Comments

  1. says

    “Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina was paid to pursue access to Vladimir Putin for TV show”:

    … Dozens of pages of email correspondence between August 2015 and November 2016, obtained exclusively by ABC News, reveal Butina’s hand in a pair of potentially explosive projects: appearing to arrange a meeting for a delegation of high-ranking members of the National Rifle Association with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and working with the Outdoor Channel to develop a television show highlighting Putin’s “love of the outdoors” that would feature the Russian President himself.

    In one exchange, a pair of NRA insiders discuss their upcoming trip to Russia and appear to copy and paste a previous note from the trip’s organizer Butina — describing the note as “In Maria’s own words” — that makes explicit reference to Lavrov, one of Putin’s closest advisers.

    “Almost all your schedule is done,” Butina wrote. “We are waiting [sic] a response from The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs — Mr. Lavrov wants to meet you and we are working to make it real.”

    The emails obtained by ABC News detail Butina’s efforts to organize the summit that brought high-ranking NRA members and powerful Russian nationals together in Moscow in December 2015, a trip seemingly sponsored by Butina’s gun-rights group “Right to Bear Arms.”

    The delegation included NRA board member Pete Brownell, Trump campaign surrogate Sheriff David Clarke, major NRA benefactor Dr. Arnold Goldschlager and his daughter Hilary, NRA fundraiser Joe Gregory, former NRA president David Keene and Outdoor Channel CEO Jim Liberatore. They reportedly met with Butina, her alleged handler Alexander Torshin, the Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2018, and Dmitry Rogozin, then-Russian Deputy Prime Minister who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2014.

    Emails suggest Butina was eager to add Lavrov, the powerful Russian foreign minister, to their schedule, and according to one of the members of the delegation, the meeting took place….

    Liberatore looks really bad here, and it’s strange that Butina’s lawyer thinks her dealings with the Outdoor Channel are evidence that she didn’t really have high-level Kremlin connections when evidence related to the delegation in the same batch of emails (on top of all the other evidence) clearly suggests that she did. Actually, her dealings with them suggest that she and Erickson were stringing Liberatore along, which wouldn’t surprise anyone since Erickson is currently under investigation for fraud. Also, it seems pretty obvious that her attorney, Driscoll, leaked these documents to ABC. Looks like it was just before the judge imposed the gag order, but he had better be careful going forward.

  2. says

    “Postal Service Investigating Release of Brat Challenger’s Security Clearance Form”:

    The U.S. Postal Service inspector general has launched an investigation into the improper release of U.S. congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger’s full, unredacted official personnel file, including a highly confidential national security form known as Standard Form 86.

    USPS public relations manager David Partenheimer previously said the USPS was looking into how America Rising, a conservative opposition research group, had obtained the Democratic candidate and former CIA officer’s SF-86, and was still conducting a review, but that the lapse occurred “because of human error” at the postal service.

    But the OIG’s Office of Investigations has launched an official investigation into the USPS’ release of Spanberger’s full file, along with the release of at least three other current or former employees’ full files, Roll Call has learned.

    The OIG investigation will likely include a joint effort between investigators and the Office of Audit, a USPS OIG senior official said in an email obtained and reviewed by Roll Call, though officials are still figuring out the details.

    Spanberger, who is running against Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District, welcomed the investigation….

  3. says

    Update to #39 on the previous iteration“Russian Orthodox Church Threatens Retaliation Against Istanbul-Based Patriarch”:

    The Russian Orthodox Church has threatened to retaliate against its Istanbul-based rival if it allows Ukraine to cut its spiritual ties with Moscow and thereby end Russian religious rule in the country.

    Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s External Relations Department, said on September 8 that if the patriarch of Kyiv was recognized, “we will have no choice but to sever relations with Constantinople.”

    Hilarion also accused Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople of acting in a “despicable and treacherous way.”

    Bartholomew, known as the “first among equals” of Orthodox Christian leaders in the world, is expected to rule in the coming months on an appeal from Ukraine to break away from Moscow and create an independent church.

    The Russian Orthodox Church is especially upset with a decision on September 7 by Bartholomew to send two envoys to Ukraine as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the church there.

    The Istanbul-based Patriarchate said it will send two bishops to Ukraine “within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” strongly suggesting it had already decided to grant independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

    It is unclear what granting Ukraine the right to create an independent church will mean in practice.

    But experts say it would be a blow to Russia’s spiritual authority in the Orthodox world….

  4. says

    “AP Poll: Most Voters Are Open To Candidates Who Aren’t Very Religious”:

    Religion’s role in politics and public policy is in the spotlight heading toward the midterm elections, yet relatively few Americans consider it crucial that a candidate be devoutly religious or share their religious beliefs, according to a poll released Tuesday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

    Just 25 percent of Americans say it’s very or extremely important that a candidate has strong religious beliefs, according to the poll. Only 19 percent consider it very or extremely important that a candidate shares their own beliefs, and nearly half say that’s not very important or not important at all.

    Still, most Americans see a role for religion in shaping public policy. A solid majority of Americans — 57 percent — want the influence of religion on government policy to extend beyond traditional culture-war issues and into policies addressing poverty. Americans are more likely to say religion should have at least some influence on poverty than on abortion (45 percent) or LGBT issues (34 percent).

    There is little public support for the campaign by some conservative religious leaders — backed by President Donald Trump — to allow clergy and religious organizations to endorse political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status. Such a change is opposed by 53 percent of Americans and supported by 13 percent. The rest expressed no opinion.

    At the highest levels of political office, it’s still rare for a politician to profess that he or she is an atheist; surveys indicate that roughly 10 percent of Americans do not believe in a higher power. In recent years, only a small handful of members of Congress have identified themselves as nonbelievers.

    However, there is some evidence of increasing acceptance of religious diversity — for example, the recent victories by Muslim-American women in Democratic congressional primaries in Michigan and Minnesota….

  5. says

    Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lisa Graves was excellent.

    Graves provided first-hand evidence that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate.

    Lisa Graves, former Senate Judiciary Committee chief counsel for nominations, argues that Brett Kavanaugh has lied in past testimony under oath about stolen Democratic documents and should not only not be confirmed to the Supreme Court, but should be impeached from the bench.

    The video is 5:45 minutes long.

  6. says

    So I’m finally reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. (Yes, 12 years after it was published. I think the McCain funeral and all the fawning over W. and claims that past Republican administrations were so totally different from Trump’s finally moved it to the top of the pile.)

    Here’s part about the staffing of the Coalition Provisional Authority (pp. 91-2):

    The hiring of senior advisers in the Coalition Provisional Authority was settled upon at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon. The selection often followed the pattern of [Bernard] Kerik’s appointment: a well-connected Republican made a call on behalf of a friend or trusted colleague. Others were personally recruited by President Bush. The White House also wanted a new team to replace Garner’s staff, which was viewed as suspect because it had been drawn from the State Department and other federal agencies without any screening for political loyalty.

    The rest of the CPA staff was assembled with the same attention to allegiance. The gatekeeper was James O’Beirne, the White House liaison at the Pentagon. He took charge of personnel recruitment, dispatching queries for résumés to the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks, and GOP activists. “The criterion for sending people over there was that they had to have the right political credentials,” said Fredrick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA’s Washington office.

    O’Beirne’s staff asked questions in job interviews that could have gotten an employer in the private sector hauled into court. (The Pentagon was exempted from most employment regulations because they hired people – using an obscure provision in federal law – as temporary political appointees.) Two CPA staffers said that they were asked if they supported Roe v. Wade and if they had voted for George W. Bush. One former CPA employee who had an office near the White House liaison staff wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: “I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to ‘the President’s vision for Iraq’ (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was ‘uncertain’. I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy,…and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC [Republican National Committee] contributors.”

    Another CPA staffer told me that when he went to the Pentagon for his predeployment interview, one of O’Beirne’s deputies launched into a ten-minute soliloquy about domestic politics that included statements opposing abortion and supporting capital punishment. The staffer didn’t agree with what was said, but he nodded. “I felt pressure to agree if I wanted to go to Baghdad,” he said.

    One of the calls for ten staffers to do administrative work (six of whom were then given responsibility for Iraq’s $13 billion budget) was filled with, among others, “Simone Ledeen, the daughter of neoconservative commentator Michael Ledeen; Casey Wasson, a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children; and Todd Baldwin, a legislative aide for Republican senator Rick Santorum” (p. 94).

    This was the environment in which Brett Kavanaugh was working as White House Staff Secretary – one in which CPA staffers at all levels were vetted by the WH for political loyalty and commitment to the rightwing imperialist neoliberal patriarchal Christianist shock-therapy project in Iraq. Ledeen is also the daughter of Barbara Ledeen, author of the email to Kavanaugh with the subject line “spying.” We need to see the 100,000 pages that are being hidden by the Republicans; but in any event it’s pretty much impossible to believe that Kavanaugh, in his position in this environment, was anything but a partisan and ideologue working to advance an extreme reactionary political agenda. He either participated in the political corruption or willingly turned a blind eye to it.

  7. says

    Lynna @ #7:

    Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lisa Graves was excellent.

    I agree. The entire show last night was great, but that interview is essential viewing. Collins, Murkowski, Sasse, and Flake need to watch it.

  8. says

    JFC. I think I missed this at the time. Contrast with Hillary Clinton.

    (By the way, it’s not relevant to Trump’s disgusting lies, but you couldn’t just go down and volunteer to help clear rubble, for obvious reasons. The city asked people not to try. But they did put out a list of items – toothbrushes, soap, etc. – we could donate for the trained, equipped crews working at the site. The people at Duane Reade gave us a discount, which was good of them.)

  9. says

    Woodward P. 69 Trump, after being told about the Steele dossier, later told his attorney about the alleged prostitutes in Moscow.

    Trump said, ‘I’ve got enough problems with Melania and girlfriends and all that. I don’t need anymore. I can’t have Melania hearing about that’.”

  10. says

    “North Carolina-sized Hurricane Florence makes its way to North Carolina”:

    Hurricane Florence is heading straight for the Carolinas, on course to slam into a region that hasn’t seen anything like it in a generation.

    Florence is already one of the worst hurricanes ever to threaten the East Coast, and there’s nearly unanimous consensus among the most reliable weather models that the storm will grow larger and more fierce before it hits land. When it arrives in North Carolina on Thursday, it could be about the same size as North Carolina.

    As of Tuesday morning, Florence had sustained winds of 140 mph — a strong Category 4. But it could soon get more powerful. On its current path, Florence will traverse the bathwater-warm Gulf Stream — source of rocket fuel for hurricanes — and likely strengthen further, perhaps reaching Category 5. That could turn Florence into one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history.

    Florence poses three main threats: wind, heavy rain, and storm surge (the wall of water pushed ashore when a storm makes landfall). All three could come in record quantities simultaneously.

    Since 1851, only three other hurricanes have targeted the Carolinas at Category-4 strength or stronger, with Hugo in 1989 the most recent. In the generation since Hugo hit, millions more people have moved to the southeast coast — greatly increasing the region’s vulnerability. Winds as strong as Florence’s will produce “catastrophic” damage, according to the National Hurricane Center’s explanation of the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

    But the biggest risk to lives and infrastructure will come from the water. More than 80 percent of hurricane-related deaths are due to flooding, either by rising coastal waters or heavy rainfall. Florence will pack both.

    At the coast, Florence could bring 15 to 20 feet of storm surge, enough to eclipse the East Coast record and overwhelm fragile and densely-populated barrier islands.

    After making landfall, the most reliable weather models show Florence stalling over the Carolinas and Virginia for up to four days, similar to what happened in Texas with Hurricane Harvey last year. The deluge could extend for hundreds of miles inland.

    Florence’s slow movement after landfall is expected to bring 20 to 40 inches of rain to inland parts of North Carolina and Virginia, with floodwaters enhanced by the rainfall-squeezing effect of the Appalachian Mountains. If that forecast holds, North Carolina’s state hurricane rainfall record of 27 inches set during Floyd in 1999 could be shattered.

    All that rain would fall on already wet soil, worsening the potential deluge. Over the past 60 days, parts of the region have received nearly double the amount of rain seen in a typical summer.

    In short, Florence is a recipe for an abject flooding disaster….

    There’s good reason to believe that a storm like Florence is made more likely by the warming atmosphere….

    For a region unaccustomed to a storm like Florence, its impact will arrive as a harbinger of a warmer — and more dangerous — future.

  11. says

    “New York tax investigators to meet with Cohen’s attorney, at odds with federal prosecutors’ request”:

    New York state tax department investigators are scheduled to meet Tuesday with an attorney for President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, as part of a state probe regarding Cohen and the Trump Organization that comes as federal prosecutors have asked state and local prosecutors’ offices to avoid taking steps that could interfere with their federal case, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    The move puts state investigators at odds with the senior leadership of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which in the weeks since it charged Cohen with eight criminal counts has requested that other offices with related inquiries hold off on proceeding with certain investigative actions that might derail their efforts.

    “This is clear interference with an ongoing criminal investigation,” a law-enforcement official involved in the matter said.

    Further complicating the situation is that state tax officials, who are examining potential tax fraud by the Trump Organization, have sought to include local prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in any meeting with Cohen and his attorney, the sources said. A spokesman for the New York tax department declined to comment.

    Federal prosecutors generally seek to complete their inquiries without the interference of other overlapping probes that could cause hiccups in their case. While Cohen has already pleaded guilty in the federal case, he has yet to be sentenced and could still seek to cooperate with the US attorney’s office. In addition, federal prosecutors are continuing to pursue a line of inquiry stemming from their Cohen investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter: whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign finance laws….

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes (All In, MSNBC) has been in Flint, MI this week. Tomorrow night, he has Michael Moore (who predicted Trump’s victory). I’ll be watching.

  13. says

    “North Carolina politicians have decried the climate-change science that makes Hurricane Florence so dangerous”:

    For most of the eastern United States, this is a week of high anxiety — fixated on a swirling red, green, and yellow blob at the bottom of the TV screen and the increasing certainty that the most powerful East Coast storm of our lifetimes is going to slam into the coastal Carolinas with a massive storm surge, destructive winds, and biblical flooding.

    For Dr. Stan Riggs, a somewhat crusty marine geologist at East Carolina University entering his ninth decade on Mother Earth, and for his fellow North Carolina scientists, the expected landfall of Hurricane Florence as a potentially lethal Category 4 or 5 storm later this week is the day they’ve seen coming for a long time.

    Earlier in this century, in a bygone era when North Carolina’s politicians took pride in hosting some of America’s top research universities, Riggs was a leader on a scientific advisory board that came back with a dire warning for the Tarheel State’s long, low-lying expanse of coastline. The rapid acceleration of global warming, the panel advised, would mean a likely rise in sea level in the Carolinas of 39 inches — or roughly 1 meter — by the year 2100. And that was using the middle projection of the three models the scientists considered.

    If North Carolina’s leaders were to take these new realities of climate change seriously, they would remap flood zones to curb runaway over-development along the Atlantic coast and spend hundreds of millions of dollars elevating roads or building new waste-treatment plants. One of the worst consequences of the rising ocean — which is occurring faster in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region than in other parts of the world — would be the amplified storm surge in a direct hit from a major hurricane.

    Armed with the scientific evidence, the North Carolina legislature sprung into action.

    In 2012, it enacted a law … that essentially outlawed the report and barred state officials from using its findings to make coastal development decisions. It was a big win for wealthy real estate developers and for conservative voters of the 2009-10 tea party movement that had embraced the uniquely American notion that climate science is a liberal hoax.

    Speaking by telephone Monday from his campus office in Greenville, N.C. — a city that was inundated with up to six feet of water in 1999’s Hurricane Floyd and now sits directly in the path of Florence — Riggs told me how North Carolina “had a plan to deal with sea level and climate change, but they took it off the table and pulled the rug out from under the scientific panel.”

    In 2016, Riggs quit the advisory board rather than further alter his findings to please the pro-development whims of Republican lawmakers. “I’m an older person — I’m not wasting any more of my life on bull—-,” he told me. Instead, he works now with a growing network of town and county officials on the Carolina coast who take climate science seriously and are taking steps to fight back.

    The maddening thing, of course, is that this is not just a North Carolina problem. The deep-red Solid South is a hotbed of climate-science denial — especially in the billionaire-funded statehouses that are safely above sea level — but the same kind of resentments of pointy-headed-liberal scientists that whipped up Tarheel voters and lawmakers in the early 2010s echoed in 2016 with the election of President Trump and his appointment of climate deniers to key posts in the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior, and elsewhere.

    On the very same day that Trump was warning Southerners to evacuate from Florence’s path, his regulators at EPA were preparing to side with industry (what else is new?) and make it easier for oil and gas drillers to release methane — a significant greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere. That will make the planet hotter, making the oceans warmer, making the next hurricane even stronger, making the next presidential evacuation tweet even more urgent. The same could be said of other recent ill-advised and arguably insane moves out of Trump’s Washington, like weakening emissions rules for cars and weakening emissions rules for power plants.

    But while we mess up the policy, there’s nothing humans can do now to change the course of Florence. The aging televangelist Pat Robertson — who ran for president in 1988 right as the GOP was starting to lose its collective mind and who lives in the storm’s path in Virginia Beach — turned this week to a higher authority. “In the name of Jesus, you Hurricane Florence, we speak to you in the name of Jesus, and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic,” he prayed with his viewers….

    I wrote about this at the time. The title of my post “The ocean’s gonna win” was a quote from Stan Riggs.

  14. says

    Dick Durbin:

    We continue to find more evidence that Judge Kavanaugh misled me and the Judiciary Committee under oath. I’m posting important documents that Senate Republicans didn’t want the American people to see. We deserve transparency about this nominee.

    This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again – he says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story. It is no wonder the White House and Senate Republicans are rushing through this nomination and hiding his record.

    Documents at the link.

  15. says

    “Manafort in talks with prosecutors about possible plea, according to people familiar with the discussions”:

    Days before in-person jury ­selection is set to begin in his second trial, President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with the special counsel’s office about a possible plea deal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

    The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to ­describe the conversations, cautioned that the negotiations may not result in a deal with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is prosecuting Manafort for alleged money laundering and lobbying violations.

    But the discussions indicate a possible shift in strategy for Manafort, who earlier this year chose to go to trial in Virginia, only to be convicted last month in Alexandria federal court on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. He had derided his former business partner, Rick Gates, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against Manafort.

    The specifics of Manafort’s current negotiations with prosecutors were unclear, including whether he would provide any information about the president….

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Naturally, Rachael Maddow reports the Trump administration moved $10,000,000 from FEMA to ICE to supported concentration camps for refugees, as Cat 3 hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolina’s. Not good politics…

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    Hmmm – I just had a post disappear. Let me try again to see if a particular name activates the blacklist here:

    A notorious MRA/”pickup artist”/rape advocate has just had nine (but not all) of his books banned by Amazon.

  18. says

    “Skripal poisoning: suspects are civilians, not criminals, says Putin”:

    The two men accused by the UK of carrying out a nerve agent attack in Salisbury have been identified and are civilians, not criminals, Vladimir Putin has said.

    “We know who they are, we have found them,” Putin said at an economic forum in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, adding that the two men – named by the UK as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – may soon make appearances in the media to protest their innocence.

    “These are civilians,” Putin said in remarks reported by Russian news agencies. “There is nothing criminal here.”

    British officials have said the men were agents of Russian military intelligence dispatched to kill Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who had given information to British intelligence. He was imprisoned in Russia before being released in a spy swap in 2010.

    Putin’s remarks appeared to be a denial that the men worked for Russia’s military intelligence service, the Main Directorate, commonly called the GRU.

    Scotland Yard said that the two men had “travelled extensively” on their passports. Fontanka reported that the two had visited Milan, Geneva, Amsterdam and Paris several times since September 2016.

    Putin called on the two men to appear in the media to protest their innocence, saying he “wanted to address them directly”.

    The Russian’s president’s words marked a departure from his country’s earlier position, which was to disregard the evidence released by Scotland Yard as a fabrication….

  19. says

    “EU votes for disciplinary action against Hungary”:

    The European Parliament has voted to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.

    Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has been accused of attacks on the media, minorities, and the rule of law – charges which he denies.

    MEPs backed the vote by 448 to 197, giving it the two-thirds required for proceedings to go ahead.

    If also approved by national leaders, Hungary could face disciplinary action.

    Wednesday’s vote is the first time the European Parliament has voted to take such action against a member state under EU rules.

    Measures could include suspension of the country’s voting rights in Europe or other sanctions.

    Mr Orban personally spoke to the parliament on Tuesday in defence of his country, labelling the threat of censure as a form of “blackmail” and an insult to Hungary.

    Under an EU rule called Article 7, breaching the union’s founding principles can lead to suspending a member state’s rights as a punitive measure.

    Suspension of Hungary’s voting rights is the most serious possible consequence – but is considered unlikely, as Poland’s nationalist government may support Hungary.

    Poland is itself facing disciplinary proceedings, launched by the European Commission in December last year. The case has yet to reach the European Parliament.

    The decision on Hungary will now be referred to the the EU’s 28 member states to consider.

  20. says

    “Germany’s top spy under spotlight amid rise of far-right”:

    Secret services typically work away from the limelight, but Germany’s top domestic spy Hans-Georg Maassen has repeatedly crashed into the public eye, with his latest outing pitting him directly against Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    After anti-migrant protests rocked the eastern city of Chemnitz, Merkel firmly condemned a “hunt against foreigners” backed by videos circulating on social media.

    But Maassen, 55, in an interview with Germany’s top-selling daily Bild last week, challenged the authenticity of at least one of the videos, sparking uproar.

    For critics, Maassen’s claim played into the hands of the far-right and his attitude was viewed as symptomatic of a domestic intelligence service riddled with far-right sympathisers.

    As pressure mounted on him to prove the video was a fake, Maassen denied questioning its authenticity and said his quarrel was with how the original poster on Twitter had oversold it as a “hunt against people” which he thought was intended to inflame tensions.

    He is due to be grilled by two parliamentary committees later Wednesday, and the leader of the Social Democratic Party Andrea Nahles has suggested he should step down.

    The episode has also reopened uncomfortable questions over a service that for long has struggled to escape a lingering whiff of the far-right.

    Maassen in August 2012 took over at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) after his predecessor was forced to quit as it emerged the service had shredded files on suspects of the deadly neo-Nazi cell NSU.

    As BfV chief, Maassen leads an agency charged with collecting and evaluating information on efforts to harm the democratic order or which jeopardise Germany’s interests.

    But among his key tasks following the NSU scandal was also to restore public confidence in an institution accused of being too lax with the far-right threat and too heavy-handed on extreme left activism….

  21. says

    “Russia linked to 2014 wiretapping scandal in Poland”:

    Concerns are growing in Poland about potential Russian involvement in a dramatic wiretapping scandal that rocked Polish politics in 2014, after reports emerged that the businessman convicted of organising the operation owed tens of millions of dollars to a Russian coal business.

    Marek Falenta, a Polish businessman with interests in the coal industry, was convicted in 2016 of organising the operation, which involved recording 700 hours of conversations over the course of more than 80 meetings between senior politicians and officials at two Warsaw restaurants.

    The people recorded included the interior minister, the finance minister, the foreign minister and the transport minister, all from Poland’s pro-European Civic Platform party, and the heads of the national bank, the supreme audit office, the government protection bureau and the central anti-corruption bureau. Two waiters were also convicted for their part in the affair.

    The revelation of Falenta’s debts raises the prospect of Russian involvement in a scandal that observers say was a major factor in the collapse of public support for Civic Platform, ahead of elections in 2015 and the subsequent coming to power of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

    Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, a Civic Platform MP, said: “When the operation happened in 2014, we weren’t conscious of the extent to which Russia was prepared to interfere in other countries’ elections – in the United States, in Brexit, in Catalonia, in Germany.

    “But now that we know what happened in those countries, we need a full explanation of what happened in Poland.”

    There have long been questions over how Falenta and the waiters managed to carry out such a sophisticated and long-running wiretapping operation without any external help.

    Questions have been raised about the extent to which political pressure from figures associated with PiS, a major beneficiary of the operation, may have hampered official investigations into potential Russian involvement. Neither government nor law enforcement officials have commented on the revelations.

    A former intelligence officer who was serving in a senior role at the time of the scandal said: “The connections to Russia were numerous and obvious at the time, but they were never properly investigated.

    “The Polish intelligence services are, unfortunately, heavily politicised, and already in 2014, many senior officials knew which way the wind was blowing. It simply wasn’t – and still isn’t – in anyone’s interest to dig into whether the incoming administration was elected with Russian assistance.”

    Sławomir Sierakowski of the left-leaning thinktank Krytyka Polityczna said: “The operation happened at the peak of Polish influence in the European Union, when Poland was a strong advocate for Ukraine after the Maidan protests.

    “The Russians have been infiltrating Polish politics and trying to control the region for centuries – why would they stop now?”

    More at the link.

  22. says

    “Exclusive: Three-quarters of the secret money in recent elections came from 15 groups”:

    Just 15 groups account for three-quarters of the anonymous cash flowing into federal elections since the Supreme Court paved the way for corporate and union money in candidate races eight years ago, according to a new report provided first to USA TODAY.

    The analysis by Issue One, a group that supports greater campaign-finance regulation, finds many of these groups remain big players in the 2018 midterm elections, although the sources of their money remain largely hidden from public view.

    The report chronicles how hard it is for average voters to determine who’s behind the ads that appear on their television screens, land in their mailboxes or pop up on their mobile devices during the height of political campaigns.

    The group’s researchers spent a year combing through available records – Federal Election Commission filings, tax returns, corporate filings and the like – in an attempt to pieces together donors’ identities. They found 402 donors to these groups but could only pin down information on $1 of every $9 raised by these organizations.

    That’s because much of the money flowing into politically active non-profits comes from other non-profits that don’t disclose their donors either.

    The Honest Ads Act, one of the measures pushed by campaign-finance watchdogs, is stalled in congressional committees. And earlier this summer, the Trump administration announced it would no longer require tax-exempt groups such as the NRA to identify their donors to IRS officials.

    The names of these donors have not been publicly available, but until the administration’s action, groups were required to disclose the contributor information to the IRS on their annual tax returns. The agency has mistakenly released tax returns with donor information in the past.

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the IRS doesn’t need the donor information to enforce tax laws.

    In a sign of the mood in the Republican-controlled Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed the administration’s action as protecting donors from harassment by “angry left-wing activists” should their identities become public.

    They link to the report, which lists (and links to more information about) the 15 groups:

    45Committee
    60 Plus Association
    American Action Network
    Americans for Job Security
    Americans for Prosperity
    Americans for Tax Reform
    American Future Fund
    Crossroads GPS
    League of Conservation Voters
    National Association of Realtors
    National Rifle Association
    Patriot Majority USA
    Planned Parenthood Action Fund
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    VoteVets Action Fund

  23. says

    A month after a Saudi-led airstrike bombed a bus with children in it, Secretary Pompeo certifies today that Riyadh and UAE are ‘undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians’.

    Now, because of Pompeo’s certification, the U.S. may continue providing aerial refueling to the Saudi coalition, further linking Washington to the war. The Pentagon and Trump appointees at State supported the move. Human rights groups, growing cohort in Congress opposed.

    Republican Todd Young and Dem Jeanne Shaheen wrote an op ed on Yemen today in the Post on the issue. [link at the link – SC]”

  24. says

    Great thread with background to Burr’s sudden, single-handed announcement that the Senate Intel Committee has found “no hard evidence of collusion.”

    It is missing this recent WaPo piece about the Treasury being uncooperative with information to the Committee, which includes:

    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.

  25. says

    Facebook fucks up again.

    […] Ian Millhiser wrote a compelling piece over the weekend, making the argument that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade. […] Millhiser fleshed out his position with quite a bit of evidence and links to relevant support materials, bolstering his speculative point about Kavanaugh’s likely intentions.

    But if you saw the opinion piece on Facebook, you were confronted with an unexpected warning: the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, labeled Millhiser’s piece “false.” […]

    I found Millhiser’s piece persuasive; the Weekly Standard didn’t; news consumers are welcome to read the evidence and reach their own conclusions.

    But it’s Facebook’s role that changes the nature of the game. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern had a good piece yesterday explaining the broader dynamic:

    In the wake of the 2016 election, to combat the rampant dissemination of disinformation, Facebook brought on five third-party fact-checkers to referee stories posted to the website. If any one fact-checker contests the accuracy of a story, it is flagged by Facebook as potential “false news,” and this “false rating” has a dire chilling effect on readership. This system thus gives a handful of outlets immense power over the articles that show up in your news feed.

    Four of Facebook’s chosen fact-checkers — the Associated Press, Factcheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes — are widely trusted and nonpartisan. The fifth, the Weekly Standard, has generally high-quality editorial content with a conservative ideological bent.

    The phrase “one of these things is not like the other” comes to mind. […]

    […] the question is why the world’s largest social-media platform has given extraordinary editorial authority to this conservative outlet – a power that no progressive outlet has been awarded.

    If the Weekly Standard published a piece refuting Millhiser’s argument, that’s obviously fine. But on a debatable point, why should the magazine be able to tell Facebook users that Millhiser’s case is “false,” when in fact, his piece had real merit?

    […] this incident clearly suggests Facebook’s current model is in need of an overhaul.

    Mark Joseph Stern’s Slate piece added, “The Weekly Standard may disagree with [ThinkProgress’] headline, but it is simply wrong to call it ‘a verifiable lie’ when it rests on a nuanced and subjective legal argument. It’s also galling that Facebook has refused to adjudicate this dispute, instead telling ThinkProgress that ‘Facebook defers to each independent fact-checker’s process and publishers are responsible for reaching out to the fact-checkers directly to request a correction.’ By deferring to the Weekly Standard’s judgment, Facebook is picking sides in an ideological debate. That’s not just appeasement of conservatives, it’s complete surrender.”[…]

    Link

  26. says

    Republicans are proposing new tax cuts:

    […] House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) and his Republican brethren have unveiled a new package of tax breaks — they’re calling it “tax reform 2.0,” which is silly given that neither this nor the previous tax plan constituted meaningful “reform” — which now has a price tag. The Washington Post reported:

    Brady’s plan would add about $630 billion to the federal deficit by 2029, on top of the $1.9 trillion the law is already expected to cost when factoring for higher interest payments, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation said on Tuesday.

    Beyond those three years, the costs would continue to pile up. Starting in 2026, the cuts could cost the federal government about $165 billion annually in today’s dollars, according to projections by the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank. That annual cut would add up to a roughly $2.4 trillion additional to the federal deficit over a 10-year period, the Tax Foundation found.

    So let me get this straight. Two weeks ago, the nation couldn’t afford $25 billion in pay raises for federal workers, but we now afford $630 billion in new tax breaks for the wealthy?

    […] If a progressive lawmaker were to propose a series of proposals totaling $630 billion over the next decade – federal universal pre-K program, student-loan forgiveness, expanded health care benefits, etc. – it’s a safe bet that congressional Republicans would insist that the United States simply can’t afford such investments. […]

    Republican policymakers believe public investments are unaffordable, while simultaneously believing that no price is too high for tax breaks for the wealthy.

    Link

  27. says

    From SC’s link in comment 50:

    “Contra Kavanaugh’s claim he can’t offer any hints or forecasts, his fondness for bringing up Casey does just that,” wrote Buckwalter-Poza, who obtained her law degree from Yale and provides legal analysis to the Daily Kos, a liberal political site. “If Kavanaugh’s confirmed, states will have free rein to eliminate abortion access via increasingly draconian laws.”

  28. tomh says

    Washington Post.com: The Trump administration wants to tax protests. What happened to free speech?

    For the first time, the U.S. government wants demonstrators to pay to use our parks, sidewalks and streets to engage in free speech in the nation’s capital. This should be called for what it is: a protest tax.

    This is a bold effort by the Trump administration to burden and restrict access to public spaces for First Amendment activities in Washington. If enacted, it would fundamentally alter participatory democracy in America.

    Last month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the administration’s radical, anti-democratic rewriting of regulations governing free speech and demonstrations on public lands under federal jurisdiction in Washington. Under the proposal, which is open to public comment, the National Park Service (NPS) will charge protesters “event management” costs. This would include the cost of barricades and fencing erected at the discretion of police, the salaries of personnel deployed to monitor the protest, trash removal and sanitation charges, permit application charges and costs assessed on “harm to turf” — the effects of engaging in free speech on grass, as if our public green spaces are for ornamental viewing.

    And it goes beyond just the Mall. Want to protest in front of the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue? Under this proposal, you’ll have to take out your checkbook, because the NPS maintains control over the broad sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue. In addition to the upfront costs to even request a permit, you may be billed for the cost of barricades erected around the hotel — fencing you didn’t ask for but that the hotel wants…

    The Supreme Court ruled in 1939: “Wherever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens.”

    This will undoubtedly be challenged in court, and then we’ll see of our new, revised Supreme Court considers this 1939 ruling, “settled law.” (A useless phrase if ever there was one.)

  29. says

    “This should keep the black vote down considerably.” The history of Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters of color, voters likely to vote for the Democratic Party (college students, for example) is depressing.

    TPM Reader Joe Rieser, one-time General Counsel of the DNC wrote an excellent essay detailing one such Republican campaign.

    […] The point is that the memo stated very clearly what the purpose of the effort was — to keep the black vote down considerably. And as far as I can tell, Republican efforts since then — including voter ID requirements — have been prompted by a similar motive. I hope TPM, or the authors of the August 16, 2018 article, can find a way to put the memo’s damning admission to good use as it, or they, continue their reporting on this issue. […]

  30. says

    Pence lied about his knowledge of Flynn’s interactions with Russians, and about his knowledge of Flynn’s backing for the lifting of sanctions against Russia:

    […] a section about the Flynn firing timeline from Bob Woodward’s just released book ‘Fear’ Chapter 10. Woodward asserts that this sequence of events suggests Trump knew about assurances that Flynn made to Kislyak regarding sanctions and subsequently lied about to the FBI. Indeed, this is newsworthy, however what is categorically revealed here is that Vice President Pence lied about when he learned that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak.

    The purported reason that Flynn was fired was that he had lied to Pence about not discussing sanctions. These denials had supposedly resulted in Pence backing up Flynn’s story. […]

    […] on February 14th, one day after Flynn resigns, Pence’s spokesperson says Pence only learned about Yate’s warning and Flynn’s discussions about sanctions four days earlier on February 9 from the media. This is still their assertion.

    Here is the Woodward transcript from the Rachael Maddow Show:

    […] On January 26, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates had come to the White House. She told White House Counsel Donald McGahn that intercepts showed that Flynn had not been truthful about contacts with Russians and was worried that Flynn could be a blackmail target.

    Flynn had denied discussing the sanctions 10 times, Priebus calculated… Priebus tracked down White House Counsel McGahn… Priebus asked him if they could get the transcripts of the conversations that Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador.

    Yes, McGahn said, of course. Soon he had the highly classified transcripts of three communications between Flynn and Kislyak that the FBI had intercepted during the routine monitoring of the Russian Ambassador.

    McGahn and Pribus were joined by Vice President Pence in the Situation Room to review the transcripts. Pence had backed Flynn’s denial publicly.

    In all three transcripts, Flynn and the ambassador discussed the sanctions. In the last call, initiated by Kislyak, the ambassador thanked Flynn for his advice on the sanctions and said the Russians would follow it.

    That nailed the story and it explained Putin’s curiously passive response to the sanctions. Normally the Russian president would be expected to retaliate expelling some Americans from Russia. But the day after Obama announced the sanctions, Putin announced he would not.

    President-elect Trump praised Putin, tweeting “Great move on delay (by V. Putin)-I always knew he was very smart!”

    The sequence suggested that Trump might have known of Flynn’s role. But it was unclear what Flynn said to the president about his conversations with Kislyak.

    By Woodward’s reporting, Pence knew about Flynn’s discussions regarding sanctions with Kislyak long before February 9th, and he did not learn about these discussions from the media. He actually read the transcripts in the situation room with McGahn and Priebus weeks earlier. […]

    Link

  31. says

    Eric Trump casually uses anti-Semitic dogwhistle on ‘Fox & Friends’

    “You can write a sensational nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president,” Trump said. “It’ll mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels — I mean, at the behest [sic] of the American people, at the behest of our country and a president that’s doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric.” […]

    shekels “are now the basic monetary unit of Israel” and also refer to “an ancient Hebrew currency long associated with the Jewish people.” […]

    “Shekels” can also serve as “a reference to the New Testament, in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas for silver,” […]

    These days, the term is regularly invoked in an antisemitic context on far-right message boards. It’s possible Eric’s time on websites of that sort is why he seemed so comfortable using the term to attack a non-Jewish journalist. […]

    Fox News hosts didn’t say anything about Trump’s dogwhistle. They also let him lie about the economy with impunity. At the start of the interview, hosts and Eric tried to give the president credit for his “unbelievable” job responding to Hurricane Florence — a storm that hasn’t even hit land yet. […]

  32. says

    Bolton’s shot at global court draws ire of U.S. allies, foes

    The foreign offices of France and Germany on Tuesday reaffirmed their support for the International Criminal Court following national security adviser John Bolton’s remarks that the ICC could face severe repercussions, including sanctions, should it pursue an investigation into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan.

    Bolton blasted the court as “illegitimate” in a Monday speech, his first major one since arriving in the White House in April. The remarks drew opposition from a French foreign ministry spokeswoman who affirmed her country’s support for the ICC.

    “The creation of the ICC, to judge those responsible of the gravest crimes, represented an important step in the fight against impunity to which we are, along with the United States, very committed.” Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement. “The Court should be able to act and exercise its prerogatives without obstacles, independently and impartially.”

    A second rebuke came from the German foreign ministry, which said in a tweet that it was committed to the work of the ICC — “in particular when it comes under fire.” Though decades-old allies, the United States and Germany have held a tense relationship in recent months. [….]

    Link

  33. says

    Evidence of Trump disrespecting blind people, and trying to evade laws governing access for the disabled:

    A former Trump Organization executive said Wednesday that President Trump once tried to get the architect of Trump Tower to remove braille inside the building’s elevators.

    Barbara Res, a former vice president in charge of construction at the Trump Organization, recounted in an op-ed for the New York Daily News that Trump repeatedly called for eliminating braille inside the elevators despite being told that would break the law.

    “Get rid of the (expletive) braille,” Trump said, according to Res. “No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it.”

    Res wrote that Trump grew angrier as the architect protested the current president’s orders and Trump generally thought of architects and engineers as weak when compared to construction workers.

    “Did he think the architect would remove the Braille from the panels? Never,” Res wrote. “I had seen him do this kind of thing before and would again. He would say whatever came into his head. Ordering an underling to do something that was impossible gave Trump the opportunity to castigate a subordinate and also blame him for anything that ‘went wrong’ in connection with the unperformed order later. A Trump-style win-win.”

    Res added that whenever Trump made similar requests, she often fought back but other times “played along with him and then didn’t carry out his order.” […]

    Link

  34. says

    Turnabout for Trump?

    […] Trump has just signed an executive order to automatically sanction foreigners who interfere in US elections. […]

    The new measure creates a formal process for the US government to determine if an individual, group, or country purposely aimed to meddle in America’s democratic process, […]

    “The executive order is not country-specific,” Bolton [National Security Adviser John Bolton] said. “Threats to the integrity of the election process come from a number of sources.” […]

    The new process works like this: The intelligence community, through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has 45 days to determine if a new piece information shows there’s a foreign effort to interfere in any US election. That could include foreigners hacking into voting machines or spreading propaganda online — like on social media — to change public opinion.

    At that point, the intelligence community hands that information over to the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The attorney general and others then have their own 45 days to determine if that evidence clearly shows an attempt to meddle. If so, that triggers the automatic sanctions to freeze the assets of the specific culprit(s). […]

    Signing the order — which the administration had been drafting for months — is quite the turnaround for Trump. He’s consistently denied that Russia interfered in the election two years ago […]

    It’ll be interesting to see if the administration determines Russia has meddled in this year’s election through the new automatic sanctions process. If that’s the case, all eyes will be on Trump to see if he authorizes additional measures on Moscow despite his overly friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. […]

    https://www.vox.com/2018/9/12/17851136/trump-order-interference-russia

  35. says

    Fox News hosts didn’t say anything about Trump’s dogwhistle.

    Even for Fox, it’s weird. How were they not like, “Did you just say ‘shekels’?” As dogwhistles go, it’s not one that’s worked its way into the mainstream. It’s jarring.

  36. says

    Signing the order — which the administration had been drafting for months — is quite the turnaround for Trump.

    They know that there’s a bipartisan bill about this looming in congress, so they’re trying to cut that off, garner credit for taking action, and put in place a system that leaves it ultimately at Trump’s discretion (with all of the corruption and abuses that entails).

  37. says

    From Wonkette:

    Freedom Caucus Fuckwit Mark Meadows Just Makin’ Up Shit About Peter Strzok’s Texts

    […] In case you haven’t gleaned this so far, there is a new chapter in House Republicans’ bizarre obsession with the text messages of recently fired FBI investigator […] Peter Strzok, who worked on the early stages of the counterintel investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Like everything else House Republicans have come up with so far […] it is unmitigated bullshit meant to waste your time and obstruct justice.

    In the letter Meadows sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein […], the congressman has a […] conniption over a newly discovered April 2017 text from Peter Strzok to Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer Strzok at one point was doing affair sexes with, which mentions a “media leaking strategy.” In another text to Page, Strzok says heads up, two articles are coming out about “her namesake,” which would be Carter Page, the Trump campaign’s very stupidest Russian intelligence asset, who’s been on the radar as a particularly stupid Russian intelligence asset for YEARS. […] ten days later, there is a text where Strzok tells (Lisa) Page, “article is out!” and “Well done, Page.”

    (By the way, there is much stupid hullabaloo this week about Trump maybe declassifying ALL the Carter Page FISA documents, because Mark Meadows and Donald Trump really like to own goal themselves.)

    In Meadows’s very smart brain, these new tweets, originally reported by bona fide Hannity idiot Sara Carter, mean Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were doing INTENTIONAL MEDIA LEAKING to make Carter Page look bad (he’s just an innocent Russian spy after all!), and that after it was all over, Peter Strzok patted Lisa Page on the back like “Hey lady I have intercoursed in the past, nice job with the Deep State conspiracy leaks!” […]

    Except … NOPE! Not even a little bit. […] in point of fact they [these three text messages] came from a larger release of documents from the Department of Justice. Could it be helpful to look at the texts in context? THE FUCK YOU SAY!

    The truth is that it’s much more likely (by which we mean there’s almost a 100% chance) these tweets were actually not strategizing about how to leak, but about how to COMBAT leaks. Why? Well, for one thing, going after unauthorized leaks was part of Peter Strzok’s job! […]

    So basically everything is normal! House Republicans are willfully lying about Peter Strzok’s text messages — hey remember that time they were all going apeshit about how Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had a SECRET SOCIETY???? — and the president is swallowing it whole.

  38. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lynna @58,
    I don’t know what’s more remarkable about that quote–the use of the antisemitic slur or the way Eric tries to use the word “behest” and uses it wrong both times.

    Fucking adorable!

  39. says

    SC @63, excellent points. This is basically, as you say, a way for Trump to take credit for being tough on Russia while actually assuring that he can protect Russia from any sanctions.

    In other news: Arrests of migrant families rose 38 percent in August.
    Washington Post link

    The number of migrant family members arrested for illegally entering the United States shot up 38 percent in August, according to statistics released Wednesday, a surge homeland security officials characterized as a “crisis.”

    Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 13,000 members of “family units” last month, the latest data shows, the highest August total ever recorded. The increase followed President Trump’s decision to back off the provision of his “zero tolerance” crackdown that separated children from parents in an attempt to deter illegal migration.

    Migration numbers typically rebound in August after a summer lull. Overall, the number of foreigners apprehended or deemed “inadmissible” at border crossings rose to 46,560 in August, up from 39,953 in July.

    Department of Homeland Security officials said the arrival of so many families was due to court-imposed restrictions limiting the duration children may be detained in immigration jails. The result, officials said, is that parents bring children as a way to win quick release from government custody and avoid deportation.

    “The numbers have continued to increase because this is a well-known avenue to arrive in the U.S. and be allowed to stay,” said Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, calling the trend “a crisis of significant proportions, from a humanitarian perspective and a security perspective.” […]

    The fear mongering rhetoric around this influx of family units (calling it a “crisis” for example), is part of the propaganda to support the Trump administration plan to find a way to circumvent court limits on detention of children. The Department of Homeland Security wants to be able to hold families indefinitely.

    There’s also this:

    Trump has cited such surges in justifying his push for a border wall and in recent weeks has repeated threats to shut down the federal government this fall if lawmakers do not fund the project.

  40. says

    a_ray @ 66, yes! That was so pathetic and funny at the same time. It looks like Saturday Night Live skits featuring Eric Trump, but presented as news.

  41. says

    Another book that Trump is going to love (not):

    […] Stormy Daniels, who is embroiled in a legal battle with the President after his ex-lawyer paid her to keep quiet about an alleged affair, announced on Wednesday that she’s written a memoir that will publish just over a month before the midterm elections.

    Nice timing, Stormy.

    During an interview on “The View,” Daniels said she’s been working on the memoir, titled “Full Disclosure,” for about 10 years and there’s “a lot” in the book, beyond just her dealings with President Trump. […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/stormy-daniels-memoir-publish-before-midterms

  42. says

    I don’t know what’s more remarkable about that quote–the use of the antisemitic slur or the way Eric tries to use the word “behest” and uses it wrong both times.

    And what he likely meant, “expense” or something like it, really accentuates the dogwhistle – “earning a few more shekels at the nation’s expense.”

  43. says

    Follow-up to comment 59.

    From Philip Gourevitch, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] unlike his colleagues, who spread their alarm anonymously, Bolton issued his warning at a Federalist Society lunch, on Monday, that was broadcast live on C-span. And, though others identify the danger to the Republic as coming from within, in the form of a rogue President, Bolton told a different story, of a looming threat from abroad, in the form of an “illegitimate,” “unchecked,” “supranational” conspiracy of “ ‘global governance’ advocates” so “antithetical to our nation’s ideals” that it amounted to “the Founders’ worst nightmare come to life.” […]

    Last November, the I.C.C.’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, asked the court’s judges to authorize an investigation of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan since 2003, including allegations of torture by members of the U.S. military and agents of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Bolton, who was at the time a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, responded immediately with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: “The Trump administration should not respond to Ms. Bensouda in any way that acknowledges the ICC’s legitimacy. […]

    The judges’ response to the prosecutor is now due. “Any day now,” Bolton said in his speech, “the I.C.C. may announce the start of a formal investigation against these American patriots, who voluntarily signed on to go into harm’s way to protect our nation, our homes, and our families in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. . . . An utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.” He added, “I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the President of the United States. The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not coöperate with the I.C.C. […] for all intents and purposes, the I.C.C. is already dead to us.”

    Bolton’s bombast aside, however, this has been pretty much the attitude of every U.S. Administration regarding the possibility of an I.C.C. prosecution of Americans since 1998, when the United Nations adopted the treaty, known as the Rome Statute, for the establishment of the I.C.C. as a war-crimes tribunal, to be headquartered in The Hague. […]

    In the spring of 2002, with the war in Afghanistan in full swing, President Bush ordered that the U.S. “un-sign” the Rome Statute. The I.C.C. opened for business that July, and that same month a bipartisan majority in Congress passed the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, obliging the President to prevent “to the maximum extent possible” any I.C.C. prosecution of U.S. armed forces. The law also extended its protections to the military forces of America’s allies. In a clause that inspired its critics to call it the “Hague Invasion Act,” it even authorized the use of force to liberate any U.S. or allied forces detained under I.C.C. auspices. […]

    Washington’s hostility to the court inspired greater support for it in international opinion, and complicated relations on many fronts with our allies, particularly as the extent of the Bush Administration’s policy of torturing detainees in the so-called global war on terror became widely known. Still, the I.C.C. showed no intention of going after Americans […]

    using one’s power to impose on others a system of law to which one swears never to submit is the definition of injustice. So, just as the antagonism from the Bush Administration’s first term had won the I.C.C. favor in much of the rest of the world, the Obama Administration’s practice of publicly embracing the court, which it furtively tried to exempt itself from, engendered resentment that the court was being co-opted as an instrument of U.S. hegemony, and the prosecutor came under increased international pressure to demonstrate impartiality and universality. […]

    Bolton rejected the very idea that it could inspire and good, simultaneously exaggerating the power of the I.C.C. as an ominous global colossus and belittling it as a puny, contemptible farce. The only historically proven deterrent to “the hard men of history,” he declared, is “what Franklin Roosevelt once called ‘the righteous might’ of the United States.” […]

    “The ICC prosecutor,” Bolton wrote, “is an internationalized version of America’s ‘independent counsel,’ a role originally established in the wake of Watergate and later allowed to lapse (but now revived under Justice Department regulations in the form of a ‘special counsel’). Similarly, the ICC’s prosecutors are dangerously free of accountability and effective supervision.”

    So the threat comes from within, after all. The problem is the existence of the prosecutor, who endangers sovereignty, which in Trump-speak means being above the law. The President and the nation cannot be held to account or supervised, so the prosecutor has to be. The President and the nation cannot be criminals, so the prosecutor must be. The prosecutor cannot be recognized. The prosecutor must be disempowered.

  44. says

    Follow-up to comments 61, 63.

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] since the application of those sanctions would remain “at the president’s discretion” and Trump continues to deny Russian interference in the 2016 election, the sanctions remain entirely hypothetical—and entirely subjective.

    As the Washington Post reports, both Democrats and Republicans were not impressed with Trump’s when-I-say, what-I-say sanctions regime. Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio issued a joint statement calling for strong, mandatory sanctions that wouldn’t be left in Trump’s far-from-impartial hands.

    The order recognizes that interference can include not just direct attacks on the systems that tabulate votes, but also attempts to influence voting and conduct propaganda campaigns. But since the order puts the power of enforcement directly, and only, under Trump’s control, it provides him a tool set not to fight foreign interference, but to steer that interference by blocking or sanctioning some efforts and ignoring others.

    Considering that Trump recently attacked the Justice Department for conducting investigations of “good Republicans” who just happened to be bad criminals, there’s every reason to believe that Trump will use this club not against foreign efforts, but to differentially protect his allies’ campaigns.

  45. says

    From Walter Einenkel:

    The drone footage of Trump and Sessions’ “migrant tent city” for children is stark enough. The Department of Homeland Security’s inability to provide anything resembling transparency as to where and who is detained in these places is frightening. The attempts by the administration to rebrand its crimes against humanity have been pathetic. The cost to our country’s collective soul is incalculable. Now, the administration is planning to triple the size of the “temporary” camp set up in a desert outside of El Paso, Texas, because our country is detaining so many migrant children.

    HHS, the federal agency tasked with caring for migrant children and teenagers in U.S. custody, said it would more than triple the size of its camp at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Land Port of Entry from 1,200 beds to as many as 3,800.

    […] Like everything Trump, what is driving this is the desire for prison interests to make some sweet taxpayer money off of human misery and draconian policies. Trump’s administration has tried time and time again to pretend that these internment camps are more like “summer camps” than anything else. Of course, they blanch at the suggestion of sending their children to such prisons. And rightly so. It would be child abuse to do such a … oh, right.

  46. says

    FEMA will put 1,000 displaced Puerto Ricans out on the streets this Friday

    “They are going to be left on the streets and organizations are scrambling, trying to figure out what to do.”

    More than 1,000 Puerto Ricans, displaced by last year’s hurricanes, have been living temporarily in hotels and motels throughout the country while they await more permanent housing alternatives — major repair to their own homes, for example, or help finding a new place to live. But they are now bracing for the likelihood they will become homeless this week.

    A federal judge in Massachusetts on August 30 allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop funding its Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program, which allows hurricane-displaced people to live in hotels or motels throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. […]

    On top of the thousands left dead by the storms, the administration continues to bungle its response. FEMA had placed more than 19,000 storm-displaced people into short-term shelters between October 2017 and June 2018. But advocates say thousands more have been living on the streets, in cars, in storm-destroyed homes, or crammed into overcrowded homes on the U.S. mainland and in Puerto Rico.

    The latest court ruling to allow FEMA to kick families out of temporary shelter is in line with the administration’s careless approach to families left homeless for almost a year now. […]

    More at the link.

  47. says

    But since the order puts the power of enforcement directly, and only, under Trump’s control, it provides him a tool set not to fight foreign interference, but to steer that interference by blocking or sanctioning some efforts and ignoring others.

    Considering that Trump recently attacked the Justice Department for conducting investigations of “good Republicans” who just happened to be bad criminals, there’s every reason to believe that Trump will use this club not against foreign efforts, but to differentially protect his allies’ campaigns.

    Oh – I hadn’t even thought of that. (So many devious possibilities!) I had been thinking more along the lines of ignoring interference by Russians, Saudis, and Israelis while sanctioning, say, Iranians and Venezuelans. Even though they now have evidence pointing to Russia in the Cuba “attacks,” they’re still blaming the Cuban regime because, allegedly, they might have known and let it happen (despite the fact that this would be contrary to their interests) and they were responsible for protecting US diplomatic staff (somehow, despite the fact that no one still seems to know exactly what even happened). Trump wouldn’t hesitate to use this EO for corrupt political or economic ends.

  48. says

    “‘First it was his vision, then his speech, and then his legs’ Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov is hospitalized in critical condition and friends fear he was poisoned”:

    Pyotr Verzilov, a member of Pussy Riot and one of the publishers of the independent news website Mediazona, was hospitalized in critical condition late on September 11. His partner, Veronika Nikulshina, told Meduza that he’s started losing his sight, speech, and mobility.

    Pyotr Verzilov is currently receiving treatment at the toxicology wing of Moscow’s Bakhrushin City Clinical Hospital. Verzilov’s friends told Meduza that his mother came to the hospital on the evening of September 12, but staff wouldn’t let her see her son, and even refused to describe his condition or inform her about his preliminary diagnosis….

    According to Nikulshina, Verzilov started feeling unwell shortly after a court hearing on Tuesday. At six in the evening, he laid down to rest. Two hours later, when Nikulshina got home, Verzilov “woke up and said he was starting to lose his sight.” “Between eight and ten, his condition got exponentially worse. First it was his vision, then his ability to speak, and then his ability to walk,” she told Meduza.

    On July 15, 2018, Verzilov, Nikulshina, and two other activists raided the soccer field during the World Cup final game, interrupting play. The four were dressed as police cadets, and the demonstration was carried out as an action by Pussy Riot. Their punishment was 15 days in jail.

  49. says

    WHAT?! The Democrats weren’t able to postpone the Kavanaugh vote?! How can it possibly be tomorrow? Have they even received answers to the written questions yet? This is insane; it’s a travesty. Even had he done nothing else disqualifying, which he has, Kavanaugh’s willing participation in this political piracy should disqualify him.

  50. says

    NEW: The number of migrant children in detention has reached a record 12,800, according to docs obtained by @nytimes. That’s a fivefold increase from the 2,400 children in custody in May 2017, just over a year ago.”

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reminder, Michael Moore is being interviewed at a town hall show on All In with Chris Hayes.

  52. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, Rachael Maddow is now reporting that $29,000,000 was taken from the Coast Guard to pay for detaining refugees. After showing how the Coast Guard is the rescuer of the last resort in hurricanes….

  53. says

    Nerd @84, that news just infuriated me. Trump and his lackey Secretary of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen decided to take money away from FEMA and the Coast Guard in order to lock up more immigrant families.

    Doofuses and dunderheads. They are now insuring that more Americans will die during disasters like hurricanes.

  54. says

    Jacob Soboroff:

    BREAKING OVERNIGHT: *Huge* settlement between Trump administration & lawyers of separated families.

    If approved those facing deportation *and* already-deported would get a shot at asylum.

    Covers some cases where “psychological state of the parent” was issue in first interview.

  55. says

    “Betsy DeVos Loses Student Loan Lawsuit Brought by 19 States”:

    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos lost a lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia, accusing her department of wrongly delaying implementation of Obama-era regulations meant to protect students who took out loans to attend college from predatory practices.

    A Washington federal court judge on Wednesday ruled the department’s postponement of the so-called Borrower Defense rule was procedurally improper.

    The Obama administration created the rule in the wake of revelations that some for-profit colleges enticed students with promises of an education and diplomas that would allow them to get jobs in their chosen fields. In reality, many of those certifications weren’t recognized by prospective employers, leaving graduates saddled with student loans they couldn’t repay….

  56. says

    Here’s the fuller story of #87 – “Russians accused over Salisbury poisoning were in city ‘as tourists'”:

    Two Russians accused of a nerve agent attack in the UK have told Russian TV that they visited the city where the assault took place to see its historic cathedral, and not to poison a former spy.
    Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov told the Kremlin-backed RT network on Thursday they made a brief trip to Salisbury because “our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town” and made a reference to the city’s historic cathedral.

    They claimed to have had nothing to do with the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were poisoned when the pair were in Salisbury in March.

    The two men said they had made their weekend trip to England purely to see tourist sites such as Stonehenge, which is about 10 miles from Salisbury.

    “We came there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable,” Petrov said, according to RT’s translation of the interview. “We arrived in Salisbury on March 3 and tried to walk through the town, but we lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow.

    “Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back (to London).”

    “We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains,” Boshirov said, according to RT. “Maybe we did [approach] Skripal’s house, but we don’t know where is it located.”

    London’s Metropolitan Police last week detailed how the two men arrived at London Gatwick Airport from Moscow at about 3 p.m. on Friday March 2. They stayed that night and the next in a basic hotel in east London.

    On Saturday March 3, police said, the men caught a train to Salisbury, arriving at about 2:25 p.m. They left the city less than two hours later to return to London. Police believe the trip was for reconnaissance of the Salisbury area.

    The following day, they traveled again by train to Salisbury, arriving about 11:45 a.m. Just before midday, CCTV footage showed them in the vicinity of Sergei Skripal’s home, where they are believed to have applied Novichok to the front door. Police say the footage was captured “moments before the attack.”

    At 1:05 p.m. they were caught on CCTV on Fisherton Street, heading back toward the train station. They boarded a train back to London at 1:50 p.m. The pair passed through passport control at London Heathrow Airport at about 7:30 p.m. before boarding a flight back to Moscow.

  57. says

    Trump is tweeting:

    3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

    …..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

    southpaw: “He can’t do the job. It’s been clear for a long time that he can’t. And the people conspiring to keep him in office to score another tax cut or another judge while he piles one horror on top of another should feel shame for the rest of their lives.”

  58. says

    “Exclusive: Trump’s FEMA administrator under investigation over use of official cars”:

    FEMA administrator Brock Long is the target of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes to North Carolina from Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter, including current and former administration officials.

    The actions by Long, the U.S. government’s lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel, an issue that has tripped up a number of current and former top Trump administration officials.

    Long’s travel habits triggered a clash between him and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in recent weeks, clouding their relationship just as senior aides close to President Donald Trump prepared for hurricane season – a task that’s attracted extra scrutiny in the wake of the disaster that befell Puerto Rico in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria.

    The IG is investigating whether Long misused government resources and personnel on trips back home to Hickory, N.C., on the weekends, said two of the officials. The IG’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles – a black Suburban – was involved in an accident, according to one of the officials.

    Long’s routine absences from the office due to frequent six-hour drives between North Carolina and Washington also drew Nielsen’s attention, this person said. Nielsen had raised the issue of Long’s in-office schedule with him in recent months, this person added.

    At a meeting in late August, Nielsen confronted Long about his travel, though people familiar with the meeting gave conflicting accounts about whether she took the step of asking him to step down over the issue.

    One of the officials said Nielsen asked Long to consider resigning, though he declined to do so and remains in his role. The program to support the FEMA administrator “was never intended for this purpose,” said the official….

  59. says

    Luke Harding: “Everything about the ‘Petrov’ and ‘Boshirov’ interview weird. Not just the ludicrous cover story but the editing. At 19mins ‘Petrov’ shows off the jacket he was wearing in Salisbury. Except you don’t see his face. Are they the real CCTV guys?”

  60. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    From SC’s comment:
    southpaw: “He can’t do the job. It’s been clear for a long time that he can’t. And the people conspiring to keep him in office to score another tax cut or another judge while he piles one horror on top of another should feel shame for the rest of their lives.”

    If they were capable of feeling shame, they couldn’t be Republicans.

  61. says

    Follow-up to comments 92 and 100.

    This is analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] First, the fact that Americans died in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of a hurricane – as opposed to during the storm itself – does not make the administration’s response to the crisis look better. It does the opposite by reinforcing the inadequacy of the federal efforts.

    If you get into a serious car accident on a Monday, and die a few days later after receiving substandard care, your doctors don’t get to brag about how you were alive earlier in the week and the accident was unrelated to your demise.

    Second, the latest death toll wasn’t produced by Democratic operatives out to undermine Trump. Rather, the figure came from researchers with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. They published a detailed report that the president can read at his leisure.

    I realize that he’s constantly concocting conspiracy theories – and especially fond of conspiracy theories in which he’s the victim – but there’s no evidence to support Trump’s latest nonsense.

    Third, if the White House has concerns about the official death toll, the president could call on Congress to hold hearings and demand a detailed accounting of what transpired in Puerto Rico. Republican lawmakers have refused to examine the tragedy, but if Trump worked with Congress to get answers, we’d all benefit. The likelihood of this happening, however, is close to zero.

    And finally, we can now expand our list of those the president doesn’t want us to trust. Alas, it’s not a short list: Don’t trust news organizations. Don’t trust the courts. Don’t trust U.S. intelligence agencies. Don’t trust unemployment numbers. Don’t even trust election results. Don’t trust photographs of inaugurations.

    Evidently, public-health researchers who come up with data Donald Trump doesn’t like should be rejected, too. […]

    Link

  62. says

    Follow-up to comments 92, 100 and 102.

    Paul Ryan contradicted Trump:

    I have no reason to dispute these numbers. I was in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. It was devastating. This was a horrible storm. I toured the entire island. It’s an isolated island that lost its infrastructure and power for a long time. You couldn’t get to people for a long time on the island because roads were washed out, power was gone and the casualties mounted for a long time.

    This is a devastating storm that hit an isolated island. And that’s really no one’s fault. It’s just what happened.

    Somewhat weasely words, but mostly true.

  63. says

    Follow-up to SC @94.

    This is also from Josh Marshall:

    What should we make of […] Trump’s joint defense agreement with Paul Manafort? Here’s my take.

    On the one hand, I assume a high degree of bad-acting – on-going bad acting – on the part of Trump and Manafort. I would have assumed that they have some channel of communication because I believe they are both covering up evidence of their involvement in a conspiracy tied to the 2016 election and Russia. Manafort can protect Trump (or do his part to do so) and Trump can protect Manafort (via a pardon). So both need to know what the other is doing. It’s a classic prisoner’s dilemma situation. If the prisoners can compare notes that changes everything.

    Beyond this there is a great deal of operational knowledge to share. That’s why you have joint defense agreements in the first place. I think we can further glean from this news that it was information out of this Trump/Manafort channel that led to a number of the President’s Twitter freak outs about the investigation over the last two months. […]

    we didn’t know until today that such an agreement existed with Manafort. That tells us that the communication that was probable and covert is actually formal and robust. […] Manafort is on trial for money laundering, bank fraud and a few other specific crimes tied to his work for pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine. What’s the rationale for being in a JDA at all? What do they need to share notes, share information and coordinate strategy about? I think we know the answer to that.

    There are a lot of questions here. My colleagues aren’t even 100% sure Rudy is even right that such a JDA exists, which is a commentary on how sloppy and disorganized the President’s representation is. It’s a commentary on Rudy’s intemperate statements, poor preparation and frequent lying. There are also technical legal questions about who is able to have a JDA. To have one you need to have some connection to the crimes or alleged crimes in question. Those technical points are beyond the scope of my knowledge. So I’ll leave those to others.

    The key here is the pardon. I didn’t have much doubt that Trump and Manafort had a tacit deal about staying quiet and getting a pardon. This makes me pretty confident that agreement is explicit.

    Link

  64. says

    Teachers! Lots of teachers.

    […] One of the country’s top teacher unions now says it has a comprehensive tally of 2018 educators-turned-candidates for state house and senate seats: 554. That includes 512 running as Democrats and 42 as Republicans, the majority of them women.

    The analysis from the National Education Association includes members of both its own affiliates and those of the other main teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers. It also takes an expansive view of educator-candidates: The 554 figure includes current and retired teachers, as well as administrators and support staff in K-12 schools across the country. […]

    HuffPo link

    More at the link

  65. says

    Trump’s lack of empathy … another example:

    Brady Mallory: “So, for family farmers here who are worried about losing their generations-long farms — at the end of the season –, (and) early retirement, any words of comfort for them now?”

    President Donald Trump: “Well, they would’ve lost them anyway because they were being hurt so badly by the trade barriers. We will tell you they are going to be in a very good position soon.”

    Link to local news source in South Dakota

    More at the link.

  66. says

    NHC Update, 11am:

    Florence is now a Category 2—but is continuing to grow larger and more dangerous.

    #HurricaneFlorence is morphing into a Carolinas version of Hurricane Sandy—a huge, sprawling storm with low peak winds, but massive storm surge and potential damage. Terrifying.”

  67. says

    Kavanaugh moves toward confirmation vote

    Republicans steamrolled Democratic attempts’ to hinder the progress of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, as the high-court pick moved ever-closer to being confirmed by the Senate.

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley set up a final committee vote for President Donald Trump’s high court pick for a Sept. 20 panel vote. The full Senate will vote on Kavanaugh shortly after, as soon as the last week of September.

    Senate Democrats tried to delay committee business in a last-bid ditch to stall the Supreme Court nominee, but Grassley seized control of the committee upon its opening and immediately moved to tee up a vote on Kavanaugh next week. Republicans also defeated six Democratic motions to subpoena Kavanaugh’s documents from his time working in the White House.

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sought to adjourn the committee, arguing that he should have gotten a vote last week when Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings began, and said Kavanaugh’s nomination will be “tainted” because senators have been unable to review hundreds of thousands of Kavanaugh documents. […]

    “There’s no way to seek justice here … I’m here under protest,” Blumenthal complained. “There is a fundamental unfairness here.” […]

    Politico link

  68. says

    “Senate Democrats Have Referred A Secret Letter About Brett Kavanaugh To The FBI”:

    Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have referred a letter concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI.

    The contents of the letter have been closely guarded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as California Rep. Anna Eshoo, who originally received the letter and shared it with Feinstein, according to sources familiar with the matter. But whispers of what it contains have made the rounds across Capitol Hill over the past week.

    The attention on it burst into the public when The Intercept published a report on the rumors surrounding the letter on Wednesday.

    “This matter has been referred to the FBI for investigation,” Sen. Dick Durbin told BuzzFeed News when asked about the letter on Thursday.

    BuzzFeed News contacted the woman believed to be the subject of the letter at her home last week. She declined to comment. BuzzFeed News has not been able to confirm the contents of the letter.

    The lawyer believed to be representing the woman was seen leaving Capitol Hill Wednesday evening shortly after the Intercept story dropped and just as Judiciary Committee Democrats were huddling in the Senate lobby. The lawyer, Debra Katz has not confirmed that she is representing the woman. She also declined to comment Wednesday, saying “there’s nothing to say.”

    Feinstein and her office have repeatedly declined to comment on the matter. She told reporters Thursday she would release a statement about the letter later in the day….

    This is the Intercept report. “Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.” “The woman who is the subject of the letter is now being represented by Debra Katz, a whistleblower attorney who works with #MeToo survivors.”

  69. says

    Notice Kavanaugh does not answer @SenKamalaHarris’ written question.

    Q: whether he “communicated with” anyone who represents, advises now or in the past President Trump or the White House “including through an intermediary” about Mueller investigation[]?

    His answer is not a No.”

    This is the same non-responsive answer he gave during the hearings, and I believe it was the same language used by Pompeo and Rogers when they were asked what Trump had said to them about the Russia investigation.

    Kavanaugh clearly appears to be hiding something.

  70. says

    Nicholas Fandos, NYT:

    NEW: Two officials familiar with the matter say the incident detailed in the Feinstein letter involved possible sexual misconduct between [“sexual misconduct between”? – SC] Judge Kavanaugh and a woman when they were both in high school.

    The information came in a letter, which was first sent to the office of Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California. Feinstein shared its details with other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee Wednesday evening.

    “Sen Grassley is aware of Sen Feinstein’s referral,” said George Hartmann, a Grassley spox. “At this time, he has not seen the letter in question, and is respecting the request for confidentiality. There’s no plan to change the cte’s consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

  71. says

    SC in comment 109, link “one”: I see that someone in the comments noted that “all those people in Puerto Rico died just to make Trump look bad.”

  72. says

    Dems demand Sessions restore asylum for victims of violence

    More than 100 House Democrats signed a letter this week urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to stop granting asylum to victims of gang violence and domestic abuse. […]

    “We are deeply alarmed and outraged over a series of actions taken by you, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security that undermine or curtail the ability of migrants lawfully requesting asylum in the United States to present their claims,” they wrote.

    Sessions announced in June that the Trump administration would no longer grant asylum to victims of gang violence and domestic abuse.

    “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim,” he said at the time.

    Additionally, the Trump administration last week took a step toward pulling out of a court agreement limiting the government’s ability to hold children seeking asylum in detention centers […]

    “These restrictions are shamefully designed to discourage people who face legitimate danger from seeking sanctuary and security in our country,” she said. “This nation must remain a haven for those who seek to escape violence and persecution.”

    Link

  73. says

    Joe Biden mocks Trump:

    […] “By the way, there are no problems in America. Everybody is doing well. Things are fair and decent, and no one died in Puerto Rico,” Biden quipped at the beginning of remarks at an economic summit in Washington, D.C. […]

    “The lack of a value set, lack of treating people with dignity is because when things are tough for people economically who work hard, there are sometimes charlatans who come along who try to find a reason for those people to blame whatever’s happening to them on the other,” he said. […]

    Link

  74. says

    President Trump’s Four-Pinocchio complaint about the Maria death toll figures. (Washington Post link.)

    […] A more cautious president might not have praised the fact that there were only 16 recorded deaths in the aftermath of a major hurricane.

    A more cautious president would not have then disputed a death toll — 2,975 — that turned out to be much higher and was embraced by the local government as official.

    But here we are. The president, without evidence, has accused Democrats of manufacturing a number to make him look bad.

    We will leave aside the conspiracy theories. Let’s take a look at the numbers and explain why they have been so fuzzy. But one thing is clear: There were far, far more than 18 deaths.

    The Facts

    When Trump visited the island on Oct. 3, 2017, two weeks after the Sept. 20 storm, the official death toll was 16. He favorably compared it with Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 killed 1,833 people. “You can be very proud,” he said. “Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”

    The figure jumped to 34 later that day, and then eventually 64. The Puerto Rican government then came under fire for what many experts said was a too-low figure. In the chaos of the natural disaster, officials had failed to properly document whether deaths on the island were related to the storm. So the government froze that number and asked George Washington University’s Milken Institute to examine the data. For months, the government refused to release any death figures until the report was completed. […]

    The more-complete Puerto Rican figures released in June showed an increase of 561 deaths in September over the same month in 2016, an increase of 683 deaths in October, an increase of 187 in November and a decline of 34 in December. That added up to a 1,397 increase in that four-month period.

    The new Puerto Rican numbers were somewhat higher than those estimated in studies carried out by media organizations and academic institutes. The general focus was on studying whether there were excess deaths — more deaths than would be expected in the absence of the storm.

    The New York Times calculated 1,052 deaths through October.

    The Center for Investigative Reporting calculated 985 through October.

    University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez professors calculated 822, with a 95 percent confidence range that the total was somewhere between 605 and 1,039.

    Alexis R. Santos-Lozada of Pennsylvania University and a colleague calculated excess deaths of about 500 in September, or a total of 1,085 if the same pattern held in October. In a research note published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they reported that the inclusion of the December deaths indicated an excess death toll of 1,139.

    A Latino USA analysis, using updated data from Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, calculated 1,194 excess deaths in September and October.

    Broadly, then, a range of expert analyses found that more than 1,000 people died in the aftermath of the hurricane and the relief effort. […]

    GWU said it counted deaths until February because people continued to die at anomalous rates long after the storm, as the island struggled with infrastructure failures and political infighting. GWU said that the poorer and older the resident, the higher the risk of death, especially among men older than 65. So the number might include an elderly person who died earlier than expected because there was a lack of electricity at home or health-care facilities.

    The study, in other words, purposely tried to avoid simply counting elderly people who “died for any reason,” as Trump claimed. GWU researchers said otherwise the count would be 16,608 between Sept. 1 and the end of February.

    Note that GWU’s September-February period of research was longer than the earlier studies. To provide an apples-to-apples comparison, GWU estimated 2,098 excess deaths through December (the period also covered by the Harvard study) and 1,271 for September and October (the period covered by most of the other studies). When adjusted for the time factors, all of the studies, except Harvard, are broadly consistent. […]

    The official figure embraced by Puerto Rico is an estimate of “excess deaths,” based on a six-month period after the storm. One might quibble with extending the period under investigation for that long, but few areas of the United States have suffered so long without electricity or drinking water in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

    Moreover, in any part of the United States, 3,000 excess deaths in six months would be considered a crisis, worthy of an intensive investigation to find out what went wrong — rather than a tweetstorm that minimizes the problem.

    Even the most conservative estimate, looking just at the excess deaths through October, is above 1,000. Trump’s tweets are missing a few digits, and thus earn Four Pinocchios.

  75. says

    Robert Costa: “Spoke to more than a dozen House Rs here at the Capitol. Very few had any criticism of the president’s handling of the coming storm or his tweets on P.R. Most offered hearty praise. A revealing snapshot of the GOP.”

  76. says

    “Alaska Federation of Natives, a key supporter of Murkowski, opposes Kavanaugh appointment”:

    Alaska’s largest Native organization said Wednesday it “strongly” opposes the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, calling his views on Indian policy erroneous and a threat to unique policies and laws governing Alaska Native institutions.

    The Alaska Federation of Natives announcement potentially adds pressure to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has not said whether she supports the appointment and who in 2010 benefited from the group’s endorsement in her uphill write-in victory against Joe Miller….

  77. says

    “Michael Flynn To Appear At Far-Right Conference With Pizzagaters, Racist YouTube Stars”:

    While he awaits sentencing for lying to the FBI, former national security advisor Michael Flynn will take his awards where he can get them—even if that means appearing alongside Pizzagate pushers and racist YouTubers.

    Flynn, a former lieutenant general who resigned as Trump’s national security advisor after he was revealed to have lied about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador, could spend up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI. That hasn’t stopped the Gateway Pundit, a far-right, conspiracy-mongering news outlet, from presenting Flynn with a “Award for Service to America” at its upcoming conference this weekend. The conference features Pizzagate conspiracy theorists, an alt-right YouTuber accused of leading a “cult,” and members of far-right European parties.

    Flynn is scheduled to appear Friday night, following a series of speeches on why “President Trump Is #Winning.” Flynn, whose contacts with Russian and Turkish officials have brought scrutiny on the Trump administration, is arguably not the best spokesperson for #Winning.

    The Gateway Pundit conference will feature events with titles like “The Fraud of Transgenderism,” “Authentic Abstinence: It Works Every Time!!” and “Inconvenient Facts: How rising temperatures and increasing CO2 are benefiting the Earth and humanity.” Flynn’s award will be followed by a talk titled “They’re Back! The Ten Commandments as the Foundation of Law” and a showing of a Cernovich movie.

    The event’s two other awards are the “Full-time Homemaker of the Year Award,” and the “Phyllis Schlafly Award for Excellence in Leadership,” the latter of which will go to Rep. Steve King, the anti-immigrant Iowa Republican who retweeted a white nationalist yesterday.

    The only good that could come of this would be if Flynn were to wear a wire.

  78. says

    North Carolina, Warned of Rising Seas, Chose to Favor Development

    From The New York Times:

    As Hurricane Florence bears down on North Carolina, the state may face the consequences of policies minimizing the impact of climate change and allowing extensive development in vulnerable coastal areas.

    The approaching storm almost certainly gained destructive power from a warming climate, but a 2012 law, and subsequent actions by the state, effectively ordered state and local agencies that develop coastal policies to ignore scientific models showing an acceleration in the rise of sea levels.

    In the years since, development has continued with little regard to the long-term threat posed by rising sea levels. And the coastal region’s population and economy have boomed, growing by almost half in the last 20 years.

    The law, known as H.B. 819, was widely criticized and even ridiculed when it passed, but it was favored by the state’s business interests, which argued that it was needed to protect property values. Business leaders had been jolted by a state commission’s 2010 report saying that sea levels could rise as much as 39 inches by the year 2100, which would devastate the coast and swamp billions of dollars’ worth of real estate.

    Stanley Riggs, a retired research professor at East Carolina University who helped prepare the 2010 report, said that the research could have been used to tackle the difficult problems of development on the state’s delicate coast.

    “We were ready to step up to the plate and take a hard look at this long-term problem,” he said. “And we blew it.” […]

  79. says

    From The New York Times:

    President Trump has promised for years that Mexico would pay for a vast border wall, a demand that country has steadfastly refused. Now, in the Trump administration’s campaign to stop illegal immigration, the United States plans instead to pay Mexico.

    In a recent notice sent to Congress, the administration said it intended to take $20 million in foreign assistance funds and use it to help Mexico pay plane and bus fare to deport as many as 17,000 people who are in that country illegally.

    The money will help increase deportations of Central Americans, many of whom pass through Mexico to get to the American border. Any unauthorized immigrant in Mexico who is a known or suspected terrorist will also be deported under the program, according to the notification, although such people are few in number. […]

  80. says

    Mueller And Manafort Reach ‘Tentative’ Plea Deal To Avert Second Trial

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/tentative-deal-reached-manafort-special-counsel-sources/story

    The deal is expected to be announced in court Friday, but it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors or is simply conceding to a guilty plea, which would allow him to avoid the stress and expense of trial, according to three sources with knowledge of the discussions. […]

  81. says

    From Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

    The Republicans move in lockstep, so do the Democrats. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back to the way it was.

    [According to The Hill, Ginsburg said she was confirmed by by a 96 to 3 vote and not one senator asked her about her time working for the American Civil Liberties Union.]

    The way it was, was right. The way it is, is wrong.

    TPM Link

    The Hill link

  82. says

    Sen. Leahy – “Brett Kavanaugh misled the Senate under oath. I cannot support his nomination.”:

    Last week I uncovered new evidence that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his earlier hearings for the D.C. Circuit Court by minimizing and even denying his involvement in Bush-era controversies. I gave him the opportunity to correct his testimony at his hearing last week; he chose instead to double down.

    I make no claim that Kavanaugh is a bad person. But when his prior confirmation to our nation’s “second highest court” was in jeopardy, he repeatedly misled the Senate when the truth might have placed that job out of reach.

    Time and again, Kavanaugh appears to have misled the Senate under oath.

    Just as troubling is that there is still much we do not know. With the rush to confirm Kavanaugh, the Senate has vetted only 7 percent of his White House record. And Republicans are intent on keeping the rest hidden. On Thursday, Republicans repeatedly blocked subpoenas that would have answered these questions. And the White House is withholding an outrageous 102,000 pages of records, the “most significant portion” of which relates to judicial nominations. The chance that these records do not contain evidence relevant to Kavanaugh’s truthfulness under oath? Approximately zero.

    Over four decades I have voted for more Republican-nominated judges — including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — than the vast majority of Republicans. I do my best to evaluate each on the merits. Setting aside my concerns about what a Justice Kavanaugh would mean for the rights of Americans, I cannot support a nominee for a lifetime seat to our highest court who cast aside truth in pursuit of raw ambition. Unimpeachable integrity must never be optional.

  83. says

    Sam Stein: “Three times I have asked the White House today if the President formally is disputing the findings in the GW study about Puerto Rico’s death toll (which the PR government accepts). They refuse to answer.”

    Trump’s schedule for tomorrow. Nothing says you’re a key decison-maker like getting an emergency preparedness briefing on an ongoing natural disaster at 2:30 PM.

  84. says

    Great, so MSNBC sent Mariana Atencio and a crew to an island and the bridge closed and now they’re stuck there. The risks of putting reporters in these situations exceed any benefits of the coverage.

  85. says

    From the information:

    One of the Hapsburg Group members, a former Polish President, was also a representative of the European Parliament with oversight responsibility for Ukraine. MANAFORT solicited that official to provide MANAFORT inside information about the European Parliament’s views and actions toward Ukraine and to take actions favorable to Ukraine. MANAFORT also used this Hapsburg Group member’s current European Parliament position to Ukraine’s advantage in his lobbying efforts in the United States. In the fall of 2012, the United States Senate was considering and ultimately passed a resolution critical of President Yanukovych’s treatment of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. MANAFORT engaged in an all-out campaign to try to kill or delay the passage of this resolution. Among the steps he took was having the Hapsburg Group members reach out to United States Senators, as well as directing Companies A and B to have private conversations with Senators to lobby them to place a “hold” on the resolution. MANAFORT told his lobbyists to stress to the Senators that the former Polish President who was advocating against the resolution was currently a designated representative of the President of the European Parliament, to give extra clout to his supposedly independent judgment against the Senate resolution. MANAFORT never revealed to the Senators or to the American public that any of these lobbyists or Hapsburg Group members were paid by Ukraine.

  86. says

    More:

    MANAFORT directed lobbyists to tout the report as showing that President Yanukovych had not selectively prosecuted Tymoshenko. But in November 2012 MANAFORT had been told privately in writing by the law firm that the evidence of Tymoshenko’s criminal intent “is virtually non-existent” and that it was unclear even among legal experts that Tymoshenko lacked power to engage in the conduct central to the Ukraine criminal case. These facts, known by MANAFORT, were not disclosed to the public.

  87. says

    Information:

    In addition to the law firm report, MANAFORT took other steps on behalf of the Government of Ukraine to tarnish Tymoshenko in the United States. In addition to disseminating stories about her soliciting murder, noted above, in October 2012, MANAFORT orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, “[O]bama jews” put pressure on the Administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych. MANAFORT sought to undermine United States support for Tymoshenko by spreading stories in the United States that a senior Cabinet official (who had been a prominent critic of Yanukovych’s treatment of Tymoshenko) was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko, who in turn had formed a political alliance with a Ukraine party that espoused anti-Semitic views. MANAFORT coordinated privately with a senior Israeli government official to issue a written statement publicizing this story. MANAFORT then, with secret advance knowledge of that Israeli statement, worked to disseminate this story in the United States, writing to Person D1 “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.” MANAFORT sought to have the Administration understand that “the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing.” MANAFORT then told his United States lobbyist to inform the Administration that Ukraine had worked to prevent the Administration’s presidential opponent from including damaging language in the Israeli statement, so as not to harm the Administration, and thus further ingratiate Yanukovych with the Administration.

  88. says

    “A Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Stirs Tension Among Democrats in Congress”:

    On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.

    The woman, who has asked not to be identified, first approached Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Trump nominated Kavanaugh. The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

    In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

    Kavanaugh’s classmate said of the woman’s allegation, “I have no recollection of that.”

    The woman declined a request for an interview.

    In recent months, the woman had told friends that Kavanaugh’s nomination had revived the pain of the memory, and that she was grappling with whether to go public with her story. She contacted her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, a Democrat, sending her a letter describing her allegation….

    The letter was also sent to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein….

    After the interactions with Eshoo’s and Feinstein’s offices, the woman decided not to speak about the matter publicly. She had repeatedly reported the allegation to members of Congress and, watching Kavanaugh move toward what looked like an increasingly assured confirmation, she decided to end her effort to come forward, a source close to the woman said. Feinstein’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

    Feinstein’s decision to handle the matter in her own office, without notifying other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stirred concern among her Democratic colleagues….

    Sources familiar with Feinstein’s decision suggested that she was acting out of concern for the privacy of the accuser, knowing that the woman would be subject to fierce partisan attacks if she came forward. Feinstein also acted out of a sense that Democrats would be better off focussing on legal, rather than personal, issues in their questioning of Kavanaugh….

  89. says

    So much wrong here I don’t know where to start:

    .@ChuckGrassley releases a letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school (showing Rs knew about this high-school rape allegation.) These women say Kavanaugh “behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”

  90. says

    I don’t know how much difference this will make in the Texas Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke, but it is good that Willie Nelson is backing Beto.

    From Willie Nelson:

    My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed. Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.

    Meanwhile, some rightwing fans of Nelson are despoiling his Facebook page with insults and calls for people to boycott the singer.

    […] Nelson’s decision to headline the [Beto] rally, which will be the first public concert the singer’s ever held for a political candidate, is a breaking point for some of his fans, who took to social media to disown the legend. […]

    Link

  91. says

    People from Mueller’s team have referred to Manafort’s plea deal as a “cooperation agreement” in court. We still don’t have all the details.

  92. says

    Top cyber-security officials keep leaving the FBI at a critical time.

    Another cybersecurity expert at the FBI is headed for the private sector.

    Trent Teyema, the FBI’s section chief for cyber readiness and chief operating officer of the bureau’s Cyber Division, has been named senior vice president and chief technology officer for the government-focused wing of Parsons Corporation. Link to cyber scoop.

    […] Why should you care? Because as we discussed earlier in the summer, as the midterm elections draw closer, and the threat of foreign cyber-attacks grows greater, the FBI appears to be losing much of its leadership in this area.

    The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Scott Smith, who ran the FBI cyber division, parted ways with the bureau in July, following his deputy, Howard Marshall, out the door. Their supervisor, David Resch, is also stepping down.

    They’re joined by Carl Ghattas, executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch, who’s also leaving, following Jeffrey Tricoli, “a senior FBI cyber agent who oversaw a Bureau task force addressing Russian attempts to meddle in U.S. elections,” out the door.

    According to Politico, Tricoli was replaced by someone who “knows absolutely nothing about cyber.”

    Of course, all of this follows Donald Trump’s decision in May to eliminate the job of the nation’s cyber-security czar, as part of John Bolton’s reorganization of the National Security Council.

    A New York Times reported at the time, “Cybersecurity experts and members of Congress said they were mystified by the move…. It was the latest in a series of steps that appeared to run counter to the prevailing view in Washington of cybersecurity’s importance.” […]

    Tom Bossert, who served as Trump’s top White House adviser on homeland security, recently told Yahoo News that he’s concerned about “who’s minding the store” on cyber-security.

    FBI Director Chris Wray wants the public to feel confident in the security system in place. That’s not an easy sell.

  93. says

    Manafort says he is guilty of all the charges against him, he is cooperating with the government, and he has agreed to forfeit some property and bank accounts.

  94. says

    I meant to also add this to comment 167:

    The extent there was any doubt as to the lack of professionalism of @TuckerCarlson or @FoxNews before tonight, there is no longer. What happened with the chyron tonight was a disgrace. Complete garbage – trash television. A new low.

    Tucker Carlson’s fans are claiming that Avenatti started the “name-calling” when it is clear that Carlson posted the “creepy porn lawyer…” chyron before Avenatti even sat down for the interview.

  95. says

    Major!

    Judge Amy Berman Jackson says Manafort’s cooperation agreement includes:
    -interviews and briefings he’ll give to the special counsel’s office
    – turning over documents
    – testifying in other proceedings”

  96. says

    southpaw re #160 above: “Note that, as the letter says, Georgetown Prep was at the time a boys-only school. So, assuming their good faith for a moment, Rs had to track down 65 women who went to nearby schools during the same period and happened to know Brett Kavanaugh to create this letter. No mean feat.”

    I’d think it was impossible. No way did he know 65 girls in high school well enough that they could vouch for him now.

    And, aside from the worthlessness of such letters in general, this whole thing reeks.

  97. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    From SC’s comment above: “@ChuckGrassley releases a letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school (showing Rs knew about this high-school rape allegation.)”

    Yet more binders full of women from the Republicans!

  98. says

    #Russia’s state TV keeps harping on the idea that suspected #Skripal poisoners are a gay couple, touring Salisbury & sleeping in the same bed – anything to distract from the notion that agents typically travel in pairs, like Litvinenko’s assassins, Andrei Lugovoi & Dmitri Kovtun.”

  99. says

    Irony alert: Trump’s FEMA personnel are advising everyone to avoid spreading false information.

    We have created a rumor control page for Hurricane #Florence that will be updated regularly. During disasters, it’s critical to avoid spreading false information. Always check with official sources before sharing.

    24 hours earlier Trump spread a fuck-ton of false information:

    On Sept. 7, President Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.

    In that single day, he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements – in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes. It was a new single-day high.

    The day before, the president made 74 false or misleading claims, many at a campaign rally in Montana. An anonymous op-ed article by a senior administration official had just been published in the New York Times, and news circulated about journalist Bob Woodward’s insider account of Trump’s presidency.

    Trump’s tsunami of untruths helped push the count in The Fact Checker’s database past 5,000 on the 601st day of his presidency. That’s an average of 8.3 Trumpian claims a day, but in the past nine days – since our last update – the president has averaged 32 claims a day.

    Washington Post link

    In addition, Trump added to his lies by spreading false information about the number of casualties in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. Trump doubled down and repeated that false information.

  100. says

    The plea agreement reached between Paul Manafort and the special counsel’s office requires Manafort to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” with the government on “any and all matters” identified by the government. […]

    Link

    So, yeah, that’s everything. Manafort is cooperating fully.

    From Josh Marshall:

    The two words “remain safe” in Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing’s comment on his client’s decision this morning says quite a lot. “He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/he-wanted-his-family-to-be-safe

  101. says

    From Marcy Wheeler:

    […] Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

    Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.

    The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.

    Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

    Remember, back in January, Trump told friends and aides that Manafort could incriminate him (the implication was that only Manafort could). I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.

    And Manafort has probably already provided evidence on whatever Mueller needed.

    So here’s what Robert Mueller just did: He sewed up the key witness to implicate the President, and he paid for the entire investigation. […]

    https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/14/the-manafort-plea-is-pardon-proof/

  102. says

    This is a different story about the ridiculous Kavanaugh letter: “Here’s How That Letter From 65 Women Supporting Brett Kavanaugh Came Together So Quickly.”

    Says it was organized by his friend since high school Meghan McCaleb, who got the idea after her husband, also Kavanaugh’s friend since high school, was contacted by a reporter about the allegations earlier this week. Two points of note: First,

    Another of the signatories, reached by BuzzFeed News, said she was contacted Thursday by McCaleb about the possibility of signing on to a letter attesting to Kavanaugh’s character. Megan Williams told BuzzFeed News that she was not aware of specific allegations against Kavanaugh when she signed the letter, but said, “I can’t even tell you how out of character” that would be and made clear that she stood behind the letter. “The guy’s a saint.”

    So some of the signatories weren’t aware of why they were being asked to sign, which is beyond scuzzy on McCaleb’s and the clerks’ part.

    Second, this is from a Business Insider article after Kavanaugh’s nomination:

    President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee listed himself as the treasurer of the “Keg City Club — 100 Kegs or Bust” in his Washington, DC-area high school’s yearbook, The Washington Post reported.

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s entry in the Georgetown Preparatory School yearbook also included references to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Rehoboth Police Fan Club.”

    Scott McCaleb, a childhood friend of Kavanaugh’s, described the nominee to The Post as studious and “always kind of like an old soul,” however. Georgetown Prep’s website listed Kavanaugh as a member of the basketball team, football team, and school newspaper while in high school.

    “He was more mature than the rest of us,” McCaleb said of Kavanaugh in high school. “He was always the guy who was going home to do his homework.”

    I of all people am not judging Kavanaugh on his teenage (or adult) drinking habits, but McCaleb’s portrait of him here is completely at odds with the evidence. Kavanaugh was plainly a drinker in prep school, and McCaleb had to know it. There’s such a concerted effort on the part of Kavanaugh and his friends and colleagues to deny any of his history, distant or recent, that it makes me very suspicious that there are skeletons in his closet. (Plus I think he’s a liar.)

  103. says

    From Harrison Ford:

    I beg you. Don’t forget nature. Because today, the destruction of nature accounts for more global emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world. We can put solar panels on every house, we can turn every car into an electric vehicle but as along as long as Sumatra burns—we will have failed. So long as the Amazon’s great forests are slashed and burned, so long as the protected lands of tribal people, Indigenous people are allowed to be encroached upon, so long as wetlands and bog peats are destroyed, our climate goals will remain out of reach. and we will be shit out of time.

    Empower Indigenous communities to use their knowledge, their history, their imaginations. Our science to save their heritage and their lands. Respect and insure their rights.

    This is the core truth. If we are to survive on this planet, the only home any of us will ever know, for our climate for our security and for our future—we need Nature. Now, more than ever.

    Stop, for God’s sake, the denigration of science. Stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science, or even worse, pretend they don’t believe in science for their own self-interest.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Protesters-gathering-in-S-F-say-climate-change-13226667.php

    The quotes above are excerpts. See the link for more information.

  104. says

    Update to #156 above – “Manafort and Senior Israeli Official Meddled in Ukraine Elections, Obama Foreign Policy”:

    …The document doesn’t name the senior Israeli official that Manafort communicated with. However, in October 2012, at the same time that Manafort was working on this issue, Israel’s then-foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, published a statement attacking the political rivals of Manafort’s clients in Ukraine for espousing anti-Semitism. Lieberman’s statement was featured in reports by a number of American news outlets.

    “Israel is concerned by the recently signed agreement between the Batkivshchyna party and the extremist party Svoboda, who’s anti-Semitic outbursts have caused outrage in Ukraine and Israel more than once,” the statement read. Batkivshchyna, or Fatherland, is lead by Tymoshenko, while Svoboda, or Freedom, is an ultra-nationalist party.

    Lieberman, who is currently defense minister, denied on Friday that he had ever met with, spoken to or worked with Manafort.

  105. says

    Emily Jane Fox is on MSNBC saying Michael Cohen has been in conversations with Mueller’s team, and that he’s willing and eager to cooperate if Mueller wants his cooperation.

  106. says

    What Trump said about Manafort on August 22, 2018:

    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!

    And this is what Trump said when Manafort resigned as campaign chairman in August 2016: “very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process.”

    From Eric Trump, right after Manafort left the campaign:

    Paul is a great guy. Paul was amazing

    From Newt Gingrich, on August 19, 2016:

    Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now.

  107. says

    Chris Hayes’ podcast – “The Left Wing of the Democratic Party with Sean McElwee”:

    Can the Democratic Party keep up with the new left? The left-most wing of the party is growing and expanding, pushing platforms like Medicare for all, free college, and abolishing ICE. Though this group is the minority, the space they’re creating is the space in which the entirety of the party will have to participate in the coming elections. For example, Abolish ICE was first popularized by a twitter hashtag pushed by Sean McElwee. Now, it’s a common campaign issue that the President rails against in his speeches and that any 2020 Democratic hopeful will have to answer to. Sean McElwee pops up again in the primaries, having foreseen two of the biggest Democratic upsets months in advance. As someone at the nexus of the changing winds of the left, McElwee joins us to share his thoughts on what he sees as the way forward for the Democratic Party.

  108. says

    “Check Out What Appears To Be Amber Guyger’s Pinterest Account”:

    In the hours and days between shooting Botham Jean and her name being made public, Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger appeared to scrub as much of her life as possible from the internet. By the time Guyger’s name was widely known, she and her family had disappeared from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — the places inquiring minds would typically look for photos and anything else they could find.

    It appears that Guyger failed to sweep up one trail of digital breadcrumbs….

  109. says

    “Berkeley police posted activists’ mugshots on Twitter and celebrated retweets, emails reveal”:

    A California police agency that published the names and photos of anti-fascist protesters on Twitter said it was creating a “counter-narrative” on social media and celebrated its high rate of retweets and “engagement”, internal records reveal.

    The Berkeley police department (BPD) faced widespread backlash last month after posting the personal information of arrested activists online, leading to Fox News coverage and harassment and abuse against the leftwing demonstrators at a far-right rally. New emails have shown that the city has an explicit policy of targeting protesters with mugshot tweets, with the goal of using “social media to help create a counter-narrative”.

    Officials have further praised the “unusually deep and broad publication and attention” to activists’ mugshots, saying it helped create a “narrative about the city’s ability to enforce the rule of law”.

    The records have sparked fresh scrutiny of the northern California police department, with critics accusing law enforcement of aiding the “alt-right” by shaming anti-fascists online after making questionable arrests. City lawmakers, citing the Guardian’s reporting, have now proposed an ordinance that would ban police from posting mugshots on social media unless the arrested individuals posed an immediate public safety threat.

    “It is devastating that BPD would endanger people for the sake of their public relations campaign,” said Andrea Pritchett, an activist with Berkeley Copwatch.

    Police arrested 20 people on 5 August, and all were counter-protesters and anti-fascists who came to demonstrate against a far-right event, according to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of San Francisco, which is representing some of the activists.

    Many arrested were cited for “possession of a banned weapon”, which police said included “anything” that could be used in a “riot”. Some were arrested for bandanas and scarves that police considered “masks” and sign poles cited as “weapons”, according to the NLG, which is representing activists.

    The records, obtained by police accountability group Lucy Parsons Labs and reported by the East Bay Express, shed light on how officials internally have defined and justified the social media policy for protests. Officials said the “social media-driven protests” have created the need for a “Twitter protocol for mug shots” and acknowledged that the tweets would get “broad national exposure”. One police email had the subject line, “Info flow from Jail to Twitter.”

    The policy also made clear that police would post mugshots on Twitter only when the arrests were “protest related”, drawing criticisms that the practice was aimed at discouraging free speech activities.

    Veena Dubal, a University of California law professor and former Berkeley police review commissioner, said the mugshot policy was “really deviating from the role of the police department, which is public safety”.

    She said she was also stunned by the “counter narrative” language: “If the prevailing narrative is these rightwing, white supremacist rallies should be stopped, and we don’t want them in the city, then the ‘counter-narrative’ is we do want them in our city, and the counter-protesters are the problem.”

    The documents have come to light at a time in which law enforcement in California and across the US have come under fire for their response to neo-Nazi rallies….

  110. says

    “How badly did Russia’s interview with the Skripal poisoning suspects backfire?”:

    …The previous data show that RT viewers were generally skeptical of the official U.K. account of the Skripal poisoning. But this week’s interview with the suspects marked a dramatic change — the top 100 most-liked comments included many from viewers who felt the interview was ridiculous and the suspects’ stories implausible. Fully 74 percent were critical of the claims presented by the suspects.

    Some viewers even noted that the interview itself had changed their opinion of the whole affair: “Not a very convincing interview at all … I wasn’t doubting the Russian government until I saw this interview,” was one comment. Others saw it as reason to doubt the RT network, calling it “fake news.” In comparison, only 16 percent of the comments were critical of the U.K., while 4 percent suggested the interview was an example of Russian trolling.

    In the past, RT generally relied on humor to neutralize negative reactions. This time, the editor in chief who interviewed the two suspects struggled to deflect the criticism, and dramatically hung up during a telephone interview with the BBC.

    Perhaps the response of English-speaking audiences is no real concern, if the main purpose of the interview was designed more for domestic audiences. But if that was the intent, the interview also appears to have failed. Russia’s state-controlled domestic TV ignored the video’s critical reception, but newspapers have not been so forgiving. And the YouTube comments on RT’s Russian version of the interview have been just as negative as those in English. One viewer said: “Until today I perceived this Skripal story as Britain’s provocation. But once I saw these two idiots, my view has been shaken.”

    To date, RT has pitched itself as a network at ease with the new digital world, prepared to tell uncomfortable truths in a media environment dominated by the institutions and power structures of the “West.”Criticism of the network, RT suggests, is fueled by Russophobes frightened at its challenge to those in power.

    The poor reception to the Skripal suspects’ interview shows the fragility of RT’s position — and its ability to act as a soft power instrument of the Russian state — along with its failure to judge online audiences. As one comment on RT’s interview put it: “by posting this video and also not disabling comments you’ve totally screwed yourselves.”

    More at the link.

  111. says

    “Our System Is Too Broken to Assess the Sexual Assault Claim Against Kavanaugh”:

    This, then, was the fatal flaw of #MeToo: We thought that patriarchal systems, based in entrenched power, and supported by others in power, could be brought down by individual, brave women.

    Why don’t women come forward? The story now unfolding on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and an unidentified woman who alleges that he sexually assaulted her when they were in high school underscores why….

    The real tragedy is that we do not need this woman’s story to understand who the current Supreme Court nominee is. Because here is what we do know about Judge Kavanaugh: We know that he clerked for and had a yearslong close relationship with a serial abuser of women and claims he knew nothing about it. He claims he doesn’t recall being on a hypersexualized and misogynistic email list and claims he didn’t bother to search to determine whether he was. He claims that when the serial abuser of women for whom he clerked was revealed to be a serial abuser of women, he believed the victims and yet called the abuser, because he was worried about the abuser’s mental health. Worrying more about the accused judge than the accusers one claims to believe is the system protecting the system. This is why women don’t come forward.

    Here is what we do know about Judge Kavanaugh. We know that he was part of a group of young men who saw fit to write a creepy racist and misogynistic email chain—and to pledge to keep it secret. We also know that the “neutral” George W. Bush lawyer who vetted Kavanaugh’s papers (and also represents the disgraced judge for whom Kavanaugh once clerked) deemed one of those emails classified, even though it contained no national security or political secrets. Withholding that email was the system protecting the system. That is why women don’t come forward.

    Here is what we do know about Judge Kavanaugh. He had an opportunity to use all these questions around all these periods in his life to say anything at all about men and power and the female victims of that power, and about the systems that protect and reify and rehabilitate men in power, and he said nothing. Worse, he said he believed the victims of that system while still doing nothing to support or credit them. This is why women don’t come forward.

    The problem is that demanding that any one woman bear the full professional and social and emotional cost of dismantling the machinery of men in power propping up other men in power is expecting entirely too much. We already know that one victim speaking up isn’t enough. The entire vast apparatus of the institution will be brought to bear against her, and that is the same apparatus that she must report to and hope to be believed by, all while knowing she must continue to work within it. Asking that any one woman do such a thing isn’t just a call for moral heroism. It’s also irrational.

    It’s particularly irrational when the man in question is in the process of being confirmed to a Supreme Court seat with political stakes that are beyond high. The system that has gotten Brett Kavanaugh to this point has done so by scrambling powerful former clerks to defend him,* and positioning powerful Republican lawyers to classify his emails, and standing together to simultaneously claim that it believes the Kozinski accusers and also believes they are political operatives sent to embarrass him. Why would we think that this is a system into which we could input a complicated allegation of sexual misconduct and get out anything rational or fact-based in return?

    …When she received a Mirror Award this summer for her reporting on Charlie Rose, my colleague Irin Carmon said this in her speech: “The stories that we have been doing are about a system. The system has lawyers and a good reputation. It has publicists. It has a perfectly reasonable explanation about what happened. It has powerful friends that will ask if it’s really worth ruining the career of a good man based on what one women says, what four women say, what 35 women say. Indeed, the system is sitting in this room. Some more than others. The system is still powerful men getting stories killed that I believe will one day see the light of day.”

    The system made certain that whatever this woman had to say, or didn’t have to say, would be evaluated by people with partial information and an agenda, even if she didn’t want to share it in the first place. The system is still sitting in this room. The system kind of is this room. The system keeps asking why women in trauma didn’t come forward earlier or later or publicly or privately or anonymously or with evidence or without evidence. The system is why women don’t talk, and even when they do, why things don’t change.

    Georgetown Prep and its alumni network deserves some scrutiny here as well, in my view.

  112. says

    Trump still being as atrocious as possible, and, yes, this includes him referring to himself in the third person.:

    When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.” The Washington Post. This was long AFTER the hurricane took place. Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, “3000 PEOPLE KILLED.” They hired….

    ….GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER – NO WAY!

    Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello:

    I’d very much be willing to walk you through the scientific process of the study and how @Gwtweets arrived at the excess mortality number estimate. There is no reason to underscore the tragedy we have suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

    George Washington University researchers who found the death toll stand by their report.

    “We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.”

    https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/1040284670091579392

  113. says

    Ohio’s Wealthiest Republican Donor Quits the GOP. He Felt “Dirty” and “Ashamed”. Link

    From the Columbus Dispatch:

    “After former Democratic President Barack Obama made a quiet stop in Columbus on Thursday night, the wealthiest Republican supporter in the state told a small audience at a Downtown event that he is fed up and has quit the Republican Party.

    “I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,” said L Brands CEO Leslie H. Wexner, speaking during a panel discussion about civility at Miranova’s Ivory Room billed as a “Columbus Partnership and YPO Leadership Summit.”

    “I’m an independent,” he said. “I won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party. I’ve been a Republican since college, joined the Young Republican Club at Ohio State. […]

    Wexner spoke warmly about Obama and about the theme of bipartisan civility, something he has been promoting in recent months. “It’s a great moment for the community,” he said of Obama’s rather secretive visit to Columbus before his Cleveland rally for Cordray. “I know he came here because of the Partnership and the things we have done, and the knowledge that civility is a priority for our community. He wanted to touch it and feel it for himself.

    “I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,” Wexner said of Obama.

    Those comments presented a stark contrast to Wexner’s comments about Republican President Donald Trump. A little over a year ago, the billionaire CEO said in a speech to L Brands employees that he felt “dirty” and “ashamed” following Trump’s response to violence that erupted at the Unite the Right rally that left one dead in Charlottesville in 2017.”

  114. says

    Concession by the Trump Administration Caps Off a Big Legal Victory for Separated Families

    Link

    In February, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Trump administration to reunite a family separated at the border: a Congolese woman identified in court documents as Ms. L and her seven-year-old daughter. Half a year later, the lawsuit has forced the government to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs reached an agreement with the Justice Department that caps off separated families’ legal victory over the Trump administration and its now-abandoned separation policy.

    Under the new agreement, parents who were separated from their children will get another chance to prove that they’re eligible to apply for asylum in the United States. If they fail to do so, they will be allowed to remain in the United States while their children’s asylum cases are decided.

    The plan, which immigrant advocates say could affect more than 1,000 parents, now needs to be approved by Dana Sabraw, the federal judge who ordered the Trump administration to reunite separated families by late July.

    During a Friday court hearing, Sabraw called the agreement a “very detailed, well thought-out proposal that involves many, many stakeholders” and showed “good faith on behalf of all, particularly the government.” Sabraw seemed highly likely to approve the agreement, or a similar proposal, once the parties in the lawsuit have had a chance to submit objections. “It seems to me that this is an excellent proposal and we ought to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

    Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the case, said in a statement on Thursday, “The Trump administration will never be able to erase the full damage of its family separation policy, but this agreement is an important step toward restoring and protecting the asylum rights of impacted children and parents going forward.”

    To apply for asylum, migrants must pass a “credible fear” interview that determines whether they are at risk of being persecuted in their home country. Many parents failed those interviews while separated from their children, but immigrant advocates have argued that the trauma of the ongoing separations made them unable to effectively present their cases to asylum officers. […]

    More at the link.

  115. says

    He’s mostly shed the “Governor Moonbeam” nickname, but Gov. Jerry Brown pointed California toward the stars as he closed out a global climate change summit here Friday.

    “We’re going to launch our own satellite — our own damn satellite to figure out where the pollution is and how we’re going to end it,” Brown told an international audience on the final day of the San Francisco gathering.

    California will work with San Francisco-based Planet Labs to launch a satellite capable of tracking climate-altering emissions, Brown said. The effort will lean on the expertise of the state’s Air Resources Board, which has taken the forefront in pursuing climate-related innovations. […]

    “In California, with science under attack — in fact we’re under attack from a lot of people, including Donald Trump, but the climate threat still keeps growing. So, we want to know what the hell is going on all over the world, all the time.” […]

    Link

  116. says

    What we know about the death toll in Puerto Rico

    (Hint: Trump is wrong.)

    […] The president again provided no evidence to contradict the now widely accepted death toll, which was calculated after months of painstaking analysis of death records and expected mortality rates by researchers at George Washington University at the behest of the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló. (Rosselló said in a statement on Thursday “it is a fact” that 2,975 people died following the hurricane.)

    And falsely, Trump claimed Friday that “this method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed.”

    In fact, the GWU researchers found that the death count remained low at 64 for many months after the storm largely due to the fact that doctors in Puerto Rico had been poorly trained in and were confused about the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for attributing deaths to a disaster in death certificates. “The analysis shows that physician unawareness of appropriate death certification practices after a natural disaster and the Government of Puerto Rico’s lack of communication about death certificate reporting prior to the 2017 hurricane season substantially limited the count of deaths related to María,” they wrote.

    Which meant that in the first few weeks and deaths after the storm, doctors failed to record many deaths that were indirectly related to the storm — but still worthy of inclusion in the death toll, per CDC guidelines — such as kidney patients who couldn’t get treatments because their dialysis center didn’t have generator fuel or fresh water. In the absence of reliable data from death certificates, researchers then used a statistical method approved by the World Health Organization to measure excess mortality to come up with the 2,975 deaths.

    Make no mistake: The figure of 2,975 deaths is an estimate. But given that it has been so politicized, it’s worth walking through the research that gave us estimate, and why we can be confident in it, even though we don’t have all the names or know exactly how they died. […]

    More at the link.

  117. says

    Follow-up to Saad’s comment 188.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    It’s that time of year again! The time when the Texas Board of Education decides just how they’re going to brainwash the kids into being future Republicans with no empathy for anybody and a completely distorted view of United States history. This, as always, is a big deal. Because Texas buys so many textbooks, the changes made by their board of education often make their way into the textbooks of other states, thereby making children across the country culturally, scientifically and historically illiterate and very beatable at Trivial Pursuit.

    This year, the big news is that both Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton are being removed from the social studies curriculum, on account of how they are not notable enough. As citizens. Unlike soldiers and members of the Texas legislature. This was their actual comment about Keller.

    “Helen Keller does not best represent the concept of citizenship. Military and first responders are best represented.” […]

    OK, so — first of all, Keller overcame what some might say are considerable odds to not only learn to speak and write despite being unable to see or hear, but she got so good at that, that she later went to Radcliffe (a very fancy school) and then became an activist, advocating for people with disabilities, women’s suffrage and worker’s rights. […]

    It’s likely that the reason they decided Keller wasn’t notable enough, as a citizen, is because she was a socialist, and — although they don’t usually mention it in third grade when they cover Helen Keller — they probably feared people looking up to her and then later finding out that someone as awesome as Helen Keller was… a socialist. […]

    While the board decided that Hillary Clinton being the first woman to run for president on a major ticket was not, actually all that important at all, they did opt to keep in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. So, you know, she’s mentioned there! Otherwise, just not notable at all. [What about her Secretary of State role?]

    Naturally, they kept Billy Graham in, because Texas. And a lot of stuff about how very swell the Alamo was.

    What other bizarre decisions did they make? Let’s take a look, shall we?

    – Reinsert references to “Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law)” in section on “major intellectual, philosophical, political, and religious traditions that informed the American founding.”

    – Reinsert the biblical figure of Moses and remove Thomas Hobbes from section on “individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding.”

    -Reinsert reference to “the Judeo-Christian legal tradition” in section on “the development of democratic-republican government from its beginnings.”

    – Remove the phrase “describe the optimism of the many immigrants who sought a better life in America” in a section on “social issues affecting women, minorities, children, immigrants, and urbanization.” […]

  118. says

    At least five dead, nearly 1 million without power as storm swamps Carolinas

    Washington Post link

    […] Rain continues to pour over this region, where officials are warning that 14 more inches, on top of the 10 to 12 inches that have already fallen, are expected in the next 48 hours. The Cape Fear River is expected to crest late Monday or Tuesday, at a historic 25.8 feet. […]

    In Wilmington proper, fallen trees and power lines block many roads, and traffic lights are out virtually everywhere. About 112,000 people, out of 127,000 locally, remain without power, and Duke Energy officials warned Friday that it may be weeks before power is fully restored. […]

    Ahead of what officials fear will be more than 45 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina, at least three local governments want residents to seek safer ground. Cumberland County, the city of Fayetteville and the town of Wade have issued a mandatory evacuation order for all people living within one mile of the banks of the Cape Fear River and the Little River within Cumberland County “to minimize the imminent threat of injury or loss of life.” […]

    More at the link.

  119. says

    Updated death toll from Hurricane Florence: 9 people. And the danger is not yet over.

    From Jon Lee Anderson, writing for The New Yorker about what Trump fails to recognize about hurricanes and leadership:

    Catastrophes, natural or man-made, can make or break leaders. They offer the ultimate opportunity to show the qualities that people seek in those whom they have chosen to take command: courage, empathy, serenity, fortitude, decisiveness. Under extreme circumstances, true leadership comes to the fore; if one does not possess the requisite qualities, their lack is immediately evident to all and sundry. […]

    Evidently immune to the idea that he might be held to the same standards of judgment as his predecessors, Trump behaved with negligent condescension toward the disaster from the beginning. He had made two visits to Texas in the days after Hurricane Harvey hit that state, gushing fulsomely over the handling of catastrophe and “great turnout” for his visits. But he waited two weeks after Maria struck to visit Puerto Rico, and then spent a mere four hours there, during which time he was driven around a middle-class suburb of San Juan that was not badly affected, and appeared at a church where he cavalierly tossed rolls of paper towels to local residents. In a press conference, he appeared to issue a scolding for the cost of the assistance, saying, “Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” and he minimized the island’s tragedy by drawing comparisons between its reportedly low death toll and the “hundreds” of people who had died in Katrina.[…]

    In the year since, Trump has mentioned Puerto Rico mostly to compliment himself for his performance, as he did again on Tuesday, describing his government’s response to Maria as “an incredible, unsung success.” His rosy rendition stands in direct contradiction to the opinion of most Puerto Ricans, eighty per cent of whom view his response unfavorably, according to a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Over all, the government response, at both the federal and the local levels, is viewed as having been sluggish and inefficient, with inexplicably long delays in reactivating the island’s devastated power grid and in repairing damaged roads and homes. The crisis has also deepened the unemployment problem and accelerated an exodus of people from the island.

    Meanwhile, the Milken Institute School of Public Health, at George Washington University, published a report that found that nearly three thousand people ultimately died as a result of Hurricane Maria. Trump’s reaction—against the backdrop of a new hurricane season, […] was to decry the report as an attempt by Democrats to besmirch his reputation. […]

    In Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, who has verbally sparred with Trump since last year, tweeted, “YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING,” and “Simply put: delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality. Trump is so vain he thinks this is about him. NO IT IS NOT.” […]

    More at the link.

  120. says

    Here’s the AP article about #206 – “Sheriff: US Border Patrol agent suspected of killing 4 women”:

    A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four prostitutes was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman managed to escape from him and notify the authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a “serial killer.”

    Juan David Ortiz, an intel supervisor for the Border Patrol, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a hotel parking lot in Laredo at around 2 a.m. Saturday, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio. He said investigators have “very strong evidence” that he is responsible for the deaths of the four women….

  121. says

    Further to #s 181-3 and 185 above – “Brett Kavanaugh’s High School Friend Isn’t Helping the Nominee’s Case”:

    …The New York Times reported that the friend the woman alleged to be in the room with Kavanaugh was conservative writer Mark Judge, who attended Georgetown Prep with the nominee. On Friday, Judge told the Weekly Standard that no such incident took place. “It’s just absolutely nuts,” he said. “I never saw Brett act that way.”

    In his opening statement at his confirmation hearing this month, Kavanaugh referenced his time at the Catholic institution with great reverence: “The motto of my Jesuit high school was ‘Men for others.’‌  I’ve tried to live that creed.”

    But the school Judge has described in his books is a very different sort of place.* In his 2005 book, God and Man at Georgetown Prep, which is now out of print, Judge apparently paints the school as overrun with gay priests who promote a form of liberalism that wrecks Catholic education.** He also describes an institution where alcoholism was rampant, a theme he detailed in his 1997 addiction memoir, Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk.

    That book chronicles Judge’s time as a teenage alcoholic. Like many works of the genre, it devotes a lot of ink to the kinds of debauchery that leads to AA and recovery. While there’s nothing in the book that resembles the incident reportedly described in the private letter given to the FBI, Judge says his own black-out drinking while he and Kavanaugh were Georgetown Prep students “reached the point where once I had the first beer, I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated.”

    Judge has changed the names of many of the people in the book to protect their privacy, and he renames Georgetown Prep as “Loyola Prep.” But Kavanaugh seems to make a cameo. Consider this passage:

    [passage about someone he calls “Bart O’Kavanaugh” drinking until he vomits on one occasion and passes out on another]…

    He recounts that two priests (IIRC) on the faculty during his time there were later arrested, one for sexually abusing boys and the other for possessing child pornography. (He of course blames this on liberalism and the gays.) Super healthy school environment.

    ** He blames liberalism for…well, see #182 above.

  122. says

    Update: Juan David Ortiz confessed to all four homicides. He is a nine-year veteran of Border Patrol, according to Webb County DA. Still waiting on statement from BP.

    This would be the second homicide investigation in Webb involving a border patrol agent from the Laredo sector.

    In April, agent Anthony Burgos-Aviles, was accused of killing a woman and their child.

    The difference is that the knowledge gained in their profession was argued to have helped Burgos-Aviles in execution of alleged crime. So far, that hasn’t been the case made for Ortiz.”

  123. says

    [passage about someone he calls “Bart O’Kavanaugh” drinking until he vomits on one occasion and passes out on another]

    Contrast this with the description from Kavanaugh’s friend Scott McCaleb @ #177 above – “always kind of like an old soul,” “more mature than the rest of us,” “always the guy who was going home to do his homework.” These portraits, which are completely contrary to the available evidence, are painted by a whole network of alumni from this set of schools. It’s very Manchurian Candidate and creepy as hell. (Incidentally, Neil Gorsuch attended this same school at the same time.)

  124. says

    So I’m watching the Chris Hayes town hall in Michigan again, and I still don’t understand the argument Michael Moore is trying to make. He’s saying more people in Flint voted in the Democratic primary in 2016 than in the general election, and Clinton won the primary in Flint. So he would want to know what was going on, because “that’s some serious anger at what the system has done to fail this city.” Aside from the fact that the Flint water crisis was a major issue for Clinton during the campaign, this doesn’t even make sense. Flint Dems voted for her (and not Sanders, who narrowly won statewide) in the primary because they didn’t think “the system”/Clinton had failed them. If fewer then turned out to vote for her in the general, the best explanation I can think of is Russiapublican voter suppression efforts. Am I missing something?

  125. says

    Preet Bharara’s most recent podcast interviews – “Kavanaugh and The Court (with Ron Klain)” and “Truth and Lies in the West Wing (with Jonathan Swan).”

    I’ve realized what makes him such a good interviewer: he asks people – reporters, comedians, prosecutors, intelligence people, activists – in very practical terms about the process of how they do things, how they go about their work.

  126. says

    Sadiq Khan: “The people must have another vote – to take back control of Brexit”:

    …In good faith, I’ve given the government every bit of advice and information available to City Hall and every opportunity to strike a deal that would minimise the impact on people’s livelihoods. But I’ve become increasingly alarmed as the chaotic approach to the negotiations has become mired in confusion and deadlock, leading us down a path that could be hugely damaging – not only to London, but the whole country.

    Until now, I’ve held out hope the government would finally get its act together, start listening to the advice of employers, trade unions and everyone who has a stake in getting this right and seek the best possible deal with the EU – putting the national interest ahead of narrow party politics. But it’s clear this prospect is now dead in the water.

    With time rapidly running out, we are left with two possibilities – a bad deal, which could end up being so vague that we leave the EU blind to what our future relationship will be, or a “no-deal” Brexit.

    Both these scenarios are a million miles from what was promised during the referendum campaign, only further exposing the lies and mistruths sold to the public. They are also both incredibly risky and I don’t believe May has the mandate to gamble so flagrantly with the economy and people’s livelihoods.

    So, after a lot of careful consideration, I’ve decided the people must get a final say. This means a public vote on any deal or a vote on a no-deal, alongside the option of staying in the EU.

    As mayor, I wouldn’t be doing my job standing up for Londoners if I didn’t say now that it’s time to think again about how we take this crucial decision.

    I don’t believe it’s the will of the people to face either a bad deal or, worse, no deal. That wasn’t on the table during the campaign. People didn’t vote to leave the EU to make themselves poorer, to watch their businesses suffer, to have NHS wards understaffed, to see the police preparing for civil unrest or for national security to be put at risk if our co-operation with the EU in the fight against terrorism is weakened.

    It’s time to take this crucial issue out of the hands of the politicians and return it to the peopleso that they can take back control. Another public vote on Brexit was never inevitable, or something I ever thought I’d have to call for. But the government’s abject failure – and the huge risk we face of a bad deal or a “no deal” Brexit – means that giving people a fresh say is now the right – and only – approach left for our country.

  127. says

    From yesterday: “Where is Trump? Who is in Charge? Have not seen POTUS since Tuesday. He’s released a photo with him and VP Pence being updated on the Hurricane. Tomorrow the WH just announced he will have another closed press update. But NO public appearances scheduled – again.”

  128. says

    “Which Top Israeli Official Was a Foreign Agent in Manafort Case? Israeli Politicians Demand Immediate Probe”:

    Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to launch an immediate investigation into whether a foreign agent is operating within the Israeli government.

    Gabbay made the request following the publication of the plea deal U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign director, Paul Manafort, reached with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    “An examination of the part of the indictment that deals with Israel leads to the shocking conclusion that there might have been (and may still be) a mole (a foreign agent) in government service, serving extraneous interests. This requires at the very least the launching of an immediate and thorough investigation,” the letter stated.

    “Simply put, the facts of the indictment state that someone in the Israeli Foreign Ministry was a pawn in Manafort’s hands, with whom he did what he wanted and led him to release an official statement that assisted him in promoting these extraneous interests. These are serious factual claims, being officially made by the most senior law enforcement officials in the United States and they should be disturbing to every citizen,” the letter continued.

    Noting that Netanyahu is also Israel’s foreign minister, Gabbay said: “As the person responsible for the foreign service and the protection of Israel against espionage by a foreign country, you must immediately begin to investigate and clarify whether there is a foreign agent in the service of Israel and if Israel’s foreign service was indeed used to promote extraneous interests. The public must be informed of the launch of an investigation and its outcome.”

    Copies of Gabbay’s letter were also delivered to the attorney general, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the Knesset State Control Committee.

    Former Meretz chairwoman Zahava Galon sent a similar letter to the attorney general earlier Sunday in which attorney Itay Mack wrote on her behalf: “Under the circumstances, you are asked to order a criminal investigation against the senior Israeli official who was involved in this serious matter. An investigation should be launched without delay in Israel, before Israel finds itself once again a key player in investigations in the United States, as happened in the Iran-Contras affair.”…

  129. says

    Ryan Goodman:

    Damaging to Kavanaugh.

    His alleged accomplice and character witness, Mark Judge, wrote the following in a review.

    See for yourself how Judge describes “the wonderful beauty, of uncontrollable male passion,” how “every man who’s fit to live has his own stories about the time.”

    Passage, link to the source, and screenshot of Judge linking to the review from his Twitter account in 2015 at the link.

  130. says

    (By the way, the whole passage @ #229 is so grotesque that it might go unnoticed, but the phrase “every man who’s fit to live” is evil on its own.)

    A lawyer close to the White House said the nomination will not be withdrawn. ‘No way, not even a hint of it. If anything, it’s the opposite. If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried’.”

  131. says

    Sorry – #231 cont’d:

    …As I said during the hearing, this is why the #MeToo movement is so important, because often in these situations, there is an environment where people see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing. That is what we have to change.

    This development is yet another reason not to rush Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. The Committee should postpone this week’s vote.

  132. says

    One by one, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are issuing statements demanding Kavanaugh vote be delayed and allow accuser’s claims to be fully investigated now that she’s gone public. Republicans still pushing ahead for Thursday committee vote.”

  133. says

    NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tells me in an intv he that doesn’t think the Judiciary Cmte should move ahead with its Thursday vote on Kavanaugh until they hear more from Christine Blasey Ford. ‘For me, we can’t vote until we hear more’.”

  134. says

    A coal ash landfill in North Carolina has collapsed.

    Duke Energy said Saturday night that heavy rains from Florence caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast.

    Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced at the L. V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington and that contaminated runoff likely flowed into the plant’s cooling pond. The company has not yet determined whether the weir that drains the lake was open or if contamination may have flowed into the Cape Fear River. That’s roughly enough ash to fill 180 dump trucks.

    […] The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.

    [In 2014] Duke agreed to plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. […]

    Spokeswoman Megan S. Thorpe at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality said state regulators will conduct a thorough inspection of the site as soon as safely possible.

    “DEQ has been closely monitoring all coal ash impoundments that could be vulnerable in this record breaking rain event,” Thorpe said. She added that the department, after assessing the damage, will “hold the utility accountable for implementing the solution that ensures the protection of public health and the environment.”

    There are at least two other coal-fired Duke plants in North Carolina that are likely to affected by the storm. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  135. says

    FEMA Administrator Brock Long refused to correct Trump’s lies, and Long basically backed Trump up. Disgusting.

    […] Trump’s false conspiracy theory that Democrats fabricated thousands of Hurricane Maria-related deaths in Puerto Rico.

    In an interview with Long, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked the FEMA administrator a “simple, factual question: Do you dispute this number of 3,000 hurricane-related deaths?”

    “There’s several different studies out there that are all over the place when it comes to death,” Long replied, before noting: “The official stance of FEMA is, one, we don’t count deaths.”

    “The only thing that would come remotely close, the data that we would have, is the funeral benefits that we push forward.” (Lawmakers have pressed FEMA for clarity on this point— the agency has denied or not responded to the vast majority of requests for Maria-related funeral assistance.)

    In a separate interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Long said: “The numbers are all over the place.”

    “[Trump] said Democrats did it to make him look bad,” “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked. “Do you believe any of these studies were done to make the President looked bad?”

    “I don’t know know why the studies were done,” Long said, before noting the difference between direct and indirect hurricane deaths.

    The administrator echoed that line on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” per a transcript of the show: “These studies are all over the place,” he said. “The Harvard study was done differently [and] studies a different period of time versus the George Washington study. There’s a big discrepancy whether it’s direct deaths or indirect deaths.”

    Researchers at George Washington University, in a study commissioned by Puerto Rico’s governor, determined last year’s hurricane to have caused roughly 3,000 excess deaths.

    Trump has falsely claimed, without evidence, that the number is the result a politically-motivated calculation, pointing to official death toll numbers after the hurricane that were lower (though many argued at the time that the first official numbers were far too low).

    “There’s a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place,” Long added on Fox News Sunday. “It’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s not.”

    Link

  136. says

    CNN’s Jake Tapper tore into […] Trump on Sunday for his recent tweets rejecting the Puerto Rican death toll following Hurricane Maria, saying Trump thinks he is the “real victim.” […]

    “President Trump making it clear this week that when it came to the national tragedy caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, he seems to think that the real victim is him,” Tapper said on Sunday morning’s edition of his “State of The Union” show. […]

    “The president is combining a few of his favorite things here in this false claim,” Tapper said. “Blaming the Democrats, tending to the needs of his ego and reputation, and carelessly spreading conspiracy theories without ever issuing a fraction of proof to back up what he’s saying.”

    Tapper shared several other “lies” that Trump has pushed over the years.

    His list included Trump’s promotion of the “birther” conspiracy theory against former President Obama and his claim that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey on television celebrating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Trump also claimed — without evidence — that he lost the popular vote during the 2016 presidential election because millions of illegal votes were cast.

    “And now in the middle of another deadly storm, he blithely dismisses the Puerto Rico death toll and takes an undeserved victory lap around an island that is still suffering,” Tapper said. […]

    Link

  137. says

    Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, versus Trump:

    […] “When President Obama said that he has been to ’57 States,’ very little mention in Fake News Media. Can you imagine if I said that…story of the year!” Trump had written in his tweet.

    Conway responded on Twitter, saying that there is a “huge difference” between Obama’s mistake and Trump’s “witless prevarication on virtually all topics, large and small.”

    “Needless to say, there’s a huge difference between an isolated slip of the tongue and ceaseless, shameless, and witless prevarication on virtually all topics, large and small,” Conway responded. […]

    Link

  138. KG says

    SC@221,

    Sadiq Khan’s intervention is significant, as it continues the rising tide of calls for a “People’s Vote” on the terms of Brexit (if this occurred, it would be absurd if it did not include the option of cancelling the whole ridiculous idea). But in the last week or two I have seen a number of comments suggesting that the likelihood of some kind of agreement between the UK and EU negotiators in November is rising. That agreement would only be on the amount of money the UK pays, the status of EU and UK citizens residing in the UK and EU respectively, and a temporary arrangement for the Irish border – which could only mean the UK in effect abiding by customs union and probably single market rules for the time being. It’s being referred to as a “blind Brexit”, because we’d have no idea what the longer-term outcome would be. The question would then be whether it would get through the House of Commons, and the European Parliament (the latter is less discussed, and I’ve no idea what the likelihood is of the MEPs voting an agreement down). In the Commons, it looks very likely all the opposition parties except the “D”UP and a few Labour/ex-Labour Brexiteers would vote against, so it will depend on how many Tory hardliners reject it. May, of course, is presenting the issue as “My deal or no deal”. My hunch is that most of the hardliners will in the end vote for whatever May comes back with, while denouncing it and making clear their intention to renege on it (by not paying the money, and seeking deregulation and trade deals contrary to the terms) as soon as they can. This is because of the risk that rejecting it could lead to a democratic vote, either in the form of a “People’s Vote”, or a general election – and the last thing the Brexiteers want is for the electorate to have another say. But sheer hatred of foreigners, and of May, may overcome cold calculation.

  139. says

    Ryan Goodman:

    One year after alleged sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s friend and alleged accomplice (Mark Judge) thought it great to associate himself with this quote in their high school yearbook 1983:

    “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs”

    Image from Judge’s yearbook page at the link.

  140. says

    “Alumnae Of Christine Blasey Ford’s High School Circulate Letter Of Support”:

    A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford’s high school are circulating a letter to show support for the woman who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her while they were in high school.

    “We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

    The women also say that what Ford is alleging “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

    The letter, which had more than three dozen signatures as of Monday morning, is a boost of support for Ford, who has been thrust into the political spotlight and had her credibility questioned by going up against Kavanaugh and the White House. The signatories span decades at the school, both before, during and after Ford attended….

    “‘I do not know this woman’: Trump allies rally to Kavanaugh’s defense”:

    …Kavanaugh’s defenders on Sunday included Meghan McCaleb and Stephanie Conway McGill, two of the 65 high-school acquaintances of Kavanaugh who signed an open letter last week vouching for his character after the allegations were first reported.

    “I stand by the letter I signed. I do not know this woman,” said McGill by email on Sunday, referring to Ford. McCaleb added, “I absolutely stand by the letter we signed.”

    More than two dozen of the women who signed onto the letter did not immediately respond when contacted by POLITICO on Sunday about whether they still stood behind their defense of Kavanaugh. Two of the women who signed the letter declined to comment….

  141. says

    SC @249, thanks for that link. I hadn’t thought of that, but of course it makes sense. Domestic abuse could be more widespread after a disaster, and victims would have fewer resources to escape a bad situation. The simple physical necessity for shelter might force a woman to consider staying with an abuser. People re-enter abusive relationships during a disaster because they don’t have other alternatives.

  142. says

    Two things:

    First, everyone, ideally, but certainly people involved in law enforcement, the courts, and vetting and making decisions about those up for powerful positions should do a course on sexual assault myths. Every time people come forward, we hear the same ignorant (in some cases cynical, but playing on others’ ignorance) objections being made: why didn’t they come forward at the time, etc. It’s good to see more people pushing back, but it would help if more people had a baseline knowledge of these myths and why they’re myths.

    Second, I’ve heard a number of people refer to Christine Blasey Ford as Dr. Ford, which is respectful, but I heard yesterday that her professional name is Blasey – her attorney this morning called her Dr. Blasey (pronounced it “Blahzee”).

  143. says

    Kagan warns that the Supreme Court’s legitimacy is in danger.

    Think Progress link

    “People don’t have to believe in the judiciary,” Justice Elena Kagan warned at an event styled as a conversation between her and Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick. “You can lose that belief,” the justice warned. And then she made what may be her most important point — that it is up to Supreme Court itself to prevent this outcome.

    “I think that, on the Court, it’s incumbent upon us to be aware of that,” Kagan said. “And to not do the things that where people will reject the Court and say, you know, we don’t view it as legitimate anymore.”

    Kagan made these remarks at an event hosted by Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn (Lithwick has a child who attends Senesh). She did so, moreover, largely unprompted, although she went into more detail after she was pressed by Lithwick. The justice was also clear that the specific risk facing the judiciary is that people will lose faith in it because its members behave too much like partisans.

    “This is, in some respects, a dangerous time for the Court,” according to Justice Kagan. “And it’s because, I think, people increasingly look at us and say ‘this is just an extension of the political process.’” […]

    “It is a dangerous thing,” said Kagan, if in the bulk of the most high-profile cases “it really does seem like the divisions follow ineluctably from political divisions. And one side is winning.” […]

    At the end of the talk, she struck an optimistic note. “I’m a huge fan of the Chief Justice,” she said in response to an audience question about whether Chief Justice Roberts could occupy the moderating position that O’Connor and Kennedy did in the past. “I think he cares deeply about the institution and its legitimacy.” […]

    More at the link.

  144. says

    Julian Assange planned to flee Britain for Russia.

    Link

    Julian Assange planned to leave the U.K. and seek refuge in Russia as authorities closed in on him, according to a leak of WikiLeaks data.

    “I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa,” Assange wrote to the Russian consulate in London in a letter dated November 30, 2010. The letter is part of a trove of WikiLeaks emails, financial records, secretly recorded footage and other documents leaked to the Associated Press.

    However, in a statement on Twitter, WikiLeaks said Assange did not write the letter in question or apply for a Russian visa, and said a former associate of Assange was responsible for the document.

    AP said it showed the documents to former WikiLeaks associates and verified details such as bank accounts and telephone numbers to check the authenticity of the files.

    On the same day that he reportedly sent his letter to the Russians, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, who was wanted in Sweden on charges of rape and sexual assault. […]

  145. says

    Russian is interfering on another issue: Macedonia’s bid to join NATO.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday accused Russia of attempting to circumvent Macedonia’s bid to join NATO.

    The Pentagon chief blamed Moscow for trying to influence the outcome of a Sept. 30 vote in Macedonia to change the country’s name as part of a deal reached in June with Greece, Reuters reported.

    The vote, if successful, would change the country’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. In exchange, Greece would lift its opposition to Skopje joining NATO and the European Union.

    “We do not want to see Russia doing there (in Macedonia) what they have tried to do in so many other countries,” Mattis told reporters after speaking with Macedonia’s leaders in Skopje, according to the news service. Mattis was likely referring to U.S. concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and other votes.

    “No doubt that they have transferred money and they are also conducting broader influence campaigns,” Mattis said.

    Mattis also said Washington was looking to increase cybersecurity cooperation with Macedonia.

    “The close cooperation between our countries is also growing to reflect modern challenges, as we plan to expand our cybersecurity cooperation to thwart malicious cyber activity that threatens both our democracies,” Mattis said in a speech after meeting with Macedonia’s prime minister and defense minister. […]

    The United States is worried that Russia is attempting to suppress voter turnout by releasing propaganda suggesting that Washington is not supportive of the Balkan region. […]

  146. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] The idea that accusing someone of sexual assault or harassment or whatever is some kind of springboard to stardom is patently ridiculous at this point. Can anyone name any of the women who accused Bill Cosby who weren’t already famous? Louis CK? No. You can not. Blasey Ford has literally nothing to gain here. Her entire life, her family’s life, everything she’s ever said or eaten or liked, everyone who ever didn’t care for her is going to be dragged out of the woodwork so that people can say “Oh, yeah, I don’t believe her at all now” based on things that have absolutely nothing to do with her actual story.

    There is nothing awesome that comes of this. It is hard and it is selfless. Blasey Ford is making a sacrifice for her country, in the hopes that we won’t have yet another sexual predator, yet another man who disrespects women, on the Supreme Court. And good for her.

  147. says

    The death toll due to Hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression Florence is up to 18 … and likely to rise because of extensive flooding.

    In other news: The billionaire behind the National Debt Clock has had it with Trump.
    Washington Post link

    [snipped history of national debt clock]

    Republicans, including President Donald Trump, campaigned on balancing the budget, yet they have added more than $1.5 trillion to the debt in the past year.

    The result is that by the end of 2018, the nation will hit a milestone: The federal government’s total debt owed to outsiders (known as “debt held by the public”) will exceed all debt that U.S. households have for mortgages, credit cards, cars, student loans and other personal loans for the first time in modern history […]

    Douglas Durst, manages the National Debt Clock and the family’s real estate empire now. He felt compelled to speak out after what he calls the “worst months” he’s ever seen for fiscal policy. […]

    “I support higher taxes on people like me,” said Douglas in an interview from his office in midtown Manhattan with sweeping views of the city. “I think America has more of a revenue problem than a spending problem.”

    When his father put up the National Debt Clock, total gross U.S. debt was just shy of $3 trillion — or about $12,000 a person. Today it is over $21 trillion, or about $65,000 a person.

    Economists typically focus on debt held by the public, which is currently about $16 trillion, because that is the amount the government truly owes creditors (the rest of the debt is money one government agency owes another). Debt held by the public will top $127,000 per household by the end of the year […] Personal debt per household will average about $126,000. […]

    Douglas thinks it’s inevitable taxes will have to go up, and he’s baffled that President Trump would give a tax cut to wealthy Americans like him. […]

    “We’re mortgaging our children’s future. It’s one thing to borrow money for infrastructure investment, but this …” Douglas said. He makes an exasperated face and his eyebrows shoot up over his circular glasses. “The tax cut was an overall step in the wrong direction. Nobody who has any background in economics thought the tax bill was a good idea.”

    Douglas says he will pay less in taxes now, although he declined to say how much he will save. Forbes estimates the Durst Organization is worth more than $5 billion. […]

  148. says

    Virginia Hume popped onto Twitter to issue another endorsement of Kavanaugh. Laura Rozen responded with some questions, including: “What did you mean when you told Mark Judge no one cares about ‘youthful shenanigans’ anymore & better to get them out early?”

    She notes that Hume graduated from Holton Arms a year before Ford.

  149. says

    From Rachel Maddow:

    He’s [Manafort is] forfeiting all of those things — bank accounts, insurance policies, lots and lots of real estate to the government. The government alleges that he defrauded the government of $15 million, money that he didn’t pay taxes on. Part of making that up clearly is handing over his ill-gotten gains and the things he committed crimes in order to attain as real estate.

    But that last question there from the judge — ‘real property at Baxter Street in New York and also real property at Fifth Avenue in New York’ — that’s the last one she asks, at that point, that’s actually the first reference to President Trump, because the Fifth Avenue property that Paul Manafort agreed in court today to forfeit to the government, that is Paul Manafort’s apartment at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

    You might remember that Paul Manafort used the fact that he had an apartment at Trump Tower as one of the selling points for himself in his letter to the Trump campaign in which he pitched himself for the campaign chairman job. Well, now the Justice Department owns Paul Manafort’s old apartment in Trump Tower, which has to be a little unsettling for the president, I’d imagine.

    Steve Benen notes that some of Trump’s tweets in June are not valid talking points:

    […] the Associated Press had “just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast.” Last week, based on some suspect math, Trump upped the price tag to $28 million.

    The next time the president stresses this argument, remember that Manafort’s forfeited assets effectively take the talking point away.

    Link

    According to the Washington Post, the combined fair-market value of the real estate the Manafort forfeited is about $22.2 million. I don’t know anything about the bank account funds Manafort also forfeited.

  150. says

    Update – “Russian defense minister: There will be no new offensive on Idlib – Ifax”:

    Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday there will be no new military operation against Syria’s Idlib by Syrian government forces and their allies, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

    He was speaking after the Russian and Turkish presidents agreed on the creation of a demilitarized zone in Idlib to separate rebel forces in the city from Syrian government forces.

  151. says

    Ha! This is funny … in a way. Trump has been repeating his “red wave” prediction for the midterms. Apparently, some Republican voters believe him.

    America First Action, a political committee aligned with Mr. Trump, conducted a series of focus groups over the summer and concluded the party had a severe voter-turnout problem, brought on in part by contentment about the economy and a refusal by Republicans to believe that Democrats could actually win the midterm elections.

    Conservative-leaning voters in the study routinely dismissed the possibility of a Democratic wave election, with some describing the prospect as “fake news,” said an official familiar with the research….

    New York Times link

  152. says

    From Talking Points Memo reader “PM”:

    You never win by losing and you almost never lose by winning. Democrats should torpedo Kavanaugh if they can. Failure isn’t going to motivate Republican voters. If Kavanaugh goes down in flames, social conservatives will shrug their shoulders and tell themselves that the dreaded Republican establishment failed because it never really wanted that fifth vote. The confirmation drama, they will say, was all just failure theater, a replay of the comic opera effort to repeal Obamacare. Many if not most social conservatives will lose what little faith they have left in electoral politics and see little reason to go to the polls. Very few people are going to be fired up about preserving a Republican majority that consistently fails when it really counts.

    Destroy the target you have in your sights. Worry about the next target when it’s in range.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Whether base conservatives are demoralized by a Kavanaugh defeat in just the way PM describes I have no way of knowing. But as a general matter victories energize and defeats demoralize. The particulars vary. The broad outlines seldom do.

  153. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s Battering Ram, an article written by Paige Williams for The New Yorker:

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, says that she never set out to be “the face of anything.” […] A conservative Christian, she worked only with similarly minded candidates, such as the Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas. […]

    Some of the campaigns she worked on were accused of stoking fears about immigrants. Cotton, speaking at a town hall in 2014, declared, falsely, that “groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico,” and warned, “They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.”

    Sanders, who is thirty-six, is what is sometimes called a P.K. —a preacher’s kid. She is also a politician’s kid. Her father is Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas […]

    Sanders worked on all seven of her father’s political campaigns. When Huckabee appeared at the Hope Watermelon Festival or the Gillett Coon Supper, she went along. “I’m a total daddy’s girl,” she once said. Huckabee opposed gay marriage and condemned abortion. Yet for some Republicans he wasn’t conservative enough. As governor, he created a health-care program for children, and favored legislation allowing high-achieving immigrants, regardless of their legal status, to apply for a state-funded college scholarship. But, whereas Democrats attributed crime and poverty to inequality and to educational failures, Huckabee blamed “the selfish decision to ignore God’s standards of integrity.”

    During high school, in Little Rock, Sanders served as an officer of the Arkansas Federation of Teenage Republicans. […] The political consultant Dick Morris, who worked on Huckabee’s campaign for lieutenant governor, once recalled, “Sarah would listen intently, and I found myself sometimes briefing her as much as Mike.” […]

    Huckabee won Iowa, but his campaign sputtered, and, when John McCain won the nomination instead, evangelical voters embraced the angry nationalism of his Vice-Presidential choice, Sarah Palin. […]

    Trump needed a stronger link to evangelicals and women, and Sanders was happy to provide one. […] Huckabee was an economic populist; Trump claimed to be one, too. Huckabee had campaigned on a promise to “restore America’s greatness”; Trump’s slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Huckabee wanted to ban abortion; Trump had vowed to appoint pro-life advocates to the bench. Like Huckabee, Trump enjoyed ad-libbing while giving speeches.

    Sanders relished the idea of helping an outsider like Trump defeat the people she viewed as the ultimate Washington insiders: the Clintons. She appreciated Hillary Clinton for advancing the cause of female candidates, but loathed her politics. “She has shown her utter contempt for anyone that doesn’t support her and doesn’t think like her, and I think that’s a really scary thing to have in a President,” Sanders said, on a talk-radio show. […]

    The Arkansas Times recently declared, “If the Huckster spawn had a soul, she’s sold it.”

    Officially, the White House press secretary’s job is to represent the President and the executive branch before the press and the public, and to relay media inquiries to the White House. […] the Trump Administration’s relationship with the press transcends ordinary discord. The President’s toxic relationship with the media demands that a press secretary behave, at least publicly, less as a source of information than as a battering ram […]

    More at the link, including details concerning Huckabee-Sanders’ anti-abortion views, and more on the ways in which she uses her official position to interfere with freedom of the press.

  154. says

    Ron Klain:

    Here’s some advice, based on the Thomas-Hill experience:

    Both Dems and GOP should want professional, outside counsel to question Kavanaugh and Ford at a public hearing — not Senators. Make this a search for the truth, not a political platform for Senators of EITHER party.

  155. says

    The Onion – “Senate Republicans Seek To Delay Kavanaugh Vote Until Accuser Properly Smeared”:

    In the wake of the release of a letter implicating the Supreme Court nominee in a sexual assault, Senate Republicans told reporters Monday that they would seek to delay a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation until his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was properly smeared. “Given the significance of this vote and the accusations at hand, it’s of the utmost importance that we give ourselves the time to carefully drag Miss Ford’s name through the mud and make her regret ever coming forth with these accounts,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stressing that he would urge his colleagues to push back any vote on the nomination until the Senate Judiciary Committee had taken every opportunity to tear apart Ford’s character on a national stage, question her mental stability, and repeatedly trivialize her experience of sexual trauma….

  156. Oggie. says

    SC:

    Exactly what is the credibility level of drunk teenage boys?

    If they are white, privileged, wealthy, attending a high-end private school, and agree with your political philosophy, their credibility level is sky-high. As long as it helps the rich gut the country, drunk teenage boys are eminently credible.

  157. says

    “Senate Democrats Are Suing The National Archives To Get Brett Kavanaugh’s Records”:

    Six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Archives and Records Administration to force the agency to release documents about US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as soon as possible.

    Access to records from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House under former president George W. Bush have been a flashpoint in the fight over his nomination. The Democrats who sued — Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris — also filed papers asking for immediate court action to force the release of records.

    “The Senate and the American public have a brief opportunity to sift the record of Judge Kavanaugh’s public career before the Senate is expected to make an effectively irreversible decision that would shape the federal judiciary for decades, and the individual Senators have a unique platform to probe and publicize Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” lawyers for the senators at the watchdog group American Oversight wrote in Monday’s filing….

  158. says

    “Attorney Sent Letter to Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein Claiming Federal Court Employees Willing to Speak About Brett Kavanaugh”:

    The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee were both approached in July by an attorney claiming to have information relevant to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The attorney claimed in his letter that multiple employees of the federal judiciary would be willing to speak to investigators, but received no reply to multiple attempts to make contact, he told The Intercept.

    Cyrus Sanai made his first attempt to reach out to Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a letter dated July 24.

    Sanai told the committee leadership that “there are persons who work for, or who have worked for, the federal judiciary who have important stories to tell about disgraced former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and his mentee, current United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I know that there are people who wish to speak out but fear retaliation because I have been contacted by more than a half-dozen such persons since Judge Kozinski resigned in disgrace.”

    Sanai is the California attorney who blew the whistle on Kozinski years before a series of articles in the Washington Post in December finally brought about the resignation of the former chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court over sexual harassment revelations. Sanai has long challenged the judiciary, and was deemed a “vexatious litigant” by one trial court, a ruling that was overturned on appeal.

    Since Kozinski’s resignation, questions have been raised about what Kavanaugh knew or did about such behavior, given the close relationship between the two. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the 1990s, a post that led directly to his clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who recommended Kavanaugh to President Donald Trump as his replacement. Kozinski and Kavanaugh remained close and both vetted prospective clerks for Kennedy.

    Kozinski’s son recently clerked for Kavanaugh.

    Apart from interviewing witnesses, Sanai also suggested that the Judiciary Committee “subpoena all intra Court emails and messages between Kavanaugh and Kozinski and all emails to and from Kozinski with links to his website.”

    The fact that Kozinski hosted porn on his website and forced some clerks to view it was one of the exposed behaviors that led to his resignation.

    “The only way these important stories can be told is if Congress moves the spotlight from abstract procedures and statements of intent to the judges who made the judiciary safe for Judge Kozinski to satisfy his deviant needs. If this Committee, or the Judiciary Committee, does so, I have assurances that more people will step forward,” Sanai wrote….

  159. says

    Michael Flynn to be sentenced soon-ish:

    The special counsel’s office announced in a Monday court filing that it is prepared to sentence former national security adviser Michael Flynn, suggesting his months of cooperation with the federal government’s investigation has come to an end.

    Flynn’s attorneys and federal prosecutors requested a sentencing date of Nov. 28 or “any of the following seven business days.” […]

    Link

  160. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 55, and to my comment 244.

    More coal ash breaches have been reported in North Carolina, and one nuclear power plant declared an emergency:

    A second breach was reported at a coal ash landfill site in North Carolina on Monday according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the latest impact from Hurricane Florence’s heavy rains. That update comes amid a state of emergency declared at a nuclear power plant overseen by the landfill’s operator, Duke Energy, as the extent of the damage from Florence — now a tropical depression — slowly becomes apparent.

    The first Duke Energy Corp. coal ash landfill site experienced a breach on Saturday following an initial spill at the company’s Sutton Power Plant, which is near Wilmington where Florence first made landfall. […]

    Duke, however, has disputed the EPA’s characterization that there had been a second breach. “This is all part of the same erosion event from heavy rains, but does not represent a second slope failure,” spokesperson Paige Sheehan told Bloomberg.

    Coal ash has been a source of concern for officials and environmental groups monitoring Florence’s path. Such landfill sites can contain toxic mercury, arsenic and lead, among others, and pose a danger to human health as well as the environment. The initial breach over the weekend spilled roughly 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash, Duke said, but the EPA indicated that no coal ash is believed to have reached Cape Fear River, located nearby, although it did hit Sutton Lake.

    It is unclear how close the second breach might be to the river, which is already suffering from the impacts of Florence.

    After a wastewater treatment plant lost power in Wilmington over the weekend, partially treated sewage flowed into the river. The American Water Works Association has reported 28 water utilities have issued boil-water advisories to people in the region in connection with damage attributed to Florence.

    That’s not the only crisis playing out. Thirty miles south of Wilmington, Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant has declared a state of emergency. The plant’s 1,200-acre complex is currently cut off to outside personnel by flood waters and workers are stranded.

    The situation is considered an “unusual event”, which signals a nuclear emergency on the lowest levels, but Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesperson Joey Ledford said Monday that the plant currently poses no threat to public safety.

    “The plant is safe,” Ledford said. “The reactors are in hot stand-by mode 3 shutdown.”

    Nearly 300 Duke workers and NRC personnel, however, have been stranded at the plant for days due to flooding, some as far back as Wednesday. Some workers have been able to leave to check on their homes and families. But Ledford noted that roadway blockages linked to flooding would now make it impossible to evacuate the plant’s 10-mile evacuation zone if the threat level were to increase. […]

    Think Progress link

  161. says

    What fresh new king of fuckery is this?

    ICE is giving undocumented immigrants ‘dummy’ court dates.

    Immigrants are being told to arrive at the courthouse on dates that don’t even exist.

    Some undocumented immigrants living in the United States have received fake documents, ordering them to arrive at the courthouse at midnight, on weekends, or on dates that don’t exist, such as September 31, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

    According to the outlet, roughly two dozen immigrants arrived at a Texas courthouse last week for their hearings only to be turned away by court staffers who told them their names were not on the docket and that they had been given “fake dates.” […]

    “The immigration court system is confusing enough on a normal day,” Ashley Huebner, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center, told the Morning News. “But to have an individual who probably does not speak English…and receives a document in which DHS has purposely listed a fake date and time is a real different level of confusion and absurdity.”

    “Fake dates,” sometimes called “dummy dates,” are not a phenomenon unique to Texas. According to the Morning News, reports of fake court dates have sprung up in Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami.

    Neither the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, nor the Justice Department have offered a clear explanation for why undocumented immigrants are being handed fake court dates. […]

  162. says

    In a speech Kavanaugh gave to the Yale Law School Federalist Society in April 2014 he recalled drinking and partying in law school (not high school or prep school):

    […] I am approaching the 24th anniversary of my organizing 30 classmates in a bus to go to Boston for a Red Sox game and a night of Boston bar-hopping, only for us to return falling out of the bus onto the front steps of Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m. One friend of mine, Steve Hartmann, actually had a Labor Law final the next morning. (I checked with him just yesterday to confirm that it was Labor Law.) True story.

    On the bus, he actually had his book out and was reading his notes while people were doing group chugs from a keg. He got a P. I think the people doing the group chugs got H’s. Fortunately for all of us, we had a motto, what happens on the bus stays on the bus. […]

    During our third year class party, it was a beautiful night then as it is tonight. We were at the Lawn Club. No one had done their SAWs. Most people didn’t even have their topics yet. But we didn’t care that night. We had a memorable evening. It is fair to say that we had a few drinks. Indeed, as a classmate of mine and I were reminiscing and piecing things together the other day, we think we had more than a few beers before the banquet. […]

    Anyway, toward the end of the evening a friend of mine who shall remain nameless—and this is a story that is really about a friend of mine, not about me where I am disguising myself as a friend of mine—my friend broke a table in the Lawn Club reception area. Smashed it into multiple pieces. I actually still possess a photo of him sprawled on the floor on top of the table. How’d did he break it, you might ask? The old-fashioned way. He lost his balance and fell into the table, drink in hand, and the table collapsed. My friend was a big guy.

    Now, you might think that we would have quickly left the Lawn Club after that, with some sense of shame. But you’d be wrong. My friend actually tried to get another drink at the bar. Proving something I have always known—that bartenders have a lot more common sense than many law school students—the bartender refused to serve my friend.

    But that’s where one of our many fond memories of Yale Law School came in. Professor Steve Duke, who himself might have had a few cocktails, came to the rescue and told my friend that he would take care of the situation and argue his case to the bartender. His actual words, as we recalled the other day, were “I’ll take your case.” And sure enough, Steve Duke—or as we called him for reasons too bizarre to recall now, the Dukie-stick—won the case and got my friend some more beers. That’s probably one Professor Duke deserved to lose. The moral of this story: I suppose there are a lot of them. But here’s one I like: Don’t ever let it be said that Yale Law professors are not there when you most need them.

    Link

    Binge drinking was encouraged. Binge drinking was seen as a virtue.

  163. says

    Trump orders declassification of surveillance application, release of Comey texts.

    […] Trump has moved to immediately declassify 20 pages of the surveillance application that authorized the FBI to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

    The move, long foreshadowed by calls from Trump’s top allies in Congress, also includes an effort to reveal the details of former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s interviews connected to the Russia investigation.

    Trump also directed the Justice Department to publicly release all text messages “relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction” of Ohr, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

  164. says

    “Probe of FEMA Chief Brock Long Referred to Prosecutors”:

    An investigation targeting President Trump’s top emergency-management official has been referred to federal prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued, according to people familiar with the probe.

    Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and two other federal employees may have broken as many as six laws as they commuted frequently between Washington and Mr. Long’s home in Hickory, N.C., at taxpayers’ expense, said one of the people briefed on the investigation.

    Mr. Long has said he is cooperating with the investigation, which has been led by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general….

    Investigators told administration officials that Mr. Long was informed by DHS attorneys last year that his trips home violated the law, the people said. Mr. Long often left Washington on Thursdays for the 400-mile trip in a caravan of government-owned vehicles with federal employees, who stayed in nearby hotels for the long weekend, the people said.

    When the trips home continued, the inspector general’s office put Mr. Long under surveillance and tailed him back to North Carolina, the people said. Mr. Long has spent about 150 days in North Carolina since he took over the job in June 2017, including weekends and time off, the people said….

  165. says

    Daniel Jacobson:

    1/ In our Census case, we just got this email to Wilbur Ross that the court ordered the Govt to unredact. It shows that when Commerce first asked DOJ to come up w/a pretext for adding the citizenship q, DOJ balked b/c it was already getting bad press with ‘the whole Comey matter’

    2/The bottom of the email then says that Commerce would try to figure out some way that they could add the citizenship question themselves, without having to rely on DOJ. But apparently they later realized that they needed DOJ for the pretext.

  166. says

    Sort of a profile of CBF with more background (emphasis added) – “#MeToo spurred Christine Blasey Ford to open up about alleged attack year before Kavanaugh nomination, friends say”:

    The fog was just lifting at Capitola beach one morning this July when Christine Blasey Ford confided in two friends that she was bracing herself for an avalanche of attacks and searching her memory for anyone, anything, that could validate her story that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school.

    “I’ve been trying to forget this all my life and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail,” one of those friends, Jim Gensheimer, recalled Blasey Ford saying that summer day while watching their kids participate in a Junior Lifeguard program. “They’re going to be all over me.”

    Now, literally overnight, the 51-year-old Palo Alto University psychology professor, mother of two sons, registered Democrat and avid surfer has become the intense focus of a nation gripped by a political drama over nothing less than the future of the Supreme Court.

    #MeToo survivors and advocates have called her a hero for stepping into the white-hot spotlight and attaching her name, face and reputation to her story. While many Republicans, including President Trump, said on Monday they want to hear Blasey Ford out, many conservatives on social media attacked her as an anti-Trump liberal activist whose motivations and biases are as suspicious as her Northern California address.

    Some of her closest friends on Monday said Blasey Ford — whose maiden name is pronounced BLAH-zee — is ready to stand up to her most important inquisitors: The phalanx of senators who had been on the verge of confirming Kavanaugh just days ago. Republicans announced Monday they will bring both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh back to Capitol Hill next week to testify.

    “I can’t really think of anyone better” to endure the grueling questions she is sure to face, said Rebecca White, one of Blasey Ford’s neighbors and a good friend. “She’s one of those people who teems with honesty and truth. She’s just that person.”

    In an interview Monday with this news organization, White said that Blasey Ford had told her about the alleged assault — without naming Kavanaugh — in late 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement and long before Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee.

    Last year, White had added her own #MeToo story about being raped as a teenager to a Facebook post.

    “She reached out to me afterward, supporting me and my story and that she had something happen to her when she was really young and that the guy was a federal judge,” White said. “She said she had been assaulted. She said hers had been violent as well, physically scary, fighting for her life.”

    It’s been difficult for Blasey Ford over the years, she told White, because the judge’s name would come up as “a super powerful guy and he might be a contender for a Supreme Court position one day.”…

  167. says

    pretty much everything experts across the board warned about Trump/GOP tax cut – that it would balloon the deficit, that it would generate more buybacks than investment, that it would not vacuum trillions of job-creating cash back into US – has been promptly demonstrated

    presented with this information before tax-cut passed, WH/Congressional Rs just insisted the experts weren’t really experts, dismissed their predictions and did what they wanted to because they wanted to.”

  168. says

    Update – “Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov was probably poisoned, German medics say”:

    German doctors say there is a “high plausibility” that a member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, who was taken ill in Russia last week, was poisoned.

    Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Dr. Kai-Uwe Eckardt of the Berlin Charite Hospital said that an external substance appears to have affected Pyotr Verzilov’s nervous system.

    Doctors have been unable to determine the nature of the substance or the source, he said, adding that while the activist remains in intensive care, his life is no longer in danger.

    “The information we currently have… shows a high plausibility that poisoning has taken place here,” Eckardt said. “To turn it around, so far we have no indication that there might be another explanation for his state.”

    The announcement adds weight to claims made by other Pussy Riot members on Thursday that Verzilov was poisoned in Russia….

    Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Pussy Riot founding member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said that Verzilov was probably the victim of an “assassination attempt,” alleging that multiple law enforcement agencies in Russia have been “trying to find a way to get to Pyotr.”

    “Nobody who has taken part in political activity in Russia can really be safe,” she said.

    When contacted by CNN last week, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had no comment on Verzilov’s illness.

    Doctors believe that Verzilov was poisoned almost a week ago. They are working with toxicologists in an effort to identify the substance used, the statement said.

    Verzilov is a joint Russia-Canada citizen, and on Thursday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the situation was of concern, “particularly given actions of recent months by the Russians in the UK.”…

  169. says

    “Here’s why the allegation against Kavanaugh is credible: He’s smeared and attacked women before”:

    …When it comes to unfairness and character assassination, he’s an expert.

    Here is just one example to illustrate the depth of his character deficiencies. Back in the 1990s, conservative activists went to DefCon One when Bill Clinton came into office. A whole group of young conservative lawyers joined the cause, Kavanaugh among them. His first big job for the movement was as Ken Starr’s point man on the Vince Foster case.

    Indeed, it was Kavanaugh who pushed for the investigation even though Foster’s death had been amply covered by congressional committees, the local police, the FBI and the first special counsel Robert Fisk, all of whom had concluded found that the former deputy White House counsel had committed suicide. But Kavanaugh was deep in the right-wing fever swamp and argued to Starr that they could unscrupulously use the fact that there were unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding Foster’s death to reopen the case, despite the grieving family’s desperate pleas for the government to stop the “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”

    Kavanaugh was apparently particularly interested in Rush Limbaugh’s odious suggestion to his legions of listeners that Foster had been murdered in an apartment secretly owned by Hillary Clinton. He spent three years and $2 million attempting to dig up dirt on the dead man, at one point demanding that Foster’s teenage daughter give the authorities specimens of her hair — an apparent attempt to prove or imply that a hair found on Foster’s jacket had belonged to Hillary Clinton.

    Kavanaugh asked everyone involved about this nonexistent affair between Clinton and Foster — even, eventually, Clinton herself. It later became clear that Kavanaugh knew all along that Foster had committed suicide, and that he had used the power and resources of the independent counsel’s office to lend credibility to vulgar sexual rumors about the first lady, in the process needlessly torturing the family of a dead man….

    More at the link.

  170. says

    From Chris Hayes’ interview with Sean McElwee @ #190 above:

    SEAN McELWEE: …One other difference with the Tea Party, which is that their agenda is wildly loathed by the American public and the left’s agenda is actually quite popular. It’s worth dividing candidates into two dimensions. One dimension will be ideology, and one dimension would be, how good are they of a candidate? I think that we tend to think very extreme ideological candidates also correlates with being a bad candidate.

    Marco Rubio is a wildly extreme person. It’s really hard for I think media people to understand this because they are always imbibing their own bullshit. Marco Rubio believes that women should never be allowed to have abortions. That’s an absurd position, but it is what he has stated as his view that is wildly unpopular, but it seems like a not unpopular position because Marco Rubio is very hot and is treated by the media as a normal person.

    I keep going back to Todd Akin and Marco Rubio. They have the same policy views. If they were in the Senate, they would vote for the exact same bills, but one is seen as extreme and one is not….

    Rubio openly advocates for an oligarchic-military coup in Venezuela and for the US government to help organize it and carry it out. Last night, he took to Twitter to encourage people to harass Miami restaurateur Nusret Gökçe and his business (a steakhouse, which I find horrific and obviously don’t support) after Gökçe hosted Nicolás Maduro and his wife.

  171. says

    Grassley tells Hugh Hewitt that there will be no FBI investigatioon into the Kavanaugh allegation.

    Brian Beutler: “Between this and Grassley’s unwillingness to invite Mark Judge to testify, it is blindingly obvious that Republicans are trying to manipulate the process to maximize the likelihood that the truth remains unknowable.”

  172. says

    Donald Trump Junior tweeted out lies and nonsense … again.

    Anderson Cooper spent the last 10 minutes of his show on Monday night responding to a critic: the president’s son.

    On Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a photo of Cooper standing in waist-deep water during a hurricane, with a caption suggesting that the CNN anchor was lying to make the president look bad. Trump Jr. also seemed to suggest that Cooper’s hurricane coverage had been overly dramatic, and was aimed at improving the network’s ratings.

    “I debated whether I should even respond tonight to the president’s son,” Cooper said on Monday’s “AC360.” “I know he considers himself an outdoorsman and pays a lot of money to be led to wildlife in Africa that he then kills. But I’m not sure if he’s actually been to a hurricane or a flood. I didn’t see him down in North Carolina over the last few days helping out, lending a hand, but I’m sure he was doing something important besides just tweeting lies.”

    The photo in question was taken in Texas in 2008 during Hurricane Ike. Wearing waders and clutching a microphone, Cooper stands near a patch of submerged vegetation in waist-high floodwaters as a cameraman looks on.

    Because the cameraman is standing in much shallower water that only goes up to his ankles, Cooper was accused of exaggerating the extent of the flooding in memes that spread on social media over the weekend as Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas.

    “If the media will lie about this, what else are they lying about?” asked one such meme […]

    On Sunday morning, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out the context-free photo. As of Monday night, it had been retweeted more than 8,000 times.

    During his Monday show, Cooper hit back, displaying Trump Jr.’s tweet on the air as he read some of the responses that had followed.

    “Some guy said I was on my knees to make it look deep and then went on to say that I was used to being on my knees, which I assume is some sort of anti-gay reference,” he said. “Very classy.”

    He later added, “The idea that I am kneeling in water to make it look deep is, frankly, idiotic.”

    Cooper went on to explain that the photo was taken during Hurricane Ike, not during Hurricane Florence, as anyone who saw it circulating over the weekend might have assumed. He pointed out that the cameraman who appears in the photo was Doug Thomas, a CNN audio technician who died in September 2017. And he played back multiple clips from the original broadcast, which show him walking around in the floodwaters.

    “I’m not done,” he said, five minutes in. “I’m just getting started.”

    Pushing back against the idea that he had attempted to dramatize the situation, Cooper pointed out that he had told viewers in 2008 that the water had actually receded, and that CNN had also showed footage of emergency vehicles driving on a nearby road that was not nearly as flooded.

    “You can argue I didn’t need to be standing in waist-deep water,” he said. “I could have been standing on the road by the camera crew. But, again, I didn’t want to be roaming around on the highway interfering with rescue vehicles in any way. I also wanted to show people how deep the water was and how dangerous it is for anyone driving.”

    He added, “It’s easy to make fun of someone standing in water reporting. I get that.” […]

    “I’ve covered hurricanes for about 14 years and it really does make me sad to think that anyone would think that I would try to fake something or overly dramatize a disaster.”

    […] “Look, I don’t expect the president’s son to ever admit that he was wrong or one of the president’s advisers or frankly anyone else who’s retweeted any of these pictures. But I at least thought that they and you should know the truth.”

    Trump Jr. was not the only one pointing out Cooper’s past hurricane coverage. Lynne Patton, a top official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a longtime Trump family employee, shared the meme on her Instagram account over the weekend. She added the caption, “You know it’s sad when even the WEATHER is #FakeNews.” […]

    Washington Post link

  173. says

    Follow-up to comment 296.

    From Davis Kris, the former head of the Justice Department’s national security division:

    The release of [FISA materials] like this is off the charts. It is especially unprecedented considering that the [documents] have already gone through declassification review and the president is overruling the judgments of his subordinates to require expanded disclosure.

    The president has the literal authority to do this, but here, as in so many other areas, his exercise of authority is tainted by a severe conflict of interest, as he is a subject of investigation to which these [FISA materials] pertain.

    This is perhaps the signal feature of many of his worst actions – he seems assiduously to view and engage with everything through the straw-sized aperture of his own self-interest instead of the broader national interest.

    https://twitter.com/DavidKris/status/1041824254734368769

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] The former head of the Justice Department’s national security division believes the sitting president is abusing his power and undermining his own country’s interests in order to protect himself.

    It’s an extraordinary series of events: Trump and his political operation are the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, and he’s now ordering the release of sensitive materials pertaining to that investigation, despite warnings from relevant officials and agencies.

    I’m cognizant of the fact that the word “unprecedented” is probably used a bit too often when describing the antics surrounding this presidency, but the fact remains that Americans have never seen any president act this way.

    Trump is interfering with an ongoing federal investigation, and he’s not making much of an effort to hide it.

    Link

  174. says

    One conspiracy theory concerning Christine Blasey Ford’s motives, a conspiracy theory being pushed by rightwing doofuses, has been knocked down with facts. That won’t prevent the doofuses from spreading it all over the rightwing media.

    […] One particularly flimsy conspiracy theory circulating in recent days is that Ford is acting out of revenge because Kavanaugh’s mother, a Maryland state judge, foreclosed on Ford’s childhood home.

    There’s one problem with this theory: though Judge Martha Kavanaugh was briefly involved in a 1996 foreclosure action brought by a lender against Ford’s parents, she granted the lender’s subsequent motion to dismiss the case. Ultimately, as fact-checking site Snopes details, the matter was resolved in Ralph and Paula Blasey’s favor.

    […] Nonetheless, this random link between the Kavanaughs and Blaseys was identified by Twitter users like Turning Points USA staffer Richard Armande Mills on Monday, who claimed that Ford’s family was “negatively affected by Kavanaugh’s mom.”

    These tweets were quickly picked up by far-right blogs like Gateway Pundit, which, with characteristic subtlety, inaccurately headlined its post “Bad Blood: Judge Kavanaugh’s Mother Foreclosed On Far Left Accuser’s Parents’ Home.”

    Powerline also falsely stated that “Kavanaugh’s mother ruled against Ford’s parents,” calling that a “motive, beyond partisan politics, for Ford to make up or significantly embellish her story so long after the ‘fact.’” […]

    In a subsequent tweet denying that Ford’s allegations are credible, Erickson [Resurgent’s Erick Erickson] states as fact that Kavanaugh’s “mom foreclosed on the accuser’s parents house.” […]

    Link

  175. says

    Katy Tur reported several minutes ago that a staffer for Grassley is saying that the Republicans on the committee have already started interviewing witnesses [!], and the Democrats have declined to participate. This is outrageous and totally unacceptable. The Democrats have asked for the FBI or a neutral body with relevant experience should conduct a thorough investigation ahead of any hearings.

  176. says

    “No. 2 Senate Republican sharply questions credibility of Kavanaugh accuser”:

    The No. 2 Republican in the Senate on Tuesday sharply questioned the credibility of the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, as GOP leaders indicated they will limit witnesses at next week’s hearing to just the Supreme Court nominee and his accuser.

    Speaking to reporters, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said he was concerned by “gaps” in the account of Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California, who told The Washington Post in an interview published Sunday that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed on her back, groped her and put his hand over her mouth at a house party in the early 1980s when the two were in high school.

    “The problem is, Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be,” Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol late Tuesday morning.

    When asked whether he was questioning the accuser’s account — which Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied — Cornyn said, “There are some gaps there that need to be filled.”

    His comments came shortly after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) outlined a plan to limit testimony at Monday’s planned hearing to that provided by Kavanaugh and Ford — which brought cries of protest from Democrats.

    They insisted that other witnesses also be called, including Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh friend who Ford said witnessed the assault [No, she said he participated in the assault – SC].

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, said it was “impossible to take this process seriously,” noting that 22 witnesses appeared at the hearing in 1991, when law professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

    “What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge?” Feinstein said in a statement. “What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”

    A spokesman for Grassley said that while no one but Kavanaugh and Ford have been invited to testify, committee staff are reaching out to other alleged witnesses mentioned in The Post reporting.**

    During a morning radio interview, Grassley said that Kavanaugh has agreed to participate in Monday’s hearing — and had been interviewed by committee staff on Monday night — but that his staff has not yet heard from Ford.***

    “It kind of raises the question: Do they want to come to the public hearing or not?” Grassley told syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt. “We still haven’t heard from Dr. Ford, so do they want to have the hearing or not?”

    Graham said he doesn’t consider the predominantly male composition of the Judiciary Committee to be an issue because many women elected him and his colleagues.

    “All of us got here by being elected by men and women,” Graham told reporters. “I earned my way on that seat. I’ve got a lot of women supporters in South Carolina.”…

    ** Again, this is only Republican staff, a completely improper approach, and an attempt at witness tampering or intimidation.

    *** They scheduled the hearing for a week out without confirming Blasey Ford’s availability, informing the Democrats, or establishing the conditions of the hearing for anyone to commit to, and while blatantly intending to organize the hearing in the manner most unfair to her.

  177. says

    Oh, FFS!

    Interesting and perhaps disturbing moment a short time ago as Carrie Severino, spokesperson of the Judicial Crisis Network, was interviewed on CNN. The JCN is the central campaign arm for Republican judicial nominations. The Federalist Society grooms and chooses the nominees. The JCN runs the campaigns, runs political ads in Senators’ states, as necessary. Here Severino argues that it’s not clear that what Ford describes wasn’t simply “rough horse play” as opposed to attempted rape.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/rough-horse-play

  178. says

    Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” is now a million-seller, plus. In just one week after publication, the book sold 1.1 million copies.

    Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” was also a million-seller, but sales slowed for that book, while sales of “Fear” are still strong.

  179. says

    Follow-up to SC @324, I hope that all of the unfair tactics being employed by Republicans bite them in the butt. I agree with Josh Marshall that the Monday meeting should be viewed as a placeholder. That plan is likely to change.

    I hope that the Democrats, especially those on the judiciary committee, keep up the pressure for a fair and thoughtful process. We citizens should do likewise.

    During a press conference today, Trump repeated that he thinks it is a “terrible thing” that the allegations against Kavanaugh weren’t given to his administration months ago. I think he is completely ignoring the expressed wishes of the victim.

  180. says

    More re #323 – “SCOTUS Denies Stay, New Disclosure Ruling Goes Into Effect”:

    he Supreme Court today denied a stay, and lifted a temporary stay by Chief Justice Roberts, in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s (CREW) landmark dark money case against Crossroad GPS and the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This decision, following similar decisive decisions by the district court and court of appeals this week, means that effective immediately, anyone making more than $250 in express advocacy ads — ads that tell viewers who to vote for or against — must now disclose the identities of all contributors who gave more than $200 in a year. They must also identify who among those contributors earmarked their contributions for express ads. Because of this decision, the contributors for a major category of dark money spending this fall will have to be disclosed to the public.

    “This is a great day for transparency and democracy,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Three courts, including the Supreme Court, have now rejected Crossroads’ arguments for a stay, meaning we’re about to know a lot more about who is funding our elections.”

    Huge victory for CREW. Great work.

  181. says

    SC @329, some of the comments below the presentation by Hirono repeat Trump’s lie that Democrats were just being obstructionists by withholding the accuser’s letter, that there was no reason not to make the accuser’s name and letter public months ago.

    The only part of this whole thing that’s unfair is the fact that the accuser has refused to cooperate with anyone, wont respond to congress in order to give details, and then all this after democrats sat on the claim for months in order to use it to delay the nomination […]
    If the accusations are false then the dems are making up things that never happened in order to smear a good man and prevent his nomination to the Supreme Court because of political reasons. If the accusations are true then dems knew about it for months and didn’t bring it up…

    They instead decided to wait until just before the nomination to use it to collect political points.

    So, yes, many people are repeating Trump’s and other Republican’s talking points … with no regard for the facts and no regard for the victim.

    In other news, Government officials claim to be unaware of health risks associated with indefinite family detention.

    […] Executive Associate Director for ICE Matthew Albence and Acting Deputy Commissioner for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Robert Perez admitted they hadn’t seen statements from their own colleagues at DHS, warning that indefinite detention, like family separation, could traumatize children. Two physicians who act as DHS’s “subject-matter experts” warned in a letter to the Senate’s Whistleblower Protection Caucus that expanding family detention “poses a high risk of harm to children and their families” — but neither Perez nor Albence read it. […]

    Much more at the link.

  182. says

    LOL – “Trump rails on top Florida ally over Hurricane Maria flap”:

    President Donald Trump is privately lashing out at one of his top allies, Ron DeSantis, angrily accusing the Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee of publicly betraying him.

    The president has told close associates in recent days that he views DeSantis — who won his Aug. 28 GOP primary thanks to Trump’s strong support — as profoundly disloyal for distancing himself from the president’s assertion that the Hurricane Maria death toll was inflated by Democrats for political purposes.

    “Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated,” the DeSantis campaign said last week after Trump tweeted that “3000 people did not die” in Puerto Rico.

    Trump’s comments unnerved Republicans across Florida, which is home to a burgeoning Puerto Rican population, leading DeSantis and other Republicans — including Senate hopeful Rick Scott — to publicly break with the president’s remark.

    DeSantis’s reaction, however, particularly piqued the president. Trump views the former congressman as politically indebted to him, people familiar with the president’s thinking say, because he believes DeSantis owes his electoral success to him. The president has privately maintained that he was correct with his comments about the hurricane’s death toll, and has expressed frustration that DeSantis crossed him on the matter.

    The president — over the wishes of some advisers — endorsed DeSantis in the primary, flew down to the state to campaign with him and lavished him with praise on Twitter. DeSantis, in turn, tied himself closely to Trump, at one point even running a TV ad which featured his infant child wearing a MAGA outfit….

    Even exploiting your own baby offers you no protection. I love how the Trumpers quoted just take it for granted that DeSantis’ response wasn’t a needed rejection of Trump’s reprehensible and frankly insane lie but merely a means to placate Puerto Rican voters.

  183. says

    Livestock farms in North Carolina are almost completely submerged. Toxic waste is flowing every where.

    North Carolina’s rivers basins, now swollen with rainwater from Hurricane Florence, are home to thousands of large indoor hog and poultry farms, as well as cesspools of liquid hog waste. Predictably—just as happened two years ago in the wake of Hurricane Matthew—floods and factory-scale livestock farming are proving to be a toxic and deadly (for the animals) mix.

    A group called the Waterkeeper Alliance sends pilots into the air in after North Carolina flood events to document the damage done to these operations. The group uploads aerial photo to a Flickr feed, which will be updated regularly over the next several days. The first flights went up Monday, after Florence’s rainstorms had petered out, and the imagery is stark. Below are some just-posted images the group took during Monday’s flights.

    https://www.motherjones.com/food/2018/09/these-photos-of-submerged-north-carolina-livestock-farms-are-devastating/

    See the link for the photos.

  184. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    Brett Kavanaugh talking about his high school in 2015: “What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep.”

    I can’t imagine any parent accepting this view. Is this really what America wants in its next Supreme Court Justice?

    He follows with “That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.”

    Depends on who “we” are.

    A frat boy Supreme Court justice is the last thing the US needs.

  185. says

    In Trump’s mind, no one was willing to talk to Obama.

    Donald Trump made a series of odd claims during a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, but this excerpt seemed especially odd.

    “The European Union wouldn’t talk to us. They wouldn’t talk to President Obama. Wouldn’t even talk to him.”

    In context, the American president seemed to be referring to trade, but if so, Trump is badly confused. As the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale explained, the EU engaged in full-scale trade negotiations for several years with Obama.

    […] talking to reporters on Air Force One, the Republican said, “Don’t forget – Japan would not deal with Obama. He wouldn’t deal with President Obama. They wouldn’t deal. They said, ‘No, we’re not going to talk trade.’ Me? They’re calling up.”

    Again, this isn’t even close to being true. The Trans-Pacific Partnership included a variety of countries, but Japanese officials and the Obama administration were at the heart of the talks that led to the agreement (which Trump rejected despite not understanding it).

    Also last week, Trump said, in reference to diplomacy with North Korean officials, “Obama couldn’t meet, they wouldn’t see him.”

    Reality points in the exact opposite direction: North Korea was eager, if not desperate, to meet with every recent American president, including Obama, but each U.S. leader had the good sense not to reward Pyongyang in exchange for nothing. Only Trump was willing to give up major diplomatic concessions without meaningful concessions from the rogue dictatorship.

    The common thread is Trump’s strange insistence that he’s succeeding where Obama failed – though this is plainly ridiculous because, in each of the examples Trump cites, his claims are the opposite of the truth.

    Trump seems absolutely convinced that Obama either wouldn’t talk to our international friends or foes, or they wouldn’t talk to him. […]

    Trump’s preoccupation with Obama can get a little creepy, but this just bizarre.

  186. says

    No Statutes of Limitations

    Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged accomplice, does not want to testify in whatever hearing is slated to take place on Monday. Republicans clearly don’t want him to testify either, for a number of obvious reasons. But a friend, who is a member of the bar in Maryland, tells me that for assault, rape, attempted rape and a wide variety of other crimes there is no statute of limitations in Maryland. This surprised me greatly. But this person has practiced law in the state for 25 years and I think I’ve confirmed this with a bit of research on my own. […]

    The point here isn’t that Brett Kavanaugh is going to be prosecuted for this alleged attempted rape and/or assault. But if Judge doesn’t want to testify before Congress, it would seem he has a reasonable fifth amendment basis for refusing to do so.

    The text above is quoted from a post by Josh Marshall.

  187. says

    From Trump:

    “They have done supposedly six background checks over the years as Judge Kavanaugh has gone beautifully up a ladder,” Trump said. “He is an incredible individual. Great intellect. Great judge. Impeccable history in every way. In every way. I feel so badly for him that he is going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this.”

  188. Hj Hornbeck says

    It looks like the Republican strategy for Kavanaugh is to bully Professor Ford into a hearing favorable to them. Via Josh Marshall:

    But I want to note what appears to be clearly a unified strategy among Republican Senators to put the onus on Professor Ford personally and blame her if the hearing doesn’t happen. They’ve unilaterally announced a process and are now arguing that Ford is at fault if she doesn’t agree. Look at the specific wording. […]

    Sen. Grassley’s spokesperson: “Our staff reached out to Dr. Ford’s lawyer with multiple emails yesterday to schedule a similar call and inform her of the upcoming hearing, where she will have the opportunity to share her story with the Committee. Her lawyer has not yet responded.”

    Sens Collins and Cornyn are referring to Ford’s non-response so far. Sen. Collins: “That’s very puzzling to me…I really hope that she doesn’t pass up that opportunity.”

  189. Hj Hornbeck says

    More confirmation from the Washington Post.

    Though Kavanaugh’s confirmation prospects looked shaky earlier this week after Ford’s allegations became public, senior Republicans on Tuesday were increasingly determined to press forward with his nomination.

    “All I can say is that we’re bringing this to a close,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “They’ve had tons of time to do this. This has been a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh . . . I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.”

    Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a close Kavanaugh friend who introduced him at his confirmation hearings earlier this month, said, “Obviously, the process was very unfair.” He added: “I’m not blaming [Ford], I’m blaming the Democrats who misused this process.” And Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate sharply questioned Ford’s credibility. […]

    A furious Feinstein said it was “impossible to take this process seriously,” noting that 22 witnesses appeared at the hearing in 1991, when law professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Pressed about that precedent, Senate Judiciary Committee Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) shot back: “You’re talking about history. We’re not looking back. We’re looking forward.”

  190. says

    “Ford wants FBI investigation before testifying”:

    The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.

    In a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys argue that “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

    The letter from Ford’s lawyers notes that despite receiving a “stunning amount of support from her community,” Ford has also “been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats” and has been forced to leave her home.

    “We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security,” the letter from Ford’s lawyers said.

    “What we’re saying is there should be an investigation because that’s the right thing to do,” Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks told Cooper.

    “She is prepared to cooperate with the committee and with any law enforcement investigation,” she added….

  191. says

    This sentence

    “We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security,” the letter from Ford’s lawyers said.

    draws attention to the Republican efforts to organize this on a purely (white, male) partisan basis, cutting out even the ranking member of the committee.

  192. says

    Imagine if the case involved any woman making this accusation in a regular setting, and the process worked like this. The men (all men) in charge, many of whom know and advocate for the accused, begin with an openly stated hostility to her claim. They immediately start publicly pulling out a series of myths about sexual assault in order to discredit her and her account. Many suggest that even if the accused did assault her it’s of no importance to their opinion. They generally refuse to say her name or recognize evidence that supports her claim. Several of them have known histories of mounting intense smear campaigns and public interrogations of previous accusers. They don’t agree an independent investigation is necessary, but secretly have their staff contact possible witnesses. They state that she should be treated respectfully, but schedule a public hearing for less than a week away without checking on her availability, negotiating conditions, or including/notifying their colleagues. They provide no information to her counsel. They arrange for the hearing to include as witnesses only her and the alleged perpetrator, even though she’s alleging that another man was there and a participant in the attack. They continue to sing the praises of the man she’s accusing, while demanding she has to take or leave the bad deal they’re offering or her allegation will be dismissed and the man offered a powerful position. If she refuses to go along with a process this hostile, biased, and irregular and demands one more fair to her, they contemptuously imply that she’s lost her great and generous opportunity to be heard and that her accusation was likely bogus.

    This book is coming to mind. It’s like the Republican men on the Judiciary Committee are going out of their way to realize every women’s fears about the patriarchal and misogynistic system in which they have to seek justice.

  193. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    So Kavanaugh’s school, Georgetown Prep, is an all-boys Catholic school. Christine Blasey Ford went to Holton-Arms, an all-girls school. Over 400 alumnae of Holton-Arms who graduated between 1967-2018 have signed a letter in support of her.

    “We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” the letter from a group of classmates who graduated from 1967-2018.
    […]
    The open letter from Holton-Arms alumnae says that her story “demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court. Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”,

  194. says

    Feinstein:

    We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing. A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date.

    The decision to come forward or not come forward has always been Christine Blasey Ford’s, and that includes her participation in a hearing.

    I agree with her 100 percent that the rushed process to hold a hearing on Monday has been unfair and is reminiscent of the treatment of Anita Hill. I also agree that we need the facts before senators—not staff or lawyers—speak to witnesses.

  195. says

    Chris Murphy:

    1. There is no rush.

    2. This isn’t a trial.

    3. The bar should be high. It’s a lifetime appointment and there are thousands of other qualified lawyers/judges out there.

    4. There is no rush.

    5. Finally, there is no rush.

  196. says

    Corker:

    After learning of the allegation, Chairman @ChuckGrassley took immediate action to ensure both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have the opportunity to be heard, in public or private.

    He should have immediately started working in a bipartisan fashion with ranking member Feinstein to pause the proceedings, encourage the WH to request an FBI investigation, and begin respectful discussions with CBF and her attorney about the timing and conditions of her testimony. He should have begun compiling a list of potential witnesses or involved parties to be asked or subpoenaed to testify following the FBI investigation, and refrained from contacting them prior to its completion. In the meantime, he should have personally refrained from any disparagement of CBF or her account and told his Republican colleagues to do likewise, and he should have spoken out publicly warning against and condemning any harassment of or threats to her or her family.

    Republicans extended a hand in good faith.

    Thank you for emphasizing that Republican actions have been entirely partisan, excluding even the ranking member of the committee (a woman, elected in the wave that followed the Hill-Thomas hearings). They did not extend a hand, they delivered a contemptuous ultimatum, and nothing they’ve done has been in good faith, as every women across the country can plainly see.

    If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote.

    Go suck an egg.

  197. says

    Graham to me: ‘This has been a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh . . . I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close’.”

    I don’t know why they bother spending 5 minutes trying to pretend. They know who they are. We know who they are. Everyone knows their true colors will emerge in no time.

  198. says

    Vanita Gupta: “Dr. Blasey Ford is right to demand a FBI investigation prior to a hearing. Even Anita Hill’s senate hearing occurred after a FBI investigation. The all male Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members cannot be allowed to railroad the process further.”

  199. says

    Here’s where we are:
    Dr. Ford has taken a polygraph
    Dr. Ford is asking for an FBI investigation, which will mean she’s questioned. And she knows lying to the FBI is a crime

    Kavanaugh’s alibi refuses to testify
    Kavanaugh has neither taken a polygraph or asking to speak to FBI.”

  200. says

    Another great episode of Chris Hayes’ podcast – Investigating the President with Nick Akerman:

    It’s time we talked about Watergate. The crime, the greed, the paranoia and the investigation; how does one of the most significant criminal conspiracies in the history of the American republic help to inform us about what’s unfolding with Robert Mueller’s investigation? Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman tells the story of what it was like on the inside of the investigation. Hear him explain the exact moment he knew President Nixon was guilty, the vast gap between what we know and what Robert Mueller knows, and how he thinks we ended up back here nearly 50 years later.

    I love Nick Akerman.

  201. says

    Greg Miller at WaPo has a book, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy, coming out October 2, and they published an excerpt. It looks good:

    …Trump’s admiration for the leader of Russia was inexplicable and never wavered after taking office. He praised the Russian leader, congratulated him, defended him, pursued meetings with him, and fought virtually any policy or punitive measure that might displease him.

    A trained intelligence operative, Putin understood the power of playing to someone’s insecurities and ego. On cue, he reciprocated with frequent praise for the president he had sought to install in the White House.

    In phone conversations with Trump, Putin would whisper conspiratorially, telling the U.S. president that it wasn’t their fault that they could not consummate the relationship that each had sought. Instead, Putin sought to reinforce Trump’s belief that he was being undermined by a secret government cabal, a bureaucratic “deep state.”

    “It’s not us. We get it,” Putin would tell Trump, according to White House aides. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”…

  202. says

    Ken Dilanian: “The FBI would actually bring a lot of tools to an investigation of this alleged incident, including skilled agents with experience interviewing sex crime victims and reluctant witnesses. And the bureau would be happy to investigate, but it can only do so if the White House asks.”

    Kate Shaw: “Fwiw, the Obama White House routinely asked the FBI to conduct specific follow-up on nominees, sometimes based on Qs/concerns raised by the Senate (including the minority).”

  203. says

    Dementia-like statement that Trump made to The Hill in an interview:

    […] They [the FBI] know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly. They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States. […]

    https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/407335-exclusive-trump-says-exposing-corrupt-fbi-probe-could-be-crowning-achievement

    To refresh our memory, Carter Page self-identified as an “advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.” He was targeted by a Russian spy ring in the USA. Page visited Moscow after Trump won the election.

    That’s the same interview in which Trump made this statement about Comey:

    If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries. I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.

    From the article in The Hill:

    Trump said he had not read the documents he ordered declassified but said he expected to show they would prove the FBI case started as a political “hoax.”

  204. says

    Re #361 – One aspect of the Akerman interview that stood out to me was the number of people who he describes as not only being caught in sustained, organized criminality but being caught having lied about it extensively – to investigators, to congress, to the public. The same thing has happened in the Trump-Russia case: Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, van der Zwaan, and many others have simply lied. It often seems hard to believe that someone energetically denying allegations and responding to challenges of their past claims (even they’re doing it badly, as in Kavanaugh’s case) could just be outright lying, especially under oath. But so many people have and do that it should be much easier to accept.

  205. says

    The death toll from Florence is now 37.

    Also, an update on toxic waste in the flood waters:

    More than 5 million gallons (18 million liters) of partially treated sewage spilled into the Cape Fear River after power went out at a treatment plant, officials said, and the earthen dam of a pond holding hog waste was breached, spilling its contents. The flooding killed an estimated 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs on farms.

    Link

    Trump visited North Carolina today. He gave a mini-speech that was mostly self-praise before he received the briefing and tour of flooded areas. He was there for a briefing and a first-hand look, but he turned it into a spotlight-on-Trump moment. He even had marines dress the stage a bit by moving a jet into the background of the shot.

  206. says

    More reasons to suspect that the FBI field office in NY was anti-Hillary-Clinton from the get go.

    The Christopher Steele “dossier,” which contains salacious claims about President Trump and his ties to Russia, was reportedly stuck in a FBI field office in New York for several weeks in July 2016, during the same time period that officials in Washington, D.C. had already begun looking into Trump campaign associates’ ties to Russia, ABC News reported.

    While it’s known that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, and his drunken rant about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton in London in May 2016 are the circumstances that prompted the launch of the Russia probe, Trump has maintained that the contents of the dossier ignited the inquiry. […] [Papadopoulos claims he only had two drinks and that he was not drunk.]

    In July 2016, Steele reportedly sent an FBI agent in Rome the information he had collected. That agent then sent the opposition research to an agent in the FBI’s New York office, according to ABC’s sources. The documents were sent to the “wrong person,” ABC’s sources said, and the documents sat untouched in the field office for weeks, as counterintelligence officials in D.C. began looking into former Trump campaign associate Carter Page and chairman Paul Manafort.

    “It took a long period of time for the New York field office to see it and realize what it was,” another source told ABC News. FBI officials in D.C. did not receive the dossier until September 2016.

    Link

    Sounds like some iffy excuses are being made for the delay in forwarding the dossier out of the N.Y. field office.

  207. says

    New report claims YouTube unintentionally acts as an indoctrinator for far-right beliefs.

    Algorithms create a direct pipeline from mainstream conservative videos to white nationalist content.

    Excerpt from a longer article:

    […] YouTube has a vested monetary interest in allowing these far-right influencers to remain on the platform.

    The report, published by Data & Society, cites data from 65 political influencers on 81 different channels. Researcher Rebecca Lewis describes them as the “Alternative Influence Network,” simultaneously pushing reactionary right-wing ideas while also using brand influencer techniques to promote their “authenticity” and build their audience.

    A good portion of the influencers are mainstream conservative and libertarian thinkers, like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and conservative comedian Steven Crowder. However, by tracking who appeared on the same YouTube video over the course of a year-and-a-half, the report is able to build a map which shows how, with the help of YouTube’s algorithms, a user can seamlessly move from them into more hardline far-right and white nationalist sections of YouTube. […]

  208. says

    Doofus speaks:

    The president said he remains hopeful he can deliver on a border wall and that he found inspiration for the project while speaking at the Sept. 11 memorial in Pennsylvania.

    “They built this gorgeous wall where the plane went down in Pennsylvania, Shanksville. And I was there. I made the speech. And it’s sort of beautiful, what they did is incredible,” he said. “They have a series of walls, I’m saying, it’s like perfect. So, so, we are pushing very hard.”

    The Hill link

    The quoted text above is from the same interview in which Trump made dementia-like comments about firing Comey and about Carter Page.

    When he spoke about his beloved wall, he also lied for the umpteenth time:

    We’ve started an 80-mile stretch.

    No, not true. Repairs are being made to pre-existing fencing/wall.

    The entire Democrat life is to try and make sure we don’t have a wall, not because we don’t need it, because we do. But because that was a promise that I made, and they want to try to make sure I don’t deliver on that promise.

    No, Trump, that’s how you think, not how Democrats think.

  209. says

    Transgender military ban’s ‘unit cohesion’ claim fails spectacularly in court.

    In court, the Trump administration is still losing at every turn.

    In four different courts across the country, the Trump administration is still defending its attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military. This week, a federal judge in California once again denied the administration’s attempts to reinstate the ban, eviscerating their purported rationales for the discriminatory policy.

    All four courts have imposed injunctions on the ban, but the administration has been fighting to lift these so they can enforce the ban. In his latest opinion denying a request to dissolve his injunction, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal explained that claims of “military readiness” and “unit cohesion” simply do not survive scrutiny as reasonable justifications.

    Following the military’s “study,” which appeared to be rigged against transgender service and heavily influenced by Vice President Pence and anti-LGBTQ groups, the administration claimed that transgender people were not fit to serve if they have ever been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This presumption flies in the face of all professional medical organizations, but Bernal also noted massive inconsistencies that reveal a clear attempt to simply discriminate against transgender people. […]

  210. says

    Oh, FFS. More pro-Russian people in the White House:

    Pro-Russian separatists in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) scored a major victory earlier this summer when they hired a pair of Trump campaign officials to help them lead their efforts to crack up BiH.

    Now, one of these lobbyists, Mike Rubino, has decided to take his talents to an even more prestigious destination: the White House.

    First flagged by Open Secrets DC’s Anna Massoglia, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Rubino would be joining HHS as a senior adviser. As a press release announced, Rubino “joins HHS from the private sector, where he worked in public policy, communications, and crisis management.” […]

    And, yes, there is also a significant corruption angle:

    […] Among Rubino’s work in the private sector: stumping for BiH’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD). The SNSD — which is currently steering BiH’s Republika Srpska (RS), a Bosnian Serb enclave — remains one of the most notorious political entities in the Balkans. The party is currently headed by Milorad Dodik, a politico sanctioned by the U.S. in 2017 for his efforts at “actively obstructing” the Dayton Accords, which helped settle the Bosnian War in the mid-1990s. For good measure, the U.S. also sanctioned SNSD Vice President Nikola Spiric — as well as Spiric’s immediate family — earlier this month, citing his “significant” corruption. […]

  211. says

    Trump’s Lies Have Grown Far More Frequent—and More Dangerous.

    The president is accelerating a dark phenomenon called “truth decay.”

    […] From June through August, Trump averaged more than 15 bogus statements a day—more than triple his daily rate in 2017.

    Recently, he went after Google, falsely claiming the country’s biggest information search tool is “rigged” to make him look bad.

    He sowed confusion over a key statement he made about the Russia investigation by falsely accusing NBC News of doctoring video of his famous interview with Lester Holt (which has been publicly available in full since May 2017).

    And in his startling rebuke of an official government-commissioned report concluding that 2,975 people in Puerto Rico died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Trump falsely claimed that the report was a Democratic hit job and that the toll “did not go up by much” beyond 6 to 18 deaths.

    This unprecedented behavior from a US president is akin to dumping gasoline on a long-smoldering trend RAND researchers call “Truth Decay”: a deepening disagreement over basic facts that is increasingly undercutting the fundamentals of our democracy, from elections to policymaking. When Trump’s personal lawyer makes the argument that “truth isn’t truth” in Robert Mueller’s investigation, or argues that “facts develop” to explain away a shifting story about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, this misinformation coming from the highest levels of the US government fuels blind partisanship. And it could potentially leave the public confused and mistrustful during crucial times, from national votes to a national security crisis. […]

    More at the link.

  212. says

    Also from Trump’s interview with The Hill (see comment 374 and other previous comments):

    I don’t have an Attorney General. It’s very sad. […] [The president’s remarks appeared to cast Sessions as a confused elderly man who had suffered through his confirmation hearings.]

    I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first Senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be Attorney General, and I didn’t see it.

    And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.

    Link

  213. says

    US considering building ‘Fort Trump’ in Poland.

    […]
    “Poland is willing to make a very major contribution for the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript of the press conference. “Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base.”

    Warsaw wants a U.S. Army armored division permanently stationed on its territory as a deterrent against Russian aggression, and has offered to pay up to $2 billion to make it happen.

    “I hope that we will build Fort Trump in Poland together, Mr. President,” Duda said on Tuesday. […]

  214. says

    I’m spitting mad now:

    Chairman Chuck Grassley is also setting deadlines. His letter to Ford’s lawyers says his committee’s hearing on her allegations of sexual abuse will begin Monday morning. He says if she intends to testify, she must submit written testimony by Friday morning.

  215. says

    SC @382, McConnell is certainly willing to see how much evil and general unfairness he can get away with.

    More details:

    […] Blasey Ford previously had asked for an FBI investigation into the incident, which allegedly took place when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers.

    “It is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this,” Grassley said. […]

    “I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations. That is precisely what the Senate is doing,” Grassley’s letter said, while noting she has the option to testify privately Monday instead. “That is why our investigators have asked to speak with your client. That is why I have invited Dr. Ford to tell her story to the Senate and, if she so chooses, to the American people.”

    It’s correct, as Grassley says in the letter, that the Senate cannot unilaterally order the FBI to conduct a background check-style investigation into Blasey Ford’s allegations. But there’s nothing stopping President Trump from instructing the FBI to do so, as ex-White House attorneys of past administrations have pointed out.

    Trump claimed on Tuesday that the FBI did not “want” to be involved in such an investigation. However, sources told Bloomberg that the White House had not even asked the FBI to investigate the allegations. […]

    Link

  216. says

    Trump tells bad jokes in North Carolina:

    During a tour of a North Carolina neighborhood badly devastated by Hurricane Florence on Wednesday, President Donald Trump questioned what the “law” was and joked that a resident might get to keep the boat that washed up onto the deck in his backyard.

    According to a pool report, Trump approached the resident of a small brick house where a large yacht had washed ashore and was capsized against a wooden deck. The President asked if it was his boat. The owner said it wasn’t.

    “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal,” Trump said, before telling reporters that the man’s insurance company wasn’t going to cover the damage done to his house. Trump then personally vowed to “find out” the name of the insurance company.

    “I think it’s incredible what we’re seeing,” he said. “This boat just came here. … They don’t know whose boat that is. What’s the law? Maybe it becomes theirs.”

    Link

  217. says

    More Trumpian moments from the visit to North Carolina:

    Per pool, during Trump’s briefing in NC, he asked a state official, “How is Lake Norman doing?” Lake Norman in Charlotte is where Trump National Golf Club is located.
    Trump also said “I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.”

    https://twitter.com/tparti/status/1042433992274915328

    Trump just said to a victim of the hurricane as he handed out a boxed lunch: “Have a good time”. 😳The man is in la la land.

    https://twitter.com/jeffgoldesq/status/1042442588203180033

  218. says

    “I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations. That is precisely what the Senate is doing,” Grassley’s letter said,…

    So some partisan Republican staffers, with zero expertise in these matters, who will be greeted with suspicion by Blasey’s friends and family and who are likely to produce anything they could possibly use against Blasey to Grassley, have begun an investigation. Which is going to be concluded before Monday? Faster than the FBI could do it? Or isn’t, such that it’s really just an effort to stave off the call for a serious investigation, attempt to gather dirt on Blasey or her witnesses, and potentially intimidate witnesses and others from coming forward. More of the absolute worst possible way to address this kind of allegation, the most unlikely to lead to the truth, and the most harmful to Blasey and other women. They’re despicable.

  219. says

    DiFi: “President Trump, Dr. Blasey Ford did not want her story of sexual assault to be public. She requested confidentiality and I honored that. It wasn’t until the media outed her that she decided to come forward. You may not respect women and the wishes of victims, but I do.”

  220. says

    “Italy’s League brings ‘racism’ defamation case against black MEP”:

    When Cécile Kyenge was appointed as Italy’s first black government minister in 2013, she was likened to an “orang-utan” by a politician from the country’s hard right League Party. Five years later the League is Italy’s most popular party and has brought a defamation case against her for accusing it of racism.

    Ms Kyenge, integration minister in the liberal government of Enrico Letta, is fighting the case in a court in the northern city Piacenza brought by the League and approved by Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s powerful interior minister. She could face a large fine if found guilty.

    The case comes as Mr Salvini’s anti-migration League is surging in popularity — overtaking the Five Star Movement, its coalition partner, in recent polls….

    More at the link.

  221. Hj Hornbeck says

    Republicans can’t seem to get their story straight.

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Wednesday said while she believes it “reverses the normal order of things” to ask the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh, in order to investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s claim of sexual assault against him, she would consider involving the bureau at some point.

    “It is the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to assess the nominees, and then if we need additional help from the FBI, the committee could ask for it,” Collins said in an interview on Maine radio station WVOM.

    That clashes slightly with President Donald Trump and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) talking points about the FBI: They’ve said it’s not the bureau’s “thing” to look into investigations like Blasey Ford’s, and that Kavanaugh’s background probe is “closed.”

    In the case of Anita Hill, an FBI investigation took three days and public hearings were only done after it completed.

  222. says

    WaPo does a thorough fact-check – “Brett Kavanaugh’s unlikely story about Democrats’ stolen documents”:

    …Kavanaugh since 2004 has faced dozens of questions from senators of both parties about this issue and has given essentially the same answer: Nothing seemed fishy because Senate staffers often shared this kind of information across party lines.

    Questions arose once again at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court this month, and once again, he gave the same see-no-evil answer. Even in hindsight, years after the document breach was revealed, Kavanaugh has maintained that nothing raised red flags and that he never received documents that appeared to be stolen or obtained in an “untoward” manner.

    These claims defy logic. An elite Republican lawyer who was immersed at the time in Washington’s inside baseball, Kavanaugh strains credulity by claiming this extraordinary window he had into Democrats’ thinking seemed aboveboard. He received a steady stream of insider information over nine months from Miranda, according to the documents available….

    Particularly questionable are Kavanaugh’s claims about the Peddie letter (Miranda seemed to quote directly from material Democrats had received confidentially) and about the Graves memo, which went on in breathtaking detail about Democrats’ strategy for a big, contentious political battle that year.

    The best-case scenario is that Kavanaugh, who is up for a seat on the nation’s highest court, has a glaring lack of curiosity or a superficial level of discernment. The worst-case scenario is that he has been feigning ignorance since his first confirmation hearing in the Senate in April 2004, which was held after the Senate sergeant-at-arms had released his report documenting Miranda’s serial theft.

    In any case, Kavanaugh’s response to Leahy this month — describing all this as “the usual kinds of discussions that would happen” — is not accurate. Neither was his answer to written questions in 2004: “These meetings, calls, and emails were typical of how judicial confirmations have been handled in past Administrations.” Neither was his response to Durbin at the 2004 hearing: “There was nothing out of the ordinary of what Senate staffs would tell us or what we would hear from our legislative affairs folks.” All three statements merit Three Pinocchios.

    Analysis at the link. And this just concerns the Miranda documents, and not the Ledeen “spying”/”I have a mole” email. And of course it doesn’t include the more than 100,000 documents they’re hiding from the Senate and public entirely. We can only imagine what those would reveal.

    Also interesting is that in so many of these cases the Republican cheating surrounds nominees’ far-Right positions on women’s reproductive rights. These controversies mirror those surrounding Kavanaugh, and some of the sleazy strategies they develop based on the stolen information – especially to do everything they can to rush the nominees through – are the same that’s now being done for Kavanaugh.

  223. says

    Trump goes even further to try to discredit Christine Blasey Ford:

    […] The Hill asked the president if he has “any concerns about the credibility of the accuser,” and after asking for an update on the afternoon’s developments, Trump said:

    “This is no different than the Russian witch hunt, what they’ve done is they make up a lot of stuff and try and obstruct and resist.”

    In context, “they” referred to Democrats.

    There are a couple of relevant angles to this. The first is that the Russia scandal is quite real, and “they” haven’t made up any “stuff.”

    The second is that there’s no reason to think Christine Blasey Ford has made up any “stuff,” either.

    The professor has already made a significant sacrifice by agreeing to share her story. In response, she’s been targeted with threats; she’s moved from her home for security reasons; and she’s even keeping her distance from her own children.

    Meanwhile, Ford has also implored the FBI to investigate her allegation, after which time she’s prepared to voluntarily give sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Do these sound like the actions of someone who’s “made up a lot of stuff”?

    Link

  224. says

    OMFG.

    […] Trump apparently hasn’t read the materials he’s decided to declassify. He admitted as much in an interview with The Hill published yesterday.

    THE HILL: Have you reviewed the memos yourself? What do you expect them to show, if so?

    TRUMP: I have not reviewed them. I have been asked by many people in Congress as you know to release them. I have watched commentators that I respect begging the president of the United States to release them…. I have been asked by so many people that I respect, please — the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful, great Jeanine Pirro. […]

    Link

    Ummm, yeah. The heads of various national security departments told Trump that he should not declassify the material. Declassification is dangerous. Some people could even lose their lives. Sources and methods could be compromised. Trust that organizations like the FBI can keep the identities of cooperators confidential will be destroyed.

    So, Trump decided to take the advice of TV personalities like Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. Faux News runs the presidency.

  225. says

    Rachel Maddow’s excellent segment showing “the history of the FBI performing background checks on judicial nominees.” Maddow wonders what it is about Brett Kavanaugh and the sex assault accusation against him that his accuser is calling for an FBI investigation but Republicans are pretending that’s not the FBI’s job.

  226. says

    All the best people:

    An activist who helped arrange a speech for Ron DeSantis at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in February, and who has donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis over the years, called former President Barack Obama a “FUCKING MUSLIM N****” on Twitter recently, Politico reported.

    The Republican activist is Steven Alembik, a 67-year-old data and email services provider in Florida. He has also donated to GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for Senate, and other Republican politicians in the state. Alembik told Politico he was angry when he posted the tweet and suggested he was not racist and would never say the n-word in public.

    “When I write anything inflammatory, it’s because I’m seriously pissed off,” he told Politico. “I’m an emotional human being. Do I have a filter on what I say? In public, yes. Would I use that word in public? No. This is Twitter.”

    Alembik reportedly deleted the tweet after speaking with Politico, but he went on to make a slew of other racist and inflammatory comments during his interview with Politico about Muslims and Jewish people. While he said he understood why the campaign may need to distance itself from him, he also bragged that he had more pictures with DeSantis “than I have with my kids.” […]

    This is the fifth time DeSantis or someone affiliated with his campaign has been embroiled in a race-related issue.

    Talking Points Memo link

    Politico link

  227. says

    Moonves Booted From Hollywood’s Most Powerful List, Ronan Farrow Gets Spot

    Former CBS chief Les Moonves, ousted due to several sexual assault allegations, was removed from the Hollywood Reporter’s Top 100 list — and Ronan Farrow, the reporter who revealed his sexual misconduct, was ushered on in his place.

    According to a Thursday CNN report, the list has been altered in other ways too since the #MeToo movement took off. Amazon entertainment chief Roy Price, former Pixar chief executive John Lasseter and director Brett Ratner all failed to make the list this year, despite being included in 2017, due to allegations against them.

  228. says

    From Robert Costa:

    One plugged-in Republican tells me that several top GOP lawmakers have told colleagues that they hope Ford declines to show up for the hearing even as they issue statements urging her to do so.

    https://twitter.com/costareports/status/1042561925597544448

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] the strategy is to corner Blasey Ford and bluff her out of showing up at all […]

    That’s the main takeaway from Marshall’s longer post:

    With the exchange of letters today between the key players in the Kavanaugh controversy, we are finally getting a degree of clarity about where this is going, albeit a clarity of a tendentious variety.

    Senate Republicans have managed to unite themselves behind a simple proposition: try to corner Blasey Ford into appearing in a stacked hearing, hoping that she’ll back out and allow them to move quickly to a vote. […] there’s really no reason they can’t ask the FBI to do a simple review which would likely take only a few days. Nor is there much reason not to call other witnesses. Two of the key witnesses support Kavanaugh, his two friends who were allegedly there that night, one of whom is an alleged accomplice. The simple aim here is to face her with a take it or leave it choice – “her one chance”, as Senator Cornyn put it yesterday – in the hopes that she’ll back down and allow them to vote.

    It’s a fairly brazen and thus far effectively executed power play.

    Unfortunately, I think there’s a good chance that this will work.

    I also think it’s a bluff. What I mean by that is that, despite the intentionally one-sided hearing they’ve planned, I doubt Senate Republicans have a good plan for what they’ll do if Blasey Ford shows up. But that of course places a great deal on her shoulders. Will she agree to a one-sided quickie hearing with no review of the facts of the case or other witnesses who can shed light on the facts of the case?

    It’s not clear to me that Senate Democrats have thought of another card to play to give Blasey Ford other options besides the ultimatum she’s presented with. Senate Republicans control the gavel and make the decisions.

    Remember too that Grassley has said that if Blasey Ford wants to testify on her behalf on Monday that he has to receive her written testimony by Friday morning. So she has about 36 hours to decide whether she’ll accept their take it or leave it offer.

  229. says

    “Exclusive: With more immigrant children in detention, HHS cuts funds for other programs — like cancer research”:

    The Department of Health and Human Services is diverting millions of dollars in funding from a number of programs, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, to pay for housing for the growing population of detained immigrant children.

    In a letter sent to Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash., and obtained by Yahoo News, HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined his plan to reallocate up to $266 million in funding for the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, to the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

    Nearly $80 million of that money will come from other refugee support programs within ORR, which have seen their needs significantly diminished as the Trump administration makes drastic cuts to the annual refugee numbers. The rest is being taken from other programs, including $16.7 million from Head Start, $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute. Money is also being diverted from programs dedicated to mental and maternal health, women’s shelters and substance abuse.

    According to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement obtained by Yahoo News, there were 13,312 immigrant children in federal custody as of Wednesday, Sept. 19, with ORR’s existing facilities at 92 percent capacity….

  230. says

    “Top U.S. Diplomat Backed Continuing Support for Saudi War in Yemen Over Objections of Staff”:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed continued U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen over the objections of staff members after being warned that a cutoff could jeopardize $2 billion in weapons sales to America’s Gulf allies, according to a classified memo and people familiar with the decision.

    Earlier this month, Mr. Pompeo asked his regional experts for advice on a new requirement imposed by Congress that compels the U.S. to cut off refueling operations unless the State Department officially certifies every six months that Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in Yemen. The law includes a provision that allows the U.S. to keep providing the support on national security grounds if the State Department determines that it helps protect America.

    Most of the State Department’s military and area specialists urged Mr. Pompeo in the memo to reject certification “due to a lack of progress on mitigating civilian casualties.”

    That included the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Their recommendation was also backed by the legal advisers who took part in the policy review.

    The experts argued that certification would “provide no incentive for Saudi leadership to take our diplomatic messaging seriously,” and “damage the Department’s credibility with Congress,” according to portions of the memo shared with The Wall Street Journal.

    They urged Mr. Pompeo to instead tell Congress that he couldn’t certify that the Gulf nations were doing enough to minimize civilian casualties, but that the U.S. would continue to provide military support to the coalition because it is in America’s national security interest.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development went even further and argued that the U.S. should halt military aid because “USAID does not believe that continued refueling support will improve either country’s approach to civilian casualties or human protections.”

    The only group that urged him to fully support the Saudi-led coalition was the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, which argued in the memo that “lack of certification will negatively impact pending arms transfers.”…

  231. says

    “‘No accident’ Brett Kavanaugh’s female law clerks ‘looked like models’, Yale professor told students”:

    A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.

    Amy Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a bestselling book on parenting called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was known for instructing female law students who were preparing for interviews with Kavanaugh on ways they could dress to exude a “model-like” femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers, according to sources.

    Yale provided Kavanaugh with many of the judge’s clerks over the years, and Chua played an outsized role in vetting the clerks who worked for him. But the process made some students deeply uncomfortable.

    One source said that in at least one case, a law student was so put off by Chua’s advice about how she needed to look, and its implications, that she decided not to pursue a clerkship with Kavanaugh, a powerful member of the judiciary who had a formal role in vetting clerks who served in the US supreme court.

    In one case, Jed Rubenfeld, also an influential professor at Yale and who is married to Chua, told a prospective clerk that Kavanaugh liked a certain “look”.

    “He told me, ‘You should know that Judge Kavanaugh hires women with a certain look,’” one woman told the Guardian. “He did not say what the look was and I did not ask.”

    Sources who spoke to the Guardian about their experiences with Chua and Rubenfeld would only speak under the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution and damage to their future careers.

    Chua advised the same student Rubenfeld spoke to that she ought to dress in an “outgoing” way for her interview with Kavanaugh, and that the student should send Chua pictures of herself in different outfits before going to interview. The student did not send the photos.

    There is no allegation that the female students who worked for Kavanaugh were chosen because of their physical appearance or that they were not qualified.

    However, the remarks from Chua and Rubenfeld raise questions about why the couple believed it was important to emphasize the students’ physical appearance when discussing jobs with Kavanaugh. The couple were not known to do that in connection with other judges, sources said.

    The conversation then turned to Kozinski’s protege and good friend Kavanaugh, who one source said was a familiar name even though he had not yet been nominated to the high court. Chua allegedly told the students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models”. Student reacted with surprise, and quickly pointed out that Chua’s own daughter was due to clerk for Kavanaugh.

    A source said that Chua quickly responded, saying that her own daughter would not put up with any inappropriate behaviour.

    Chua has cancelled her classes at Yale this semester and, according to her office, has been hospitalised and is not taking calls. Rubenfeld sent an email to the Yale Law School community that said his wife had been ill and in hospital and had a long period of recuperation ahead of her.

    The Guardian has learned that Rubenfeld is currently the subject of an internal investigation at Yale. The investigation is focused on Rubenfeld’s conduct, particularly with female law students. Students have also raised related concerns to Yale authorities about Chua’s powerful influence in the clerkships process. The investigation was initiated before Kavanaugh was nominated by Donald Trump to serve on the high court.

    A Yale Law School official said in an emailed statement: “This is the first we have heard claims that Professor Chua coached students to look ‘like models’. We will look into these claims promptly, taking into account the fact that Professor Chua is currently unreachable due to serious illness. If true, this advice is clearly unacceptable.”

    The official added: “I can assure you that we take allegations of faculty misconduct very seriously.”

    Chua and her husband are towering figures at Yale and were described by one student as being the centre of gravity at the elite law school, connecting students to jobs and clerkships, and rewarding loyalty.

    The couple have hired a well-known crisis communications expert but he did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian about Chua’s remarks or the internal investigation….

  232. says

    Adam Jentleson:

    Late last night Grassley’s chief counsel, who’d question Ford in a staff interview & prep Grassley’s questioning in a hearing, tweeted that he’s “unfazed” & “determined” to “confirm Kavanaugh,” then confirmed he personally conducted Kavanguah’s questioning & attacked Ford’s camp….

    We see what you’re doing, Republicans.

  233. says

    Debunking rightwing memes meant to smear or defame Christine Blasey Ford:

    […]
    – No, Ford didn’t have RateMyProfessor.com reviews describing her as “unprofessional.” Those reviews were of a different woman at a different school with a similar name.

    – No, Kavanaugh’s mother, a district court judge, didn’t rule against Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case. In fact, they settled with their bank, she allowed the case to be dismissed, and they kept their home. They may not ever have even been in her courtroom.

    – No, Ford did not write a similar letter accusing Neil Gorsuch of sexual assault during his confirmation.

    – Ford went to a women’s march and has given some very small-dollar donations to Democratic candidates and organizations. But the picture circulating of her supposedly holding a sign saying “not my president” at a women’s march is actually a picture of an entirely different person.

    – No, Ford’s brother didn’t work at a law firm that hired Russia dossier firm Fusion GPS on a Russia-related case … or at least, he hadn’t worked at that law firm for more than a decade before the 2016 elections. Ford’s brother worked at BakerHostetler, leaving in 2004. Years later, they hired Fusion GPS for a Russia-related case. Years after that, Fusion GPS researched Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

    Summarized from a New York Times article.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/19/us/politics/christine-blasey-ford-kavanaughs-fact-check.html

  234. says

    From Franklin Graham:

    It’s just a shame that a person like Judge Kavanaugh who has a stellar record–that somebody can bring something up that he did as a teenager close to 40 years ago. That’s not relevant.

    Well, there wasn’t a crime committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away…

    He just flat out says that’s not true. Regardless if it was true, these are two teenagers and she said no and he respected that so I don’t know what the issue is.

    Franklin Graham is an evangelical nutcase. He was speaking on the Christian Broadcast Network. He has a sheaf of lies about Blasey Ford in one hand and a bible in the other.

  235. says

    Jennifer Rubin – “Republicans, be forewarned: Kavanaugh’s accuser has options”: “In short, Ford has a powerful story to tell. In trying to jam her into their abbreviated, one-sided process, Senate Republicans open the door to far more dangerous options, where the American people get to judge for themselves whether she is credible. As Kavanaugh’s approval rating slides, Republicans need to consider whether it is worth unleashing a firestorm to defend a nominee who might be a further drag on their midterm races.”

    Much more at the link.

  236. says

    Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow is pushing an absolutely bonkers lie, and he is trying to back up a lie told previously by Trump:

    During an interview on Wednesday’s edition of Chris Cuomo’s CNN show, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow suggested that footage of the infamous May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt in which the president essentially copped to obstruction of justice has somehow been doctored.

    Sekulow offered no evidence for his claim, which isn’t consistent with video of the interview.

    The president’s lawyer made his bizarre case in response to Cuomo’s comment that “the president does the interview with Lester Holt and says, ‘I was gonna fire [former FBI Director James Comey] anyway! Because I said this Russia thing, it’s just not right. I’m getting rid of him.’” […]

    As Cuomo briefly recounted the interview, Sekulow interjected to say that his recollection of what Trump said to Holt — one incontrovertibly consistent with the extended video of the interview — was somehow incorrect.

    “Actually, not correct. There is actually a transcript of the entire Lester Holt interview — and as you know, because you do TV and do a good job — you know that when there are interviews, there are edits. And there is a longer transcript,” Sekulow said. “And I will just tell you, without disclosing any detail, that when you review the entire transcript it is very clear as to what happened, and I’m not going give you information on how we provided it, but in our professional discussions with the office of the special counsel, we have addressed that on multiple occasions appropriately.”

    “We think the entire transcript, without question, supports the president,” Sekulow added.

    Cuomo, unfortunately, didn’t push back on the point at all. […]

    Think Progress link

    Trump tweeted this on August 30:

    What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!

    The extended footage of the interview has been publicly available on the NBC News YouTube page for a long time. View the footage and you can see that there are no edits at all. There are no deceptive edits—there are no edits at all.

    […] Just over one minute into it, Trump says, without any prompting from Holt whatsoever, that with regard to the Comey firing, “when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’” […]

  237. says

    Not The Onion: Roy Moore urges Republicans to ignore Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegation.

    The failed Alabama Senate candidate is no stranger to accusations of sexual misconduct.

    Moore said:

    I think they [Republicans] need to take a stand. I think they need to do what their conscience dictates. They know what’s happening. It’s so obvious that these tactics are used just days before a very important event … but these come up right before an election or a confirmation, and I think the Republicans need to take a stand. […]

    I think they [Democrats] don’t care about transparency, they just use it because it’s effective. They know that on the one hand you offend women if you believe somebody that says they weren’t guilty of sexual misconduct. On the other hand, if you don’t believe them, you’re condemning the person accused of guilt to prove his own innocence. It’s a Catch-22.

  238. says

    Alexandra Petri, treasure:

    …She should not say anything; she will ruin his life; it will not be real unless she says something.
    She should not have waited so long to speak; she should have said something; it could not have been real if she did not say anything.
    These allegations will ruin his life; making these allegations will ruin someone’s life; she will ruin her life making these allegations.

    She went on to lead a productive life, so how bad can it have been?
    She did not go on to lead a productive life, so how can we trust what she has to say?
    If it is true, why would she want to remain anonymous? Now that we know her name, we are coming to her house….

  239. says

    Embarrassing the USA, a Trump specialty:

    Another day, another stunningly brilliant policy proposal from President Donald Trump.

    According to Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, Trump suggested to him that Spain should build a wall across the Sahara desert as a way of curbing the influx of migrants into the country. Borrell made the claim on Tuesday during a speech at the Club Siglo XXI in Madrid.

    “You need to build a wall across the Sahara,” Trump reportedly said. “It can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.” Borrell replied that, in fact, the Sahara is much bigger than the southern U.S. border and “in any case it wouldn’t be very useful to do that.” According to El Pais, the exchange occurred when Borrell visited the White House at the end of June. […]

    Building a wall across the Sahara is an incredibly stupid idea — the Washington Post already has a handy explainer detailing the potential pitfalls. Suffice to say, building a wall through three thousand miles of incredibly inhospitable desert would cost tens of billions of dollars. It would also cut right through up to five North African countries, who might have something to say about their territory being divided by a foreign power. Plus it would do absolutely nothing to protect Spain’s 4,000 miles of coastline. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-spain-wall-across-sahara-desert-immigration-f0c11cc7ba5a/

  240. says

    Comey says he’s not worried, or at least he is not worried for himself. He is worried about Trump breaching institutional norms when it comes to declassifying documents related to ongoing investigations.

    Former FBI director James Comey said he’s not worried by President Donald Trump’s order to the bureau to release a slew of his text messages, saying he “wasn’t a big texter” when he was at the law enforcement agency. […]

    “Personally, I don’t care, I wasn’t a big texter,” Comey told St. Louis Public Radio in a Wednesday interview, adding that he also wasn’t concerned about anything he said in emails becoming public. “I have a separate worry, which is institutional…You don’t want to do anything in disclosing information that’s connected to an intelligence investigation that would either screw up pending investigations or send a message to future sources that we can’t be trusted to protect you.” […]

    “I’ve seen Republicans on the Hill and the president say the next revelation will show that the FBI acted in a bad way. Each revelation shows that the FBI conducted itself — as I know we did — in a professional routine, upholding the rule of law at every turn,” Comey added. […]

    “It’s become so blatant and so repeated and with so little follow-up,” Comey said of Trump’s repeated spats with Sessions. “In a way, I think it’s now just noise to the Department of Justice…There’s some circus going on above them.”

    Link

  241. says

    Trump threatens countries in the Middle East:

    We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!

  242. says

    Trump threatens just about everyone:

    I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!

    Sounds like he might be working himself up to shutting down the government when funding expires on September 30th … if his tantrums don’t get the results he wants.

  243. says

    Oh, FFS.

    After months of workshopping in speeches around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to have settled on a final version of his newest inflammatory stiff-arm to all criticism of law enforcement. […]

    “If you want more shootings and death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or Antifa,” he told an audience of police in Waukegan, IL. “If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years.”

    It’s a carefully crafted line that lures police critics to snap back at him, instead of leaning on the hardy anecdotal and quantitative evidence that cities wishing to reduce their crime rates should consider shifting funds from policework to community organizations and other soft-power public service forums. The wholesale rejection of input from outsiders, coupled with the absolutist notion that listening to anyone other than police themselves will automatically drive crime up, is directly contradicted by the details of the now three-decade-long drop in crime rates around the country that Sessions is so fond of ignoring. […]

    Link

    Sessions is trying to make the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, etc. into big, scary boogiemen that will destroy all semblance of public safety. Alan Pyke called this approach “waving the bloody shirt—probably because he [Sessions] knows he can’t win in a fair fight.”

  244. says

    […] The degree of incompetence on display here is staggering. While it took about a week to restore 80 percent of the power after hurricanes Wilma and Irma, the Trump administration required 150 days to achieve that in Puerto Rico. […]

    See the “Length of Time to Restore Power” chart in this Think Progress article.

  245. says

    SC @421, the cover story of the Russians who poisoned the people in the United Kingdom is now so thin that anyone can see right through it.

  246. says

    More re #404 above, from Elie Mystal – “Details On The Allegations Against, And Yale Law School Investigation Into Professor Jed Rubenfeld”:

    …Maybe before deploying the law school’s reputation in defense of a Supreme Court nominee, Yale needs to clean up its own yard?

    But since Yale is determined to defend Kavanaugh at all costs, it is fair to ask: What does Yale know about Kavanaugh that they are not telling the rest of us? What does Rubenfeld know? What does Chua know? And will anybody on the Senate Judiciary Committee bother to ask them?

    Rubenfeld is under investigation for:

    – Disparate treatment of, or boundary crossing with, women in the YLS community. She is interested in hearing from subjects of, or witnesses to, that treatment. (E.g., comments about female students’ physical appearances or relationship histories, conversations that seem designed to “test the waters,” intimidation or efforts at manipulation targeted at female students, etc.).

    – Conduct related to excessive drinking with students (driving with students while drunk, etc.).

    – Inappropriate employment practices relating to RAs or Coker Fellows.

    – Retaliation against students who do not show sufficient loyalty.

    Mystal notes that

    Moreover, Yale Law alumni tell us that Rubenfeld’s behavior towards women was an “open secret” within the Yale Law community. The allegations of “boundary crossing” mentioned in the email have been repeated to us via anonymous emails, texts, and DMs from alumni that are known to us but do not want to go on the record until the investigation is complete. There are even public tweets which seem to speak to these matters, if you know what you are looking for.

    Rot, rot, rot.

  247. says

    “Kavanaugh Accuser Opens Negotiations on Testimony Next Week”:

    The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault, in an apparent bid to jump-start negotiations, has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she “would be prepared to testify next week,” so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to an email her lawyers sent to committee staff members.

    In the email, obtained by The New York Times, the lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford said that testifying Monday — the timetable Republicans have set for a hearing — “is not possible and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.” The lawyer reiterated that it is Dr. Blasey’s “strong preference” that “a full investigation” occur before her testimony — wording that stopped short of demanding an F.B.I. probe and suggested she is open to testifying without one.

    In the email, addressed to top Republican and Democratic aides on the committee, the lawyer, Debra Katz, wrote that she would like to set up a call later on Thursday to “discuss the conditions” under which Dr. Blasey would be prepared to testify.

    “As you are aware, she has been receiving death threats, which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and she and her family have been forced out of their home,” the email said. “She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

  248. says

    More re #428 – “Michael Cohen spoke to Mueller team for hours; asked about Russia, possible collusion, pardon: Sources”:

    President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller, sources tell ABC News.

    The special counsel’s questioning of Cohen, one of the president’s closest associates over the past decade, has focused primarily on all aspects of Trump’s dealings with Russia — including financial and business dealings and the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign and its surrogates to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

    Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.

    The interviews with Cohen took place in Washington, D.C., and New York City. They were also attended in part by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

    Cohen’s participation in the meetings has been voluntary — without any guarantee of leniency from prosecutors, according to several people familiar with the situation.

    ABC News has also learned that Cohen is also cooperating with a separate probe by New York state authorities into the inner workings of the Trump family charity and the Trump Organization, where Cohen served as an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump for 10 years….

  249. says

    In my opinion, Mark Judge has to testify under oath or be interviewed by the FBI not just about what happened in prep school or his memory of it but what he’s done in recent months.

  250. says

    Third USA workplace mass shooting in 24 hours.

    Three people were shot dead and another three were injured after an employee opened fire at a Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland on Thursday morning, law enforcement officials said.

    NBC News link

  251. says

    JFC.

    Federal officers have arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants who came forward to take care of undocumented immigrant children in government custody, and the Trump administration is pledging to go after more.

    The news will serve as confirmation of the worst fears of immigrants and their advocates: that a recent move by President Donald Trump’s administration to more fully vet people who come forward to care for undocumented immigrant children who are alone in the US has been a way for the administration to track down and arrest more undocumented immigrants.

    On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement senior official Matthew Albence testified to Congress that, after Health and Human Services and ICE signed a memorandum of agreement to background-check and fingerprint potential “sponsors” of immigrant children, ICE arrested 41 people who came forward.

    In response to an inquiry from CNN, an ICE official confirmed that 70% of those arrests were for straightforward immigration violations — meaning they were arrested because ICE discovered they were here illegally.

    The individuals could have been the children’s parents or family members, and they also could have merely been fellow members of the homes of adults who applied to care for the children as they fight for a legal right to stay in the US.

    “We’ve arrested 41 individuals thus far that we’ve identified pursuant to that (memorandum),” Albence testified Tuesday. “Close to 80% of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens. So we are continuing to pursue those individuals.”

    ICE made those arrests from early July through early September; of those, only 12 were criminal arrests, according to an ICE official speaking on condition their name not be used. […]

    CNN link

  252. militantagnostic says

    The Grauniad vi SC @ 404

    The couple have hired a well-known crisis communications expert turd polisher but he did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian about Chua’s remarks or the internal investigation

  253. Hj Hornbeck says

    And Dr. Blasey, via her attorney, has shot down Whelan’s theory.

    Ford dismissed Whelan’s theory in a statement late Thursday: “I knew them both, and socialized with” them, Ford said, adding that she had once visited the other classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

    (Also there’s some news on negotiations for a hearing. Dr. Blasey is asking that Kavanaugh go first and not be present when she’s there, that Mike Judge be subpoena’d, and next Thursday would be a better date.)

  254. KG says

    The Salzburg meeting of EU leaders has been an utter disaster for Theresa May. The other leaders seem initially to have intended to bolster her position ahead of the Tory party conference, which is only a week away, but May’s intransigent speech on the first evening (when she apparently “read out an op-ed” she had written for Die Welt), and her statement that despite previous promises, a solution to the Irish border question would not be ready in time for the EU summit on 18th October, led them to issue an explicit rejection of May’s “Chequers proposal”. Macron, Tusk and Varadkar seem to have been in the forefront of the “ambush” (an “ambush” in the sense that the EU leaders maintained what have always been their positions on the single market and the Irish border), while the support May expected from Hungarian proto-fascist Orbán failed to materialise in any meaningful way.

    Despite immediate claims from her closest cronies, the Chequers plan is clearly as dead as a Norwegian blue. It must be doubtful if May can survive this as PM, particularly since there seems to be widespread agreement among commentators that she has been humiliated, and seriously misjudged her approach.

    OT note to SC Thanks for your vegan cheese recommendations, which I’ll follow up, and sorry not to have responded before – the matter slipped my mind until I was going through old threads. The feta-style vegan cheese I’ve like best is Violife Greek White Block – no idea whether it’s available in the US.

  255. says

    “Yale Law dean: Reports that professor groomed female clerks for Kavanaugh ‘of enormous concern'”:

    The dean of Yale Law School on Thursday responded to reports that a prominent professor at the school had advised students seeking judicial clerkships with Brett Kavanaugh on their physical looks, saying the reported allegations of faculty misconduct are “of enormous concern” and calling on anyone affected to come forward.

    According to reports in The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Above the Law, Amy Chua, a professor at the law school, would advise students on their physical appearance if they wanted to seek a clerkship for Kavanaugh. Specifically, Chua would help potential applicants to have a “model-like” appearance.

    In a letter Thursday to the law school community, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken wrote that she wanted to “address the press reports today regarding allegations of faculty misconduct” and that “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”

    Chua, who is perhaps best known for being the author of a 2011 book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,”*** wrote a July op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Kavanaugh Is a Mentor To Women.”

    In it, she wrote that she’d helped place 10 Yale Law School students — eight of them women — as clerks with Kavanaugh, including her own daughter, whose clerkship had been set to begin in August. “I can’t think of a better judge for my own daughter’s clerkship,” she wrote.

    The White House had no immediate comment on the Yale dean’s letter….

    *** A review.

  256. says

    The feta-style vegan cheese I’ve like best is Violife Greek White Block – no idea whether it’s available in the US.

    It isn’t now, but it will be if I have anything to say about it. I’m making it my mission. :)

  257. says

    “Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK”:

    Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.

    A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.

    One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.

    The operation to extract Assange was provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve in 2017, one source claimed, and was linked to an unsuccessful attempt by Ecuador to give Assange formal diplomatic status.

    The involvement of Russian officials in hatching what was described as a “basic” plan raises new questions about Assange’s ties to the Kremlin….

    Much more at the link.

  258. says

    Ed Whelan: “I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment in posting the tweet thread in a way that identified Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate. I take full responsibility for that mistake, and I deeply apologize for it. I realize that does not undo the mistake.”

    He’s deleted the thread, but it’s far too late.

  259. says

    Axios reported a few hours ago:

    A source who has been talking to President Trump throughout the Kavanaugh crisis told Axios that “you have no idea” how hard it has been to keep him from attacking his Supreme Court nominee’s accuser.

    A White House official said yesterday: “Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That’s only, like, another 48 hours right?”

    Trump is tweeting: “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

  260. says

    “A new twist in the Kavanaugh saga raises some very unpleasant questions”:

    Last night, Twitter was aflame with the news that a prominent conservative legal strategist had gone public with the theory that another man may have been the perpetrator of the alleged sexual assault against Christine Blasey Ford.

    The strategist suggested that Ford had confused this man for Brett Kavanaugh — and worse, he named the other man, in effect publicly accusing him of committing attempted rape.

    Ford promptly denied that she had confused this man for Kavanaugh, whom she has accused of attacking her when both were teenagers in the 1980s. But as some commentators, including conservatives, were quick to point out, Kavanaugh needs to clarify whether he had any advance knowledge of this strategy of pinning the blame on someone else.

    Senior Senate Democratic aides tell me that in the upcoming Judiciary Committee hearing, Democrats are likely to pose questions along these lines directly to Kavanaugh, when he is under oath….

    More at the link.

  261. says

    Trump:

    I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General…..

    [8 minutes elapse]

    ….has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me – and everyone!

  262. says

    Whelan is denying he communicated with anyone in the WH about this conspiracy rollout.

    ex-Bush WH aide Steve Schmidt: ‘When I ran Roberts and Alito confirmations, Ed Whelan was the singularly most important/effective outside advisor in confirmation effort. knew every detail when it came to our strategy. everything he did was closely coordinated w/the WH effort’.”

  263. says

    Trump, in full panic: “Senator Feinstein and the Democrats held the letter for months, only to release it with a bang after the hearings were OVER – done very purposefully to Obstruct & Resist & Delay. Let her testify, or not, and TAKE THE VOTE!”

  264. says

    “Open Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee from Yale Law Faculty”:

    As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, we write as faculty members of Yale Law School, from which Judge Kavanaugh graduated, to urge that the Senate conduct a fair and deliberate confirmation process. With so much at stake for the Supreme Court and the nation, we are concerned about a rush to judgment that threatens both the integrity of the process and the public’s confidence in the Court.

    Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter. Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly. Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Fair process requires evidence from all parties with direct knowledge and consultation of experts when evaluating such evidence. In subsequent hearings, all of those who testify, and particularly women testifying about sexual assault, must be treated with respect.

    The confirmation process must always be conducted, and appointments made, in a manner that gives Americans reason to trust the Supreme Court. Some questions are so fundamental to judicial integrity that the Senate cannot rush past them without undermining the public’s confidence in the Court. This is particularly so for an appointment that will yield a deciding vote on women’s rights and myriad other questions of immense consequence in American lives.

  265. says

    Here’s a question: how did Ed Whelan know the location of Ford’s female friend’s house? He had it on the map. As far as I know, her name hasn’t been made public.”

    I was wondering about this, too! Thought maybe it was something that was out but I had missed it, but I guess not.

  266. says

    Follow-up to comments 463 and 470.

    So, with great difficulty, Trump refrained from tweeting about Christine Blasey Ford for a few days, and then he couldn’t help himself. He tweeted.

    The thing is, he had days to think about what he wanted to say, and he still revealed his ignorance and told a few lies as well. As Steve Benen pointed out:

    […] It’s ridiculous […] to see Trump argue that Democrats “don’t want to know the answers,” when it’s Democrats who want the FBI to investigate Ford’s allegation – an investigation Republicans oppose for reasons they haven’t yet explained.

    It’s equally bizarre to see the president write ironically about the importance of “facts,” given his jaw-dropping propensity for lying.

    But Trump’s core message is that Christine Blasey Ford didn’t report the alleged attack sooner, so therefore, he doubts the veracity of her claim.

    This is offensive, it’s unpersuasive, and it’s evidence of a president who seems increasingly nervous about the fate of a political fight his side might yet lose.

    Link

  267. says

    Steve Benen debunked one of the many lies Trump told last night at his rally in Las Vegas:

    […]“When it comes to health insurance, Donald Trump and Republicans will protect patients with pre-existing conditions. We’re going to do that. We want to do it.”

    Why oh why does Trump refer to himself in the third person?

    […] There’s overwhelming evidence that the vast majority of Americans – even the kind of folks who attend Trump rallies – strongly support the Affordable Care Act’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

    The oddity, however, was the president’s boast. He was either brazenly lying or Trump somehow forgot his own position on the issue.

    […] there’s currently a Republican lawsuit pending in federal court that’s trying to tear down the ACA’s existing protections for those pre-existing conditions. Trump not only refused to defend the current law in court, he also endorsed the litigation that would undermine Americans’ health security.

    In other words, the president who’s taken steps to hurt those with pre-existing conditions now wants to be seen as the president who’ll protect those with pre-existing conditions.

    But the lie runs deeper. Trump’s agenda includes pushing short-term plans, which not only undermine the marketplace, they also allow insurers to sell plans that – you guessed it – don’t fully protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. […]

    it certainly seemed as if the president was lying shamelessly, but if he wanted to prove his claim true, Trump could easily do so. He could, for example, co