1. says

    “Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost”:

    …“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”

    The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.

    The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.

    His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. number.

    “I don’t care about the total!” the administration official recalled Trump screaming. The official, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

    Growing angrier, Trump insisted that his aides had misled him about the magnitude of the expulsions. “There were curse words,” the official said, “a lot of curse words.”

    The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration’s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

    Trump came to the White House believing that his personal relationships with other leaders would be central to solving the world’s thorniest foreign policy problems, administration officials said. In Trump’s mind, no leader was more important or powerful than Putin, they said.*

    A cooperative relationship with the Russian leader could help Trump find solutions to problems that bedeviled his predecessor in places such as Ukraine [!!!], Syria and North Korea….

    Much more at the link. It’s incredible how many alternative explanations for his behavior his aides can devise to divert attention from the simplest and most obvious one.

    Nikki Haley said yesterday that more sanctions on Russia would be announced I think today, so we’ll see if that happens.

    * What the hell even is this? If he’d said this about Xi, it still would have been pathetic, but this is just completely unmoored from reality.

  2. says

    “Trump’s reelection committee has spent more than $1 out of every $5 on legal fees this year”:

    President Trump’s reelection campaign spent more than $1 out of every $5 on attorney fees this year as the president contended with the ongoing special counsel investigation and a new legal challenge from an adult-film star.

    Of the $3.9 million that Trump’s committee spent in the first quarter of 2018, more than $834,000 went to eight law firms and the Trump Corp. for legal fees, according to new Federal Election Commission records filed Sunday.

    The latest figures bring the Trump campaign’s total spending on legal fees to nearly $4 million since the president took office, records show. In the last quarter of 2017, Trump’s campaign committee spent $1.1 million in legal fees.

    He continues to energize small-dollar donors, FEC filings show. In first quarter of 2018, 61 percent of the direct contributions to his campaign committee came from donations of $200 or less.

    Trump’s campaign spent nearly $127,000 at the president’s private properties this year, including lodging and meeting fees at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, catering services at Trump Restaurants in New York and rent to Trump Tower in New York….

    This is odd, for several reasons: “The Trump campaign paid another $13,500 to McDermott Will & Emery, a firm that represents Cohen in the ongoing Russia investigations and a newly revealed criminal inquiry. That was a sharp drop from the previous quarter, when the campaign paid the firm nearly $215,000.”

  3. says

    “Russian Investigative Reporter Dies After Fall From Window; Editor Rejects Suicide”:

    Russian investigative journalist Maksim Borodin of Yekaterinburg has died of injuries sustained on April 12 when he fell from the window of his fifth-floor apartment.

    Borodin, 32, died on April 15 in a hospital without recovering consciousness. Officially, his death was being investigated as a suicide.

    A Sverdlovsk Oblast police spokesman said it was “unlikely that this story is of a criminal nature.”

    Polina Rumyantseva, the editor in chief of Novy Den, where Borodin worked, said the same day that she did not believe Borodin committed suicide.

    A friend of Borodin’s, Vyacheslav Bashkov, wrote on Facebook on April 15 that Borodin contacted him at 5 a.m. on April 11 and said his building was surrounded by “security forces” wearing camouflage and face masks.

    Borodin regularly wrote on crime and corruption. In recent weeks, he wrote extensively about the deaths in February of Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria, identifying several fighters from the Urals city of Asbest who had been killed….

    I read elsewhere that he had previously been attacked on the street. 32.

  4. says

    There’s a hearing today on Cohen’s and Trump’s requests to review the documents seized in the FBI raid to determine which are privileged. I believe it’s at 2 PM ET. The judge told Cohen’s lawyer on Friday that he has to appear today. Stormy Daniels will also be there, for some reason. Here’s a thread by Renato Mariotti on the Cohen/Trump filings.

  5. says

    I’ve been thinking (fuming, a bit) since the Comey interview yesterday. I’m increasingly moved to conclude that at the heart of the problem with Comey is that he’s too religious, or too religious in a specific way. He seems to think his particular version of religiosity makes him a better professional, but in many circumstances it leads him to act unprofessionally, to sideline established policies in favor of “higher” ethical claims. And then to lack the humility to acknowledge errors, because he sees his actions as having been spiritually justified.

    He actually suggested during the interview – after he had said Trump could well have colluded with the Kremlin, could have obstructed justice, and tried to run the DoJ/FBI like a mob boss – that Trump shouldn’t be impeached because that would let the American people “off the hook” or give us an “out” or something. Impeachment is the constitutional means by which congress should remove – is obligated to remove – a president who’s committed high crimes and misdemeanors. People can reasonably argue about what constitutes these offenses, but to suggest that the constitutionally mandated process of removal is too easy for the people or a means of escaping our supposed moral duty to pay for our error and wait for the next election to vote him out is a religiously twisted view that has nothing to do with law or democracy.

  6. says

    Timothy O’Brien, who’s knowledgeable on the subject, says there are two people much more important than Cohen in the Trump Org. deals:

    …There was a lawyer at the Trump Organization who did have to sign off on almost every significant deal — and that guy wasn’t Cohen. His name was Jason Greenblatt.

    Greenblatt specialized in real-estate law at a major New York firm before signing on with the Trump Organization in 1997. He soon became Trump’s true in-house counsel and the company’s executive vice president. Everything that mattered in the Trump Organization, every sizable deal or sensitive transaction, required Greenblatt’s signature, not Cohen’s. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, has played a similar role when it comes to the company’s finances.

    At the end of 2016, Greenblatt left the Trump Organization after the president made him a special representative for international negotiations. Weisselberg still helps Trump’s sons manage the business while Trump is in the Oval Office. Now that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business records, his investigators may get around to interviewing Greenblatt and Weisselberg, who almost certainly have more expansive information on the president’s business activities than Cohen does….

  7. says

    “Trump businesses made millions off Republican groups and federal agencies, report says”:

    President Donald Trump’s U.S. businesses have received at least $15.1 million in revenue from political groups and federal agencies since 2015, according to a new report to be released Monday.

    The money went to Trump’s airplanes, hotels, golf courses, even a bottled water company during the presidential campaign and the first 15 months of his presidency, according to a compilation of known records of the spending by Public Citizen obtained by McClatchy.

    But it was Trump’s campaign itself that spent the biggest chunk by far – about 90 percent, or $13.4 million.

    It also includes more than $717,000 from the Republican National Committee; nearly $595,000 from Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee set up by the RNC and Trump’s campaign; and $9,000 from the National Republican Senate Committee.

    By comparison, in 2013 and 2014, political spending at his properties was less than $20,000.

    The total amount is likely to be much more. There is no single place to find out how much the administration is spending at Trump businesses, though federal agencies have started to disclose some records in response to public record requests. Public Citizen analyzed Federal Election Commission data and federal agency records obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests by Public Citizen and Property of the People, a group comprised of legal experts and activists.

    Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. is expected to introduce a bill that would bar taxpayer spending at properties owned by an officeholder if the money provides a profit to the officeholder….

  8. says

    So Cohen’s lawyers have submitted a letter to the judge in advance of today’s hearing. (A short thread about it.) It’s rife with errors. It lists no clients by name other than Trump, the Trump Org., and Broidy, and is very concerned with concealing the identity of one other client.

    Most important, in calling for a special master it basically accuses the investigators of being partisan hacks who acted unfairly and extralegally in the search via insinuation – “there is a growing public debate about whether criminal and congressional investigations by the government are being undertaken impartially, free of any political bias or partisan motivation.” So despite not offering any evidence that there’s any impropriety or that the regular filter-team process used in all other circumstances would give the appearance of impropriety they claim that appointing a special master would help them to “avoid even a hint of impropriety.”

  9. says

    Yes, this is the line: “the appointment of a Special Master will protect the integrity of the Government’s investigation from the toxic partisan politics of the day and attacks on the impartiality of the Justice Department and the USAO.”

    It’s quite something.

  10. says

    Cohen’s letter seems to misstate what is meant by “special circumstances.” It doesn’t mean, ‘Wow, this is wild’. It means there are special things about the representation that justify keeping its existence hidden. The letter does nothing to explain that.”

    “The client doesn’t want to be publicly associated with this shady-ass fixer since it’ll be obvious to everyone what sort of ‘legal’ services he provided” might be more successful.

  11. says

    “Another white collar lawyer turns down Trump”:

    Another white collar lawyer has turned down the opportunity to represent President Donald Trump, citing an unidentified conflict, as the President struggles to add to the legal team representing him in the special counsel investigation.

    People close to Trump contacted New York attorney Steven Molo, a former prosecutor who specializes in white collar defense and court room litigation, in recent weeks following the departure of attorney John Dowd from Trump’s personal legal team.

    Molo is only the latest attorney to receive an invitation to help Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign and any possible dealings with Russia.

    Despite his experience, Molo was an unusual choice. He went head to head with Trump in 2008 when the then-real estate developer sued Deutsche Bank to try to get out of paying $40 million of a construction loan Trump personally guaranteed.

    Molo, representing the German lender, quoted Trump’s own boastful words as part of the bank’s defense, including a quote from one book Trump authored: “I turned it on the banks and let them accept some of the blame. I figured it was the bank’s problem not mine.”

    An out-of-court settlement was reached.

  12. says

    Shep Smith has now talked about it briefly. Says they’re trying to get in touch with him. His guest was actually reasonable in discussing the search and the law.

  13. says

    Trump received more bad news from court today:

    A federal judge finalized the $25 million settlement between President Trump and students of his now shuttered Trump University on Monday, with New York’s attorney general claiming “victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university will finally receive the relief they deserve.”

    The order from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — the same Indiana-born judge Trump called biased because of his “Mexican heritage” — comes a year after he first approved the settlement. It marks the end of two class-action lawsuits and a civil lawsuit from New York accusing Trump of “swindling thousands of Americans out of millions of dollars through Trump University,” in the words of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

    “This settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

    Indeed, Trump claimed as a candidate that he “never” settled lawsuits, and would not do so in the case of Trump University. “That’s why I won’t settle,” Trump told MSNBC in 2016. “Because it’s an easy case to win in court … How do you settle a case like that?” […]

    USA Today link

    Schadenfreude moment.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] The circumstances are nothing short of bizarre: a sitting president of the United States has written a check for $25 million to a group of Americans who credibly claimed that he ripped them off by perpetrating a fraud.

    You know things are bad for a president when a story like this goes almost entirely unnoticed by the public, eclipsed by a dozen or so more pressing scandals. […]

    What I’ve long found important about this story are the parallels between the unaccredited “school” and Trump’s rise to political power: a group of Americans, looking for easy solutions and wowed by a celebrity making too-good-to-be-true promises, put their faith in an accused scam artist, only to learn that Donald Trump had no intention of delivering on outlandish pledges that never really made any sense. […]

  14. says

    From Rachel Maddow, regarding the strikes on Syria:

    The perception that the president may have ordered these strikes in part because of scandal will affect the impact and the effectiveness of these military strikes. Unavoidably. Even if the tail is not wagging the dog, even if you give the president every benefit of the doubt, even if his calculations about whether to launch this action against Syria tonight was taken with absolutely no regard for what else is going on in the president’s life right now, what else is going on in the president’s life right now unavoidably creates a real perception around the globe that that may have been part of the motivation both for what he did and particularly for when he did it.

    And it is a sad thing and it is an upsetting thing in terms of American influence in the world and the risks that we take when we use American military power anywhere. But that perception, that this president under this much siege may have made this decision that was in any way inflected by the scandals surrounding him, that by necessity has shaped America’s national security options for who we are in the world tonight and it will unavoidably shape the impact of this military action.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] It’s against this backdrop that the president should be going out of his way to reassure the public and the world that his principal focus is on the national security interests of the United States and its allies, and the broader goal of peace and stability in the region. […]

    But he’s not. Trump has spent the last few days doing the opposite.

    On Friday afternoon, when the American president was presumably weighing options for a military offensive, Trump took time out of his schedule to publish a tweet about former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The president wrote, “He LIED! LIED! LIED!”

    Yesterday morning, Trump continued to show no real interest in developments in Syria, publishing an attack against former FBI Director James Comey. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another. […]

    On Friday, a source familiar with the president’s thinking told CNN’s Gloria Borger on Friday that Trump is, among other things, “flailing” as the scandals surrounding his presidency intensify. Trump’s anger was reportedly “beyond what anyone can imagine.” […]

  15. says

    Norm Eisen: “As an ethicist, I can tell you that in any normal media organization [Hannity covering Cohen raid without disclosing that he’s a client] would merit immediate suspension pending a determination on firing. At Fox he will probably get a promotion.”

  16. says

    Judge Wood: ‘I have faith in the Southern District U.S. attorneys office that their integrity is unimpeachable’. She says a taint team is a ‘viable option’ but adds that a special master ‘may have a role here’,” but in a limited way.

  17. tomh says

    From the Washington Post:
    Trump puts brakes on new Russia sanctions, walking back Haley’s remarks. Administration officials said it was unlikely President Trump would approve any additional sanctions without another triggering event by Russia, describing the strategy as in a holding pattern.

  18. says

    This is interesting in light of the fact that Gabe Sherman is reporting that sources have told him that Hannity was talking with Cohen about dealing with “leftwing groups” who were calling for a boycott over Hannity’s disgusting claims about Seth Rich. If what Hannity is seeking to conceal relates to that, it seems like it could be relevant to the two lawsuits members of Rich’s family have filed against Fox, and potentially to the Russia investigation, since Fox’s actions – including the meeting with Spicer at the White House – seemed to be oddly in sync with RT’s.

  19. says

    Mike Drucker: “I know it’s easy for all of us to make fun of Sean Hannity, but please remember that he pushed a conspiracy theory that forced the parents of a murdered man to beg him to stop so fuck him, fuck him in his dead lego face.”

  20. says

  21. says

    Samples of Sean Hannity’s not-so-objective reporting:

    And this is a Fox News alert. President Trump’s long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, just had his office, his home, and his hotel that he was staying in raided by the FBI today in an early morning raid. Now, what that means is Mueller’s witch-hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks.
    The president’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had his home, his hotel and, of course, his office raided by the FBI over $130,000 payment as the personal attorney of Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels. And what people are not understanding here is when the special counsel raids the offices of the president’s private attorney, Mueller is now basically backdoored his way into every single Trump business deal, at least since Michael Cohen has worked with Donald Trump.

  22. says

    Good news. The state of Utah might see improvements in healthcare for many residents soon (after the November elections):

    Utah residents are going to vote on Medicaid expansion in November, after organizers got enough signatures to put the item on the ballot.

    The advocacy group, Utah Decides Healthcare, submitted more than 165,000 signatures on Monday to put a “clean” Medicaid expansion on the November ballot — about 50,000 more signatures than required. The news came less than a month after Gov. Gary Herbert (R) approved legislation requesting federal approval for a conservative Medicaid expansion, or a partial expansion with work requirements.

    Utah is among 18 states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving more than 100,0000 people in a “coverage gap.” This group of people is uninsured because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but they don’t make enough for subsidized private health plans either.[…]


  23. says

    California is saying “no,” sort of, to some of Trump’s plans for guarding the southern border with National Guard troops:

    California has rejected terms of the federal government’s initial plans for sending National Guard troops to the border because the work is considered too closely tied to immigration, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press.

    Gov. Jerry Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from President Donald Trump last week for pledging 400 troops to the Guard’s third large-scale border mission since 2006. But the Democratic governor conditioned his commitment on troops having nothing to do with immigration enforcement, even in a supporting role. […]

    […] jobs include fixing and maintaining vehicles, using remote-control surveillance cameras to report suspicious activity to U.S. border patrol agents, operating radios and providing “mission support,” which can include clerical work, buying gas and handling payroll, the officials said. California National Guard members have done such work in previous border deployments.

    Talks are ongoing and the federal government has yet to publicly respond to Brown’s demand that troops avoid immigration enforcement or the state’s position on avoiding the specific jobs proposed, the officials said. […]


  24. says

    Kellyanne Conway being Kellyanne Conway:

    I saw a man last night very shaky and unsure to answer questions, not even under oath. But we know that when Comey was under oath that he had a very difficult time telling the truth.

    [She attacked Comey’s tenure as FBI director, saying the organization was a “hot mess” under his leadership. Conway went on to label Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired last month, as “Clinton people.”]

    Jim Comey loves to be in the center of power. He loves to divert the spotlight to himself and be in the center of power. So the president is correcting the record.


  25. says

    Hannity and Ingraham during the changeover – she jokes that she’s glad the heat’s off of her and onto him. “Ha ha ha, we’re both terrible, unscrupulous people! It’s so funny how we share that!”

  26. says

    I thought Stormy Daniels’ statement outside the court was quite good and passionate. From what I’ve seen, she’s clever and witty and seems genuinely indignant about how Trump and Cohen bullied her and others.

  27. says

    This is one of the most important pieces I’ve read in some time – “How Courts Are Neutralizing Trump’s Deceptions”:

    …The president is a fabulist unmoored from the truth. And the confluence of the Russia investigation and Trump’s disturbing behavior toward women shows what happens when a serial liar collides at full speed with a legal system premised on the idea that words have meaning, and actions result in consequences. Trump’s obfuscation has been alarmingly effective in the realm of politics. It will likely prove less so in the courtroom, a space reserved for evaluating facts and weighing the consistency of arguments—though as president, Trump is unlikely to find himself on the wrong end of a criminal prosecution.

    Trump has used this flexibility with the truth as his main weapon in his defense against the Russia investigation. The efforts of the president and his supporters to counter Mueller are less about clarifying Trump’s side of things and more about eroding faith in the possibility of ever figuring out what took place during the 2016 election.* Mueller, the only person potentially in a position to really say what happened, is relentlessly criticized as “conflicted” and out of control. The rest of the time, Trump selects from a roulette wheel of conspiracy theories involving the “deep state” and Hillary Clinton—distractions that however flimsy viewed one at a time, combine to create an atmosphere of confusion around the special counsel. The point of this fabulism is to ensure no conclusion in the Russia investigation, no matter how damning, can be trusted.

    As with his falsehoods regarding the Russia investigation, Trump’s insistence that he never did or said any of the things of which he’s been accused is an effort to reshape the world to his specifications. It’s an assertion of power, a declaration that he and he alone—and not any of the women who have come forward, nor for that matter Robert Mueller—gets to decide what is and is not the truth.

    For this reason, there’s a certain visceral satisfaction in watching Daniels turn that same tool against Trump—the confusion and deniability Trump relies on to protect himself could give Daniels an advantage in court. She may not succeed in convincing the courts to strike down her nondisclosure agreement, but her litigation has already shown the legal system’s ability to deflate Trump’s contradictions and half-truths….

    Daniels’s legal efforts to puncture Trump’s falsehoods are a scaled-down version of what’s transpired in the flood of court rulings against the administration’s more controversial policies. Again and again, judges have refused to let Trump get away with his usual trick of evading consequences by simply denying any involvement in what he did or said. Instead, they’ve written his tweets into legal opinions as evidence of animus against Muslims or transgender servicemembers. Law, after all, is a structure of meaning used to weigh facts and arguments and then impose consequences—the opposite of Trump’s glib insistence on the irrelevance of truth. What matters is not how loudly a person can boast but what evidence can be presented.

    It’s for this reason that the Russia investigation looms so large. In his sternness and silence, Mueller has become not just a prosecutor or a special counsel but the embodiment of the justice system—the opposite of the dissembler in chief….

    How the Russia investigation will conclude is anyone’s guess. What seems more and more likely in the wake of the Cohen raid is that Trump’s inner circle may be held legally accountable for the president’s systematic mistreatment of women—not only through private litigation against the president but by government prosecution—and that Trump himself may finally pay a political cost….

    But prosecutors can only do so much. Mueller, known for playing by the rules, is unlikely to buck the internal Justice Department legal opinions that rule out indictment of a sitting president. And the special counsel may never share the whole of his findings with the public. More concerning, however, is the possibility that law comes up against the edifice of falsehoods and fails. That is, what if the special counsel unveils a catalogue of wrongdoing by the president and those around him, only to find that Trump has succeeded in undermining the idea of truth to the extent that a substantial proportion of Americans simply won’t believe whatever investigators have found?

    Where will Americans be then?

    * What Trump is attempting is exactly what Putin has done. This is essentially an epistemic war. Its significance can’t be overstated.

  28. says

    Avenatti: “This morning on @TheView, @stormydaniels and I will release the composite sketch of the thug who threatened my client and her little girl in Las Vegas. This is a search for the truth. #thugsearch #justice #basta”

    They’re also going to offer some sort of reward. I suspect they already have a pretty firm sense of who it is.

  29. says

    Well. An academic who studies propaganda, Dr. Emma Briant, was compelled by Damian Collins’ committee to turn over recordings of interviews with various people involved with Cambridge Analytica and Brexit done as research for a book. She also provided an essay analyzing her findings. I haven’t read enough to know about how they relate to criminal violations, but they should make it plain to everyone that Cambridge Analytica and their UK and US clients are fucking evil propagandists who manipulated the public and stoked violent racism for their own ends and are happy to brag about it. Their model, explicitly, is Hitler (the notion that Hitler “didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all” is absurd, but the argument surrounding that claim says it all).

    Journalists should do major special reports on this, including the similarities (and possible coordination) with Putin’s methods.

    Links to the transcripts and essay at the links.)

  30. says

    Charlie Dent (Republican congressman from Pennsylvania), who had announced a while back that he wouldn’t be running for re-election, has now announced that he’ll resign in May.

  31. says

    Breaking: Supreme Court invalidates part of federal law requiring mandatory deportation of immigrants convicted of some crimes. For first time, Justice Neil Gorsuch joins with more liberal Justices to produce 5-4 majority.”

  32. says

    “Sandy Hook Parents Hit Alex Jones With Defamation Lawsuits”:

    Alex Jones has spent years claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked. He has claimed the parents of these dead children are liars and “crisis actors.”

    Now, those parents are coming after him.

    In a pair of lawsuits filed late Monday, the parents of two children who died in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, say Jones’ repeated lies and conspiratorial ravings have led to death threats. The suits join at least two other recent cases accusing the Infowars host of defamation….

  33. says

    Follow-up to SC 259.

    Paraphrasing from the comments in that thread: Comey is evil incarnate for trying to make money with a tell-all book. If he really had something worthwhile to say, he would not put it in a book. [WTF?] Now that you know Comey is evil for making money, send us your money today to support our totally not-evil-at-all scammy, scummy, trumpian organization.

  34. blf says

    Neo-Nazi ‘Tyrone’ exposed as US marine:

    Just weeks before a white supremacist rally turned deadly last August after a neo-Nazi allegedly drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, several of the rally’s organisers discussed ways to use cars as weapons in an online chatroom.

    On July 17, one of those organisers, operating under the alias “Tyrone”, posted a picture of a farm machine known as a combine harvester, writing it sure would be nice. He then wrote: Is it legal to run over protesters blocking roadways?

    Tyrone’s statements garnered media attention last August, but it was not publicly known who was behind the alias. That changed recently, when an anti-racist activist exposed Tyrone’s identity as Michael Joseph Chesny, a 36-year-old active duty marine who was stationed at an airbase in Havelock, North Carolina with a speciality in explosives.

    In more than 1,000 posts in an online chatroom called Discord, Tyrone gave detailed advice on how to fight in the streets of Charlottesville, and also posted a raft of racial slurs and statements pledging support for neo-Nazi causes and organisations.


    [Islamphobic and racial] slurs were rampant on Discord, but Tyrone stood out for his more specific advice. In one instance, he advised others on how to build and use a flagpole as a weapon.


    On July 23, 2017, Tyrone posted an image of an armed man with the caption: I am actually a US Marine who was born to kill …


    Al Jazeera contacted Chesny, but he hung up the phone. When Al Jazeera sent Chesny questions by text message, asking him to respond in writing, Chesny instead attempted to call our reporter from a talk radio station in North Carolina in order to, he said, record and reserve the right to distribute the interview.

    Al Jazeera did not agree to these terms, and gave Chesny several more days to respond to questions in writing — which he declined to do. Chesny has not admitted that Tyrone is his online alias.

    The radio station from which Chesny called Al Jazeera had hosted him before. On July 27, 2017, Tyrone wrote that he’d be making his triumphant return to live radio tonight on 107.1 WTKF to discuss South African white supremacist Simon Roche.


    While many in the alt-right […] often minimise the kind of posts made by Tyrone as acts of “trolling”, Chesny’s messages contain numerous examples where Tyrone’s words match Chesny’s actions.


    I was at Pikeville [a nazi rally in April 2017 in Kentucky], Tyrone boasted, “Seig Heiling into the night.”

    Video from the Pikeville rally shows Chesny wearing sunglasses and black gloves, marching in formation with a group of men flying neo-Nazi flags and wearing shirts signalling their support for Rahowa — or racial holy war.

    In one video from Pikeville, NSM [nazi National Socialist Movement] leader Jeff Schoep declared that the people behind him are are the shock troops for the white race. Chesny’s face appears in the back of the crowd.


    When asked to comment on Chesny’s activities, Marines spokesman Brian Block told Al Jazeera that any marine’s affiliation with white supremacist groups is “a violation” that results in “separation following the first substantiated incident of misconduct”.


    Chesny had become eligible for a promotion to staff sergeant last September, but Marines officials say that promotion was cancelled during an investigation that led to Chesny’s general discharge from the Marines on April 5.


    Officials at the Marine Corps and the DOD argue that the incidence of white supremacists in their ranks is rare.

    But DOD spokeswoman Carla Gleason told Al Jazeera that the military does not keep data on the number of people who have been discharged for their affiliations with white supremacist groups.


    More details at the link.

  35. Oggie. says

    re SC @59:

    So is Trump claiming that he received no money at all for his 14 (count ’em, 14) books which he wrote (or co-wrote (or signed his name at the bottom of a ghost-written manuscript))? Or, conversely, is Trump claiming that he really had nothing important or big to say so he put it in a book?

  36. says

    Here’s an update on Scott Pruitt’s ethical lapses:

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt upgraded his official car last year to a costlier, larger vehicle with bullet-resistant covers over bucket seats, according to federal records and interviews with current and former agency officials.

    Recent EPA administrators have traveled in a Chevrolet Tahoe, and agency officials had arranged for Pruitt to use the same vehicle when he joined the administration in February. But he switched to a larger, newer and more high-end Chevy Suburban last June.

    [the head of Pruitt’s security detail] subsequently approved the addition of Kevlar-like seat covers to the vehicle at a cost of hundreds of dollars. […]

    Washington Post link

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] That’s the same security official [the head of Pruitt’s security detail], Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who’s reportedly “clashed – at least once physically – with top E.P.A. officials who challenged Mr. Pruitt’s spending, and has steered at least one E.P.A. security contract to a business associate.”

    That sounds quite trumpian. The guy in charge, Pruitt, has infected some of the people who work for him with corruption-prone tendencies. Lack of an ethical core is contagious.

    More from Steve Benen:

    […] For what it’s worth, it would be easier to justify “bullet-resistant covers” for Scott Pruitt’s seats if there were evidence of expansive security threats against the EPA chief, but there aren’t. The latest documents from the agency show those security threats don’t really exist. (The career EPA staffer who approved this evidence was removed from his post.)

    […] the EPA chief also explored the possibility of getting a bullet-proof desk.

    […] Pruitt, for example, has a massive, around-the-clock security detail. He’s spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on a professional sweep of his office searching for possible surveillance devices. And thousand more on a sound-proof phone booth. And thousands more on first-class air travel, apparently afraid of the riff raff who fly coach. […]

    More details that are new to me:

    […] CNN reported that the EPA’s custodial staff is not allowed to enter Pruitt’s office on their own, and in the hallway around Pruitt’s office, “security employees check government IDs against a list of employees who are approved for access.” […]

  37. blf says

    More shenanigans to try and discredit Al Jazeera in the States, Al Jazeera denies claims of pro-Israel group on The Lobby films:

    The Zionist Organisation of America claims Al Jazeera was compelled to cancel an investigation into pro-Israel lobbies.

    Al Jazeera has denied what it called false claims by the president of the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) that the media network was compelled to cancel a yet-to-be broadcast investigation into the activities of pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States.

    “{Morton} Klein obviously mischaracterises the subject of the series as the ‘American Jewish Lobby, when the investigation is into American pro-Israel organisations (including the ZOA), which work to further the interests of a foreign power on American soil,” the network said in a statement released on Tuesday.

    The Qatar-based network also utterly rejected the allegation that the series is viciously anti-Semitic.

    “It is astonishing that Mr Klein writes about a documentary series that he has not seen in terms that are prejudicial, inaccurate and inflammatory,” the statement said.

    “He also refers to the UK edition of The Lobby, broadcast in January 2017, which he again misconstrues as being about the Jewish lobby in Britain.”

    This series exposed a campaign by Israel to interfere with domestic politics in the UK, which included covert operations to promote a foreign country’s agenda within Britain’s political parties. In one case, it revealed a plot to “take down” a government minister who was critical of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank.

    The Israeli ambassador to the UK was forced to apologise to the foreign office and the diplomat involved was fired. The investigation also triggered a parliamentary inquiry into foreign interference in British politics.

    Pro-Israel advocacy groups in the UK made a series of complaints to the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the quasi-government regulator that ensures [sic] fairness and accuracy on British television. Al Jazeera is a signatory and abides by Ofcom’s stringent codes of practice.

    The complainants levelled charges of anti-Semitism, bias, unfair editing and infringement of privacy. After an eight-month investigation, Ofcom’s detailed, 60-page ruling rejected each complaint in full.


    Other States-side shenanigans include the current on-going attempt to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent (similar to RT).

  38. says

    Brittany Kaiser testified in Parliament today and Carole Cadwalladr reported.

    BREAKING: Brittany Kaiser’s written evidence has explosive new claims about Breitbart’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica. Company had ‘exclusive rights to re-sell Breitbart engagement data’. Steve Bannon key role in both orgs. Major new qs about Bannon & Brexit…”

    Relevant passage from the written testimony at the link.

  39. blf says

    A heads-up on something to keep an eye on, A bomb silenced Daphne Caruana Galizia. But her investigation lives on:

    The Daphne Project reveals the story so far behind the murder of a Maltese journalist
    In Malta, the prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and his party stand accused of allowing corruption to go unpunished, of weakening the police and the judiciary, of allowing an environment in which [Daphne Caruana Galizia’s] killing became possible.

    But it goes deeper than that. The European Union must now decide how to deal with its smallest member state — an island that appears to have become a magnet for criminals and kleptocrats, and that some MEPs fear has become a gateway for dirty money into the rest of the continent, including the UK.

    The profound questions raised by Caruana Galizia’s murder have become the focus of a new collaboration: the Daphne Project.

    With the support of her family, a group of 18 international media organisations, including the Guardian, Reuters and Le Monde, has come together. Led by Forbidden Stories, whose mission is to continue the work of silenced journalists, the group has spent months piecing together Caruana Galizia’s story and pursuing the investigations she was working on when she was killed.

    Today, the project launches with the story of her murder, of the men facing trial for the crime, and the enduring mystery of who ordered it, and why.


  40. says

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has claimed multiple times that he is a geologist. From Steve Benen:

    […] If you’ve heard Zinke speak on his work at Interior, you’ve probably heard him talk about being a geologist. He’s made the boast dozens of times since joining the president’s cabinet, including during congressional testimony while under oath, often as a way of bolstering the weight of his policy decisions. As the argument goes, Zinke must be right about everything from climate change to endangered species to oil drilling – because he’s a geologist.[…]

    The claim that he is a geologist is misleading, as CNN reported:

    […] Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist. In his autobiography, Zinke wrote that he majored in geology at the University of Oregon, which he attended on a football scholarship, and chose his major at random.

    “I studied geology as a result of closing my eyes and randomly pointing to a major from the academic catalog, and I never looked back. I am just glad I did not find electronics,” he wrote, adding that he was focused and a good student, and earned an outstanding academic achievement award his senior year. […]

    Zinke earned a degree 34 years ago. He has never worked as a geologist.

    Additional embarrassing facts from Zinke’s past:

    – He hosted a radio show that, among other propaganda efforts, promoted the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fake.

    – More recently, the FEC asked questions about unreported contributions, about $600,000, to a PAC affiliated with Zinke.

    – Zinke reassigned an alarming number of Native Americans employed by his department, a fact that was previously discussed in this thread.

    – Zinke also reassigned a scientist tasked with studying how climate change affects Alaska Native communities. The guy was assigned to document fees paid to the department from oil and gas leases.

    – Zinke’s wife uses department staffers to do her bidding.

    There are more look-at-me-I’m-a-corrupt-asshat stories connected to Zinke, but you get the idea.

  41. says

    Team Trump has been trying to put some distance between Trump and Michael Cohen. That effort is not going so well, as the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted:

    […] Come on. Trump certainly has a lot of lawyers — especially given his special counsel investigation problem — but Cohen was the only one negotiating hush-money payments with porn stars, appearing on TV as a surrogate, and to whom Trump regularly referred as “my attorney.” Cohen is the guy who has expressed unflinching and complete loyalty to Trump.

    Cohen isn’t just another lawyer. In fact, “lawyer” doesn’t begin to describe his closeness to Trump. […]

    From Axios:

    Cohen […] is the only person on earth intertwined in Trump’s professional, political, personal, legal and family life.

  42. Oggie. says

    SC @73:

    At an actual news network, he would have been immediately suspended and, most likely, fired. But, Fox News is entertainment, not news, so I guess this is just par for the course. I wonder if he is member at Maralago?

  43. says

    Trump’s new national economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, is pushing the propaganda line that the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP tax cut law is wrong because you can “never believe the CBO.” Okay, so Kudlow is firmly on the anti-truth, anti-fact train with Trump.

    […] “Never believe the CBO. Very important: Never believe them,” Larry Kudlow said on “Fox & Friends” when asked about the nonpartisan analysis of the tax law. “They’re always wrong, especially with regard to tax cuts, which they never score properly.”

    “The CBO people are professionals. This is not a personal attack,” he added. “But their record on tax cuts is not good.”

    The CBO found earlier this month that the tax cuts enacted in the Republican bill, along with the spending package passed to fund the government, will balloon the deficit by $1 trillion. […]

  44. says

    Josh Marshall presented some new details about Michael Cohen’s businesses:

    […] Cohen was a major player in the New York City taxi business for two decades. He still holds at least 30 NYC taxi medallions. In recent years he shifted his focus to Chicago, where his erstwhile taxi business partner, Simon Garber, is the biggest taxi operator in the city. There Cohen hooked up with another New York-based Ukrainian immigrant family, the Shtayners (Semyon and Yasya). They’ve been in the taxi business for years and manage a fleet of more than 360 cabs in Chicago. 22 of those medallions/cabs are owned by Cohen and managed by the Shtayners’ Chicago Medallion Management Corp. […]

    Meanwhile CNN reports that Cohen is a “secured debtor” for 22 shell companies associated with the Shtayners. […] the cab business involves the medallions and the cars themselves. […] What the secured debtor reference means however is that Cohen appears to have been lending money to the Shtayners to sustain their operation.

    So … Cohen is now a banker/money launderer?

    […] Over the last half a dozen years the taxi businesses has been clobbered by competition from Uber and Lyft. A few years ago a NYC medallion went for more than $1 million. They’ve now collapsed down to a value of two or three hundred thousand dollars a piece. There’s been a comparable drop in Chicago and sometimes medallions can’t find buyers at all. The medallions are often used as collateral to borrow against. Like with homes, the collapse in the market has left lots of people in the taxi business with medallions that are underwater. So lots of the players are under severe pressure. The biggest taxi operator in New York, Evgeny “Gene” Friedman, now manages Cohen’s 30+ NYC medallions or at least did the last time we spoke to him. Friedman has been struggling for the last year to keep his taxi businesses out of bankruptcy and himself jail.

    We don’t know if there are any crimes involved in the business relationship between Cohen and the Shtayners. We only know that these relationships are being scrutinized in the criminal investigation into Cohen. The point to keep an eye on is the broader pattern: Cohen’s involvement with a network of Ukrainian immigrant families with major stakes in the taxicab business in multiple cities. These are businesses which require large amounts of cash to get into and sustain. […]

  45. blf says

    (I tried to comment on this several days ago but had some difficulties at that time, so am trying now again…)

    The land border between Ireland and N.Ireland on the island of Ireland is a major brexit difficulty yet to be resolved. Both Ireland and N.Ireland (including the brexit-supporting DUP) want to retain the current open land border — quite possibly the most open in the entire (current) EU — meaning, amongst other things, there continuing to be no physical barriers, and no routine checkpoints or checks. A hugely important reason is the open border is widely seen by all but a few übernutters as a critical part of the Good Friday Agreement which ended what was euphemistically called “The Troubles”. Maintaining that open border is befuddling the UK’s brexitters, so they have taken to claiming the Good Friday Agreement is no longer needed, and thus neither is the open border.

    This includes the UK’s chief eejit for brexit (David Davis), Dublin bemused as UK Brexit point man drops clangers (Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    UK Brexit secretary David Davis managed to drop two clangers in the one sentence this week, drawing more ridicule and feeding fears that Britain is simply not doing its homework despite the knife-edge nature of divorce talks with the EU.

    First, Davis claimed there had been a change of government in the Republic. Then, apparently shocked by Dublin’s tough stance on the Border, he suggested the Government’s negotiating tack was being driven by Sinn Féin.

    We had a change of government, south of the Border, and with quite a strong influence from Sinn Féin, and that had an impact in terms of the approach, he said. His mistakes were quickly pointed out to him by a reporter who suggested he “check {his} facts”.

    Well you had a change of leader or a change in taoiseach [Irish PM], Davis replied. They’ve {Sinn Féin} been playing a strong political role which they haven’t done historically, that I hadn’t foreseen. We’ll leave our interpretations aside if you like.


    The last Irish general election was in 2016, and the current Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar) has been in office since June-2017. The last presidential election was in 2011, so there will be one this year (Irish presidents serve a 7-year term), but it has not (as far as I know) even been scheduled yet.

    Then there is the Sinn Féin clanger. Sinn Féin is “party† non grata” in the Republic. No-one will ally or enter a coalition with them. (There are multiple reasons for this ostracization.) The idea that they are driving Ireland’s position on the border is a non-starter. It’s very possibly also a load of cobblers in N.Ireland, since maintaining the open border post-brexit is a point on which both they and the DUP agree — and besides, N.Ireland hasn’t had a functioning government for over a year now (yet another complicated / multireason story).

    Whilst one is tempted to suspect the Sinn Féin nonsense is some mischief-making by the DUP — Sinn Féin and the DUP mutually loathe each other — I tend to doubt it. As noted about, both “parties” (I use that term very loosely†) want to maintain the open border, albeit I would not be surprised if there are differences both in detail and plausible / suggested solutions.

    Instead, I suspect mischief-making by the fanatic brexiters, namely, undermining the Good Friday Agreement. Indeed, as a more detailed report, Davis claims SF pushed Government’s hard stance on Brexit, makes clear, Davies is attempting to poo-poo the concerns of Ireland (and N.Ireland) about the border:

    Sinn Féin’s growing influence in the Republic has pushed the Irish Government into taking a harder-than-expected stand in the Brexit negotiations, British Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed.

    The charge, though much-ridiculed, has been made by a series of Conservative politicians in recent months, such as former Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, but never by a leading member of the British Cabinet.

    Speaking at a conference in London, the Brexit Secretary said that he had not anticipated the tough approach to negotiations taken by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who took over from Enda Kenny last June.


    [… T]he simple truth is that on both sides of the border the politics changed with the change of taoiseach and with the disappearance of the Northern Ireland executive.

    The N.Ireland “government” ceased to function in January-2017, before the UK’s invocation of Article 50 in March-2017. If either N.Irish “party”† is influencing anything anywhere, it’s the DUP in the UK parliament, where they are propping-up the current UK “government”.

    In a statement to The London Times, the Irish government quickly rejected Mr Davis’s claims: “{The Irish} position is unchanged since the time of the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership and is one which has cross-party support in Dáil Éireann [Irish parliament].”

    Tánaiste [Irish deputy PM] and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney also described the comments as “way off the mark” and “nonsense”.

    Mr Coveney told RTÉ’s [Irish “BBC”] Morning Ireland that it would help if Mr Davis came to Dublin where he could learn about Irish politics and would realise that the idea of an Irish government being influenced by Sinn Féin was “nonsense”.

      † “Toddlers in need of toilet training” is a better description of both Sinn Féin and the DUP. (Sinn Féin is active in both Ireland and N.Ireland, and has some seats in the Dáil Éireann; and together with the DUP, comprise the N.Ireland “government” under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Both Sinn Féin and the DUP also have seats in the UK parliament, albeit Sinn Féin refuses to take up theirs. The DUP are propping-up the current UK “government”.)

  46. says

    More Swamp Creatures, this time in the FCC:

    Trump’s choice to dismantle net neutrality regulations, Chairman Ajit Pai, is losing one of his dubious cronies. […] Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former CEO of Alaska telecommunications, has been arrested on allegations she forged contracts to the tune of $250 million.


    Elizabeth Ann Pierce, who served as CEO of Quintillion Networks LLC, allegedly convinced two investment companies that the firm had secured contracts for a high-speed fiber-optic system that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and FBI said Thursday. The system was pitched as one that would provide service in Alaska and connect it to the lower 48 states, authorities said.

    “As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe.”

    Wall Street Journal link

    What should we call a flock of scam artists? Or a bunch of swamp creatures?

    All the best people.

    Note the connection to the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and to the FBI. I suppose that Elizabeth Ann can claim that the “deep state” is persecuting her.

    People in the know in Alaska must be having a schadenfreude moment to see this bullshitter caught by prosecutors.

  47. says

    Cohen’s lawyers’ letter (@ #9 above) devotes several paragraphs to arguing that naming the third client would cause various harms and should not be required. It also states:

    “The third legal client directed Mr. Cohen to not reveal the identity publicly.”

    “We believe that the unnamed client may allow Mr. Cohen to provide the names [?] to a Special Master.”

    “Of the three legal clients, Donald J. Trump and Elliot Broidy have allowed us to reveal the fact that they are legal clients. The other legal client indicated that they did not authorize their name to be publicly filed in connection with this matter and directed Mr. Cohen to appeal any order to disclose their name. We believe that if a Special Master was appointed, that legal client would allow their name to be disclosed to the Special Master.”

    This isn’t consistent with Hannity’s characterization. Hannity should have to publicly state whether what Cohen’s lawyers claim in this letter is true.

  48. says

    Trump tweeted:

    The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?

    James Comey responded:

    Comey: President Trump, I don’t follow him on Twitter but I get to see his tweets tweeted, […] some tweets this past couple of days that I should be in jail. The president of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction of most of us was, “Meh, that’s another one of those things.” This is not normal. This is not OK. There’s a danger that we will become numb to it, and we will stop noticing the threats to our norms. The threats to the rule of law and the threats most of all to the truth. And so the reason I’m talking in terms of morality is, those are the things that matter most to this country. And there’s a great danger we’ll be numbed into forgetting that, and then only a fool would be consoled by some policy victory.

    Inskeep: Can you state it even more plainly, because there are many people on the other side of the divide here. What’s wrong with the president saying you should be in jail?

    Comey: The rule of law involves the apolitical administration of justice. This is not some tin pot dictatorship where the leader of the country gets to say, “The people I don’t like go to jail.” Our Lady Justice wears a blindfold. And the reason all those statues all over the country have a blindfold is, that’s the way it has to be. Lady Justice can’t be peeking under the blindfold to see if Donald Trump wants her to convict so-and-so and not convict so-and-so. If we lose that, we’ve lost the rule of law, and so there’s great danger in the president of the United States saying “You should be in jail.”

    I have to say that I think Comey is right on this one. Comey is definitely an imperfect man and an imperfect leader. He makes mistakes and sometimes he doubles down on his mistakes, but he is so obviously more truthful than Trump that there is really no contest here.

  49. says

    The quoted interview text in comment 80 was from NPR.

    In other news, Parents Didn’t Want Fracking Near Their School. So the Oil Company Chose a Poorer School, Instead.

    The first school was 77-percent white. The second is 87-percent students of color.

    In one of the most fracked counties in the country, a fight is underway between environmental justice advocates and the Colorado commission that oversees oil and gas development. Four environmental and civil rights groups are suing the commission for allowing a company to build 24 oil and gas wells by a public school in a low-income area—after the same company tossed its original plans to build near a charter school serving mostly white, middle-class families. […]

    Instead, Extraction began scouting other locations in Greeley, a small city about 50 miles northeast of Denver. In May 2016, Extraction Oil and Gas filed a new application. This time, Extraction selected a site even closer to another school: Bella Romero Academy. The student population at Bella Romero is more than 87 percent Latino or Hispanic, African American, or other people of color. More than 90 percent of students at Bella Romero qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. (At Frontier, 77 percent of students are white, and about 20 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.) […]

  50. Oggie. says

    Hannity should have to publicly state whether what Cohen’s lawyers claim in this letter is true.

    But, but, but, FOX News has discussed this with Hannity and they are good with it. Which means that Hannity et al will now state that it has been fully investigated and is no longer a story except for people who hate freedom, the NRA, Putin, Trump, and Amerika!

  51. says

    “Trump campaign paid Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller’s lawyers, records show”:

    Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $66,000 to the law firm that represents Keith Schiller, his former longtime bodyguard, newly filed campaign records show.

    Schiller, who left a White House job in September, testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November that someone made an offer to send five women to Trump’s hotel room in Moscow in the lead-up to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

    Two people familiar with the matter told NBC News that Schiller painted the incident in a light favorable to Trump, saying he turned down the offer on Trump’s behalf, treated it as a joke and no women ever came, as far as he was aware. It is presumed by Congressional investigators that Schiller told the same story to special counsel Robert Mueller.

    Stuart Sears, a lawyer for Schiller, said he could not comment on whether the Trump campaign’s payment was related to Schiller’s legal fees.

    Federal election law allows the use of campaign money for legal fees, but only if the fees are related to a matter connected to the campaign, legal experts say.

    “I can see people taking the point of view that the entire investigation springs out of the campaign, but that would be a real stretch,” Kappel said.

    That said, investigators likely also asked Schiller about matters that arose during the campaign….

  52. blf says

    Sinclair TV boss donated to Gianforte, congressman who attacked reporter:

    One of the brothers who control Sinclair Broadcasting has donated more than $10,000 to Greg Gianforte, the Republican congressman who assaulted a journalist and then lied to police about it.

    Robert E Smith, whose company is the biggest owner of television stations in the US, last month gave a maximum $5,400 campaign contribution to Greg Gianforte, the congressman for Montana, according to a federal filing. He did the same last year.


    Smith stated when donating to Gianforte last month that he was self-employed and worked in real estate, an apparent reference to a commercial property firm he founded. His connection to Sinclair was not noted. […]

    When he donated $5,400 to Gianforte in 2017, Smith said he was retired. He did the same when giving $10,000 to the Montana Republican party before the assault. Smith has also donated $5,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, variously stating that he was a self-employed musician and a director.


    Smith has been a director of Sinclair Broadcast Group since 1986, according to the company. He owns 19% of the company, according to a regulatory filing last year, while his brothers David, Duncan and Frederick together own another 55%.

    Frederick Smith, a vice-president at Sinclair, donated $1,000 to Gianforte the day after the assault.

    The disclosure of Smith’s contribution to Gianforte follows a controversy over Sinclair joining Donald Trump’s attacks against journalism. The company instructed news anchors around the US to recite a script about fake stories and false news that echoed Trump’s own complaints.

    Earlier this month, Smith’s brother David, the executive chairman of Sinclair, told the Guardian that the furore over the script was the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen in my life and denied that the company pushed a conservative agenda through its news bulletins.

  53. blf says

    Ozland, not content with imprisoning migrants in concentration camps (conveniently located in other countries, just like the nazis did), also loves to send living animals overseas in appalling and frequently deadly conditions, the so-called “live export” trade. Recently yet another case came to light, in 2017, 2,400 sheep died en route to the Middle East. This is neither an isolated nor rare incident. First Dog in the Moon explains, Hi kids, meet Bob — he’s in the live export industry and tortures sheep for a living (cartoon): “The animals on board often die horrible, completely avoidable deaths. And nothing changes, because the exporters control the regulators”.

  54. says

    “Amended ethics filing shows Dennis Kucinich was paid $20k by pro-Syrian government group”:

    After initially not disclosing who paid him to give speeches in 2017, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed an amended ethics disclosure showing he was paid $20,000 by a group sympathetic to the Syrian government.

    Syria’s President Bashar Assad has been accused by multiple intelligence agencies of using chemical weapons on his own people in the long-running Syrian Civil War.

    The revelation comes when Kucinich has been dogged by his connection to Assad, whom he met with in 2017, in the [Ohio] gubernatorial race. Kucinich, a longtime critic of American involvement with foreign conflict, has questioned whether Assad used chemical weapons….