1. says

    Axios – “Pressure mounts over acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker”:

    Matt Whitaker has been acting attorney general for just one full day but he’s already under extreme pressure.

    Why it matters: President Trump, who shocked even some of his senior most staff with the hasty timing of his firing of Jeff Sessions, threw Whitaker into an immediate political and legal storm. The White House expected opposition from Democrats but the blowback is widening and now includes a growing body of conservative legal opinion….

  2. says

    Extended quote [from Trump]: ‘Well Matt Whitaker, I don’t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions. And he was always extremely highly thought of, and he still is. But I didn’t know Matt Whitaker. He worked for Attorney General Sessions’.”

    As Maggie Haberman points out, this a) is a lie and b) doesn’t bode well for Whitaker.

  3. tomh says

    An Op-Ed in the NYT by Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton
    (Ben-Veniste was the chief of the Watergate cover-up task force of the special prosecutor’s office)

    Mueller Has a Way Around Trump and His Minions

    A 44-year-old “road map” from the Watergate prosecution shows a potential route for Mr. Mueller to send incriminating evidence directly to Congress. The road map was devised in 1974 by the Watergate special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, with our assistance. We wrote the road map — actually a report — to be conveyed to Congress; it was called “Report and Recommendation” and served as a guide to a collection of grand jury evidence contained in a single document. That evidence included still-secret presidential tape recordings that had been acquired through grand jury subpoena — but which had been withheld from Congress by President Nixon.

    In all the discussion about Mr. Mueller’s options when he concludes his investigation, little attention has been paid to the potential role of the grand jury…
    In the face of Congress’s inability to obtain evidence that the grand jury well knew incriminated the president, we prepared the grand jury report to Judge Sirica and requested that he use his plenary authority to transmit that evidence to the House Judiciary Committee.

    Bottom line:

    With the fox now guarding the henhouse, there is sufficient precedent for the grand jury and Special Counsel Mueller to seek the chief judge’s assistance in transmitting a properly fashioned report to Congress.

    Much more detail at the link.

  4. says

    tomh @ #492 of the previous iteration:

    That may be, or maybe not, but even so, I just don’t see the argument that the law was broken. I can’t imagine that a court, let alone the SC, would buy that he didn’t resign. Nobody held a gun to his head, he wrote a resignation letter – so what if the President asked him to, he could have just said no. Beyond that, he obviously fits the criteria of the Vacancy Act.

    That being said, I could easily see the ethics turmoil deep-sixing the deal. If Trump weren’t such an idiot, he could have picked someone who would accomplish the same things, without all the drama. There are hundreds of chumps who have been confirmed by the Senate for various positions that would have been happy to follow Trump’s directions. But, of course, now Trump will dig his heels in and never let it go.

    I can’t find a link (for some reason my Google-fu fails when it comes to MSNBC segments), but Jed Shugerman was on with Lawrence O’Donnell last night, and his argument was similar to – but far more knowledgeable than – what I was trying to get at yesterday. Fortunately, he wrote a blog post about it:

    …What if one says that this textual reading is too narrow? Maybe Section 508 refers to the Vacancies Act because it imagined that the Vacancies Act to apply, even if the text of the Vacancies Act strictly means that it does not apply?

    Now we are in the realm of a broader reading of purposes. These statues generally were passed to limit presidential discretion to replace officers, to prevent a president from having complete power to hand-pick replacements. A Republican Congress passed the Vacancies Reform Act, sponsored by Republican Senator Fred Thompson, in order to limit the president’s discretion and create a more defined, predictable process, less susceptible to presidential manipulation, as Joshua Stayn explained in the Duke Law Journal.

    And the more specific statute for the Department of Justice, enacting Section 508, was also part of a project of limiting presidential discretion over succession. Congress passed this statute in 1966 as part of a reorganization act, which also limited presidential discretion. Then in the wake of Watergate, Congress amended this statute to further limit the president in 1977 as part of series of anti-corruption reform statutes and limitations, to specify that if both the Attorney General and Deputy AG are unavailable, “the Associate Attorney General shall act as Attorney General.” In light of these purposes to limit presidential discretion, the statute should be read to establish a clear order of succession: from Attorney General to Deputy Attorney General to Associate Attorney General. It used the word “designation” to advance those purposes….

    From a note at the end:

    If the 1998 Vacancies Reform Act was so clearly intended to limit presidential discretion and to improve the professionalism of government appointees, it is puzzling why the VRA would create broader discretion with more alternatives for a president, especially in the DOJ when the underlying statute has such a clearly limiting structure against presidential abuses.

    I don’t have the knowledge/expertise to address the textual argument, which is what I think you’re dealing with, but I don’t see how the textual reading can be separated from the purposive interpretation. The Constitution, the FVRA, and the statutes governing DoJ succession all have the same purpose: to limit presidential discretion and ensure democratic oversight. Given that, it’s hard to see how the drafters would have meant for the FVRA to be applicable here, used perversely to evade democratic oversight and expand and abuse executive power. So in resolving any ambiguities in the text of the FVRA or the statutes, you’d have to come down on the side of the clear purpose of the laws.

    I still don’t know enough about standing to be able to comment intelligently on Katyal’s suggestions.

  5. says

    Neal Katyal: “Wow. The Court of Appeals, in a case challenging Mueller, now orders briefing on impact of the Sessions firing & installation of Whittaker. It is possible for parties to take the view that his boss is the legitimate Rosenstein, not the pretend-Attorney General Trump wants to have.”

    Order at the link.

  6. says

    Oh – I forgot to mention: from the Guardian article to which I linked @ #498 in the previous iteration:

    Seeming to take pains to be discreet, Kilimnik proposed a quick trip to meet with Manafort to brief him on the talks with Deripaska. “We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation.”

    Kilimnik added that he told Deripaska he had to “run it by you first”, but is ready to come “provided that he buys me a ticket. It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting.”

    And Kilimnik said he could come quickly, “even next week”. Manafort replied that Tuesday 2 August [2016] would be best, and the two men reportedly met that day at the Grand Havana Room, a cigar bar in in midtown Manhattan.

    The Grand Havana Room is a private club located in Kushner’s 666 Fifth Ave. It’s also, according to Jeffrey Toobin, Rudy Giuliani’s de facto office.

  7. says

    “Jo Johnson quits as minister over Theresa May’s Brexit plan”:

    Jo Johnson has resigned from the government, saying he cannot support Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and MPs are being offered a choice between “vassalage and chaos”.

    The MP for Orpington and rail minister published an article saying he could not vote for the deal which May is expected to bring back to parliament within weeks – and instead would be campaigning for a second referendum.

    “It has become increasingly clear to me that the withdrawal agreement, which is being finalised in Brussels and Whitehall even as I write, will be a terrible mistake,” he said in an online article.

    Johnson, who backed remain, said the mooted deal had united him in “fraternal dismay” with his Brexit-backing brother Boris, who stepped down as foreign secretary in July saying he could not support May’s Chequers strategy.

    Jo’s shock resignation came just a few hours after May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, insisted he was confident MPs would throw their weight behind the government’s deal once it was published….

  8. tomh says

    @ #6
    If nothing else that court order shows the difference between legal time and political time. It orders the brief to be filed in 10 days, which, in legal time is the blink of an eye. In political time it’s practically an eternity. I’d say it’s likely Whitaker won’t last 10 days, now that Trump “doesn’t know” him. The kiss of death. The problem is a win over Trump seems to never really be a win. There are some 1200-1400 Senate confirmed positions in the administration, probably a third of them in the DOJ, and finding a toady to fill the position would be child’s play.

    On the Constitutional question, there’s an article on the blog LAWFARE by John E. Bies who served as Counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder and as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Obama administration, on the tension between the Appointments Clause, the Vacancies Act, and Section 508 (which directly addresses succession in the Justice Dept).

  9. KG says

    In other Brexit news, the UK government’s attempt to stop the European Court of Justice hearing a case on whether the UK government can unilaterally rescind its invocation of Article 50 (which set the Brexit 2-year countdown going) has failed. The case will be heard this month., but I don’t know when a decision would be given. I don’t think the government can ask the UK Supreme Court directly to grant it a right of appeal – Scotland retained its own legal system under the 1707 Act of Union, and I think the Scottish Court of Session has to agree before an appeal against its decisions can go to the UK Supreme Court. Certainly, that’s what the article implies. The UK government’s motivation is to avoid the possibility that Parliament could direct it to rescind, or call for a People’s vote with the option of staying in, if it doesn’t like the deal (or no-deal) May presents to it.

    If, as suggested, there is a deal between May and the EU in the offing, I’d be astonished if it doesn’t lock either the UK as a whole, or northern Ireland, into effectively indefinite compliance with most EU rules on trade without any say in making them, because I can’t see the EU being prepared to agree anything which gives the UK advantages over EU members, or requires a “hard border” between northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Despite David Liddington’s claimed belief that MPs will support a deal, I find it hard to believe – and I think that in fact his language in the article SC linked to (he claims to think there will be a “new dynamic” once a deal is presented) indicates hope rather than real expectation. Jo Johnson’s resignation together with renewed fulminations from the “D”UP are certainly not hopeful signs for May. If it’s the UK as a whole that would be locked in, the Brexiteer ultras will reject it; if there’s any way it could end up being just northern Ireland, the “D”UP will as well. So May will be forced to tout for votes among Labour rebels (it’s almost inconceivable Labour as a whole will support May’s deal or abstain), or, as I’ve speculated before, try to get a deal with the SNP by offering the right to call a new Indeyref – but almost all the SNP’s members in the Scottish Parliament have just backed (along with the Scottish Greens) a LibDem motion calling for a People’s Vote. Labour MSPs abstained apart from two who supported the motion, the Tories alone voted against.

    In sum: Brexit, although still likely, remains by no means a certainty.

  10. says

    Manu Raju:

    Trump, threatening to further retaliate against the free press if he doesn’t like their coverage, now saying “there could be others” whose credentials he pulls if they’re “not respectful.”

    Daniel Dale:

    Trump to/on Black female reporters this week:
    – Alcindor: “Such a racist question…I know you have it written down.”
    – Phillip: “What a stupid question…But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions.”
    – Ryan: “Loser…She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing.”

  11. says

    WSJ – “Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal”:

    As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

    What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

    Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

    Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

    The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

    Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

    The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

    Mr. Cohen asked American Media to buy Ms. Clifford’s story. Mr. Pecker refused on the grounds that he didn’t want his company to pay a porn star.

    Messrs. Cohen and Trump would have to handle the payment themselves. Mr. Cohen told federal prosecutors he relayed the news to Mr. Trump in his Trump Tower office in the second week of October 2016.

    That is when Mr. Trump, smarting from the “Access Hollywood” tape, told Mr. Cohen to “get it done,” according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors.

    Within days, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Davidson had negotiated a nondisclosure agreement for Ms. Clifford.

    The money was slow in coming because Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, couldn’t settle on a plan for getting it to Mr. Davidson without anyone being able to trace it back to Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors….

    Mr. Davidson told Mr. Howard on Oct. 25, 2016, that Ms. Clifford would soon speak publicly. Mr. Howard texted Mr. Cohen that they needed to coordinate “or it could look awfully bad for everyone.”

    In a tense three-way call on an encrypted app, Messrs. Pecker and Howard urged Mr. Cohen to complete the deal before Ms. Clifford disclosed the hush-money negotiations.

    Out of options and time, Mr. Cohen decided to cover the payment himself. “F— it, I’m just going to do it,” he told Mr. Davidson in a phone call.

    He drew down his home-equity line and transferred $130,000 to Mr. Davidson on Oct. 27. Ms. Clifford signed a fresh nondisclosure agreement the next day.

    Later that month, after Mr. Trump’s election win, Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Weisselberg to discuss reimbursement for the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Cohen has told federal prosecutors.

    As Mr. Trump continued to distance himself from Mr. Cohen and the payment, American Media turned on Mr. Cohen, with a National Enquirer cover featuring the headline, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies.” Mr. Cohen learned he had been let go as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney when he saw it on television.

    Both Messrs. Cohen and Pecker began seeking to minimize their exposure. Mr. Pecker, granted immunity for his grand jury testimony, told investigators about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the McDougal deal.

    Three years after Mr. Pecker began working with Mr. Cohen to help Mr. Trump, the deals they made have unraveled. Ms. McDougal and Ms. Clifford have both been let out of their hush agreements after filing lawsuits.

    The three men no longer speak to one another.

    More at the link.

  12. says

    Trump said some stupid stuff about Special Counsel Robert Mueller this morning:

    Look, Mueller — a big complaint people have — Mueller was not Senate-confirmed. So he’s doing a report. He wasn’t Senate-confirmed. Whitaker was Senate-confirmed. […]

    Mueller was not Senate-confirmed. Why didn’t they get him Senate-confirmed? He should have been Senate-confirmed… Don’t tell me about Whitaker. Don’t tell me about Whitaker, because Mueller was not Senate-confirmed.

    FFS! Really?

    Special counsels are named by the Justice Department. This is not a Senate-confirmed position.

    If Mueller’s position had required Senate confirmation, he would have been easily confirmed. He had broad bipartisan support and received a lot of praise when he was appointed.

    The “big complaint” Trump references is a complaint made mainly by him and by some right wing conspiracy theorists. The complaint has no basis in fact.

    Matthew Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate 14 years ago for a position as a federal prosecutor. That confirmation is old, out of date, and does not apply to the Acting Attorney General position.

  13. says

    Florida Governor Rick Scott has a narrow lead over Bill Nelson (Democrat) in the Senate race. Scott’s lead is slipping away bit by bit as additional ballots are counted. His response was to file a lawsuit, and then to claim that “liberals” are committing fraud. (There’s no fraud, just some incompetence or slowness, plus a possible problem with the confusing ballot that voters used. Florida is infamous for being unable to design a coherent, easy-to-use ballot.)

    Scott said:

    Every day since the election, the left-wing activists in Broward County have been coming out with more and more ballots out of nowhere. Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding votes until the election turns out the way they want.

    Trump echoed that charge this morning, claiming that “law enforcement” he is sending to Florida will “expose the fraud.” That’s conspiracy theory in the making folks. Trump is wrong.

    […] Nelson’s campaign said that Scott was trying to block the democratic process from playing out.

    “The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation,” spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in a Thursday statement.

    Marc Elias, Nelson’s lead lawyer on the recount effort, accused Scott of acting like a “third-world dictator” by threatening to involve law enforcement in the elections process. […]

    Republicans, including Trump, are also trying to gin up concerns about Elias himself. Elias was the general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and hired Fusion GPS to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    “You see the people, and they were involved with that fraud of the fake dossier, the phony dossier. I guess I hear they were somehow involved,” Trump said in a Friday morning press scrum.

    An emergency hearing has been called for 3 p.m. ET in Broward County to address Scott’s suit against Snipes, the supervisor of elections, CNN reported.

    Talking Points Memo link

  14. says

    Great news!

    […] According to Ginsburg’s nephew Daniel Stiepleman, Ginsburg is “up and working” and “cracking jokes” from her hospital bed just hours after she was admitted to George Washington University Hospital Thursday morning with three fractured ribs. Ginsburg, who is the oldest Supreme Court justice at 85, fell while working in her office Wednesday evening. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  15. says

    From Patrick Murphy:

    Hey @MarcACaputo, just saw notice from @PBCounty that my absentee ballot wasn’t counted due to ‘invalid signature’ match. Should be +1 @NelsonForSenate @AndrewGillum. Must overhaul these ridiculous barriers to voting #FloridaRecount

    From Daily Kos reporting:

    […] In fact, these “invalid signature” ballot rejections are happening all over Florida. One Twitter user responded to Patrick Murphy that an election judge questioned her signature because her written signature didn’t match the signature created by using her finger on a touch screen pad at the polling location. Whose signature would match? These always look different than a written signature. And as you can probably guess, the “invalid signature” rejections seem to disproportionately happen to African American voters and young voters.

    The “invalid signature” rejections are so widespread that it is likely changing the outcome of the entire election, no doubt just as it was intended. With only a 15,000 vote difference right now, Senator Nelson has filed a lawsuit seeking to revisit the “invalid signature” rejections and get these votes counted. From the Tampa Bay Times:

    Nelson’s recount lawyer Marc Elias said the law puts the responsibility of signature review in the hands of untrained, unqualified local election workers and leads to the disqualification of legitimate ballots.

    “This results in a complete lack of uniformity,” Elias said. “Voters in one county are subject to one standard for reviewing signatures than others.”

    Nelson is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida for an immediate injunction and to declare “that all voters who submit a (vote-by-mail) or provisional ballot, and whose ballots are subsequently determined to involve a signature mismatch, be counted as valid votes.” He also requests Saturday’s deadline to canvas ballots be extended until the legal matter is resolved.

    Needless to say, the outcome of this lawsuit could very well determine the election outcome in Florida. Stay tuned.

  16. tomh says

    @ #17
    There were arguments yesterday in a federal case that is making that very argument. It turns on an issue in the Appointments Clause as to what constitutes “inferior Officers”.

    Ex-Roger Stone aide prepared for Supreme Court battle in challenge to Mueller: Lawyer

    A panel of federal judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Thursday in a constitutional challenge to special counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to preside over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    The appeal was launched on behalf of Andrew Miller, a former associate of political provocateur Roger Stone, and steered by the National Legal and Policy Center, a well-funded conservative legal group with a deep history of mounting legal challenges against left-leaning organizations and Democratic politicians.

    “Even if we lose this [appeals] case we will certainly bring it to the Supreme Court,” Paul Kamenar, an attorney for Miller, told ABC News after Thursday’s court appearance.

    He argues Mueller has been effectively operating as a “U.S. Attorney at large,” and as such, should have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate – neither of which occurred.

    This is a deep-pockets group, and I have no faith in the SC to do the right thing.

  17. says

    From Tonya Riley:

    Three days after votes were cast, the results of elections in Georgia and Florida are still uncertain. But that hasn’t prevented the president from spreading unfounded allegations of voter fraud. Friday morning, Donald Trump went on a tweet storm accusing Democrats of manipulating the vote totals in Florida’s Broward County in favor of Democrats—without offering any proof to back up his claims. The razor tight race has also led to accusations by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate currently clinging to a narrow lead in the Senate race, that Democrats are trying to “steal the election.”

    Rick Scott was up by 50,000+ votes on Election Day, now they “found” many votes and he is only up 15,000 votes. “The Broward Effect.” How come they never find Republican votes?

    As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!


  18. says

    Giuliani alleges election tampering in Florida races without offering evidence.

    […] Giuliani tweeted: “Hillary’s lawyers trying to steal Florida election. They are still counting (or creating) ballots just in Democratic Broward and Palm Beach. All other votes counted in the state. Court should disqualify votes counted only after all other counties were finished,” Giuliani wrote, referring to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “Democrats love to say there is no voter fraud in US. That’s because it is a regular part of their machine politics and you have to be naive, even simple minded not to recognize it. Investigate Broward and Palm Beach Counties in FL and I’m told you will find plenty.” […]

    So, yes, a full-blown conspiracy theory. No factual basis. All the votes should be counted.

    One of the rightwing memes going around says: “Send lawyers, guns, and money; the shit has hit the fan.”

    From readers comments:

    Preventing every vote from counting is an essential component of the GOP’s warped vision of MAGA.
    It takes more time for polling stations in Democratic districts when they are purposely deprived of resources that would make reporting more efficient.

    Watch for the next Republican suppression tactic — requiring votes to be reported within thirty minutes. Democratic districts must wait 29 minutes before they can start.
    Fun fact: 28 of 67 counties in Florida are still counting their provisional ballots.

  19. says

    Rick Scott got called on his bullshit:

    Less than 24 hours after Gov. Rick Scott called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate “rampant fraud” in his U.S. Senate race, the department said that there are no voter fraud allegations to look into and that Scott made no formal request for an investigation.

    “FDLE is working with the Department of State and we will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud,” FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told TPM. “This morning we spoke with the Department of State and they indicated that at this time they had no allegations of fraud.”

    “So we offered our assistance in the event that any criminal allegations are identified,” Plessinger added. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  20. says

    An excerpt from Michelle Obama’s new book, “Becoming”:

    The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”

    Trump said that Michelle Obama “got paid a lot of money to write a book.” He also said, “I’ll never forgive him [President Obama] for what he did to our military by not funding it properly. Everything was old and tired and I came in and I had to fix it.”

    Another excerpt from Michelle Obama’s book: “As soon as I allowed myself to feel anything for Barack, the feelings came rushing — a toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.”

  21. says

    What Trump tweeted:

    You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia – but the Election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!

    How Evan Hurst, writing for Wonkette, responded to Trump’s nonsense:

    […] No one in America gets paid enough to debunk the bullshit that gets tangled in Donald Trump’s thicket of Yeti Pubes, but we guess we will do it FUCKING AGAIN.

    Trump is very, very confused by how Florida keeps “finding votes” and Arizona is “not done counting votes” and Georgia is “hiding votes in the butt strap of Brian Kemp’s rebel flag thong, ALLEGEDLY.” But instead of learning Things, How Do They Work, Trump has decided to go with conspiracy theories some idiots told him about.








    […] They’re just showing up! The votes! The bad man Elias is finding them! Elias is the GPS Fusion!

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck, can Melania please have him committed before he hurts himself and/or destroys the entire world?

    So! On top of Marco Rubio shredding every last vestige of his credibility by crying conspiracy about Florida counting ALL THE FUCKING VOTES — which we detailed exhaustively here — and Rick Scott actually saying with his mouth that “unethical liberals” are trying to steal the election, by counting everybody’s votes, and aside from yelling at the people supervising the elections in Florida, we have a new conspiracy theory, and it is MARC ELIAS “GPS FUSION” DODGY DOSSIER FAKE WITCH HUNT LOCK HER UP!

    So the deal is, Marc Elias — who indeed was a lawyer for the Clinton campaign — was also the guy who paid Fusion GPS for oppo research on Trump, which led to Fusion GPS hiring Chris Steele, one of the most respected spies in the entire fucking world, to look into Trump’s ties with Russia. What he uncovered was an insane conspiracy where Russia helped Trump steal the election. (And to be clear, NOTHING in what became known as the dossier has been disproven.)

    Therefore, the obvious conclusion, as we typed above, is MARC ELIAS “GPS FUSION” DODGY DOSSIER FAKE WITCH HUNT LOCK HER UP! And also probably #DEEPSTATE #HILLARY #BENGHAZI #PIZZAGATE! Because it’s the same guy!

    Elias an extremely accomplished recount lawyer (like he is BIGLY GOOD AT HIS JOB), and as Josh Marshall notes on Twitter, he’s pretty much been the Democrats’ go-to for approximately FOREVER. […]

    To be clear, there is weird shit happening with Florida’s vote, but it’s not weird shit wingnut morons are latching onto. For instance, the way there are thousands of Democratic ballots in Broward that weirdly show NO VOTE IN THE SENATE RACE: [Graphic presentation available at the link.]

    In every other county, there is a 0.5 percent difference between the number of votes case for governor and those for senator. But in heavily Democratic Broward, the difference is 3.7 percent. HUH. So, machine error? Human error? OUTRIGHT FUCKERY? Dunno, but maybe they’ll figure it out when they start the machine recounts, and then, if the margins in both the Senate and gubernatorial races end up under 0.25 percent, in the hand recounts! […]

  22. says

    SC @27, that is funny.

    So, Trump put a scam artist into position as Acting Attorney General, and the guy turns out to be under investigation by the FBI, (an agency he is supposed to supervise). Excellent.

    As far as the FBI investigation of the scam in which Whittaker was involved, one commentator noticed that, as a member of the advisory board, Whittaker did a lot. And the other board members did almost nothing. Some of the other board members didn’t even know they were on the board. Does this mean that Whittaker basically ran the scam himself?

    Also, some other board members returned money they earned, (that was part of the civil suit settlement). Whittaker did not return the money. Now the FBI investigation for a possible criminal suit is ongoing.

    I think Whittaker is going to be out on his ass quickly.

    From the comments at your link:


    All the best people.

  23. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 15.

    Q: How do you see your role as a moral leader?

    TRUMP: I think I am a great moral leader, and I love our country.

    Two days after Trump declared himself a great moral leader, reporters at the Wall Street Journal published a detailed account of Trump’s hush-money payments to several women, payments about which Trump repeatedly lied in the past. He lied in public, on video tape. He paid hush money to a porn star and to other women with whom he had sex while he was married.

    The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

    Behold your “great moral leader.”

  24. says

    Rachel Maddow points out Donald Trump’s “tell” of repeating himself when he’s saying something that isn’t true. In this case, Trump denies knowing his new acting-attorney general, Matt Whitaker, even though just a few weeks ago Trump not only said he knows Whitaker but called him a great guy.

    The video is just 1:58 minutes long. Very effective.

    Trump is “reacting in a wildly dangerous fashion” following his big electoral loss on Tuesday, says Chris Hayes.

    The video is 5:28 minutes long.

  25. says

    Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) announced he was withdrawing his concession after the state began a recount in the extremely tight governor race on Saturday.

    “I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote,” Gillum tweeted. […]

    the vote gap between the two candidates continued to shrink throughout the week, Gillum’s campaign said it was ready for “any outcome,” including a recount.

    DeSantis is ahead of Gillum by 0.41 percentage points. A margin of 0.5 percent or less triggers a recount in Florida. There will also be a recount for the similarly tight Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Republican challenger Rick Scott.

    Talking Points Memo link

  26. says

    Trump is in Europe again, and he is not making friends:

    President Donald Trump faced backlash on Saturday after he decided to skip a visit to a World War I cemetery in France for American soldiers, citing bad weather.

    One critic included Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson.

    “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” Soames tweeted.

    “It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV,” wrote former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, “rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  27. says

    So far, 11 people have died in the ongoing California wildfires this week. The death toll is expected to rise.

    […] Fire burned in famously ritzy coastal spots like Malibu, where Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, Guillermo del Toro and Martin Sheen were among those forced out of their homes amid a citywide evacuation order.

    But the flames also burned inland through hills and canyons dotted with modest homes, reached into the corner of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, and stretched into suburbs like Thousand Oaks, a city of 130,000 people that just a few days ago saw 12 people killed in a mass shooting at a country and western bar.

    Wildfire raged on both sides of the city still in mourning, where some three-quarters of the population are under evacuation orders that officials urged them to heed. […]


    High winds and extremely dry conditions caused the fires to expand rapidly. Conditions improved Friday night, with a relatively calm couple of days during which firefighters began to get a handle on the fire. It burned more that 109 square miles.

  28. says

    32 Lynna, OM
    Trump is thinking ahead. He still doesn’t know how to close an umbrella, and he remembers that people laughed at him last time he simply abandoned one on the steps, so he’s just going to play it safe and watch Fox News. Maybe they’ll have a story on how to close an umbrella!

  29. says

    “Rocking the boat” is for people who aren’t looking forward to a payoff after they’ve left office that dwarfs even whatever they’re hoovering up now.

  30. says

    Kip @34, ha! Thanks for the laugh.

    In other news, 17 black women won their campaigns to serve as judges in the Houston, Texas area, (Harris County courts).

    […] “I think that while Houston itself is one of the most diverse cities in the United States, our elected officials have not always reflected that,” said Lillie Schechter, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, which put together the “Black Girl Magic” campaign. “Having a government that reflects the people, the population is something that is incredibly important.”

    Lori Chambers Gray, a Houston defense attorney who won election to be a judge on a criminal district court, said the photo and the “Black Girls Magic” campaign provided her with a source of strength and motivation as she proceeded to Election Day.

    “I hope that it’s an example for women that we do have opportunities to run and to win a campaign,” Gray said.

    The “Black Girl Magic” moniker has been used as a hashtag in recent years to highlight the accomplishments of African-American girls and women. In politics, it’s been used to highlight the role African-American women have played in helping decide various races, including the highly contested Senate race in Alabama last year in which Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore.

    The victory by the 17 black women on Tuesday was part of a Harris County rout by the Democrats, who won almost all of the nearly 70 local judicial races and ousted a popular Republican from the county’s top elected office. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    This is a step forward when it comes to increasing diversity among judges who preside in Texas courts, but it is sobering to consider that about 3/4 of trial judges in the USA are white.

  31. says

    Follow-up to comment 26.

    Longtime late Sen. John McCain (R) aide Mark Salter criticized the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Twitter Saturday for trying to undermine Rep. Krysten Sinema’s (D) lead in the Arizona Senate election.

    “Stop doing this, NRSC,” he wrote.

    “McSally is losing fair and square, and she’s underperforming in more than Maricopa. The race is almost certainly lost and nothing will change that. All this does is poison our politics more. Despicable.” […]

    Salter was referring to attacks from a spokesman at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, aimed at vote-counting efforts in Arizona where Rep. Martha McSally (R) trailed her opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the state’s yet-to-be-called Senate race. […]

    The Hill link

  32. says

    Follow-up to comment 33.

    Trump commented on the fires in California:

    There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

    The Pasadena Fire Association called Trump on his bullshit:

    Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims. Scott Austin, Pres IAFF 809. @IAFFNewsDesk.

    Brian Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters, also called Trump on his bullshit:

    The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.

    After getting a ton of negative feedback, Trump put out a tweet that was a better response to the disaster:

    More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California that have burned over 170,000 acres. Our hearts are with those fighting the fires, the 52,000 who have evacuated, and the families of the 11 who have died. The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.

    These California fires are expanding very, very quickly (in some cases 80-100 acres a minute). If people don’t evacuate quickly, they risk being overtaken by the fire. Please listen to evacuation orders from State and local officials!

    That last tweet doesn’t sound like Trump. It was probably written by his staff.

    It was too late anyway. The damage was done. Trump, we already know that you hung onto your previous ill-informed description of “forest fires,” and we see quite plainly that your first impulse was to threaten to take money away California.

    Back in August, Trump added some additional blame for wildfires in California: “Bad environmental laws.”

  33. says

    Great news – “TaxPayers’ Alliance concedes it launched smears against Brexit whistleblower”:

    The rightwing pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance has conceded that it illegally sacked the whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign, in a case that could have a major impact on how lobbyists are described in the media.

    In a development that lawyers have described as “almost unprecedented”, the group has also conceded that it illegally vilified Sanni on the BBC in coordination with a network of other “linked” organisations.

    The alliance has accepted all the allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and “dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy”.

    Significantly, it has also conceded that it is liable for what Sanni’s lawyer, Peter Daly of Bindmans, describes as “extreme public vilification”. Sanni had claimed that it was responsible for a smear attack published by the website Brexit Central, and that it coordinated “derogatory statements” made by the head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, to the BBC – calling Sanni a “Walter Mitty fantasist” and “so-called whistleblower” and claiming that he was guilty of “completely lying” – before an official finding by the Electoral Commission into the conduct of the Brexit referendum.

    The disclosure is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the way that broadcasters describe lobby groups. The uncontested claim has stated that the TaxPayers’ Alliance is responsible for Elliott’s Brexit Central website as part of nine “linked” high-profile rightwing “thinktanks” that operate in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster and coordinate media and other strategy.

    In Sanni’s case, they also coordinated with Downing Street.

    The network includes the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Leave Means Leave. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is calling for a full inquiry into the groups’ funding and said that in the interests of “openness and accountability” the BBC must make clear they are lobbyists, not thinktanks” as they are sometimes referred to.

    In March, Sanni revealed to the Observer massive overspending by the official Vote Leave campaign, which has now been found to be in breach of the law by the Electoral Commission. The day before this was published, Downing Street released a statement that revealed Sanni was gay, and the TaxPayers’ Alliance subsequently sacked him from his job running its social media. It has now conceded in full Sanni’s claims and is liable to pay substantial damages….

    Sanni’s and his lawyer’s statements are here. They conceded to stop the discovery process through which their relationships and funding sources would be revealed, but an official inquiry could still be coming.

  34. says

    Podcast recommendations:

    Finally had a chance to listen to Rachel Maddow’s new podcast, “Bag Man.” The first three episodes are available. It’s very good. (To listen online, click on the “Transcript” link for each episode.)

    This week’s Trump, Inc. – “So What Trump Investigations Could Be Coming?” – is a mixed bag: disjointed discussion, but with some insights throughout. Most useful are the suggestions for and links to recommended reading at the bottom of the link (discussed at the end of the podcast).

  35. says

    Oh – also interesting from the Trump, Inc. podcast: one of the people investigating the Trump Organization says that at this point it’s pretty much exclusively a Scottish golf course business. They’re planning to expand in Scotland and Ireland, which is peculiar given that their investments there have been money sinks.

  36. says

    tomh @ #11, thanks for that link.

    More difficult is the question of whether the Department of Justice’s specific succession statute can be supplanted by a presidential appointment under the FVRA. Section 508 directly addresses Justice Department succession and provides that “[i]n case of a vacancy in the office of Attorney General, … , the Deputy Attorney General may exercise all the duties of that office.” The statute further provides that if both the attorney general and the deputy attorney general are unavailable or unable to serve, the associate attorney general “shall act” as attorney general. The statute also authorizes the attorney general to “designate” the solicitor general and the various assistant attorney generals in “further order of succession.” Under the current attorney general order, the solicitor general is next in the line of succession.

    Currently there is a confirmed deputy attorney general—Rod Rosenstein—but not a confirmed associate attorney general. Section 508 consequently provides that upon the vacancy in the office of attorney general caused by Sessions’s resignation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “may exercise all the duties” of the attorney general.

    The FVRA acknowledges that it may not be the “exclusive means” for filling vacancies in Senate-confirmed positions if another statute like Section 508 expressly “designates” an officer or employee to perform the functions of the office in an acting capacity. But does the more general authority provided by the FVRA permit the president to supplant the acting attorney general designated by this department-specific statute?

    This is a complicated question, and has not yet been resolved—at least not in a published OLC opinion….

    As a matter of statutory interpretation, a specific statute would generally take precedence over a more general one. In some respects, the tenor of Section 508—directly imbuing the deputy attorney general with the authorities of the attorney general in the event of a vacancy, and further provides that the associate attorney general “shall” serve as acting attorney general if both the attorney general and the deputy are unavailable—suggests that Congress intended their respective places in the succession order to be mandatory. One can envision policy reasons for wanting to impose such a requirement. On the other hand, some of the language of Section 508—the fact that the deputy attorney general “may” rather than “shall” exercise the duties of the attorney general, and its clarification that the deputy attorney general “is the first assistant to the Attorney General” for purposes of the FVRA—could suggest that its application could be reconciled with the potential application of the FVRA.

    Seems like this all should almost be moot in light of the revelations of the past 48 hours (including the FBI investigation into World Patent Marketing!), but my view is that these ambiguities should be resolved in favor of the stricter reading and applicability of Section 508. As Shugerman argues, this really isn’t even a matter of deciding between conflicting statutes; since both have the same underlying purpose and spirit, ambiguities should be interpreted in a manner corresponding to that purpose and spirit.

  37. says

    From earlier: “World leaders are walking shoulder to shoulder along the Champs Elysses but Trump arrived separately and isn’t participating in this.”

    In his speech, Macron criticized Trump’s nationalism in a way that wasn’t even thinly veiled other than his not saying Trump’s name. Yesterday, he tweeted this.

  38. says

    Carole Cadwalladr is trying to compile information about appearances of representatives of the network described @ #40 above on BBC Question Time. These are the nine linked organizations:

    Tax Payers Alliance
    former UKIP leader Peter Whittle’s office
    Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society Europe
    Adam Smith Institute
    Leave Means Leave
    Global Warming Policy Foundation
    Brexit Central
    Centre for Policy Studies
    Institute for Economic Affairs

    I foresee major scandals involving the money behind this network and the BBC’s promotion and misleading presentation of these organizations.

  39. says

    I don’t have it to hand, but Pence’s tweet was a classic. To paraphrase: “Today we give thanks to our troops who gave so much and who know that Trump™ is the best! Use Trump™ today on all your dishes!”

    Some kind of stupid ad, anyway.

  40. says

    “Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Assassinating Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi Killing”:

    Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

    The Saudis inquired at a time when Prince Mohammed, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom. Their discussions, more than a year before the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed’s ascent.

    Saudi officials have portrayed Mr. Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired. But that official, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, was present for a meeting in March 2017 in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where the businessmen pitched a $2 billion plan to use private intelligence operatives to try to sabotage the Iranian economy.

    During the discussion, part of a series of meetings where the men tried to win Saudi funding for their plan, General Assiri’s top aides inquired about killing Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and a man considered a determined enemy of Saudi Arabia.

    …George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies.

    Both Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel are witnesses in the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and prosecutors have asked them about their discussions with American and Saudi officials about the Iran proposal. It is unclear how this line of inquiry fits into Mr. Mueller’s broader inquiry. In 2016, a company owned by Mr. Zamel, Psy-Group, had pitched the Trump campaign on a social media manipulation plan.

    Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel enlisted Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and an adviser to the Trump transition team. They had already discussed elements of their plan with Mr. Prince, in a meeting when they learned of his own paramilitary proposals that he planned to try to sell to the Saudis. A spokesman for Mr. Prince declined to comment.

    After Mr. Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, Mr. Nader met frequently with White House officials to discuss the economic sabotage plan….

    According to the article, Nader’s and Zamel’s lawyers said they couldn’t participate in assassinations, and “Mr. Nader told the Saudis about a London-based company run by former British special operations troops that might take on the contract. It is unclear which company he suggested.” Not sure precisely how much of that to believe. It does look like Mueller’s investigation still potentially involves Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, and Malaysia. And the full story of the Black Cube operation against former Obama aides and journalists still hasn’t yet been told.

  41. says

    Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican from Mississippi, is in a runoff race against Mike Espy, a black man who is running as a Democrat.

    Today, Sunday, Hyde-Smith made this comment:

    […] “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said while standing next to Colin Hutchinson. […]

    Hyde-Smith’s comment immediately drew harsh criticism, given Mississippi’s (and many other states’) long and brutal history of lynchings and public executions of African American citizens. […]

    Talking points Memo link

    From Shaun King:

    Hold up. Hold up. Stop EVERYTHING.

    A sitting United States Senator, IN MISSISSIPPI just said “If he invited me to a public hanging I’d be on the front row.”


    She just said this in the heart of lynching country.



  42. says

    Adam Schiff:

    If Whitaker doesn’t recuse himself and has any involvement in Mueller’s probe, we will expose it, including whether he made any commitments to Trump, is serving as a back channel, or interfering in the probe.

    He will be held accountable. There must be no ambiguity about that.

  43. says

    Alternative facts from Kellyanne Conway:

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asserted Sunday that a “sped-up” video is not the same as an “altered” video, while defending the White House’s use of an altered video of a hand motion made by CNN reporter Jim Acosta in order to justify suspending his press pass.

    “That’s not altered, that’s sped up,” Conway told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “They do it all the time in sports to see if there’s actually a first down or a touchdown.”

    “So I have to disagree with the, I think, overwrought description of this video being doctored as if we put somebody else’s arm in there,” she added. […]

    Video editing experts have demonstrated how it slows, duplicates and speeds certain frames in order to turn a fairly benign hand motion from Acosta — who was trying to avoid a White House intern grabbing at the microphone he was holding during a press conference — into an aggressive-looking karate chop.

    Talking Points Memo link

    Before he departed for Paris, Trump also claimed that the video was not altered. Trump said: “It wasn’t altered. It was just a closeup.”

  44. says

    Lynna, that Hyde-Smith quote is just…WTF. It’s horrible and also just bizarre. There’s no expression like that. It’s not even close to anything people would say. WTF?

  45. says

    Yay! Good news:

    Democrat Harley Rouda has upset 15-term Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in California’s Orange County.

    The vote count updated Saturday showed Rouda with 52 percent of the vote and about 8,500 more votes than Rohrabacher.

    Divisions over President Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement shaped the race.

    Rouda, a millionaire real estate investor and former Republican, also depicted Rohrabacher as the face of Washington gridlock and criticized the congressman’s climate change skepticism.

    Rohrabacher was first elected in 1988 while running as a supporter of President Ronald Reagan. Rohrabacher is best known as Russia’s most zealous advocate on Capitol Hill.

    Three other California U.S. House races remain too close to call.

  46. says

    From journalist April Ryan:

    […] It’s not hard to find the common denominator. Though there’s hardly anyone — from his predecessors to senators in his own party — he won’t try to shout down with ad hominem insults, Trump relishes, and injects venom into, verbal attacks against women of color.

    A longer excerpt from the op-ed Ryan wrote for the Washington Post:

    Wednesday, when PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor asked President Trump if his campaign rhetoric was “emboldening white nationalists,” the president (who has, in recent weeks, railed against “power-hungry globalists,” a distant immigrant “caravan,” and called African American Tallahassee mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a “stone-cold thief”) tried to turn the tables by saying: “That’s such a racist question.”

    Friday, when CNN’s Abby Phillip asked Trump if he wanted newly designated acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to “rein in” special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump tried to dismiss her by saying: “What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions.” Wednesday at the White House, he told me to “sit down.” In Friday’s press gaggle, he called me “nasty” and a “loser,” never mind my 21 years spent covering four presidents as a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks.

    It’s not hard to find the common denominator: Though there’s hardly anyone — from his predecessors to senators in his own party — he won’t try to shout down with ad hominem insults, Trump relishes, and injects venom into, verbal attacks against women of color.

    He leaves little doubt about what he really thinks of us.

    In rally after rally, when Trump says Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has a “low I.Q.” he’s showing contempt for the idea that a black woman, who has sworn an oath to uphold the same Constitution as he has, should be able to speak her mind if she in any way challenges his authority. When he feuded with Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) over his response to the death of her constituent, La David Johnson, an African American Army sergeant killed in action, he failed to live up to his role as commander in chief. When he says Stacey Abrams, a Yale Law School graduate and former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, is “not qualified” to be her state’s governor, he’s applying a double standard. When he feuded, via Twitter, with Jemele Hill, the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2018 journalist of the year (an award I was honored with in 2017) Trump telegraphed that there’s something about being questioned by a black woman that he can’t abide. One or two of these instances might only leave you scratching your head. But we’ve reached the point where it’s an unmistakable pattern. […]

  47. says

    “Trump properties received $3.2 million during midterms, FEC records show”:

    Campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump-owned and branded properties throughout the two-year midterm election cycle, a CNN analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows. And the total could rise after post-election financial reports are published by the commission.

    No single group spent more than the Republican National Committee, which spent at least $1.2 million at the properties since the start of 2017.

    About half of the RNC spending came in two installments — $367,000 for travel expenses at Trump National Doral Miami in mid-June, after the group’s spring meetings at the Florida club, and $222,000 for “venue rental and catering” at Mar-A-Lago in March connected to fundraising events at the resort.

    Trump’s own presidential reelection campaign was also among the groups spending the most at Trump properties throughout 2017 and 2018, despite not being on the ballot. The campaign has spent more than $950,000 at Trump properties since the start of 2017.

    And America First Action — a pro-Trump super PAC founded early in 2017 and funded primarily by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson — was another top patron of Trump properties, dropping at least $360,000 throughout the cycle….

  48. says

    Axios – “Scoop: Democrats to probe Trump for targeting CNN, Washington Post”:

    House Democrats plan to investigate whether President Trump abused White House power by targeting — and trying to punish with “instruments of state power” — the Washington Post and CNN, incoming House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said in an interview for “Axios on HBO.”

    Why it matters: Until now, all Trump critics could do is complain about his escalating attacks on the media. With subpoena power and public hearings, the incoming House Democratic majority can demand emails and testimony to see if Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press,” Schiff said….

  49. says

    Marc Elias: “Lets be clear about what we are witnessing in Florida: The sitting Governor is seeking to throw out lawful votes and seize the voting equipment in order to win an election.”

    Josh Marshall: “Let’s also be clear. Proof of concept for Trump 2020.”

    It was also the plan for 2016. People have signs that say “Stop the Steal,” which was the name of a shady Roger Stone super PAC that year. Wouldn’t be surprised if they just stored the signs to be used later and put the tweets in a file.

  50. says

    Steve Benen provided a nice summary of the contrast between what the Trump administration claims they do for veterans and what they actually do:

    [Trump] showed his deep concern for veterans by nominating someone to lead the VA whom the president later admitted “might not have been qualified.”

    It was a couple of months earlier when we learned about “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd” that helped oversee Trump’s Department of Veterans Affairs. Pro Publica uncovered a dynamic in which three wealthy members of Trump’s Florida resort effectively helped run the VA for months, despite having no relevant experience, and despite no oversight or accountability of any kind, basically because they’re pals with the president through the club he still owns and profits from.

    The triumvirate of Bruce Moskowitz, Ike Perlmutter, and Marc Sherman oversaw everything from the VA’s digital records system to personnel decisions, occasionally using their influence in ways that may have benefited their private financial interests.

    […] the Trump administration also took steps to suspend audits of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which had the practical effect of making military families more susceptible to “financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging.” […]

    […] Under Trump, who showed his deep concern for veterans by nominating someone to lead the VA whom the president later admitted “might not have been qualified.”

    It was a couple of months earlier when we learned about “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd” that helped oversee Trump’s Department of Veterans Affairs. Pro Publica uncovered a dynamic in which three wealthy members of Trump’s Florida resort effectively helped run the VA for months, despite having no relevant experience, and despite no oversight or accountability of any kind, basically because they’re pals with the president through the club he still owns and profits from.

    The triumvirate of Bruce Moskowitz, Ike Perlmutter, and Marc Sherman oversaw everything from the VA’s digital records system to personnel decisions, occasionally using their influence in ways that may have benefited their private financial interests.

    Around the same time these revelations came to light, the Trump administration also took steps to suspend audits of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which had the practical effect of making military families more susceptible to “financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging.” (The move “surprised advocates for military families,” the New York Times reported in August.)

    We can keep going. Under Trump, veterans have struggled to receive their benefits under the G.I. Bill. The president has misled the public about the VA Accountability Act. The veterans’ hotline the Republican promised to create during his 2016 campaign has turned into a bust. Trump has politicized the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in unprecedented ways. This morning, the Republican went so far as to inadvertently make the case for disenfranchising some veterans who cast votes while serving abroad.

    Veterans “have no better friend” than Donald Trump? This White House has a curious definition of “friend.”

    The president has misled the public about the VA Accountability Act. The veterans’ hotline the Republican promised to create during his 2016 campaign has turned into a bust. Trump has politicized the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in unprecedented ways. This morning, the Republican went so far as to inadvertently make the case for disenfranchising some veterans who cast votes while serving abroad.

    Veterans “have no better friend” than Donald Trump? This White House has a curious definition of “friend.”

    At the link, the article provides embedded links to back up statements like “veterans have struggled to receive their benefits under the G.I. Bill.” On MSNBC, Stephanie Ruhle covered this issue in more depth. She pointed out that veterans benefits that pay for housing or college enrollment fees (for example) are not being paid due to glitches in digital systems. The result: more homeless veterans; vets who can no longer attend educational classes. Note that the unelected triumvirate of toadies at Mar-a-Largo had a hand in messing up digital records systems.

  51. says

    The death toll in the California fires is now 31, and still expected to rise. Hundreds of people are still missing.

    As wildfires raged at both ends of California, officials released another grim statistic: Six more dead in a swath of Northern California wiped out by fire, raising the death toll there to 29. It matched California’s record for deaths in a single fire and brought the statewide total to 31 as authorities stepped up searches for bodies and missing people.

    Another 228 remain unaccounted for. Two people were killed in a wildfire in Southern California.

    Ten search teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that was largely incinerated last week — and in surrounding communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Authorities called in a DNA lab and teams of anthropologists to help identify victims.

    Statewide, 150,000 remained displaced as more than 8,000 fire crews battled wildfires that have scorched 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers), with out-of-state crews continuing to arrive. Whipping winds and tinder-dry conditions threaten more areas through the rest of the week, fire officials warned.

    “This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters. “It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”

    Brown, who has declared a state of emergency, said California is requesting aid from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has blamed “poor” forest management for the fires. […]


  52. says

    The Democratic Party candidate, Kyrsten Sinema, has expanded her lead over Martha McSally in the Arizona Senate race.

    Sinema now leads by 32,640 votes.

    There are still about 200,000 votes left to count, so we may not have final results until Wednesday or Thursday.

    It will be really nice to see McSally lose as she was one of those Republican candidates that went whole hog to back up Trump’s nonsensical scare tactics about the caravan of immigrants and the “invasion.”

  53. says

    “Trump makes baseless ‘infected’ ballot claims amid Florida recount”:

    President Trump on Monday suggested that the ongoing recounts in Florida should be halted and the razor-thin races called for Republican candidates while floating baseless claims of voter fraud.

    “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” the president tweeted. “An honest vote count is no longer possible — ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

    Trump did not officer evidence of the alleged massive ballot infection….

    More at the link.

  54. says

    Trump cites conspiracy theory to demand Florida stop recount with Republicans ahead:

    President Trump demanded on Monday morning that Florida halt its ongoing, legally required statewide recounts while the Republican candidates are still ahead, claiming, without evidence, that “many ballots are missing or forged” and the ballots are “massively infected.”


    Trump’s tweet:

    The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!

    From NBC:

    State election monitors in Broward County told The Miami Herald on Saturday that they’ve seen no evidence of voter fraud. And Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, said he has seen no evidence of voter fraud in the county. In addition, the state agency tasked with overseeing elections said it is not investigating any claims of voter fraud.

    From Vox:

    The president is far from the only Republican pushing evidence-free allegations of fraud. Shortly before Trump tweeted his claim that “An honest vote count is no longer possible” on Monday morning, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has shrunk to less than 13,000 at last count, went on Fox & Friends and accused Nelson of “trying to steal an election.”

    From Marco Rubio:

    #BrowardElections office admits the vote count they submitted to state includes 22 illegal votes.

    We know about these 22 because they got caught breaking law in reviewing 202 ballots. How can anyone trust more illegal votes aren’ in their final count?

    Not true! Not true, Marco.

    From Vox:

    In fact, the allegations made by Trump, Rubio, Scott, and others have been debunked by Scott’s own election monitors. […]

    On Saturday, Florida State Department spokesperson Sarah Revell followed up in an email to reporters announcing that “Our staff has seen no evidence of criminal activity at this time.” The Washington Examiner reports, “Two staffers from Scott’s Department of Elections have been stationed in Broward County since at least Nov. 6 to oversee the administration of election processes,” and neither has reported any evidence of criminal activity. […]

  55. says

    Follow-up to comment 68.

    From Wonkette:

    Senator Sinema, FTW! Maricopa County dropped another batch of votes last night, bringing the Arizona Democrat’s lead up to about 32,000. McSally would have to take the remaining uncounted votes by a margin of 22 percent to win at this point. Which means Martha McSally is more likely to melt from someone throwing a bucket of water on her than to take Jeff Flake’s seat.

    Remember last Wednesday when Trump gave that bonkers presser and bragged about “retiring” Jeff Flake? […]

    Trump said he did the country “a great service” by “retiring” Jeff Flake.

    From Dave Wasserman:

    Projection: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) has defeated Rep. Martha McSally (R) in #AZSEN. This thing has been over for a while.

  56. says

    I’ve never voted by mail. I had no idea they could toss your ballot because someone subjectively decides your signature doesn’t match, much less that they could do it without telling you or giving you a chance to respond. That’s nuts.

  57. says

    SC @77, yep, it is nuts. That’s why I always vote in person on election day — though it is a hassle. In-person voting can be very time consuming.

    The entire voter registration and vote-casting system in the USA needs an overhaul.

    Without evidence, Trump claimed that there were forged ballots in Florida. (See comment 71.)

    According to Florida state law, ballots from overseas and military voters have until Friday, November 16, to arrive to be counted. So Trump’s fact-free tantrum would disenfranchise military voters as well as others.

    On Monday, today, a new suit was filed on behalf of VoteVets, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked that all mail-in ballots postmarked by last Tuesday be counted. There are questions about some mail distribution centers that were slowed down, or temporarily closed, during the hunt for the guy who sent pipe bombs to Democrats.

    State Attorney General Pam Bondi has gotten into the mix. She’s a favorite Trump supporter and now she is claiming that “irregularities” are not being investigated.

  58. says

    Trump is back to lying about Puerto Rico so he can deny the island the recovery funds it needs.

    Donald Trump is once again trying to punish Puerto Rico. Nearly fourteen months since Hurricane Maria hit the island and became one of the deadliest storms in US history, the island continues to recover. Nearly 3,000 people have died so far and there are residents who remain without power. But Trump could care less. He’s apparently gone back to the racist lies and conspiracy theories he touted last year about Puerto Rico’s government mishandling recovery funds. And that’s why he wants to end disaster relief funds to the island, according to a recent Axios report. […]

    Let’s recap how Donald Trump, our joke of a leader, couldn’t even be bothered to do the bare minimum to get the response to this disaster right. From the beginning, he pretty much ignored what was happening—instead spending his days and nights obsessing over NFL players who were kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence […] He then attacked San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz every chance he got while she desperately pleaded for help to any media outlet that would listen. He finally went to Puerto Rico and threw paper towels at hurricane survivors, all the while praising his administration for their response […] lied about the death toll. He tweeted about how Puerto Ricans wanted “everything done for them” and said in a press conference that they’d “thrown his budget out of whack.” […]

    And now, he’s back to lying, this time claiming that Puerto Rico’s government is using the federal money for disaster recovery to pay off its debts.

    The people of Puerto Rico are wonderful but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations. The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!

    None of this is true. There’s no evidence that funds are being used for anything other than disaster relief. And according to Axios, there are measures in place to ensure that recovery aid does not go to paying off Puerto Rico’s debt. […]

  59. says

    Trump’s anti-birth-control agenda, an update:

    One day after the midterm elections, the Trump administration released final rules allowing employers to opt out of providing health insurance that covers birth control.

    The administration has been chipping away at the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which requires most employers to offer insurance that covers birth control, for more than a year. Under President Barack Obama, religious employers could already seek an exemption to the mandate.

    But in October 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released interim rules allowing almost any employer, religious or not, to get an exemption. The final rules are essentially identical to the interim versions and are intended to be permanent, though they are likely to be challenged in court.

    More broadly, HHS under President Donald Trump has made rollbacks of birth control coverage a core part of its agenda. These rollbacks have been “part of their plan to dismantle ACA from the very beginning,” Mary Alice Carter, executive director of Equity Forward, a reproductive rights watchdog group, told Vox.

    Through the ACA and other channels, the Obama administration worked to make contraceptive care part of comprehensive health care for Americans. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has worked systematically to break down that legacy. […]

    Vox link

  60. says

    Trump seems to be preparing for 2020. Not only is he campaigning, he getting the culture ready for him to question the results of the 2020 election if he loses.

  61. says

    A Black Security Guard Caught a Shooting Suspect. Police Arrived—and Killed the Guard.

    A police officer responding to a shooting at a bar in Cook County, Illinois, reportedly killed a black security guard who witnesses say had pinned the suspect on the ground.

    […] security at Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Robbins, a south suburb of Chicago, asked a group of drunken men to leave, […] One of the men returned to the bar and opened fire. Security returned fire and one of the guards, 26-year-old Jemel Roberson, managed to apprehend the suspect.

    Police officers soon arrived at the bar in response to reports of a shooting and saw Roberson with a gun in his hand. Witnesses said that they tried to tell the officers that Roberson was a security guard. One of the officers then shot Roberson, who later died at Christ Medical Center. Four other people, including the suspected shooter, suffered nonfatal injuries.

    […] The officer who shot Roberson is a member of the police department in nearby Midlothian. The Illinois State Police will be reviewing the officer’s actions, while the Cook County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating the bar-room shooting.

    “How in the world does the security guard get shot by police?” asked Walter Turner, a pastor at New Spiritual Light Baptist Church, where Roberson was an organist. “A young man that was literally doing his job and now he’s gone.”

  62. says

    BREAKING:Roger Stone pal Jerome Corsi tells my colleague @annaschecter that Mueller’s investigators informed Corsi about a week ago he will be indicted for perjury. ‘When they have your emails and phone records…they’re very good at the perjury trap’, he says.”

    Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi on his livestream: ‘I’m gonna be indicted. That’s what we’re told. I’m fully expecting it’. He then asks for donations to his legal defense fund.”

  63. says

    “Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen takes the train to Washington to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team”:

    Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, took a train Monday to Washington from New York City to talk to investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.

    A person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, told CNBC that Cohen visited Washington with criminal defense lawyer Guy Petrillo to speak with Mueller’s team.

    Cohen’s meeting with Mueller’s team was only the latest in a series of sitdowns the attorney has had with the special counsel’s office since pleading guilty in August to federal criminal charges….

    Cohen was also in Italy in 2016.

  64. tomh says

    From the WaPo: Maryland to challenge legality of Whitaker’s appointment as acting U.S. attorney general

    Maryland’s top lawyer is asking a federal judge to block Matthew G. Whitaker from serving as acting U.S. attorney general contending the appointment is illegal.

    Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) says in a planned court filing Tuesday that President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker is unconstitutional and that he should be replaced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate.

    The challenge to Whitaker’s appointment would come as part of Maryland’s ongoing federal lawsuit that is trying to force the Trump administration to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

    The planned legal action over Whitaker, first reported by NPR, says his appointment violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause that requires “principal” senior officials, like the attorney general, to be confirmed by the Senate. Maryland also contends it violates a federal statute that gives authority to the deputy attorney general when the top job is vacant.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately comment on word of Maryland’s intended filing. Since Whitaker’s appointment Wednesday, Justice Department officials have defended it as legal under the Vacancies Reform Act, an argument repeated Tuesday morning by White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp on Fox News.

    The biggest problem I see is that it will be appealed to the Trump Supreme Court where it will die an untimely death.

  65. says

    Florida officials bent the rules for voters in Republican county

    Voters in Bay County in Florida’s panhandle, […] more than 72% of locals supporting Ron DeSantis’ (R) gubernatorial campaign and nearly 74% backing Rick Scott’s (R) U.S. Senate campaign.

    There is some question, however, about whether some of those votes were consistent with Florida’s election laws. Politico reported yesterday:

    The election supervisor in hurricane-wracked Bay County allowed some voters to illegally cast ballots by email – an act specifically prohibited by Gov. Rick Scott when he issued an emergency order to expand voting opportunities there after the storm.

    Despite the prohibition, Bay County Election Supervisor Mark Andersen says he stands by his decision in the Republican-rich county after Hurricane Michael. In all, he said, 147 voters returned ballots through email but only 10 were purely email-to-email interactions. In the other cases, voters used fax machines to email their ballots in, which is currently permitted by state law for overseas voters.

    Obviously, circumstances matter. Bay County was hit hard by Hurricane Michael, and local communities are still struggling to recover. Officials in the area made a conscious choice to – let’s be charitable – bend the rules, allowing some voters in the country to cast ballots in ways that fall outside state election laws.

    My point is not that those voters should be punished or that their votes should be discounted. I am curious, though, about Republicans’ apparent disinterest in how Bay County administered the election.

    Rick Scott, for example, has been only too pleased to peddle absurd conspiracy theories about “widespread fraud” in south Florida, specifically in counties that vote heavily Democratic. The Republican’s claims, echoed by Donald Trump, quickly fell apart when Scott was asked to substantiate his allegations.

    But about 500 miles to the north, we can now say with some certainty that voters in a heavily Republican district did, in fact, cast ballots in ways that conflict with Florida law. […]

    Kevin Rader, a Democratic state senator whose district includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties, argued to Politico, “Why does this supervisor in this county not have to follow the law? Email ballots aren’t legal. Why the double standard?”

    Double standard.

  66. says

    Trump’s boasts about ‘progress’ in North Korea start to look even worse

    “We’re very happy how it’s going with North Korea,” Donald Trump told reporters six days ago. “We think it’s going fine.” […] “Nobody else could have done what I’ve done.”

    Trump didn’t specify what, exactly, he thinks he’s “done” with regards to North Korea, which was probably for the best. Because despite the president’s limitless confidence about his perceived triumph, reality keeps getting in the way. The New York Times reported yesterday:

    North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.

    The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site – a step it began, then halted – while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads. […]

    “I was really being tough – and so was he [North Korea’s Kim Jong-un],” [Trump] told a West Virginia audience. “And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love, okay? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” […]

    It seemed obvious from the outset that Donald Trump was making a mistake by prematurely claiming a triumph on North Korea. Despite the circumstances, though, as regular readers know, the American president assured the world that he’d “solved” the problem posed by the rogue nuclear state, to the point that North Korea is no longer a threat.

    “President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem,” Trump declared last month. “No longer – sleep well tonight!”

    All of this rhetoric seemed misguided at the time. It seems a little worse now.

  67. says

    tomb @95:

    The biggest problem I see is that it will be appealed to the Trump Supreme Court where it will die an untimely death.

    I’m afraid you’re right.

    More details:

    […] The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel is expected to issue a memo this week in defense of Whitaker’s appointment and Trump’s authority to make that appointment, according to The Wall Street Journal and CNN. The memo will reportedly argue that guidance issued in 2003 about former President George W. Bush’s decision to appoint a non-confirmed staffer as interim head of the Office of Management and Budget authorizes Trump to make the same call, WSJ reported. […]

  68. says

    With a new excuse, Trump is now blaming the Secret Service for the fact that he did not visit a military cemetery in France.

    [Trump] contradicted the White House’s own explanation for his not visiting a cemetery in northern France to honor American military dead during his recent trip to the country.

    The White House initially said that poor weather had precluded flying a helicopter to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial on Saturday. The President could have taken his motorcade 2.5 hours each way to visit the cemetery, but, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday, the trip by car “would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the President’s motorcade, on short notice.”

    “President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people,” Sanders said.

    On Tuesday, Trump contradicted that, instead saying the Secret Service rejected his idea of driving.

    By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!

    TPM has reached out to the White House and Secret Service to reconcile the two statements. Trump later re-sent the tweet, this time with the word “cemetery” spelled correctly […]


    From the readers comments:

    “The President could have taken his motorcade 2.5 hours each way to visit the cemetery,”
    OR one hour each way, for those rare people with access to Google maps.
    And since when does it take 2.5 hours to travel 50 miles when you get to shut down streets, bar traffic and run stop lights, all with a full police escort?

    Keep trying, shithead liars, I’m sure you’ll land on something plausible..
    If you never lie or make BS excuses, it’s a lot easier to keep your story straight.

  69. says

    On Veteran’s Day, Trump decided not to drive the short distance from Washington, D.C. to Arlington National Cemetery to honor Veterans.

    The French were there:

    Yesterday we participated in a ceremony at @ArlingtonNatl to honor the sacrifices of soldiers during #WWI by laying a wreath on the tomb of the #UnknownSoldier. #VeteransDay

    Photo at the link. The comments are interesting.

  70. says

    Trump sent a tweet mocking France and French President Emmanuel Macron:

    Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!

    Earlier, Trump said, “It is time that these very rich countries either pay the United States for its great military protection, or protect themselves.”

    So which is it, Hair Furor?

    As an aside, we’ve discussed before how wrong Trump’s pay-for-protection framing is, how it does not fit with how NATO actually works. Trump is incapable of learning. That line of his has been debunked over and over again.

    Trump has lost it. He is completely into schoolyard taunts and bullying now. There seems to be no upside, no reason:

    The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!


    From Philip Bump:

    Of all the countries to taunt about how the American military came to their assistance, France is a particularly ironic choice.

    You know what country depended on military aid from France in order to ensure its very existence?

    Trump has great timing when it comes to making himself look even more like a complete dolt. He sent his attack-mode tweets about France on the 3-year anniversary of a terrorist attack that killed 130 people in Paris.

  71. says

    The death toll in northern California’s “Camp” fire is now up to 42. Two people also died in fires in southern California. 44 total deaths.

  72. says

    The courts stepped in, again, in Georgia:

    In Georgia’s gubernatorial race, a federal judge last night ordered election officials to “review thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been counted in Georgia’s close election for governor.” The same order directed officials to create “a hotline for voters to check if their provisional ballots were counted, a review of voter registrations, and updated reports from the state government about why many voters were required to use provisional ballots.”–regional-govt–politics/judge-orders-review-provisional-ballots-georgia-election/ZM2yd0QGkyZ8Zi1IyVpF3H/

  73. says

    More White House drama:

    […] The president has also decided to remove Mira Ricardel, the top deputy for national security adviser John Bolton, officials said. […]

    The president became involved in that decision at the urging of first lady Melania Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Ms. Trump and her staff.

    Ms. Ricardel also repeatedly clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Pentagon team over staffing decisions and policy differences, according to people familiar with the feud. That discord has created a chill in relations between Ms. Ricardel and Defense Department officials wary of her intentions, these people say.

    Ms. Ricardel has served as a vital ally for Mr. Bolton as he settled into his West Wing role after taking the national security job in April. Mr. Bolton lost another loyalist last month when his longtime friend, Fred Fleitz, stepped down after serving just six months as chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council.

    Wall Street Journal link

    John Bolton himself shouldn’t be in the White House, nor should his allies.

  74. says

    Not hiding their motives, and not hiding moral bankruptcy behind their tactics:

    […] Republican “lawyers, strategists and advisers involved in the effort” told The New York Times that they are expressly attempting to “discredit the state’s recount as illegitimate and potentially rife with fraud” so that they can strengthen the GOP’s Senate majority and get more judges confirmed more easily.

    They feel the need to stem the massive Democratic victory in the House, particularly after having lost, finally, the Arizona Senate seat to the Democrats. That means following the orange behemoth in the White House down the racist path of saying black people voting is fraud.

    Trump “equates his political success with that of Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor whose campaign was taken over by Trump aides,” these Republicans tell the Times. He also “believes he ensured” Scott’s victory with his appearances in Florida during the last weeks of the campaign. So, “one person close to him” tell the Times he views the recounts as “akin to a personal attack.” […]

    Daily Kos link

  75. says

    “Democrats Say Their First Bill Will Focus On Strengthening Democracy At Home”:

    Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January with big items topping their legislative to-do list: Remove obstacles to voting, close loopholes in government ethics law and reduce the influence of political money.

    Party leaders say the first legislative vote in the House will come on H.R. 1, a magnum opus of provisions that Democrats believe will strengthen U.S. democratic institutions and traditions.

    “It’s three very basic things that I think the public wants to see,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who spearheads campaign finance and government ethics efforts for the House Democratic Caucus. He said H.R. 1 will “demonstrate that we hear that message loud and clear.”

    But even Sarbanes admits the quick vote is just a first step. Republicans, who control the Senate, are unlikely to pass the bill and President Trump is unlikely to sign it. “Give us the gavel in the Senate in 2020 and we’ll pass it in the Senate,” Sarbanes said. “Give us a pen in the Oval Office and we’ll sign those kinds of reforms into law.”

    The bill would establish automatic voter registration and reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act, crippled by a Supreme Court decision in 2013. It would take away redistricting power from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions.

    Other provisions would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which declared political spending is First Amendment free speech; they would mandate more disclosure of outside money and establish a public financing match for small contributions.

    Ethics language in the bill would strike closer to current controversies. When President Trump took office, he said — accurately — that the ban on conflicts of interest doesn’t cover presidents. The bill would close that loophole, while expanding the anti-bribery law and requiring presidential candidates to make their tax returns public.

    Much of what’s proposed in the Sarbanes bill is controversial….

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking with reporters, was dismissive of the Democratic strategy. He called it “presidential harassment,” and said Republicans tried it in 1998, when they impeached President Bill Clinton.

    “His numbers went up and ours went down,” McConnell said. “And we under-performed in the next election. So the Democrats in the House will have to decide just how much presidential harassment they think is a good strategy.”

    It amazes me how open McConnell is about the fact that what they did to Clinton (Lewinsky, the Clinton family, Clinton associates, Vince Foster’s family and memory,…) in the ’90s was a “strategy” that they “tried.” The media lets comments like these go without comment, just as they do the ridiculous equivalence Republicans are drawing between their partisan smear campaign in the ’90s and the attempts to investigate the most corrupt group of people to ever come near the White House who potentially cheated with an adversarial foreign regime to get into office.

  76. says

    “WH changes its explanation – no more mention of placing hands on an intern.”

    They’d better settle quickly with CNN. Not only has the story been undercut and changed several times, not only did they publicly and falsely smear Acosta and use a doctored video as “evidence” – it’s very possible that this was a set-up from the start. Trump called on Acosta early, and was ready with his attack. The intern was unusually quick and aggressive and persistent. And SHS and others sat smiling during the exchange, enjoying the show. I don’t think they want discovery.

  77. says

    “Trump, stung by midterms and nervous about Mueller, retreats from traditional presidential duties”:

    For weeks this fall, an ebullient President Trump traveled relentlessly to hold raise-the-rafters campaign rallies — sometimes three a day — in states where his presence was likely to help Republicans on the ballot.

    But his mood apparently has changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered Nov. 6. With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources.

    Behind the scenes, they say, the president has lashed out at several aides, from junior press assistants to senior officials. “He’s furious,” said one administration official. “Most staffers are trying to avoid him.”

    The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of a brooding president “trying to decide who to blame” for Republicans’ election losses, even as he publicly and implausibly continues to claim victory.

    White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who are close allies, “seem to be on their way out,” the official said, noting recent leaks on the subject. The official cautioned, however, that personnel decisions are never final until Trump himself tweets out the news — often just after the former reality TV star who’s famous for saying “You’re fired!” has directed Kelly to so inform the individual.

    And, according to a source outside the White House who has spoken recently with the president, last week’s Wall Street Journal report confirming Trump’s central role during the 2016 campaign in quietly arranging payoffs for two women alleging affairs with him seemed to put him in an even worse mood.

    Publicly, Trump has been increasingly absent in recent days — except on Twitter. He has canceled travel plans and dispatched Cabinet officials and aides to events in his place — including sending Vice President Mike Pence to Asia for the annual summits there in November that past presidents nearly always attended….

    More at the link.

  78. says

    “Republicans Launch Surprise Bid To Prevent Debate On U.S. Support For Bloody Saudi War”:

    Republican leadership in the House of Representatives will move Tuesday evening to quash a bill that would end U.S. support for the brutal Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, a Democratic aide and an activist in touch with multiple Capitol Hill offices told HuffPost.

    Coming on the first day of a lame-duck session — the GOP’s final few weeks controlling the lower chamber — the bid surprised anti-war advocates and top Democrats who have been rallying opposition to the controversial Yemen war for months and made clear they wanted a serious debate on the matter soon after the midterms.

    The bill argues that the U.S. assistance is illegal, since Congress never voted on it, and the legislation has the public support of the Democratic future chairmen of the most important House panels dealing with foreign policy ― Reps. Adam Smith (Wash.) and Eliot Engel (N.Y.) ― as well as leaders like Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.)

    The Republican establishment torpedoed a previous version of the bill last November through the same tactic they are expected to rely on now: stripping its special privileged status in the House Rules Committee, likely ensuring that it will never get a vote. That strategy saves lawmakers from having to vote either to keep assisting in the bombing of civilians or angering an American ally and President Donald Trump, who has grown close to the Saudis….

  79. says

    It’s appalling that the BBC hasn’t invited Shahmir Sanni for an interview. Inexcusable.

    Really, the BBC’s behavior in relation to all of these revelations is itself a scandal warranting investigation.

  80. says

    Anna Schecter, a few hours ago:

    Jerome Corsi just mysteriously cancelled a taped interview with me at Rockefeller Center. He was about to come in the building but his lawyer advised him not to. His counsel just had a call with Special Counsel. Not sure what happened on that call.”

    Corsi’s lawyer apologized for cancelling the interview saying ‘things have changed’ following a call with Special Counsel’s office. ‘I’ve got to play this a certain way’, he said before getting back on a call with investigators in DC.”

  81. says

    “Poland’s leaders join far-right groups on independence march”:

    Poland’s eurosceptic political leaders joined far-right groups as tens of thousands of people marched through the capital in a parade to mark a century of national independence.

    More than 250,000 people gathered on the streets of Warsaw to mark the 100th anniversary of Poland’s rebirth as a state at the end of the First World War.

    President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the leader of the conservative ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, walked in a crowd fronted by soldiers carrying a huge flag with the words “For You Poland”.

    Some marchers chanted “away with the EU”, while members of the nationalist group All-Polish Youth burned the EU flag.

    Others held banners stating “God, Honour, Homeland”, and red flares blanketed sections of the march with smoke.

    Although there was no sign of white supremacist banners visible at last year’s 11 November event, some were seen carrying the flags of the National Radical Camp – a far-right group and one of the main march organisers.

    There were also flags representing Forza Nuova, an Italian group whose leader, Roberto Fiore, describes himself as fascist….

    Because Poland’s going it alone as a state after WWI went so fucking well for them. Anti-EU, fascist Polish people are the absolute height.

  82. says

    WaPo – “D.C. man arrested on gun charge after relatives alert police to his alleged white nationalist outbursts”:

    A D.C. man who described himself as a white nationalist to law enforcement officers and became a social-media follower of the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been arrested on a gun charge after his worried relatives contacted the authorities, according to federal court filings.

    Jeffrey R. Clark Jr., 30, is charged with illegally possessing a firearm and a high-speed magazine and made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington. He was ordered held until Friday.

    Clark, who lives in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, was arrested Nov. 9, court filings show, after two family members alerted police to his increasingly agitated outbursts, including that the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh shooting “deserved it.” The outbursts occurred in the wake of Clark’s brother’s suicide.

    Edward Clark, 23, fatally shot himself on Roosevelt Island near Washington within hours of the Oct. 27 Pittsburgh shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, the court filings for Jeffrey Clark said.

    Relatives told police both brothers had been involved in alt-right movements, the court records said. Jeffrey Clark told FBI agents he and his brother became interested in guns in 2016 “because they believed there was going to be a civil war,” according to an account of his statement filed in court.

    Police said in court documents that he used the social networking site Gab to share his views with others, including Robert Bowers, the suburban Pittsburgh man charged with federal hates crimes in the synagogue attack….

    More at the link.

  83. tomh says

    @ 108
    The Maryland suit is unusual, in that it is seeking to prevent the Justice Dept from responding to their ongoing suit regarding the ACA, while Whitaker is Acting AG. Sessions stopped defending parts of the ACA (the pre-existing conditions parts) on grounds that they were unconstitutional and Maryland sued, challenging that. With Sessons gone, MD is seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent the DOJ from responding to their challenge while Whitaker holds office, claiming the appointment was illegal, and asking the court to declare that Rosenstein is, in fact, the legal Acting AG.

    So, in answer to your question, yes, that’s what Maryland is asking for. Who knows if they’ll get it, but whatever the court decides, it seems likely the decision will be put on hold until the SC rules on it.

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