1. says

    Interesting article – “Julian Assange Went After a Former Ally. It Backfired Epically.”:

    A botched power play by Julian Assange has led to a split within a key organization supporting whistleblowers and leaves the WikiLeaks founder more isolated than ever among his core constituency of radical transparency activists.

    Assange has grown furious at a one-time ally with substantial moral authority within their movement: the journalist and activist Barrett Brown.

    Since his release from federal prison on trumped-up charges related to a major corporate hack, Brown been increasingly public in voicing disgust at Assange’s embrace of Donald Trump and general comfort with the nationalist right. That has led Assange, an erstwhile transparency advocate and whistleblower champion, to retaliate.

    “I have been increasingly vocal about my growing distaste for WikiLeaks in general and Julian Assange in particular, largely due to his close and ongoing involvement with fascist entities, his outright lies about his role in the last U.S. election, and his willingness to have others tell similar lies on his behalf,” Brown told The Daily Beast. “I have also continued to support his rights against the state and private organizations that have pursued him from the very beginning, when his original mission of ethical transparency was still in play.”

    The short-term result of Assange’s behavior may be to consolidate control over Courage. But it has come at the expense of broken ties with two heavily respected and influential figures within the hacktivist circles from which Assange emerged. At this point, it leaves Assange with more solid support from the extreme right and its media organs than from his original community….

    Much more at the link.

  2. says

    “Ex-CIA officer faces arrest over alleged Montenegro coup plot”:

    Prosecutors in Montenegro have called for the arrest of a former CIA officer, accusing him of involvement in an alleged Russian-backed coup attempt in 2016.

    The former CIA operative, Joseph Assad, has rejected the charges, saying he had been in Montenegro to provide personal security advice to a western political consultant, and calling on the US to reject any extradition request.

    “This is a deception campaign against a loyal American who had no role in any crimes or coup in Montenegro,” Assad said in a statement issued on Saturday through his lawyer.

    The accusation against Assad is the latest twist in a convoluted year-long trial in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, of 14 suspected coup plotters, including two Russians, nine Serbs and three Montenegrins accused of a conspiracy to bring down the country’s pro-Nato government and assassinate its then prime minister Milo Đjukanović.

    Prosecutors claim the goal of the putsch, on the day of parliament elections in March 2016, was to stop Montenegro from joining Nato but it was foiled by the security services. Montenegro became the alliance’s 29th member two months later.

    In a statement to the Guardian on Friday, the special prosecutor’s office in Podgorica said that Assad, who has also worked as a private security consultant, was suspected of “creating a criminal organisation” and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

    Assad was temporarily working in Montenegro as a security advisor to Aron Shaviv, a British-Israeli political consultant working for a pro-Moscow Montenegrin opposition group, the Democratic Front (DF).

    Shaviv specialises in making television commercials for international politicians. The website of his company, Shaviv Strategy and Campaigns, says he “has helped 14 heads of state win elections” and “consulted other parties and candidates in over 40 elections worldwide”. He won prizes for commercials in 2015 for Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting the Israeli leader in a soft, humorous light.

    In 2016 Shaviv produced satirical commercials on behalf of the DF party, which opposed Nato membership and was generally pro-Russian. As a result, he claimed he was repeatedly stopped and questioned by Montenegrin police and security officers.

    The court in Podgorica was told that Shaviv hired Assad and his firm, Peregrine Consulting, to provide counter-surveillance, find out whether Shaviv was being followed and plan an evacuation in case he was at risk. The prosecution have claimed that the real purpose of hiring Assad was to help extract the coup plotters after election day.

    Another former CIA officer and private security consultant, Brian Scott, told the court in June that he had considered collaborating with Assad in Montenegro but said he was warned off by a colleague in the region who pointed to allegations that DF had links with Russian intelligence….

  3. says

    “FBI agent Peter Strzok fired over anti-Trump texts”:

    The FBI has fired Agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered he had been sending anti-Trump texts.

    Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday — even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.

    “This isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” Goelman said….

  4. says

    “Trump-appointed judge upholds special counsel Mueller’s authority”:

    A federal district judge who was appointed by President Donald Trump has upheld Robert Mueller’s appointment and constitutional authority in the special counsel’s case against Russian social media propagandists.

    Judge Dabney Friedrich, who serves at the trial-court level in DC federal court, said Concord Management and Consulting could not have its case tossed on constitutional grounds….

    “The appointment does not violate core separation-of-powers principles. Nor has the Special Counsel exceeded his authority under the appointment order by investigating and prosecuting Concord,” Friedrich wrote in an opinion published Monday morning. She was one of the first judges Trump placed into a federal court position.

    Friedrich cited opinions by three other federal judges — Amy Berman Jackson, who oversees Paul Manafort’s criminal foreign lobbying case; T.S. Ellis, who oversees Manafort’s financial fraud case; and DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell — to back up her decision….

  5. says

    I see that Omarosa is all over the news today. For those that didn’t see it in the previous chapter of this thread, Here is a link back to SC’s comment noting that Maggie Haberman wrote: “When ⁦@katierogers⁩ and I wrote that someone was secretly taping Trump, it was not Omarosa. Raises possibility that still others are doing same within the White House.”

  6. says

    SC in comment 1, Omarosa has a tape of Trump telling her that he didn’t know she was going to be fired, and that he hadn’t wanted her fired.

    Liars all around.

  7. says

    Team Trump says one thing, does another. Business as usual. Trump himself repeatedly claims that he supports the military and veterans especially. This policy says otherwise:

    The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, according to internal agency documents.

    Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, intends to scrap the use of so-called supervisory examinations of lenders, arguing that such proactive oversight is not explicitly laid out in the legislation, the main consumer measure protecting active-duty service members, according to a two-page draft of the change.

    As Steve Benen wrote, Mulvaney’s move is unnecessary:

    […] advocates for military families were “surprised” by the Trump administration’s proposal, not only because they hoped to see the opposite when it comes to protecting veterans’ finances, but also because no one from the financial industry challenged the legality of these lender examinations when the Obama administration took action to protect servicemembers in recent years.

    In other words, Mulvaney is so eager to protect lenders, he’s apparently taking steps to fix a “problem” that no one thought existed. […]

    This comes on the heels of a variety of other Trump-related troubles with veterans issues, including revelations that the president effectively handed authority over many VA decisions to a trio of unqualified Mar-a-Lago members.

    Finally, those who followed the 2016 race closely may recall then-candidate Trump discussing the creation of a “private White House hotline” veterans would be able to call for assistance. “I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed that the issue be brought directly to me, and I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to,” Trump said in July 2016.

    The Washington Post reported two weeks ago on the customer-service reps who work at a new call center for veterans – and the degree to which they don’t appear to be doing much. […]


  8. says

    Another case in which Omarosa Manigault Newman is telling the truth:

    The Post’s Josh Dawsey has a document verifying Manigault Newman’s claim that she was offered what amounted to $15,000 per month in hush money to keep quiet about the White House. It was technically for a job with the Trump campaign, but it was premised on her signing a nondisclosure agreement that dealt with her time in the West Wing. That, notably, isn’t generally how NDAs work; they usually involve the job you are getting, not the one you previously had.

    Washington Post link

    Comments from Larry Noble, a campaign-finance lawyer and former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission:

    As a policy and ethics matter, this is very disturbing. If the White House is using NDAs to prohibit government employees from talking about their experiences, it potentially deprives the public from access to otherwise non-secret, non-privileged, information about the operation of the government. Such a practice would also raise serious questions about whether it was intended to prevent the disclosure of potentially illegal activity.

  9. says

    Mark Zaid re Strzok firing: “I have handled FBI employment cases for many years. First, #CandaceWill – as deciding official – is notorious for firing ppl, not allowing them to keep their jobs. Second, that Deputy FBI Director intervened is something we have NEVER seen.”

    They’ll now use this firing, which they orchestrated, as “evidence” that Strzok was corrupt and biased, since they couldn’t find any real evidence.

  10. says

    Brad Moss:

    Strzok’s lawyer is right. I’ve appeared before Candace Will – the head of FBI OPR – on behalf of clients. She is very tough. I have never seen senior leadership intervene to overrule her.

    In fact, appealing to DepDir of FBI wouldn’t even have been an option for Strzok.

    What on earth is FBI Deputy Director Bowdich doing? He is absolutely going to get dragged through oversight hearings at some point demanding to know why he overruled FBI OPR with respect to Strzok. That’s highly unusual. Maybe legal but definitely not standard practice.

    Fellow lawyers for federal officials —

    Have any of you EVER convinced Candace Will that a proposed termination of your client was not warranted?

  11. says

    Alex Jones’ “Infowars” content was removed from a lot digital platforms last week, including Facebook, apple, Spotify and Youtube. So Jones fled to Vimeo, which promptly banned him.

    Vimeo told Business Insider that it removed the videos because they “violated our Terms of Service prohibitions on discriminatory and hateful content.” The spokesperson added, “[W]e do not want to profit from content of this nature in any way.” Employees inside the company had reportedly voiced concern about the account’s existence last week. Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud plans to address the decision during a town hall meeting […].

    Alex Jones is still up on Twitter.

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey enraged many last week when he seemed to suggest that Twitter bore no responsibility for filtering the content posted on its platform, adding that journalists should suffer the burden of countering his lies and bigotry. After CNN uncovered numerous tweets from Jones that clearly violated Twitter’s rules, the company acknowledged the violations yet still gave Jones a pass, indicating that the remaining tweets were from before the platform had updated its community guidelines.

    So, what now? Jones is still carrying on:

    Jones is perhaps best known for suggesting the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, and that several grieving parents were crisis actors. In an attempt to rebut this portrayal — and provide some cover from a defamation lawsuit filed against him by several families of Sandy Hook victims — Jones posted an hour-long “respectful message for Sandy Hook parents” this weekend, in which he largely defended his skepticism about what happened and complained about how he’s been silenced. “Now Sandy Hook is an anti-First Amendment engine,” he said. “Isn’t it funny how that works?”

    On Sunday, Infowars also ran a piece defending Jones and claiming that the CIA helped create Google and Facebook “to make it easier to spy on people.”

  12. tomh says

    White House: It’s in ‘Public Interest’ for Staff to Skirt Ethics Rules to Meet With Fox News

    It is “in the public interest” for the White House’s top communicator to be excused from federal ethics laws so he can meet with Fox News, according to President Donald Trump’s top lawyer.

    Bill Shine, Trump’s newly minted communications director, and Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economist, who worked at CNBC before his White House post, have both been excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.

    “The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waivers to Shine, a former Fox executive. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”

    Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.

  13. says

    All the best people:

    On his current two-day visit to California, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke dismissed climate change as a reason for the increasing number and growing intensity of wildfires in the state. The real issue, insisted Zinke, is the proper management of forests and making sure there aren’t too many trees in them.

    “I’ve heard the climate change argument back and forth. This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management,” Zinke told reporters on Sunday.

    According to Zinke, officials should focus more on “dead and dying timber” and the density of forests, rather than climate change, when addressing wildfires.

    Zinke’s claims run contrary to forestry experts, firefighters, and scientists who are in agreement that hotter and longer summers are a primary factor contributing to record wildfires experienced in California in recent years. Their research has found that climate change is having an impact on western U.S. wildfires and that the impact will only grow. […]

    “Secretary Zinke is either being willfully ignorant or purposely deceptive. Any politician ignoring the role a warming climate plays in record-setting wildfire seasons loses all credibility as an honest broker,” Greg Zimmerman, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, said Monday in a statement. “Instead, Zinke is in California using an ongoing natural disaster to push an unpopular political agenda.”

    Even California newspapers are taking a stand against the Trump administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge the role played by climate change in the wildfires.

    “This is climate change, for real and in real time,” the Sacramento Bee wrote in a recent editorial. “We were warned that the atmospheric buildup of man-made greenhouse gas would eventually be an existential threat.” […]


    As was noted in the previous chapter of this thread, some of the largest fires in California did not start in forested areas.

    Link to comment 225

    Link to comment 230

    Link to comment 240

    Comments 241 and 242 also apply to the previous discussion of wildfires in California.

  14. says

    Yes, this bad news. It’s good news to know that we have really intelligent 11 year olds, but bad news that state voting systems are so vulnerable:

    […] An 11-year-old boy changed fake voting results by hacking into an exact replica of Florida’s state election website in just 10 minutes, according to the organizers of DEF CON 26, an annual hacker convention.

    The competition pitted 39 kids, age 6 to 17, against one another to see who could hack into replica election systems of six swing states across the US. Thirty-five of the 39 kids completed the “exploit” and “tampered with vote tallies, party names, [and] candidate names” within 30 minutes, according to DEF CON. […]

    DEF CON participants discovered that voting systems running on expired SSL certificates, encryption keys that are intended to create secure connections, were the most vulnerable and easily hackable. DEF CON said this proved the “malleability of these systems.”

    The participants also discovered more vulnerabilities in the system where citizens directly cast their votes. The kids were able to wipe the memory cards from a recreation of state voting machine interfaces (within five seconds) and either replace a voter’s ballot altogether or overload the system with fake voters to render a real voter’s ballot useless. […]


  15. says

    Excerpt from the telephone call between Trump and Omarosa:

    He says, “Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving?” When Omarosa says that chief of staff John Kelly had told her that he wanted her to leave, Trump responded, “You know, they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it, I didn’t know that. Goddamn it!”

  16. says

    Trump’s tweets about Omarosa:

    Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things.

    Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!

    While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s preoccupation with talking about people “begging” him is a little creepy.

    Second, the more the president describes Manigault Newman as someone who was disliked, “vicious,” “not smart,” and “nasty,” the more the White House should try to come up with some kind of explanation as to why Trump gave such a person a lucrative and high-ranking job in the White House.

    And third, there’s the simple fact that Trump, according to his own version of events, kept on a White House adviser he knew to be toxic and incompetent, solely because she praised him.

    In other words, according to the president, even if the White House chief of staff identified someone on the team as a “loser” who causes “nothing but problems,” that person remained in Trump’s good graces – since she said nice things about Donald Trump.

    Indeed, by his own admission, the president instructed his chief of staff to keep her in place, not because of her job performance, and not because of her qualifications, but because of her compliments.

    It’s amazing that Trump has is oblivious to how bad his own tweets make him look.

  17. says

    The prosecution has rested in the Manafort case. The judge is considering the sealed motion filed by Manafort’s team earlier today, but it’s in closed court so no reporting on that. The defense will say tomorrow whether they’ll call any witnesses or not.

  18. tomh says

    @ #28
    The judge also gave the defense until tomorrow morning to put together their motion for acquittal. The motion will basically say the evidence lacks “materiality” and “a failure to show the necessary willfulness.” It doesn’t seem possible he would grant it, but it seems like anything is possible with this judge.

  19. says

    OK, I get what they’re saying. But I don’t see how they could make the argument that his misrepresentations didn’t matter, since he put significant effort into them. If nothing else, he didn’t want the bank or regulators to start looking into the loans. Also, they had a procedure that involved various submissions on his part and investigations of their truthfulness on the part of the bank officials; if Calk could just bypass that process and grant the loans on his say-so, that would be an established procedure and they would have just done that.

  20. says

    I mean, if he made false and fraudulent statements to the bank in his loan application process, then he made false and fraudulent statements to the bank in his loan application process. That doesn’t change regardless of Calk’s role.

  21. tomh says

    Even if the Calk loans are ignored, there’s plenty of other charges to deal with. Hiding all that income from the IRS, to start with.

  22. says

    Even if the Calk loans are ignored, there’s plenty of other charges to deal with. Hiding all that income from the IRS, to start with.

    Oh, sure. But I (NAL) don’t see how the Calk argument holds water. It seems like he defrauded the bank.

  23. tomh says

    @ #36
    Oh, I agree. Calk is a red herring and I’m not sure just why the prosecution thought it a good idea to bring him up. Just stick with the fraudulent statements, it seems to me.

  24. says

    So I’ve now actually read the Mueller filing. Pp. 4-8 – yeah. The misrepresentations are material because “the recipient whose behavior the jury should assess in its materiality inquiry is a reasonable lender in the financial institution’s position, not the specific financial institution itself….” – turns on the misrepresentations’ “capacity to influence an objective ‘reasonable lender’, not a renegade lender with a demonstrated habit of disregarding materially false information.” “The testimony from multiple lenders in this trial has made clear that false information about a borrower’s income or liabilities is capable of influencing an objective reasonable bank because the information is important to bank’s analysis of whether the borrower can repay the loan.” Also, they don’t have to show that the bank relied on the false statements or that they ultimately influenced the decision for a finding of conspiracy to commit bank fraud – just that the misrepresentations had the “capability” to influence the decision. And “even if Calk was complicit in Manafort’s fraud or knew of Manafort’s falsehoods, that would not be relevant to the materiality of Manafort’s misrepresentations because Calk is not TFSB and the funds that were the subject of the fraud were not Calk’s.” And they only have to show that Manafort and Gates “intended to achieve” their ends, not that they actually did, so even if Calk hadn’t approved the loans they would still be guilty of the conspiracy.

    So…some things I thought already and some I just learned. :)

  25. says

    Oh, I agree. Calk is a red herring and I’m not sure just why the prosecution thought it a good idea to bring him up. Just stick with the fraudulent statements, it seems to me.

    It seems like there was a sidebar in which the defense made these arguments and the judge maybe seemed receptive? I think they’re trying to cut it off at the pass.

  26. blf says

    In Ozland, Australian senator calls for final solution to immigration problem:

    Crossbencher Fraser Anning praises white Australia policy and pushes for plebiscite on Muslim immigration

    An Australian crossbench senator has invoked the term the final solution in an inflammatory speech calling for a plebiscite asking voters whether they want to end all immigration by Muslims and non-English speaking people from the third world.

    Fraser Anning, formerly of the far-right Pauline Hanson[‘s] One Nation party [Ozland’s nazi party –blf], and now a member of the Katter’s Australia party [(no idea) –blf], used his maiden speech in the Senate to call for a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the third world, and particularly whether they want any Muslims.

    Anning declared on Tuesday the reasons for ending all further Muslim immigration are both compelling and self-evident.

    The record of Muslims who have already come to this country in terms of rates of crime, welfare dependency and terrorism are the worst of any migrant and vastly exceed another immigrant group, he said.

    The majority of Muslims in Australia of working age do not work and exist on welfare. Muslims in New South Wales and Victoria are three times more likely than other groups to be convicted of crimes.

    We have black African Muslim gangs terrorising Melbourne, we have Isis [daesh]-sympathising Muslims trying to go overseas to try and fight for Isis and while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims.

    So why would anyone want to bring more of them here?

    Unusually, the Grauniad doesn’t include counter-evidence to the claims. I assume this is an oversight, or that a take-down is coming, but it is a bit surprising — it’s not the Grauniad’s usual analytical style. I myself presume all of the claims are at a multiple-Pinocchio level, ranging from severely misleading to “not even wrong” — but I have not tried to check the specifics (in Ozland).

    Anning contended Australia should return to a position where immigrants were not entitled to receive welfare payments for the first five years after their arrival. [… I]mmigrants arriving here were not allowed to apply for welfare and that attracted exactly the right sort of hardworking people this country needed.

    We should go back to that and ban all immigrants from receiving welfare for the first five years after they arrive, he said.

    Since the people he is talking can spend years in one of the concentration camps (Manus Island and Nauru) , that is exceptionally severely harsh. And opens up a lot of possibilities for exploitation.

    The final solution to the immigration problem, of course, is a popular vote.


  27. says

    Joyce White Vance: “The excessive inauguration payments ($26 mil) to a friend of Melania’s, who passed a portion on to the creator of The Apprentice (& rumored possessor of tapes in which Trump uses inflammatory language) could use a hard look from someone with investigative authority.”

  28. says

    It’s looking increasingly like not only have they been caught but they know they’ve been caught. Yesterday’s statement – “Don has received notoriety for a brief meeting, that many politicians would have taken, but most importantly, and to the best of my knowledge, nothing happened after the meeting concluded” – already suggested this: both the “to the best of my knowledge” (similar to Giuliani’s evasive “That’s what he’s prepares to testify to in an interview”) and the fact that it brings up the question of what happened after the meeting (of course, the claim that nothing happened generally was a lie, but raising the issue suggests to me that they have a reasonable fear about more information about further contacts will be revealed). The other recent propaganda trope they’re pushing is the ludicrous notion that the meeting was a set-up and he’s being framed. Trump just tweeted:

    “They were all in on it, clear Hillary Clinton and FRAME Donald Trump for things he didn’t do.” Gregg Jarrett on @foxandfriends If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started! Looking at the wrong people.

  29. says

    Sarah Kendzior:

    …Now you can add Peter Strzok to the politically motivated firings of officials who spoke out about Trump’s corruption and illicit dealings with Russia.

    This is a slow-motion purge and it will not spare anyone outside Trump’s inner circle, which will become smaller over time.

    Trump, like any autocrat, aims to rewrite the law so that he can break it. As he purges the officials who investigate corruption, he packs courts with judges who will exonerate him regardless of evidence.

    This erosion of justice and accountability is an entirely predictable consequence of having a crime family in the White House. This is a dynastic kleptocracy and the longer they are in, the worse it will get.

    Those who still have the power of the law need to use it NOW.

    Spare me talk of how the Mueller probe is moving fast. It’s not. The probe long predates Mueller. Its prior failures are not Mueller’s fault, but he has choices now. Institutions, already very weak before Trump, are in free fall. Act now or likely lose the option to act at all.

    They’re already onto the next target. Trump tweeted this morning:

    Bruce Ohr of the “Justice” Department (can you believe he is still there) is accused of helping disgraced Christopher Steele “find dirt on Trump.” Ohr’s wife, Nelly, was in on the act big time – worked for Fusion GPS on Fake Dossier. @foxandfriends

  30. says

    Dan Goldman on MSNBC is saying the judge hasn’t yet ruled on the defense (what’s believed to be a?) mistrial motion. He did evidently reject the defense motion to exclude the bank fraud charges related to Calk, but in doing so indicated that he thought there was something to Manafort’s team’s argument (given the Mueller filing @ #38 above, I can’t really imagine what that might be; also don’t know whether this will lead him to distort the jury instructions).

  31. says

    They’re dealing with the motion and jury instructions this afternoon. Closing arguments before the jury will be tomorrow morning beginning at 9:30 – two hours for each side.

  32. blf says

    I have no idea whatsoever if there is any merit in either the complaint or the project, but this is amusing, Guernsey resident halts roadworks with ancient plea (my added embedded link):

    Rosie Henderson kneels and cites Clameur de Haro to stop narrowing of road

    A woman has activated the ancient Norman rite of Clameur de Haro to protest against the narrowing of a road which she claims would endanger pedestrians and motorists.

    [Parish councillor] Rosie Henderson […] raised the clameur by kneeling and calling for help and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Norman French. Fully enforceable in Guernsey and Jersey law, it means the construction work in St Peter Port must stop until a court decides the case.


    The clameur states: “Haro! Haro! Haro! A l’aide, mon prince, on me fait tort”, translated as “Come to my aid, my prince, for someone does me wrong”.

    Whoever calls the clameur has 24 hours to register it in court, but whoever it is called against must stop all work immediately.

    Legend says the raising of a clameur stretches back to the early Norman period in the Channel Islands and is thought to have been a plea to Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy.

    The feudal law dates back to the 10th century as a form of self-policing when there was no law enforcement.


  33. tomh says

    I really wish they had put Manafort on the stand, but they were too smart for that. Still, that usually doesn’t sit well with a jury, when people won’t even defend themselves.

  34. says

    “‘Not scared’: Russian teen charged under ‘gay propaganda’ law says he’ll keep protesting”:

    …Despite the charges and the fine, Neverov said he will continue to be politically active, noting he became an activist because he was “tired of watching what was happening in the country.”

    “It’s terrible,” he said. “In our country, people are tortured and killed in prisons, schoolchildren are intimidated only because they oppose Putin’s regime.”

    “Protest Biysk is sure that if the administration is so afraid of us, then we need to continue,” Neverov added. “We have everything that is needed: people, ideas, desire.”

    However, he noted one thing missing is “money to implement these ideas,” so he said the next step is raising funds to work on projects related to political prisoners.

    As for fear of the Russian authorities, Neverov said that ship has sailed.

    “I wasn’t afraid,” he said of being detained. “The police have not scared me for a long time.”

    Story at the link.

  35. blf says

    And in Big China, Very fishy: China rules rainbow trout can be sold as salmon:

    Much of what is sold as salmon in China is reportedly actually rainbow trout, so now the authorities are making it official

    In a move that customers have labelled very fishy, the Chinese government has ruled that rainbow trout can now be labelled and sold as salmon.


    In May, media reported that much of what was sold as salmon in China was actually rainbow trout, to widespread consternation from fish-buyers.

    But instead of banning vendors from deceiving their customers, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture, has ruled that all salmonidae fish can now be sold under the umbrella name of “salmon”, reports the Global Times.

    Rainbow trout and salmon are both salmonidae fish and look quite similar when filleted. […]

    That’s certainly true for wild fish, albeit the über-pink (non-organically) farmed salmon, as least here in “Europe”, don’t look anything like any trout I know of. The über-pinkness is the result of added dyes (to the farmed fishes’s feed), since people associate “pink” with salmon — the natural pinkish tint is a result of the wild diet, but the dye-less farmed diet tends to result in a (supposedly) unappealing-looking grey fish.

    The ruling has been met with anger on the social media platform Weibo, where #RainbowTroutBecomesSalmon has been trending, according to the BBC.


    The BBC’s article, Rainbow trout can now be called salmon in China (linked embedded in previous excerpt), is amusing:

    The ruling has got people complaining that they’ve been misled, but there’s also a degree of sympathy for the reassigned rainbow trout.


    “The trout must be confused. After so many years its identity has suddenly been changed to a salmon,” said one person on Weibo.

    Many have their own suggestions for what could be re-labelled next.

    “Can we label seas and lake as the same thing? They are technically the same,” said one social media user.

    “Let’s label the crayfish a lobster instead,” another said.

    “If industry standards are determined by the manufacturers, can students mark their own test scores?” one asked.


    Both articles also report Chinese customers’s concerns about parasites, but do not explain what is behind that. The CAPPMA’s response, however, is not encouraging (unless there is some biology going on I don’t know of), Whether salmon has parasites does not depend on whether it is bred in sea water or fresh water.

    The Global Times report, Rainbow trout can now officially be labeled as salmon in China (link embedded in first excerpt), sheds some light on this parasite claim / worry, “Later many netizens began to claim rainbow trout from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is being mislabeled as salmon, and is infested with worms and painted to resemble salmon.” Unlike the CAPPMA response, that at least sounds mildly plausible, albeit I suspect it is also mostly nonsense. Food safety / contamination is a Big(?) Problem in Big China, albeit I do not know the overall scope nor do I recall any specific cases / issues involving fish.

  36. says

    “How three conspiracy theorists took ‘Q’ and sparked Qanon”:

    In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan website, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together and plucked out of obscurity an anonymous and cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website’s message board.

    Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business and an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of “Q,” the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, and it would eventually make its way from those message boards to national media stories and the rallies of President Donald Trump.

    Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate among conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order to make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q’s mysterious posts.

    While the identity of the original author or authors behind “Q” is still unknown, the history of the conspiracy theory’s spread is well-documented — through YouTube videos, social media posts, Reddit archives, and public records reviewed by NBC News.

    NBC News has found that the theory can be traced back to three people who sparked some of the first conversation about Qanon and, in doing so, attracted followers who they then asked to help fund Qanon “research.”

    Recently, some Qanon followers have accused Diaz and Rogers of profiting from the movement by soliciting donations from their followers. Other pro-Trump online groups have questioned the roles that Diaz and Rogers have played in promoting Q, pointing to a series of slip-ups that they say show Rogers and Diaz may have been involved in the theory from the start.

    Those accusations have led Diaz and Rogers to both deny that they are Q and say they don’t know who Q is. There is no direct proof that the group or any individual members are behind it.

    Still, Qanon skeptics have pointed to two videos as evidence that Rogers had insider knowledge of Q’s account….

    In part because of the mounting claims against Patriots’ Soapbox, the web’s largest pro-Trump community has banned all mentions of Qanon. Reddit’s 640,000-member community r/The_Donald set up an autodelete function for mentions of Qanon’s claims, two moderators confirmed to NBC News, believing the group of YouTubers is making posts as Q.

    Still, Patriots’ Soapbox 24-hour livestream remains live on YouTube, broadcasting to its 46,000 subscribers. And despite the growing skepticism of the group, they still have their supporters who ardently believe in the Qanon theory.

    “The funniest thing about those who try to discredit Q. They focus on whether Q is real or not, instead of the information being provided,” tweeted one follower. “NO ONE cares who Q is. WE care about the TRUTH.”

    Much more at the link. Fascinating information about the online environment out of which this emerged.

  37. says

    BREAKING: Omarosa tells @KatyTurNBC just now she has talked to Robert Mueller’s office, and ‘there was a lot of corruption’, in the campaign and the administration. She says Trump knew about hacked emails before they were released.”

  38. says

    Trump is continuing to use his bully pulpit as President of the United States to punish Harley Davidson:

    Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.

    A response from Tammy Baldwin:

    .@realDonaldTrump, you can’t run our economy with tweets. Wisconsin businesses like @harleydavidson need better trade deals, not tweets and trade wars.

    The issue of tariffs and trade wars may affect the primary elections in Wisconsin. Voters go to the polls there today. Tammy Baldwin is currently leading both Republican candidates by double digits in polls.

  39. says

    A summary of Trump’s tweets, statements and actions taken today:

    […] In a series of statements, Trump:

    ♦ made it clear that firing a long-term FBI agent for expressing insufficiently pro-Trump views isn’t enough. Trump also wants Strzok “and others” to be “criminally investigated.”

    ♦ left no doubt that he wants the Mueller investigation halted, claiming that it would never have started without “machinations” from Strzok, which is patently untrue, and was dependent on the memos from former British intelligence office Christopher Steele, which also a blatant lie.

    ♦ called on “the courts” or “honest prosecutors” to reject the Mueller investigation—a message clearly intended for the judge in the currently active Manafort trial.

    ♦ again alleged that Mueller is “conflicted” and his investigation consists of “17 angry Democrats,” which isn’t true.

    ♦ made it clear that he expects his opponents, both inside and outside the government, to be investigated by his FBI, saying “the Dems are the ones who should be investigated” and “Strzok and others at the FBI should be criminally investigated” and the investigation is “looking at the wrong people.”

    Trump’s initial brace of morning tweets cited a trio of his reliable sources—moneyman turned Trump ranter Lou Dobbs, the consistent fact-twisters at Judicial Watch, and of course Fox & Friends—but he laced those quotes with frequent inserts of his own. The combination makes it clear that, just as Trump calls any news unfavorable to himself “fake news,” any legal action that doesn’t support a pro-Trump position is now “Justice” in quotes.

    These statements may seem like more of the same, but taken as a whole, Trump has made no stronger case for his own despotism. […]


  40. lumipuna says

    blf at 59:

    That’s certainly true for wild fish, albeit the über-pink (non-organically) farmed salmon, as least here in “Europe”, don’t look anything like any trout I know of. The über-pinkness is the result of added dyes (to the farmed fishes’s feed), since people associate “pink” with salmon — the natural pinkish tint is a result of the wild diet, but the dye-less farmed diet tends to result in a (supposedly) unappealing-looking grey fish.

    Here in Finland, farmed rainbow trout is dyed like typical farmed salmon – and wild salmon is quite pale because of their local wild diet.

    BTW, the conventional English distinction of salmonids into “salmon” species and “trout” species is taxonomically arbitrary, so there’s that.

    Both articles also report Chinese customers’s concerns about parasites, but do not explain what is behind that. The CAPPMA’s response, however, is not encouraging (unless there is some biology going on I don’t know of), “Whether salmon has parasites does not depend on whether it is bred in sea water or fresh water”.

    The Global Times report, Rainbow trout can now officially be labeled as salmon in China (link embedded in first excerpt), sheds some light on this parasite claim / worry, “Later many netizens began to claim rainbow trout from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is being mislabeled as salmon, and is infested with worms and painted to resemble salmon.” Unlike the CAPPMA response, that at least sounds mildly plausible…

    Over here, freshwater fish is said to give you tapeworms if eaten raw – though I think it really depends more on fish species than the water. Rainbow trout is considered rather safe, as is salmon, when both are grown in our brackish coastal waters. Meanwhile, salmon grown in Norway (ie. proper sea water) can allegedly give you the Anisakis nematode, which doesn’t survive in the low salinity here.

    I think you could also reduce the parasite risk by growing fish in artificial freshwater pools, especially if the pools are covered.

  41. says

    Trump’s tweet in which he likened Omarosa to a dog:

    When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!

    Omarosa is a flawed human being. She is a woman, not a dog. She is a black woman, not dog.

  42. says

    Follow-up to comment 67.

    From Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton:

    Say what you want about @Omarosa and her recording private conversations. I’m not saying that I agree with it, but I have a serious issue with a white man dehumanizing a black woman by calling her dog. This is disgusting!

  43. says

    The Trump administration faces another lawsuit:

    Three Arkansas residents with Medicaid health insurance are suing the Trump administration for approving an 80-hours-a-month work requirement, as the policy jeopardizes their coverage and livelihood.

    This is the second lawsuit filed in federal court against the Trump administration’s work requirements. The first was against Kentucky’s, and plaintiffs scored a victory there when a federal judge temporarily blocked the 20-hours-a-week work requirement in June.

    Arkansas’ work requirements took effect earlier that month — the first state to do so in the country. State officials will drop residents from Medicaid rolls if they don’t comply for three consecutive months, meaning people could lose coverage as early as September.

    Tuesday’s lawsuit offers residents a chance to maintain health coverage. Already, more than 7,000 Arkansas residents have failed to report work or other volunteer opportunities online in June to meet the requirement, putting them at risk of losing their coverage. […]

    “This lawsuit is the continuation of our work, with our national and state partners, to stop conservative governors from following the direction of the Trump administration to impose severe, misguided and illegal restrictions on access to Medicaid coverage,” said National Health Law Program Legal Director Jane Perkins in a statement. […]

    37-year-old Charles Gresham suffers from a seizure disorder, an anxiety condition, and asthma, and has limited work options because he does not have his own means of transportation and his seizure disorder makes it even more difficult. […]


  44. says

    LOL – Kristen Welker asked Sarah Sanders if she, from that podium, could guarantee that the public won’t hear a recording of Trump using the racial slur. Sanders started by saying “Well, I can’t guarantee anything, but…” and then launched into one of those monotone speeches she reads at the press from a paper she has on the lectern. MSNBC’s chyron writers went with: “WH: ‘Can’t guarantee’ Trump wasn’t recorded using racial slur.” Good.

  45. says

    Trump spokesperson denies strategizing about N-word tape hours before Omarosa leaks recording of it.

    On Monday night, former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson went on Fox News and flatly denied taking part in an October 2016 call with other top Trump campaign officials in which they strategized about how to spin a recording of Trump saying the N-word on the set of The Apprentice.

    Host Ed Henry read Pierson the account of that October 2016 call as described by Omarosa Manigault-Newman in her new book, then asked her, “Did that happen?”

    “No Ed, that did not happen,” Pierson, who now serves as a spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said with a chuckle. “It sounds like she’s writing the script for a movie. You know, I’ve already been out there talking about this — that is absolutely not true.” […]

    Less than 12 hours later, CBS played a recording that Omarosa says is secretly recorded tape of the October 2016 call — which confirms Omarosa’s account of what happened.

    On the tape, Pierson can be heard saying of Trump’s alleged N-bomb, “I am trying to find out at least what context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it.”

    “He said it,” Pierson adds. “He is embarrassed.” […]

  46. says

    Entrapment … followed by deportation:

    Two federal immigration agencies worked together in a coordinated effort to set deportation traps for unsuspecting immigrants seeking legal status, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleged in a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this week.

    According to the Boston Globe, the two agencies arranged meetings for the undocumented immigrants at government offices, where they were subsequently arrested, and in some cases deported.

    According to e-mails obtained by the Globe between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and employees of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), ICE asked government officials to space out the meetings so that the public wouldn’t catch on and draw “negative media interests.”

    “As far as scheduling goes, I would prefer not to do them all at one time as it is [not] only a strain on our ability to transport and process several arrests at once, but it also has the potential to be a trigger for negative media interests, as we have seen in the past,” Andrew Graham, an ICE officer, wrote to a USCIS employee in one email from October.

    […] “They are typically the easiest to remove…and at the end of the day we are in the removal business and it’s our job to locate and arrest them.”

    ACLU lawyers described the meetings as “traps.” […] part of the lawsuit against DHS Secretary Nielsen challenging the Trump administration’s practice of separating married couples as one spouse seeks legal status. […]

    The federal government’s tactic of trapping immigrants seeking legal status squares with a Monday report by NBC News that found federal arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants have tripled under the Trump administration. In the first 14 months of the Trump administration alone, 58,010 undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions were arrested, many of them without warrants. […]

  47. says

    John McCain goes high when Trump goes low:

    […] As Trump honored the signing of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, named after the veteran Arizona Republican, the president paid tribute to a number of GOP congresspeople including Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Dan Donovan of New York, Martha McSally of Arizona and Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Left unmentioned in Trump’s 28-minute speech: John McCain.

    […] In an official statement released on Tuesday, McCain offered his own thoughts on the bill but ignored Trump’s snub. After touting the merits of the legislation that bears his name, McCain went on to say:

    I’m humbled that my colleagues in Congress chose to designate this bill in my name. Serving as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and working on behalf of America’s brave service members has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I’m proud that throughout my tenure, the committee has led with a spirit of comity and cooperation to provide for America’s Armed Forces. There is no higher calling than to serve a cause greater than self-interest. Through the committee’s work, I’ve been privileged to support our men and women in uniform who have dedicated their lives to that noble cause.

    Former Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Democratic presidential candidate and senator who is a good friend of John McCain’s, was more direct in expressing disgust with Trump’s behavior.

    “Disgraceful – but nothing will erase for an instant the legacy John McCain has written and is still writing every day,” Kerry wrote on Twitter.

    CNN anchor Jake Tapper implicitly admonished Trump by praising McCain on his show. “Since President Trump would not do it, let us here on The Lead congratulate Senator John McCain and his family and thank him for his service to the country,” Tapper said on Monday. […]

  48. blf says

    lumipuna@66, “Here in Finland, farmed rainbow trout is dyed like typical farmed salmon”. Interesting! I cannot recall ever seeing outrageously coloured (e.g., über-pink) trout, even those I know to be farmed. That could be my poor memory, my own pickiness when selecting fish / food, or perhaps a peculiarity of Finland(? Scandinavia?). Or perhaps the trout-dyeing is more restrained than the salmon-dyeing (or trout don’t dye as readily?)?

    On parasites, the reported Big Chinese CAPPMA blithering, Whether salmon has parasites does not depend on whether it is bred in sea water or fresh water, is almost certainly absurd. It’s possible certain types and locations of fish farms are more / less susceptible to parasite infestations, and possible there is a loose correlation to the water (e.g., salty, fresh, brackish, …), but the quoted unqualified statement is highly dubious.

    My own recollection (from quite old memory) is the density of fish, and their feed, in farms is directly(?) correlated to parasite infestations — the more fish per unit volume of water, and/or feed which is ground-up other fish, have higher rates of parasite infestations, compared to wild fish, low-density farms, and natural / organic feed (such farms are also low-density, and often not coastal). High-density coastal farms (e.g., in fjords) have, again from old memory, problems with contamination from the fish’s own waste, which is often “trapped” in the fjord / farm. I can imagine that leading to unhealthy fish, presumably including parasites.

  49. blf says

    SC@70, The mildly deranged penguin suggests two things: (1) Remove all peas from the router / modem; and (2) Stuff some more cheese into the USB port.

  50. blf says

    Er, me@80, that should be …@79, obviously. I doubt either of the mildly deranged penguin’s remedies would help Sarah Sanders recognise, much less tell, anything approaching the truth.

  51. John Morales says


    Crossbench senator Derryn Hinch[*] says Fraser Anning’s speech was disgraceful, racist, homophobic and hateful. 

    I want to apologise to the Senate and the Australian people that after this vomitous poison last night I then stupidly, recklessly and unthinkingly — no, I did think about it — I followed Senate protocol, and I dutifully lined up here and shook this unworthy man’s hand.”

      * He was a journalist then a media jock, prior

  52. John Morales says

    Last one (this is live): “Parliament moves to condemn Anning’s controversial speech”

  53. blf says

    Re @82, Thanks, I was not aware both houses in Ozland’s Parliament were debating censuring the eejit. However, I note from the link: “Senate censure motion passes — 47 in favour, 12 against”. Presuming Anning is one those voting against his censure, that means there are at least 11 other nazis in the Senate who were not sufficiently outraged. (I believe the Lower House is still debating as this is being typed.)

    Also from that link:

    Fraser Anning has been claiming he didn’t know about the connection between the phrase “final solution” and Nazi Germany.

    But, he still refuses to apologise.

    It wasn’t an inflammatory comment, it was two words used.

    It’s the thought police who believe that it’s an inflammatory comment.

    I also note, with great amusement, Hanson is furiously denying she and her nazis (secretly) approve / agree. Yeah, sure…

  54. John Morales says

    blf, still, an indicator of where the Overton window for Nazism is in Ozland.

    (Hinch is not exactly anti-authoritarian, BTW. But I believe he is a conviction politician, a rare breed)

  55. blf says

    me@78, I just realised I’ve been misreading Big China’s CAPPMA statement (emphasis added), “Whether salmon has parasites does not depend on whether it is bred in sea water or fresh water”. That is very plausible. I somehow repeatedly overlooked the “not”, and so thought, incorrectly, they were claiming parasitic infections happened only in one type of water. No, they got it right, and I proceeded to badly(!) misread. Apologies.

  56. lumipuna says

    blf at 78: I vaguely recall seeing European trout farmed in Finland, that was something like pale pink in color. Maybe the strong pink color is generally a brand feature of “salmon” rather than “trout”.

    It seems that here the non-native rainbow trout has been branded as a type of “salmon” rather than “trout”. The Finnish name of the fish, established in the 20th century, is literally “multicolored salmon”, though retailers and consumers acknowledge it as a different species from the native Atlantic salmon. I guess in China they went with sloppy labeling rather than tactical branding.

  57. lumipuna says

    They say the rainbow trout in China is grown in the Tibet/Qinghai highlands, presumably because they need cool water. I suspect the salmon sold in China is imported from Alaska, Chile etc. because China’s coastal waters are likely too warm and dirty for salmon farming. Chinese consumers might (somewhat inaccurately) associate salmon with cold pure open oceans.

  58. says

    “Frozen Out by Obama, Hungary’s Far-Right Leader Finds a Friend in Trump”:

    …For years, Mr. Orban’s government has craved validation from Washington, spending millions of dollars on lobbying, mostly in vain. The Obama administration largely ostracized Mr. Orban, avoiding high-level, bilateral contacts as punishment for his creeping authoritarian tendencies. American diplomats criticized Mr. Orban’s crackdown on civil society — as did President Barack Obama himself.

    But now the Trump administration is pivoting, signaling a new engagement with Hungary, as well as nearby Poland. The shift has alarmed many campaigners for democracy and the rule of law, even as others argue that the Obama strategy of trying to isolate Mr. Orban had failed, and created openings for Russian and Chinese influence.

    President Trump has made no secret of his fondness for strongman leaders, yet his praise for them has sometimes been out of step with the policies of his administration. Toward Mr. Orban, at least, American policy seems to be following Mr. Trump’s lead.

    “President Trump thinks that he is a very strong leader,” David B. Cornstein, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s who became the United States ambassador to Budapest in June, said in an interview. “And our president admires strong leaders, and looks forward to this relationship going forward.”

    “I think they’re using Hungary like they’re using other countries in Europe with nationalist leaderships — to divide the European Union,” said Jiri Pehe, the chief of cabinet to the Czech president, Vaclav Havel, in the 1990s. “It is nice that they’re putting up this facade in Washington on their opening with Hungary, saying that this is an effort towards keeping Hungary in the Atlantic alliance — but this certainly doesn’t contribute to Hungary becoming more Euro-Atlantic.”

    “It legitimizes Russian influence in Hungary,” added Mr. Pehe, who is now the director of New York University’s campus in Prague….

    Much of the lobbying work is being done by ex-Republican congressman Connie Mack IV, who successfully appealed to 11 congressional Tea Party nitwits (including white supremacist Steve King). They wrote to Tillerson, but were ignored. Pompeo’s actions, in contrast, have been more aligned with their wishes.

  59. says

    “‘Everyone signed one’: Trump is aggressive in his use of nondisclosure agreements, even in government”:

    President Trump’s bitter fight with a former top White House aide has highlighted his aggressive and unconventional use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent current and former government employees from revealing secrets or disparaging him or his family.

    The latest uproar centers on claims in a book by former senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman that the Trump campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month job in exchange for signing a broadly worded NDA that would have barred her from disclosing details of her time at the White House.

    Trump shot back in a tweet on Monday that “Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement” — the first apparent acknowledgment by Trump that he has used such documents as president.

    Dozens of White House aides have signed NDAs in exchange for working for Trump, who has long relied on such agreements in his business career, according to current and former administration employees. But NDAs have not been widely used by past administrations outside the transition time between presidents, in part because most legal experts believe such agreements are not legally enforceable for public employees.

    Copies of Trump NDAs obtained by The Washington Post or described by current and former aides lay out breathtakingly broad prohibitions on behavior and appear to be drawn heavily from similar contracts used in the past by the Trump Organization, the president’s family firm.

    The rampant use of such nondisclosure agreements underscores a culture — fostered by Trump himself — of paranoia, leaks, audio recordings and infighting that has pervaded his dealings for decades and continues into his presidency, according to current and former aides.

    Manigault Newman told “PBS NewsHour” she signed previous NDAs for the Trump Organization and for the 2016 campaign but never signed one in the White House….

    The NDA that she declined to sign prohibited sharing information “including but not limited to the assets, investments, revenue, expenses, taxes, financial statements, actual or prospective business ventures, contracts, alliances, affiliations, relationships, affiliated entities, bids, letters of intent, term sheets, decisions, strategies, techniques, methods, projections, forecasts, customers, clients, contacts, customer lists, contact lists, schedules, appointments, meetings, conversations, notes and other communications” of “Trump, Pence, any Trump or Pence Family member, any Trump or Pence company, or any Trump or Pence Family Member Company.”

    The proposed agreement also said her nondisclosure promise would last forever, even if the agreement and payments did not.

    A number of White House aides were urged to sign NDAs in early 2017 by White House Counsel Donald McGahn, according to current and former aides, who requested anonymity to discuss internal West Wing deliberations. Trump was obsessed with leaks to the news media and repeatedly demanded that McGahn draft the agreement, the aides said.

    The process, like much in the West Wing, was haphazard. Dozens of senior aides signed the documents, but some were assuaged before signing by McGahn, who said they were unenforceable. Others, however, said they were never given documents to sign….

    Michael Bromwich: “Don McGahn played a central role in forcing WH employees to sign NDAs he knew were illegal and unenforceable. Lawyers can’t do this. The matter should be referred to the DC Bar for investigation and discipline.”

    The article notes that:

    Trump and his allies have kept a number of current and former White House aides — including ousted deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, personal bodyguard Keith Schiller and former spokesman Sean Spicer — on the payroll of affiliated groups, from the 2020 reelection campaign to a super PAC. Johnny McEntee, the personal aide who spent more than a year by Trump’s side before being fired for online gambling, is now a campaign employee. Continuing to pay employees often discourages them from sharing negative information about the employer.

    Building on a tweet to which I linked recently – the inauguration, campaign, RNC, and affiliated PACs appear to be little more than slush funds and vehicles for self-dealing.

  60. says

    Cook Political Report – “House: Three More GOP Seats Join the Toss Up Column”:

    For Republicans, the 2018 House playing field is a lot like a game of Whack-a-Mole: everywhere they turn, new problems keep popping up in surprising places. In January, we rated 20 GOP-held seats as Toss Ups or worse, including three leaning towards Democrats. With today’s changes, we now rate 37 GOP-held seats as Toss Ups or worse, including ten leaning towards Democrats.

    Republicans are relieved that state Sen. Troy Balderson appears to have eked out a win in Ohio’s 12th CD special election last week. But a new round of polls shows several more GOP incumbents, including Reps. Mimi Walters (CA-45) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03) highly vulnerable. Their seats, along with Rep. Robert Pittenger’s open NC-09, move from Lean Republican to the Toss Up column….

  61. says

    “Senate Intel Wants To Follow The Money In The Russia Probe. But Treasury Isn’t Making That Easy.”:

    In its investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the Senate Intelligence Committee has spent more than a year trying to follow the money. But its efforts, unparalleled on Capitol Hill, have been hampered by a surprising force: the US Treasury Department, which has delayed turning over crucial financial records and refused to provide an expert to help make sense of the complex money trail. Even some of the department’s own personnel have questioned whether Treasury is intentionally hamstringing the investigation.

    Little is known about what, exactly, goes on behind the locked doors that lead into the committee’s offices. But now, interviews and emails obtained by BuzzFeed News lay bare the numerous hurdles the secretive committee has faced in its mission to obtain and decipher troves of banking records that could shed more light on the Russian scheme — and whether the current president had anything to do with it.

    Treasury has at times been reluctant to cooperate with the committee’s requests for sensitive financial documents that are significant to the Russia probe, at one point going at least four months without responding to one of the committee’s requests.

    Last year, Treasury rejected the committee’s request for help from one of its experts, even as Treasury officials have speculated — behind closed doors — that the Senate committee would not be able to follow the twisting financial trail laid out in the documents they had turned over, a path that often passes through offshore shell companies or untraceable cash transactions.

    In emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News, personnel within Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, discussed in 2017 whether Treasury was trying to thwart the committee’s investigation. Additionally, some FinCEN personnel questioned whether they had the proper legal authority to share confidential information about US persons with committee staffers.

    Despite committee chair Richard Burr’s insistence to BuzzFeed News that the panel has received “every financial document” it has requested from Treasury, sources inside FinCEN told BuzzFeed News that they were initially instructed not to hand over financial documents on certain individuals. The directive, these sources said, came from senior Treasury officials in the General Counsel’s Office. To this day, FinCEN sources insist not all of the records requested by the committee have been turned over.

    It is the focus on following the money that sets the Senate investigators apart from their counterparts on the House Intelligence Committee, which was also charged with investigating Russian meddling. While the reports include some of the president’s current and former associates, even the Senate committee did not ask the Treasury for financial records on Trump himself or his family members….


    More at the link.

  62. says

    Good, memorable line:

    “The star witness in this case is the documents.”

    The jury doesn’t need to take Gates’ testimony at face value or even believe it, Greg Andres said. But the jury should use it to compare with accountants and a bookkeeper’s description of Manafort’s financial disclosures.


    Mr. Manafort is a mentor to Mr. Gates, particularly to his own criminal activity.” Andres said.
    And what about Gates’ admitted affair? “Was it to distract you? Does it matter?” Andres asked
    “I’m not asking you to like him,” Andres said.

  63. says

    Fox News embeds itself further into the swampy muck of pro-Trump propaganda:

    […] National Review’s Andrew McCarthy recently argued on Fox News that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the president’s political operation possibly having turned to a foreign adversary to help win an American election.

    “Look, I don’t think that it’s bad if campaigns are turning to foreign governments for dirt,” McCarthy said. “It’s not collusion, it’s not something that’s impeachable, it’s icky. But that’s what this is.”

    A day later, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway wrote, “I don’t have a problem [with] getting dirt on election opponents from foreigners.” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson quickly endorsed the line, telling his viewers, in reference to the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, “Nobody is claiming that any information changed hands, though, even if it did, so what?” […]


    Most Americans, including most Republicans do not agree.

    Here’s a question that was asked in the new Quinnipiac poll: “Do you think it is ever acceptable for a presidential campaign to obtain information on a political opponent from a hostile foreign power, or do you think that is never acceptable?”

    79% of Americans responded that it is never acceptable. 69% of Republicans said that is not acceptable.

    Russian toady and Trump cult follower Representative Dana Rohrabacher and his ilk are outliers. Rohrabacher said: “There’s not a person in this town who would not take a meeting to get material like that.” So far, he and the Fox News commentators have not changed the minds of most Americans. Give it time. (No, please don’t give it time.)

  64. says

    The Associated Press has been fact-checking Trump’s claims about the economy.

    […] Trump is pulling numbers out of thin air when it comes to the economy, jobs and the deficit.

    He refers to a current record-breaking gross domestic product for the U.S. where none exists and predicts a blockbuster 5 percent annual growth rate in the current quarter that hardly any economist sees. Hailing his trade policies in spite of fears of damage from the escalating trade disputes he’s provoked, Trump also falsely declares that his tariffs on foreign goods will help erase $21 trillion in national debt. The numbers don’t even come close. […]

    Much more at the link.

    Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expanded on the lies:

    Just look at the economy alone. This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans. That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this President took place.

    When President Obama left, after eight years in office — eight years in office, he had only created 800 — or 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years.

    Debunking of Huckabee Sanders’ claims by Steve Benen:

    Even by Trump World standards, this was hopelessly bizarre. As a CNBC report explained, “During the eight years President Barack Obama was in office, black employment rose by roughly 3.2 million, or more than four times the 700,000 jobs added so far since Trump took office.”

    Soon after, the White House Council of Economic Advisors apologized, insisting it was responsible for Sanders’ mistake. The press secretary added the numbers she used “were correct, but the time frame for [President] Obama wasn’t.”

    Except, this was wrong, too, since the revised numbers included jobs that were lost during the Great Recession before Obama took office.

    But as important as these factual details are, I’m also curious about why the White House thought the absurd claims were true.

    Again, Sanders’ original claim was that more African Americans have gotten jobs in the last year and a half than in the previous eight years. Why would anyone believe that?

    My hunch is that White House officials have become a little too convinced of their dubious sales pitch. They hear the president falsely claim every day that the United States has the strongest economy in history (it doesn’t), and that Trump has produced record-breaking job creation (he hasn’t), and the lies have probably affected their perspective.

    Which is a shame, because the truth is readily available. In reality, Trump’s first year as president was the worst for American job creation in six years. In reality, Trump has been in office for 18 full months, and in that time overall job growth in the United States has dropped compared to the previous 18 months.

    By all appearances, the White House has no idea that these facts are true. It’s likely why, when presented with an outlandish statistic, it didn’t occur to Sarah Huckabee Sanders to say, “Wait, that can’t be right.”

  65. says

    Follow-up to comment 17.

    Twitter has suspended Alex Jones. This is a temporary suspension, and it is incomplete since his Infowars Twitter account was not suspended.

    Twitter says it is suspending the account of the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for one week after he violated the company’s rules against inciting violence.

    The New York Times reports that Jones tweeted a link to a video calling for supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready against media and others.

    Jones won’t be able to tweet or retweet from his personal account for seven days, though he will be able to browse Twitter.

    The Twitter account for his “Infowars” show was not affected.

    Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify have taken down material published by Jones, reflecting more aggressive enforcement of hate speech policies after online backlash.

    But Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his company’s decision last week not to ban Jones, saying he did not break any rules.


    Jack Dorsey is looking more and more like a dunderhead.

  66. says

    “The new GOP litmus test: Defending Trump at his absolute worst”:

    The big news in Tuesday night’s elections is the defeat of GOP establishment pick Tim Pawlenty in the Minnesota GOP gubernatorial primary, at the hands of a full-blown Trump loyalist. This makes a Democratic victory in the state more likely, and crucially, it probably makes it easier for Democrats to hold a couple of House seats they are defending in the state, which is key to Democrats’ hopes of taking back the lower chamber this fall.

    Beyond this, Pawlenty’s loss provides a useful way to try to understand what is happening in the GOP of the Trump era. After it happened, Pawlenty told reporters:

    “The Republican Party has shifted. It is the era of Trump and I’m just not a Trump-like politician.”

    The phrase “Trump-like politician,” it turns out, is basically a euphemism for a “politician who is willing to defend President Trump at his most reprehensible moments.” The man who decisively defeated Pawlenty, local commissioner Jeff Johnson, actually ran an ad that blasted Pawlenty for failing to stand by Trump after the news broke of the “Access Hollywood” video, which featured Trump boasting in extremely lewd fashion about his ability to carry out sexual assaults with impunity.

    It turns out that this is part of a pattern. As a Democratic operative points out to me, multiple Republican candidates have been placed on the defensive during this cycle for the same thing: failing to support Trump not just in a general sense, but more precisely for failing to support Trump when the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced….

    In related news, Preet Bharara’s interview with Steve Schmidt about the state of the Republican Party.

  67. says

    I agree with something that was said on Fox News:

    “Fox and Friends’” co-host Brian Kilmeade said Wednesday that former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman “seems to have outsmarted the President,” who he said had “taken the bait” by tweeting attacks at her, boosting her book sales.

    Meanwhile, Giuliani bragged that he is closer to Trump than Omarosa. (Not something I would brag about.) The purported closeness is what Giuliani is using to claim that he is right and Omarosa is wrong.

    Omarosa’s allegation is not in her book — we have seen no proof to substantiate what she alleges, but it is that she says with great confidence, certainly on television, he knew about the DNC e-mails before Wikileaks dropped them. I know she’s lying. … I know she’s lying because I was on the campaign more than she was. I was closer to him than she was.

    Sheesh. It’s like an episode of Big Brother.

  68. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] In this storm of back-biting, intrigue and betrayal we see in microcosm the world system on which Trump wants to build US relations with the rest of the world. But first, let’s discuss the NDAs.

    […] there appears to be a two-tiered system of Trump White House NDAs. Some ex-staffers are put on what amount to retainers for their silence. Longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller apparently signed one of these for $15,000 a month. Omarosa says she was asked to sign one and then declined. Those are what we’ll call the post-White House NDAs. It appears that a handful of ex-White House employees are covered by them. To the degree these retrospectively cover the ex-employee’s time working for the government, it seems highly dubious that these are enforceable. But that’s not really the point. As the Cohen/Stormy Daniels saga has demonstrated, enforceability has never counted terribly high in Trump NDA thinking. The point isn’t to win cases but to get a license to terrorize or bankrupt signee with predatory litigation.

    Then there are the NDAs that most White House staffers have signed. On its face, this is an oxymoron. You can’t make government employees sign NDAs. They would be unenforceable. […] There were apparently early drafts that included massive cash penalties payable to the US government if staffers divulged things they had learned in the Trump White House. Those provisions, though, were apparently stripped out. The final NDAs had all the vast and encompassing demands for silence you would expect from a Trump NDA. There just weren’t any penalties.

    The upshot was that McGahn relented and drew up the un-teethed NDA to calm Trump down – a sad commentary on all involved. […] Today we learned that the Trump Campaign, the only entity here with a possibly legitimate NDA in hand, is taking Omarosa to binding, secret arbitration over the NDA she had with the campaign […]

    […] The clear implication is not simply that Trump hires bad or untrustworthy people. It is far more organic. Trump creates and operates in a world in which anyone can be tossed overboard, fired or denigrated more or less at the drop of a hat. Having the dignity crushed out of you amounts to the most reliable and universal aspect of Trump service. […]

    It’s a low trust, high fear climate which breeds backstabbing, betrayal, paranoia which only deepens in a self-validating, self-perpetuating way. It is a system of maximal public obsequiousness and maximal private subterfuge. Everything is a lie. […]

    […] In a high fear environment, secrecy, force and seeking maximum advantage in every case become rational choices. They become critical to self-preservation. […] Trump’s vision of the world is one built on a series of one-off exchanges and bargains in which in each case the US will seek maximum advantage, often with threats, bullying, threats to walk away and more. In other words, it is a high fear environment, one built on predation and plays for maximum advantage, in which the US will do best because it is the strongest.

    Trump’s White House is simply a microcosm of this dark and self-defeating worldview: a system of aggression, betrayal, unpredictable behavior and dishonesty, all of which foster and encourage similar behavior from everyone who enters it. […] a comic dystopia Trump is building in the White House and aspires to create worldwide.

  69. says

    From Gabe Ortiz:

    Multiple times this past spring and summer, Donald Trump claimed that he watched Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents “liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13,” saying in May that “the people are dancing and they’re waving and they’re looking out their windows and they’re waving at the ICE people.”

    This is a demented fairy tale existing only in his brain, because 14 months’ worth of ICE data reveal that the arrests of immigrants with no criminal record at all have more than tripled under Trump, “and may still be accelerating,” NBC News reports.

    In response to California taking action to protect its undocumented immigrant residents, former acting ICE director Thomas Homan promised an increase in “collateral arrests”—a crass term describing when non-targets are swept up in targeted raids because they happened to be there at the time […]

    This is a terrifying police state, courtesy of our tax dollars being spent not on targeting people who actually do pose a threat to public safety, but instead moms and dads trying to get to work. […]

    More at the link.

  70. says

    How low can you go? Former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka has been handing out fake Fox News business cards.

    Who wants a Fox News business card, let alone a fake one?

    When you are a Nazi collaborator/apologist who managed to ride the reactionary racist wave of “economic anxiety” all the way to the White House, it’s a long way down when you fall. […]

    Since getting pushed out of his position as one of white supremacist in chief Donald Trump’s top advisers, Sebastian Gorka (aka fear-filled scumbag) has had all kinds of problems. He’s even found himself in conflict at what would normally be considered “safe spaces” for bigots. How low has Gorka fallen, you ask? On Monday, Mediaite reported that Gorka was handing out business cards that fraudulently implied he was fully employed by Fox News, and not simply one of their satellite freelance “specialists” they bring in when people with legitimate credentials refuse.

    Comparing Gorka’s alleged business card with Fox News’ current business cards show that someone went to that local guy that makes fake IDs for high school kids—in 1978. […]


    A con man trying to con other con men?

  71. says

    Lynna @ #109, I loved that tweet. Saw it after I’d already posted the TOTD – otherwise it would’ve been tough to choose. Souza’s a great photographer, and I love how he “deploys” the images on social media.

  72. Saad says

    Lynna, #105

    Meanwhile, Giuliani bragged that he is closer to Trump than Omarosa.

    I mean we’ve all seen the clip.

  73. tomh says

    @ 110
    That’s a pretty good analysis – confusion is the only chance the defense has. Of course, the scary thing is they only need one juror, who, for unknown reasons, has already made up his or her mind.

  74. says

    Of course, the scary thing is they only need one juror, who, for unknown reasons, has already made up his or her mind.

    Thanks, tomh. I wasn’t stressed enough. ;)

  75. says

    Trump enlists fake Peter Strzok tweets in latest attempt to discredit the FBI. Sad.

    […] Trump shared a quote from former FBI official Chris Swecker, who wrote in a Fox News column that the Strzok firing “was a decision step in the right direction in correcting the wrongs committed by what has been described as Comey’s skinny inner circle.” […]

    But there’s a big problem with Swecker’s column that Trump seemingly missed — to make his case, he cited tweets posted by fake Peter Strzok Twitter accounts.

    “Strzok is now engaged in an unhinged Twitter rant of vitriol towards President Trump that matches the hatred he expressed for Trump in his texts with Page. He has even revealed new and possibly classified or confidential investigative detail – or simply told lies – on Twitter,” Swecker wrote, paraphrasing fake Strzok tweets. […]

    As this is published, the real Strzok has only posted two tweets, and neither of them attack the president.

    Trump promoted a column featuring fake Strzok quotes just minutes after he posted a tweet that employed circular reasoning to make a case that the FBI is infected with anti-Trump bias.

    The Rigged Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on as the “originators and founders” of this scam continue to be fired and demoted for their corrupt and illegal activity. All credibility is gone from this terrible Hoax, and much more will be lost as it proceeds. No Collusion!

    Trump’s flawed logic is that since so many FBI officials involved in investigating his campaign have been fired, they must have been up to no good. But as Trump has publicly admitted — including as recently as Tuesday on Twitter — the real reason those officials were fired is because they were investigating him. […]


  76. tomh says

    @ #114
    I know, right? And the first thing I read in the WaPo on the defense closing is, “One juror nodded as Westling emphasized the the fact that Manafort stands innocent. “If you’re thinking right now any of this evidence adds up to anything, you shouldn’t be,” Westling said. “Put it out of your mind.”

  77. says

    Sanders announces that Trump is revoking former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. Brennan is a critic of his.

    Sanders says Brennan has exhibited ‘erratic conduct and behaviour’.”

    False. Also, yawn. They already drained the distraction value out of this move when they announced it a few weeks ago. The MSNBC sub-chyron says they’re “also evaluating clearance for several others, including Clapper, Comey.” Comey does not have a fucking clearance and Clapper has said he couldn’t care less.

    Stupid, petty, obvious, boring.

  78. says

    Projection in action:

    Sanders was reading a statement from Trump in her remarks on the security clearances.

    In addition to accusing Brennan of “erratic conduct and behaviour,” Trump also said Brennan has made “increasingly frenzied commentary” and had “wild outbursts on the internet and television.”

  79. says

    SC @123, that is definitely ROTFL worthy.

    In other news, more bad news for poor and low-income people when it comes to housing:

    Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is taking new steps to roll back an Obama-era rule intended to combat housing segregation.

    On Monday, the Trump administration formally began the process of revamping a 2015 rule that required cities and towns to examine historic patterns of segregation and create plans to combat it, or lose federal funding.

    NBC News link

    From Sara Pratt, a former Obama official:

    You’re going back to communities willfully blinding themselves to patterns of segregation. Without this rule, communities will not do the work to eliminate discrimination and segregation.

  80. says

    From Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia:

    Trump is clearly punishing John Brennan for criticizing him, cracking down on a dissent and retaliating against a private citizen’s free speech.

    The President has adopted the weak, paranoid, authoritarian behavior of a dictator.

  81. says

    Remember when Republicans said they were going to simplify the tax laws of the USA? They failed.

    The GOP tax bill signed into law last year was touted as a way to simplify the tax code but has ended up making it more complex with an increased number of overall tax breaks, according to a new report.

    The non-partisan budget watchdog group Peter G. Peterson Foundation found in an analysis released this week that the number of tax carveouts ticked up from 216 before the law was enacted to 223 after. […]

    In the tax code, there are broad laws that create tax revenues, such as income taxes and corporate classification. Then there are exceptions, such as deductions and credits, that reduce that overall amount of revenue, called tax expenditures.

    Many of the carveouts, such as the mortgage interest deduction and the child tax credit, are popular and have intentional policy goals.

    But the increase in the number of tax expenditures indicates that the tax code increased in complexity following the law’s passage, running counter to a central Republican message about simplifying the tax code.[…]

    For year, Republican leaders had promised that a tax code overhaul would allow people to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard. When the new law went through, however, officials were only able to fit the form on smaller paper by creating additional paperwork and leaving off several popular deductions.


  82. says

    The war against drugs in Mexico may be in for a lot of changes, and soon:

    […] Mexico’s next president, a leftist named Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has promised national reconciliation and peace and an end to more than a decade of the drug war.

    López Obrador (who is usually referred to by his initials, AMLO) was elected on July 1 with the biggest margin of victory for a president in Mexico’s modern democratic history. “The failed crime and violence strategy will change,” he proclaimed during his victory speech on election night. “We will address the root causes of crime and violence.”

    AMLO and his advisers have proposed sending drug war-fighting soldiers back to their barracks, pardoning nonviolent drug offenders, and boosting social programs, repeating slogans like, “Hugs, not gunshots,” on the campaign trail.

    If the incoming president gets his way, this will be Mexico’s first major split from the US on crime-fighting and drugs in decades. But the obstacles are many, and it remains to be seen if the new president has the lasting support and the resources to end the drug war. […]

    Vox link.

    Much more at the link.

  83. says

    QAnon may have a played a part in Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance:

    […] the Trump White House has long been overrun with an equally ludicrous conspiracy theory, one in which John Brennan is the spider at the center of the web, and somehow originated the Russia investigation. Trump has frequently tweeted about Brennan and called him “the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community.” Brennan has been an obsession of Trump’s, with multiple reports that place Brennan, Clapper, and Comey together in an “attempted Deep State coup.” Trump has made numerous accusations that Brennan has somehow tried to profit from his security clearance … though he hasn’t given any examples.

    Trump appears fully prepared to rob the nation of decades of international experience, retaining only those who “say nice things about him”—regardless of their knowledge or competence.

    Daily Kos link

    The main reason, I think, is not QAnon’s silly conspiracy theories, but the fact that Brennan is plain spoken when it comes to Trump being unfit for office:

    It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation.

  84. says

    New details that show how damaging Trump’s tariffs/trade war are:

    […] manufacturers like Stack-On Products, a storage safe manufacturer, begin to close up shop and head on down to Mexico.

    “The operation is really not profitable,” Fletcher said. He said the decision to relocate operations to Juarez, Mexico, was made about two months ago when President Donald Trump announced tariffs on numerous goods and materials from China as well as other countries, to reduce what the president has called an unfair trade deficit.

    “Mr. Trump is part of this,” Fletcher said. So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese technology goods and $3 billion of Chinese steel and aluminum, and has proposed another $16 billion.

    The Chicago Tribune says that about 153 people will be laid off in the Chicago area as a result of Stack-On’s closures. But wait, there’s more! There are at least “885 coming job cuts that Illinois employers reported last month to the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.” Those numbers come from an act that forces businesses planning on laying off more than 75 workers to give 60 days notice. […]


  85. says

    Brennan: “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”

    He’s on MSNBC right now. Just said it seems Trump is getting “more and more concerned, more and more desperate, more and more frightened,” and acting like someone who doesn’t want the truth to come out in the Mueller investigation.

  86. tomh says

    Geez, one hour of jury instructions from Judge Ellis, including telling the jury that they were to ignore any Department of Justice “motive or lack thereof” when making its decision, which seems to me only to highlight the possibility. He could have skipped that as far as I’m concerned.

    The evidence is so strong that anything other than guilty on all counts would make me think that someone was bought off.

  87. says

    I honestly can’t form any reasoned understanding of the Mangiante/Papadopoulos developments. Her background is super sketchy, and their motivations consistently elude me.

  88. says

    Dafna Linzer:

    Trump explains to WSJ why he acted against Brennan today and threatened the same for others:

    “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an in­ter­view. “And these peo­ple led it!”

    He added: “So I think it’s some­thing that had to be done.”

    Trump’s explanation – that “these people led” the “rigged witch hunt” – as reason for his action today, is NOT listed among the official reasons outlined in the White House statement here:…

    In fact, the letter revoking Brennan’s clearance was dated July 26, so it was really done a few weeks ago. The list of people whose clearances are being “evaluated” – “James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr” – comports with this conspiracy/obstruction explanation rather than the pretextual one in the letter.

  89. says

    John Brennan NYT oped – “John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash”:

    …The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

    Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

    Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

    The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of “Trump Incorporated” attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets….

    Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference — from Mr. Trump or anyone else — so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.

  90. says

    I’m noticing (and seeing confirmed on the Hamilton 68 dashboard) that the pro-Kremlin bots and trolls are out in full force on the Brennan news: everyone should ignore it, Brennan had it coming, etc. At first I thought it was a distraction – which it undoubtedly was, given the original date of the statement – but the list of other people whose clearance (real or imagined) is being threatened, Trump’s admission to the WSJ, and these attempts to shape or muffle the news suggest that it’s also a continuation of the conspiracy/obstruction efforts.

  91. says

    Peter Baker: “Once again, Trump undercuts the strained explanations aides give for his actions by blurting out that he was actually motivated by his pique over the Russia investigation.”

    This goes well beyond pique. (It’s worth noting that Trump, his media lackeys at Fox and the Federalist – who funds that, anyway?, and his protectors on the comically malevolent House Oversight and Judiciary Committees have increased their attacks on Bruce and Nellie Ohr.)

  92. Oggie. says

    So will the right wing neo-Nazi free speech absolutists take up Brennan’s cause? After all, this is not a college saying, “You have odious ideas and we will not provide a platform for them,” or individuals saying, “You said this horrible thing and we are going to let everyone know you said it,” or even “You said this horrible thing, you are fired,” all of which are legal and protected responses to someone else’s speech, but this situation is a government official using the levers of government to suppress someone’s free speech. Which IS guaranteed by the Constitution. So where is the right-wing outrage?

  93. says

    “‘Trump Is Ours’: Kremlin Media Fear Democratic Victory in November Midterm Elections”:

    During any other presidency, it would be highly unusual for the Russian media to be preoccupied with the American midterm elections, but in the time of Donald Trump, Russian politicians and pundits have taken a keen interest in the races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

    As the realization dawns on them that the Putin-friendly president cannot or will not lift past and future sanctions on the faltering Russian economy, as many had expected, they appear to be focusing their hopes—and fears—on the Hill.

    Reports in the state-controlled media betray the Kremlin’s apparent concern that President Trump will be impeached if the Democrats win control of the House. They describe the midterms as “the electoral death match.” Evgeny Popov, the host of the Russian state TV show 60 Minutes, posed a provocative question to Sergei Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States: “Will anything change in November? Let’s jokingly assume that we interfere and all goes well for Trump.” Kislyak tergiversates about the potential outcome and cautiously warns Popov: “Let’s not joke about that. Americans have lost their sense of humor.”

    Politician Sergei Stankevich opines that Trump is in dire straits, as the Republicans are poised to lose their House majority. He says the GOP’s opponents criticize Trump’s decidedly soft approach to Russia based on him being “charmed or covertly pressured by Putin.” Russian state media portrays the GOP’s push for additional sanctions as an attempt to distance themselves from this perception.

    While the Russians scoff at Trump’s inability to overcome the resistance from the other branches of the government, they fear that dealing with a Democratic-controlled House and Trump’s potential replacement would become an even bigger quagmire for the Kremlin….

    Much more at the link.

  94. says

    It’s worth remembering that the person who first suggested that Trump revoke the clearances of his critics was a United States Senator, @RandPaul.”

    Paul tweeted yesterday: “I applaud President Trump for his revoking of John Brennan’s security clearance. I urged the President to do this.”

  95. says

    “The Government’s Technical, Jargony, Revealing Case Against Paul Manafort”:

    The trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been anything but sexy….

    In U.S. District Court on Wednesday, lead prosecutor Greg Andres acknowledged the case’s complexity and thanked the jurors for their patience, while leaving unsaid perhaps the most significant nexus to the broader Russia investigation: With every new foreign bank account, fraudulent loan application, and falsified tax return the government presented, we learned more about the lengths the president’s campaign chairman was willing to go to hide his financial relationships with Russian or pro-Russian oligarchs (at least one of whom he continued to leverage while working on the Trump campaign).

    The resulting portrait is of an operative who blithely defrauded his own government while working for pro-Russian entities—a striking microcosm of the question at the heart of the sprawling Russia investigation: namely, whether the Trump campaign compromised the 2016 election while working with Moscow to undermine their shared foe, Hillary Clinton.

    Manafort had a co-conspirator…Andres alleged: his longtime business partner, Rick Gates. “Manafort chose somebody to lie with and engage in criminal activity with,” Andres said. “When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies.” He was referring to the alleged tax and bank fraud scheme. But the government’s repeated characterization of Manafort as a liar brought other, more recent episodes to mind. From July 2016 until Trump’s inauguration, Manafort denied any contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia at least five times—denials that, in hindsight, seem brazen.

    Trump and his allies have sought to downplay the trial, claiming that it has nothing to do with either the president or a conspiracy with Russia to win the election. But Manafort didn’t suddenly change his lifetime M.O.—trading and leveraging influence for cash—when he joined the campaign….

  96. says

    “Trump’s Speeches Feature Mystery Men the White House Won’t Name”:

    One of the biggest supporters of President Donald Trump’s trade policies, according to the president, is the unnamed chief executive officer of a mystery company.

    Trump didn’t identify his supporter, and the White House won’t say who it is. Trade groups representing the largest U.S. businesses and CEOs have almost universally opposed Trump’s disruptive approach to trade. But the person fits a model: an anonymous figure — important and powerful — who invariably supports the president’s position, according to Trump himself.

    They are fixtures of Trump’s speeches, defying conventional wisdom and popping up to back the president on issues including prison reform and immigration, in addition to trade. In some cases Trump’s accounts are rebutted by the people he seems to describe. Key details change when he repeats the stories.

    “Many of these anecdotes have either not been verified or they’re unverifiable,” said Robert Rowland, who teaches presidential rhetoric at Kansas University and is writing a book about Trump’s speaking style. “When he doesn’t have hard data to cite, he goes to these kinds of anecdotes. When he doesn’t have real anecdotes, it appears that he finds his own.”

    Trump’s use of anonymous validators is especially noticeable in his defense of trade policies that have hurt farmers and rocked markets. Speaking to supporters, the president often launches into dramatic narrations of his negotiations with unnamed foreign leaders, describing how they ultimately bent to his will.

    Trump’s unnamed allies have a lot in common. They are usually described as high-ranking and highly talented. They are almost always men….

    Several examples at the link.

  97. says

    “Edinburgh council debating new plaque on monument of former colonial secretary Henry Dundas”:

    From the statue of Cecil Rhodes in Oxford to the confederate statues in the U.S., there’s a growing debate about the removal of monuments dedicated to controversial men.

    But in Edinburgh, rather than removal, the council has agreed to add more details to one of its most prominent statues – Henry Dundas – and his attitudes towards slavery. Our Scotland correspondent Ciaran Jenkins explains more.

    5-minute video report at the link.

  98. says

    SC @148, thanks for that update. I see Trump pulled a bunch of numbers out of thin air … and all of those numbers were wrong.

    SC @151, I see that HHS is complaining about how hard it is to properly take care of immigrant children.

    SC @147, news coverage is more bearable this morning thanks to the multiple inclusions of Aretha Franklin singing. Respect.

  99. says

    Another detail from the WSJ interview. Trump is pathetic:

    Several times Mr. Trump interrupted the conversation to summon aides to the Oval Office to share charts showing his endorsement record and to discuss the size of his following on social media.

    “So what’s my record?” he asked political director Bill Stepien, who said the president had yet to lose a candidate he has backed in Republican primary races.

    Mr. Trump said he notched eight wins out of nine in special elections.

    Even more pathetic, Trumps claims were not true.

    […]Trump-backed candidates haven’t won all of their GOP primaries. Late last year, for example, the president not only endorsed then-Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary, Trump also went to Alabama to urge his supporters to support the appointed incumbent. Strange nevertheless lost by more than nine points.

    The idea that Republican voters usually side with Republican candidates backed by a Republican president really isn’t all that impressive, but if Team Trump insists on making this an important boast, the president and his staff should at least try to tell the truth about it.

    And second, GOP candidates haven’t won eight out of nine Trump-era special elections. Democrats won in California’s 34th congressional district, Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, and Alabama’s U.S. Senate special election.

    Republicans have won the other eight Trump-era special elections, but in nearly every instance, Democrats over-performed, and the GOP had to scramble to salvage modest victories in “red” districts.


  100. says

    From the WSJ interview:

    Mr. Trump said the Russia probe is unwarranted. “Of course they say it’s not an investigation. You know, in theory I’m not under investigation…I’m not a target. But regardless, I think that whole — I call it ‘the rigged witch hunt,’ is a sham.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] In theory, Trump is wildly popular. In theory, he won the popular vote. In theory, Russia didn’t attack our elections in the hopes of putting Trump in power. In theory, the president hasn’t been caught lying thousands of times. […]

    in reality, Trump is, in fact, the subject on an ongoing federal investigation. The president’s legal defense team is well aware of this, and the public has known this fact since April.

    In fairness, as far as we know, Trump isn’t a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, and as we discussed months ago, the distinction between the subject of an investigation and the target of an investigation is important. If Trump were a target, it would suggest federal investigators are moving forward with plans to indict him.

    But none of this means that Trump is some bystander, watching a scandal unfold around him with the benefit of detached innocence. If that were the case, the president’s lawyers probably wouldn’t be concerned about Trump answering the special counsel’s questions.

    Whether the president likes it or not, he’s currently under investigation. Theories about what might conceivably be true are trumped by what is true.


    Would Mueller tell us if Trump was no longer a “subject,” but is now a “target”?

  101. says

    No surprise. Omarosa released more tape today. A conversation with Lara Trump confirms that the Trump Campaign offered her $15,000 per month to be “positive” about Trump.

  102. blf says

    This is an interesting read about the recent States-side national anti gun-violence bus tour (Road to Change) initially organised mostly by the Parkland mass shooting survivors, Parkland students hit the road to end gun violence — and diversity becomes key part of their fight. It’s a long but worthwhile read. A few choice excerpts (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    As a bus tour for gun-violence prevention wraps up, black and brown Americans are working to ensure their voices are heard
    Bria [Smith, the 17-year old† child of two black pastors], like many young black activists, had originally found some of the reaction to the Parkland shooting frustrating, even hurtful. There had been an outpouring of nationwide support for the wealthy suburban students dealing with the trauma of gun violence. After some of the students began organizing, Oprah and George Clooney had written $500,000 checks to support their new movement. These celebrities had not rushed to write a check to support Black Lives Matter, or to support the the generations of black and brown Americans who had organized against gun violence in their communities.

    “As a person of color, you feel like your voice is always overlooked,” Bria said. “Why don’t they care about us in inner cities, that deal with everyday gun violence?”

    Bria said: “{It was} like we couldn’t be a part of that conversation.”

    The Parkland kids had heard this criticism early on, and acknowledged that it was fair. Mass shootings were only a small part of America’s deadly gun violence problem.

    Of the school-aged children murdered each year in the United States, 98% to 99% are killed outside of school. Black children are about 10 times more likely to be the victims of a gun homicide than white children.


    [In Oakland, Kenzie] Smith[, who had decided to run for city council after a white woman called the police on him and his friends for having a barbecue in a public park], like the Parkland students, was focused on turning out young people to vote, and he had agreed to help them. He organized a barbecue event for March for Our Lives in Oakland’s Bobby Hutton Park, which was named in honor the 17-year-old member of the Black Panther party who had been shot dead by Oakland police in 1968. He invited one of his mentors, a former Black Panther party member, to meet the student gun violence activists.

    Bria said later she had been thrilled to make connections with Oakland’s black radical history. And focusing on the Black Panthers in Oakland, [17-year old† Jaclyn] Corin agreed, was a natural fit.

    “We wanted to come here to honor the Black Panthers,” Corin said, “just because we know how it feels to start something where a lot of people are against you.”

    Corin also acknowledged that it was tricky to plan a March for Our Lives event in a community like Oakland, where residents of color had dealt with police violence and high rates of gun violence for decades, and been greeted more often with stigma than with an outpouring of support.

    “I dealt with gun violence one day of my life,” Corin said during the barbecue rally in Oakland. “We want people to know that we support communities like Oakland that have been dealing with gun violence, longer and more than Parkland ever has.”


    Older generations of gun control advocates, who had courted support from police chiefs in trying to pass new federal gun laws, had not commented on police shootings of black Americans, or treated those shootings as a gun violence issue. The Parkland students, in contrast, had quickly embraced the issue. “I really want people to understand that we get the fact that police brutality is gun violence. We are advocating for these people, because either way, they have died from a gun,” Corin said.

    [… T]he perception that March for Our Lives was a white movement persisted, to the frustration of the student organizers, including Bria. They bristled at news articles about their bus that labeled them the “Parkland students,” since they were no longer all from Parkland.


    This perception problem could have real consequences. To have an impact on the midterm elections, March for Our Lives needed every youth vote it could get.

    Low midterm voter turnout by young people, particularly by young minorities, typically favored the Republican politicians who were currently blocking every attempt to pass new gun control laws. A 7% drop in black voter turnout in the 2016 election had played to the advantage of Donald Trump. […]

    March for Our Lives needed young people of color  young people like Bria — to feel like they were part of the movement.


    “I am here for all the Trayvon Martins, the Dontre Hamiltons, the Philando Castiles, the Eric Garners and every person of color … whose gun violence story was left untold, ” [Bira] told the crowd. “I live in an inner-city and gun violence is so normalized and conditioned with me, as youth of color, because I let it be that way, I accepted my fate and my destiny.”

    “But I’m sitting here right now to tell everyone here, that’s not my reality. And that’s not going to be anyone else’s reality,” she said to cheers.


    Bria talked about how 12,000 Milwaukee students had to walk through metal detectors and pass armed guards on their way to school, part of security measures that cost $15.1m, she said. “We’re dehumanizing our youth through the school-to-prison pipeline, having aspects of what prison looks like and incorporating them into schools,” she said.

    “Instead of investing into safety protocols, we need to invest in better education!”

    She led the audience in a chant: “I refuse to be another statistic.” She said, to cheers: “We need to elect moral leaders to represent who we are, because if they don’t look like us, or know what we’re about, why should they sit in that seat?”


      † I normally redact details like age, except when, in my opinion, it is relevant. Whilst not-exactly relevant here, I’ve included Ms Smith’s and Ms Corin’s ages simply as a honour, this group of young people are very very impressive. (Their skin colours are, unfortunately, relevant to the story, which is why I’ve also included suggestions of what they are.)

  103. says

    Omarosa is on MSNBC with Craig Melvin revealing a recording of a conversation she had just after she was fired with Lara Trump. Trump is offering her a (vague, bullshit) job on the campaign making the same amount ($180,000) that she was making in the WH, clearly with the understanding that she would say only positive things. She actually mentions that the money for the campaign comes from donors, mostly small donors. So this is how campaign donations are being used: thrown into this slush fund used in part to buy the silence of people with damaging information.

  104. says

    SC @155, great tweet. President Obama is such a class act.

    Here’s what Trump said:

    He offered his “warmest best wishes and sympathies” and told the assembled reporters that he knew her well and that she worked for him. It is not clear what he meant by that statement, and when, if ever, Franklin was under his employment. Per the Hill, she did perform at one of his Atlantic City casinos in the 1980s.

    He added that her “legacy will thrive and inspire” coming generations. He also tweeted his condolences.

    The tweet:

    The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!

    “She worked for me.” JFC.

  105. says

    SC @160, that resolution comes out on the same day that the Boston-Globe-initiated editorial project came out (your comment 148). I like the way this is going so far.

    In other news, Trump’s upcoming military parade is going to cost 666% more than was estimated earlier.

    President Donald Trump’s military parade is estimated to cost $92 million — a whopping $80 million more than an earlier estimate, according to an unnamed “U.S. defense official with firsthand knowledge of the assessment,” CNBC reported Thursday.

    In July, CNN reported that the parade would cost approximately $12 million, according to three unnamed U.S. defense officials. In February, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told Congress the parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million.

    CNBC reported Thursday that the $92 million figure would be split between the Pentagon, $50 million, and the Department of Homeland Security and other “interagency partners,” $42 million.


  106. says

    Kellyanne Conway is fighting with her husband, George. George often disses or corrects Trump via social media posts. Conway said:

    It is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows.

    George says:

    If my wife were the counselor to the CEO of Pepsi and I had a problem with her boss, I would simply drink my Coke and keep my mouth shut. If the President were simply mediocre or even bad, I’d have nothing to say. This is much different.

    I’m just saddened by how things turned out.

    Empathy for George’s predicament.

  107. says

    An update on the 500+ children still separated from their parents by the Trump administration:

    More than 500 kidnapped migrant children continue to remain in U.S. custody despite a federal judge’s reunification order, and each day they continue to remain separated from their parents, a group of Senate Democrats write to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, “unacceptably exacerbates trauma that this administration has needlessly caused for children and their families seeking humanitarian protection.”

    “We write to express our extreme frustration that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has prolonged the stay of 539 immigrant children separated from their parents in government custody—despite bipartisan outcry and a federal court order requiring family reunification,” the letter, led by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, states. “We urge DHS to take immediate steps to reunify all families separated at the Southwestern border because of this administration’s ineffective and cruel ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

    Hundreds remain in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody because their parents have already been deported, some coerced or mislead by immigration officials and sent back to the violence they were escaping. They need to be brought back, the senators write. “DHS should offer these parents an opportunity to return to the United States on a grant of humanitarian parole … to reunite with their child. Such reunited families in turn should be released into the community to pursue claims for asylum or other forms of protection for which they may be eligible.”

    The suggestion in the last sentence above sounds like a good plan to me.

    The government has the ability to return deported parents under “well established parole authority,” America’s Voice notes. “Indeed, parole authority was already used by the Trump Administration in a very similar case involving two parents separated from their children who sued the federal government in Connecticut.” […]


    There are many calls for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign.

    We are now one month past Judge Dana Sabraw’s court order.

  108. says

    New from Gabe Sherman:

    …In recent days, Trump has called Manigault Newman “crazed,” a “lowlife,” and a “dog” on Twitter. His campaign filed an arbitration suit against her seeking “millions.” And Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Manigault Newman arrested, according to one Republican briefed on the conversations. (It’s unclear what law Trump believes she broke.) Another Republican recounted how over the weekend Trump derailed a midterm-election strategy session to rant about Manigault Newman’s betrayal. In an effort to change the narrative, the White House announced yesterday that Trump had revoked former C.I.A. director John Brennan’s security clearance. But that only ignited a new public-relations crisis. A former West Wing official compared Trump’s erratic behavior this week to the P.R. nightmare he created by attacking grieving Muslim-American Gold Star parents during the 2016 campaign. It’s a “death spiral,” the former official said….

  109. says

    Alt-right (white supremacist) update:

    […] the leaders of the so-called “alt-right,” reel from decreasing relevancy and collapsing finances, a combination of lawsuits, live-streams, and payment companies cutting off funds have hammered these young white supremacists’ outlooks — and potential impact — even further. But still, even if they’re not showing up in the droves they once were, that doesn’t mean white supremacists and their rancid ideologies have collapsed entirely. […]

    Think Progress link

  110. blf says

    NSA broke into secure network of Al Jazeera and others:

    The NSA intelligence agency spied on Al Jazeera in 2006, when George Bush criticised the network for its reporting.
    A document provided to The Intercept by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden shows that the NSA cracked Al Jazeera’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) […]

    “Recently, NSA has decrypted a number of interesting targets … deemed by product lines to have high potential as sources of intelligence,”[] the document states, which is then followed by a list of targets.

    That list includes Al Jazeera, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence and Interior, the Iraqi state internet provider and four airlines from Russia, Paraguay and Iran.


    The documents state that at that point, the NSA had been working on trying to break VPN encryption for at least three years.

    In 2013, German publication Der Spiegel published an article based on the same document, stating the NSA was spying on Al Jazeera, but the publicationdid not detail that this was done through cracking the VPN used by Al Jazeera.

    It is not known whether the NSA has continued the operation since 2006.


    Al Jazeera has been targeted multiple times by the US government, most notably several bombings of its offices.

    In 2001, a bomb from a US air force plane hit the Al Jazeera bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan, destroying the building, despite the US being aware of the exact coordinates of the offices.

    Then, in April 2006, a US bomb hit the Al Jazeera bureau in Baghdad, Iraq, killing journalist Tareq Ayyoub and injuring one other person. US forces were again aware of the exact coordinates of the office.

    As the article notes — and to no surprise — the document (it’s short, 2-pages, and slightly redacted (link embedded in above excerpt)), Hundreds of additional VPN links have also been identified and are being investigated.

      † Not set in eejit quotes because some of the listed “targets” indeed seem to be quite valid. Others, however, are highly dubious outside the extremely paranoid world of spooks.

      ‡ Deliberately set in eejit quotes because whilst very probably true, I strongly object to the spook’s use of euphemisms like are being investigated. “Monitored”, or to be reasonably accurate, “communications stolen & deciphered” would be more to the point.

  111. says

    New plans for Utah national monuments reveal resource extraction was goal of Trump’s attack.

    Yes, we knew that, but it is still startling to see the plans in black and white.

    The Trump administration released draft plans on Wednesday outlining how it intends to allow resource extraction on vast swaths of land that […] Trump ordered stripped from the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments in Utah.

    […] The Utah congressional delegation had long fought for greater industry access to the federal lands. They urged Trump to act quickly upon entering the White House to reduce the federal government’s oversight […]

    Rather than offering to protect the important landscapes, the management plans — prepared by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service — place a priority on energy development. The plans cover the 880,000 acres carved out by Trump from Grand Staircase and the 200,000 acres remaining in Bears Ears from its original 1.35 million acres. […]

    Included in the plan was a nearly 100-page study of mineral potential in the lands cut from Grand Staircase. Conducted by the Utah Geological Survey, the study details the availability of a broad range of minerals, including coal, oil, tar sands, uranium, sand, and gravel.

    The plan also contemplates the sale of more than 1,610 acres of Grand Staircase land, HuffPost reported Wednesday. The acres “identified for disposal” in the draft plan includes 16 parcels ranging in size from 8.5 to 591.6 acres, according to the report. […]

    The BLM’s draft environmental impact statement for Grand Staircase explained that its preferred alternative would “conserve the least land area for physical, biological, and cultural resources … and is the least restrictive to energy and mineral development.”

    “Even the lands that Trump left as national monuments would be managed in a way that is less protective than they currently enjoy,” Bloch added […]

    Native American tribes and environmental groups are optimistic about legal challenge.

    Native Americans, who had been demanding protection of the Bears Ears land for decades, view the plans as yet another slap in the face by an administration that has shown little concern for Native American interests. The Bears Ears area has been home to Hopi, Diné, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni peoples and was designated as a national monument at the request of these people to protect countless archaeological, cultural, and natural resources, […]

    Trump’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears national monument will put tens of thousands of Native American sacred sites at risk, along with key wildlife habitat.

    The Trump administration, however, is facing some major legal obstacles in its attack on the Utah monuments. Environmental groups and Native American tribes are challenging Trump’s executive orders in court. They argue that the Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president authority to reduce the size of monuments created under prior administrations. The lawsuits over the monument reductions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. […]

  112. says

    Lynna @ #162, those quotes come from this interesting WaPo piece about their relationship. An exchange about the quote from her:

    Here’s a conversation from a few days after our walk:

    Me: You told me you found [George’s tweets] disrespectful.

    Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows . . . as “a person familiar with their relationship.”

    Me: No, we’re on the record here. You can’t say after the fact “as someone familiar.”

    Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.

    Me: No, that’s not true. That never happened.

    Kellyanne: Well, people do see it this way. People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people see it that way.

    Me: But I’m saying we never discussed everything about his tweets being off the record. There are certain things you said that I put off the record.

    Kellyanne: Fine. I’ve never actually said what I think about it and I won’t say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it.

  113. says

    I’m still so amused by that exchange @ #169. She’s such a leaker that she has phrases like “as ‘a person familiar with their relationship'” always at the ready. And she wants to criticize her husband off the record in a profile about their marriage.

  114. says

    “Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President”:

    William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    Dear Mr. President:

    Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

    Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

    Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

    A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

    Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

    If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

    (I reproduced the whole thing, since it’s short and an open letter. I should note that posting their comments about this issue shouldn’t by any means be taken as blanket approval of their actions in government.)

  115. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 148.

    […] The principle of a free press, the Globe’s editorial board wrote, “has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat.”

    In a recent poll, the Globe noted, 48 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Americans overall agreed with Trump that the news media is the enemy of the people. Forty-three percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Americans said the president should be able to close news outlets for bad behavior.

    “The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” the board wrote. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.” […]

    From the Tampa Bay Times:

    A free press builds the foundation for democracy. Citizens depend on honest, independent media for accurate information they need about their government, their elected leaders and their institutions. That is just as important in Tampa Bay and in communities across the nation as it is in Washington, and the Times takes that responsibility seriously.
    The Chicago Sun-Times:

    We are, at the Sun-Times, the enemy of unchecked authority and undeserved privilege. We are the enemy of self-entitlement. We are the enemy of the notion that the only way up is to hold somebody else down.
    The New York Times:

    If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together. […]


    More than 300 newspapers across the USA participated in the effort to defend freedom of the press.

    Response from Trump:


    The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!

    There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!

    All of the numbers in Trump’s tweet are incorrect.

  116. tomh says

    “Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!”

    I wish someone could parse that. What in the world does it even mean? I mean, he’s always incoherent, but I can usually get the gist…but this?

  117. says

    Wonkette’s coverage of the Boston Globe “freedom of the press” action, and Trump’s reaction.

    […] in addition to the Globe’s own editorial, several hundred papers nationwide are running pieces to advise their readers that a free press is kind of a big deal, and that attacking reporters as purveyors of fake news isn’t good for a democracy (there’s a nice searchable list at the New York Times). You might think President Thin Skin might simply ignore it, because obviously he’s not going to be persuaded to stop demonizing the press. But of course, there’s no provocation too slight to earn an overreaction from Donald Trump.

    The great Man took to the Tweet Machine this morning to deliver yet another series of condemnations of all those evil, evil journamalists who daily try to destroy America by accurately reporting on Donald Trump. […]

    Trump went after the Boston Globe with MATH — and also the completely insane idea that a bunch of newspapers saying “A free press is actually a good thing, what with the whole holding government accountable business” actually translates to “COLLUSION,” a word he seems to be stuck on for some reason these days.

    (See tomh’s comment 174)

    PROVE WHAT, exactly? You know, all of “it.” Not surprisingly, Trump was also wrong about NYT’s sale price for the Globe — while they did take a loss, they sold it and some other assets in 2013 for $70 million. […]

    He would want true freedom of the press, if only such a thing were possible, but as we all know, there’s just too much freedom, so until the press learns to behave more responsibly … well, nothing, really, because whatever Trump might like to do to restrict publication, he’s mostly limited to petty shit like revoking security clearances, excluding CNN from the occasional event, and having the Pentagon punish reporters for unfavorable coverage, which is plenty bad enough. […]

    From cult followers of Trump:

    We should do what they do in Israel! It’s time for a massive government crackdown against the liberal propagandists that call themselves journalists!

    When the Libel Laws are opened up, so that people can start suing the NYTimes and CNN, these Agit-Prop agencies will be OUT OF BUSINESS in no time!

    The First Amendment doesn’t give any reporter the right to enter the White House! CNN, WaPo, NYT, Boston Globe, etc. should all be BANNED immediately. [tweets from Gateway Pundit dipshit Jacob Wohl]

    Conclusion from Wonkette:

    Oh, and how did some of Trump’s minions react to his hot takes? They phoned in threats to the Boston Globe, and Boston police turned out to guard the building.

  118. says

    Steve Schmidt, a former Republican political strategist, summed up President Trump’s move to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance as “an abuse of power by a President who shows his tendency towards his autocratic fetish with increasing frequency.”

    The video is just over one minute long.

  119. says

    Laughable. Trump 2020 campaign director Brad Parscale tried to spin the latest tape released by Omarosa:

    Latest tape from Omarosa shows how much Trump family cares about pocketbooks of our donors when @LaraLeaTrump warns about all campaign $$ coming from average Americans. Lara says the right thing protecting our donors and helping people understand we are powered by the people!

    Right. All that small donor money being used as hush money for the likes of Keith Schiller, or being offered as hush money to Omarosa … that’s fiscal restraint.

  120. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As part of their “memoriam” for Aretha Franklin, Fox News showed and image of Patti LaBelle singing.

    Talk about your fake news outlet…..

  121. tomh says

    This doesn’t bode well:
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) The jury in the bank and tax fraud trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Thursday asked the judge to clarify the meaning of “reasonable doubt” and the legal requirements to disclose foreign bank accounts as it wrapped up its first day of deliberations.

  122. tomh says

    From CNN: Omarosa’s publisher, Simon and Schuster, responded to legal threats from the Trump camp over publishing her book.

    Responding to a letter from Charles Harder, who is litigation counsel for the Trump campaign, book publisher Simon and Schuster’s outside counsel Elizabeth McNamara wrote: “While your letter generally claims that excerpts from the book contain ‘disparaging statements,’ it is quite telling that at no point do you claim that any specific statement in the book is false. Your client does not have a viable legal claim merely because unspecified truthful statements in the Book may embarrass the president or his associates. At base, your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president.”

    “Your letter recounts at great length the details of a non-disclosure agreement between former White House Senior Staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s and the Trump Campaign (the “NDA”), and threatens that publication of Ms. Manigault-Newman’s book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House (the “Book”), will subject S&S to ‘substantial monetary damages and punitive damages’ for various legal claims arising from the Book and the NDA,” the Simon and Schuster letter said. “My clients will not be intimidated by hollow legal threats and have proceeded with publication of the Book as scheduled,” it added. “Should you pursue litigation against S&S, we are confident that documents related to the contents of the Book in the possession of President Trump, his family members, his businesses, the Trump Campaign, and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense.”

  123. blf says

    A follow-up to @178/180, Fox News doubles down in defense of Patti LaBelle photo in Aretha Franklin tribute — but they’re still wrong. Basically, faux “explained” it was a misconstructed graphic intended to show (for some reason) the two performers performing together:

    However, upon review of the photo in question of LaBelle, EW [Entertainment Weekly] was unable to find any instance of her and Aretha Franklin performing or appearing together on stage at the “Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House” special hosted by President Obama in 2014, which aired on PBS.

    When contacted for further clarification on the photo and performance, Fox News directed EW to the AP photo used in the tribute, saying the caption “notes Aretha Franklin performed at the same event that night.” Though the photo caption does indicate that Franklin, among several others, did perform that night, the legendary singer is not in the photo that Fox News specifically directed EW to — rather, the band and a backup singer are seen.

    Likewise, LaBelle is spotted in the audience […] while Franklin performed that evening […]. That, however, appears to be the closest interaction captured by cameras that the two performers shared that night.

    The article goes on to conclude, “the available evidence contradicts [faux’s] explanation and raises questions as to whether they misidentified LaBelle or another individual in the image as Franklin as many viewers originally thought.”

  124. says

    Susan Hennessey: “I think people saying the McRaven op-ed won’t matter are missing the intended audience, which is not the general public but a small community of peers grappling with the right path in the present moment. His choice to say this now will matter to them. And courage is contagious.”

  125. blf says

    Anti-fascists say police post mugshots on Twitter to ‘intimidate and silence’:

    Michelle Higgins was protesting a high-profile police killing in St Louis when the officers grabbed her.

    The activist’s arrest for failure to disperse on 15 September 2017 wasn’t the only punishment she faced for marching. When she was released a day later, she learned that the police department had posted her name, age and address on Twitter, alongside 32 others arrested during the chaotic demonstrations sparked by the acquittal of an officer.

    Most of the arrests did not result in charges, but the damage was done. It’s a law enforcement tactic that activists say has become increasingly common: police arrest protesters en masse, publicly shame them on social media, and then drop the cases.

    The strategy can lead to intense online abuse for Black Lives Matter activists and other protesters. In the case of anti-fascist protesters, some critics argue that police are also boosting the agenda of neo-Nazis and white supremacists by exposing counter-protesters’ identities — and branding them violent offenders before they’ve gone to court.

    “You criminalize folks who are trying to hold people accountable, then you dehumanize them by telling everyone where they live,” said Higgins, who was not prosecuted after her arrest. The St Louis police tweets, she said, posed an “active threat” to activists and sent a message that “these animals were out protesting when they should’ve been sitting at home”.

    Although rightwing extremist groups have a documented record of violence and killings, the police response at far-right events in recent weeks has repeatedly targeted the leftwing resistance. Some of the news coverage has also focused on the alleged threats of “antifa”, or anti-fascists.

    In Berkeley this month, police arrested 20 counter-protesters at an “alt-right” rally and posted many of their mugshots, names and alleged offenses on Twitter.

    “The intention is to intimidate other protesters and silence political speech,” Blake Griffith, one of the activists taken into custody, said in an interview. “They needed to publicly show they were doing something.”

    Griffith […] was cited for misdemeanor vandalism. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of San Francisco, which is representing the activists, said it appeared that no one on the “alt-right” side was arrested.

    Many of those arrested were cited for possession of a banned weapon, which police said included anything that could be used in a riot. Some had scarves and bandanas that police considered masks, according to Jay Kim, the executive director of the local NLG chapter.


    Eddy Robinson, an Oakland-based activist, said he was on his way to a Berkeley protest event last fall carrying a tote bag filled with signs when police stopped him for having a banned weapon.

    The signs, he said, had anti-fascist messages and small wooden handles. He thought he would simply have to return home with his bag, but instead police took him to jail.

    Robinson was one of the first activists targeted on Berkeley’s Twitter feed last year, with his name and mugshot getting thousands of retweets and responses, which led to a flurry of news articles, hate mail, threats and abusive comments.

    “Being arrested for having the wrong type of protest sign was treated as a reason to put it out on Twitter to a global audience,” he said, recounting prison rape threats and other violent remarks. “Once your mugshot is out there, you become a piece of public property.”

    Griffith said he got calls from relatives who saw him named on Fox News. He said he also fears the outing on Twitter may have cost him a job last week.

    In additional to national media attention, those targeted by the Berkeley police department have found their names on rightwing forums dedicated to harassing and “doxing” anti-fascists, referring to the practice of publishing people’s personal information in an attempt to invite abuse.


    For some, mugshots and arrest records start appearing in top Google search results. When the cases are later dropped, police departments and news organizations almost never publish updates.


    Naming and shaming anti-fascists can also be a way for police to justify use of force, said Juan Chavez, an activist with the NLG in Portland, where a recent far-right rally also turned violent and led to arrests and publicly posted mugshots.

    “It’s their first pass at trying to force a narrative about what happened,” said Chavez, who attended the demonstrations, adding that police press releases targeting leftwing protesters can embolden far-right groups to present themselves as victims: “It enables them to able to cry wolf anytime that they feel threatened or undermined by antifa.”

    Law enforcement, who have also faced scrutiny for working directly with rightwing and neo-Nazi groups to build cases against anti-fascists, largely defended their tactics.

    Spokespeople for police in St Louis, Berkeley and Portland, noted that arrests and mugshots are public records, with some citing legal obligations to release the information.

    A Berkeley police spokesman sent a lengthy statement saying its tweets were a matter of safety and transparency, adding, This is done not in an effort to shame, or to chill freedom of speech, but to deny lawbreakers anonymity. [what happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? –blf] He said the department does not have a policy of removing tweets after cases are dropped. [unless, of course, it’s a police officergoon, in which case there isn’t a twittering to begin with… –blf]

    One Berkeley protester who was outed in the recent wave of tweets and requested anonymity noted that activists have few recourses when they face harassment after mugshots are posted.

    Twitter advises users to contact local law enforcement if they are subject to violent threats. But in Berkeley, it feels like that’s not an option, the activist said: “They are the ones that doxed us.”

    Whilst the article doesn’t explicitly say so, I presume there is selective twittering of an arrested person’s details. That is, whilst a anti-nazi protester is liable to have their details posted and never retracted, and a goon or nazi is unlikely to ever have their details posted (and probably retracted should, for some, they be posted), I rather doubt there all arrested people have their details posted — and particularly not if they are white, wealthy, and lawyered-up; or if the alleged crime might result in bribes to the goons.

    And in case, guessing, whatever the actual legal obligation is, I presume it’s more along the lines of the details being part of the public / arrest record, rather than being globally broadcast. I also hope certain details, like those of minors or alleged victims (especially of child abuse and similar), are neither broadcast nor part of the publicly-available records.

  126. says

    Jacob Soboroff:

    BREAKING: Trump administration releases latest numbers on migrant kids it separated from parents.

    This is most detailed data we’ve seen so far.

    – 2,654 total kids separated.
    – 565 *still* separated; 24 are 0-5 year olds.
    – Parents of 366 *already* deported; 6 are 0-5.

  127. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine cranks up, Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team:

    Katie Hopkins and Richard Spencer are upset at the idea of Idris Elba as 007. What makes them think the sexy, elitist spy is theirs to claim?

    [… N]ews that Idris Elba is back in favour for the role is turning out to be one of the major plotlines in the twatosphere this week. Not only has Katie Hopkins made a video about it […] but American white supremacist Richard Spencer has devoted a lengthy and thundering tweetstorm (tweetsturm?) to it.

    […] For reasons which are really a matter for a trainee psychoanalyst, who plays James Bond is a big thing for Spencer. To this end, he has unleashed a series of thoughts so bovine that I’ll just give you one for a little flavour. Make no mistake, begins one of Richard’s mistakes, a black James Bond would be an act of dispossession far greater than a flotilla of a million refugees.

    Whilst I’m not a James Bond fan myself, that alone makes me hope the next movie has black 007 fighting the evil SPECTRESPENCTRE to save a group of refugees.

    As for Katie Hopkins’s contribution to this absolute keystone of a debate, her video. What to say about this effort? As a filmmaker, she’s very like Leni Riefenstahl, except talentless and presumably filming in her garage. The production values are slightly lower than you might expect if you pressed record while your phone was in your pocket. It opens with Katie declaring: No, Idris Elba, you cannot be James Bond — an assertion to which the only response is: pretty sure that’s going to be up to Barbara Broccoli, not someone honking into the void somewhere in Devon.


    “A talentless Leni Riefenstahl” — love that. (Riefenstahl was a technically brilliant filmmaker who made a number of pure evil propaganda films for Hitler and his mob.)

  128. Saad says

    In recent days, Trump has called Manigault Newman “crazed,” a “lowlife,” and a “dog” on Twitter. His campaign filed an arbitration suit against her seeking “millions.” And Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Manigault Newman arrested, according to one Republican briefed on the conversations. (It’s unclear what law Trump believes she broke.)


  129. says

    “The Chance of Michael Cohen Facing Criminal Campaign Finance Charges Just Went Up”:

    On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal issued a new report about former Donald Trump attorney Michel Cohen and the 2016 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels: Cohen initially rejected the request for money from Daniels’ attorney, but changed his mind after the “Access Hollywood” tape came to light.

    The new revelation about Cohen refusing to pay Daniels in September 2016 is big, circumstantial evidence that could further open up Cohen to facing criminal campaign finance charges. This could also reach all the way to Trump himself.

    Cohen’s payment to Daniels, if motivated to help the campaign, would be a likely campaign finance violation. Depending on his motive, either Cohen made an excessive and unreported “in kind” contribution to the campaign—by funding a payment in excess of the $2,700—or Cohen made an unreported loan to the campaign which the Trump campaign should have reported. If Trump knew about it at the time, Trump could be implicated in a conspiracy with Cohen.

    The Journal reports federal prosecutors view the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape as the “trigger” for Cohen’s payments to Daniels.

    That’s a big deal. Two important Republican election lawyers have attempted to set a high bar for how to tell when a payment in this context might be campaign-related rather than personal. Charlie Spies told the Journal in February that the payment to Daniels was “an expense that would exist irrespective of whether Mr. Trump was a candidate and therefore should not be treated as a campaign contribution.” And former Federal Election Commission chair Brad Smith wrote in an April op-ed in the Journal that “FEC regulations explain that the campaign cannot pay expenses that would exist ‘irrespective’ of the campaign, even if it might help win election. At the same time, obligations that would not exist ‘but for’ the campaign must be paid from campaign funds.”

    Even under these tough standards for what counts as campaign-related, the proof of the timing would be damning for Cohen….

  130. says

    “Judge says Trump campaign screwed up on wording of confidentiality agreements”:

    A Manhattan judge issued a ruling on Thursday that thwarted the Trump campaign’s attempts to keep a lawsuit out of open court, with potential implications for the looming battle over fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s slow-motion revelations of her experiences in the Trump campaign and White House.

    The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Jessica Denson, a former campaign staffer who filed a complaint last November that alleged she was subjected to “harassment and sexual discrimination” while she worked on Trump’s White House bid in 2016. Lawyers for the Trump campaign tried to force the case into private arbitration based on an agreement signed by staffers that included nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions. In her decision, Judge Arlene Bluth of New York State Supreme Court disclosed flaws in the wording of the agreement that she said limited its scope.

    The ruling exposes potential weaknesses in the non-disparagement and non-disclosure agreements that staff at Trump’s White House, his campaign, and the Trump Organization have been made to sign….

    Bluth’s ruling noted flaws in the agreement Denson was required to sign. The judge suggested the document was worded badly, and implied it could have done what the campaign’s attorneys wanted if it had been written better.

    “As an initial matter, the Court observes that the arbitration clause confines arbitration to ‘any dispute arising under or relating to this agreement,’” Bluth wrote, adding with emphasis, “It does not require arbitration for any ‘dispute between the parties’ or even ‘any dispute arising out of plaintiff’s employment.’”

    Bluth even took aim at the title of the document prepared by the Trump campaign. In the motion to compel arbitration, the campaign’s attorneys described the document signed by Denson as an “employment agreement.” The judge noted this wasn’t actually written down.

    “The agreement is simply titled ‘Agreement’ — not ‘Employment Agreement,’” Bluth wrote.

    The judge also found that the agreement only covers “a specific list of five prohibited acts” rather than all aspects of Denson’s employment….

    “There is simply no way to construe this arbitration clause in this agreement to prevent … pursuing harassment claims in court. The arbitration clause could have been written to require any disputes arising out of … employment to go to arbitration. … But it did not,” wrote Bluth.

    Bluth’s ruling became public today when Denson tweeted a copy of the order. It is notable because Denson is representing herself and still defeated the Trump campaign’s lawyers. The judge’s decision represents a rare victory for a pro se litigant,…

    In an ironic twist, President Trump was personally a party to the New York case that establishes the legal principle controlling Bluth’s decision…. President Trump sought to avoid private arbitration in that case, and won the issue on appeal. Bluth specifically cited that decision in her ruling against Trump’s campaign….

  131. says

    “Dutch man faces prosecution in Holland for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan”:

    A 64-year-old man from Sittard in the Netherlands will face prosecution for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a series of offensive e-mails he sent to the Turkish Embassy back in 2016.

    In the e-mails, he compared Erdoğan to Adolf Hitler and also attached a photo of the Turkish president in Nazi uniforms, according to the BBC.

    An investigation into the Dutchman was launched after the Turkish Embassy in The Hague filed a complaint against the individual.

    The public prosecutor in The Hague started an investigation against the man who is now facing charges of insulting a friendly head of state.

    The prosecutor’s office will announce on Aug. 17 when the suspect should appear before the court.

    Under Dutch laws, insult is punishable with six months in prison, but the respective law foresees up to eight months in jail for insulting a friendly head of state.

    The Dutch parliament recently accepted a draft bill to annul the legislation regarding the insult on foreign heads of state, however since it has not been approved by the Senate, the law still remains in effect….

    Coincidentally, I’m just finishing Stefan Ihrig’s Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination.

  132. says

    “1MDB Fugitive Jho Low Harbored by China, Malaysia Says”:

    Malaysian officials believe China has been harboring one of the world’s most-wanted financial fugitives, the financier the U.S. Justice Department alleges is at the center of the $4.5 billion theft from a Malaysian development fund.

    Singapore confirmed this summer that it has been pursuing 36-year-old Jho Low via an Interpol Red Notice for the past two years. Malaysia has been trying to arrest him since June.

    But through June and into July, Mr. Low had been living freely in China, a person aware of his travels said.

    When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad kicks off a trip to China on Friday for meetings with officials including President Xi Jinping, a request to extradite Mr. Low will be high on the agenda, said the officials, who are helping prepare for the trip. Malaysia doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China.

    At times, he has traveled with a Chinese security detail and bragged about “working with Chinese intelligence,” the people said.

    Meanwhile, Malaysia’s new government has been working closely with U.S. Justice Department prosecutors, as well as authorities in Switzerland and Singapore, to investigate Mr. Low’s alleged role in 1MDB.

    Mr. Low has taken other opportunities to be helpful to Beijing. In mid-2017, intermediaries working on his behalf talked with venture capitalist and prominent Republican donor Elliott Broidy about how to get a fugitive Chinese businessman sent back to China, according to two people familiar with the discussions and emails reviewed by the Journal.

    A law firm owned by Mr. Broidy’s wife, Robin Rosenzweig, was hired in 2017 to provide “strategic advice” to Mr. Low, a lawyer for the couple has said.

    China had been pressuring the U.S. to extradite Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of Beijing who resides in a luxury apartment in New York City and claims to have valuable information on top Chinese officials and business magnates. China says Mr. Guo is wanted in connection with 19 major criminal cases. He has denied any wrongdoing.

    Multiple emails from Mr. Broidy, including to a U.S. political consultant named Nickie Lum Davis, detailed the possibility of pressing the U.S. administration to extradite Mr. Guo in 2017. One of the emails referred to an expectation of being paid by China. Mr. Guo was never extradited….

    So good to see more reporting on high-level Republicans working to get Guo extradited. The earlier story about Steve Wynn, another corrupt former Republican finance chair, attempting and almost succeeding in getting Guo turned over to Xi didn’t receive nearly enough attention.

  133. says

    Sens. Feinstein, Leahy, and Durbin claim that documents that are currently ‘committee confidential’ in the Judiciary Committee contain information indicating that SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his 2006 nomination hearing.”

    From their letter to Grassley:

    …We have stated all along that the unprecedented, partisan process being used for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is a disservice to the Senate and to the American people. Now, we are seeing firsthand the problems that result from attempts to hide Judge Kavanaugh’s record. In particular, from the limited set of documents available, we have already seen records that call into serious question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful about his involvement in the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 terrorism policies when he testified before this Committee during his 2006 nomination hearing.

    As you know, in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh told the Committee under oath that he was “not aware of any issues” regarding “the legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees”;[1] was “not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants”[2]; had nothing to do with issues related to rendition;[3] and was unaware of, and saw no documents related to, the warrantless wiretapping program conducted without congressional authorization.[4]

    However, at least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11. In one, just days after the existence of the Office of Legal Counsel “torture memos” was publicly revealed, then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harriet Miers forwarded to Judge Kavanaugh a set of talking points addressing the memos and U.S. torture policy.[5] The forwarded email makes clear that then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had personally asked for Judge Kavanaugh’s review. Similarly, another email shows that Judge Kavanaugh was included on an email chain circulating talking points on rendition and interrogation.[6] These emails and talking points demonstrate why we need access to Judge Kavanaugh’s full record as Staff Secretary.

    In addition, documents that have been produced to the Committee as part of the partisan process that you have brokered with Bill Burck further undercut Judge Kavanaugh’s blanket assertions that he had no involvement in or knowledge of post-9/11 terrorism policies. These documents are currently being withheld from the public at your insistence, but they shed additional light on Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in these matters and are needed to question him in a public hearing….

  134. says

    “The extraordinary bias of the judge in the Manafort trial”:

    …During the trial, Ellis intervened regularly, and mainly against one side: the prosecution. The judge’s interruptions occurred in the presence of the jury and on matters of substance, not courtroom conduct. He disparaged the prosecution’s evidence, misstated its legal theories, even implied that prosecutors had disobeyed his orders when they had not.

    Under the Code of Conduct for U.S. judges, a judge is supposed to be fair and impartial, as well as “patient, dignified, respectful and courteous” to those in his courtroom. The rule’s concern is as much about the appearance of justice as its reality. If the judge violates that rule and a defendant is convicted, there may be a trial remedy — an appeal.

    But there will be no appeal available to address Ellis’s anti-prosecution bias if Manafort is acquitted by the jurors, who began deliberating on Thursday. The prohibition against double jeopardy precludes it. And if President Trump’s former campaign chairman is convicted despite Ellis’s interventions, the judge’s hostility toward the prosecution will have been irrelevant.

    For now, we have only the extraordinary evidence of Ellis’s conduct during the 12-day trial….

    More at the link.

  135. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 172 and 187.

    Trump is either ill-informed or willfully misleading his cult followers … again. Trump said:

    I know that I’ve gotten tremendous response from having done that, because security clearances are very important to me. Very, very important. And I’ve had a tremendous response for having done that.


    First, Hair Furor himself said that he revoked Brennan’s clearance because Brennan had been involved in the Russia probe. Neither Hair Furor nor Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered any proof that Brennan had violated security clearance rules.

    Second, there’s been all kinds of negative backlash. Does Hair Furor not know this? Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven’s response is noted in earlier comments.

    Now we have additional comments:

    […] McRaven isn’t alone. NBC News reported this morning that a growing group former intelligence leaders from over the last three decades – including William Webster, George Tenet, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, and James Clapper – have responded angrily to the White House’s move against Brennan.

    “Since leaving government service, John has chosen to speak out sharply regarding what he sees as threats to our national security. Some of the undersigned have done so as well. Others among us have elected to take a different course and be more circumspect in our public pronouncements,” they wrote. “Regardless, we all agree that the president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances – and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.”

    They added, “We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case. Beyond that, this action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials.”

    NBC’s Peter Alexander confirms that former CIA Director (and Defense Secretary) Robert Gates also has added his name to the letter, making it 13 former intel leaders criticizing the president’s action.

    If Trump sees these developments as “tremendous,” he’s not paying close enough attention.

    Regardless, it’d be a mistake to think the president is learning anything from the backlash. He also told reporters this morning, in reference to security clearances, “I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly.” […]


  136. says

    Trump’s signature move: blame somebody else.

    The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up!

    I will instead attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, & go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th. Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN. Now we can buy some more jet fighters!

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] it’s not altogether clear the hefty price tag came from local officials in D.C. Indeed, the latest figure came by way of the Pentagon, not the mayor’s office, and included costs that have effectively nothing to do with local government — including “security, transportation of parade assets, aircraft, as well as temporary duty for troops.”

    Second, it’s kind of amusing that Trump is so focused on parades, he’s started making arrangements for alternatives now that his plans have fallen through. He can’t afford to host a militaristic display in his nation’s capital? Fine, he’ll go to France. That’ll show ’em.

    But it was those last eight words that struck me as especially significant: “Now we can buy some more jet fighters!”

    I don’t imagine Trump thought this through, but his message points to two possibilities: (a) we don’t really need more jet fighters, but now that the president has some extra millions lying around, he’s inclined to give Boeing a call to place an order; or (b) we do need more jet fighters, but we didn’t have the money until the cancelled military parade freed up some resources.

    Perhaps the White House can let us know which of these two scenarios is true?


    That’s another signature Trump move: offer an excuse that does not make any sense to spend millions more on military toys he wants.

  137. says

    SC @210:

    FFS, now Andrea Mitchell is interviewing Erik Prince. What is going on, MSNBC?

    I was appalled. Although Andrea Mitchell made some effort to fact-check Prince, for the most part that Blackwater doofus got away with using MSNBC as a platform to spread his nonsense. Appalling.

  138. says

    Oh, dear. Trump really does not know when to shut up. He is ignorant in the extreme when it comes to fighting wildfires, but he continues to pontificate:

    […] The Washington Post reported that the president seemed confused about every relevant detail. CNN added that even some White House officials “admitted to being slightly perplexed” at Trump’s obvious nonsense.

    And yet, the president hosted a cabinet meeting yesterday and once again returned to the subject. “We’re spending a fortune in California because of poor maintenance and because, frankly, they’re sending a lot of water out to the Pacific,” Trump claimed, adding, “We’re sending millions and millions of gallons, right out into the Pacific Ocean, of beautiful, clean water coming up from the north — or coming down from the north.”

    He still thinks this is about access to water. It still isn’t.

    But perhaps you’re thinking the president is more of a big-picture guy, and to get a better sense of the administration’s position, we should shift our focus to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who addressed the issue on Fox Business yesterday. The scandal-plagued cabinet secretary didn’t echo his boss’ focus on water access, but he did address climate change, insisting that the debate is “irrelevant to what’s occurred.” He added, “All you have to do is talk to the [firefighters]” to understand what really matters.

    OK; let’s do that.

    “We have plenty of water to fight these wildfires, but let’s be clear: It’s our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency.

    There’s quite a bit of research to back that up. The Washington Post added:

    Research shows that human-caused climate change is a primary factor behind the recent increase in fire severity. A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the heat and drought brought about by climate change was responsible for doubling the amount of land burned in the western United States between 1984 and 2015.

    “There is a broad effort to deny the science of climate change and its links to the horrible wildfires in California, and it’s just not accurate,” Leah C. Stokes, professor of environmental and political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told The Post. “I don’t think the scale of reducing fuel load is a realistic policy proposal that would magically stop all fires in the western United States. Forests burn, and it is going to get a lot worse unless we do something about climate change.”

    This is exactly what the Trump administration chooses not to believe.M


  139. says

    Judge T.S. Ellis said he’s received ‘threats’ as he’s presided over Paul Manafort’s criminal trial, and said he’s not willing to disclose jurors’ names and addresses, after several media outlets including CNN sought them.

    ‘I don’t feel right if I release their names’, he said.”

    He’s also not releasing transcripts of sidebar conferences that are presumably related to the larger Mueller investigation.

  140. says

    Judge TS Ellis:

    ‘I’ve received criticism and threats. I’d imagine they would to[o]’, he told an attorney representing seven media organizations at a hearing Friday.

    ‘I had no idea myself this case would arouse such public interest. I still am surprised’, Ellis said.”

    I mean, really.

  141. tomh says

    @ 226
    And I don’t care how often the judge tells them not to watch the news, the jury is going to see those comments somewhere. Look at the judge himself – he said a few times that he wasn’t following the case in the news, but somehow he knew of all the criticism he was getting. Unless you bottle the jury up in a hotel, they’re going to see that stuff.

  142. says

    Lynna @ #215:

    I was appalled. Although Andrea Mitchell made some effort to fact-check Prince, for the most part that Blackwater doofus got away with using MSNBC as a platform to spread his nonsense. Appalling.

    I’m really furious about the Bannon interview and how MSNBC is promoting it, like he’s some sort of distinguished statesman and a difficult get for an interview.

  143. says

    Jurors in the Manafort trial have gone home for the day and will start deliberating again on Monday morning. (Someone mentioned on Twitter that the “event” could be Shabbat, which seems entirely possible. Not that I care or would hold it against anyone if they have an important event this evening – they’ve had a long week, some of it is complicated, and it’s diminishing returns after a certain number of hours anyway.)

  144. says

    Hooray – “GOP fundraiser Broidy under investigation for alleged effort to sell government influence, people familiar with probe say”:

    The Justice Department is investigating whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver U.S. government actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the probe.

    As part of the investigation, prosecutors are scrutinizing a plan that Broidy allegedly developed to try to persuade the Trump government to extradite a Chinese dissident back to his home country, a move sought by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to two of the people.

    They are also investigating claims that Broidy sought $75 million from a Malaysian business official if the Justice Department ended its investigation of a development fund run by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian probe has examined the role of the former prime minister in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the fund.

    In recent weeks, prosecutors with the Justice Department’s public integrity section — which examines possible political and government corruption — have sought documents related to Broidy’s business dealings.

    Among the information sought by investigators are details about Broidy’s work on behalf of and interactions with the Chinese and Malaysian officials, according to two people familiar with the document requests.

    As part of their efforts, prosecutors have subpoenaed casino magnate Steve Wynn, the former RNC finance chairman and longtime Trump friend, for copies of records and communications related to Broidy.

    Broidy’s attempts to solve high-level headaches for the Chinese and Malaysian governments were first reported this spring by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, which cited in part a cache of hacked emails….

  145. says

    Jonathan Winer: “Bruce Ohr has worked on organized crime issues for Justice Department for more than two decades. Why is this non-partisan, conscientious & highly ethical career professional being targeted by Trump? The answer is obvious & will become more visible as Mueller continues his work.”

  146. Hj Hornbeck says

    We’ve got another hacking incident in California.

    The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California’s 45th Congressional district.

    The incident, which has not been previously reported, follows an article in Rolling Stone earlier this week that the FBI has also been investigating a cyber attack against Hans Keirstead, a California Democrat. He was defeated in a primary in the 48th Congressional district, neighboring Min’s.

  147. says

    “Leahy To McGahn: What Was Discussed At Private White House Meeting That Led Republicans To Abruptly Change Course On Kavanaugh Documents”:

    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), on Friday, asked White House Counsel Don McGahn for information on a pivotal July 24, 2018, meeting with Judiciary Committee Republicans that shaped their document request. Prior to the private meeting, Republican leadership seemed poised to request records that Judge Kavanaugh authored, generated, or contributed to as White House Staff Secretary. In an abrupt change of course after the meeting, Republicans refused to request any of Judge Kavanaugh’s records from his three years as Staff Secretary and Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley omitted all of Kavanagh’s Staff Secretary records from his request to the National Archives. Senator Leahy believes the American people deserve to know why certain staff secretary records were fair game going into the private meeting and off the table coming out. Senator Leahy is a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee and now serves as a senior member.

    Senator Leahy said: “In the 44 years I have served in the United States Senate, I have seen 19 nominations to the Supreme Court, including the nomination of every current member of the Court. I have never before seen the White House, under either a Republican or Democratic president, usurp or direct the parameters of the Judiciary Committee’s document request regarding a Supreme Court nominee. I find it troubling that the White House and Judiciary Committee Republicans are stifling transparency rather than working together to provide the necessary documents for the Senate to do its work. The American people deserve the unvarnished truth about Judge Kavanaugh.

    Leahy’s full (and very good) letter to McGahn at the link. This is insane. They need to put the brakes on this process immediately.

  148. says

    “Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by the US”:

    The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

    Working with local Yemeni journalists and munitions experts, CNN has established that the weapon that left dozens of children dead on August 9 was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defense contractors.

    The bomb is very similar to the one that wreaked devastation in an attack on a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016 in which 155 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. The Saudi coalition blamed “incorrect information” for that strike, admitted it was a mistake and took responsibility.

    In March of that year, a strike on a Yemeni market — this time reportedly by a US-supplied precision-guided MK 84 bomb — killed 97 people.

    In the aftermath of the funeral hall attack, former US President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia over “human rights concerns.”

    The ban was overturned by the Trump administration’s then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in March 2017….

  149. says

    “Alex Jones of Infowars Destroyed Evidence Related to Sandy Hook Suits, Motion Says”:

    Lawyers for the families of two Sandy Hook shooting victims are accusing the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars media business of intentionally destroying evidence relevant to the defamation cases against him, according to a motion filed on Friday in a Texas court.

    Mr. Jones is being sued by the families of nine Sandy Hook victims for spreading false claims that the 2012 shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 first graders and six adults was a government-backed hoax, and that the families of the dead were actors.

    Mr. Jones said on his broadcast last week that he had told his staff to delete material after CNN cited Infowars content that violated Twitter’s policies, according to the motion filed on Friday.

    At least some of the deleted content was considered evidence in the Sandy Hook cases, and Mr. Jones had been informed in writing in April that he was obligated by law to preserve all relevant material, according to the court filing in District Court in Travis County in Austin.

    “As pressure mounted from pending defamation lawsuits and growing public indignation, Mr. Jones chose to destroy evidence of his actual malice and defamatory conduct,” the motion filed on Friday said. “Infowars deleted critical evidence at the precise moment plaintiff and his experts were attempting to marshal that evidence.”

    The suit said that it was not known how much content had been deleted, but that it included written social media materials and videos. The motion was filed on behalf of Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Lewis, a 6-year-old killed at Sandy Hook, by Mark Bankston, Kyle Farrar and William Ogden of Farrar & Ball in Houston.

    Friday’s motion is the latest legal salvo in three separate defamation lawsuits filed by Sandy Hook families, which seek tens of millions of dollars in damages and pose an existential threat to Mr. Jones’s business. Should the court find that Mr. Jones and Infowars willfully destroyed evidence, he, and possibly his lawyer, could be assessed thousands of dollars in fines and be subject to punitive action. Most important, the material that was destroyed could be presumed by the court as supporting Mr. Heslin’s claims against Mr. Jones, bolstering his case.

    A ruling on Friday’s motion alleging destruction of evidence is expected before the Aug. 30 hearing….

  150. says

    “White House drafts more clearance cancellations demanded by Trump”:

    The White House has drafted documents revoking the security clearances of current and former officials whom President Trump has demanded be punished for criticizing him or playing a role in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to senior administration officials.

    Trump wants to sign “most, if not all” of them, said one senior White House official, who indicated that communications aides, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Bill Shine, the newly named deputy chief of staff, have discussed the optimum times to release them as a distraction during unfavorable news cycles.

    Some presidential aides echoed concerns raised by outside critics that the threatened revocations smack of a Nixonian enemies list, with little or no substantive national security justification. Particular worry has been expressed inside the White House about Trump’s statement Friday that he intends “very quickly” to strip the clearance of current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

    Later Friday, 60 additional former CIA officials issued a statement objecting to the Brennan action and stating their belief “that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so.”

    The senior White House official acknowledged that the step against Brennan had been prepared in late July, when Sanders first said Trump was considering it. But the decision to take that step was made this week to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a critical book released by fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.

    Consideration is being given to holding other prepared documents in reserve for similar opportunities in the future, the official said….

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jebus, Ari Melbar subbing on the Last Word with ##### ###### after TRMS? Think I need an early to bed night…..

  152. says

    From Rachel Maddow’s interview with John Brennan:

    […] MADDOW: You were President Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser. You were 25 years as a CIA officer before that. You have been through some stressful situations in your life.

    How has it been the past couple days since the president singled you out for attack and punishment in this way?

    BRENNAN: It’s fine. As far as I’m concerned personally, I’m fine. It’s not unexpected. He had signaled something like this would happen.

    Nobody, though, got in touch with me from the White House or CIA since it was first noted that my security clearance was under review. I learned about it when somebody called me to say that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was announcing at the podium that these clearances were revoked.

    Again, I was not shocked for a couple reasons. One, there’s a heads up. But, secondly, I’m not quite shocked at all the appalling things that Mr. Trump has done.

    And so, I think this is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense, as well as national security. I think that’s why there’s been such an outcry from many intelligence professionals. Not to support me, but to support the principle that security clearances are something that’s very, very solemn and sacred and they never, ever should be used for political purposes, either to grant friends those clearances or to revoke clearances of your critics. […]

    Now, I have been outspoken and I’m sure that my outspokenness and some of the things that I have said have, you know, irritated him. I wish I didn’t have to say these things. And it’s one thing to have policy differences or substantive differences with presidents and I had them in the past with previous presidents. What really gets under my skin is Mr. Trump’s lack of decency, integrity, honesty and his lack of commitment to this country’s well-being and national security.

    Mr. Trump is motivated by whatever is in the best interest of Mr. Trump. That has been for many decades. I was hoping that he was going to change once he assumed the solemn responsibilities of the office of presidency.

    That’s why for my first year I sometimes spoke out when he was in front of the agency’s memorial wall and spoke about the size of his inauguration crowd, but I did it very, very selectively. I gave him a year. I said, maybe he is going to adapt and change.

    But it seemed like day after day, week after week, month after month, things just got worse. He did not live up to I think what Americans expect of the president of the United States, to speak with great forcefulness but to do it with integrity and honesty. Mr. Trump, time after time, I think has really just disappointed millions of Americans, which I’m trying to give voice to.

    And so, I know a lot of people think a former intelligence official shouldn’t be doing this. I don’t consider what I’m doing as political at all. I never registered as a Republican or a Democrat, you know, for my entire life. But I feel such a commitment to this country’s security and its reputation.

    And I’m the son of an immigrant and my father taught me and my siblings early on just how important it is that we take as very special the privilege of being born an American citizen. And, so, when I see what Mr. Trump is doing, basically trashing the reputation of his country worldwide and the way he has treated Americans, fellow Americans, how he refers to them, the divisiveness, the incitement, the fueling of hatred and polarization. This is not what this country is about. […]

    Full transcript link

  153. says

    From Trump’s stupid rants on Twitter today:

    Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…..

    Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all.

    Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!

  154. says

    An exclusive from Vox news, “new lawsuit claims Trump illegally denied asylum claims of separated parents.”

    A group of parents who failed their initial asylum interviews while they were separated from their children under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy this spring and have been given deportation orders are now suing the Trump administration to give them another chance.

    The 38 parents […] filed the case Dora v. Sessions Friday in the DC federal district. All of them have now been reunited with their children but have been given final deportation orders after losing their asylum cases.

    Right now, the only thing saving them is a court order from a California judge preventing the government from deporting reunified families while children’s asylum claims are adjudicated. But that could be only temporary relief for the 1,000 parents who’ve already been ordered deported — many of whom tried to seek asylum but flunked their initial interviews because they weren’t able to persuade an asylum officer that they had a “credible fear of persecution” if returned to their home countries. […]

    The allegations in the new DC lawsuit raise serious questions about how those interviews were conducted.

    Parents describe being interviewed after going weeks without seeing their children, and in some cases knowing nothing about where their children were. Many had trouble concentrating in a fog of insomnia, depression, and grief; others couldn’t understand the purpose of the interview and thought if they got through it more quickly they would see their children again. […]

    Separated parents were clearly traumatized during their screening interviews
    Under the Trump administration’s family separation policy, a parent who wanted to seek asylum in the US had one chance: to pass a “credible fear” screening interview with an asylum office. […]

    Generally, most asylum seekers pass their credible fear screenings. But while family separation was in full effect early this summer, lawyers representing separated parents started noticing that a lot of their clients were failing. […] Another lawyer, Carlos Garcia, told Vox that barely any of the mothers he had seen had passed, despite the fact that “three months ago, I would have told you they would have shown credible fear.” […]

    The reason, to lawyers and psychiatrists, is obvious: Parents were being asked difficult questions — in an interview designed to recount the traumas they’d suffered in their home country and test their credibility — while totally consumed with the anxiety that came with not having seen their children in weeks. […]

    “When someone is a) detained, b) almost certainly unrepresented, and c) beside herself with fear and desperation because of having had her child taken from her,” the source continued, “it is almost impossible.”

    […] The lead plaintiff, given the pseudonym “Dora,” was interviewed right after she’d just spoken to her son for the first time after their separation — a conversation in which he’d told her he was being good so an official would not hit him with a belt. She was interviewed while crying over the phone call and repeatedly told the asylum officer she was confused about what she was being asked. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t pass.

    Other parents describe being unable to answer questions about their own experiences in their home countries — the basis for their asylum claims — because all they could focus on was how they wanted their children to be safe. They tried to get through the interview as quickly as possible, in the hopes that they could see their children sooner, rather than provide the complete answers needed to formulate a solid asylum claim. […]

    More at the link.

  155. says

    Follow-up to comment 243.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    Conservatives want to be oppressed. Or, rather, for everyone to think they are being oppressed […] They want it very, very badly […] This morning, Trump took to Twitter to vow to protect them from the worst kind of oppression of all — imaginary social media censorship!

    This tweetstorm comes only a few weeks after Alex Jones asked Trump to help him fight the war on the “censorship” of conservatives in social media. […]

    This is all very fascinating coming from someone who once called for a senate investigation into unflattering stories about him in the news, after news of Rex Tillerson calling him a moron surfaced. […]

    Not to mention someone who has repeatedly advocated for “opening up the libel laws” […]

    Let’s be very clear here. People like Alex Jones are not getting banned from social media because they are tweeting about political conservatism. They are not even getting banned because they are racist or sexist or because they believe in completely absurd conspiracy theories. They are getting banned for inciting and encouraging violence and harassment, which is a violation of the terms and conditions of those sites […]

    people on the left regularly have their accounts banned as well — I regularly get friend requests from the alt-accounts of people I know who have been suspended for calling out racism and sexism on Facebook.

    […] There is a conservative social media site, with much looser terms and conditions than Twitter or Facebook — it is called Gab. They are all free to take their business over there if they so choose, and yet somehow most of them do not. The reason they don’t is because other social media platforms provide them access to the rest of us, and Gab does not. We’re not going to go over there because “Hey, there are more Nazis here!” is not a product the rest of us want.

    Anything Donald Trump would want to do to force social media sites to change their terms and conditions to accommodate conservatives who wish to advocate for violence would be a free speech issue in and of itself. There is not, actually, anything constitutional he could do to accomplish this. Then again, he probably doesn’t care.

  156. says

    Follow up to comments 161, 202, and 214.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of “President whiny ass taking his invisible F-35’s and going to France”:

    As Trump’s White House dealt with the fallout of more self-inflicted scandals, CNBC reported that Trump’s military parade had shot higher than the Space Force for an estimated cost of $92 million. Since nothing says “America” like a large pile of burning money and jet noise, Trump threw a Twitter tantrum, swore up and down that HE canceled the parade, blamed “local politicians,” and declared he was going to France instead. You know, for the troops.

    Initial estimates put the cost Trump’s military parade (for the troops) at $12 million. This was based off the last military parade in DC, after Poppy Bush spent a long weekend storming the deserts of Kuwait. At the time, Trump’s math magician, Mick Mulvaney, said he’d seen estimates as high as $30 million. After the number crunchers inside the Pentagon finished slamming heads against their desks at the logistical nightmare of a reallocating a YUGE amount of military personnel, equipment, and weapons systems, they realized it would cost at a minimum $80 million more than the initial projections. […]

    last night someone in the Pentagon started frantically pressing the panic button and ordered a tactical withdrawal of the parade plans, suspending them until 2019 at the soonest. Shortly after the story broke, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denied the estimates, and said whoever leaked the numbers “was probably smoking something that’s legal in my state, but not in most states.” Mattis then criticized the reporter and said they should get better sources (since that’s what this White House does to inconvenient news stories).

    This morning, after the gang at “Fox & Friends” finished jerking off, Trump began shitposting on Twitter about how he canceled his military parade (for the troops), and is just going to somehow reappropriate money already allocated for his parade on more invisible jets … and go to Paris. Or something. […]

    From Chris Lu:

    A one-day military parade will cost more than the combined funding of these programs that Trump wanted to eliminate:
    – Great Lakes restoration $40 million
    – Chesapeake Bay restoration $14 million
    – Agency to fight homelessness $4 million
    – Agency to support minority businesses $32 million

  157. says

    Brian Kemp’s Bid for Governor Depends on Erasing the Black Vote in Georgia

    On Thursday evening, the election board of Randolph County, Georgia, met to discuss a startling proposal to eliminate three-fourths of the county’s polling places months before the November election. A rural, impoverished, and predominantly black county, Randolph has just nine polling locations, all of which were open during the May primaries and July runoffs. The election board may soon shut down seven of them, including one in a precinct where about 97 percent of voters are black. Its plan would compel residents, many of whom have no car or access to public transit, to travel as much as 30 miles round trip to reach the nearest polling place.

    Because of its history of racist voting laws, Randolph County was once required to seek federal permission before altering its election procedures. But after the Supreme Court gutted this oversight in 2013, the county was freed to crack down on the franchise. It is no coincidence that its election board chose this moment to shutter most of its polls: In November, the popular Democrat Stacey Abrams will compete for the governorship against Republican Brian Kemp, the current Georgia secretary of state. Kemp, who has devoted his time in office to a ruthless campaign of voter suppression, called upon Randolph County to abandon the plan when it spurred widespread outrage. That being said, the key figure in the Randolph County controversy is a Kemp ally who was handpicked by the secretary of state to close polls throughout Georgia. […]

    Kemp also canceled or suspended 35,000 voter registrations using Exact Match, a version of Kris Kobach’s notorious Crosscheck program that compares registrants’ information with motor vehicle and Social Security databases. If a single letter, space, or hyphen did not match the database information, the voter application was rejected. Black voters were eight times more likely than whites to have their registrations halted due to Exact Match.

    Perhaps most egregiously, Kemp launched an investigation into Abrams’ efforts to register more minority voters despite no evidence of fraud. He used the probe to harass and intimidate voting rights advocates. Later, he refused to register 40,000 would-be voters who had signed up through the drive. Speaking to Republicans behind closed doors, Kemp explained the stakes: “Registering all these minority voters that are out there … if they can do that, they can win these elections.” […]

  158. says

    The people on Trump’s list aren’t enemies, they are witnesses

    […] Rachel Maddow did a brilliant job on her show on Thursday night showing several of those on Trump’s enemies list testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in May of 2017. She was making another point, that pulling their security clearances will end the ability of any of Trump’s enemies to consult their personal papers and notes from their time in government service when preparing to give testimony before either congress or Mueller’s grand jury because their notes and papers contain secrets.

    But the tape of those hearings also showed something else. It showed that the “secrets” Brennan, and Comey, and Yates and Clapper and the rest of them learned were actually knowledge of crimes that were committed by the Trump campaign. […]

    Much more at the link.

  159. says

    New Trump power plant plan would release hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into the air

    President Trump plans next week to unveil a proposal that would empower states to establish emission standards for coal-fired power plants rather than speeding their retirement — a major overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate policy that could significantly increase the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    Trump plans to announce the measure as soon as Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, according to the two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House was still finalizing details Friday.

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s own impact analysis, which runs nearly 300 pages, projects that the proposal would make only slight cuts to overall emissions of pollutants — including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — over the next decade. The Obama rule, by contrast, dwarfs those cuts by a factor of more than 12. […]

  160. says

    “White House Counsel Has Cooperated Extensively With Mueller’s Obstruction Inquiry”:

    The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

    In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.

    Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

    Mr. McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by Mr. Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

    Mr. McGahn and his lawyer, William A. Burck, could not understand why Mr. Trump was so willing to allow Mr. McGahn to speak freely to the special counsel and feared Mr. Trump was setting up Mr. McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, according to people close to him. So he and Mr. Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn did nothing wrong.

    It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.

    Mr. McGahn’s decision to cooperate with the special counsel grew out of Mr. Dowd’s and Mr. Cobb’s game plan, now seen as misguided by some close to the president.

    Last fall, Mr. Mueller’s office asked to interview Mr. McGahn. To the surprise of the White House Counsel’s Office, Mr. Trump and his lawyers signaled that they had no objection, without knowing the extent of what Mr. McGahn was going to tell investigators.

    Mr. McGahn was stunned, as was Mr. Burck, whom he had recently hired out of concern that he needed help to stay out of legal jeopardy, according to people close to Mr. McGahn. Mr. Burck has explained to others that he told White House advisers that they did not appreciate the president’s legal exposure and that it was “insane” that Mr. Trump did not fight a McGahn interview in court.

    Inside the counsel’s office, lawyers feared that on the recommendation of Mr. Dowd and Mr. Cobb, the White House was handing Mr. Mueller detailed instructions to take down the president and setting a troubling precedent for future administrations by giving up executive privilege.

    At the same time, Mr. Trump was blaming Mr. McGahn for his legal woes, yet encouraging him to speak to investigators. Mr. McGahn and his lawyer grew suspicious. They began telling associates that they had concluded that the president had decided to let Mr. McGahn take the fall for decisions that could be construed as obstruction of justice, like the Comey firing, by telling the special counsel that he was only following shoddy legal advice from Mr. McGahn.

    Worried that Mr. Trump would ultimately blame him in the inquiry, Mr. McGahn told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who was imprisoned in the Watergate scandal.

    Mr. McGahn decided to fully cooperate with Mr. Mueller. It was, he believed, the only choice he had to protect himself.

    To investigators, Mr. McGahn was a fruitful witness, people familiar with the investigation said. He had been directly involved in nearly every episode they are scrutinizing to determine whether the president obstructed justice. To make an obstruction case, prosecutors who lack a piece of slam-dunk evidence generally point to a range of actions that prove that the suspect tried to interfere with the inquiry….

    More at the link.

  161. says

    “Ex-Met terror chief: ‘Extreme right infiltrating politics'”:

    The Metropolitan Police’s former head of counter terrorism, Mark Rowley, has warned that “aggressive intolerance” is finding its way into mainstream political debate.

    Talking to BBC Newsnight he said it was important to ensure extremist groups could not “generate credibility and present themselves as representatives of white Britain or Muslim Britain.”

    Short video clip at the link. (Here’s another.)

  162. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 250.

    […] Mueller is reportedly in possession of a Feb. 15, 2017 memo written by McGahn and two deputies that “explicitly states that when Trump pressured Comey [to let the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “go”] he had just been told by two of his top aides — his then chief of staff Reince Priebus and his White House counsel Don McGahn — that Flynn was under criminal investigation,” in the words of a New York Reivew of Books article.


  163. says

    More cruelty from team Trump:

    The White House budget office believes it has found a way to cancel about $3 billion in foreign aid even if it is never approved by Congress, according to a Republican aide familiar with the plan.

    Using an obscure budget rule, administration officials are planning to freeze billions of dollars in the State Department’s international assistance budget — just long enough so the funds will expire. The current plan involves about $3 billion, though officials are said to have discussed as much as $5 billion.

    The White House plans to submit the package of so-called rescissions in the coming days, which triggers an automatic freeze on those funds for 45 days. The cuts would largely come from the U.S. funding for the United Nations, according to the aide.

    With exactly 45 days left in fiscal 2018, the State Department wouldn’t be able to use those funds even if Congress rejects the request because those dollars will have expired by Oct. 1.

    The tactic, engineered by OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, is intended to prevent a cascade of end-of-year spending by the State Department. But critics of the idea, including Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), are already vowing to challenge the move in court.

    “I don’t know how they can do that legally, but we certainly look forward to seeing how to counter that, if that’s the case,” Corker said at a committee meeting Thursday. […]

    Politico link

  164. says

    Matthew Miller:

    McGahn’s CYA instincts and actions, both with Mueller and the press, have been one of the more interesting recurring storylines.

    Seriously laughable. McGhan realized he had personal jeopardy and did what anyone with a good lawyer would do — started cooperating early. No angels in this story, just devils who tell their side first.

  165. says

    New, determined statement from former CIA Director John Brennan:

    If my clearances and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price I’m going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me it’s a small price to pay. So I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future.

    And if it means going to court, I will do that.

    I called his behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust, and to aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.

  166. says

    More detail regarding Papadopoulos’ interactions with the FBI:

    […] One key point we didn’t know [before the Special Counsel’s sentencing recommendation] is that Joseph Mifsud, the Professor and alleged Russian cut-out, was in the United States in early 2017, seemingly not long after President Trump’s inauguration. The lies Papadopoulos told the FBI when they questioned him on January 27th, 2017 prevented the them from effectively questioning and challenging Mifsud when they located and questioned him in the Washington area in early- mid-February. They further suggest that had Papadopoulos not lied to the FBI, they might have detained or arrested Mifsud then. According to the document, Mifsud more or less immediately fled the country after being questioned by the FBI.

    The document also specifically calls out what they claim are falsehoods Simona Mangiante made in her press tour. […]

    Possibly the most mundane (possibly the best) explanation is that the couple became dissatisfied that he wasn’t being treated as well as they expected and they got bamboozled by the host of Trumpist DC journalists claiming Papadopoulos was set up by the “Deep State”. But it’s hard not to suspect what investigators made clear to both of them they suspected from the outset: that something wasn’t right about their relationship, that Magiante wasn’t who she claimed to be. The fantastical version of the story is this: She worked for Mifsud before she and Papadopoulos ever met. She struck up an online relationship with him to monitor him or exert influence over him in some way […]


  167. says

    Yeah, it’s a bunch of hogwash, and much of it is repetitive hogwash, but we should look at what Trump tweeted today, if only to get to the point where he compares Mueller to Joseph McCarthy:

    I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!

    The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……

    ….and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side – Media is even worse!

    No Collusion and No Obstruction, except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats. All of the resignations and corruption, yet heavily conflicted Bob Mueller refuses to even look in that direction. What about the Brennan, Comey, McCabe, Strzok lies to Congress, or Crooked’s Emails!

    The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!

    Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward. From the day I announced, the Times has been Fake News, and with their disgusting new Board Member, it will only get worse!

    Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!

    Interesting defense of “White House Councel [sic] Don McGahn.” I don’t think that Trump realizes that McGahn, just by telling Mueller the truth, has exposed a lot of Trump’s lies and attempts to obstruct justice. Trump spelled Counsel right once, and wrong once.

    John Dean’s telling of the truth about Nixon does not make him a “RAT” in my book. It’s telling that Trump describes him that way.

    This claim from Trump, “Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward,” is almost certainly a lie. It smells like his statements in which he invents CEO’s that call him, or claims that “many people say,” or claims that people call him “Sir” all the time (usually right before they praise his supposed acumen).

  168. says

    OMG, Rudy Giuliani was on TV again this morning:

    […] “I am not going to be rushed into having him [Trump] testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said, […] “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he is going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.”

    “Truth is truth,” Todd responded, exasperated.

    “No it isn’t truth! Truth isn’t truth!” Giuliani said, adding: “Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about. So tell me what the truth is!”

    Elsewhere in the interview, Giuliani executed the same 180° turn the President did weeks ago, acknowledging that the campaign-era meeting in Trump Tower between senior campaign officials and Russians “was originally for the purpose of getting information about [Hillary] Clinton.”

    But, straining all credibility, Giuliani asserted Natasha Veselnitskaya was not thought to have represented the Russian government.

    “She didn’t represent the Russian government!” he exclaimed, after Todd pointed out that the Clinton dirt the Trump team had been expecting purported to come “from the Russian government.”

    “She is a private citizen,” Giuliani said. “I don’t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time! All they had was her name.”

    “I think they knew she was Russian at the time,” Todd asserted.

    “Well, they knew it when they met with her, not when they set up the meeting,” Giuliani responded. “You told me, did they show an intention to do anything with Russians? All they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them. They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government, and indeed she is not a representative of the Russian government.”

    That is, simply, a lie: Donald Trump Jr. himself released emails in which British publicist Rob Goldstone claimed Veselnitskaya represented the Russian government in its effort to “support” Trump. […]


    We have the email in which Veselnitskaya is portrayed as representing “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” We have the email in which Goldstone writes: “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.”

    There can be no excuse for Giuliani’s blatant lies.

    From a commenter on the article excerpted above: “Why does this clown Giuliani get so much coverage and air time?”

  169. says

    Anti-regulatory bills often come from Republicans, some from legislators in the House or Senate, and some from Trump appointees. Here’s a new one: H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. You can probably tell from the name that H.R. 200 will accomplish the opposite of what it claims to do. It is the “Empty Oceans Act.”

    […] The Magnuson-Stevens Act [passed in 1976, reauthorized in 1996, amended in 2006] draws its strength from its specificity: The timeline for rebuilding any overfished stock has to “be as short as possible” and “must not exceed 10 years.” Those requirements have produced impressive results. Take lingcod, a toothy Pacific bottom-dweller whose population crashed in the 1990s. Regulators implemented a 10-year rebuilding plan that slashed allowable catches, protected small lingcod, and shut down the fishery for half the year. By 2005—four years ahead of schedule—the species had bounced back.

    H.R. 200 would grant fishery managers what scientists have called “get out of jail free cards” to continue overfishing. Rather than rebuilding stocks as fast as possible, for instance, the new law would let regional management councils rehabilitate them as fast as practicable, a subtle but important tweak that could lead to looser regulation. The bill also allows managers to slow the pace of rebuilding stocks when undefined “unusual events”—think hurricanes, oil spills, or El Niños—affect fish populations and threaten to inflict “significant economic harm to communities.” The upshot: Severely depleted but economically important stocks like Gulf of Maine cod could remain subject to overfishing, further delaying recovery. […]

    From Ted Morton, oceans director at the Pew Charitable Trusts:

    [The bill] undercuts the important role science plays in management decisions.

  170. says

    Follow-up to comment 258.

    John Dean responded:

    @realDonaldTrump (I still have trouble using the title Mr. President for someone installed by Putin), I doubt you have ANY IDEA what McGahn has told Mueller. Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I told him. However, he didn’t think I would tell them the truth!

    — John Dean (@JohnWDean) August 19, 2018

  171. says

    Follow-up to 258.

    The New York Times stands by their article, (the one to which Trump referred in his tweets):

    The New York Times stands behind the reporting of our Pulitzer-Prize winning reporters @nytmike and @maggieNYT.

    From the comments:

    Lawyers have a duty to disclose criminal activity by their clients, privilege does not attach. In this case, the President is not the client, the office is, and McGahn is protecting the office against it’s current occupant.

  172. says

    More times than we can remember Trump has not spoken out when people express racism or intolerance. Justin Trudeau on the other hand …

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shut down a woman who heckled him about illegal immigration, telling her that “racism has no place” in Canada.

    Trudeau was at a rally on Thursday in Sabrevois, Quebec, when a woman began shouting at him in French. The incident was caught on video and later reported by Vice News.

    “I want to know when you are going to refund the $146 million we paid for your illegal immigrants,” the woman yelled, according to the outlet’s translation.

    Ok, Madame,” Trudeau responded in French. “This intolerance towards immigrants has no room in Canada.”

    Trudeau continued with his speech, talking about how Canada was built by groups of immigrants, as the crowd erupted into cheers.

    The same woman then approached Trudeau as he was stepping off the stage.

    She asked him if he was tolerant towards Quebecois.

    Trudeau, flanked by security guards, told her that he was a proud Quebecois. “Racism has no place here,” the prime minister told her, according to the translation of the video. […]

    Trudeau has been quick to condemn racism in the past, offering support to Charlottesville, Va., last year after the deadly white supremacist rally.

    “We know Canada isn’t immune to racist violence & hate. We condemn it in all its forms & send support to the victims in Charlottesville,” Trudeau said in a tweet. […]


  173. says

    Is a senior Air Force general using his power to spread far-right Christian nationalism?

    Brig. Gen. John Teichert faces charges he has used his rank and authority to spread extremist, anti-American views

    According to a press statement from MRFF [Military Religious Freedom Foundation] founder and president Michael L. Weinstein, a former Air Force officer, on Teichert’s website he has “denigrated LGBT individuals, slammed American society at large, and, of course, delivered election voting mandate directives” urging that only certain categories of Christians should be elected to public office.

    Military officers enjoy the same freedom of religion as everyone else in America, so Teichert’s religious faith is not an issue in itself. But military service entails special restrictions on how religion is expressed, particularly if that expression is deemed to undermine military effectiveness, a point that lies at the heart of the MRFF’s complaint. […]


  174. says

    In horrifying detail, women accuse U.S. customs officers of invasive body searches.

    Tameika Lovell was retrieving luggage at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport when Customs and Border Protection officers detained her for a random search. It was Nov. 27, 2016, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and the school counselor from Long Island had just returned from a short Jamaica vacation. Lovell, who is black, had been stopped before, but this time a CBP supervisor began asking questions she hadn’t heard previously.

    “Don’t you think you’re spending too much money traveling?” Lovell, 34, recalls a CBP supervisor asking.

    What happened next is the subject of a harrowing lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Inside a secure room, Lovell’s litigation alleges, a female CBP officer searched Lovell’s belongings, presumably for illegal drugs, and asked if she was using a tampon or sanitary pad. The question upset her, but Lovell replied “no” and complied when told to remove her shoes, lift her arms and spread her legs.

    As a second female officer observed, hand on her firearm, the lawsuit says, the first officer touched Lovell “from head to toe” before ordering her to squat. Lovell was clothed, but the lawsuit claims that the officer squeezed Lovell’s breasts, and, “placed her right hand into [Lovell’s] pants ‘forcibly’ inserting four gloved fingers into plaintiff’s vagina” before parting Lovell’s buttocks “for viewing.”

    Lovell has accused CBP officers of violating her constitutional rights and sidestepping the agency’s rules prohibiting officers from conducting invasive body searches. Her case is one of at least 11 since 2011 examined by the Center for Public Integrity. […]

    The women who’ve brought these lawsuits, including two minor girls, say CBP officers subjected them to indignities — such as strip searches while menstruating and prohibited genital probing — despite finding no contraband. Four women further allege they were handcuffed and transported to hospitals where, against their will, one underwent a pelvic exam and X-rays. In one of the cases, the woman’s lawsuit asserts she was intravenously drugged at the hospital, according to lawsuits.

    Such invasive medical procedures require a detainee’s consent or a warrant. In two cases, the plaintiffs say they were billed. […]

    The article is written by Susan Ferriss, Center for Public Integrity. It was published by the Washington Post.

  175. says

    The White House just fired another white supremacist. The question is, what he doing there in the first place?

    A White House speechwriter for President Trump was terminated last week after revelations that he had spoken at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists, according to three people familiar with the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly.

    Darren Beattie, who was a visiting instructor at Duke University before he joined the White House speechwriting team, was fired Friday after a media inquiry about his appearance at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club conference, where Beattie spoke on a panel alongside Peter Brimelow.

    Brimelow, founder of the anti-immigrant website, is a “white nationalist” and “regularly publishes works by white supremacists, anti-Semites, and others on the radical right,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks extremists. […]

    CNN’s KFile, an investigative unit, published a report Sunday on Beattie and his appearance at the Mencken event, which has been attended in the past by white nationalist Richard Spencer. […]

    Once White House officials were informed about CNN’s pending report, Beattie reportedly was confronted and urged to step down immediately. But he apparently refused to resign, arguing that he was not racist and that he had made uncontroversial academic points at the Mencken gathering. When it became clear that Beattie would not resign, the people familiar with the matter said, the White House terminated him.

    Beattie worked for Vince Haley, the head of speechwriting at the White House and at times worked on speech projects for Stephen Miller, Trump’s top policy adviser and speechwriter, the people added. […]

    Beattie, when reached by phone Sunday, declined to elaborate on his dismissal but provided The Post with a statement.

    “In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely,” Beattie said in the statement. “It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent. I have no further comment.” […]

    Washington Post link. Robert Costa wrote the article.

    Of course there is a connection to Stephen Miller. Of course.

  176. says

    #Russia’s state TV: Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State University’s School of Television says:

    ‘The EU is already crumbling, it needs to be further divided. Every disagreement within the EU is beneficial for Russia and we need to exacerbate any such conflicts’.”

  177. says

    “Trump Lawyers’ Sudden Realization: They Don’t Know What Don McGahn Told Mueller’s Team”:

    President Trump’s lawyers do not know just how much the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, told the special counsel’s investigators during months of interviews, a lapse that has contributed to a growing recognition that an early strategy of full cooperation with the inquiry was a potentially damaging mistake.

    The president’s lawyers said on Sunday that they were confident that Mr. McGahn had said nothing injurious to the president during the 30 hours of interviews. But Mr. McGahn’s lawyer has offered only a limited accounting of what Mr. McGahn told the investigators, according to two people close to the president.

    That has prompted concern among Mr. Trump’s advisers that Mr. McGahn’s statements could help serve as a key component for a damning report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which the Justice Department could send to Congress, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

    In its article, The Times said Mr. McGahn had shared detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the Russia inquiry. Some of the episodes — like Mr. Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller last summer — would not have been revealed to investigators without Mr. McGahn’s help.

    The article set off a scramble on Saturday among Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers. The president, sequestered at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., solicited opinions from a small group of advisers on the possible repercussions from the article. The president ordered Mr. Giuliani to tell reporters that the article was wrong, but Mr. Giuliani did not go that far in his television appearances….

  178. says

    NEW: More than 175 former officials from across the national security community have added their names to the nonpartisan list of those deeply concerned by the politicization of security clearances.”

  179. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 235. (Obstruction from Republicans when it comes to getting and reviewing documents relevant to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.)

    What happened here? Some follow-up analysis from Steve Benen:

    If the facts are as Leahy presents them – and as best as I can tell, no Senate Republican has contested them – it paints a rather alarming picture. As the story goes, GOP senators were prepared to consider this relevant period of Kavanaugh’s professional work, then there was a private White House meeting to which Democrats were not invited, and then Republicans decided to limit their areas of interest.

    One need not be paranoid to find this suspicious.

    I’ve seen some suggestions that Senate Democrats are making a strategic error by focusing on this and related procedural questions – the sort of areas that typical Americans have no interest in – rather than hammering away at the practical effects of Kavanaugh’s far-right legal vision. If Trump’s nominee has any chance of being derailed, the argument goes, it won’t be over procedural issues.

    Maybe not. But to make a compelling case against Kavanaugh, his detractors will need to scrutinize relevant elements of his background, and his tenure as Bush’s White House staff secretary is among the most important. For some reason, Senate Republicans and the Trump White House are eager to hide this part of the judge’s background – and only this part – from the public.

    To overlook this thread, or to suggest it’s not worth pulling on, would be a mistake.


  180. says

    Follow-up to comment 258.

    Trump has been making references to Joseph McCarthy in all kinds of ways. Lately, he compared Mueller to McCarthy, which is just plain bonkers. Anyway, it might be useful to see what else Trump has said about McCarthy’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn.

    From the book “The Art of the Deal”:

    Tough as he was, Roy Cohn had a lot of friends, and I’m not embarrassed to say I was one. He was a truly loyal guy.

    From a recent interview with the Washington Post:

    Some people didn’t like him, and some people were offended by him. I mean, they would literally leave a dinner. I had one evening where three or four people got up from a table and left the table because they couldn’t stand the mention of his name. But with all of that being said, he did a very good job for me as a lawyer. I get a kick out of winning, and Roy would win.

    Steve Bannon defended Joe McCarthy.

    Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said in 2013 that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right in his 1950s campaign claiming widespread Communist infiltration into the United States government.

    “The place was infested with either traitors that were on the direct payroll of Soviet military intelligence or fellow-travelers who were kind of compliant in helping these guys get along,” Bannon said at the time. “I mean, there’s absolutely no question of it. How has pop culture so changed it that white is black and black is white?”

    Newt Gingrich defended McCarthy in 2010. Michele Bachmann likewise. Representative Steve King of Iowa, likewise. Todd Akin likewise.

  181. says

    Trump continues to diss and to taunt Brennan:

    I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!

    Everybody wants to keep their Security Clearance, it’s worth great prestige and big dollars, even board seats, and that is why certain people are coming forward to protect Brennan. It certainly isn’t because of the good job he did! He is a political “hack.”

    Meanwhile, Melania Trump is speaking out against using social media to bully people. She is speaking against cyberbullying today:

    Let’s face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits. […] [Social media] can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly […]

  182. says

    Other obligations will be taking up all of my time for the next days. I’ll be absent from this thread. All of the regular commenters know the drill: carry on.

  183. says

    Ilyse Hogue:

    This piece by @politico so perfectly exemplifies how toxic our coverage is right now. Question should never be how much Judicial Crisis Network is spending but what it buys them. Their ROI on Kavanaugh is dismal. Let’s examine. #StopKavanaugh

    .@CNN polling shows Kavanaugh as the least liked nominee in recent history, with only 37% of Americans wanting him to be on the Supreme Court. Literally only 28% of women back this guy, who will hold our futures in his hands. The ads aren’t fooling anyone.

    Senators in purple and blue states are reporting that calls saying to vote no are well ahead of calls to confirm Kavanaugh and those in deep red states say they are running even which is highly unusual since the far right engages at higher numbers. Ads aren’t buying calls.

    An exhaustive search of the grassroots activity shows tepid to non-existent pro-Kavanaugh activities in key states, while anti-Kavanugh groups have held over 400 in person events in states around the country since his nomination. Ads don’t buy activity.

    3 out of 51 GOP Senators held any kind of public event over recess, apparently not wanting to face their constituents–aka the people they work for–before the most consequential vote of their lives. Ads can’t buy them cover if real life when they have to defend their position.

    GOP has sunk to rushing sham hearings, holding hostage docs that would allow public and Senators an informed position on this nomination, because they know that the good old American way of transparency and participatory democracy would sink Kavanaugh even with $30 mil in ads.

    .@politico and @burgessev don’t even mention any of the evidence that the ads are having no impact. It’s appalling. This is not just another horse race. This is literally the lives of millions of Americans in the balance not to mention our democracy. Do better. #StopKavanaugh

  184. says

    SC @281, beware of Putin/Kremlin propaganda that disses Browder.

    I always believed that was why he gave up his citizenship (never thought he was perfect, or had to be). Does he say he did it for another reason? If so, I’d be perfectly willing to hear it; I just don’t think it detracts in any way from the Magnitsky campaign or laws. (I also think some of Glenn Simpson’s criticisms sound valid – as do some of Browder’s responses to and criticisms of Simpson – but I see it all as separate from the human rights work he’s doing and not hugely important.)

  185. says

    “Trump backed ‘space force’ after months of lobbying by officials with ties to aerospace industry”:

    When President Trump spoke to Marines at Air Station Miramar in San Diego on March 13, he threw out an idea that he suggested had just come to him.

    “You know, I was saying it the other day, because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space — I said maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the ‘space force,’” he told the crowd. “And I was not really serious. And then I said what a great idea — maybe we’ll have to do that.”

    The origin of the space force wasn’t that simple.

    The concept had been pushed unsuccessfully since 2016 by a small group of current and former government officials, some with deep financial ties to the aerospace industry, who see creation of the sixth military service as a surefire way to hike Pentagon spending on satellite and other space systems….

  186. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    .@realDonaldTrump is running the most corrupt administration of our lifetimes. Tomorrow, I’ll unveil sweeping new legislation to clean up our government. Until then, I’ll be sharing examples of how corruption has seeped into Washington. It’s a long list. #EndCorruptionNow

  187. says

    “Dems raise concerns over Bolton’s suspect ties to Russia”:

    Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are questioning whether national security adviser John Bolton’s ties to Russia were properly vetted before he joined the White House this year.

    In a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly, Democrats cite recent reports indicating that Bolton worked with a Russian woman who was charged last month for failing to register as an agent of a foreign power in the U.S.

    In their telling, Bolton “worked directly with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by federal prosecutors with infiltrating [the NRA] and spying against the United States for years.”

    “Given the alarming and unprecedented nature of these revelations — and the high-level position of trust Mr. Bolton now holds — we request that you produce documents relating to whether Mr. Bolton reported his previous work with this alleged Russian spy on his security clearance forms or other White House vetting materials prior to President Trump appointing him to his current position,” Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts wrote.

    The lawmakers are asking for documents to be produced by Sept. 4 by the White House, National Security Council and FBI….

  188. says

    So I made a list of the Trump-related investigations:

    Mueller investigation (includes: Kremlin agents and assorted oligarchs, Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Page, Papadopoulos, Nader, Prince, NRA, Stone, Assange, Cambridge Analytica, Kushner, Trump, Don Jr., Banks, Farage, AMI/Pecker, Black Cube, PSY Group, Broidy, Sater; and possibly US Religious Right organizations, Gordon, MBS, MBZ, Netanyahu, Najib Razak, Fox, RNC and Republican politicians, Bannon, Mercer, think tanks, European former officials, far-Right online trolls) (also includes the obstruction of justice probe)
    Senate Intelligence Committee investigation
    SDNY Cohen investigation
    Stormy Daniels lawsuit
    Butina/Torshin/Erickson/O’Neill investigation
    New York AG Trump Foundation investigation
    Summer Zervos lawsuit
    emoluments lawsuit
    Jessica Denson lawsuit
    House Intelligence Democrats’ investigation
    ongoing investigations of Trump cabinet members

    Am I missing any?

  189. says

    SC @285, great points. Thanks for that.

    SC @289, I don’t know off the top of my head if you are missing any investigations, but thanks for making that list. Not sure how Paul Manafort fits in other than in your list for the Mueller investigation. Manafort may yet face other state-level charges –maybe.

    One thing that your investigation list makes clear is that the action Elizabeth Warren is taking is necessary. (Your comment 287.)

  190. says

    From the New York Times:

    Republicans are struggling to make the $1.5 trillion Trump tax cuts a winning issue with voters in the midterm congressional elections, but the cuts are helping the party in another crucial way: unlocking tens of millions of dollars in campaign donations from the wealthy conservatives and corporate interests that benefited handsomely from it.

    Billionaires and corporations that reaped millions of dollars in tax cuts are pumping some of that windfall into the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC” closely aligned with Speaker Paul D. Ryan that is flooding the airwaves and front porches of swing congressional districts with increasingly sharp attacks on the Democratic candidates vying to wrest control of the House.

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] It’s quite a cycle, isn’t it? Republican candidates run, assuring voters they’ll look out for the interests of working people. Those candidates become Republican officeholders, who use their offices to help the rich and powerful. The rich and powerful then show their appreciation for their GOP benefactors by rewarding them with generous campaign contributions.

    And Republicans then use that money to run commercials that assure voters they’ll look out for the interests of working people.

    For the donors, the amount they’re giving back to Republicans is a small fraction of what Republicans gave them in the form of tax cuts. From the Times’ report:

    The fund’s donors include the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has given $30 million, and whose company, Las Vegas Sands, reported a nearly $700 million windfall from the tax law earlier this year; Timothy Mellon, chairman and majority owner of Pan Am Systems, a privately held collection of companies that includes rail, aviation and marketing services, who has contributed $24 million; Valero Services, a Texas oil refining company that reported a $1.9 billion benefit from tax cuts in the first quarter, and which has given $1.5 million; and a collection of other corporations, executives and financial fund managers.

    Around Thanksgiving last year, Donald Trump spoke at an event in Missouri and declared, in reference to him and his party, “Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mail rooms and machine shops of America – the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters – the people that like me best. Actually, the rich people actually don’t like me, which is sort of interesting. And that’s fine. You know what? I like that trade.”

    Nine months later, it looks like plenty of rich people are quite pleased after all.


  191. says

    Zinke is trying to sell public land … and he lied about it.

    Environmental groups caught the Department of the Interior trying to sell off part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, despite a pledge by Secretary Ryan Zinke never to put public lands up for sale.

    After massive backlash from environmental groups and the public, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) late Friday canceled all plans to sell off the land. The 1,610 acres of public lands that the BLM proposed selling to private interests had been part of the Grand Staircase national monument until President Donald Trump — in an extremely controversial move — radically shrunk the size of the monument last December.

    “We believe the Department only walked it back because those who are closely reading the management plans brought this to light,” Nicole Croft, executive director of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, said […]

    The Interior secretary has pledged on several occasions that he opposes the sale or transfer of public lands to private entities. At his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Zinke said: “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.”

    In a March 3, 2017 speech, only days after getting sworn in as secretary, Zinke promised Interior staffers: “You can hear it from my lips. We will not sell or transfer public land.”

    Just last December, Zinke reiterated this pledge. “There’s not one square inch, not one square inch, of land that is removed from federal protection,” Zinke told Fox Business.

    But then last Wednesday, the Trump administration released its management plans for the much smaller Grand Staircase and Bears Ears national monuments — prepared by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service — that placed a priority on energy development and included the plan to sell off the 1,610 acres of public lands. […]

    Either Zinke had a change of heart about selling off public lands or does not have a clear understanding of what his agency is doing.

    “Does Secretary Zinke have any idea what’s going on inside the Interior Department? He was caught red-handed trying to sell off our public lands to his political supporters,” Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said Friday in a statement. “It’s only after two days of terrible news stories that he is now changing direction.” […]


  192. says

    Fewer and fewer people believe Trump’s “all the best people” claim:

    President Donald Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 election that he would “hire the best people” for his administration, but a new poll Monday shows that most Americans don’t think he delivered on that promise.

    The new Monmouth University Poll found that only 30 percent of respondents believe that Trump has hired the “best people,” with 58 percent saying he has not. Twelve percent of those polled responded either that the president’s hiring record was mixed or that they didn’t know about his hiring record. […]

    Trump is still trying to claim that Paul Manafort is a “very good person.”

  193. raven says

    As the resident expert living in the Morridor, I’m sure you know all about this.

    Nelson gave little reasoning for the decision but says God communicated it to him directly. “Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he wrote. “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will.”

    The Chief Prophet, Revelator, and Seer of the Mormon LDS church, relays from god (which one, there are many in Mormonism), that the Mormons shouldn’t call their church the LDS church any more.

    Think this is going to work?
    They’ve been calling themselves Mormons and the LDS church, the LDS church for 200 years.

    I have no idea but Mormons are known for following their autocratic leader anywhere.
    OTOH, as head of the Gerontacracy, Nelson is 94 and not likely to rule too long.
    IIRC, the last 4 or so leaders, all the way back to Spencer Kimball, ended up with age related cognitive impairments.
    Nelson might be starting out by upholding this tradition.

  194. says

    Exclusive: @realDonaldTrump tells @Reuters he has chosen not to be involved in Mueller probe but is ‘totally allowed’ to be if he wanted to. ‘I’ve decided to stay out. Now, I don’t have to stay out, as you know. I can go in and I could… do whatever, I could run it if I want’.”


  195. says

    Another bizarre Trump interview: (Reuters) – ‘U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe’.”

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, Giuliani uses a very specific sort of language when talking about this. When he said “truth isn’t truth,” he wasn’t (or wasn’t primarily) rejecting the notion of an objective truth, but suggesting that all accounts of events are driven by personal motives regardless of the truth. That’s why he says Trump is going to tell his story and Comey is telling his story: to put them on the same plane. The implication is that Trump isn’t alone – everybody has the same corrupt motivations to lie or distort as he does. Comey, Mueller, Brennan, Yates, Rice,…everyone. That’s why he phrases it as “that’s what Mr. Trump is planning to say” or “he’ll give his version” rather than “he’ll tell the truth about what happened.” It suits their purposes for people to become irrationally cynical.

    It’s not true, and it runs into problems when there’s evidence (as there is in many instances here) to corroborate people’s accounts. But the more people see every account through these jaded eyes rather than assessing evidence and credibility, the more it works to their advantage. As I argued last year, though, it’s also, for Trump, an irreparable weakness. He simply doesn’t understand people like Mueller. All he can do is absurdly project his own motives, and those of the corrupt people with whom he’s always surrounded himself, onto them. So he can’t predict what they’ll do. And because of his psychological character, he equates any integrity he’s capable of recognizing with weakness and gullibility. This has also worked to Mueller’s favor, since he’s not at all gullible, is smart and strategic, and gets what animates Trump in a way Trump can never get what animates him.

  196. says

    Ken Vogel:

    BIG $ EMBRACING TRUMP GOP: In the past 3 mos, SHELDON & MIRIAM ADELSON have donated *$55 MILLION* to GOP congressional super PACs, including some of the biggest checks in U.S. political history.

    ALSO: Remember how the KOCH BROS were declaring their independence from the GOP? Notsomuch. @Koch_Industries donated $500k to the Senate GOP super PAC last month.

  197. says

    The Onion – “Secretary Of Education Reveals She’s Forced To Use Own Salary On Yacht Supplies”:

    Tearing up while describing how insufficient government funding often fails to cover the cost of essential materials, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos revealed Monday that she was forced to use her own salary to purchase supplies for her yacht. “People are under the false impression that yachts come fully stocked with all the things you’d need to create a great environment, like caterers and live cellists, but they don’t realize that I often have to pay out of my own pocket, and that gets very pricey,” said DeVos, revealing that under the current Department of Education budget, she was obliged to shell out of thousands of dollars to outfit her yacht with all-new bidets….

  198. says

    “Protesters topple Silent Sam Confederate statue at UNC”:

    Protesters toppled the Silent Sam Confederate statue on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday night.

    The monument was ripped down after 9:15 p.m. Earlier in the evening, protesters covered the statue with tall, gray banners, erecting “an alternative monument” that said, in part, “For a world without white supremacy.”

    Protesters were apparently working behind the covering with ropes to bring the statue down, which happened more than two hours into a rally. It fell with a loud clanging sound, and the crowd erupted in cheers.

    After Silent Sam tumbled to the ground, people darted in and out of the crowd through a haze from smoke bombs. Atop the statue someone placed a black cap that said, “Do It Like Durham,” an apparent reference to the toppling of a Confederate statue there a year ago.

    People rushed to the remains, taking photos and stomping on the monument that had been erected in 1913 with donations from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The statue has been the focus of protests and vandalism for decades, but especially in the past year. UNC had installed surveillance cameras and spent $390,000 on security around the statue last year.

    Monday’s gathering started as a demonstration in support of a UNC graduate student who faces criminal and honor court charges for throwing red ink and blood on the Confederate statue in April. The downtown Franklin Street event quickly morphed into a march to the UNC campus, where police officers stood at the monument.

    The event unfolded as students begin a new semester at UNC Tuesday, almost a year after a massive march against Silent Sam in the aftermath of violence in Charlottesville. Protesters vowed to sustain the pressure on the university to relocate the Confederate monument, but campus and UNC system officials insisted a 2015 state law prevented them from doing so.

    Maya Little, the doctoral history student who had doused the statue with ink and her own blood in April, appeared and protesters chanted her name. She took the microphone and spoke of an African-American man, James Lewis Cates, who was stabbed by a white motorcycle gang on the UNC campus in the early 1970s.

    “It’s time to build monuments to honor those who have been murdered by white supremacy,” Little said, adding, “It’s time to tear down Silent Sam. It’s time to tear down UNC’s institutional white supremacy.”

    Little’s action in April, which she has said symbolized the “black blood” at the statue’s foundation, has become a rallying cry of those who oppose the Confederate monument on the UNC campus….

    Amazing video at the link.

  199. says

    “New Russian Hacking Targeted Republican Groups, Microsoft Says”:

    The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights.

    In a report scheduled for release on Tuesday, Microsoft Corporation said that it detected and seized websites that were created in recent weeks by hackers linked to the Russian unit formerly known as the G.R.U. The sites appeared meant to trick people into thinking they were clicking through links managed by the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, but were secretly redirected to web pages created by the hackers to steal passwords and other credentials.

    Microsoft also found websites imitating the United States Senate, but not specific Senate offices or political campaigns.

    The shift to attacking conservative think tanks underscores the Russian intelligence agency’s goals: to disrupt any institutions challenging Moscow and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

    The International Republican Institute’s board of directors includes several Republican leaders who have been highly critical of Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Putin, including a summit meeting last month between the two leaders in Helsinki, Finland.

    Among them are Senator John McCain of Arizona; Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate; and — though he was silent on Mr. Trump’s appearance in Helsinki — Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who was replaced in the spring as the White House national security adviser. General McMaster, who is now retired, had been the author of the national security strategy that called for treating Russia as a “revisionist power” and confronting it around the world.

    The goal of the Russian hacking attempt was unclear, and Microsoft was able to catch the spoofed websites as they were set up.

    But Mr. Smith said that “these attempts are the newest security threats to groups connected with both American political parties” ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

    On Sunday, the current national security adviser, John R. Bolton, suggested that Russia was not the only threat in the fall elections. He also named China, Iran and North Korea — the other most active cyberoperators among state adversaries — as threats.

    But so far Microsoft and other firms have not found extensive election-related actions by those nations.

    In 2016, a federal judge in Virginia agreed that the group Microsoft calls “Strontium” and others call “APT 28,” for “advanced persistent threat,” would continue its attacks. The judge appointed a “special master” with the power to authorize Microsoft to seize fake websites as soon as they are registered. As a result, the hackers have lost control of many of the sites only days after creating them.

    But it is a constant cat-and-mouse game, as the Russian hackers seek new vectors of attack while Microsoft and others seek to cut them off.

    With the midterms less than three months away, Microsoft said greater cooperation was needed between tech companies and the federal government over efforts to interfere in the American elections….

  200. says

    From the BBC report on the story @ #308:

    Russia has denied Microsoft’s allegations that it targeted the right-wing think-tanks.

    President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was “unaware” of any attempted interference by Russia-linked hackers in the US mid-term elections.

    “[Our] reaction is traditional,” he told the Interfax news agency. “We are unaware what kind of hackers they refer to, we do not know what this interference entails.”

    BBC Monitoring reported him as adding: “We do not understand whom exactly it concerns, what the evidence is and what such conclusions are based on. We have no such information.”

    He said: “We hear confirmation from America that there was no meddling in the election.”

  201. says

    The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says it sees no indication North Korea has stopped nuclear activities since Trump claimed a deal.

    Per @AFP Vienna – ‘The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear programme and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen Tuesday’.”

  202. says

    Statement from Microsoft – “We are taking new steps against broadening threats to democracy”:

    It’s clear that democracies around the world are under attack. Foreign entities are launching cyber strikes to disrupt elections and sow discord. Unfortunately, the internet has become an avenue for some governments to steal and leak information, spread disinformation, and probe and potentially attempt to tamper with voting systems. We saw this during the United States general election in 2016, last May during the French presidential election, and now in a broadening way as Americans are preparing for the November midterm elections.

    Broadening cyberthreats to both U.S. political parties make clear that the tech sector will need to do more to help protect the democratic process. Last week, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) successfully executed a court order to disrupt and transfer control of six internet domains created by a group widely associated with the Russian government and known as Strontium, or alternatively Fancy Bear or APT28. We have now used this approach 12 times in two years to shut down 84 fake websites associated with this group. Attackers want their attacks to look as realistic as possible and they therefore create websites and URLs that look like sites their targeted victims would expect to receive email from or visit. The sites involved in last week’s order fit this description.

    We’re concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections. That’s why today we are expanding Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program with a new initiative called Microsoft AccountGuard. This initiative will provide state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection at no extra cost to all candidates and campaign offices at the federal, state and local level, as well as think tanks and political organizations we now believe are under attack. The technology is free of charge to candidates, campaigns and related political institutions using Office 365.

    Since we launched Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program in April, we have focused on four priorities: protecting campaigns from hacking, protecting voting and the electoral process, increasing political advertising transparency, and defending against disinformation campaigns. In the coming months, we will offer AccountGuard in additional countries, as we continue to invest in and evolve other aspects of the Defending Democracy Program.

    In 1787, as the American constitutional convention reached its conclusion in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked as he departed Independence Hall what type of government the delegates had created. He famously replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    We can only keep our democratic societies secure if candidates can run campaigns and voters can go to the polls untainted by foreign cyberattacks.

    Democracy requires vigilance and at times action by citizens to protect and maintain it. No individual or company can hope to meet this imperative by itself. We all need to do our part. We’re committed to doing our part by helping to protect candidates and campaigns in preserving their voices and votes no matter what party they support.

  203. says

    Second, Microsoft claim that, ‘importantly, these domains show a broadening of entities targeted by [APT28] activities’.

    Here I’m not so sure. More eyeballs on the problem, and far more media attention, mean we will see more of what’s simply normal activity for this actor.”

    This is undoubtedly true – there have long been reports about their targeting a variety of NGOs, think tanks, and academic centers. It’s important to point this out, because both Microsoft and the NYT have developed a narrative about how this means the interference is completely nonpartisan now and just about sowing chaos and conflict.

  204. says

    Benjy Sarlin:

    Elizabeth Warren is giving a speech now on her new anti-corruption bill, which includes a lifetime ban on lobbying for all members of Congress and cabinet officials. Says current distrust of govt is “the kind of crisis that leads people to turn away from democracy.”

    Warren says Trump “may be vulnerable to financial blackmail from a hostile foreign power and God knows what else.” Ethics bill would require candidates for President, VP, and Congress to release their tax returns and those of their business.

    In nod to Manafort trial, Warren proposes banning all Americans from lobbying for foreign governments. “If foreign governments want to express their views they can use their diplomats.”

  205. says

    Update to #307 – the sense I get from this reporting from Hunt’s speech is that Trump is still boiling over the measures he’s been forced to take against Putin: the sanctions passed by Congress, the expulsion of the diplomats/spies, and the new chemical-weapons sanctions that despite his stalling are inscribed in law and come into effect tomorrow with more probably to follow. He’s likely putting pressure on May to emphasize US actions – despite his seething hostility to them – and to turn around and criticize Europe. Hunt’s call for more displays of unity from Europe are pretty rich at the moment.

  206. Hj Hornbeck says

    Update on the Manafort trial:

    Jury has asked a question The judge has asked everyone stay in the room while he reads the question.

  207. says

    From the report on Hunt’s talk: “Final thing to do: ‘We are putting our heads in the sand if we think we can blame social media by pretending some of the causes of resentment are not real’. (Highlights ‘identity concerns’ brought on by immigration…).”

    How are “‘identity concerns’ brought on by immigration” remotely a valid cause of resentment?

  208. says

    BREAKING: Jury in Paul Manafort sends note to judge asking: ‘if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count” how should they fill in the verdict form, and “what does that mean for the final verdict’.”

  209. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @319:
    Weird, my understanding was that all the counts are independent, so deadlocking on one only means Manafort isn’t considered guilty on one.

    My guess is that between that and the news that the jurors need a new verdict sheet suggests that they were mostly in agreement on how to mark down each count, to the point that they accidentally thought there was more consensus than there actually was. My bet is that they’ll hand down a guilty verdict on most of the charges sometime today.

  210. says


    Full text of the jury note, per Judge Ellis:


    If we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury form for that count?

    And what does that mean for the final verdict

    We will need another verdict form please.

    (signed by the foreman)”

    Also notes: “On the way out of the courthouse, I asked Brandon van Grack what he thought the jury was signaling with their request for a new form and his facial expression in response was so purely noncommittal that it prompted laughter and chucks on the shoulder from the rest of the SCO team.”


    Look, jury notes can fool you. They can be confusingly or misleadingly worded and have a totally different meaning than you expected.

    But, with that huge and crucial caveat, the conventional understanding of this note is not good for Manafort.

    I had a similar sense, Hj. Especially after they stayed late last night. I think there’s one count that’s rather confusing concerning his not reporting an account he shared with his wife and that was in part in her name or something; could be the one they’re stuck on…

  211. says

    Another one to add to the list:

    NEW: A NY State judge rejects TRUMP’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit against his private security team for roughing up protesters, writing that Trump ‘authorized & condoned the specific type of conduct of defendants @KEITHSCHILLER45, GARY UHER & EDDIE DECK’.”

  212. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @327: The replies to that Tweet reminded me of something Maddow said last night, and I think is worth repeating here: “There is so much spin around the Michael Cohen side of this story. Do. Not. Fall. For. It.” Trump and associates like to jump out ahead of a story so they can steer the narrative, even if it’s self-incriminating. Giuliani is really good at this, happily saying straight-up nonsense to normalize the idea that everyone is a corrupt liar, ergo we should go easy on Trump.

    The same goes for Don McGhan: several times, Maddow has pointed out how stories about the White House lawyer paint him as a heroic saint. She’s flagged this as a sign that McGhan or someone else is trying to spin his actions.

  213. says

    Cohen plea hearing at 4 PM. The acting AUSA will do a press conference beforehand.

    SC @327: The replies to that Tweet reminded me of something Maddow said last night, and I think is worth repeating here: “There is so much spin around the Michael Cohen side of this story. Do. Not. Fall. For. It.”

    I thought that segment was kind of strange. She seemed to be basing her conclusion on the fact that investigators still don’t have the password to an old Blackberry, which she took to mean he probably isn’t cooperating. It seems more likely to me that he (or whoever’s Blackberry it is) just can’t remember it. Avenatti is on MSNBC saying he’s positive that Cohen is cooperating, and the other analysts are agreeing, saying there’s really no chance they would have given him this plea agreement if he weren’t. But it seems like this particular plea won’t include a cooperation deal, however that works.

  214. says

    The same goes for Don McGhan: several times, Maddow has pointed out how stories about the White House lawyer paint him as a heroic saint. She’s flagged this as a sign that McGhan or someone else is trying to spin his actions.

    Oh, definitely.

  215. Hj Hornbeck says

    Speaking of which:

    Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women for Mr. Trump but the deal does not include cooperation, two people familiar with the matter said.

    Again, there’s a lot more speculation than hard evidence here. I’m at the point where I’m not predicting anything on this one, until a court document says otherwise.

  216. says

    Shimon Prokupecz: “Never thought I’d be on air reporting that the personal lawyer for the President of the United States surrendered to the FBI. #history”

    Again, there’s a lot more speculation than hard evidence here. I’m at the point where I’m not predicting anything on this one, until a court document says otherwise.

    The reporting seems to have converged on: he’s pleading to multiple counts of campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and tax evasion; this particular plea won’t include a cooperation aspect; but, that doesn’t mean he isn’t cooperating, and we could learn more as they go through the process over the next couple of weeks. But we’ll see!

  217. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @335:

    we could learn more as they go through the process over the next couple of weeks. But we’ll see!

    That was one thing I picked up from the Manafort trial: co-operation deals don’t have to be struck before charges are laid. That window remains open all the way until both sides give their final remarks during the trial.

    There’s also a chance that Cohen wants to strike a co-operation agreement, but the prosecutors aren’t interested in accepting. If you’ve got nothing useful to offer, either because the Feds know all your secrets or you’re prone to leaking, then there’s no deal.

  218. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ben Adams: Cohen is pleading guilty to tax evasion and making a false statement regarding a credit application and an excessive campaign contribution.

  219. Hj Hornbeck says

    TPM has more details:

    Former Trump campaign manger Paul Manafort has been convicted on 8 of 18 counts by a federal jury in Virginia, and a mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 counts when the jury deadlocked. […]

    The jurors were deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which include three counts of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, two bank fraud charges, and five charges of bank fraud conspiracy.

    A little before 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Judge T.S. Ellis read a note from the jury informing the court that they were not able to reach consensus on 10 counts, but had reached a verdict on the other charges. Ellis proposed calling in the jury and asking each juror individually whether they believed they could reach a verdict on the 10 remaining counts with further deliberation. The attorneys on both sides agreed to that approach.

    When Ellis called the jury in around 4:30 p.m. ET, they each said no, further deliberation would not yield additional verdicts. At that time, the court clerk read aloud the verdict.

    Looks like they were also more divided than I thought. I must be lousy at reading tea-leaves. :P

  220. Hj Hornbeck says

    And back to Cohen

    Very bad news here for President Trump in the Cohen pleas. Directly implicates an unnamed “candidate” in his campaign finance crimes.

    Trump’s rally is gonna be wild.

  221. Hj Hornbeck says

    The Manafort verdict got me curious, so I looked up the relevant US legal codes.

    Rule 31. Jury Verdict.

    31.b.3) Mistrial and Retrial. If the jury cannot agree on a verdict on one or more counts, the court may declare a mistrial on those counts. The government may retry any defendant on any count on which the jury could not agree.

    Ten of those charges are still in play, in theory anyway.

  222. Hj Hornbeck says

    For your reading pleasure, USA vs. Cohen. Via NYCsouthPaw:

    1. From in or about 2007 through in or about January 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, was an attorney and employee of a Manhattan-based real estate company (the “Company”). COHEN held the title of “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” to the owner of the Company (“Individual-1”).
    2. In or about January 2017, COHEN left the Company and began holding himself out as the “personal attorney” to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States. […]

    27. In or about August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1 ( “Chairman-1”), in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-l’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.
    28. Consistent with the agreement described above, Corporation-1 advised MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, of negative stories during the course of the campaign, and COHEN, with the assistance of Corporation-1, was able to arrange for the purchase of two stories so as to suppress them and prevent them from influencing the election. […]

    37. In or about January 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, in seeking reimbursement for election-related expenses, presented executives of the Company with a copy of a bank statement from the Essential Consultants bank account, which reflected the $130,000 payment COHEN had made to the bank account of Attorney-1 in order to keep Woman-2 silent in advance of the election, plus a $35 wire fee, adding, in handwriting, an additional “$50,000.” The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign. COHEN added these amounts to a sum of $180,035. After receiving this document, executives of the Company “grossed up” for tax purposes COHEN’ s requested reimbursement of $180,000 to $360,000, and then added a bonus of $60,000 so that COHEN would be paid $420,000 in total.

    To repeat this: Michael Cohen just confessed to knowingly and willfully violating campaign finance law to sway the 2016 presidential election, among other crimes, and implicated Trump Inc assisted him.

  223. Hj Hornbeck says

    I don’t want this one to fall through the cracks.

    In a 48-page indictment released by the Justice Department, [Representative Duncan] Hunter, Republican of California, and his wife, Margaret, are charged with converting more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filing false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission.

    Mr. Hunter, 41, becomes the second Republican congressman to be indicted this month. Representative Chris Collins, Republican of New York, was indicted on insider trading charges, and announced days later that he had suspended his re-election campaign. The two were the earliest congressional supporters of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

    Both the first and second Congress people to support Trump have now been accused of criminal conduct. Fitting.

  224. Hj Hornbeck says

    I don’t think we need any more evidence of this, but still.

    Donald Trump: I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!

    NYCsouthPaw: This tweet ties a prospective pardon, if it comes, to a desire to stop SCO investigators from “breaking” Paul Manafort and learning what he knows—as SDNY investigators now have with Cohen. In other words, it’s more evidence of a motive to obstruct the investigation.

  225. Hj Hornbeck says

    As for why Cohen didn’t have a cooperation agreement, reporter Emily Jane Fox says this is because Cohen wasn’t talking to investigators until very recently, as in last week. These agreements take time to negotiate, and there wasn’t enough before yesterday’s court appearance.

  226. Oggie. says

    Hj at 352:

    I’m glad to see the confirmation of that. It is what I suspected, especially after he very specifically, and very carefully, while in court and under oath, declared Trump (sorry, a candidate for federal office (how many other candidates was Cohen serving? Zero?)) a criminal.

    Manafort’s conviction rates an 8 out of 10. Cohen’s plea is an 11.

  227. says

    The Cohen criminal information is very interesting (some of this is at Hj’s #347 above).

    MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, caused and made the payments described herein in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. In doing so, he coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.

    After receiving this document, executives of the Company “grossed up” for tax purposes COHEN’ s requested reimbursement of $180,000 to $360,000, and then added a bonus of $60,000 so that COHEN would be paid $420,000 in total.

    Seeking reimbursement, Cohen submitted to the Trump Org a bank statement from Essential Consultants, LLC, with an added $35 wire fee and a handwritten note asking for an additional $50,000.

    The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.

    Executive-1 [Weisselberg, presumably] forwarded that email to another employee at the [Trump Org], stating “Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”

    The company accounted for these payments as legal expenses. In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices COHEN submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017.

    Cohen made an illegal contribution to the Trump campaign,

    and did so by making or causing to be made an expenditure, in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign…

  228. says

    I’m still interested in this:

    The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.

    What technology company? What services did they provide to the campaign? Isn’t this another illegal campaign contribution? Why is this detail included in the information?

  229. says


    There were concerns ahead of the verdict that the Manafort jury would be populated with jurors sympathetic to Trump who would incline toward jury nullification.

    While there were clearly one or more jurors with strong sympathies for the defense in the room—stronger sympathies than I believe were justified by the evidence—those jurors were still able to agree to convict on eight substantial counts. I take that as a hopeful sign.

  230. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @356:

    What technology company? What services did they provide to the campaign?

    Maybe Cambridge Analytica? I’ve never heard Cohen’s name associated with them, though, and Google searches come up dry.

  231. says

    Hj Hornbeck @ #359,

    It’s possible, but the campaign paid CA in the “normal” way and reported it in FEC filings. If it was them, they could have just hidden it amongst those expenditures. Come to think of it, it seems odd for Cohen to have been involved in this sort of solicitation at all – seems like it would have ordinarily gone through Brad Parscale. This $50,000 unreported payment reimbursed falsely as a retainer fee after the election looks like it might have been for some sort of special job they wanted to keep hidden. Or it could be nothing significant. But it’s intriguing, and interesting that they put it in the information.

  232. says

    (I guess they kind of had to include it since it contributed to the amount the Trump Org paid Cohen under false pretenses. But it’s suspicious that it was included in Cohen’s submission to the organization with the $130,000 payoff amount, which we know was for a sleazy covert purpose. And it’s suspicious in that Davis told Maddow that Cohen had information about the Russian hacking and in that one of the Steele memos suggests that Cohen was involved in this in some way. Again, it could be nothing, but I’m curious to know what it’s about.)

  233. says

    (And as soon as I post that Davis walks the comment back in an interview with Katy Tur.)

    “DNC calls FBI after detecting attempt to hack its voter database”:

    The Democratic National Committee contacted the FBI on Tuesday after it detected what it believes was the beginning of a sophisticated attempt to hack into its voter database, a Democratic source tells CNN.

    The DNC was alerted in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a cloud service provider and a security research firm that a fake login page had been created in an attempt to gather usernames and passwords that would allow access to the party’s database, the source said.

    The page was designed to look like the access page Democratic Party officials and campaigns across the country use to log into a service called Votebuilder, which hosts the database, the source said, adding the DNC believed it was designed to trick people into handing over their login details.

    The source said the DNC is investigating who may have been responsible for the attempted attack, but that it has no reason to believe its voter file was accessed or altered….

  234. says

    NBC News: Several political pundits seem to suggest that the Cohen plea is his word against the President’s.

    Not true.

    Here’s Andrea Griswold, federal prosecutor, detailing the evidence they had and would have used to prove the counts involving the President at trial:…”

  235. says

    Got lost yesterday – “Christopher Steele’s Victory in a D.C. Court”:

    The author of the explosive dossier outlining the president’s alleged ties to Russia won an important legal victory on Monday, when a judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against his firm by the co-founders of Russia’s largest private bank.

    In his decision to toss the case “with prejudice”—that is, permanently—Judge Anthony C. Epstein of the Washington, D.C., Superior Court concluded that the author of the dossier, the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, acted “in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest” when he decided to brief reporters on the dossier’s findings in the summer of 2016. Steele’s conduct is therefore protected by “anti-SLAPP” statutes, according to the judge, which aim to halt lawsuits brought to chill the exercise of constitutionally protected free speech.

    According to Epstein, the dossier “as a whole plainly concerns an issue of public interest … because it relates to possible Russian interference within the 2016 election.” Steele has made a similar argument with regard to his decision to pause his coordination with the FBI and brief the media directly on his findings in September and October 2016, according to people familiar with his thinking: While he never intended for the dossier itself to be made public—he has said he was “horrified” when BuzzFeed published it in full—he believed the public had a dire need to know the broad outlines of a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the FBI had no plans to make such details known. “The Steele dossier generated so much attention and interest in the United States precisely because its content relates to active public debates here,” Epstein wrote.

    In court documents, the Alfa plaintiffs argued two seemingly contradictory points: first, that Steele implied they had been involved in a Trump-Russia conspiracy, and second, that the section of the dossier dealing with the bank was not in the public interest because it did not mention a specific candidate or the 2016 presidential election. Epstein caught this, and wrote that Alfa could not on the one hand contend that Steele accused them of cooperating with Russia’s election interference, while on the other hand saying such an explosive revelation would not be in the public interest.

    The judge also called it “ironic” that Alfa’s founders, “who are non-resident aliens with Russian and/or Israeli citizenship,” had argued that nonresident aliens like Steele, who is a British national, don’t have First Amendment rights…

  236. says

    “The Trump Official Overseeing Migrant Girls’ Health Care Once Wrote He Couldn’t ‘Support Abortion for Any Reason'”:

    Scott Lloyd’s anti-abortion crusade began when, as a young man, he found himself faced with a partner’s unexpected pregnancy. Many years later, Lloyd would take his battle to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, where, as its leader since March 2017, he has personally intervened to block teenage migrants in federal custody, including at least one rape victim, from accessing abortions. But it was that summer day long ago that made him decide abortion is wrong under all circumstances, including rape, incest, and when the life of the mother [sic] is at risk. When asked about his plans for the day, he said he was going fishing; instead, he drove the young woman he had gotten pregnant to get the abortion he disagreed with. Years later, as a first-year law student at Catholic University, he described this formative experience in anguished detail in a class assignment provided to Mother Jones by a classmate and confirmed by seven others.

    His interventions forcing young women to extend or keep their pregnancies have sparked outrage among immigrant and abortion rights activists, as well as several major lawsuits claiming he is violating detainees’ constitutional protections….

    In October 2017, the ACLU sued Lloyd on behalf of a young woman in ORR custody in Texas who had been prevented from having an abortion, later adding other plaintiffs as they came forward. This summer, a federal trial court in Washington, DC, allowed a number of girls to sue Lloyd together and indefinitely blocked him from personally controlling the abortion decisions of young women in his care. The government has appealed both rulings; argument in the case is set for September. A second ACLU lawsuit is challenging ORR’s placement of minors in religious shelters that refuse to facilitate abortions. In both cases, the ACLU continues to argue that Lloyd is unconstitutionally violating the separation of church and state when it comes to women in his care.

    Lloyd’s essay, the ACLU’s Amiri notes, adds to a body of evidence already gathered by her colleagues demonstrating Lloyd’s strong personal and religious views opposing abortion, including statements he’s made during depositions in cases over young women’s access to abortion and a memo he wrote, denying a young rape victim’s abortion request, that cited religious sources.

    “If Scott Lloyd is using his personal religious opposition to influence minors’ access to abortion—by proselytizing, for example, or requiring that minors receive religious counseling—that is a clear line that’s impermissible to cross,” argues Amiri, an attorney on both cases.

    In his law school essay, Lloyd grounds his opposition to abortion in Christianity, describing abortion as a sin in the context of his Catholic faith….

    His work since law school has reflected a continued commitment to the anti-abortion cause. Lloyd worked in the Bush-era Health and Human Services Department, where he helped draft “conscience” regulations allowing medical providers to opt out of care they objected to on religious grounds, including abortions. He then co-founded a pro-life law firm in Virginia and served on the board of a crisis pregnancy center before working for the Catholic Knights of Columbus and, according to his resume, helping to craft a 20-week abortion ban that’s become law in six states and been proposed in the House and Senate. He’s said as recently as this year, in depositions in the ongoing case about his ORR abortion policy, that he doesn’t believe immigrant minors have a constitutional right to abortion.

    Much more at the link.

  237. Hj Hornbeck says

    No points for guessing how Republicans have responded to yesterday’s news.

    When asked if he thought the Senate should delay confirming President Trump’s Supreme Court pick in light of the latest bombshell revelations against the president, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) responded with laughter.

    High-pitched giggles, in fact. And just in case he hadn’t been clear enough: “Tell them I turned on my laughter machine,” he told TPM to relay to the Senate Democrats.

    Wicker’s response encapsulated most Senate Republicans’ reactions on Wednesday to the news that President Trump’s former attorney had pled guilty to giving two women hush money at Trump’s direction to cover up Trump’s alleged affairs, breaking campaign finance laws to do so, and that his former campaign manager had been found guilty on eight counts of tax fraud.

  238. says

    Update to #316 above – “Today the US was expected to implement the sanctions on Russia pursuant to the Chemical & Biological Weapons Control & Warfare Elimination Act, following the alleged use of a nerve agent in the UK.

    State and BIS have yet to issue the implementing notice and EAR amendments.

    To be fair, @StateDept’s announcement said the sanctions ‘will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018’.”

    Whatever happens, you can be sure Trump is fighting their implementation.

  239. Hj Hornbeck says

    Josh Marshall has a good observation.

    Each time [Sarah Huckabee Sanders is] asked if Trump committed a crime she said repeatedly “he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him.” […]

    Remember, the White House has repeatedly argued that the President cannot be charged with any crime as long as he is in office. It’s not clear that that is true. But standing DOJ guidelines say that a sitting President should not be charged with a crime. So given Robert Mueller’s close adherence to DOJ guidelines, as a practical matter they’re mostly right.

    So her defense amounts to saying that because this thing which can’t happen hasn’t happened, Trump is clean.

  240. says

    “Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty against female human rights activist”:

    Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death sentence for five human rights activists, including a woman who is thought to be the first female campaigner in the country facing execution, rights groups have said.

    Israa al-Ghomgham, a Shia activist arrested with her husband in 2015, will be tried in the country’s terrorism tribunal even though charges she faces relate to peaceful activism, Human Rights Watch said.

    “Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behaviour, is monstrous,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

    Together with her husband, Moussa al-Hashem, and three other defendants, Ghomgham faces charges that “do not resemble recognisable crimes”, HRW said.

    They include participating in protests, chanting slogans hostile to the regime, attempting to inflame public opinion and filming protests and publishing on social media.

    Saudi Shia citizens face systematic discrimination in the majority-Sunni nation, including obstacles to seeking work and education, and restrictions on religious practice. Ghomgahm had joined and documented mass protests for Shia rights that began in 2011 as the Arab spring swept across the region….

    “The activist is next due in court on 28 October, and the trial will cast a further shadow on crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to promote himself as a modernising reformer.” I would imagine so, yes.

  241. says

    CNBC is asking the same questions (and doesn’t seem to have any more answers…yet) – “Michael Cohen paid a mysterious tech company $50,000 ‘in connection with’ Trump’s campaign”:

    …Buried in the legal documents released Tuesday as part of Cohen’s guilty plea on eight felony counts, there was a new, previously unreported payment Cohen made in 2016 to help Trump: $50,000 for work that prosecutors say Cohen “solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.”

    The documents do not identify which tech company Cohen paid the money to, or what, exactly, the company did for him. But the mere existence of the previously unknown payment suggests that Cohen may have been doing more for Trump, and for the Trump campaign, than simply paying off women.

    Furthermore, the way that Cohen reported the $50,000 expense to the Trump Organization in January 2017 suggests the money may not have been paid out through traditional financial channels.

    A spokesman for the Trump Organization did not respond to questions from CNBC Wednesday about the payment. Trump’s campaign, likewise, did not answer questions about whether it knew Cohen had paid a tech company $50,000 to aid in Trump’s election bid.

    Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, also did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the money, and the White House did not respond to questions about whether the president was aware that Cohen was paying a tech company for election help.

    It’s not clear exactly when Cohen spent the money, only that it was during the campaign. And without knowing precisely what it was for, it’s difficult to tell whether Cohen violated the law by not reporting it as a campaign expense.

    The Trump campaign in 2016 had a savvy digital operation run by a relatively unknown online marketing specialist named Brad Parscale. Today, Parscale holds the top job on Trump’s 2020 campaign team.

    Cohen is not believed to have played any part in the official digital operations of the Trump 2016 campaign, nor did Cohen ever have a formal staff position on the campaign itself.

    All of which only deepens the mystery of exactly what tech services Cohen was buying to help Trump’s campaign.

    In the 24 hours since Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday, Davis, his lawyer, has repeatedly said that his client knows things that would be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Russian attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Central to that investigation is the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to sway the election in Trump’s favor….

  242. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Watching All In, and he’s having a *Moment with Maxine (Waters, D-Cal). All I can say, is “yes Ma’am”.

  243. says

    A federal judge lays out the case for why Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied when he told Congress the census was adding a citizenship question at the request of DOJ. ‘The Court finds that Plaintiffs have made the requisite showing of bad faith on the part of Defendants’.”

    Bad faith is at the core of everything they do. It should always be assumed.

  244. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow’s opening monologue was eye-opening. She was talking about possible NY State charges against the Trump Foundation, Campaign, “Blind Trust”, and Company. State charges and penalties not subject to DOJ rules and Presidential pardons. I’ll link if I find one before bedtime.

  245. raven says

    AUGUST 22, 2018 / 7:18 PM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO
    Trump says he’s considering pardon for Manafort: Fox News reporter

    That didn’t take long.
    1. This looks to be inevitable.
    2. Only question is when.
    I’d make a wild guess that it will be in the next two weeks.

    So much for Rule of Law in the USA.
    It no longer exists for GOP criminals who have a get of jail free card.

    Only question is how much it will cost the GOP and Trump.
    Probably not much. His followers don’t care.
    And the rest of us couldn’t dislike him any more than we already do.

  246. KG says

    I’d make a wild guess that it will be in the next two weeks.

    Seems likely. Trump will want all the other criminals in his entourage (question – are there any non-criminals?) to knowbelieve that if they keep schtum, he’ll scatter pardons like confetti. Of course, in practice he’ll only do so as and when it’s in his own interest.

  247. says

    A few reports:

    The DNC incident @ #362 was, fortunately, some sort of test that hadn’t been authorized by the DNC.
    A juror from the Manafort trial was interviewed by Fox. She said she was a Trump supporter but was convinced by the evidence that he was guilty. The reason they couldn’t reach a verdict on the 10 counts was a single holdout juror. They tried and tried to convince her, but she just insisted she had reasonable doubt.
    Trump is tweeting global white supremacist tropes about South Africa ahead of his wife’s African trip.

  248. says

    WTF?: “Ainsley Earhardt, who said last night on Hannity that Trump had told her in their interview that he was considering pardoning Manafort, this AM notes he never did say this, before airing clip in which Trump does not answer her direct question about it.”

  249. says

    Story about the juror interview – “‘I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was,’ says juror who supports Trump”:

    One of the jurors from Paul Manafort’s trial said on Wednesday that although she “did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty,” the evidence was “overwhelming.”

    “I thought that the public, America, needed to know how close this was, and that the evidence was overwhelming,” Paula Duncan said in an interview on Fox News. “I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was, and no one’s above the law. So it was our obligation to look through all the evidence.”

    Duncan, who is the first juror to speak publicly, offered a look behind the scenes of the deliberations. She noted that “crazily enough, there were even tears,” and detailed some of the jury’s conversations with the lone juror who she said was the reason Manafort was not found guilty on all counts.

    “We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt. And that’s the way the jury worked. We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her, but in the end she held out and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict,” Duncan said on “Fox News at Night.”…

    Also, “Manafort Juror: One ‘Holdout’ Kept Him From Being Convicted on All Counts”:

    Late on Wednesday night, Fox News aired a lengthy interview with Paula Duncan, the first juror in Paul Manafort’s trial to go public. Duncan, 52, identified herself as a strong supporter of President Trump, saying she kept a Make America Great Again hat in the backseat of her car as she drove to the trial, and plans to vote for Trump again in 2020. However, Duncan said she became convinced that Manafort was guilty on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, and almost the entire jury agreed; she revealed that the jury deadlocked on ten of the counts due to a single juror.

    Duncan initially said she felt the case was “politicized” because “in the evidence there were references to Trump and his son-in-law and to the Trump campaign.” She also referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as the “witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion,” borrowing Trump’s phrasing, and noted that Manafort wouldn’t have been caught if not for his ties to the president. “Something that went through my mind is, this should have been a tax audit,” Duncan said.

    However, she said she felt all of the jurors tried to consider the evidence fairly, regardless of their political leanings, and “crazily enough, there were even tears” during deliberations.

    Earlier on Wednesday, unsealed transcripts in the case revealed that there were tensions on the jury, and the defense requested a mistrial several times. About two weeks ago, a female juror reported that another juror had commented “the defense was weak,” though they were barred from discussing the case before deliberations. Judge T.S. Ellis III interviewed all of the jurors, and everyone except the woman who initially complained said they were following all of his instructions….

  250. says

    “Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President”:

    Michael Cohen had many reasons to play ball last weekend when his legal team sat down to talk to federal prosecutors.

    The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office had testimony from Mr. Cohen’s accountant and business partners, along with bank records, tax filings and loan applications that implicated not only Mr. Cohen in potential criminal activity, but also his wife, who filed taxes jointly with her husband. Prosecutors signaled Mr. Cohen would face nearly 20 criminal counts, potentially carrying a lengthy prison sentence and staggering financial penalties.

    Adding to the pressure, David Pecker, the chairman of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, provided prosecutors with details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged with women who alleged sexual encounters with President Trump, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals.

    A personal turning point for Mr. Cohen was a conversation with his father, Maurice Cohen, a Holocaust survivor.

    Mr. Cohen’s father urged him not to protect the president, saying he didn’t survive the Holocaust to have his name sullied by Mr. Trump, according to a person who was told about the conversation. The elder Mr. Cohen couldn’t be reached for comment.

    On June 20, Mr. Cohen stepped down from his position as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chairman and tweeted his first public criticism of his former boss: “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy [are] heart wrenching.” The tweet no longer appears on Mr. Cohen’s Twitter account….

    More at the link.

  251. says

    Trump getting (bad) legal advice from TV? He told Fox that Cohen ‘pled to two counts that aren’t a crime. Which nobody understands. In fact, I watched a number of shows. Sometimes you get some pretty good information by watching shows. Those two counts aren’t even a crime…'”

    I’m sure the forms for the plea agreement have a place to enter either the specific crime to which someone is pleading or the option “Other – noncrime.”

  252. says

    Avenatti: “We will be moving quickly to have the court rule on this pending motion seeking depositions of Cohen & Trump and an expedited trial. The American people deserve to know the truth about the conduct of Trump and his cover-up. And we intend on disclosing it.”

  253. says

    Update to #400 – it’s this: “Stephen E. Biegun will be special rep for North Korea, and will be going there with Pompeo next week.”

    According to WP, Biegun “received his B.A. in Russian and Political Science from the University of Michigan in 1984. He was the in-country Director for the International Republican Institute in Moscow, Russia from 1992-1994. He is a member of the board of the U.S. Russia Foundation, the Moscow School of Political Studies, the U.S.–Russia Business Council, and Ford Sollers, Ford’s joint venture operating in Russia.”

  254. says

    Update to #204 above – “Dutch Government Prosecuting Dutch Citizen For Insulting Turkish President Recep Erdogan”:

    Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan is the pettiest of tyrants, ruling with an iron fist and an easily-bruised ego. In addition to snuffing out dissent in his own country with a combination of arrests and intimidation, Erdogan and his government scour the planet for non-Turkish citizens who have offended Lord Gollum.

    This doesn’t just take the form of content removal requests and site blocking. It also means actual arrests of foreign citizens residing in other countries. Germany’s government was shocked to find an old law on its books — one that forbade insulting foreign states — being used against one of its own, a German comedian who wrote an immensely unflattering poem about the Turkish dictator. The government gave in at first before swiftly excising the law.

    The same can’t be said about the Netherlands, another country with bad laws Erdogan is more than happy to exploit to silence criticism. This makes things a little easier for the Turkish government. The last time it punished a Dutch citizen for criticizing the Turkish president, it had to wait for the journalist to visit the country before arresting her.

    This time the Dutch government is going to be doing the punishing. Erdogan has spoken and, rather than being greeted with laughter followed by a dial tone, the Dutch government appears to be moving forward with a local prosecution.

    This bad law remains on the books for now. An effort to repeal it stalled, but hopefully the government’s disgraceful bootlicking of a “friendly” foreign head of state will result in enough outrage the law will be stricken before it does any more damage.

  255. says

    Here’s the report – “Graham Says He Expects Trump to Oust Sessions After Elections”:

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s “very likely” President Donald Trump will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions but warned against doing so before the midterm elections.

    “The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” said Graham of South Carolina, who may be in line to head the Judiciary Committee next year. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

    Graham however warned against acting before the election, calling that possibility “a nonstarter.” That “would create havoc” with Senate efforts to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and with the midterm elections in November, he said.

    Asked about a possible replacement for Sessions, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley took a different position from a year ago, when he warned the White House he didn’t have time to do another confirmation hearing that year.

    “I do have time for hearings on nominees that the president might send up here that I didn’t have last year,” Grassley of Iowa said Thursday in a telephone interview. Grassley has clashed with Sessions this year because of the attorney general’s intense opposition to Grassley’s efforts to pass a criminal justice overhaul.

    Grassley said, though, that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would take precedence over any other nominees Trump might send to the Senate….

  256. tomh says

    @ 408

    Early on, Trump wanted Giuliani as AG but Rudy turned it down. Maybe he’ll give him another shot at it.

  257. says

    tomh @ #412,

    Trump has complained recently that he wishes Rudy Giuliani was his AG instead of Jeff Sessions. But many in White House irritated at Giuliani, who is golfing in Scotland as all this unfolds.

    (I don’t think there’s any way Giuliani could get through the process for the full position – his past is far too shady.)

  258. tomh says

    @ #415
    I think you give the Republican Senate too much credit. If Trump pushes for him, he’ll get him. But Giuliani may not want it for the same reasons he didn’t before – too much work. Besides, he’s having too much fun now, being on TV every other day.

  259. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Been having some fun with local pollsters. IL has a gubernatorial election in Nov., with a rethug (Rauner) incumbent, and J.B. Prtizker (D) as the challenger. Both are very rich, so money can’t buy the election. Rauner is running wwaayy behind in polling. I get a call every week or so lately, obviously from the rethugs. They get no hope that either Rauner or Trump are considered competent or somebody I would vote for period, no hope to change my mind. I expect this will continue to the election, or they delete my number from a possible response.

  260. says

    “Manhattan D.A. Eyes Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization”:

    The Manhattan district attorney’s office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials in connection with Michael D. Cohen’s hush money payment to an adult film actress, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

    A state investigation would center on how the company accounted for its reimbursement to Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 he paid to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, who has said she had an affair with President Trump, the officials said.

    Both officials stressed that the office’s review of the matter is in its earliest stages and prosecutors have not yet made a decision on whether to proceed.

    State charges against the company or its executives could be significant because Mr. Trump has talked about pardoning some of his current or former aides who have faced federal charges. As president, he has no power to pardon people and corporate entities convicted of state crimes.

    As the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., considers opening an investigation, the New York State attorney general’s office has moved to open a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Cohen has violated state tax law, an inquiry that would be unrelated to the federal tax evasion charges that he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the state matter.

    The attorney general, Barbara D. Underwood, in recent days sought a referral from the state Department of Taxation and Finance, which is needed to conduct such an inquiry and to prosecute any violations of state tax law it might uncover, the person said. Such requests are seldom denied. The state’s double jeopardy laws do not apply to tax crimes.

    One of the officials stressed that a state investigation into possible violations of state law could be complicated or delayed by three other open inquiries relating to Mr. Trump: The federal investigation into Mr. Cohen; the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; and a lawsuit that the state attorney general has brought against the Trump Foundation, a charity [sic].

    If Mr. Vance decides to proceed, it would not be the first time he investigated members of the Trump family. He was faulted for not pursuing charges against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who were under criminal investigation in 2012 over allegations that they misled buyers interested in the Trump SoHo condominium project.

  261. says

    “AP: National Enquirer hid damaging Trump stories in a safe”:

    The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and other damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The Associated Press.

    Five people familiar with the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they signed non-disclosure agreements, said the safe was a great source of power for Pecker, the company’s CEO.

    The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities’ catch-and-kill deals, in which exclusive rights to people’s stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news. By keeping celebrities’ embarrassing secrets, the company was able to ingratiate itself with them and ask for favors in return.

    But after The Wall Street Journal initially published the first details of Playboy model Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill deal shortly before the 2016 election, those assets became a liability. Fearful that the documents might be used against American Media, Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, according to one person directly familiar with the events.

    It was unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a location known to fewer people….

  262. says

    “The Conspiracy Memo About Obama Aides That Circulated in the Trump White House”:

    n early 2017, some of Donald Trump’s advisers concluded that they faced a sophisticated threat responsible for “coordinated attacks” on the new Administration. They circulated a memo, titled “The Echo Chamber,” which read like a U.S. military-intelligence officer’s analysis of a foreign-insurgent network. Instead of being about enemies in a distant war zone, however, the network described in the memo consisted of former aides to President Barack Obama.

    The memo claimed that the “communications infrastructure” that the Obama White House used to “sell Obamacare and the Iran Deal to the public” had been moved to the private sector, now that the former aides were out of government. It called the network the Echo Chamber and accused its members of mounting a coördinated effort “to undermine President Trump’s foreign policy” through organized attacks in the press against Trump and his advisers. “These are the Obama loyalists who are probably among those coordinating the daily/weekly battle rhythm,” the memo said, adding that they likely operated a “virtual war room.” The memo lists Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national-security adviser to President Obama, as “likely the brain behind this operation” and Colin Kahl, Vice-President Joe Biden’s former national-security adviser, as its “likely ops chief.” Rhodes and Kahl both said in interviews that the allegations are false and no such organization exists.

    The memo is unsigned and undated, and Trump Administration officials familiar with it offered conflicting accounts of who authored it and whether it originated inside or outside the White House. The officials said that it was circulated within the National Security Council and other parts of the Trump White House in early 2017. They said the memo may have had additional pages. A National Security Council spokesperson declined to comment.

    Some of the same conspiracy theories expressed in the memo appear in internal documents from an Israeli private-intelligence firm that mounted a covert effort to collect damaging information about aides to President Obama who had advocated for the Iran deal. In May, 2017, that firm, Black Cube, provided its operatives with instructions and other briefing materials that included the same ideas and names discussed in the memo. The Black Cube documents obtained by The New Yorker referred to Rhodes and Kahl, arguing that they were using allies in the media to undermine the Trump Administration. The Black Cube documents use the term “echo chamber” five times, including in a document describing the operatives’ directive as “Investigating the Rhodes’ / Kahl ‘Eco-chamber.’ ” The same document states that “Rhodes and Kahl are suspected to make use of privileged access and information leveraging it against the incumbent administration.”

    The memo also claims that other former Obama Administration officials are part of the Echo Chamber. Jake Sullivan, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, is identified as one of the leaders of the Echo Chamber. The former Obama Administration officials Tommy Vietor, Ned Price, Jon Favreau, Jon Finer, and Dan Pfeiffer are all listed as “likely operations officers.” Many of those former officials have publicly criticized Trump’s foreign policies, but Rhodes and Kahl said there was no “Echo Chamber,” “network,” “ops chief,” or “virtual war room.” In a statement, Rhodes described the memo as “a bizarre effort to validate ‘deep state’ conspiracy theories” and said that, “given Trump’s many efforts to intimidate and malign his critics, it’s worth asking how his White House and outside enablers acted on this strange memo.” In an e-mail, Kahl added that “the NSC’s role is to staff the President and coordinate the interagency on foreign affairs. It is not the NSC’s role to conduct military-style network analysis of domestic opponents.”…

    Text of the memo and more at the link.

  263. says

    “White House blocks bill that would protect elections”:

    A bill that would have significantly bolstered the nation’s defenses against electoral interference has been held up in the Senate at the behest of the White House, which opposed the proposed legislation, according to congressional sources.

    The Secure Elections Act, introduced by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., in December 2017, had co-sponsorship from two of the Senate’s most prominent liberals, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., as well as from conservative stalwart Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and consummate centrist Susan Collins, R-Me.

    Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was set to conduct a markup of the bill on Wednesday morning in the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs. The bill had widespread support, including from some of the committee’s Republican members, and was expected to come to a full Senate vote in October. But then the chairman’s mark, as the critical step is known, was canceled, and no explanation was given.

    As it currently stands, the legislation would grant every state’s top election official security clearance to receive threat information. It would also formalize the practice of information-sharing between the federal government—in particular, the Department of Homeland Security—and states regarding threats to electoral infrastructure. A technical advisory board would establish best practices related to election cybersecurity. Perhaps most significantly, the law would mandate that every state conduct a statistically significant audit following a federal election. It would also incentivize the purchase of voting machines that leave a paper record of votes cast, as opposed to some all-electronic models that do not. This would signify a marked shift away from all-electronic voting, which was encouraged with the passage of the Help Americans Vote Act in 2002.

    A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sits on the Rules Committee, declined to say whether the majority leader, widely renowned on Capitol Hill for his backroom tactics, was involved in efforts to hobble the Secure Elections Act….

  264. says

    tomh @ #418:

    I think you give the Republican Senate too much credit. If Trump pushes for him, he’ll get him. But Giuliani may not want it for the same reasons he didn’t before – too much work. Besides, he’s having too much fun now, being on TV every other day.

    I can’t see it happening. Nominees have to respond in writing and under oath to written questions, and I assume go through a full security background check. Giuliani’s recent history is just super sketchy (off the top of my head, his representation of Reza Zarrab, his representation of OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, his 2016 contacts with the FBI NY field office; and that’s setting aside his public comments calling the FBI stormtroopers and the like). I also don’t think he could make it through the hearings. I don’t think he’s all there.

  265. says

    I wonder if Orac’s seen this – “Why Russian trolls stoked US vaccine debates”:

    Russia’s meddling online went beyond the 2016 US presidential election and into public health, amplifying online debates about vaccines, according to a new study.

    The recent research project was intended to study how social media and survey data can be used to better understand people’s decision-making process around vaccines. It ended up unmasking some unexpected key players in the vaccination debate: Russian trolls.

    The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday, suggests that what appeared to be Twitter accounts run by automated bots and Russian trolls masqueraded as legitimate users engaging in online vaccine debates. The bots and trolls disseminated both pro- and anti-vaccine messages between 2014 and 2017.

    The researchers started examining Russian troll accounts as part of their study after NBC News published its database of more than 200,000 tweets tied to Russian-linked accounts this year. They noticed vaccine-related tweets among the Russian troll accounts, and some tweets even used the hashtag #VaccinateUS.

    These known Russian troll accounts were tied to the Internet Research Agency, a company backed by the Russian government that specializes in online influence operations.

    “We started looking at those tweets, and immediately, we were like, ‘These are kind of weird,’ ” said David Broniatowski, an assistant professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University who was lead author of the study.

    “One of the things about them that was weird was that they tried to — or they seemed to try to — relate vaccines to issues in American discourse, like racial disparities or class disparities that are not traditionally associated with vaccination,” Broniatowski said.

    Between 2014 and 2017, the Internet Research Agency trolls were running many social media experiments to build division among Americans, said Patrick Warren, an associate professor of economics at Clemson University. Warren was not involved in the study but has conducted extensive research on Russian trolls.

    “It’s basically the hot-button political issues of the day. They’re happy to grab onto whatever is salient,” he said. “I think that they want us focused on our own problems so that we don’t focus on them.

    “If most of our energies are focused internally with divisions inside of the United States — or divisions between the United States and, say, Europe — that leaves a window open for Russia to expand its sphere of influence.”…

    They’re obviously concerned about the public-health consequences.

  266. Saad says

    Weisselberg has been granted immunity

    Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, NBC News reported on Friday.

    Weisselberg had been subpoenaed by prosecutors earlier this year to testify before a grand jury as part of that probe.

    News of Weisselberg’s immunity deal follows a Thursday report that David Pecker, the chairman of publishing giant American Media, had also received federal immunity as part of the Cohen investigation.

  267. says

    Update to #370 above – “U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Russia After Nerve Agent Poisoning”:

    The U.S. announced details of limited new sanctions against Russia over the March poisoning in the U.K. of a former Russian agent and his daughter, the latest sign relations between the former Cold War foes continue to deteriorate.

    Restrictions released by the State Department on Friday target remaining sources of foreign assistance and arms sales to Russia, and deny any U.S. credit to Russia, including through the Export-Import Bank. The announcement follows the Trump administration’s decision in March to expel 60 Russian diplomats and shutter a consulate in Seattle.

    The latest measures appear far less stringent, though, than proposals being considered in Congress, where lawmakers from both parties have urged the administration to take a tougher stance against Moscow. Friday’s announcement also said that waivers to the new sanctions, which are to take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on Aug. 27, were included for “national security” reasons, including for things such as flight safety, wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries, and space flight.

    The restrictions follow the U.S. conclusion, reached about five months after the U.K. attack, that “the Russian Federation has used chemical weapons in violation of international law,” according to the State Department, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional details on the scope of sanctions.

    Among the most stringent measures being proposed in Congress are ones that would impose curbs on Russian sovereign debt sales and tougher limits on some of the country’s biggest banks as punishment for election meddling.

    Still, a Russian lawmaker said Friday that the country can adapt to the latest U.S. actions and won’t change its foreign-policy positions as a result.

    “They don’t understand that the more they strangle us, the worse the retaliation is,” said Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament.

  268. says

    Saad @ #430,

    That’s serious trouble for Trump, his kids, and the business.

    Maggie Haberman: “Cohen knew about the payoffs related to women and certain details. Weisselberg knows all the rest.”

    I think Cohen knows quite a bit more than this, but Weisselberg is at the heart of everything.

    southpaw: “How close is Allen Weisselberg to the center of Trump’s affairs? He and Don Jr. are the trustees who (revocably) control the President’s business.”

    (Speaking of Haberman, I watched the Showtime series “The Fourth Estate” discussed in the article @ #298 above, and enjoyed it. Would recommend.)

  269. says

    Update to #402 – Trump just tweeted:

    I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula…

    …Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)…

    …Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!

    So…that happened.

  270. says

    Tim O’Brien: “Weisselberg’s cooperation takes the Mueller and SDNY investigations out of some of the penny ante stuff in play so far and into the heart of the Trump Organization and President Trump’s business history. The game gets started here.”

  271. says

    “Trump’s Widening Gyre of Investigations”:

    …There is a whole other discussion to be had about just how Trump managed to operate with such impunity for so long. The relevant immediate point is that, as we noted, almost none of it stands up to the most cursory legal scrutiny. Trump and members of his family have routinely broken the law – certainly with respect to money laundering, tax evasion and various financial crimes. They attract people who routinely violate the law. They rely upon and get favors from people who routinely break the law – often extending well outside the class of financial crimes. He has brought that culture to the presidency, routinely treating the government as something comparable to his own personal business, something that brings you potentially into a whole new class of criminal activity.

    There’s no reason to expect this will not continue to expand, with new investigations, new jurisdictions and new connections between different investigations and jurisdictions.

  272. says

    “Paul Manafort Is Going to Jail. But in Ukraine, He Has Left Ghosts in His Wake.”:

    …Manafort is en route to a long prison term now, after a jury found him guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. For decades, Manafort gave guidance to murderers around the world. It was only in America, the country that had shaped his tactics, that he found a partial comeuppance. But in Ukraine — and Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Philippines — there are bodies in the ground that will never rise again.

    The 2014 revolution, known colloquially as “Maidan” or “Euromaidan,” after Independence Square, was led by students and activists; it swelled to become a grassroots movement that encompassed hundreds of thousands of protestors. These days, a war with Russia still rages in the east of the country, as Putin seeks to reclaim by force the influence over Ukraine he once achieved with grease. Some ten-thousand Ukrainians, soldiers, and civilians alike, have died, while 4.4 million have been impacted by displacement, famine, and continual shelling. In Kyiv, the ash has been washed from the cobblestones of Independence Square, and the angel spreads her wings on the top of a pillar that is once again white, presiding over the city’s living and the revolution’s dead.

    The ill-gotten mementos of Paul Manafort’s life have been used as exhibits in trial: his stiff legions of suits; his numerous residences; an infamous $15,000 ostritch-leather jacket. Just outside Kyiv, where once-awed protestors touched with hesitant palms the gaudy fripperies of a life sustained on loot, Mezhyhirya remains, unscathed. It’s available for commercial tours, for the curious, but its colloquial name now illustrates precisely what it is: the Museum of Corruption. Perhaps one day, if the era Manafort and his ilk ushered in ever ends, Mar-a-Lago will serve a similar purpose.

    Much more at the link (I love “Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine in 2010, under Manafort’s oily guidance”). I’m so glad Levin wrote this. My first thought when Trump tweeted obstructively comparing Manafort to Capone was that Manafort has a lot more blood on his hands than Capone did.

  273. says

    “Second Fox News reporter leaves amid objections to network”:

    Another on-air reporter is leaving Fox News over frustrations with the direction and tone of the network, the second in the last three weeks to defect for those reasons.

    Adam Housley, a Los Angeles-based reporter who joined Fox in 2001, felt there was diminished opportunity at the network for reporters and disapproved of tenor of its on-air discussion, according to two former Fox News employees with knowledge of his situation.

    Housley believed that as the network’s focus on Trump has grown — and the number of talking-head panels during news shows proliferated — it had become difficult to get hard reporting on air, according to one of those former employees.

    “He’s not doing the type of journalism he wants to be doing,” the former employee said. “And he is unhappy with the tone of the conversation of the channel.”

    Housley’s objections to the Trump-era Fox News are widely shared within the network’s reporting corps, according to current and former employees of the network. Conor Powell, the former Fox News Jerusalem bureau reporter, left the network earlier this month for similar reasons, according to a person close to him.

    “People are losing their minds,” one current Fox News personality said, adding that reporters have relayed in conversation that the climate for them is worse than ever before.

    “Conor was growing increasingly embarrassed by the channel, by the positions, by the relentless blind defense of Trump,” the friend said. “If you’re overseas and doing important work like Conor was, you can certainly focus on the work and tell yourself, ‘Hey I’m doing important things and I’m just going to focus on this and ignore all the rest.’ But it just became impossible to ignore.”…

  274. says

    Funny but also quite sad – “QAnon Leaders Crack Down on Mentions of Cohen After He Turned on Trump”:

    Michael Cohen’s guilty plea Tuesday shook up believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, who had previously believed special counsel Robert Mueller was secretly working with President Donald Trump, not investigating him.

    QAnon supporters believe in clues from “Q” that posit a world where Trump is engaged in a life-or-death struggle with a global pedophile cabal. In Q’s telling, Mueller is working hand-in-hand with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump to stop Democrats.

    Along with the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the same day, the Cohen plea left QAnon believers questioning whether they had been wrong to place all their hope in an anonymous internet poster.

    In response, QAnon leaders on Reddit responded by cracking down on any mention of Cohen’s guilty plea, which was made with federal prosecutors in Manhattan—not Mueller.

    But how, QAnon believers wondered, could sending Cohen and Manafort to prison amount to a win for Trump?

    “Q, you have claimed that you are in control, can you explain how this helps the good guys???” pleaded one user on TheGreatAwakening, the main subreddit for QAnon supporters.

    As alienated QAnon supporters began to complain to each other about feeling duped, TheGreatAwakening’s moderators decided to cut the spread of the discontent off at the source by ruling that most mentions of Cohen were off-topic….

  275. says

    Apropos of nothing, it’s weird that MSNBC hosts introducing Elise Jordan have stopped mentioning, as they previously did routinely, that she was an advisor to Rand Paul. Nor do they ask her anything about what he’s been doing. In fact, they hardly ever bring up his activities.

  276. says

    “YouTube Axes White Nationalist Group”:

    The far-right white identitarian group Identity Evropa announced yesterday that its YouTube account had been suspended for “multiple or severe violations” of the site’s community guidelines on hate speech.

    Identity Evropa describes its organization as “a fraternal organization for people of European heritage located in the United States that participates in community building and civic engagement.” Identity Evropa is part of a rebranded European identitarian movement driven inspired by prior generations of white supremacy. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Identity Evropa to be a white nationalist hate group. The group’s founder, Nathan Damigo, helped plan the 2017 Unite the Right event that brought neo-Nazis into the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, and resulted in violence and the killing of counter-demonstrator Heather Heyer. In the United States, Identity Evropa has made headlines for quietly organized banner-drops and its recruitment of young adults into its rebranded version of the Western white supremacist movement.

    Yesterday, the Twitter account associated with Identity Evropa posted that its YouTube account had been terminated. The group claimed, “This censorship is purely political—they want to silence us, but we’re not going anywhere!” On the page where the group used to host videos, a message reads, “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech.”…

  277. says

    Source: State Dept folks caught ‘completely off guard’ by Trump’s cancelling Pompeo’s trip to NKorea; they had been ‘briefing allies’ embassies about their objectives for the trip like ten minutes before!'”

  278. KG says

    the WaPo article reporting that Trump consulted his criminal lawyers – SC@427

    Does he have any lawyers who aren’t criminals?

  279. says

    I’ve skimmed the (long) list of prosecution exhibits for Manafort’s second trial, scheduled to begin in DC on September 17th and to last about as long as the first. There are hundreds of exhibits, but they’re far less dry than the exhibits in the first trial. They concern Manafort’s work as an agent for the Yanukovych regime and sound very interesting. Many of the subject lines alone are almost comically incriminating – I can’t imagine what the defense could be. Here’s an article from April to which some of the emails refer: “Former Trump aide approved ‘black ops’ to help Ukraine president.”

    One that caught my eye is a memo from May 15, 2013, “re May 17 rallies.” This could be about the anti-homophobia rallies that took place in various places two days later. The one in Tbilisi, Georgia, was basically attacked by Christianist counter-demonstrators. The one in Ukraine wasn’t held until May 25, but though small was considered a success. I’m curious to know what Manafort was saying about the rallies just before they happened.

    There are several emails whose subject lines refer to some arrangement with and payment to Project Veritas. Is that something that was known? I don’t remember hearing about it.

  280. says

    Thread about Selena Zito. She claimed elsewhere on Twitter that she transcribes all of her interviews in full, and this thread shows her claiming she did 4,913 interviews. The notion that she transcribed these almost 5,000 alleged interviews in full is transparent bullshit, as anyone who’s ever conducted or transcribed an interview knows. She’s just making shit up.

  281. says

    Let’s see what happened while I was absent from this thread.

    Trump cancelled Pompeo’s trip to North Korea without informing anyone ahead of time. Trump is still a failure at good management (“it’s called good management” was one of his campaign catch phrases). The Trump administrations dealings with North Korea are still a mess, still ineffective, and soon to be a PR disaster.

    Trump is still not in jail, but a lot more of his close associates are either headed to jail, have cut plea agreements, or have been granted immunity so they can testify about criminal activity. Some of this new legal activity proves, once again, that Trump lied multiple times.

    Trump aligned himself with white supremacists again when he repeated debunked lies about a genocide of white farmers in South Africa. Trump is still watching Fox News in order to soak his already addled brain in the musings of Tucker Carlson.

    You cannot underestimate the stupidity of the QAnon cult. They were discombobulated by events surrounding Michael Cohen’s legal case, their straw house of conspiracy theories was almost blown away by facts (again) … so, they just put up a force field to block mentions of Cohen’s existence. Farcical.

    A jury found Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud, but when I started listening to the news again yesterday, the dominant theme on the Manafort trial was that a hung jury had failed to convict him on other charges. People seemed to love focusing on a juror who is a Trump supporter. What a weird way to look at that news. It took me some time to figure out that Manafort was definitely guilty and definitely headed to jail.

    Russian trolls and bots are still hyperactive online. Their ability to deepen divisions and to spread disinformation is distressing. It even includes anti-vaccine nonsense.

    Omarosa is still going strong. I saw her on AM Joy today, and was interested when she confirmed that Trump, Bannon, Miller and other team Trump members made a list of Obama’s accomplishments and then a plan to erase them all. She said they would check off Obama’s accomplishments and would work to reverse those accomplishments even if their actions were bad for the country (paraphrasing). That is so like Trump. His is a presidency of revenge and pettiness. It makes sense that in that environment a conspiracy theory about a left-wing, Obama-inspired “echo chamber” would grow like a fungus.(SC’s comment 423)

    […] conspiracy theories expressed in the memo appear in internal documents from an Israeli private-intelligence firm that mounted a covert effort to collect damaging information about aides to President Obama who had advocated for the Iran deal. In May, 2017, that firm, Black Cube, provided its operatives with instructions and other briefing materials that included the same ideas and names discussed in the memo. The Black Cube documents obtained by The New Yorker referred to Rhodes and Kahl, arguing that they were using allies in the media to undermine the Trump Administration. The Black Cube documents use the term “echo chamber” five times, including in a document describing the operatives’ directive as “Investigating the Rhodes’ / Kahl ‘Eco-chamber.’ ” The same document states that “Rhodes and Kahl are suspected to make use of privileged access and information leveraging it against the incumbent administration.”

    Trump misused the word “gestate” in a speech. He then highlighted his misuse of the word by repeating it. What a doofus.

  282. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #460:
    @realDonaldTrump will be tweeting “He worked for me” in 3… 2… 1…

  283. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC @ # 429: I wonder if Orac’s seen this …


    …the numbers examined in this paper are not that large, something that is not noted in most of the news reports … the activity of known bots and trolls examined consisted of 899 Tweets and that the vaccine stream only consisted of 9,985 Tweets. For a three year period, these are not large numbers at all, even if you take into account that the vaccine stream is only a 1% random sample of vaccine-related Tweets…

  284. says

    raven @295, that’s not going to work. No mormon leader has been successful when it comes to forcing the rest of the world to stop using the shorthand versions “LDS” or “Mormon” in place of the official name: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Mormon leaders have tried this for decades. None succeed.

    On their own websites and in their own publications, they can enforce the name guidelines. It doesn’t stick anywhere else … even though God is apparently speaking directly into the ear of the current doddering geriatric “Prophet/Seer/Revelator.”

    One has to wonder why they keep trying the same damn thing over and over … claiming every time that the order comes directly from God.

  285. says

    Follow-up to comment 404.

    Just found this interesting tidbit, which might interest raven: even the mormon leaders don’t expect anyone to take this official-name-as-ordered-by-god business seriously:

    It should be noted that the recent revelation from the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (formerly the president of the LDS Church) lays no obligation on any other than those who accept him as the prophet, namely the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (formerly Mormons).

    If he thinks that the public in general is somehow obligated to adopt this mouthful of syllables because an old man says to, he is magnificently mistaken. His reach extends no further than his flock and carries no sway with public media or Gentiles in general.

    To the rest of us, “Mormon” will remain the convenient term of choice. And probably for a lot of Mormons, too. […]


    So, if you are not a member of cult, no problem. Carry on as you normally would.

  286. says

    In comment 465, the follow-up should refer to comment 464, (not to comment 404).

    In other news, the Democratic National Committee has decided to make a structural change that may affect voting on presidential candidates. It’s a superdelegate issue.

    After two years of sometimes ugly public fighting, Democratic Party leaders on Saturday voted to limit their own high-profile roles in choosing presidential nominees, giving even more weight to the outcome of state primaries and caucuses. […]

    Under the new rules for 2020, superdelegates still will be automatic delegates to the party’s convention. But they will not have a vote on the first presidential ballot if the convention remains contested, which is a distinct possibility given the number of Democrats considering running.

    Superdelegates would get to vote on any subsequent rounds of voting, though the Democratic nomination has been settled on the first ballot of every convention since the 1970s, when the modern system of primaries and caucuses was established.

    The change was approved by acclamation. […] The approval drew a standing ovation from progressive activists […]

    Beyond changing the rules for superdelegates, the overhaul is intended to make vote-counting at presidential preference caucuses more transparent and make it easier for voters other than longtime registered Democrats to participate in caucuses and primaries. […]


  287. says

    A judge just overturned almost all of Trump’s executive orders that targeted public sector unions.

    A judge on Saturday struck down key parts of the executive orders President Donald Trump signed in May that would make it easier to fire federal workers.

    U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled Trump’s actions would “impair the ability of agency officials to bargain in good faith as Congress has directed.”

    The decision marked another recent triumph for unions after many years of bad news from the Supreme Court and numerous states like Wisconsin. Missouri voters handed a resounding defeat to an anti-union law in a referendum earlier this month. […]

    Sharon Block, a former Labor Department official under President Barack Obama, called the ruling a “stinging rebuke” for Trump. […]


  288. says

    Four people are dead and several are wounded after a shooting in Florida. In a mall where a gaming tournament was being held, a white male shooter opened fire. The shooter is dead at the scene. He has not been identified.

  289. says

    Follow-up to comment 468.

    Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords commented:

    We do not have to accept these horrific acts of violence as routine. Congress knows steps they can take to stop this madness. Too many of them simply lack the courage to act.

    The nation once again looks to Florida with grief and heavy hearts. The massacre in Jacksonville is a tragic reminder of the threats we face from gun violence, no matter who we are or where our day takes us. And it’s yet another devastating indictment of this country’s inability to keep our kids safe.

  290. Hj Hornbeck says

    He is such a reality star.

    Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other White House aides advocated for an official statement that gave the decorated Vietnam War POW plaudits for his military and Senate service and called him a “hero,” according to current and former White House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. The original statement was drafted before McCain died Saturday, and Sanders and others edited a final version this weekend that was ready for the president, the aides said.

    But Trump told aides he wanted to post a brief tweet instead, and the statement praising McCain’s life was not released.

    “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” Trump posted Saturday evening shortly after McCain’s death was announced.

  291. Hj Hornbeck says

    Honestly, I can’t think of better evidence that the Republican Party has lost all interest in good government.

    Publicly, House Republicans are putting on a brave face about the midterms. But privately, they are scrambling to prepare for the worst. This document, which catalogs requests Democrats have already made, is part of that effort. It has churned Republican stomachs. Here are some of the probes it predicts:

    * President Trump’s tax returns.
    * Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization.
    * Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

    Lawyers close to the White House tell me the Trump administration is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.

  292. says

    “EU security must no longer depend on US, says Macron”:

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for Europe to stop relying on the United States for its military defence as he pushed for fresh EU integration in the face of rising nationalism around the continent.

    Relaunching his diplomatic agenda after the summer break, the 40-year-old president said he would put forward new proposals in the coming months for the EU to boost defence cooperation, as well as talks with Russia on their security relationship — an issue of concern for countries on Europe’s eastern edge.

    “Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security. It is up to us to guarantee European security,” Macron told an audience of some 250 diplomats, lawmakers and international relations experts.

    His comments follow US President Donald Trump repeatedly distanced himself from the NATO military alliance, which groups the United States with most of Europe and has underpinned European security since World War II.

    Macron’s comments are likely to find support in EU powerhouse Germany after Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made a similar call for boosted military cooperation last week.

    Writing in the Handelsblatt newspaper, Maas called for Europe to “take an equal share of the responsibility” and “form a counterweight” to Washington as Europe-US relations cool.

    France and Germany have both backed the idea of a small joint European response force over the last year, and have announced plans to develop a fighter jet together….

  293. says

    “US embassy, Bosnia journalists outraged over beaten reporter”:

    The U.S. Embassy and Bosnian journalists expressed outrage on Monday a day after unknown assailants attacked and seriously hurt a reporter of an independent Bosnian Serb television station.

    BNTV reporter Vladimir Kovacevic was hospitalized following the attack by two masked assailants late Sunday outside his home in Banja Luka, the main town in the Serb-run part of Bosnia.

    Kovacevic posted a photo on Twitter showing his bloodied and bandaged head. He has said that the men attacked him with metal bars as he was returning home after reporting from an anti-government rally.

    The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo tweeted that the attacks on journalists are “unacceptable.”

    “We strongly defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. When journalists are silenced, society suffers,” the embassy said.

    The Bosnian journalists’ association said the attack is aimed at intimidating independent media and blamed authoritarian Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for leading a campaign against independent media by proclaiming their reporters “enemies, spies and foreign stooges.”

    By doing that, Dodik made journalists “open targets” for attackers, the group said in a statement.

    Dodik visited Kovacevic in the hospital on Monday, saying he was certain that the authorities are not behind the assault.

    Hundreds of journalists, opposition supporters and activists staged a protest in downtown Banja Luka on Monday.

  294. says

    One of Trump’s lies from yesterday afternoon:

    Over 90% approval rating for your all time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall. This despite all of the made up stories by the Fake News Media trying endlessly to make me look as bad and evil as possible. Look at the real villains please!

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] There’s a fair amount of nonsense in the president’s tweet, but it’s the approval rating that stood out for me. Trump has a 52% approval rating? Since when?

    As it turns out, never. FiveThirtyEight has a frequently updated chart documenting the president’s average approval rating since the start of Trump’s term, and he’s never reached the 50% mark, at least not yet.

    Maybe he was referring to a specific poll that he cherry picked? That appears to be wrong, too: there are literally zero publicly available national surveys that show the president’s approval rating that high.

    So what is Trump talking about? In practice, it looks like the president, dissatisfied with Americans’ opinions, made up an approval rating for himself that made him happy. But aside from the oddity of such a decision, I’m especially interested in how he did this.

    In April, Trump called into a radio talk show and argued that when it comes to understanding his public support, the responsible thing to do is take his approval rating and then “add another 7 or 8 points to it.” The president said this accounts for people who those who like him, but are too embarrassed to admit to pollsters.

    Two months ago, at a rally in North Dakota, Trump pointed to a non-existent group of people to bolster his practice: “They said, some great people, they said, ‘Any time Trump gets a poll, add 12 to it.’” […]

    After more than a year of effort, if you were a historically unpopular president – despite a healthy economy and generally favorable conditions – you might consider some kind of course correction. That, however, would require a combination of effort and the reevaluation of key assumptions.This president has no interest in either.

    Indeed, it would also necessitate an ability to see data as it actually exists, and we can add this to the list of things Trump isn’t prepared to do.


  295. says

    Tweets o’ the day.

    “One of John McCain’s Former Captors Sends Condolences From Vietnam.”

    [I do agree with Mano – and Greenwald (ptew!) here. It would be one thing if the adulation tour went on for a day, but it tends to go on for several, and the involvement of reporters in the spin is often embarrassing. MSNBC included McCain telling Code Pink people protesting war criminal Henry Kissinger to shut up and calling them “lowlife scum” in a loop about what a mavericky character he was. Atrocious. Several of them are also wringing their hands about the possibility that there won’t be any more “Lions of the Senate,” apparently assuming that’s something everyone will miss as much they evidently will. Nope.]

  296. says

    “APNewsBreak: Nation’s top student loan official resigns”:

    The government’s top official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market resigned in protest on Monday, citing what he says is the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the nation’s millions of student loan borrowers.

    Seth Frotman will be stepping down as student loan ombudsman at the end of the week, according to his resignation letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. He held that position since 2016, but has been with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since its inception in 2011.

    Frotman is the latest high-level departure from the CFPB since Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget director, took over in late November. But Frotman’s departure is especially noteworthy, since his office is one of the few parts of the U.S. government that was tasked with handling student loan issues.

    “You have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America,” Frotman wrote, addressing his letter to Mulvaney. “The damage you have done to the bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”

    Congress created the student loan ombudsman office when it established the CFPB, citing a need for a go-to person to handle student loan complaints nationwide. One previous occupant of that position is Rohit Chopra, who is now a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission.

    The ombudsman’s office is quite powerful, able to work with the bureau’s enforcement staff to target bad behavior in the student loan market as well as