arrange to have their two daughters accepted into USC as members of the rowing team, although neither girl had participated in the sport. On March 13, 2019, media sources reported that, when news of the scandal broke Loughlin's younger daughter was on Rick Caruso's yacht in the Bahamas with her friend, Gianna, Caruso's daughter. Caruso is the chairman of the USC Board of Trustees. Singer pleaded guilty on March 12, 2019, in the U.S. District Court in Boston to four felony counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice for alerting a number of subjects to the investigation after he began cooperating with the government. He faces up to 65 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million. Involved parties and organizations: A total of 50 people have been charged in the investigations. This number includes 33 parents of college applicants and 11 named collegiate coaches or athletic administrators from eight universities. Three additional universities are involved, but no staff members from those schools have been directly named or implicated, believed to be Stanford, Harvard, and Northwestern. Key Worldwide Foundation / The Edge College & Career Network: -William Rick Singer, purported college counselor, and author of self-help books for college admission. Singer organized and sold fraudulent college admission services. Singer pled guilty and cooperated with the prosecution. -Mark Riddell, a Harvard alumnus and former director of college entrance exams at IMG Academy. Riddell was paid by Singer to fraudulently take admission tests, impersonating the clients' children; he also paid College Board (which develops and administers the SAT and related tests), Educational Testing Service, and ACT contractors to deliberately mis-administer the tests. He was fired from IMG Academy and pled guilty. -Steven Masera, officer at Singer's companies. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. -Mikaela Sanford, employee at Singer's companies. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. Other involved conspirators: Igor Dvorskiy, administrator of standardized tests (including those from ACT and the College Board), and director of an LA-area private school. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. -Martin Fox, Houston tennis academy president. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. Sentenced to 3 months in prison, 15 months supervised release with 3 months home confinement, $95,000 fine, forfeiture of $245,000 & 250 hours of community service. -Niki Williams, administrator of standardized tests for ACT and College Board, Houston-area assistant high school teacher. Pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud. Responses: In response to the scandal, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the chief governing body for college sports in the United States, announced plans to review the allegations "to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated". U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), of the Senate Finance Committee, plans to sponsor a bill making donations to schools taxable if the donor has children attending or applying to the college. Separately, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have agreed to reintroduce 2017 legislation that imposes a fine on colleges and universities that have the smallest proportion of low-income students. One of the parents who was convicted, Robert Zangrillo, was pardoned by President Donald Trump on his final day in office. Extrajudicial actions: Indicted coaches were fired or suspended, or had already left the university at the time of the charges. Mark Riddell, who took tests on behalf of the students, was suspended from his position as director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy and fired a week later. On March 12, 2019, William Singer, the CEO of Edge College & Career Network who masterminded the scandal, pled guilty to four criminal charges involving racketeering conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government; and obstruction of justice. However, the U.S. government has not yet imposed a sentence on Singer. On March 26, 2019, Yale became the first university to rescind the admission of a student associated with the scandal. On April 2, Stanford announced they also expelled a student connected to the fraud. In June 2019, Grand Canyon University ended its relationship with Singer, who was enrolled as a student of the University's psychiatric school since November 2019. Actress Felicity Huffman formally pleaded guilty to honest services fraud, which involved hiring someone to test SAT scores while using the name of her daughter Sophia, on May 13, 2019, and on September 13 she was sentenced to 14 days in jail, one year of supervised release, fined $30,000 and ordered to undertake 250 hours of community service. On October 15, 2019, Huffman reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, to begin her sentence. She was meant to be released from prison on October 27, 2019, but was released two days early because October 27 fell on a weekend. As of October 2020, when Huffman completed her full sentence, no charges have filed against Huffman's husband and Sophia's father actor and director William H. Macy. The Hallmark Channel cut its ties to Lori Loughlin, star of the program Garage Sale Mystery and When Calls the Heart, after she was named as a parent in the indictments. According to The Hill, Netflix decided to drop Loughlin from Fuller House as well. Her younger daughter Olivia Jade also lost her partnership with TRESemmé and the Sephora chain of beauty products. It was reported by TMZ, Page Six, and others that Loughlin's daughters dropped out of USC due to fears of being "viciously bullied"; however, a USC spokesperson confirmed in March that they both remained enrolled at the school and in October the school's registrar stated they were no longer enrolled. According to the San Jose Mercury News, USC scheduled a hearing in March 2019 to determine if Olivia Jade should be designated a "disruptive individual", which would result in her lifetime ban from the university's campus and properties. Loughlin was found guilty and began serving a two month prison sentence on October 30, 2020. Giannulli, who was also found guilty, began serving a five month prison sentence on November 19, 2020. Lawsuits: Multiple lawsuits were immediately filed against universities and individuals. Three students from Tulane University, Rutgers University, and a California community college filed a complaint against Singer and the affected universities that they hope will be certified as a class-action suit. A Stanford undergraduate claimed a loss for the time and money she spent applying to schools named in the scandal, as well as the possibility that the stain on Stanford's reputation will decrease the value of her degree. A parent filed a $500 billion civil suit in San Francisco against all the indicted individuals, claiming that her son was denied admission to some schools because of other parents buying access. Commentary: After the scandal broke, multiple American news sources including The Atlantic, Vox, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times characterized it as a symptom of a broken college admissions system. Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said it was "the worst scandal involving elite universities in the history of the United States". Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator from Massachusetts (where all the criminal cases were filed), told news media that the scandal represented "just one more example of how the rich and powerful know how to take care of their own". Much of the news coverage attempted to explain why anyone would have been tempted by Singer's scheme. A common attribute among the defendants was that many were rich, but not ultra-rich. According to The New York Times, college admissions at certain elite American universities had become so selective that a family would have to make a minimum donation of $10 million to inspire an admission committee to take a second look at their child, and even for families of such means, there would be no guarantee of return on investment, while Singer was selling certainty. In open court, he said: "I created a guarantee." The Los Angeles Times explained that there was probably also a social signaling element at work, in that admission to an elite university based purely upon an applicant's apparent merit publicly validates both the child's innate talent and the parents' own parenting skills in a way that an admission coinciding with a sizable donation does not. In turn, others examined why certain universities had become so selective in the first place. The Atlantic pointed out that college seats are not scarce in the United States, except at a handful of universities which became selective on purpose: "Scarcity has the added benefit of increasing an institution's prestige. The more students who apply, and the fewer students who get in, the more selective an institution becomes, and, subsequently, the more prestigious. And parents are clawing over one another to get a taste of the social capital that comes with that." Arizona State University (ASU) president Michael M. Crow described the "crisis of access to these social-status-granting institutions" as a full-blown "hysteria". It was alleged in court filings that one of the defendant parents had named ASU as a university they were specifically trying to avoid; the non-selective university has been the "butt of jokes" in American television shows for many years, as well as the 2015 film Ted 2. The inevitable result, according to Newsweek, was that the most elite institutions had created a situation in which purely meritocratic admissions had become impossible because they were already turning away too many overqualified candidates—former Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust had once said, "we could fill our class twice over with valedictorians." It was also recognized that any workable long-term solution would need to alleviate the underlying anxiety driving the crisis, either by restructuring the college admissions process or the American labor market. HuffPost explained that such anxiety barely exists in Canada, whose four-year universities do not show such extreme disparities in selectivity and prestige, and in turn, most Canadian employers do not rigidly discriminate between job candidates based upon where they graduated. In contrast, selective American universities have evolved into gatekeepers for the highest echelons of certain socially prestigious and financially lucrative industries like law and finance. University of Oklahoma history professor Wilfred M. McClay told Newsweek: "I'm not going to pretend there isn't a difference between Harvard and Suffolk County Community College, but I think this situation where the Supreme Court is made up entirely of Harvard or Yale Law School graduates is wrong. The thing driving the current scandal seems to be that ultimately parents were willing to do anything to game the system to get their kids these advantages, not because the education was better but because the legitimation of social position would be better." Art and adaptation- Lifetime film: In 2019, Lifetime produced and broadcast a television film about this event called The College Admissions Scandal. The film stars Penelope Ann Miller as Caroline DeVere, Mia Kirshner as Bethany Slade, and Michael Shanks as Rick Singer. Ranked (musical): On April 4, 2019, three weeks after Operation Varsity Blues' charges were made public, Granite Bay High School debuted Ranked, a new musical. The show, written from 2018-2019 by the school's drama teacher and musical director, focused on academic pressure in schools, specifically telling the story of a student whose parents were paying for his grades without his knowledge. The timing of the musical's debut in relation to the scandal was serendipitous, and earned the high school national attention. Rick Singer worked in the Granite Bay community a decade prior as a college coach for local high school students.