Covfefe flap goes viral, drawing in Hillary Clinton and prompting Trump lawyers to redouble warnings about the President’s errants tweets. Two nooses found at Smithsonian Museums in Washington in recent days; racist graffiti sprayed at home of NBA star LeBron James. White House Press Secretary Spicer goes mum on Russia probe, referring questions to Trump’s personal lawyer who offers “no comment.” The New York Times kills public editor role, pledging instead to rely on social media and readers as its “watchdog.” -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director


DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

PEN America’s take on today’s most pressing threats to free expression


Less Tweeting, Lawyers Beg. ‘Covfefe,’ the President Says.
Never mind that his aides have asked him to stop. Never mind that now the lawyers have told him to stop. Even though his White House has been warned that tweets could be used as evidence against him, Mr. Trump has made clear in the days after returning from a largely Twitter-free overseas trip that he fully intends to stick to his favorite means of communication.

Noose found at exhibit in African American Smithsonian museum
A noose was found Wednesday in a public gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture museum, the second such incident on Smithsonian grounds in less than a week. “This was a horrible act, but a stark reminder of why our work is so important,” said Lonnie Bunch III, the museum’s founding director.

‘Hate Is Living Every Day,’ LeBron James Says After Racist Graffiti Incident
After being asked about the graffiti, James stated, “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know being black in America is tough. And we got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.”

Trump’s lawyer will now answer all Russia-related questions, Spicer says
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred all questions related to the FBI’s Russia investigation from now on to President Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. Spicer referred to Kasowitz as “White House counsel,” although Kasowitz is being retained as part of an outside legal team to represent him in the investigation into Russian interference in the election. Kasowitz has represented Mr. Trump since the early 2000s in some of his trickiest legal issues, including the Trump University fraud case.

New York Times eliminates its public editor
“The responsibility of the public editor ― to serve as the reader’s representative ― has outgrown that one office,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a memo to staff. “There is nothing more important to our mission, or our business, than strengthening our connection with our readers. A relationship that fundamental cannot be outsourced to a single intermediary.”


East Timor court drops premier’s libel case against media
An East Timor court on Thursday dismissed a criminal defamation case brought by the country’s prime minister against two journalists due to lack of evidence. Rights groups and press advocates had urged that the case be dropped, fearing it would further undermine press freedom in one of the world’s youngest democracies.

Azeri journalist abducted in Georgia, put in custody in Azerbaijan
An Azeri journalist has been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to neighboring Azerbaijan where he was detained in custody, his lawyer said on Wednesday, in a case condemned by rights activists. Azerbaijan’s prosecutor general’s office said that Afgan Mukhtarli was detained “after illegally crossing the border with a large sum of money.” The court in Baku ordered Mukhtarli’s pre-trial detention for three months.

Rare Justice as Man Handed 40 Years in Jail for Killing Guatemala Journalist
Byron Estuardo Felipe Morales was handed 40 years in jail for the murder of television journalist Victor Hugo Valdes in the city of Chiquimula. According to Reporters Without Borders, killings of journalists in Guatemala makes it one of the most deadly places in the Western Hemisphere for press workers. Systemic impunity means many crimes against journalists go unpunished, fueling a cycle of abuses.

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