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.

  84. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Racheal Maddow just had a segment based on Indivisible 2.0. A new workbook based on democrats having some power, especially in the House, was discussed. Link when posted and I am awake.

  85. says

    David Rothkopf thread:

    So, the GOP lost as many as 40 House seats, key statehouses, and every demographic group that is growing or will be more important in 2020 (and beyond than today). Trump’s endorsements often failed and many recoiled from him. Why the still unwavering loyalty among GOP leaders?

    One possibility is that they haven’t absorbed the message of last week’s massive defeat. Another is that they are in denial. But the most likely possibility is that the racist, isolationist, nationalist, doing-it-all-for-the-1%, anti-free press, anti-rule of law..

    …pro-Russian, pro-autocrat worldwide, anti-environment, anti-science, tool-of-the-NRA, anti-health care, anti-education, extremist policies that are associated with Trump are actually their policies. Those policies are actually who they are.

    So, in the wake of the election, as the party wages war against public faith in our electoral system, reveals the utter hypocrisy of the “caravan” scam, denies climate change as California is in flames, rejects our allies & embraces enemies of democracy from Russia to the KSA…

    this is not a failure to recalibrate in the wake of a massive election defeat. It is further proof about the true identify of the 21st Century Republican Party and the profound threat it poses to the United States of America [and the world – SC] with or without Donald Trump at its helm.

    (Although, as a footnote, it must be noted that Trump’s own hatefulness and ignorance and corruption make them worse and more dangerous because he brings their worst to the fore without any mitigating sense of history or norms of decent behavior.)

  86. tomh says

    From WaPo:
    Justice Dept. releases legal memo defending Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general

    The Justice Department released a memorandum Wednesday defending the legality of President Trump appointing Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general — rejecting criticism from some lawyers that the move violates the Constitution.

    Since his appointment last week, some have charged that Whitaker, who served as the chief of staff to the previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is not legally eligible to serve as the head of the Justice Department because he is not a Senate-confirmed official.

    On Tuesday, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat, asked a federal judge to block Whitaker from serving as acting attorney general, arguing that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein should instead take on the role.

    The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal guidance to the federal government, said in a 20-page memo that past practice, court rulings and legal analysis show that the Whitaker appointment is legal. In particular, it says the scenario is expressly authorized by the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

    The memo also notes that before Sessions was forced out of the job, the White House had sought advice from the OLC and was told that Whitaker could be appointed.

    “As all three branches of government have long recognized, the president may designate an acting official to perform the duties of a vacant principal office, including a Cabinet office, even when the acting official has not been confirmed by the Senate,” the memo said.

    The memo notes that Trump has now done it six times, that then-President Barack Obama did it twice and that then-President George W. Bush did it once.

    Interestingly, the legal opinion also concludes that even if Trump had fired Sessions, he could have replaced him with a non-Senate-confirmed government employee for a period of up to seven months. By that reasoning, the president has the power to replace Cabinet-level officials at will and put them in charge of major government branches for half a year or more.

    Critics of the Whitaker selection have argued that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act should not take precedence over other statutes and the Constitution’s formula for replacing senior government officials.

  87. says

    From links provided by SC in comment 133:

    I think I caught a major legal error on p. 5 of the OLC memo on #Whitaker.

    OLC argues that the Vacancies Act applies to DOJ statute 28 USC 508, because the DOJ statute cross-refers to the VRA.

    That would be difficult b/c Congress passed 28 USC 508 before the VRA.


    One problem with this memo:
    It claims on p. 5 that 28 USC 508, which was last modified in 1953, cross-references a law enacted in 1998. In fact, it refers to the predecessor statute, the 1868 Vacancies Act, which didn’t allow POTUS to unilaterally replace the attorney general.

    A more thematic problem—the memo fails to consider that its pre-trump historical examples of temporary ‘acting’ appointments in other principal offices concern cases of exigency outside of the president’s control, not forced resignation or removal.

    Hypothetical: A new president whom everyone is kinda worried about. To ease concerns, she appoints a cabinet of party elders who glide through the senate. The president insists each cabinet member take on a chief of staff whom she chooses. 91d later, she fires the whole cabinet.

    This hypothetical president announces the chiefs of staff to the removed dept heads will form her new ‘acting’ cabinet—to serve for 210d and then be replaced by their own chiefs of staff, whom the president will select as well. “The era of senate confirmations is over,” she says.

    Would that hypothetical seizure of power be lawful and constitutional? The OLC opinion says yes. I disagree.

    Those are good points. I think the OLC goofed up.

  88. says

    More evidence of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s lack of character, of how unethical he is:

    Just when it seemed we couldn’t possibly learn of a new controversy surrounding acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the Associated Press uncovered the latest in an amazing series.

    While in private business, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker walked away from a taxpayer-subsidized apartment-rehabilitation project in Iowa after years of cost overruns, delays and other problems, public records show.

    The city of Des Moines ultimately yanked an affordable housing loan that Whitaker’s company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000. Several contractors complained they were not paid, and a process server for one could not even find Whitaker or his company to serve him with a lawsuit.

    Sounds remarkably like Trump’s way of doing business.

    […] At least in theory, this would ordinarily be the point at which the White House started pushing back aggressively against the acting AG’s many controversies, but that’s proving difficult – not just because of the scope of Whitaker’s alleged wrongdoing, but also because White House officials didn’t know these stories were coming. […]

    Maddow Blog link

  89. tomh says

    The DOJ is wavering about Whitaker and recusal.

    Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec issued a statement late Tuesday signaling that Whitaker could still recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, a shift from the department’s initial position in the immediate aftermath of Sessions’ ouster that Whitaker had no plans to step out of the way on the Russia probe.

    Whitaker, said Kupec, “is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal.”

    Link from Politico

  90. says

    So much winning that we can hardly stand it:

    The U.S. recorded a $100.5 billion budget deficit in October, an increase of about 60 percent from a year earlier, as spending grew twice as fast as revenue.

    The deficit widened from $63.2 billion in the same month last year, the department said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. October marks the start of the U.S. fiscal year.

    Receipts totaled $252.7 billion last month, up 7 percent from a year earlier, while outlays climbed 18 percent to $353.2 billion, according to the department.

    A ballooning U.S. budget shortfall — fueled by tax cuts, spending hikes and an aging population — is driving the Treasury Department to raise its long-term debt issuance. […]

    Bloomberg News link

  91. says

    The “well-oiled machine” is running well:

    […] The Los Angeles Times reports that Trump “has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment,” and much of his staff is “trying to avoid him.” A former Trump aide told Politico of conditions in the White House, “It’s like an episode of ‘Maury.’ The only thing that’s missing is a paternity test.”

    Trump is picking fights with the president of France and haranguing the British prime minister. He’s threatening to fire much of his team. He’s whining about the Secret Service. Some members of his team are publicly denouncing remarks from their own colleagues. After skipping a ceremony honoring fallen American soldiers who served in World War I, he blamed his aides “for not counseling him that skipping the cemetery visit would be a public-relations nightmare.” […]

    Maddow Blog link

  92. says

    Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell McConnell seems to be auditioning as a stand-up comedian:

    […] Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity. […]

    I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. […] And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.

    What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference? […]

    After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.

    Fox News link to an article titled, “Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

  93. says

    From Reuters:

    U.S. President Donald Trump, who attacked his French counterpart in a series of tweets on Tuesday, should have shown “common decency” instead since the country was mourning the anniversary of deadly attacks in Paris, a French government spokesman said.

    In five posts sent on the same day France marked the anniversary of the 2015 attacks that killed 130 people, Trump blasted the key U.S. ally over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry and President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s offensive was misguided anyway, given that it was rooted in confusion. Emmanuel Macron recently spoke about Europe taking responsibility for its own security, and not looking to the United States for protection, which is a sentiment the Republican White House should agree with. The American president, however, decided it was “very insulting” – because in Trump’s mind, Macron recommended building an army to protect Europe from Americans. […]

    I’m reminded of something Politico reported over the summer, “Foreign leaders are learning that hand-holding, golf games, military parades and other efforts to personally woo President Donald Trump do not guarantee that Trump won’t burn them.”

    The article quoted one former White House official saying, “Trump is very selfish and I think he views flattery as a one-way street where he gets flattered and then there’s no real reciprocal benefit going back the other direction. If you’re a foreign leader you have to realize if you try to butter up Trump it doesn’t really matter, it’s a one-way street.”

    It’s likely Emmanuel Macron is now well aware of this unfortunate dynamic.

  94. says

    Lynna @ #139,

    I saw someone on Twitter earlier respond to that oped saying they’ve died of chutzpah poisoning.

    “U.S. senators to defy Republican leader on Mueller protections”:

    Two U.S. senators, defying opposition from top Republicans, vowed on Wednesday to push for action on a bipartisan measure that would protect a federal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

    Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons said they would take to the Senate floor at around 4:15 p.m. EST, to ask for their colleagues’ consent to allow a vote that could anger President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the federal probe as a “witch hunt.”

    But the move was unlikely to succeed. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is firmly against the idea of voting on a measure to protect the investigation, according to an aide.

    Another party leader, Senate Republican whip John Cornyn, has said he favors an alternative measure that would simply put the Senate on record as backing the leader of the probe, Special Counsel Robert Mueller….

  95. says

    The White House responded to CNN’s lawsuit over Jim Acosta’s suspended press pass. Here is an excerpt from the 28-page filing:

    The decision to provide a journalist a White House hard pass takes place at the intersection of two realms the First Amendment does not reach: access to the White House, and White House interactions with particular journalists. And where, as here, the White House has determined that it wants to scale back its interactions with a particular journalist, denying that journalist a hard pass is a permissible way to accomplish that goal.

    From Matt Shuham’s analysis:

    […] CNN has argued that the White House unconstitutionally suspended Acosta’s access based on his questions and Trump’s dislike of him and CNN, contrary to the First Amendment, and that Acosta was denied prior notice and an opportunity to respond to the revocation. CNN also argued that the process of revoking Acosta’s pass violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

    Numerous media outlets including Fox News have said they intend to file amicus briefs in support of CNN.

    The Trump administration argued that Acosta didn’t have any right in the first place to a press pass because the White House doesn’t consider Acosta an “otherwise eligible journalist” — that is, a journalist who otherwise doesn’t pose any physical threat. [WTF? – Lynna says]

    […] But even still, the administration argued, Acosta’s performance at the Nov. 7 press conference — the same one of which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a doctored video exaggerating Acosta’s movements — was reason enough for his suspension. […]

    The filing added later: “Revoking a reporter’s hard pass for impeding the White House’s ability to conduct fair and orderly press conferences is not ‘arbitrary.’” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    The Trump administration’s court filing is accessible at the link.

    From the readers comments:

    If they can deny access to any journalist they like, then they can admit only pro-Trump reporters, resulting in a de facto state-run press.

    Just like in Russia.
    The disturbance I saw was tRump and the ridiculous microphone snatching.

    I agree with that last comment. It looks like Trump disrupted his own press conference. Trump prevented the orderly asking-and-answering of questions. Also, I still think Trump and his lackeys set the whole thing up.

  96. says

    SC @141, “they’ve died of chutzpah poisoning.” Ha! That’s good. I’m going to steal that. It’s a good description of Mitch McConnell and his cohorts. That op-ed from McConnell is unbelievable (see comment 139).

    Meanwhile, humorous responses to Trump’s chutzpah include a Mueller-themed ice cream truck that rolled into Washington, D.C.

    […] The “Guilty Pleasures” truck, which hit the road for the first time on Wednesday, is the brainchild of the liberal advocacy group MoveOn. The aim, the organization says, is to “draw attention to the impact and importance” of the Mueller investigation.

    The dessert-centric vehicle will hand out free treats to Washingtonians and will feature “information about the latest guilty please, guilty verdicts, and indictments produced by the [special counsel’s] probe,” according to the group. The truck news was first reported by Washingtonian. […]

    The truck will dole out four rotating, pun-filled flavors (such as “IndictMint Chip”) each day. Rather than a cone, ice cream eaters can get their frozen goodies in either a “cup or Cohen,” referring to President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

    The Hill link

    Today’s flavors offered by the ice cream truck:

    🍦 Cartel Almond Brittle
    🍦Fudge the Truth Chocolate
    🍦Putin’s Vanilla Delight

  97. says

    Trump left out Hindus when tweeting about a mainly Hindu holiday

    Trump’s Diwali tweet referenced Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains — but not Hindus.

    Today, we gathered for Diwali, a holiday observed by Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains throughout the United States & around the world. Hundreds of millions of people have gathered with family & friends to light the Diya and to mark the beginning of a New Year.

    Trump deleted that tweet, and then he reposted it with a different link. Neither the first nor second tweet mentioned Hindus. About 2.25 million Hindus live in North America.

    A third tweet, sent 17 minutes later, (probably by Trump’s staff and not by the ignorant Hair Furor himself), mentioned the Hindu nature of the holiday.

    The third tweet:

    It was my great honor to host a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in the Roosevelt Room at the @WhiteHouse this afternoon. Very, very special people!

    Remember when Trump forgot to mention Jews when he made a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

  98. says

    Trump is not sure he will win the lawsuit that CNN filed:

    “I don’t know, we should” Trump said of the White House’s chances of winning. “We’ll see how the court rules. Is it freedom of the press when somebody comes in and starts screaming questions and won’t sit down?”

    “I really think that when you have guys like Acosta, I think they’re bad for the country,” Trump continued. “He’s just an average guy who’s a grandstander who’s got the guts to stand up and shout.”

    “He doesn’t even know what he’s asking you half the time,” he added.


    Acosta was not “screaming questions.” In fact, I was impressed by how calm he was considering the circumstances, and considering Trump’s bully-like orders to “sit down!” etc.

    Acosta seems to always have a very clear idea of what he is asking. Trump may not understand the questions, but the questions are clear to everyone else.

  99. says

    Trump is not just angry and petulant, he is not performing other duties of his office:

    [Trump] did’t just skip out on ceremonies and make claims of voter fraud with no evidence, he was in a foul mood and he took it out on everyone […]

    The Washington Post reports that even on the way to Paris, Trump had gone to Asscon level 2. When British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to call Trump to congratulate him on Republican Senate wins, Trump didn’t respond with a thanks. He immediately went on the attack.

    Trump berated May for Britain not doing enough, in his assessment, to contain Iran. He questioned her over Brexit and complained about the trade deals he sees as unfair with European countries. May has endured Trump’s churlish temper before, but still her aides were shaken by his especially foul mood, according to U.S. and European officials briefed on the conversation.

    […] Trump sulked through his time in Europe. He blamed his failure to visit an American cemetery on the inability of his “Sea King” marine rescue helicopter to fly in damp conditions. He blamed the Secret Service for not letting him stroll a few blocks on the Champs-Élysées with other world leaders. He insisted that he braved “pouring rain” to speak at a memorial in Paris, even though he was the only one carrying an umbrella. And he sat through speeches where people attacked the infantile politics of nationalism—though it’s not clear he understood any of what was said until he came home so Fox could explain it to him.

    But Trump’s weekend in Paris, spent cooped up in his hotel having overseas “executive time” with Twitter, was even worse than it seemed in public. Trump snarled at his staff. Lashed out at French President Macron. Snapped at other leaders. […]

    Trump left Europe early, while ceremonies were still going on and before German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech. Once he was back in the U.S. where Fox News gasbag Steve Doocy could spoon-feed him the contents of Macron’s earlier talk, Trump unloaded on France and followed up with a massive whine in an attempt to justify shrugging off his responsibilities.

    […] all the whining in the world won’t excuse the fact that Trump had a singular, never-to-be-repeated opportunity to praise the American military, bond with America’s allies, and support the cause of peace. And he utterly, utterly blew it.

    Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, said the moment, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of a war in which 120,000 Americans were killed, was ripe for soaring words, which Trump failed to provide. […]

    The way that Trump is hiding in his chambers isn’t just frustrating to world leaders, it’s concerning. More than ever there are concerns that perhaps Trump can’t be allowed to talk to others… because he can’t carry on a coherent conversation. […]


  100. says

    NEW: @JeffFlake says he will not vote to advance any of of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the judicial committee, or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until the Mueller protection bill is brought up for a full vote on the Senate floor.”

  101. says

    From SC’s first link in comment 148:

    Trump also did his most specific lying about Florida, making up a story about how Broward County has inserted fraudulent ballots into the pool of legit ballots so now you can’t tell which is which. The Daily Caller is such trash that it doesn’t even hint this might not be true.

    Just think of all the Republican voters who are reading The Daily Caller as if it were a legitimate news source. They are going to believe this trash.

  102. says

    Follow-up to comment 156.

    More absolute nonsense Trump spouted in that interview with The Daily caller:

    The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.

    If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID. They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of, when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.

  103. says

    About that voter fraud that Trump keeps imagining, (see comment 157):

    […] Shark attacks and lightning strikes are more common occurrences than instances of voter fraud in which a person impersonates another voter and casts a fraudulent ballot under their name. There were just four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election. Two were Trump supporters who voted for Trump twice, one was a Republican who voted for her dead husband, and the fourth was an election worker in Florida who tampered with absentee ballots.

  104. says

    Follow-up to comments 156, 157 and 158.

    From Frank Dale, writing for Think Progress:

    […] Trump’s voter ID proposal is one of many ideas Republicans have introduced as a means to stop the imaginary scourge of voter fraud and/or breakfast fraud.

    The president disbanded his own voter fraud commission after it was unable to find any evidence to substantiate his claims of irregularities in the 2016 election.

    The White House also admitted it had found no evidence of voter fraud in a January court filing. […]

  105. says

    “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis”:

    …But as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.

    When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand, allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump, Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.

    And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and sparked a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.

    While Mr. Zuckerberg conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

    In Washington, allies of Facebook, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, intervened on its behalf. And Ms. Sandberg wooed or cajoled hostile lawmakers, while trying to dispel Facebook’s reputation as a bastion of Bay Area liberalism.

    This account of how Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg navigated Facebook’s cascading crises, much of which has not been previously reported, is based on interviews with more than 50 people. They include current and former Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed confidentiality agreements, were not authorized to speak to reporters or feared retaliation….

    This is one you really need to read in full.

    “In a statement, a spokesman acknowledged that Facebook had been slow to address its challenges but had since made progress fixing the platform.” The recent two-part Frontline episode “The Facebook Dilemma” has a montage of a series of FB representatives repeating this line. The executives have this practiced, deliberate way of speaking that’s supposed to come across as earnest, credible, and compassionate and…doesn’t. They’re dishonest, completely disconnected from the consequences of their actions, and see everything in terms of their personal image. It’s all about PR. They’re pathologically irresponsible.

  106. says

    Follow-up to comment 139.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Mitch McConnell’s op-ed:

    […] Wait until you get a load of the title of his masterful self-own, you ready? Ok, here it is: “Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

    Are you dead yet? Many of us Democrats saw that headline and keeled over from the hell-ified audacity of Mr. Dorkface Obstruction Man trying to project his shit onto us. We can’t be the only ones who remember a certain senator (surprise, it was Mitch McConnell!) saying his main goal was to make Obama a one-term president while he did everything he could to obstruct the Democrats. Oh yeah, and also MERRICK FUCKING GARLAND.

    We have some of the dumbest things he said ready for you […]

    “The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court.”

    Um? Outstanding? You confirmed an alleged sexual assaulter that we like to call Schrodinger’s Rapist, Brett Kavanaugh. […]

    “And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.”

    Oh gee, Mr. McConnell, sir, I sure am just as pleased as punch with my $12.50 annual tax cut while Ivanka (who allegedly steals designs for profit) gets enough benefits to feed every schoolchild in Arkansas. Swell job, guy! […]

    “That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.”

    Wait, wait, wait, wait, what the fuck you say? Did you forget about Benghazi?? We ain’t forgot about Benghazi. Even Benghazi was tired of hearing about Benghazi. […]

    “What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?”

    Muthafucker. […]

    Interesting how McConnell thinks Democrats should lift one finger to help Trump pass anything that wasn’t written by Democrats. […]

    “Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.”

    “Tactics?” Oh. He must mean VOTING. And making sure everybody can vote, counting all the votes, and getting rid of gerrymandering. Those are the only things people in the Republican Party fear — votes, voters, and voting are the only way to kill the future of the GOP.

    We are not the only ones who are flabbergasted at the sheer gall of this turtle-man. The entire internet thought it was quite stupid and had many mean ass things to say to him. At the time of our reporting, his op-ed tweet has been up for 23 hours and has been ratioed to death with 9.6k likes and a whopping 47k comments. My oh my, Mitch! Wethinks people don’t like you very much. […]

    From the readers comments:

    Aren’t the tax cuts that give the average American an extra $12 going away in 2020 and aren’t the normal rates that resume going to be higher than what we were paying before these “tax cuts” we enacted?

  107. KG says

    Well, I go away for a few days, and May tries to sneak a string-and-chewing-gum Brexit deal through while my back is turned!* Last night it looked as if she had corraled the cabinet behind her, and so might get the deal through the Commons, but this morning Dominic Raab, her Brexit Secretary, resigned, saying he could not support the deal. Another cabinet minister and a couple of junior ministers have also gone. Remarkably, May is still trying to convince the Commons that the deal is just “pining for the fjords”! Meanwhile there is speculation that the Tory ultras will launch a leadership challenge to May (but it’s unlikely they could actually unseat her if she resists – if 15% of Tory MPs write to the chair of the 1922 Committee** – which currently means 48 of them – asking for a contest, there’s a straight yes-or-no vote among all the MPs and only if the current leader loses that do they stand down), and also a marked increase in talk of a new referendum, since it’s now very unlikely May can get the deal through, and there’s no Commons majority for a “cliff-edge” Brexit.

    *I was in Belfast, just because it’s there and Ms. KG and I have never visited (I’d been through it once on the way to Dublin). It’s an ugly but characterful place. The wall art is worth going for – some of it apparently purely esthetic, but a lot of it refering back to “The Troubles” in ways that make it only too plausible they could start up again if the Brexit farce ends badly.

    **So called because of the median birth year of Tory MPs.

  108. KG says

    Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for the 15th century, has reportedly sent his letter to the 1922 Committee, following a meeting of the “European Research Group” of Brexit ultras. This makes a vote on May’s leadership of the party (and hence, premiership) very likely.

  109. Oggie. says

    So it took months, literally months, for this (from CNN) to be noticed and to garner reactions. The man (Gust) who put the photo of Baraboo, Wisconsin, high school students giving a Sieg Heil salute on his Facebook page, has taken it down. Because of how offensive the photo is? Oh, no. Of course not.

    Gust has also taken the photo down and complained about “jerks” who are being online bullies — by which he apparently meant the people angry about the photo, and not the teenagers who appear to be making a Nazi salute.

    The school district and, apparently, the local police, are investigating. Good. I hope there are some serious repercussions.

    Now for a what-if. What if those students were raising their right arms, holding them out straight or elevated in front of their shoulders, but with a clenched fist rather than a flat, stiff hand. Would it be defended as free speech?

    But remember, only the right is censored and denied greedom of speech.

  110. says

    “Judge sides with Nelson, rules Florida law on matching ballot signatures being applied unconstitutionally”:

    In the latest legal twist in the Florida vote-counting controversy, a federal judge has ruled that the state’s law requiring signatures on ballots to match those on file is being applied unconstitutionally.

    U.S. District Chief Judge Mark Walker has granted a preliminary injunction, sought by Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, ordering Florida’s secretary of state to direct local supervisors of elections that they must allow voters with suspected mismatched signatures to “cure” — or validate — their vote-by-mail and provisional ballots by 5 p.m. Saturday.

    “The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures — with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection — passes constitutional muster. The answer is simple. It does not,” Walker wrote in the order….

    Scott is appealing, naturally.

  111. says

    Campaign updates from Steve Benen:

    […] As of this morning, the Democratic lead in the U.S. House popular vote is up to 7.2%, though it may yet inch higher. For comparison purposes, note that in 2010 – which was widely seen as a GOP “wave” cycle – Republicans won the U.S. House popular vote by 6.6%.

    California has 53 congressional districts, and it looks like Republicans will end up holding just 8 or 9 of those seats. A Washington Post report noted, “The last time Democrats held as high a percentage of California’s House seats, the Civil War was raging.”

    […] New Jersey has 12 congressional districts and Democrats will soon hold 11 of the seats. It’s the worst showing for Republicans in the Garden State since 1912.

    Senate Democrats announced this morning that Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2020 cycle. She’ll be the first Latina to ever hold the position. […]

    Millions more people vote for Democratic Party candidates, as the percentage 7.2 shows, but Republicans still hold onto some seats thanks to gerrymandering and voter suppression.

  112. says

    Trump indicts himself, again.

    […] Trump ended up accidentally telling the truth about what was on his mind.

    I knew [Matt Whitaker] only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions. And, you know, look, as far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had.

    It’s something that should have never been brought. It’s an illegal investigation. And you know, it’s very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, well, Mueller’s not Senate confirmed.

    He’s heading this whole big thing, he’s not Senate confirmed. So anyway….

    In case there’s any ambiguity, when Trump referenced the “investigation,” he was referring to the investigation into the Russia scandal. Mueller, of course, referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    The Daily Caller’s question, however, had nothing to do with the scandal or the ongoing probe. The reporter asked about Whitaker and the search for a new attorney general nominee.

    It was Trump who heard that question and immediately started connecting Whitaker’s appointment to the president’s belief that the Mueller investigation is “illegal.”

    In other words, some of the White House’s critics have spent the last week making the case that Trump chose Whitaker because both Republicans oppose the special counsel’s probe. And yesterday, the president suggested that his critics are right, and that Whitaker’s appointment is about Mueller.

    If this sounds familiar, it’s because Trump has incriminated himself the same way before. In an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt last year, the president famously connected James Comey’s firing to the investigation into the Russia scandal.

    More recently, Trump admitted to Fox News that the pre-election hush money in 2016 came directly from him.

    It’s tempting to think professional interviewers got the president to admit something he didn’t intend to say, but in each of these instances, Trump simply blurted out incriminating thoughts that happened to be on his mind. […]

    Maddow Blog link

  113. says

    Mueller knows about the inner workings of his probe. Most other people, including Trump, do not know. Trump, nevertheless, claimed to know:

    The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives the ruin.

    These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!

    Doesn’t sound like people calming carrying their lunch soup into a meeting, as SC noted in a link in comment 166.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] We could note the irony of this president, whose White House is beset by chaos, accusing others of running a messy operation. We could explain that Robert Mueller, in reality, has no meaningful conflicts of interest. We could note that Mueller actually served as FBI director for eight years under George W. Bush, and stayed on for four more years under Barack Obama.

    But as interesting as those tidbits may be, let’s not miss the forest for the trees. According to Trump, he now has knowledge about the “inner workings” of the special counsel’s team and their probe.

    And how, pray tell, does the president know anything about the inner workings of the Mueller investigation?

    It’s possible that the president has been having direct conversations – of dubious propriety – with witnesses who’ve spoken to investigators. […]

    We also shouldn’t discount the possibility that Trump has simply made all of this up; he doesn’t know anything about the “inner workings” of the investigation; and his tweets were based solely on details cooked up in the president’s odd imagination.

    But then there’s the other possibility: Trump appointed Matt Whitaker to serve as acting attorney general last week, and in that capacity, Whitaker – a Republican loyalist and staunch critic of Mueller’s probe – has direct oversight authority over the special counsel’s investigation.

    In other words, last week, Mueller stopped reporting to Rod Rosenstein and started reporting to Matt Whitaker. Eight days later, for the first time, Trump told the public he has new insights into the “inner workings” of the special counsel’s efforts. […]

  114. says

    Yikes! and Yikes! again.

    What a doozy this one is.

    The Trump administration is reportedly considering extraditing a controversial Turkish cleric to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, NBC reports.

    Among the many problems with the purported plan: Career U.S. officials are having none of it.

    “At first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious,” NBC quotes an unnamed official as saying.

    The extradition request concerns Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen, a U.S. green card-holder residing in Pennsylvania that the Erdogan government has portrayed as a mortal enemy of the Turkish state.

    NBC reports that Trump officials directed the Justice Department and FBI to reopen a Turkish extradition request for Gulen “in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Gulen is not the only Turk whose fate may be traded away in a bid to ease tensions.

    NBC reports that the release of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who is serving a 32-month sentence in federal prison for trying to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, is also under consideration. […]

    The Trump Administration did not offer an explanation for why the U.S. is apparently undertaking an effort to smooth over relations soured by a Saudi-orchestrated murder.

    Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser-turned-felon, admitted to lobbying on Turkey’s behalf in his guilty plea, revealing that he had been involved in a plan to smear Gulen.

    WTF is going on?

    Talking Points Memo link

  115. says

    Follow-up to comment 173.

    Comments from readers of the TPM article:

    Of all the impeachable things carried out by this administration, attempting to ship a US person into illiberal custody abroad as a political favor is absolutely the impeachable-est.

    And it’s beating out a long, long list.
    This is absolutely scandalous, and I’m very certain that it’s unlawful.

    It also reveals what Erdogan’s game is here, not to mention the corrupt depths to which Trump will go to appease his Saudi principals.
    Regardless how horrible this is…and it is horrible, don’t get me wrong. Dumbo will get played again and Turkey will take the guy back and string him up and still not let up on SA, just to poke master negotiator in the eye.

  116. says

    Trump Nominates Handbag Designer As Ambassador To South Africa

    […] Trump has nominated a South Florida-based luxury fashion and handbag designer to be the new U.S. ambassador to South Africa.

    The White House announced the nomination of native South African Lana Marks late Wednesday.

    Marks was born and raised in South Africa and is now the CEO of the Lana Marks Collections design firm which caters to celebrities. She speaks Xhosa and Afrikaans and lives in Palm Beach, Florida. […]

    Lana Marks also is a member at Mar-a-Lago.

    Lana Marks speaks for herself:

    My father was a successful property developer in South Africa. The fundamentals of architectural proportion were drilled into me from a very early age. I would go to his building sites with him and learned a lot about running a business from him. And I traveled with my parents and developed an eye for really fine craftsmanship, really great fabrics and leathers, especially in Europe. […]

    I think for the general high-level and mid-level of the market there are extraordinary brands out there that are doing incredibly well—brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Bottega Veneta. But nobody is specializing in the very, very high; I’m talking the crème de la crème of skins: American alligator, porosus crocodile, ostrich and a little bit of lizard, which we just offer as a courtesy.

    At least she speaks three relevant languages: English, Xhosa and Afrikaans.

    From the readers comments:

    Marks is also known for stiffing those who work for her, the Palm Beach Daily News reported last month when rumors of the impending appointment cropped up. She has been accused of underpaying attorneys, accountants, landlords and employees, the outlet stated, and is involved in a legal battle with her siblings over the care of their elderly mother.

  117. says

    Melania Never Met Nat’l Secretary Aide She Publicly Bashed, Ousted

    Despite issuing a scathing statement of disapproval and effectively ousting Mira Ricardel — a deputy national security adviser — first lady Melania Trump never met her, but was in talks with Chief of Staff John Kelly about her departure for some time, The Washington Post reported.

    According to two people familiar with both parties who spoke to the Post, the first lady saw Ricardel as a “toxic influence” in the West Wing — in the Post’s words — and she even spoke with her husband about Ricardel’s behavior during her trip to Africa last month. Trump also gave aides permission to spread whispers about Ricardel’s overstepping, several people familiar with the matter told the Post.

    Trump was convinced that Ricardel was spreading false information about her office and planting negative stories in the media about her stay in Egypt. The first lady’s office made several requests to National Security Adviser John Bolton to get rid of the aide, but Bolton refused, according to the Post.

    Trump took matters into her own hands this week by releasing a public statement calling for Ricardel’s ouster. By Wednesday evening, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Ricardel had been assigned to a different position within the administration.

    While Kelly supported efforts to remove the national security aide from the White House, he reportedly thought her departure was not handled well. […]

    From the readers comments:

    Tellingly no media source is reporting on Ricardel’s new responsibilities, nor is the administration. Sanders is just saying she has a new position. Somewhere. Which I think is a lie, otherwise why the mystery over her new duties? She has no new duties. They’re scrambling […] to find a landing spot. […]

  118. says

    More organizations are filing amicus briefs to support CNN’s lawsuit against Trump:

    The White House Correspondents’ Association filed a court brief Thursday backing CNN’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump, arguing that the president does not have the power to deny reporters access to the White House.

    “The President’s view of the law is wrong,” the WHCA’s amicus brief states. “While he may have absolute discretion to exclude a member of the press from his Trump Tower residence, he does not have absolute discretion to exclude a member of the press from the White House.” […]

    A number of news outlets, including POLITICO and Fox News, one of Trump’s favorite networks, have filed amicus briefs in support of CNN.

    “The White House is the People’s House, and the First Amendment does not permit the President to pick and choose which journalists do — and do not — cover him there,” the WHCA argued. “Far from it, the First Amendment requires a compelling government interest — not whim, prejudice, or dislike — for the President to strip a journalist of his or her ability to report from the White House.

    “WHCA urges the Court to grant CNN the relief that it seeks and, in doing so, to roundly reject the President’s dangerous legal position,” the brief said.

    Politico link

  119. says

    More details from that interview Trump granted to The Daily Caller:

    […] [Trump] said he believes Americans are starting to see many media outlets — Trump named CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC — as “fake news.”

    “You look at what’s going on with the fake news and the people get it,” the president said. “And you know, they had a very high approval rating before I became president and I think it’s actually a great achievement of mine.”

    “Their approval rating now is down as low as just about anybody,” the president continued. […]

    Politico link

  120. says

    “Trump-appointed judge upholds Mueller’s indictment against Russian troll farm”:

    A federal judge on Thursday upheld a federal indictment against the Russian troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 election, handing a victory to special counsel Robert Mueller.

    In a 32-page opinion, Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected efforts by Concord Management and Consulting to dismiss the indictment, which accused the Russian company of conspiring to defraud the US government. Mueller’s team says the company was involved in a well-funded “troll farm” that pumped out political propaganda to millions of Americans throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

    It was the second time that Friedrich, a Trump appointee, sided with Mueller and let the case proceed. Earlier this year, she rebuffed Concord’s arguments that there were constitutional problems with Mueller’s appointment and authority. Thursday’s ruling centered more on the merits of the indictment….

    More at the link.

  121. says

    Trump’s delusional tweet about how “smoothly” the White House is running:

    The White House is running very smoothly and the results for our Nation are obviously very good. We are the envy of the world. But anytime I even think about making changes, the FAKE NEWS MEDIA goes crazy, always seeking to make us look as bad as possible! Very dishonest!

  122. says

    Avenatti Arrested For Domestic Violence … And Pissant Jacob Wohl Is Taking Credit???

    […] If Michael Avenatti hit someone, he will be canceled for all time. He was already canceled anyway, for the stupid shit he said about needing a white dude to run against Trump and slagging Beto O’Rourke. That said, we just witnessed Jacob Wohl […] in a live press conference after paying a woman to accuse Robert Mueller of sexual assault. Someone with more than eight functioning brain cells might actually have been able to pull that scam off. So when there are red flags that suggest domestic violence charges against Avenatti might be less than legit — and there are — we need to withhold judgment until we get more details.

    Here’s what we do know. Michael Avenatti was arrested and charged with domestic violence. There is a woman with visible injuries who swears that she got them from him. And her charges were credible enough that he was charged yesterday, released on $50,000 bail, and ordered to stay away from her. […]

    At 4:50, when news broke that she’d been granted a restraining order, TMZ decided that the woman had initially threatened … to get a restraining order.

    We’re told Wednesday afternoon the woman was on the sidewalk on her cellphone with sunglasses covering her eyes, sobbing and screaming on the phone, “I can’t believe you did this to me. I’m going to get a restraining order against you.”

    Gosh, it’s almost like someone fed them the story in advance, and they wound up furiously backpedaling when the details turned out not to line up at all. So you can color us highly skeptical that Avenatti ever announced his guilt by saying, “She hit me first.” The guy has spent the last six months on camera, and he’s suddenly shouting inculpatory admissions of violence in front of a roomful of witnesses? […]

    Wonkette link

    From Michael Avenatti:

    I want to be clear: I DID NOT commit domestic violence nor have I ever committed domestic violence. I did not strike any woman nor have I ever. I did not strike my ex-wife in the face nor did I hit anyone else in the face. I am a decent man & I look forward to being exonerated.

    […] When we are fully exonerated I am coming for you Jacob Wohl aka Surefire.

    From Wonkette:

    Avenatti is a narcissistic jerk who says a lot of stupid shit. He should NOT run for president. He also believed Stormy Daniels, served up a campaign finance charge against Trump on a silver platter, and is likely the reason that Michael Cohen’s financial shenanigans came to light and he eventually flipped. And maybe he did something terrible. But maybe he didn’t. So let’s hold off stringing him up by the balls until we know what actually happened here.

  123. says

    About that Daily Caller interview…there’s more:

    Daily Caller reports that when asked about anti-fascists today, President Trump said: “These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize. Because if they do, they’re much tougher. Much stronger. Potentially much more violent.”

    “[Antifa] better hope that the other side doesn’t mobilize,” Trump said, “Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people… They’re sitting back watching and they’re getting angrier and angrier.”…

  124. says

    Interesting: “Thread. Friend of a professional contact was having breakfast this morning, and told him some of a conversation he said he overheard Sen. Mitch McConnell having nearby. (He told my contact that McConnell was not speaking particularly quietly, he was not trying to eavesdrop)….”

  125. says

    Caption to a New Yorker cartoon that shows two people sitting on a couch watching TV while the newscaster on the TV says: “In the wake of recent personal disappointments and setbacks, the President is reportedly planning to hold a series of ‘Make Me Happy Again’ campaign-style rallies.”

  126. says

    Cindy Hyde-Smith on voter suppression: ‘And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea’.”

    Video clip at the link. Looks like one of her handlers is trying to shuffle her off before she says more.

  127. tomh says

    The chaos around Whitaker is mounting.

    From Politico:
    Texas businessman challenges acting AG’s legality

    A Texas businessman facing a federal criminal case over distribution of substandard pet food ingredients is mounting a novel challenge to President Donald Trump’s hotly debated appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

    Lawyers for former agricultural products executive Doug Haning quietly filed a motion Tuesday asking a federal court in St. Louis to rule that Whitaker’s installation atop the Justice Department, made in the wake of Trump’s ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, was illegal.

    In theory, such a legal challenge could be pursued by any defendant under federal prosecution. However, Haning’s move may have added traction because of the unusual role the former attorney general has played in his case. Because of a recusal by the local federal prosecutor in the case — St. Louis-based U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen — the government’s filings in Haning’s case bear Sessions’ name as ultimately responsible for the prosecution.

    “There will be thousands of identical motions filed throughout the country,” said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law. “Eventually, one judge will declare Whitaker not the acting AG. That decision will throw the entire executive branch into disarray. [The Supreme Court] will have to resolve [that] ASAP.”

  128. says

    “Top Cheney Aide in Mueller’s Sights as Probe Expands”:

    Dick Cheney’s former top national security aide has come under scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller, two people with knowledge of the probe tell The Daily Beast. It’s the latest sign that Mueller’s probe has expanded beyond the narrow bounds of Russian interference in American politics.

    Mueller’s team has been looking into the communications and political dealings of John Hannah, the former Cheney adviser who later worked on Trump’s State Department transition team. This includes interactions with Lebanese-American businessman and fixer George Nader, who brokered meetings between foreign dignitaries and team Trump, and Joel Zamel, a self-proclaimed social media guru with deep ties to Israeli intelligence. The Daily Beast previously reported that the three men met with a top Saudi general in the days leading up to Trump’s inauguration to discuss plans to undermine and overthrow the government of Iran.

    Hannah, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, is close with Nader and Zamel, both of whom the special counsel has questioned, according to two people with knowledge of those relationships. Hannah is listed on the website of one of Zamel’s firms, Wikistrat, as a member of its advisory council. Nader worked with Hannah on Iraq policy during the George W. Bush administration, according to four people who worked with the two or who knew of their interactions during the war. Hannah is now a senior counselor for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a pro-Israel think tank known for its criticism of the Iranian regime.

    Mueller’s probe of Hannah’s interactions and communications with Nader, Zamel, and other Trump officials sheds new light on what appears to be a lesser-known side of the special counsel’s investigation—one that deals with Israeli, Emirati, and Saudi influence in the 2016 presidential elections.

    Hannah is one of the individuals who sits at the center of that nexus.

    “These are countries that are extremely powerful that operate outside of a Democratic framework converging in the most sacred of America’s democratic institutions, its election,” Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham University’s Center for National Security.

    “The Cheney group was often doing things… outside the customary boundaries of America’s internal and external politics,” she added. “If Mueller finds evidence of wrongdoing, it would make us wonder why we as a community—whoever we are—weren’t paying attention to Cheney alums’ persistent presence in American domestic politics.”…

    More at the link. Incidentally, Liz Cheney was elevated to the position of Republican House conference chair on Wednesday. (More about that role: “The post will put her in charge of the party’s communications strategy, both internally and externally, crafting House Republicans’ message and keeping lawmakers in line. The position will make her the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, third behind Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.”)

  129. says

    Remember that tax cut for the middle class that Trump touted at his pre-midterm-election rallies? We all doubted that such a tax cut plan ever existed. Trump’s audiences roared with applause at that tax-cut claim. Now that the elections are over, Trump is not talking about it.

    To refresh our memories:

    About a month ago, Donald Trump first declared publicly that he and congressional Republicans were working “around the clock” on a “very major” new tax cut, which would be ready no later than Nov. 1, despite the fact that Congress was effectively out of session until after the elections. No one in Congress had any idea what the president was talking about, and even White House officials quietly conceded they were “mystified.”

    Trump didn’t care. The plan, which appeared to exist only in his imagination, quickly became a major applause line at the president’s campaign rallies. Pressed by reporters for details, Trump boasted that he and his team had came up with a way to make his new tax plan “revenue neutral based on certain things.”

    The Nov. 1 deadline came and went, and the plan the president promised to present never materialized. Yesterday, Politico published a report suggesting the policy, which never really existed in any meaningful way, is dead.

    White House officials are not counting on a big infrastructure package or a deal on the kind of middle-class tax cut Trump promised at the end of the campaign.

    “We’ve been noodling more on this middle-class tax cut, how to structure it, and even pay for it,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in a recent interview in his West Wing office. “I don’t think the chances of that are very high, because the Democrats are going to go after the corporate tax and all that stuff.”

    […] the president simply says stuff, without any meaningful concerns about whether his stuff reflects reality in any way.

    But that’s not the only lesson. The fact that Trump made up a tax policy just weeks ahead of Election Day – it was exclusively for the “middle class,” he said – was also emblematic of the fact that even the president realized that the actual Republican tax package was a political failure.

    Indeed, the rest of the GOP’s pitch wasn’t much better. With time running out before the midterms, after nearly two years of attempts at governing, Trump came up with an entirely new vision, consisting of a made-up tax plan, fears of an imaginary “invasion,” a health care “plan” that didn’t exist, and chatter of an executive order the president hoped to issue – but could not legally expect to implement – that would’ve negated part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

    Now that the elections are nearly over, that agenda has suddenly disappeared. The cynicism behind Trump’s gambit is breathtaking.

    Maddow Blog link

  130. says

    A follow-up of sorts to SC’s comment 203, in which it is noted just how much of a lickspittle Sean Hannity is for Trump.

    Lou Dobbs played his part as a Trump lackey on Trump TV:

    During his show “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Thursday evening, the Fox News host baselessly claimed that “millions of illegal immigrants” had crossed the U.S. border to come to America and vote in the midterms and “having an immense impact.”

    Dobbs is just the latest to latch onto voter fraud speculation this election cycle, a talking point largely perpetuated by conservatives. In the Florida recount between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Scott joined President Trump in throwing out unsubstantiated claims that certain counties were committing fraud in the recount.

    Talking Points Memo link

    Exact quote from Dobbs:

    We are watching, you know, millions of illegal immigrants cross our borders, and many of them voting in the past election that’s what, just a couple weeks ago, and having immense impact.

  131. says

    BREAKING Justice Department says in new filing it is engaged in talks ‘regarding a potential resolution of this matter’ involving accused Russian agent Maria Butina and ask a court to postpone status conference for two weeks while they figure out whether they can make a deal.”

    The parties in Gates’s case recently asked for a delay until January, as he continues to cooperate with “several” ongoing investigations. And this happened yesterday in the Manafort case:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Paul Manafort asked for a brief delay before updating a judge about Manafort’s cooperation in the Russia investigation, saying they will have more to report in 10 days.

    Lawyers in the case were supposed to submit a status report Friday but asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington for an extension until Nov. 26. They didn’t explain why, saying in a brief filing on Thursday that they will then submit “a report that will be of greater assistance in the court’s management of this matter.”

  132. says

    I think we can now see what Lindsey Graham was aiming for when he started lavishing praise on Trump after a record of dissing Trump during the presidential campaign: Graham wanted this powerful role:

    After completing his whirlwind transition from John McCain bestie to Donald Trump acolyte, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is set to assume one of the most important positions related to Trump’s survival: Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel’s current chair, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, will be assuming chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.

    Graham’s new post will give him a key role in deciding how the Senate Judiciary oversees the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He has reportedly already met with Trump’s new Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, and apparently left satisfied that the Mueller investigation wouldn’t be impeded. […]

    One thing Graham does plan to do is recreate the GOP House’s Devin Nunes strategy in the Senate by working to sully the FBI’s investigation into Trump-Russia and Hillary’s emails.

    “Totally,” the South Carolina Republican told CNN when asked if he would look into the FBI’s handling of those probes. “The oversight function will be very much front and center.”

    The erstwhile McCain-aligned Graham is now marching in lock step with Trump. Elections have consequences and Graham’s 2020 re-election is just around the corner.

    Daily Kos Link

  133. tomh says

    All the best people.

    From NYT:
    Trump Says He’ll Nominate Andrew Wheeler to Head the E.P.A.

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate Andrew R. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, to be the permanent administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The E.P.A. has been at the center of the Trump administration’s agenda to reduce the regulations on industry, and Mr. Wheeler has been instrumental in seeing through rollbacks of major environmental policies. The changes include proposals to weaken the Obama administration’s signature policies to combat climate change, including a sweeping regulation on emissions from coal-fired power plants and a rule reining in pollution from vehicle tailpipes.

    More depressing background at the link.

  134. tomh says

    For anyone still following the Whitaker saga:
    From the WaPo:

    Whitaker’s opponents take legal challenge to Supreme Court

    Lawyers challenging the appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general asked the Supreme Court on Friday to step in and declare that someone else should serve in the role.

    The filing by lawyer Thomas C. Goldstein, who earlier this week filed a motion in federal court on behalf of Maryland’s attorney general challenging Whitaker’s appointment, is a novel attempt to undo President Trump’s choice to lead the Justice Department after Jeff Sessions was forced out as attorney general on Nov. 7.

    Whitaker was serving as Sessions’s chief of staff, and Goldstein and other critics argue it is illegal for a government official to run the agency — even temporarily — if he is not Senate-confirmed.

    It is unclear when the Supreme Court could consider Goldstein’s motion.

    Pretty sure the attempt to bring it directly to the SC is because they think they have the votes. The 5th vote will come from Thomas, who made it very clear in his opinion from last year, which has been referenced several times by the opposition to Whitaker, that he would not stand for an appointment to a cabinet-level position without Senate approval. Here was his conclusion in that opinion:

    “Appointing principal officers under the FVRA,
    however, raises grave constitutional concerns because the
    Appointments Clause forbids the President to appoint
    principal officers without the advice and consent of the

    It’s not worth trying to figure out whether his reasoning makes any sense, the only important thing is how he’s going to vote. As a (supposedly) strict constructionist, there’s no way he could walk back that opinion.

  135. says

    By pretending to like Nancy Pelosi, Trump is threatening her.

    Trump tweeted, (and repeated to reporters):

    I can get Nancy Pelosi as many votes as she wants in order for her to be Speaker of the House. She deserves this victory, she has earned it – but there are those in her party who are trying to take it away. She will win!
    I would help Nancy Pelosi if she needs some votes. She may need some votes. I will perform a wonderful service for her. I like her, can you believe it? I like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she’s tough and she’s smart, but she deserves to be speaker, and now they’re playing games with her, just like they’ll be playing with me. It’s called presidential harassment…

    In a way, her own party is harassing her. There’s nobody else who can be speaker. That doesn’t mean for 100 years. But certainly they should start off with Nancy Pelosi as speaker. And I already have a lot of votes. If she needs any votes, if she asks me, I will give her the votes to put her over the top.

    I saw Tom Reed [R-NY] as an example [of a Republican who might vote for Pelosi to be speaker]. He’s a fine man, a congressman. I would call him a moderate. I’m not saying I’d get any from the super conservative side, but maybe I even get them from there. But I don’t imagine she’d need too many. But whatever number of votes she needs, if its 50 or 10 or 2 or 1, she’s got them from me, automatic. So tell her opposition, they’re wasting their time.

    He wants Pelosi to discuss “presidential harassment” with him. Pelosi doesn’t need Trump’s help, and there’s no way she is going to put the brakes on investigations that Democrats will helm in the House of Congress.

    Republicans have spent more than a decade trying to turn Pelosi into a boogeyman. She continues to do her job well. I think Trump wants, in part at least, for her to remain in power so that she can be more thoroughly attacked by Republicans as a boogeyman.

    From the readers comments:

    Isn’t it just adorable how Trump thinks he’s the least bit relevant to any of this.

    The day a single Republican representative votes for Nancy Pelosi is the day monkeys fly out of Trump’s butt.
    Um, Nancy’s got this, Donnie. You can piss off.
    while the leadership should change and evolve in the near future, in the very short term Pelosi has skills that will be important, even critical, and the new folks are becoming persuaded of that.
    ““I would help Nancy Pelosi if she needs some votes. She may need some votes. I will perform a wonderful service for her.”

    “And, Nancy, if I grant you this request, someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

    Straight out of The Godfather.
    I do marvel at how demented Don has injected himself through sheer force of narcissism into a situation that has nothing to do with him.
    Trump is trolling Pelosi plain and simple. The last thing she needs in her bid to be majority speaker is his endorsement.
    This is the Manchurian Combover’s way of poisoning the well: making it seem as if Pelosi has his ‘approval’ when he knows her competence is a real danger to him.
    The House will be Dem come 2019, but Trump & the GOP would obviously prefer a weak opposition.

    Trump wants to weaken Pelosi, but he also wants her to think he’s helping her because that’s how he gets his corrupt foot in the door.

    The problem for the GOP is that, from all accounts, Trump is stupider than anyone can imagine.

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes.

  136. says

    A year after the Republican tax cuts, reality looks nothing like Republicans said it would.

    […] It’s working out exactly as actual economic experts predicted; a short-lived stimulus that is already receding, in exchange for long-term structural problems that will threaten the economy, exacerbate inequality and screw up social services for a generation.

    The New York Times has a rundown. The short version is that great gobs of the promised corporate re-investment are instead being translated into stock buybacks and other payouts to shareholders–which is what analysts predicted.

    Workers, however, continue to be eaten alive. Which is also what analysts predicted.

    Many companies also said they would use tax savings to create jobs. But the Just Capital research finds that, since the tax cuts were passed, the 1,000 largest public companies have actually reduced employment, on balance.

    As for the deficit? Ah, what can we even say. Back during the Great Recession the Republican Party was aghast at the notion of stimulating the economy via short-term government spending, no matter how many jobs had been lost or how long the crisis might drag on. It was all garbage, and they were lying, […] Because while Republicans insisted that stimulus during a recession was an insufficient reason for burdening the federal government with more debt, the Paul Ryan brigade lit the damn budget on fire with this one. […]

    From the New York Times:

    The growing budget gap means the Treasury must borrow more to keep the government running. The Treasury expects to borrow a total of $1.338 trillion from global investors this calendar year. That would be 145 percent higher than the $546 billion the federal government borrowed last year. That would be the highest level of borrowing since 2010, when the American economy was struggling to recover from the great recession.

  137. says

    From Stacey Abrams (who was a candidate for governor of Georgia):

    To watch an elected official [Brian Kemp] who claims to represent the people in the state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. So let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession. Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that. […]

    The state failed its voters. We live in a nation where four federal judges were necessary to force the counting of the ballots cast in the face of Brian Kemp’s opposition to and disregard for their lawful consideration. […]

    From an Atlanta-based media outlet, WABE:

    Through a process that Kemp calls voter roll maintenance and his opponents call voter roll purges, Kemp’s office has canceled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone.

    From Mother Jones:

    Mother Jones’ Ari Berman, an expert on voting rights, also cited the closing of 214 polling locations across the state since 2012. One-third of Georgia counties have reduced their number of voting precincts over the past six years. As Berman notes, “Though the decisions were made by individual counties, Kemp’s office advised them on how to close polling locations.”

    From Think Progress:

    […] ThinkProgress watched voters in the majority-minority Gwinnett County endure four-and-a-half hour lines at polling places on Election Day due to broken voting machines. Similar problems were reported in Fulton County, the second-largest county in the state. The broken machines resulted in a court-ordered extension of voting hours.

    ThinkProgress also spoke with dozens of Black students in Atlanta who were forced to cast provisional ballots without understanding why their votes might not be counted.

    An election official was fired in August over his plan to close almost all of the polling locations in Randolph County, which is 61 percent Black. […]

    From President Obama:

    If you are aspiring to the highest office in the state in which you pledge to look out for the people of your state, then how can you actively try to prevent the citizens of your state from exercising their most basic right?

  138. says

    Yikes. This is the personal account of Democratic Senator Nikema Williams:

    We were set to convene at 10 a.m. When we adjourned, I was on the third floor talking with friends, waiting for the House to convene. Well, I saw a massive police presence start to gather in the Capitol on the third floor. And I at one point even walked over to the Capitol police and I asked what was going on and why they had all of these zip ties on their belt. And they said, ‘Well, there’s about to be a protest downstairs.’ I’m thinking, “This is random,” because I never see this much police presence, and there’s always things that happen at the Capitol.

    I went back and I sat down and continued to talk with friends until I heard a glass break and a lot of commotion on the floor underneath me in the rotunda. I went downstairs, and I was immediately greeted by people who have been a part of the protest. They were like, “They just threw this young kid to the ground, and they’re arresting people.” And [the protesters are] doing nothing—just standing there talking about their concerns around their votes not being counted.

    An officer didn’t like the way that one of the ladies was talking to him. And he said, ‘I could make an announcement right now to disperse and I could arrest everyone in here.’ Well shortly thereafter, that’s exactly what happened. A massive amount of officers started to encroach on the crowd and went into the middle of the circle. I followed them, because there’s a history of my people not trusting the police and not being treated fairly. At that moment, I noticed one of my constituents standing firmly in her place and not saying a word. And I went and I stood with her. I stood next to her. I wanted her to know that she was seen, that I heard her and I appreciated her being there to raise her voice.

    On her arrest: Shortly thereafter, my arm was pushed behind my back and I was placed in the same zip ties that I just asked the officers about upstairs, and they put me in restraints. There were so many cameras and people—even media was present—and they said, “Senator, why are you being arrested?” [The police] knew I was a senator and it didn’t matter to them that I was there for a special session, that I was supposed to be in the building, that I wasn’t even a part of the protest. I came down to monitor and make sure that my constituents have the right to voice their concerns with what happened around the election.

    I was taken out of the building in handcuffs, escorted by Capitol police, and put in a van. The vans had been out there waiting. They were waiting to arrest people all day. I was taken over to the Fulton County Jail where I was held for hours without ever [knowing] what I was being charged with or why I was being detained.

    On almost being strip searched: I had on a dress, and I didn’t know that if you wear a dress that you are asked to remove your clothes. But that’s what happened to me. An officer at the Fulton County Jail actually told me to remove my dress because she needed to make sure that I was not hiding anything in my vaginal cavity. I refused, because at that point I told her I didn’t even know if I was being lawfully detained. And this felt incredibly invasive, and I was not stripping in front of everyone standing here. I went in and I saw all the other people that were arrested with me sitting there all waiting to know what they were actually charged with and why they were escorted out of their state Capitol. We finally learned that everyone there, including me, got one charge of disrupting the General Assembly. But apparently I was special and someone wanted to make a point with me because I got two charges: Disrupting the General Assembly as well as obstruction.

    I tell people all the time that everyone views life through their lived experience, and this is definitely a different experience for me. The way that the handcuffs or the restraints were placed on people—my wrist is still sore today from the tightness of the zip ties. It was unnerving to see the way people were treated. There was someone on the van with me who repeatedly asked use the bathroom. And at one point he was sitting on the bench next to me and he said he was going to pee on the seat. Most of the white people that were arrested could wiggle their way out of the restraints, but I couldn’t. And they helped him urinate in a cup on the seat of the van sitting next to me. That’s inhumane. That was humiliating for him and all of us that were on the van with him. And we have to do better the way we treat people in our criminal justice system, whether they’re detained legally or not. Everybody deserves to be treated humanely. We also need to do better in not detaining people who should never even be in the criminal justice system at all. […]

  139. says

    Follow-up to comment 213.

    When Patricia Fisher sees news stories about Florida election workers comparing the signatures on mail-in ballots with signatures in the state registration database, she can hardly believe her eyes. “I’ve been horrified,” she says. “I turn on my TV and it’s, ‘What are they doing!?’ It’s awful.”

    Fisher, a professional documents examiner from Northern California, has spent more than four decades verifying disputed signatures, and if there’s one core principle in her world, it is this: You can’t just compare a single signature with another to determine a “mismatch.” And you really, really cannot determine a mismatch by comparing a recent signature with one collected years earlier.

    There are lots of reasons for this, document experts say, from natural variations in people’s script to health issues, aging, injuries, changes in mental state, and the circumstances in which a signature was created—a touch pad at the DMV, say, will yield a very different signature than a ballpoint pen at a desk. “You have to have a series of signatures,” Fisher says. “They need to be closer in time, and on similar types of documents, because one signature is not going to represent the full range of variations in someone’s handwriting.”

    Signatures have been in the news recently thanks to bitterly contested midterms races in Florida and also in Georgia, where elections officials rejected large numbers of voter registrations and then tossed aside mail-in ballots whose signatures, according to elections workers, did not match the signatures on file with the registrar. It wasn’t until a lawsuit was filed that a federal judge, less than two weeks before Election Day, ordered state and local officials to stop discounting those absentee votes. […]

    Mother Jones link

  140. says

    Trump seems to have decided that he needs to revert to promoting conspiracy theories and scare tactics about migrant caravans:

    Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country – yet they are proudly waving their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it! […]

    This has nothing to do with asylum, it has to do with getting into the country illegally.

  141. says

    Follow-up to comments 173 and 174.

    CIA Concludes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Ordered Khashoggi Murder in Istanbul Consulate

    Six weeks after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the CIA says it has concluded that responsibility for ordering the hit goes to the very top—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Washington Post reports the American intelligence agency had received new information that bolstered its hypothesis that the crown prince likely signed off on the operation that saw a team of 15 Saudi agents fly to Turkey ahead of the murder.

    In addition to audio recordings from inside the Saudi consulate during the murder of Khashoggi, the Post reports the CIA included in its assessment a phone call made by the crown prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, who is also the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Khalid called Khashoggi, and during the exchange, he reportedly assured the Washington Post columnist that he would be safe to go to the Saudi consulate to pick up documents he needed for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman. The Post notes it’s not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be murdered once there, but he made the call at the crown prince’s direction. A recording of a phone call made from inside the consulate immediately after the killing by a security official often seen by the crown prince’s side to one of his top aides in Riyadh saying “tell your boss … the deed is done” further bolstered the working assumption that Crown Prince Mohammed was aware of the operation. […]

    From Trump:

    We haven’t been briefed yet. The CIA will be speaking to me today. As of this moment, we were told that he [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] did not play a role, we’re gonna have to find out what they say.

    Trump went on to say that Saudi Arabia is a “spectacular ally.”

  142. says

    Trump threatens a government shutdown:

    If I was ever going to do a shutdown over border security — when you look at the caravan, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown.

    Trump wants $5 billion for wall construction on the southern border. Without that expenditure in the budget, he is threatening to shut everything down by refusing to sign the bill that renews government funding, which expires on December 7.

  143. lumipuna says

    (Crossposting my comment from Affinity)

    It was already pointed out days ago that California suffers largely from shrubland/grassland/orchard/urban area fires rather than forest fires — and obviously it’s not likely that California state and federal land management is just overall incompetent (rather than, say, facing extreme practical challenges and resource shortage). But Trump doesn’t easily let go of a soundbite he likes.

    The last time California fires were in the news (ie. earlier in this same season), Trump blamed environmentalists wasting state water resources on natural aquatic habitats. I bet that idea came from either a lobbyist or some political strategist. And now we know where the forest management thing came from.

  144. says

    A few podcast recommendations:

    Chris Hayes’ WITH: “Slavery’s Enduring Political Legacy with Maya Sen and Matthew Blackwell.”

    Deconstructed: “Why the Democrats Can (and Should) Impeach Trump.”

    Stay Tuned with Preet: “How to Assess a Presidency (with Michael Beschloss).”

    Also, the latest episode of Rachel Maddow’s podcast Bag Man and her show “Betrayal: The Plot That Won the White House.” (If that YT link is taken down, look for it on MSNBC.)

  145. says


    The controversial businessman Arron Banks was keen to involve Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon in a scheme to raise US cash for his Brexit campaign as far back as 2015, emails leaked to the Observer suggest.

    Banks, as founder of Leave.EU, wanted Bannon’s data firm Cambridge Analytica to devise a plan in late 2015 for raising funds in the US that would support the unofficial Brexit campaign, according to the correspondence.

    The emails are likely to be scrutinised in the US where Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has interviewed Bannon a number of times.

    Banks is under criminal investigation over the sources of his £8m donation to the Leave.EU campaign after the Electoral Commission suspected he was not the “true source” of loans and the money had come “from impermissible sources”, claims denied by Banks.

    Damian Collins, chair of the parliamentary committee investigating disinformation and fake news, said the emails raised fresh questions about both the financing of the Brexit campaign and its use of data.

    Collins said: “The emails suggest that the role of Bannon and Mercer is far deeper and more complex than we realised. There’s a big question about whether Mercer’s money was used in the Brexit campaign and it absolutely underscores why Britain needs a proper Mueller-style investigation.

    “There are direct links between the political movements behind Brexit and Trump. We’ve got to recognise the bigger picture here. This is being co-ordinated across national borders by very wealthy people in a way we really haven’t seen before,” he added….

    More at the link.

  146. says

    Jane Mayer in the New Yorker with more – “New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit”:

    or two years, observers have speculated that the June, 2016, Brexit campaign in the U.K. served as a petri dish for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in the United States. Now there is new evidence that it did. Newly surfaced e-mails show that the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and Cambridge Analytica, the Big Data company that he worked for at the time, were simultaneously incubating both nationalist political movements in 2015.

    Emma Briant, an academic expert on disinformation at George Washington University, has unearthed new e-mails that appear to reveal the earliest documented role played by Bannon in Brexit. The e-mails, which date back to October of 2015, show that Bannon, who was then the vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, an American firm largely owned by the U.S. hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was in the loop on discussions taking place at the time between his company and the leaders of Leave.EU, a far-right nationalist organization. The following month, Leave.EU publicly launched a campaign aimed at convincing British voters to support a referendum in favor of exiting the European Union….

    The precise role played by foreign entities in promoting and possibly funding Brexit has been clouded in mystery and controversy….

    The possibility that both Brexit and the Trump campaign simultaneously relied upon the same social-media company and its transgressive tactics, as well as some of the same advisers, to further far-right nationalist campaigns, set off alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic….

    The American investigations into foreign interference in Trump’s election, and British probes into Brexit, have increasingly become interwoven. The role of the Russian Ambassador to the U.K., Alexander Yakovenko, has reportedly been the subject of interest both to Mueller’s investigators and to those in the U.K., who have examined his relationship to Banks. The role of Nigel Farage, the former leader of the far-right, Euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, who has been an ally of Bannon and Trump, has also reportedly stirred the interest of investigators in both countries, especially after he was spotted in 2017 leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in which Julian Assange has taken refuge. Assange’s media platform, WikiLeaks, published many of the e-mails stolen by Russia from the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election season.

    How and whether all of these pieces fit together is the subject of Mueller’s investigation, but the lack of a similar single, overarching investigation in the U.K. has led critics to call for one….

    More at the link.

  147. says

    Trump once again rejects US intelligence he finds inconvenient

    U.S. intelligence professionals have spent quite a bit of time telling Donald Trump that Russia intervened in American elections two years ago. He still can’t bring himself to believe it – which is emblematic of a larger problem with how this president perceives reality.

    The intelligence community told Trump there are no dangerous Middle Easterners “mixed in” among migrants from Honduras, but he chooses to believe it anyway. Confronted with information about North Korea building up new missile sites, the president said, “Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. I don’t. And, you know, could be.”

    And then there’s the latest intelligence about Saudi Arabia. NBC News reported:

    The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a person briefed on the CIA’s assessment. […]

    The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, first reported the assessment, stating that the CIA made its conclusion with “high confidence.” Khashoggi, a U.S. resident from Saudi Arabia, was a Washington Post opinion contributor critical of the crown prince’s regime.

    […] Trump has been aware of the evidence pointing to Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the murder of an American journalist, but the Republican “remains skeptical,” and has “looked for ways to avoid pinning the blame on Mohammed.”

    […] “The president’s skepticism has put him at odds with the findings of the CIA and senior intelligence officials.”

    Trump shared his doubts with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who asked the president whether Mohammed bin Salman lied to him about the slaying. “I don’t know,” Trump replied. “You know, who can really know?”

    Saudis say one thing; the CIA says the opposite. Trump could side with his own country’s intelligence assessment, but he doesn’t want to – so he doesn’t. […]

  148. says

    Trump has apparently decided to not cooperate any further with the Mueller Probe. He said he would “probably” refuse an invitation from Mueller to cooperate with an in person interview:

    TRUMP: I would say probably. Probably. I mean, I can change my mind, but probably. I think we’ve —

    WALLACE [Chris Wallace, Fox News]: No interview?

    TRUMP: I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we’re finished.

    Earlier, Trump had boasted that he “looked forward to” an interview with Mueller, and that he would “love to do it.” Lies, apparently. Several times Trump said he would participate in an interview in “two or three weeks.” More lies.

    Trump has, so far, gotten away with delaying tactics, and with not submitting to an interview. Former FBI Director James Comey said, “In a normal world, it would be very hard for the president of the United States not to submit to an interview in connection with an investigation that touches upon … his conduct and that of people around him. In a normal world, the American people would find that very, very difficult to accept.” Comey’s statement was part of an interview with Axios in May.

    Why are We-the-People letting Trump get away with this?

  149. KG says

    So, General Ree-Smugg ordered his 3rd Brexiteers Regiment over the top, but most of them seem to have responded (as we’d say in the Edinburgh vernacular) “Naw, yer ah-right!”. The Ultras were boasting of having the necessary 48 letters in to the chair of the Tory backbenchers’ committee to trigger a vote on May’s leadership on Friday , but today that figure still hasn’t been reached – only 25 had actually made such letters public when I last looked. In other Brexit-related news, the “D”UP abstained in votes on the Finance Bill tonight to warn May to change course – the government didn’t lose any, even though the “D”UP actually voted with Labour on one – why that wasn’t a government defeat, I don’t know. And Jeremy Corbyn is still sticking to the fantasy that the EU will renegotiate the agreement if Parliament rejects it, and the further fantasy that Brexit can be the catalyst for a radical move to the left.

    And while this farce continues, climate disruption gathers pace. Some may have seen news reports of NVDA in London last Saturday – five bridges were blocked by a group calling itself “Extinction Rebellion” – and I’ve just returned from an inaugural meeting of the Edinburgh group. 200+ people, predominantly young, and another 50 or so couldn’t get in because of fire regulations. Some direct action will hopefully follow in Edinburgh soon. My cynical view is that this will likely mushroom for the next few months or at most a couple of years, then die down, like Occupy, and similar very decentralised direct action primarily youth-oriented movements going back decades. But I’d love to be proved wrong. If there’s one place it should surely take off, it’s California.

  150. KG says

    BTW, if you follow my link @229, don’t miss the comment by Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s so-called “Environment Correspondent” at the bottom. The man’s a complete arse.

  151. says

    Voters in Washington State approved some gun restrictions and penalties. The police chief of a small town in the state says he will not enforce the new regulations.

    […] “I cannot and will not enforce this law,” Culp [Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, Washington] said on “Fox & Friends Sunday.” In a Facebook post after Election Day, Culp effectively announced that he’d instructed Republic police officers not to enforce the new law when it goes into effect on Jan. 1. […]

    Initiative 1639, which passed with 59 percent support, raises the age to buy semiautomatic rifles to 21 and enacts a list of other restrictions and penalties. […]

    TPM link

    Not good.

    From the readers comments:

    Unfortunately Republic is such a redneck part of the state that the local citizenry will likely not fire him.
    Pick and choose what laws to enforce
    After years of busting and sentencing people to jail for a few grams of pot
    Because “Just enforcing the law”
    Now he’s becoming discretionary?
    How is he not fired immediately for that statement?
    this isn’t a federal law, it’s a state law. And generally wingnuts are for states’ rights…
    Seems like Chief Culp must have gotten his legal training at Trump University.

  152. says

    All the best people.

    Georgia governor-elect Brian Kemp hired a transition team. Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the guy that was forced to resign thanks to overt corruption that included misuse of public funds, that guy, Tom Price, is on Kemp’s transition team.

  153. says

    A Finnish biologist corrected Trump:

    [Concerning] the case of Mr. Trump’s statement of Finland and “raking”. President Niinistö’s “not remembering” seems to be just a diplomatic way to say “did not say that”!

    […] I am as sending you some biological views to show the falsity of Mr. Trump’s statement. I am not searching number data now, just general views. […]

    – Forest fires in Finland are much limited by the snowy winter […] Snow and ice are solid water, forests cannot burn in wintertime.

    – Even after the visible snow melts, the soil remains frozen for a couple of weeks more, postponing the soil/humus fire a bit more. […]

    – Some spring weeks after melting, if dry winds prevail, are vulnerable for grass etc. burns, due to the withered grass, but these seldom develop into economically important. E.g. March-April. After this period, the green leaves make burning more difficult. […]

    – In Finland, the annual rainfall is relatively high (moist winds from southwest prevail), and, very importantly, the Nordic cool temperatures leads to less evaporation, so the soils keep the moisture longer, and also the relative humidity is physically higher in cool temperature. So, our air is often relatively moist […] nearly ubiquitous moss cover of our forests.

    – The soil and vegetation type of Finland, typical for the Boreal vegetation zone, is different than that in Temperate regions. The soil and vegetation would make any extensive raking HIGHLY unpractical and useless, up to directly damaging, in our large forests.

    – Due to the climatic conditions, in most forests there is NOT just a mineral soil or a mull where the plants grow. This would be a very mechanistic view. Instead, on the (often “podzole”-type of) mineral soil here, there is typically a felt-like layer of old, brown, still partly un-decayed, fibrous humus layer, consisting e.g. of lignin of tree remains, mixed with living and dead plant roots, fungal hyphae and so on. This layer is rather acidic and can be e.g. from 5 to 15 cm thick and is very important for the forest. If it gets deeply dry in dry summers, it will easily burn, but IT CANNOT BE REMOVED BY RAKING, without damaging the forest’s root and mycorrhizal network. The forest trees absorb their water and nutrients largely in this layer, with the help of the symbiotic fungi, and the mentioned humus layer acts as a moisture buffer for the trees. […]

    […] Our forest vegetation under trees consists commonly of berry-bearing and other boreal shrublets such as the blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), and under them the acidic humus layer is typically covered by mosses such as Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi and several Dicranum species. The bushlets (with their rhizomes in the humus layer) would make any extensive humus-removing raking very INEFFECTIFE, and the gentle mosses would be largely detached from the humus, as would many bush-like lichens on rocky sites such as Cladonia stellaris.

    – The continuously falling needles and twigs, when they decay, return important nutrients back to the forest trees. Removing them regularly would deprive the trees and other plants from the bulk of long-term nutrients, not to speak of the extremely complex mesh of nutrient chains of thousands of other forest organisms, from fungi and insects to birds and mammals. […]

    – The economic semi-natural forests are typically managed by thinning (gleansing) some times during the about 80 years’ logging cycle, but this is done by large forestry machines or farmer’s tractors and by machine saws. The time spent by humans in the forest in each step is tried to be minimized even then. NO PART of the routine management cycle includes raking! […]

    – In Sweden, our neighboring country with largely similar forests, there were this summer 2018 very difficult and long forest fires, simply due to the exceptionally dry summer […] This is equally possible in Finland, as well. And the climate change is making such summers more and more common, even here in the moister north! So, regarding your arid southern areas, my personal view is that you (and globally we all) are simply gradually loosing large, previously viable land areas, largely due to the serious climate change […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  154. says

    Trump said something incredibly insulting, factually-incorrect, and childish about Admiral William McRaven, the man who oversaw the 2011 raid in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was killed. (Not killed was “Obama bin Laden,” as Kellyanne Conway said.)

    Trump said:

    “Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump interjected as Wallace brought up McRaven’s comments. “He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer.”

    “He was a Navy SEAL,” Wallace responded.

    “Frankly,” Trump said, “wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn’t it have been nice?”

    Of course, the RNC backed Trump up. The RNC issued this statement:

    Worth noting after recent comments: Retired Adm. William McRaven was reportedly on Hillary Clinton’s short list for Vice President in 2016.

    He’s been critical of President @realDonaldTrump— even dating back to the 2016 campaign.

    He’s hardly a non-political figure.

    — GOP (@GOP) November 19, 2018

    From Admiral McRaven:

    I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime. When you undermine the people’s right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.

    From Admiral McRaven’s earlier statement:

    I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else.

    I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times.

    [After Trump revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance in August, McRaven wrote ]: “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”

    He added: “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

    From Former CIA Director John Brennan:

    You constantly remind us how substantively shallow & dishonest you are on so many fronts, which is why we are in such dangerous times. You would need an extremely tall ladder to get anywhere near the level of intellect, competence & integrity of Bill McRaven & your predecessors.

  155. says

    Trump’s latest interview with Fox News should make us glad he’s mostly too lazy to govern.

    Vox link

    Excerpt from the interview:

    WALLACE: A month ago, you said you had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and that he had told you directly that he had no knowledge of this.

    TRUMP: That’s right, that’s right, and still says that.

    WALLACE: But we now know that some of the people closest to him, some of his closest advisers were part of this. Question: Did MBS lie to you, sir?

    TRUMP: I don’t — I don’t know, you know, who could really know? But I can say this he’s got many people now that say he had no knowledge.

    WALLACE: What if the crown prince speaking to you, the president of the United States directly lied to you about —

    TRUMP: Well, he told me that he had nothing to do with it, he told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points.

    WALLACE: But what if he’s lying?

    TRUMP: As recently as a few days ago.

    WALLACE: Do you just live with it because you need him?

    TRUMP: Well, will anybody really know? All right, will anybody really know? But he did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved. You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions, on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia. But at the same time we do have an ally, and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.

    Another excerpt from the interview:

    WALLACE: When Democrats flipped the House back in 2006 and picked up 30 seats, President Bush 43 had a news conference the next day and said, “We had a thumping.” Last week, in this election, the House picked up, so far it’s 36 seats, it may be on the way to 40 seats, and your reaction was that it was almost a complete victory.

    TRUMP: I won the Senate; you don’t mention that.

    WALLACE: But, well — I —

    TRUMP: Excuse me, I won the Senate.

    WALLACE: I understand that, but —

    TRUMP: I think they said 88 years.

    WALLACE: But this was a — this was a historically big defeat in the House. You lost 36, maybe 40 seats. Some would argue that it was a thumping. And I want to talk about some of the ways in which you lost. You lost in traditionally Republican suburbs, not only around liberal cities like Philadelphia and DC, but also red-state big cities like Houston and Oklahoma City. You lost among suburban women. You lost among independents and, in three key states that I think you remember pretty well — Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan — you lost both the governor seats and the Senate seats.

    TRUMP: Are you ready? I won the Senate, and that’s historic too because if you look at presidents in the White House, it’s almost never happened where you won a seat. We won — we now have 53 as opposed to 51 and we have 53 great senators in the US Senate. We won. That’s a tremendous victory. Nobody talks about that. That’s a far greater victory than it is for the other side.

    Much more at the link.

  156. says

    Ivanka Trump violated government rules about email use:

    Ivanka Trump reportedly violated federal records rules by sending hundreds of emails to government officials on her personal email in 2017, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

    It said that Trump, a White House adviser and the eldest daughter of the president, sent the emails to administration aides, Cabinet officials and her personal assistants.

    White House ethics officials discovered this as they reviewed emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies. The agencies were gathering the emails as they prepared to respond to a public records lawsuit.

    In their review, the officials found that Trump discussed business from the White House while using a private email account, the Post said.

    The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

    The revelation immediately raised parallels to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she worked as secretary of State. […]

    The Hill link.


    Nobody knows yet what is in all of the emails. Ivanka had her lawyers sort out government-related emails and then make sure that those were copied to government servers. Her spokespeople are pretending that this is no big deal. But we only have their characterization, without proof, that the emails concerned scheduling — all innocent … supposedly. Even if “innocent,” still stupid.

  157. says

    Carol Leonnig and Josh Dawsey in WaPo – “Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last year”:

    Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence.

    White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner.

    The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton, an issue he made a focus of his 2016 campaign. Trump attacked his Democratic challenger as untrustworthy and dubbed her “Crooked Hillary” for using a personal email account as secretary of state.

    Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails — and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.

    Her husband Jared Kushner’s use of personal email for government work drew intense scrutiny when it was first reported by Politico last fall. The revelation prompted demands from congressional investigators that Kushner preserve his records, which his attorney said he had.

    But Trump had used her personal email for official business far more frequently, according to people familiar with the administration’s review — a fact that remained a closely held secret inside the White House.

    “She was the worst offender in the White House,” said a former senior U.S. government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal dynamics….

    This is weird:

    Lowell’s review found less than 1,000 personal emails in which Trump shared her official schedule and travel plans with herself and her personal assistants, according to two people familiar with the review.

    Separately, there were less than 100 emails in which Trump used her personal account to discuss official business with other administration officials.

    Her lawyer (according to Trump sources) found hundreds of relevant emails. “Less than 1,000” is a strange way to put it.

  158. says

    Walter Shaub: “It’s been 12 days since we requested Whitaker’s financial disclosure report. Here’s what the process involves: DOJ needs to hit ‘print to PDF’ and email us the PDF. When I was at OGE, the process took at most a day. What is DOJ hiding?”

    As several responses point out, it’s entirely possible he hasn’t filed one. Highly suspect.

  159. says

    Also, it seems like Trump’s blatantly lying that he had no knowledge of Whitaker’s having expressed opinions about the Mueller probe prior to installing him is just more evidence of consciousness of guilt in the obstruction investigation.

  160. KG says

    The UK Supreme Court has refused the UK government leave to appeal to it against the decision of the Scottish Court of Session to send a case to the European Court of Justice, asking it to rule on whether the UK can unilaterally halt the Brexit process. The ECJ is due to hear the case on 27th November. I have to say I don’t understand the Supreme Court’s reason for refusing the request to appeal – that the Court of Session’s ruling was preliminary, and it would still have to give a final ruling after the ECJ gives its “guidance” – I’d have thought this was a matter on which the ECJ clearly had jurisdiction, as the highest court on EU law. But at any rate, the matter should now be clarified.

  161. says

    “Rep. Seth Moulton faces town-hall pushback for opposing Pelosi”:

    The push by Rep. Seth Moulton against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become speaker took center stage on Monday night at a town hall in his district, where constituents shouted and interrupted Moulton and one another in a lively debate over the future of the chamber.

    Moulton (D-Mass.) and some of his constituents say the midterm elections show that it’s time for new leadership in the House, while his critics on Monday night called his opposition to Pelosi a product of sexism and ageism.

    “This election was a call for change,” Moulton told reporters after the town hall. “I think if our party answers that call, that call for change with the amazing victories we had across this country, by just saying we’re going to reinstall the same status quo leadership we’ve had since 2006, for over 10 years, I don’t think we’re answering the call of the American people.”

    Dozens among the 150 people crowded into the Amesbury Town Hall pushed back against Moulton’s comments. Several shouted “no” when he said, “The majority of Democrats want this change.” Some protesters held signs that were green on one side and red on the other. When Moulton or another attendee said something they didn’t like, the protesters held up the red signs to signal disagreement….

    The amazing victories came under Pelosi’s leadership, and they were explicitly a call for women’s leadership. The majority of Democrats do not want this change. Such bullshit. Other choice quotes from Moulton:

    “I think it’s sort of ironic the same people saying they should primary me are saying we shouldn’t have that primary we’re having right now in the House of Representatives.” It’s not a primary if there’s no challenger!

    “I think it’s kind of sad people have turned this into a sexist argument, because women have been leading it from the very beginning.” The hell they have. (14 of the 16 people signing the pledge not to support Pelosi are men. The ones all over TV have been men.)

  162. says

    In this week’s hirings and firings news:

    “Regional EPA Admin Appointed By Pruitt Resigns After Ethics-Related Indictment”: “Trey Glenn, a regional EPA administrator in the southeast and Pruitt appointee, has resigned his office after being indicted on violations of Alabama state ethics laws.” (Maddow did a whole segment about this last week.)

    Still no nominee for AG (or hundreds of other Senate-confirmed positions). I’m still very unclear about Whitaker’s role in the Mueller probe. I’ve heard several journalists discuss how he’s overseeing it, but someone last night (Costa? Schmidt?) said very plainly that Rosenstein is still supervising it. I haven’t seen any evidence that Whitaker has submitted his financial disclosure report (see #239 above), a company with which he was involved is under an FBI investigation and other sketchy aspects of his history are continuously emerging, it’s not certain that he has a security clearance, there’s no indication he’s received or is about to receive a go-ahead from DoJ ethics officials, and his very appointment is being challenged in multiple lawsuits. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t been briefed on Mueller’s probe.

    “Top Trump Saudi policy official resigns”:

    Kirsten Fontenrose, a top White House official responsible for U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, resigned Friday evening, according to a New York Times report.

    The director for the Persian Gulf region on the National Security Council, Fontenrose had pushed for tough punishment for the Saudi government, according to the Times.

    She had been in the kingdom’s capital, discussing a series of sanctions the U.S. imposed on those it found to be responsible for the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Fontenrose reportedly advocated that a top advisor to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, be added to the list of those sanctioned, which he eventually was.

    It is not clear why she is leaving the administration.

    Two people told the Times that Fontenrose had a dispute with her bosses at the National Security Council….

    “Russian Interpol President? ‘Like Putting a Fox in Charge of a Hen House,’ Experts Say”:

    Widespread public outcry is growing over the possibility that former Russian Interior Ministry official Alexander Prokopchuk could be elected as the president of Interpol, an international organization that facilitates cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

    Critics say that putting a Russian in charge of the organization would give Moscow an easy way to target its political opponents using international institutions. On Monday, a bipartisan group of Senators, including Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), called on the Trump administration and the Interpol general assembly to oppose Prokopchuk’s candidacy. On Tuesday, Lithuania’s Parliament voted unanimously to consider withdrawing from the international organization if Prokopchuk is elected for the role.

    Experts say that it is especially inadvisable to give a Russian official special access to information that would allow Moscow to target political opponents and abuse human rights.

    “Putting a Russian police general at the Interpol is like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse,” Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Atlantic Council, told Newsweek. “Russia has weaponized information and energy, and is now weaponizing Interpol red notices to deal with opponents. Giving Russia access to what Interpol knows about organized crime inside the country and its connections outside the country is unwise to say the least.”

    Experts, meanwhile, say that Russia and other authoritarian states have been increasingly using international institutions to go after their enemies, and that this will only get worse if a Russian is put at Interpol’s helm.

    At a press conference in London on Tuesday, Browder said that he expects the U.S. will not back Prokopchuk’s nomination. But opposition from Washington may not be enough to block the Russian’s nomination….

  163. says

    You might think that it would be easy to improve on Trump’s advice to rake the forest floors to prevent forest fires, (see comment 233 for a counter argument from a Finnish biologist), but U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke offered more stupid comments:

    […] Zinke blamed the state’s fires on “radical environmentalists” who he said have prevented forest management. […]

    In an interview with Breitbart News, Zinke said he agrees with Trump’s comments about the fires being a result of poor forest management, and repeatedly said radical environmentalists were responsible for the destruction caused by the fires.

    It’s not time for finger-pointing. We know the problem. It’s been years of neglect, and in many cases it’s been these radical environmentalists that want nature to take its course…. You know what? This is on them. […]

    LA Times link

    More facts:

    […] Experts agree that overgrown forests in California pose a heightened wildfire threat in some parts of the Sierra Nevada. But although Paradise is near forestland, the wind-whipped Camp fire tore across areas that burned in lightning fires in 2008 and were later logged. It was not fueled by heavy timber.

    “It started out as a vegetation fire. When it reached the incorporated area, which is definitely a lot more urban and developed of an area,” Jonathan Pangburn, a fire behavior analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said in an interview last week, “it turned into a building-to-building fire … no longer carrying through most of the vegetation, especially in the upper canopies in the trees. It was not a crown fire through the Paradise area.”

    The Woolsey fire, which burned suburban areas from Oak Park to Malibu, was not near any forests. It destroyed 1,500 structures and left three people dead. […]

    A heat wave this summer caused huge forest fires across Europe, including Finland. Fires scorched forested areas in Lapland, a remote northern province near Finland’s border with Russia, forcing evacuations of summer cottages.

    […] California’s Santa Ana winds are dry, desiccating vegetation as they whip through canyons and passes. They don’t exist in Finland’s relatively flat country […]

    Zinke said in his interview Sunday that Trump was right. “You look at Finland. I had an opportunity to live in Germany. Their forests are healthy. They don’t have catastrophic burns because they manage the forest,” he said. […]

    All the best ill-informed, pompous dunderheads.

  164. says

    Why Trump does not visit U.S. troops in a combat zone:

    […] Trump has so far declined to visit combat regions, saying he does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures, according to current and former advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Current advisers said Trump is not expected to visit a war zone during the Thanksgiving break, which he will spend at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida.

    The president has often cast himself as a champion of the Pentagon, invoking the strength and size of the military at his campaign rallies and on Twitter. At the same time, he has frequently criticized U.S. military missions and decisions while personally attacking some former military leaders, contributing to a complicated relationship with the armed forces he commands.

    […] In meetings about a potential visit, he has described the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as “a total shame,” according to the advisers. He also cited the long flights and potential security risks as reasons he has avoided combat-zone visits, they said. […]

    Trump has spoken privately about his fears over risks to his own life, according to a former senior White House official, who has discussed the issue with the president and spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about Trump’s concerns.

    “He’s never been interested in going,” the official said of Trump visiting troops in a combat zone, citing conversations with the president. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.” […]

    Since Trump took office, about 60 American service members have died while deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to Pentagon statistics, including both “hostile” and “nonhostile” deaths. […]

    Washington Post link

  165. says

    The courts decide to block yet another one of Trump’s bullshit moves:

    A federal judge on Monday ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States, dealing at least a temporary setback to the president’s attempt to clamp down on a huge wave of Central Americans crossing the border.

    Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the government from carrying out a new rule that denies protections to people who enter the country illegally. The order, which suspends the rule until the case is decided by the court, applies nationally.

    “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Mr. Tigar wrote in his order. […]

    NY Times link

  166. says

    Follow-up to comments 236 and 237.

    Ivanka Trump is not alone in using private email for government business.

    […] Her husband, Jared Kushner, also used a private email account to conduct official business. In fact, the New York Times reported last year that “at least six” of the president’s top advisers have relied on private email accounts to send and receive messages as part of their official White House duties.

    […] On the one hand, controversies about executive-branch I.T. protocols are inherently boring. But on the other hand, brazen political hypocrisy matters – and in this case, the people who claimed they were disgusted by an official using a private email account are the same people who used private email accounts.

    […] this can also serve as a gut-check moment for media professionals who spent two years telling American voters that Hillary Clinton’s email practices were the single most important issue facing the nation.

    […] either government-mandated email protocols are an issue of immense significance or they’re not. If the conclusion is, it only matters when applied to a Democratic cabinet member, but not a Republican White House, then it’s time we all acknowledge how painfully misguided much of the 2016 coverage was.

    Maddow Blog link

  167. says

    Rachel Maddow clarifies the significance of court filings that argue that the appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting-A.G. has no bearing on the constitutionality of the Robert Mueller investigation, even though Whitaker himself may have a lot of bearing on the continued existence of the Robert Mueller investigation.

    Rachel Maddow reports on the U.S. Senate race between Mike Espy and Cindy Hyde-Smith.

    Hyde-Smith is the candidate that said that if one of her political backers asked her to attend a public hanging, she would sit in the front row. The run-off race will decide the last of the Senate races that is not yet decided. The Democrat, Mike Espy, has a chance … even though the race is in Georgia. Maddow made the point that Hyde-Smith doubles down when she is criticized about stupid statements. She is trump-like.

    Rachel Maddow shows four states in which Democratic popular vote victories are not commensurate with representative legislative seats because Republican gerrymandering has tipped the playing field.

    We know all about gerrymandering, but it is still shocking to see the extent of the problem when Rachel Maddow presents it. In Wisconsin, for example, Dems won 53% of the popular vote, but only won 36% of the seats.

  168. says

    Yet another court decision slams the Trump administration for its obvious bullshit:

    A federal judge ordered the Trump administration on Tuesday to release Iraqis facing deportation who have been detained for more than six months, slamming the government for making false claims in order to justify keeping the Iraqis in detention.

    A 2001 Supreme Court decision blocks the government from detaining immigrants indefinitely if their home countries refuse to accept them. As Mother Jones reported in October, internal emails and memos obtained by the American Civil Liberties of Michigan revealed that the Trump administration misled the judge in the case, Mark Goldsmith, by telling him that it had reached a nonexistent agreement under which Iraq would accept deportees after decades of refusals. Now Goldsmith is ordering that Iraqis who have been detained more than six months be released within 30 days.

    Goldsmith wrote in his preliminary injunction that “the Government has acted ignobly in this case, by failing to comply with court orders, submitting demonstrably false declarations of Government officials, and otherwise violating its litigation obligations.” […]

    Mother Jones link

  169. says

    Oh, FFS. I think this is part of the Trump plan to create conflict at the border, to overly dramatize immigration issues, and to force asylum seekers to cross illegally:

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted that Border Patrol and the Defense Department closed “all of the northbound lanes” at the San Ysidro, California, port of entry early Monday morning after government officials were notified that “a large # of caravan were planning to rush the border in an attempt to gain illegal access to the U.S.”

    But the lieutenant general overseeing the Army’s active-duty border deployment later cast doubt, in an interview with POLITICO, on whether the migrants had indeed plotted to rush the border.

    Traffic and pedestrian lanes northbound from Tijuana were blocked at 3:15 a.m. PST and the port of entry was reinforced with jersey barriers and concertina wire, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said in a written statement. The lanes were reopened at 6:25 a.m. PST. The port of entry is the busiest in the U.S.

    But Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of U.S. Army North, told POLITICO that if there were “reliable reports” that a mob was about to rush the border, or something similar that could put agents at risk, “we would close the port.”

    The lanes were only “partially closed,” Buchanan said. “About half of the lanes were closed this morning but that’s it. No complete closure.”

    In a follow-up tweet, Nielsen said that Border Patrol and the Department of Defense “appropriately responded by blocking the lanes, deploying additional personnel and seeking assistance from other law enforcement and federal assets.” The lanes were later reopened for “legitimate trade and travel,” Nielsen said.

    “Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry,” Nielsen added in a third tweet. “There is a legal and illegal way to enter the US. We have deployed additional forces to protect our border. We will enforce all our laws,” she wrote. […]

    Politico link

    Kirstjen Nielsen is very blatantly acting as a Trump lackey.

  170. says

    Follow-up to comment 257.

    Trump said Sunday on a Fox News program that he wants Kirstjen Nielsen to be “much tougher on the border — much tougher, period.” There are multiple rumors floating around about Trump’s desire/plan to fire Nielsen.

  171. says

    Trump is more or less manufacturing arguments with Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan.

    In a Fox News interview, Trump claimed that Pakistan hasn’t done “a damn thing for us.” That was Trump’s excuse for cutting off aid to Pakistan.

    Khan responded, saying that Trump “needs to be informed about historical facts.”

    […] In a series of tweets, Khan said that U.S. aid to Pakistan was a “miniscule” $20 billion, while the country lost 75,000 people and more than $123 billion fighting the “US War on Terror.” He also pointed to the supply routes Pakistan provides to American forces. “Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”

    The president responded with tweets of his own, reiterating that Pakistan is one of many nations that took money from the United States but gave nothing in return.

    The alliance between the United States and Pakistan has always been tenuous, but tensions have increased since Trump’s election. The administration suspended most of its military aid to Pakistan at the beginning of this year for its failure to act against terrorist groups.

    The U.S. also excluded Pakistani officers from the International Military Education and Training Program and was successful in getting Pakistan back on the global Financial Action Task Force’s gray list, which includes countries that have failed to curb terrorist financing. […]

    Politico link

    From Trump:

    He [Osama bin Laden] lived in Pakistan. We’re supporting Pakistan. We’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.

    From Khan:

    Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a miniscule $20 bn.

    3. Our tribal areas were devastated & millions of ppl uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis. 4. Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs). Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?

    Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before.

    Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests

  172. says

    From SC’s link in comment 259:

    The president says in the statement: “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

    Trump also makes sure to include the Saudi line on Khashoggi: “Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.”

    And Trump, as usual, relies on his claim — false, as far as anyone outside the White House can tell — that Saudi has agreed to $450 billion worth of purchases from the U.S., including $110 billion in military purchases. There’s been no substantiation of either of these numbers.

    In summary, Trump is saying (again): Saudi Arabia is very important for the economy and for national security, so he’s standing with them no matter what happened with Khashoggi, which is, in his view, impossible to determine.

  173. says

    From Nicole Lafond, writing for TPM:

    President Donald Trump offered a full throated embrace of the Saudi kingdom in a befuddling official statement on Tuesday that highlighted the importance of the $450 billion arms deal between the U.S. and the Saudis and waffled on whether the Saudi king and crown prince were aware of the brutal murder of a Washington Post writer before it was carried out. […]

    Trump’s full statement:

    America first!

    The world is a very dangerous place!

    The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

    On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

    After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

    The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

    Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

    That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

    I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!”


  174. says

    Follow-up to comment 250.

    […] The Trump administration said Tuesday it will continue to press the matter in court […]

    Several thousand migrants are now waiting to cross a legal entry point at San Ysidro in San Diego, across from Tijuana. […] Labeling the movements of Central American migrants a “national emergency,” Trump deployed thousands of active-duty troops and coils of concertina wire to the border. [….]

    The Trump administration signaled that the defeat [in the courts] could be temporary, alluding to a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in June that upheld a revised version of Trump’s travel ban, an effort to bar foreigners from certain majority-Muslim nations and other countries from the United States.

    “As the Supreme Court affirmed this summer, Congress has given the President broad authority to limit or even stop the entry of aliens into this country,” the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement that called the lawsuit “absurd.” “We look forward to continuing to defend the Executive Branch’s legitimate and well-reasoned exercise of its authority to address the crisis at our southern border.” […]

    a spokesman for the caravan said the Central Americans were waiting peacefully in Mexico and had no intention of forcing their way into the United States […]

    The challenge to the asylum ban was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. The order reflects the judge’s view that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, and would suffer irreparable injury from the executive action. […]

    Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who argued the case, welcomed the ruling in a statement.

    “This ban is illegal, will put people’s lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President Trump’s disregard for separation of powers,” he said. “There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades.”.

    Washington Post link

    In summary, the courts be damned, Trump is going to continue to push for implementation of his illegal regulations at the border.

    Much more at the link.

  175. says

    New White House rules for press conferences:

    1. A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;

    2. At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;

    3. “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;

    4. Failure to abide by any of rules 1-3 may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.

    From Bloomberg News’ Steven Dennis:

    Under the new White House rules, if the president flat-out lies to you, you can only ask a follow-up challenging it if he agrees to let you. Otherwise [White House officials] can pull your hard pass. They can also pull your hard pass if you ask two questions instead of one.

  176. says

    “Embattled Hyde-Smith posted photo of herself in confederate hat”:

    Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith posed for a photo wearing a confederate soldier’s hat and holding a rifle in a Facebook post that surfaced Tuesday.

    Hyde-Smith took the photo during a 2014 visit to the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library. “Mississippi history at its best!” Hyde-Smith exclaimed.

    “I enjoyed my tour of Beauvoir. The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library located in Biloxi,” Hyde-Smith wrote. “This is a must see. Currently on display are artifacts connected to the daily life of the Confederate Soldier including weapons. Mississippi history at its best!”…

    Can this finally do it?

  177. says

    John Brennan: “Since Mr. Trump excels in dishonesty, it is now up to members of Congress to obtain & declassify the CIA findings on Jamal Khashoggi’s death. No one in Saudi Arabia—most especially the Crown Prince—should escape accountability for such a heinous act.”

  178. says

    US @SenFeinstein says she plans to vote against any future arms sales & appropriations to Saudi Arabia. Says ‘I also believe that the US should consider sanctions against the crown prince & that the Saudi ambassador to DC should not be allowed to continue in that role’.”

  179. says

    “UK should rethink Interpol role if Russian gets top job, MPs say”:

    The government is under pressure from across the political spectrum to rethink the UK’s involvement in Interpol if the global policing cooperation organisation elects a Russian official as president this week.

    Alexander Prokopchuk, a veteran of the Russian interior ministry, is one of two candidates to replace Meng Hongwei, who resigned last month after he was detained in China over corruption claims. The election takes place on Wednesday at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai.

    Answering an urgent Commons question on the vote, the Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin said the UK was backing the candidacy of the acting president, South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang, but declined to give details on what might happen if he lost….

  180. says

    #Russia’s state TV: Prosecutor-General’s Office Spokesman Alexander Kurennoy describes ‘high hopes’ for @Billbrowder’s extradition when he was last detained in Spain based on Russia’s request through @INTERPOL_HQ. ‘Now we’ll try to do that all over again’, Kurennoy says.”

  181. says

    Folllow-up to comments 262, 263, 267 and others.

    Joe Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund and an MSNBC contributor, wrote a tweet in response to Trump’s statement that said, “This is, without a doubt, the most uninformed, imbecilic, toady, poorly-written, categorically untrue statement I have ever seen from a president of the United States. A complete disgrace.”

  182. says

    Trump managed to make the traditional pardoning of the turkeys into a political statement that was really quite insulting:

    […] “The winner of this vote was decided by a fair and open election conducted on the White House website,” Trump said of the two turkeys, Peas and Carrots. “This was a fair election. Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount and we are fighting with Carrots. We have come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you the result did not change. Too bad for Carrots.” […]

    “Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” Trump joked.

    “Nonetheless, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will be issuing both Peas and Carrots a presidential pardon,” he continued. “Unfortunately I can’t guarantee that they won’t be enjoined by the 9th Circuit. Always happens.”

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has long been a boogeyman for conservatives, and has blocked some of Trump’s top policy desires, like ending DACA. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  183. says

    The truth, on Fox News for a change:

    Fox News host Shepard Smith said Tuesday that President Trump insulted a murdered journalist by stating that the U.S. would seek to maintain a “steadfast” alliance with the Saudi government.

    “President Trump stands with Saudi Arabia,” Smith said on his news program as he reacted to Trump’s announcement. “Today the president insulted the murder victim and sided with the Saudis, who said our CIA is wrong.” […]

    Smith noted that while Trump appeared to signal that Saudi Arabia would not face severe punishment, he “may not have the last say.”

    “We’re waiting for the full report from the CIA,” Smith said, adding that lawmakers and U.S. allies are putting pressure on the White House to punish the Saudis.

    “But today the president got ahead of his intelligence agencies. In essence for now, it doesn’t matter what the intel says, we’re standing with the Saudi kingdom.”

    The Hill link

  184. says

    From Rand Paul:

    The President indicates that Saudi Arabia is theof lesser two evils compared to Iran and so the U.S. won’t punish Saudi Arabia for the brutal killing and dismemberment of a dissident journalist in their consulate. I disagree.

    I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First. I’m also pretty sure John Bolton wrote it.

  185. says

    Hillary Clinton honored transgender people who were killed in 2018:

    […] Clinton on Tuesday commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance by listing the names of the 22 transgender people who have been killed this year.

    Twenty of those killed were women of color, according to research compiled by LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD. […]

    Ciara Minaj Carter.
    Nikki Janelle Enriquez.
    Londonn Moore.
    Shantee Tucker.
    Dejanay Stanton.
    Vontashia Bell.
    Sasha Garden.
    Keisha Wells.
    Cathalina Christina James.
    Diamond Stephens.
    Antash’a Devine Sherrington English
    Gigi Pierce.
    Nino Fortson.
    Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón.
    Sasha Wall.
    Amia Tyrae.
    Phylicia Mitchell.
    Zakaria Fry.
    Celine Walker.
    Tonya Harvey.
    Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
    Viccky Gutierrez

    “On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we remember the names and the lives of those we’ve lost to violence this year,” Clinton wrote with a link to GLAAD’s list of transgender people who have been the victims of homicides in 2018.

    The page notes that victims of transphobic violence are “overwhelmingly transgender women of color.”

    “Victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness,” GLAAD wrote, noting that nearly all of the 26 transgender people killed in U.S. in 2017 were women of color. […]

    The Hill link

  186. says

    Whitaker financial disclosures.

    “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million”:

    In the three years after he arrived in Washington in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees, some of the best pay of his career.

    The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials. For Whitaker, it became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise from a modest law practice in Iowa to the nation’s top law enforcement job. As FACT’s president, he regularly appeared on radio and television, often to skewer liberals.

    But FACT’s origins and the source of funding used to pay Whitaker — now the acting attorney general — remain obscured. An examination of state and federal records, and interviews with those involved, show that the group is part of a national network of nonprofits that often work in concert to amplify conservative messages.

    Contrary to its claims in news releases and a tax filing, the group was created under a different name two years before Whitaker’s arrival, according to incorporation and IRS records. At least two of the organizers were involved in another conservative charity using the same address.

    In its application to the IRS for status as a tax-exempt organization, the organizers reported that the group would study the impact of environmental regulations on businesses, records show. In that incarnation, the group took no action and “only existed on paper,” one man named in IRS filings as a board member told The Washington Post. Another named in a state filing as a board member said he never agreed to be on the board.

    Whitaker’s 2017 pay from the charity — more than $500,000 for the first nine months, or half the charity’s receipts for the year, according to tax filings — and the group’s earlier, dormant incarnation have not been previously reported by media….

    Much more at the link.

  187. says

    Follow-up to comment 234.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] Retired Admiral William McRaven led the Navy SEAL team that fucking murdered Osama bin Laden upon Barack Obama’s orders, many decades after bone spurs foreclosed on what were surely Donald Trump’s dreams of serving America in the military. The night it happened, Donald Trump was trying not to cry in public because Obama was makin’ fun of him at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

    McRaven wrote a column a while back saying that if the president was going to be revoking the security clearances of heroes like John Brennan, then please sir, take his away too. Obviously that made Trump mad, so he finally responded during his interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace. He kept childishly barking “Hillary! Clinton! Fan!”, effectively cutting Wallace off from asking him about the Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden, who also happens to think Trump should go jump off a bridge. Trump said McRaven should have killed bin Laden faster. […]

    Yes, McRaven was a possibility as a Hillary Clinton running mate. He was also on Trump’s short list for national security adviser, but instead Trump gave it to a literal actual foreign agent traitor who’s now a cooperating witness in the Robert Mueller investigation, due to be sentenced in a matter of weeks.

    So there is your modern GOP, folks. They have decided, after being spanked in the midterms in the House (while barely squeaking out a Senate win on a map that couldn’t have been more favorable to them if they had drawn it themselves), to tether themselves to Trump fully. May they be rewarded for that as richly as they deserve. […]

    They [the Republicans] don’t give a solitary fuck about the troops.

    They don’t even respect the guy who fucking killed bin Laden. […]

  188. says

    NYT – “Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton”:

    President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

    The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.

    The encounter was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. It took on additional significance in recent weeks when Mr. McGahn left the White House and Mr. Trump appointed a relatively inexperienced political loyalist, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting attorney general.

    It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further. But the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey, according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue. He has also repeatedly expressed disappointment in the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton, calling him weak, one of the people said….

    More at the link.

  189. says

    “The White House Won’t Say When Trump Formally Named Matthew Whitaker As Acting Attorney General”:

    The White House will not say when President Donald Trump appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to his new post, acknowledging to BuzzFeed News that the information could be relevant to ongoing litigation.

    “After accepting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the President signed a memorandum addressed to Matthew Whitaker, directing him to perform the functions and duties of the office of Attorney General, until the position is filled by appointment or subsequent designation,” White House spokesperson Raj Shah told BuzzFeed News in a statement.

    It is true that there is ongoing litigation challenging the legality of Whitaker’s appointment. There are multiple cases pending in federal district courts and at least one each in a federal appeals court and at the Supreme Court. The White House provided no information, however, as to why that litigation means the information about those dates is being kept secret by the White House.

    The Justice Department has made clear, at least internally, that it is preparing for additional litigation….

  190. tomh says

    Dem Ben McAdams defeats GOP’s Mia Love for Utah House seat

    Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love by fewer than 700 votes in a hotly contested race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, turning the district blue for the first time in six years.

    The race had been initially too close to call, with both McAdams and Love at different points taking a slight edge over each other. In the end, the Associated Press called the race for the Democrat on Nov. 20.

    Polls had showed McAdams with a slight edge over Love, with Sabato’s Crystal Ball shifting her race from a “toss-up” to “leans Democrat” just days before the election.

    Love had faced an uphill battle in the district, where President Trump’s approval rating has been underwater amid a midterm election that has been widely framed as a referendum on the president.

    After it initially appeared earlier this month that McAdams was pulling ahead, Trump slammed Love during a press conference, saying she “gave me no love.”

    The McAdams camp alleged during the race that Love violated campaign finance law. The congresswoman denies any illegal fundraising took place. Republicans, meanwhile, alleged McAdams supported raising taxes during his time serving in local politics and linked him to the Clintons and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

  191. says

    From tomh’s link @ #286:

    Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings as to MICHAEL T. FLYNN:, REFERRAL TO PROBATION OFFICE for Presentence Investigation as to MICHAEL T. FLYNN.U.S. Probation Presentence Report due by 11/20/2018.

    Maddow mentioned this last night. I haven’t seen anything. Do they have until midnight?

  192. says

    Walter Shaub on the Whitaker financial disclosures:

    Now we know why DOJ hid Whitaker’s financial disclosures. Something is VERY rotten in Denmark & we’re going to get to the bottom of it. We’re legally entitled to the versions of these reports that existed on the date we requested them, Nov. 7. See below for our first response.

    DOJ told us they were “working on” our request but it turns out what they were working on was CHANGING Whitaker’s reports — multiple times. We don’t know what they added, deleted or modified. But we’re going to pursue that information.

    It gets even weirder still. Whitaker filed his new entrant financial disclosure report OVER A YEAR AGO, but DOJ did not certify (approve) it until now. It’s very strange and not at all normal that this would have taken a year for a top agency official. That raises red flags.

    As if that were not enough, not a single one of the changes to his reports occurred before CREW requested them. So that begs the questions: What was the hold up for a year, and why the sudden rush to modify those reports after we requested them?

    Just before entering govt, he earned legal fees from a scam company being investigated by the FBI. He also earned almost a million dollars from a (very profitable) non-profit in the 20 months or so before coming into government — one allegedly focused on accountability.

    Notes on the reports say an ethics official made the changes. Why was Whitaker unavailable to make them? DOJ has assured us he’s focused on ethics as he evaluates the demands for his recusal. It’s unusual that an ethics official would make multiple changes (vs. a quick fix).

    An enterprising journalist may want to compare his income to the value of his reported assets. There are many possible legitimate explanations for the apparent disparity. But safe to say, if he went through the nomination process, he would’ve been asked to provide one.

    More to come . . .

  193. militantagnostic says

    I am not a big fan of combat sports, but – Sharice Davids vs Seth Moulton
    Make it Happen!

  194. tomh says

    @ #293
    This look like it.

    NEW Michael Flynn’s probation officer filed a pre-sentencing investigation report today ahead of his Dec. 18 sentencing in the Mueller probe. Her report is “not for public disclosure per Judicial Conference Policy.”

    Thread explains somewhat. Apparently they are normally confidential.

  195. says

    More from the NYT on Whitaker – “Matthew Whitaker Earned $1.2 Million From Group Backed by Undisclosed Donors”:

    …Mr. Whitaker also faced new questions on Tuesday about donations to his unsuccessful 2014 campaign for a United States Senate seat in Iowa. Mr. Whitaker’s campaign committee received four donations totaling $8,800 this year, a few months after he joined the Justice Department, records show.

    Mr. Gustoff was also the treasurer for Mr. Whitaker’s 2014 Senate campaign in Iowa. A Justice Department spokeswoman referred questions about the recent campaign donations to him.

    The four donations to the “Whitaker for U.S. Senate” committee — three of $2,600 and one of $1,000 — came within days of each other at the end of January and the second day of February, federal election records show. They were the first to be made to the account in just over two years.

    In addition to the Hatch Act’s prohibition on political activity by most executive branch employees, a separate Justice Department memo restricts political activity by its personnel even further, in the hopes of keeping the agency as far from partisan politics as possible.

    Mr. Gustoff signed the campaign’s filings with the federal election committee.

    “The donations were not solicited by me or by Matt,” Mr. Gustoff said. He could not explain why they suddenly came about long after the end of the campaign.

    “The checks came in. I, as the treasurer, deposited the checks, and I retired the debt that I knew I could without talking to Matt,” he said. “I don’t talk to Matt about the campaign.”

    A provision of the Hatch Act allows officials to raise money to retire campaign debt. Mr. Whitaker lent his campaign $50,000 in the 2014 race, and the campaign has yet to repay him for the majority of it.

    But the campaign’s only expenditures in 2018 so far were $228 to reimburse for “data services” and $500 to his old law firm for renting office space. There is no indication he sought to repay himself with the donations.

    “The filings make clear that his campaign committee took donations and made expenditures in 2018 after he took office,” said Austin Evers, the executive director of the liberal watchdog group American Oversight, adding that the donations appear to violate the Hatch Act.

    Officials at the permanent Office of the Special Counsel, which polices Hatch Act violations, said that they could not comment on specific potential allegations or as to whether there are open inquiries.

    Three of the donors are well known in political circles in Iowa. One of them, Gary Kirke, a wealthy casino owner, donated $2,600. His business partner, Michael J. Richards, made a donation for the same amount a few days earlier, records show.

    During the period when Mr. Whitaker was registered as a lobbyist in Iowa, he was registered to lobby for Mr. Kirke’s company.

    A woman who answered the phone at the firm hung up right after hearing a New York Times reporter was on the line. “He’s not going to comment on anything — thank you very much,” she said.

    Another donor, Cameron Sutton, has served on the board of the conservative Heritage Foundation. He did not respond to a call seeking comment. Leon Shearer, the fourth donor, also did not respond to a call for comment.

    The article also has more about FACT and its funding.

  196. says

    WaPo – “Jailed Saudi women’s rights activists said to face electric shocks, beatings and other abuse”:

    Several women’s rights activists who have been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for more than six months have been subjected to psychological or physical abuse while in custody, including sleep deprivation and beatings, according to four people familiar with the conditions of the activists’ detention.

    Some of the abuse occurred during interrogations in which several of the women were administered electric shocks or flogged, two of the people said, citing a witness account. Other women displayed what witnesses said were apparent signs of abuse, including uncontrollable shaking or difficulty standing, the people said.

    The allegations of abuse and torture were impossible to independently confirm. Families are reluctant to repeat what they hear from the detainees during prison visits, fearing retaliation by the authorities. The four people who spoke about the abuse, all Saudi citizens, have contacts in the prison or had been briefed on conditions there. They spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern that revealing their names could identify the detainees.

    The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents last month in Istanbul has heightened scrutiny of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and fueled rumors that Saudi authorities were considering releasing some of the female activists to blunt some of the criticism of the kingdom.

    But seven weeks after the killing of Khashoggi, who contributed opinion pieces to The Post, none of the activists have been released, and there has been no indication that prosecutors have taken new steps to indict them.

    Saudi authorities began detaining the country’s most prominent feminists in mid-May,…

    Saudi authorities, who usually withhold the names of criminal suspects, also mounted a highly unusual campaign to publicize the women’s identities after detaining them on accusations that included illegal contacts with foreign countries.

    None of the activists have been charged or granted access to lawyers, said the people familiar with the matter.

    When the detentions began in May, the women’s pictures were circulated in pro-government media outlets with headlines that branded them as “traitors.”

  197. tomh says

    Court Invalidates Mississippi’s Restrictive Ban On Abortions

    In Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier, (SD MS, Nov. 20, 2018), a Mississippi federal district court held unconstitutional a recently enacted Mississippi statute that prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks gestation. The court said in part:

    [T]he real reason we are here is simple. The State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
    This Court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.

    The decision also included this from the judge:

    As a man, who cannot get pregnant or seek an abortion, I can only imagine the anxiety and turmoil a woman might experience when she decides whether to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion. Respecting her autonomy demands that this statute be enjoined,

  198. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Try using ampersand code “∗” where you want your ∗

  199. says

    SC @301, thank goodness for that. The idea of a Russian being in charge of Interpol was scary. Glad the Russian guy was defeated.

    In other news, Trump thanked Saudi Arabia. This is from the Associated Press:

    […] Trump publicly thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices just a day after he was harshly criticized for deciding not to further punish the kingdom for the killing of U.S.-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Trump, who made clear in an exclamation-filled statement on Tuesday that he feels that the benefits of good relations with the kingdom outweigh the possibility its crown prince ordered the killing, tweeted on Wednesday that it’s “Great!” that oil prices are falling.

    “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he wrote from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he’s spending Thanksgiving.

    This was part of Trump’s earlier statement: “They [the Saudis] have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels — so important for the world.”

    From the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:

    In this case and many others, Trump is not being frank about his real priorities, and he is not putting America first. He’s putting his own naked self-interest over what’s good for America, and prioritizing the real-world policy realization of his own prejudices over any good-faith, fact-based effort to determine, by any discernible standard, what might actually be in the country’s interests.

  200. says

    Another blustering, bragging, lying statement from Trump:

    I will tell you, and as most of you know, being president has cost me a fortune, and that’s okay with me. I knew that a long time ago. But being president has cost me a fortune — a tremendous fortune like you’ve never seen before, but someday I’ll tell you what that is.

    From the Washington Post’s recent report:

    The Trump Organization took in $4.2 million from GOP candidates and campaign committees during the last two-year election cycle, according to campaign finance filings. […]

    In addition, at least 117 other Republican lawmakers and candidates spent campaign or PAC money at Trump properties. While the Trump hotel in Washington does not appear to have overtaken the traditional fundraising meccas – expensive restaurants close to Capitol Hill – it still took in $1.4 million from Republican candidates and other committees.

  201. says

    Mueller’s team disagrees with George Papadopoulos’ attempt to avoid any time in jail:

    […] “The defendant received what he bargained for, and holding him to it is not a hardship,” special counsel prosecutors wrote in the filing.

    Judge Randy Moss sentenced the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser to 14 days in jail in September, citing his apparent “genuine remorse” for his crime. At sentencing, Moss said that he had first intended to give Papadopoulos a 30-day sentence, but decided to halve it after being moved by Papadopoulos’s show of regret.

    Mueller cited Papadopoulos at the sentencing hearing as saying “that he had ‘lied to the FBI’ and, ‘[t]hat was wrong, it was a crime.’ He said that his parents raised him ‘with the principles of honesty and respect for the law,” and when he lied to the FBI, he ‘cast aside those principles and compromised the person who [he is].’”

    But within days, Papadopoulos was back to his version of normal.

    Mueller cited numerous tweets and public statements that Papadopoulos has made saying that he regrets pleading guilty.

    “Several days later, the defendant publicly tweeted: ‘I have been sentenced to prison in our country while having exculpatory evidence hidden from me. If I knew what I knew today, I would have never plead guilty.’ On November 9, 2018, the defendant tweeted, ‘Biggest regret? Pleading guilty[.],’” the filing reads. […]

    Papadopoulos is set to start his sentence for lying to the FBI on Nov. 26.

    TPM link

  202. says

    Chief Justice John Roberts more or less scolded Trump:

    […] It’s the first time the Republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has previously blasted federal judges who ruled against him.

    Roberts said Wednesday the U.S. doesn’t have “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” He commented in a statement released by the Supreme Court after a query by The Associated Press.

    Roberts said on the day before Thanksgiving that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” […]

    TPM link

    Roberts was responding to Trump’s description of a judge who ruled against his migrant asylum policy as an “Obama judge.”

  203. says

    Followup to comment 312.

    This is from Josh Marshall of TPM:

    What’s especially notable about Chief Justice John Roberts’ rebuke of President Trump is that it seems to have come in the form of a statement from the Supreme Court after the Associated Press apparently asked for a response to Trump’s remarks. This wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark at some seminar or symposium.

  204. says

    Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, (the guy who ran all those Benghazi hearings and who was the lead dog in an attack on Hillary Clinton for improper use of email), that guy is now demanding briefings and documents related to Ivanka Trump’s improper use of email.

    Ms. Trump’s use of a personal email account for official communications may implicate the Presidential Records Act and other security and recordkeeping requirements […]

    I doubt that we will see Republicans questioning Ivanka Trump with the same venomous attitude they evinced in questioning Hillary Clinton.

  205. says

    From Gabe Ortiz, an update on the cost of “state-sanctioned kidnapping at the southern border”:

    The Trump administration said it “has spent $80 million to care for and reunite migrant children” stolen from parents at the southern border due to the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, the New York Times reports. “The first official price tag on family separations which ended abruptly in June in the face of widespread public opposition—comes to about $30,000 per child.”

    Except family separation at the southern border has never really ended. Nearly 120 days past a federal judge’s deadline, separated migrant children continue to remain in U.S. custody, meaning the bill for this inhumane and criminal policy will only continue to get higher—and guess who’s going to foot it?

    “Taxpayers should never have been forced to foot the bill for Donald Trump’s family separation policy—let alone have that money taken from programs like Head Start, HIV/AIDS treatment, and cancer research,” tweeted Congress member Rosa DeLauro, referencing the administration funneling millions from vital programs to fund mass deportation. “That is outrageous.”

    But no one should be paying for this policy, because it should have never happened in the first place, and because of the administration’s criminal acts, some kids may never see deported parents again. “A variety of volunteers and nongovernment organizations working with the federal government have been trolling through remote parts of Central America to try to find the parents—11 of whom have not yet been located,” the New York Times continued.

    The fees from state-sanctioned kidnapping can be totaled on a spreadsheet, but what isn’t so simple to add up is the trauma kids have suffered. “Children who have a consistent, positive relationship with their primary caregiver tend to become healthy, happy, engaged and productive members of society,” writes Stephanie Carnes, a bilingual licensed clinical social worker. “Children whose attachment has been ruptured often become mistrusting, fearful, angry and emotionally volatile adults.” […]

  206. says

    About Trump’s recent lies related to the wildfires in California:

    […] Trump fabricates, falsifies, deceives, invents, concocts, manufactures, misrepresents, equivocates, and prevaricates. […] Not that other presidents haven’t also told lies, sometimes very big ones. But Trump is clearly shooting for a record, to be a tremendous liar, the best liar ever to lead the nation. At the rate he is going, by the time he leaves office, even if that should occur next year, No. 45 will have lied more times since taking the oath of office than all 44 previous presidents combined.

    Last weekend, while touring the devastation caused by two California fires whose death toll now stands at 81, Trump told two more lies. One was about how he learned in discussions with the president of heavily forested Finland that the Finns rake their forests to keep the fire hazard low. The Finnish president’s response was a diplomatic version of WTF. There was no talking about raking that he can remember.

    The other lie—wrote Emily Cadei at McClatchy (whose editor wimped out and headlined as “an error”)—came when Trump said there would be a half-billion-dollar bump in the 2018 federal budget for mitigating wildfires:

    “$500 million. That will be in the farm bill. We just put it in,” Trump told reporters at the Incident Command Post for the Camp Fire in Chico, Calif on Nov. 17. “We have a new category, and that’s management and maintenance of the forests. It’s very important.

    Just one problem:

    “I’m not sure where he got that from,” said one congressional aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record, echoing the sentiment of a number of colleagues on Capitol Hill.

    The reality is that there is no such funding provision in the 2018 Farm Bill, which authorizes federal agriculture and land management programs but does not appropriate funds. That requires separate spending legislation, a congressional source familiar with the Farm Bill confirmed.

    […] In fact, as Cadei notes, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that his department is not seeking such funding in the 2019 spending bill that congressional leaders hope to pass by December 7.

    What Perdue and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke seek to do is roll back environmental reviews of large-scale forest-thinning plans. Zinke has gone on record for the past three months blaming devastating fires on “radical environmentalists” who supposedly stand in the way of thinning. […]

    Daily Kos link

    Much more at the link.

  207. tomh says

    From NYT:
    Chief Justice Defends Judicial Independence After Trump Attacks ‘Obama Judge’

    WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defended the independence and integrity of the federal judiciary on Wednesday, issuing a statement rebuking President Trump’s criticism of a judge who had ruled against the administration’s asylum policy.

    The chief justice seemed particularly offended by Mr. Trump’s assertion that Judge Jon S. Tigar, of the United States District Court in San Francisco, was “an Obama judge.”

    Chief Justice Roberts said that was a profound misunderstanding of the judicial role.

    “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said in a statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

    Chief Justice Roberts issued his statement in response to a request for comment from The Associated Press about Mr. Trump’s remarks on Tuesday concerning the asylum ruling, which ordered the administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States.

    Mr. Trump had also lashed out against the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, calling it a lawless disgrace and threatening unspecified retaliation.

    “That’s not law,” he said of the court’s rulings. “Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten.”

    “It’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said.

  208. says

    More good news for Democrats:

    Election Day’s strong showing for Democrats in the House, where they initially appeared to have flipped 27 seats to retake control, turned out to be just the beginning of their building blue wave.

    Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, Democrats are now poised to pick up an astonishing 40 seats in the House.

    Democrats got to 39 on Wednesday, with the Associated Press calling the close race for Utah’s 4th District for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who ousted incumbent Rep. Mia Love, the only black Republican woman ever elected to Congress.

    Now there are just four races left where the outcome has not quite been finalized, with absentee ballots continuing to trickle in and concessions yet to be made.

    Another likely pickup for Democrats is in New York’s 21st Congressional District, where Anthony Brindisi declared victory over Rep. Claudia Tenney, a close ally of President Trump. With almost all absentee ballots counted, local newspapers have noted there is no path to victory left for Tenney, but the AP has not yet called the race and the Republican incumbent has not yet conceded.

    Tenney drew headlines this year for calling Democratic lawmakers who refrained from clapping during Trump’s State of the Union address “un-American” and for claiming that “many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats.” […]

    TPM link

  209. says

    President Obama praises Nancy Pelosi:

    I think Nancy Pelosi, when the history is written, will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders that this country’s ever seen.

    Nancy is not always the best on a cable show or with a quick soundbite or what have you. But her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision, is remarkable. Her stamina, her ability to see around corners, her ability to stand her ground and do hard things and to suffer unpopularity to get the right thing done, I think, stands up against any person that I’ve observed or worked directly with in Washington during my lifetime.

    …She was an extraordinary partner for me throughout my presidency.

    The quoted text if from a live taping of Obama’s former aide David Axelrod’s podcast, “The Axe Files.”

  210. says

    Over 90% of the anti-Pelosi Democrats have voted with Trump more often than Pelosi

    […] On Monday, a long-rumored letter of Democratic opposition to Pelosi, who has served in Congress since 1987, was released with the signatures of 16 House Democrats.

    Of those 16, only 11 are currently serving in Congress. The remaining five include three Democrats who were just elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in the recent midterm elections, and two other Democrats hoping to join this freshman class of lawmakers, whose races had not yet been called at the time of this writing.

    Of the 11 who are currently serving, 10 have voted with President Donald Trump more frequently than Pelosi, who was recently rated as one of the most progressive members of the House by Mother Jones.

    According to FiveThirtyEight’s congressional Trump tracker, Pelosi has voted with the Republican president 19.3 percent of the time. Here are how the House Democrats who oppose her stack up.

    Rep. Jim Cooper (TN): 38 percent […]

    Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR): 31.5 percent […]

    Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA): 30 percent […]

    Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY): 28.9 percent […]

    Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO): 27.2 percent […]

    Rep. Filemón Vela (TX): 23.6 percent […]

    Rep. Bill Foster (IL): 22 percent […]

    Rep. Seth Moulton (MA): 22 percent […]

    Rep. Tim Ryan (OH): 21.7 percent […]

    Rep. Brian Higgins (NY): 20.9 percent […]

    Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA): 14.4 percent […] Sánchez is the only Democrat on this list who has backed Trump’s policies less frequently than Pelosi. […]

    Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), one of the 16 House Democrats to sign the anti-Pelosi letter, will now back the California congresswoman after telling the Buffalo News that Pelosi “agreed to prioritize Higgins’ top two issues: a big infrastructure bill and a measure to open Medicare to people over age 50” on Wednesday.

  211. says

    Followup to comment 317 from tomh; and to comments 312 and 313.

    Trump’s response to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts:

    Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security — these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!

    Comments from a law professor:

    […]Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, called Trump’s comments against the judiciary “unprecedented” in modern history and praised Roberts for defending the Judicial branch. Chief justices have historical avoided fighting with the other co-equal branches of government, but Tobias said he was “heartened” by Wednesday’s break from deference to keep Trump in his lane.

    “I think it’s great that the chief justice has said something, because the Senate has done nothing on these issues and somebody has to protect the independence of the judiciary,” Tobias said. […]

    Politico link

    Factchecking from Politifact:

    […] does the circuit have an overturn rate close to 80 percent? There are at least two ways to calculate that record, and by one metric the answer is yes. By another, it’s far less than 1 percent. […]

    Broadly speaking, the 9th Circuit includes the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and district and bankruptcy courts in 15 federal judicial districts (among them Hawaii, and districts in Washington, California).

    It was a district judge in Hawaii who on March 15 blocked Trump’s revised travel ban.

    On Feb. 3, a district judge in Seattle granted a nationwide temporary restraining order on the first version of Trump’s travel ban. Trump’s Justice Department filed a motion appealing that district court’s decision – the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion but asked for more information. On Feb. 9, in a 3-0 decision the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Seattle judge’s decision.

    An overturned record is a reflection of cases in which the Supreme Court ruled contrary to a lower court. The 80 percent Trump tweeted about was in reference to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ record, and does not exactly apply to the district courts.

    The Supreme Court typically only hears 100 to 150 of the estimated 7,000 cases it’s asked to review per year. […]

    The cases that the Supreme Court chooses to take on are often disputed among the lower courts, complex, and problematic, so there’s a reasonable chance that the Supreme Court will decide that the lower court’s decision was wrong.

    […] using data from SCOTUSBlog’s Supreme Court statistics archive on circuit scorecards.

    The Supreme Court reversed about 70 percent of cases it took between 2010-15. Among cases it reviewed from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it reversed about 79 percent.

    The 9th Circuit’s reversal rate is higher than average, but it’s not the absolute highest among the circuit courts. That distinction goes to the 6th Circuit, which serves Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, with an 87 percent average between 2010-15. The 9th Circuit placed third.

    6th Circuit – 87 percent;

    11th Circuit – 85 percent;

    9th Circuit – 79 percent;

    3rd Circuit – 78 percent; […]

    the percentage of reversed or vacated cases for each circuit would be significantly lower if calculated in a different way.

    “Reversal rates for each court of appeals would be very small, in the range of a tenth of a percent, if calculated as the total number of cases reversed over the total number of appeals terminated by that court,” Hofer wrote in his article published by the American Bar Association. […]

    In comparing courts’ “performance,” it makes more sense to compare reversal rate in terms of the ratio of cases reversed over cases reviewed by the Supreme Court, Hofer said. […]

    It’s possible that the sheer size of the 9th Circuit, as well as some of its procedures, cause it to produce more “outlier decisions,” which are cases the Supreme Court always reverses, than other circuits — leading to a higher reversal rate […]

    Trump tweeted, the 9th Circuit has an overturned record “close to 80%.”

    An overturned record can be calculated in at least two ways. By one measure, Trump’s tweet is correct if examining only cases reviewed by the Supreme Court. But by factoring in cases reversed over the total number of cases ruled by the circuit court, then the percentage is significantly smaller, far less than 1 percent.

    We rate Trump’s claim Half True.

    Trump’s claim may be “half true,” but it is 100% ignorant.

  212. says

    “Vote Leave loses legal challenge over Brexit spending breach”:

    The official pro-Brexit campaign group has lost a judicial review aimed at trying to get an Electoral Commission ruling that it breached spending limits thrown out.

    Vote Leave was challenging the findings of a report issued in July that it had exceeded the prescribed £7m limit by channeling funds via another campaign group, but the high court concluded on Wednesday that its case was groundless.

    A judgment by Mrs Justice Yip said: “I do not consider that the claimant’s grounds are arguable.” She also dismissed an attempt to claim that the commission did not have the power to investigate the alleged overspending….

  213. says

    “The head of Russia’s GRU spy agency is reported dead ‘after a long and serious illness’”:

    Igor Korobov, the head of Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU), died “after a long and serious illness,” a Defense Ministry spokesperson told the news agency RIA Novosti early on November 22. Korobov was 62 years old. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces since 1973, joining the USSR’s military intelligence in 1985 and becoming Russia’s GRU director in 2016.

    According to a report by Sergey Kanev published at Dossier Center in October, Korobov reportedly started feeling unwell after a severe reprimand from President Putin in mid-September, following the exposure of an apparently bungled GRU operation to assassinate Sergey Skripal in Salisbury, England. For months, investigative reporters have pieced together evidence exposing the agency’s illegal mission in March 2018. At the time, Kanev’s sources speculated that Korobov might be fired before the end of the year and replaced by GRU General Sergey Gizunov, a St. Petersburg native who is supposedly known as “Putin’s eyes and ears inside Russia’s military intelligence.”

    Korobov’s predecessor, Igor Sergun, died suddenly on January 3, 2016. Officially, he passed away at his home outside Moscow after suffering a heart attack. According to the American geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, however, Sergun died on New Year’s Day in Lebanon….

  214. says

    The Justice Department says that the speech read today by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker mistakenly said that convicted Chelsea bomber, Ahmad Rahimi, had co-conspirators and one of them would be extradited.

    DOJ says the language was the result of an editing error.”

    I suspect there might be some sabotage involved, which could only succeed because Whitaker is a clueless hack.

  215. says

    Comey: “Happy Thanksgiving. Got a subpoena from House Republicans. I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions. But I will resist a ‘closed door’ thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”

  216. microraptor says

    <url=>Tweet of the day

  217. says

    “Tommy Robinson appointed as Ukip’s ‘grooming gangs adviser'”:

    The Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, has appointed the anti-lslam activist Tommy Robinson as an official adviser, further cementing the party’s move towards the far right.

    Batten said the founder of the far-right activist group the English Defence League, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, would advise him on grooming gangs and prisons.

    This week Ukip announced that Batten had formally sought to begin the process to allow Robinson to become a member. He is currently not allowed as EDL members are banned under existing Ukip rules to keep out entrants from the far right. The move was resisted by the party’s national executive, who said any decision on the issue should be postponed until after Brexit day in March.

    Batten said: “I have appointed Tommy Robinson to be a personal special adviser on two subjects which he has great knowledge. It is not necessary for him to be a party member in order to assist me in this role. I am looking forward to working with him.”

    Robinson has convictions for assault, drugs and public order offences, and has been jailed for mortgage fraud and for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US. He is awaiting a decision on his contempt of court retrial, which was referred last month to the attorney general for review.

    He has sought to reinvent himself as a “campaigner” against Muslim gangs who groom girls for sex, which has attracted him a large and fervent audience. Batten has previously spoken at his rallies, and compared Robinson to Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

    Batten, who initially said he would serve only as interim leader, has seen a series of his fellow Ukip MEPs quit over his push towards the far right….

    I had missed this update from last week – “British far-right activist Tommy Robinson not granted US visa for Washington visit”:

    A prominent British far-right activist has not been granted a visa to the United States in time to attend an event focusing on Islam with Republican lawmakers in Washington this week, according to organizers of the event.

    Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), was due to attend the event with seven Republican congressmen on Wednesday.

    But the conservative Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, which is organizing the event, told CNN on Tuesday that Robinson had not been granted a visa in time to attend.

    Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes said Robinson had applied for a visa, but the application was still “in the administrative processing phase.” Pipes added that Robinson was set to take part in the event via video link.

    Last week dozens of British lawmakers from several parties wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the US not to allow Robinson — whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon — to travel and speak at Wednesday’s event….

    Must be such a disappointment for Gosar and the six other Republican congressmen who were so proud of their invitation to Yaxley-Lennon they won’t allow their names to be publicly associated with it.

  218. says

    In other terrible person news, Gavin McInnes has quit the Proud Boys after the FBI named it an extremist organization. From the Guardian:

    …In a sometimes rambling video, McInnes referenced the Guardian story and the prosecution of seven group members over a street brawl in New York city in October, as he offered reasons for resigning from the group.

    His recorded exhortations to violence,∗ he said, had been taken out of context.

    At times, McInnes appeared to contradict his promise to quit. He repeatedly described the group as “we”, throughout a lengthy defence of its actions, said “this is 100% a legal gesture, and it is 100% about alleviating sentencing”, and also called his actions a “stepping down gesture, in quotation marks”.

    McInnes – who co-founded Vice Media, which he left in 2009 – founded the “western chauvinist” and “pro Trump” Proud Boys in 2016. Members have been involved in repeated incidents of street violence around the US, including a declared riot in Portland, Oregon.

    Between August and October, McInnes and the Proud Boys were banned from major social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Earlier this month they were banned from payment service PayPal.

    Branches have been established in Israel, Australia and Canada. On Tuesday, the former commander of Australia’s Border Force said the government should refuse McInnes a visa for a planned tour,…

    Here’s a sample.

  219. militantagnostic says

    Quoted by SC @332

    Robinson has convictions for assault, drugs and public order offences, and has been jailed for mortgage fraud and for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US.

    I smell a Freeman on the Land in the making

  220. says

    Followup to comment 312.

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made a reasonable statement about judges not being “Obama judges” or “Bush judges” or “Clinton judges” etc. and then Trump went off the rails.

    The first part of Trump’s tweet rant was posted up thread. Here is a repeat, plus the additional parts of Trump’s irrational rant:

    Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have “Obama judges,” and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary,” but if it is why are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!

    Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster. It is out of control, has a horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, 79%, & is used to get an almost guaranteed result. Judges must not Legislate Security and Safety at the Border, or anywhere else. They know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe. Our great Law Enforcement professionals MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO THEIR JOB! If not there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death. We want the Constitution as written!

    See also comments 313 and 317 (tomh).

    See comment 321 for a debunking of Trump’s misleading comments about overturned rulings (in general, Trump is wrong), and see comment 321 for the proof that even the “overturned more than any Circuit” phrase is a lie.

  221. says

    Followup to comment 339.

    From the readers comments:

    “We want the Constitution as written!” [Trump tweeted.]

    The United States Constitution, as written, calls for the federal Judiciary to be a separate, independent and co-equal branch of government, whose most important role is to check and balance the other two branches of government by passing judgement on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress and actions by the President and the Executive Branch. They are literally doing their job as prescribed by the Constitution “as written.”
    And again, the current occupant does not understand that all Federal judges have lifetime appointments and he can’t do dick about it. I know he and his toady McConnell have been busy stacking the courts with Federalist Society ideologues, but at least some of them will continue to act as impartial judges, not GOP lackeys.

  222. says

    “Cindy Hyde-Smith has embraced Confederate history more than once in her political career”:

    Starting her second year as a Mississippi state senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith arrived at the State Capitol in Jackson in 2001 to file one of her earliest pieces of legislation. Senate Bill 2604, as she proposed it, would have renamed a stretch of highway to the title it had in the 1930s: Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway.

    While the president of the Confederacy did have ties to the state — representing it in the Senate before resigning when Mississippi left the Union — he had no known ties to her district.

    The bill died in committee.

    It is one of several instances in which the now-U.S. senator would embrace a pride in the Confederacy and its aftermath that is coming under new scrutiny in the wake of her comments that she would sit with a supporter in the front row of a “public hanging” — remarks that she defended as an exaggerated gesture of friendship and that others said alluded to lynching.

    The U.S. Senate runoff on Tuesday between Hyde-Smith, the appointed Republican incumbent, and Democratic former congressman Mike Espy, who is seeking to become the first African American senator from the state since just after the Civil War, has exploded beyond the boundaries of ideology and politics.

    The election has turned into a contest pitting the Old South — marked by pride in the Confederacy and resistance to tearing down monuments commemorating the Civil War — against the New South, which has sought greater racial harmony, toppled past Confederate icons and taken pride in the surprisingly strong races run this year by several black candidates in the region, even as their contests were marred by racial epithets.

    Hyde-Smith grew up in the southern part of Mississippi, in an area where some of the darkest chapters of racism played out. Several years before she was born, a black man who had been trying to get voters to cast absentee ballots in a special election was shot to death at 10 a.m. in front of the county courthouse in Brookhaven, about 20 miles north of where Hyde-Smith grew up and where she and her husband now live. No one was convicted of the killing.

    “It’s always been known as a Klan hotbed,” filmmaker Keith Beauchamp said of the area. His documentary on the murder of Emmett Till, lynched at age 14 in Money, Miss., led to the reopening of that case. “They were known for their lynchings,” he said. “They were known for Klan meetings. This is where your Dixiecrat hatred comes from.”

    Beauchamp said he found Hyde-Smith’s recent comments “scary.”

    “She’s using the same tactics that they used back in the day for intimation. The code wording, all these things, to get the election,” he said. “The attempts being made, the things being said — they’re pushing for a resurgence of the Southern white stronghold that they had in the 1950s.”…

  223. says

    From Josh Marshall: “Another Day of Being a Terrible President.”

    On live video, the President spoke to service members abroad sending Thanksgiving greetings – a pretty standard presidential tradition. But he’s in Florida without most of his usual minders.

    Most of the press commentary was that he ‘went off script’. But that’s not it exactly. On a live call he pressed the people he was talking to on gratuitously political points, asked hem to agree with him on trade deals or keeping bad people out of the country or even his pet peeves about new military technology he clearly doesn’t understand. As usual, he pressed them to agree with various false or nonsensical points.

    Here are a few examples.

    See the link for the videos:
    “In chat with commander in Afghanistan, Trump compares mission to fight on the Southern border, also trashes 9th circuit court of appeals”

    “Coast Guard commander in Arabian Gulf does his best to respond to Trump complaining about unfair trade deals”

    “Talking to Captain of USS Ronald Reagan Trump Trashes Catapult Tech on new Ford Class Carriers. Captain Gently Says He Thinks New Tech is Better”

  224. says

    Oh, FFS! Trump’s Thanksgiving eve tweet:

    Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?

  225. says

    Avenatti update:

    The Los Angeles district attorney declined to prosecute attorney Michael Avenatti on felony domestic abuse charges on Wednesday and referred allegations that he roughed up his girlfriend to the city attorney for a possible misdemeanor case. […]

    Avenatti, who had called the allegations “completely false” and a fabrication, said in a statement he was thankful the district attorney had rejected the charges and was “especially grateful for justice” at Thanksgiving.

    “I am completely innocent. I have absolute faith in the system that I will be fully exonerated,” Avenatti told The Associated Press. “This whole thing is bogus.”

    A spokeswoman for the district attorney would not say why prosecutors declined to take the case from Los Angeles police. Documents supporting the decision were not released because the case was referred to the city attorney and was still under investigation.

    The city attorney’s office will review the case, a spokesman said. […]

    Politico link

  226. says

    EU and China break ultimate trade taboo to hit back at Trump

    Anger over […] Trump’s steel tariffs is pushing Europe and China to rip up one of the most sacrosanct unwritten rules in international trade policy: Don’t question national security.

    Brussels and Beijing on Wednesday launched explosive cases at the World Trade Organization, in which they will argue that Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed in May, cannot be justified on grounds of national security, as the White House claims. The EU and China were joined in their protest by Mexico, Norway, Russia and Canada.

    The six-fold attack on Trump is a landmark departure from the orthodoxy of trade diplomacy as countries have traditionally shied away from challenging restrictions justified by national security concerns, for fear that such a case could blow up the entire global trading system.

    Whichever way the WTO rules, Pandora’s box has been opened. If it rules that national security can justify tariffs, the decision could inspire other countries to play the security card. On the other hand, if Washington finds itself backed into a corner, it could simply quit the WTO.

    “Permitting an unlimited national security exception is a fundamental risk to the trading system, but so is stringent judicial control over national security. To force a panel to decide risks opening Pandora’s box,” said Holger Hestermeyer, an expert in trade law at King’s College London. […]

    Politico link

    More at the link.

  227. tomh says

    From WaPo:
    Stone associate Jerome Corsi is in plea negotiations with special counsel, according to a person with knowledge of the talks

    Conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi is in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

    The talks with Corsi — an associate of both President Trump and GOP operative Roger Stone — could bring Mueller’s team closer to determining whether Trump or his advisers were linked to WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic emails in 2016, a key part of his long-running inquiry.

    Corsi provided research on Democratic figures during the campaign to Stone, a longtime Trump adviser. For months, the special counsel has been scrutinizing Stone’s activities in an effort to determine whether he coordinated with WikiLeaks. Stone and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied any such coordination.

    Stone has said that Corsi also has a relationship with Trump, built on their shared interest in the falsehood that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

    Much more at the link.

  228. says

    Trump Threatens to Close “Whole Border” With Mexico, Says Troops Can Use “Lethal Force”

    […] Trump issued a threat on Thanksgiving to shut down the entire southern border with Mexico if the migrant situation gets out of control. “If we find that it gets to a level where we’re going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” he said. Speaking to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said he had signed an order two days ago allowing the border to be sealed, adding that “I’ve already shut down parts of the border.”

    The commander in chief made clear he wasn’t just referring to migrant flows but also trade. “The whole border,” he continued. “I mean the whole border. And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars at great benefit to them, not at great benefit to us.” The White House hasn’t released any order and when a reporter asked to see it he said it wasn’t “that big of a deal.” […]

    Trump also confirmed he has given the green light for U.S. troops along the border to “use lethal force” if necessary. “If they have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to—I hope they don’t have to.” Trump said he had “no choice’ because there are “a minimum of 500 serious criminals” in the caravan currently making its way to the United States.

    Trump also told reporters there “certainly could’ be a governmnet shutdown in early December over border security. Trump has threatened to veto spending bills if Congress doesn’t pass funding to build the wall along the southern border.

  229. says

    Trump is actually entrapping asylum seekers:

    […] The reality is that potentially thousands of migrants cross “illegally” because the U.S. Customs and Border Protection systematically and unlawfully rejects asylum attempts at official ports of entry.

    […] For at least the past two years, brazen CBP misconduct has led to mass migrant prosecution under federal “illegal entry” and “illegal re-entry” charges. […] 2018 saw entry-related arrests skyrocket with nearly 60 percent of all federal criminal prosecutions having been immigration-related.

    […] the Justice Department openly admitted it was diverting resources from drug-smuggling operations to incarcerate migrants. This has clearly been part of a broader political strategy of vindicating […] Trump’s xenophobia: The Trump administration’s nativist rhetoric is more effective when our immigrants are manufactured into criminals, not portrayed as tired, huddled masses of refugees.

    This practice of criminalizing asylum attempts is also a classic case of entrapment. Systematically rejecting destitute asylum-seekers at the border and stranding them in life-threatening border towns forces these individuals to cross unlawfully.

    […] My clients—all of whom stated a fear of return to their home country—wanted to present at a port of entry but were turned away. CBP officers told one client that “President Trump signed a new law that ended asylum in the United States,” and another was promised that “government officials would take their children away.” The former statement is a lie—Trump has signed no such law—but the later threat proved tragically true during Trump’s infamous child separation policy. The threat itself has continued to be wielded against asylum-seekers, even though the U.S. says it has ended the policy.

    […] As Texas Monthly noted, up to 450 asylum-seekers were recently camped out on three bridges between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. That’s only going to get worse.

    Many asylum-seekers waiting at ports of entry—destitute, without resources, and with young children in tow—are forced to live at makeshift encampments. Many fall prey to cartels and are regularly assaulted and even killed.

    By callously stranding individuals outside of ports of entry in horrid, perilous conditions, the U.S. is treating migrants as flotsam. On a recent trip to the border, I met with a group of Central American LGBTQ youth who told me that on each day, for five consecutive days, CBP refused to let them apply for asylum. When I told them it was lawful to present at a port of entry to ask for asylum, they replied, “That’s what we told CBP!” Each day they were rejected, they say CBP told them the same thing: “Guatemalans make us sick.” Turned away by CBP again and again, these asylum-seekers were ultimately forced to enter outside of a port of entry and thus saw their asylum claims criminalized. […]

    Slate link

  230. says

    More detail from Trump’s telephone calls to military leaders on Thanksgiving Day:

    He blamed “the world” for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, disputing the analysis from the CIA that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was to blame. In fact, Trump said inexplicably, the crown prince hated the death even more than Trump did.

    Explaining why he needed to keep a close alliance with Saudi Arabia, he cited lower oil prices. That leads to lower gas prices, he said, before saying the news media had unfairly blamed him for traffic jams caused by cheap gas.

    […] Asked Thursday whether it was enough to call troops from his palatial resort and later visit officers at a nearby station, he retreated to a familiar boast.

    “Nobody’s done more for the military than me,” Trump said.

    Sometimes, he praised those on the other end of the line, but often by extension he praised himself.

    “A as in the best,” he said of one Coast Guard officer’s school, likening it to his alma mater. “Going to that school is like going to the Wharton School of Finance if you happen to be doing what you do.”

    A Navy commander in Bahrain, a U.S. ally, became the foil to discuss trade.

    “As you know, trade for me is a very big subject,” Trump said, adding that the United States was getting ripped off.

    “We don’t have any good trade deals,” Trump complained.

    The commander seemed confused and told the president of abundant goods being carried across nearby waters. “We don’t see any issues in terms of trade right now,” the officer said. […]

    Washington Post link

  231. says

    #BREAKING: NY Supreme Court throws out Trump’s motion to dismiss @NewYorkStateAG Underwood’s Trump Foundation lawsuit:…

    As the AG’s lawsuit detailed, the Trump Foundation functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump’s business & political interests”

  232. says

    Does anyone know when exactly David Fahrenthold contacted the Trump campaign to ask for comment about the Access Hollywood tape? It seems like Assange had been prepared to start releasing the Podesta emails a couple days earlier, but might have held off when he(/the GRU) learned that the Access Hollywood tape would be released shortly so as to coincide with that news.

  233. says

    Trump is now asking the Supreme Court to bypass the lower courts and immediately take up the evil, bullshit transgender military ban based on some absurd national security pretext. He’s increasingly trying this maneuver; seems sure to tick off the judges in the other courts even more than they’re already ticked off.

  234. tomh says

    @ #355
    According to Wikipedia:

    On Friday, October 7, at around 11 a.m., an unidentified source gave a copy of the tape to Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who contacted NBC for comment, notified the Trump campaign that he had the video, obtained confirmation of its authenticity, and released a story and the tape itself by 4 p.m.

    Trump’s reaction came the next day on Saturday, Oct 8.

  235. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 357

    Don’t worry, they won’t. Not over Saudi Arabia, not over Russia, not over the emollients clause, nothing!

    What’s the point of having laws if no one is going to enforce them, least of all the so-called “opposition?”

  236. says

    A Black Friday news dump:

    The Trump administration arbitrarily released an alarming climate change report on Friday, a day when most Americans are still digesting their Thanksgiving dinners with their minds set on Black Friday deals.

    According to the report, the U.S. is on track to lose hundreds of billions of dollars due to climate change-related costs, see its most vulnerable populations decimated by extreme weather events and face the specter of a contaminated water supply.

    The report concludes that drastic steps must be taken to change our current path.

    “While Americans are responding in ways that can bolster resilience and improve livelihoods, neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades,” it reads.


    Full report:

  237. says

    Perhaps these are unintended consequences to Trump administration policies, but with Trump you never know. Maybe he thinks it is a good thing to force people to go hungry:

    Food banks say that the Trump administration’s discriminatory proposed rule change, which punishes working immigrant parents by denying them a green card to legally access programs that support their basic needs, continues to have harmful effects, even in cases where federal agencies have nothing to do with services offered by local community organizations.

    “Stephen Knight, policy and partnerships director for the [Alameda] County Community Food Bank, said one woman called and asked for her mother’s name to be removed from the food bank’s database,” ABC News reports. “He said she was afraid her mother would be deported because she accepted free food from the food pantry, even though it isn’t connected to government programs.”

    Spanish Catholic Center caseworker Rodrigo Aguirre told ABC News “that mothers, especially, are afraid their information will be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and that they could be separated from their children who were born in the U.S.” Fear of falling onto Trump’s deportation radar has led immigrant families to back out of eligible programs since his inauguration. […]

    […] in the demented mind of the proposal’s mastermind, White House aide Stephen Miller: If you can’t deport immigrant families right away, at least try to make life as hellish for them as possible in the moment. Miller’s other works—like family separation at the border—have continued to go unaccounted-for by the Republican-led Congress, but a Democratic House could certainly change this. […]

    Daily Kos link

  238. Akira MacKenzie says

    Look, I’m pissed. For all the hype of the “blue wave” it seems like all we’re going to get is the same centrist bullshit.

  239. says

    After Years of Taking Up Too Much Space, Trump Is Finally Small

    As the president’s lies and bullying get bolder and bolder, we can finally see him for what he is: boring.

    […] after two deeply destabilizing and in fact traumatic years of soaking in the president’s ugliness and invective, of absorbing the sound and sight of the sneering and the scowling and the fury, there is much to be thankful for this year. Because this year, by dint of miracle or magic or human endeavor, Donald Trump has been reduced to his actual size. He isn’t everything anymore. He is barely anything at all. He becomes smaller every single day, and for that, we have America to thank.

    It is no secret that Trump himself is sliding further and further off the rails. The tweets are cruder and materially less coherent, and the public performances are more frightening still. The White House staff is in turmoil, and the president seems to have aligned himself with the Saudi murderers of a Washington Post reporter. None of this offers holiday solace, save for the fact that, as support for the president peels off among members of the military, conservative lawyers, and women, he finds himself ever more shrilly attacking them all. And as the president finds himself shunned and largely ignored internationally, he is left more and more alone to watch television, tweet hectically, and attempt to rewrite his own story to his satisfaction. […]

    […] We can be thankful for a judicial branch that quietly delivers setback after setback to the president’s cruelest imperatives. And we can be thankful for the tireless work of Robert Mueller, a man who is nothing less than a bionic truth-seeking robot in an age of alternative facts.

    Mostly, though, it is worth recognizing that Trump has managed to shrink slowly down to a small manageable size simply by being ever more himself. Be it his military action against the caravan that wasn’t, his wall that wasn’t, his raking [of forest floors] that wasn’t, or his inflated election claims that weren’t, the deflections and distractions seem to come faster and faster. But the fall of 2018 saw truth able to get its boots on before a falsehood could travel very far […] maybe because we are finally getting better at this. The final factor in Trump’s diminution had to be the appalling (!) White House (!) statement defending the Saudi Arabian royal family from his own CIA’s finding that they had been complicit in the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    That document has been widely read and deconstructed for its lies, exaggerations, and untruths, but it should also be briefly celebrated as the perfect distillate of Trump’s moral reasoning: By the president’s own ethical lights, no criminal who might make us wealthy can ever be condemned.

    This is, of course, terrifying and nihilistic and dangerous as a defining statement of what “America First” is supposed to mean. But it also ties together everything that has been wrong with Trumpism from the moment he first announced his candidacy: Everything is transactional […]

    More at the link.

    The article is by Dahlia Lithwick. It contains dozens of sub-links that lead to corroborating material.

  240. says

    Donald Trump is terrified

    His lies have begun to backfire, and he’s running scared.

    We’ve been dealing with Trump’s lies all wrong. We’ve been totaling them up — 6,420 over 649 days, according to the Washington Post! We’ve been parsing and categorizing them — Trump’s statements are regularly found “false,” or “misleading,” or it “needs context,” or it “lacks evidence,” or it’s “exaggerated,” or a claim “contradicts earlier statements.” […]

    Speculation abounds: he does it because he can; it’s all part of a grand strategy; he’s clever; he’s foolish; he can’t tell the difference between truth and lies; he quite literally can’t help himself.

    But what we haven’t done is look at what Donald Trump’s lies have done to him. They are backfiring, and he’s showing signs that he knows they are beginning to hurt him. […]

    And now Trump finds himself trapped not only by his own lies, but by those of Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman. Trump is stuck with Putin’s denials that he ordered the poisoning of two Russian dissidents in Great Britain last March just as he’s stuck with his denials that Russia interfered in our elections in 2016. And he’s stuck with Mohammed bin Salman’s denials about the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. First the Saudis said he was still alive, then they said he died in an accident, then they claimed he was killed by “rogue agents,” and now they’re left with denying that the murder was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Trump has been with them all the way. He never accepted his own intelligence agencies’ assessment that the Russians interfered with our elections, and now he won’t accept the CIA’s report that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s death.

    Why? Putin and bin Salman both probably have something on Trump, but that’s not it. He is trapped by the lies of others just as much as he is by his own lies because to admit anything at this point is deadly. Donald Trump has good reason to be terrified. The sky really is falling.

    More at the link. The article is by Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point.

  241. says

    Akira MacKenzie, your bilious anti-Democratic commentary is tiresome.

    Look, I’m pissed. For all the hype of the “blue wave” it seems like all we’re going to get is the same centrist bullshit.

    It doesn’t seem like that at all. You actually responded to an article about what the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee explicitly plan to do with “Don’t worry, they won’t. Not over Saudi Arabia, not over Russia, not over the emollients clause, nothing!” based on nothing but your own hostility. The blue wave has carried in the most progressive new generation of Democrats ever, and to me it doesn’t seem at all like “all we’re going to get” – are we purchasing a product? – “is the same centrist bullshit.” It’s one thing to be skeptical; it’s another to be unremittingly doomsaying even when it isn’t supported by the evidence.

    St. Hillary the Anointed


  242. says

    tomh @ #358, thanks.

    OK. So he didn’t contact them until later. On the other hand, that doesn’t end my suspicions since Putin, Assange, and/or the Trump campaign could have learned of the tape’s impending release from some channel close to the original source or some other means…

    There’s still something very suspicious about Assange’s press conference on October 3rd. I remember it had been billed as a big announcement, but, like Trump’s alluding to presenting damaging information about Clinton just before the Trump Tower meeting, it didn’t live up to the expectations he’d created. From WaPo at the time – “Trump backers realize they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise”:

    The expectations were breathless.

    For weeks, backers of Republican nominee Donald Trump hyped the tantalizing possibility that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks was on the verge of publishing a set of documents that would doom Hillary Clinton’s chances in November.

    Trump backers realize they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise
    By Griff Witte
    October 4, 2016

    LONDON — The expectations were breathless.

    For weeks, backers of Republican nominee Donald Trump hyped the tantalizing possibility that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks was on the verge of publishing a set of documents that would doom Hillary Clinton’s chances in November.

    “@HillaryClinton is done,” longtime Trump associate Roger Stone tweeted Saturday. “#Wikileaks.”

    The group’s founder, Julian Assange, did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, suggesting to Fox News hosts that his scoops could upend the race with documents “associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting.”

    [Julian Assange won’t say whether a foreign government was involved in DNC email leak]

    The announcement by WikiLeaks that it would host a major news conference Tuesday only seemed to confirm that the bombshell was ready to burst. The pro-Trump, anti-Clinton media world rippled with fevered speculation.

    But if an October surprise about the Democratic nominee really is coming, it will have to wait a little longer.

    Over the course of two hours on Tuesday — with the world’s media and bleary-eyed Trump die-hards across the United States tuning in — Assange and other WikiLeaks officials railed against “neo-McCarthyist hysteria,” blasted the mainstream media, appealed for donations and plugged their books (“40 percent off!”).

    But what they didn’t do was provide any new information about Clinton — or about anything else, really.

    The much-vaunted news conference, as it turned out, was little more than an extended infomercial for WikiLeaks on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its founding.

    Assange, whose group released a trove of hacked Democratic National Committee documents on the eve of the party’s convention this summer, breezily dismissed the idea that anyone should have expected any news at his news conference….

    His promoting this press conference on the 3rd and releasing nothing then only to have the documents ready to go within minutes of the Access Hollywood tape’s release on the 7th makes it seem like someone tipped Assange off, leading him to wait.

  243. says

    A Fox News analyst says that Jamal Khashoggi was not a journalist, and blamed the Washington Post for having ‘put him in harm’s way’.”

    I wonder if people like this guy ever realize that if Trump had gone in the opposite direction they would be making the opposite argument with the same fervor.

  244. KG says

    About 20 percent of Canada’s GDP comes from exports to the United States—it’s a trade relationship that generates 1.9 million Canadian jobs. This dependence is even clearer when it comes to oil—something the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will ship our natural resources to global markets, could remedy. The fact that the premier of British Columbia tried to stall the project in a show of regional power is a sign of a collective failure to recognize how perilous our position is. – Stephen Marche in The Walrus, linked to by militantagnostic@338

    The article rightly points out how destabilising climate disruption is going to be – after this panic over possible obstacles to Canada’s ability to go on making it worse.

  245. KG says

    The Brexit farce continues:
    1) Spain is now demanding assurances from the UK about the future status of Gibralter (but at least according to BBC is not clear about exactly what it must be assured of). The last-minute nature of this, before an EU summit due tomorrow for the EU governments to agree the deal, has raised suspicions that it’s about important regional elections in Andalusia – the area of Spain that Gibralter borders. Spain doesn’t actually have a veto – the EU Parliament must agree, as must a “qualified majority” of governments, which means at least 20 of them representing at least 65% of the total population – but the EU leaders have been keen to work by consensus on the issue.
    2) Arlene Foster, leader of the “D”UP, has said the current deal would be “worse than a government led by Jeremy Corbyn”, and that if the deal is accepted by Parliament (the vote is apparently due on 10 December) they will “reconsider” the “confidence and supply” deal they have with the Tories. This poses an interesting dilemma for Corbyn: if he could get enough of his troops to “rebel” and vote for the deal, thus getting it approved, he might have a chance of bringing down the government with a vote of no confidence, and precipitating the general election he claims to want – but he’d be relying on the DUP turkeys to vote for Christmas (however an election went, it’s most unlikely the “D”UP would again hold the balance of power). My hunch is that the “D”UP, despite what they say, actually want a hard border between northern Ireland and the Republic – what better way to make Irish reunification as difficult as possible? – and they’ll do whatever they think most likely to achieve this, while pretending to oppose it; and that Corbyn will reckon rejecting the deal makes things as difficult as possible for the Tories, whatever the “D”UP say.

  246. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 366

    I notice that you didn’t address ANYTHING in the articles I linked at all. Not the Dems reluctance to impeach that bastard, nor Hillary suggesting we throw desperate refugees under the bus to appease Europe and America’s fascists. Instead, I got the same tut-tut for not groveling at the feet of the Almighty Party and sucking the desiccated genitals of whatever capitalist-pig-in-“liberal”-clothing you tell us to vote for.

  247. says

    SC @371, that’s a great podcast? Not only does it clearly discuss the various types of lies that Trump tells, but it also delineates the ways in which many media outlets aid, abet or spread the lies instead of calling Trump on his lies.

  248. says

    Followup to comment 361.

    White House admits Trump climate policies will cost Americans $500 billion a year.

    Trump team approves — but tries to bury — report finding inaction on climate policies will devastate the country.

    Useful charts and other graphic presentations of temperature changes are available at the link.

    The 1,000-page climate report released by the White House Friday quantifies the staggering cost of President Trump’s climate science denial.

    The congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA) by hundreds of the country’s top scientists warns that a do-nothing climate policy will end up costing Americans more than a half-trillion dollars per year in increased sickness and death, coastal property damages, loss of worker productivity, and other damages.

    Building on a 600-page analysis of climate science from 2017, the NCA details just how dangerous Trump administration’s policy of climate inaction is to Americans. […]

    Reports are coming out now that team Trump is asking the National Climate Assessment experts to issue a new report that focuses on the less catastrophic projections of temperature changes over time.

  249. says

    The Trump administration is claiming that it has reached a deal with Mexico to keep asylum seekers out to the USA — a deal to hold asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed.

    Officials in Mexico have objected, saying that they haven’t made a deal to hold asylum seekers.

    Later, team Trump admitted no formal accord has been signed, but that they think it is likely Mexico will agree to the “Remain in Mexico” proposal, in part because Trump has had several friendly phone calls with incoming president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. Obrador takes office on December 1.

  250. says

    In case you missed it:

    Joy Reid’s “AM Joy” show featured Maya Wiley discussing who will be indicted next in Robert Mueller’s probe. Link
    Joy Reid’s “AM Joy” show noted that Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia are under closer scrutiny after the CIA confirmed that it was likely that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Link. The video is 11:08 minutes long. The panel includes Matt Miller.

    Joy Reid also contrasted President Obama’s Thanksgiving message and activities with Trump’s message and activities.

  251. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira Mackenzie@375
    Got it. So shall we put you down as 1 for Trumplethinskin or as a zero?

  252. says

    “Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers”:

    Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to answer MPs’ questions.

    The cache of documents is alleged to contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg.

    Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London. In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.

    “We are in uncharted territory,” said Collins, who also chairs an inquiry into fake news. “This is an unprecedented move but it’s an unprecedented situation. We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest.”

    The seizure is the latest move in a bitter battle between the British parliament and the social media giant. The struggle to hold Facebook to account has raised concerns about limits of British authority over international companies that now play a key role in the democratic process.

    Facebook, which has lost more than $100bn in value since March when the Observer exposed how Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from 87m US users, faces another potential PR crisis. It is believed the documents will lay out how user data decisions were made in the years before the Cambridge Analytica breach, including what Zuckerberg and senior executives knew.

    MPs leading the inquiry into fake news have repeatedly tried to summon Zuckerberg to explain the company’s actions. He has repeatedly refused. Collins said this reluctance to testify, plus misleading testimony from an executive at a hearing in February, had forced MPs to explore other options for gathering information about Facebook operations….

    More at the link. This is the dude they sent. Amazing.

  253. says

    Akira MacKenzie:

    I notice that you didn’t address ANYTHING in the articles I linked at all. Not the Dems reluctance to impeach that bastard,

    I didn’t see the link in your first comment, but it was ostensibly a response to mine about (a specific portion of) Schiff’s investigative plans. He’s the incoming chair of one committee. (I’ve been paying attention to several, and they all plan to begin investigations into the matters most relevant to their committees immediately.) You responded by telling me that Schiff won’t investigate what he says he will because the article you link to talks about how congressional Democrats are reluctant to begin impeachment proceedings.

    That in no way contradicts what Schiff is saying, because beginning investigations isn’t the same thing as beginning impeachment proceedings. I recommend the podcast I kinked to @ #220. I think the approach they’re taking in this case is wise. The investigations and all they entail – calling and subpoenaing witnesses, holding public hearings, getting access to documents – provide the basis for impeachment. They also have an immediate and urgent interest in protecting the Mueller investigation, which very likely will offer even more grounds for impeachment. (We could see a lot more before the Democrats even take control in January. I’m just guessing, but it seems like Mueller’s investigation is heating up and something could go down as soon as Monday, but probably in the next couple of weeks in any event.) If the Democrats insisted on focusing on impeachment proceedings prematurely, it would likely backfire, as some people in the article you link to suggest.

    tl;dr – your comment didn’t really respond to mine, didn’t address some of the arguments made in your own link, and was unduly hostile.

    nor Hillary suggesting we throw desperate refugees under the bus to appease Europe and America’s fascists.

    I didn’t respond to that for the same reason I hadn’t posted about it in the first place. It’s the same reason I didn’t post about her subsequent clarifications or previous extended remarks on the subject. I didn’t read any of the articles because I’m not especially interested in her opinions on immigration, which I gather are similar to her foreign policy opinions in general: center-Right and willing to appease those much further Right, at great cost to people in other countries, and still better than those of probably any Republican. I think there needs to be a radical transformation in Democrats’ approach to foreign policy, but since Clinton now holds no position of political power and I hold no irrational grievances against her, I’m not interested in delving into her views or attacking her publicly.

    Instead, I got the same tut-tut for not groveling at the feet of the Almighty Party and sucking the desiccated genitals of whatever capitalist-pig-in-“liberal”-clothing you tell us to vote for.

    Ooooookaaaaay. I won’t be responding to you further. Perhaps you should consider whether your view is a bit…warped.

  254. says

    Some upcoming events (two per KG above):

    November 25: EU summit on Brexit deal

    November 26: Papadopoulos to begin prison sentence (unless judge intervenes)
    November 26: (delayed) Manafort status report due

    November 27: Mississippi Senate runoff election (still time to donate to Espy)
    November 27: hearing of the international joint committee on disinformation and “fake news” (London)

    December 4: Georgia Secretary of State runoff election (still time to donate to Barrow)

    December 10: vote in Parliament on Brexit deal

    December 18: (delayed) Flynn sentencing

    December 19: (delayed) Butina status conference

    (Rick Gates’s sentencing has been pushed forward into next year as he continues to cooperate with several investigations.)

  255. says

    “Brexit: EU leaders back Theresa May’s deal in Brussels”:

    EU leaders have given their backing to the Brexit deal struck with Theresa May, firing the starting pistol on the prime minister’s race to win parliamentary approval in time for the UK’s withdrawal next March.

    At an extraordinary summit in Brussels, the bloc’s 27 heads of state and government took a decisive and historic step towards sealing the terms of Britain’s split from Brussels after 45 years of membership.

    Unanimous support was given to the terms of a voluminous draft withdrawal treaty, covering citizens’ rights, the £39bn divorce bill, and the Irish border issue, along with a 26-page political declaration setting out the basis of the future relationship.

    In a statement, the EU’s leaders stated their intention to build “as close as possible a partnership” with the UK after Brexit, while warning that they would be “permanently seized” in future negotiations by the principle that countries outside the bloc cannot enjoy the same rights as those within.

    Brussels has already rejected the proposals thrashed out this summer at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, to achieve “frictionless trade” in goods after Brexit.

    The EU is keenly aware that the British parliament could reject the deal, but want to show the bloc was able to make an offer to the UK….

  256. says

    “Brexit: High Court to rule if referendum vote ‘void’ as early as Christmas after Arron Banks investigation”:

    The High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void”, in a legal case given a turbo-boost by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks.

    Judges are poised to fast track the potentially explosive challenge, after Theresa May’s refusal to act on the growing evidence of illegality in the 2016 referendum campaign, The Independent can reveal.

    Lawyers describe that failure as “absolutely extraordinary” – given the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) probe into suspicions of “multiple” criminal offences committed by Mr Banks and the Leave.EU campaign.

    Now The Independent understands the case is likely to move to a full hearing and a ruling within weeks of opening on 7 December, with the clock ticking on the UK’s departure from the EU next March.

    Both its lawyers and a leading academic believe its chances of success have been given a big boost by the unfolding scandal and the government’s refusal to recognise the gravity of what is being exposed.

    Ewan McGaughey, a senior law lecturer at King’s College London, has written: “The order by the prime minister to trigger Article 50 and negotiate to leave the EU could be declared void.

    “Now, it’s a big thing to litigate the very validity of Brexit. But if Russian athletes win Olympic medals when they are taking drugs, their victories are not valid. The same is true of a corrupt vote.”

    It had been expected that any ruling would await the conclusions of the NCA probe, but it is now thought it will be fast tracked – with just four months until Brexit day….

  257. KG says

    SC@384, 386,

    Also on November 27, the European Court of Justice is due to hear the case brought by MSPs, MPs and MEPs from the SNP and Scottish Greens on whether the UK can unilaterally cancel Brexit. While judges often take weeks or months to rule on a case, I’ve little doubt the ECJ could rule before the December 10 vote on May’s deal in the House of Commons. After all, they know the case is coming their way, so could assemble all the documents they need. So, whether they do or don’t rule before the vote (as well as the ruling they make) is bound to be considered a political choice. My hunch is that they won’t.

    A for the “referendum was invalid” case, I can’t see how that would legally invalidate the decision to invoke Article 50. The referendum was always advisory, and Parliament had the legal right to instruct the government to invoke Article 50 irrespective of the referendum result. Politically, of course, it’s another matter – but since such a case is almost bound to be appealed by whichever side loses first to the Court of Appeal, then to the Supreme Court, it’s quite likely Brexit will have gone through (or not) before a final result is achieved.

  258. KG says


    Thanks for that link. Cadwalladr needs to be more careful with her facts, if not her commas – any error will be seized on! The article mentions the media’s constant provision of opportunites for Farage to spew his propaganda; he was on BBC Radio 4’s Today (flagship news programme) again a few days ago, although arguably this time there was a valid reason: he was responding (negatively) to the news that UKIP’s current leader, Gerald Batten, has appointed convicted violent fraudster Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) to advise him on prison reform and “rape gangs”. Yaxley-Lennon has, I suppose, relevant experience on the first in that he’s been in prison; whether he’s ever been in a rape gang I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me. (Of course he’s been convicted of contempt of court for filming outside the court where a trial of men of Pakistani heritage for sexual offences against underage girls, and it’s the men’s crimes Batten wants to exploit.) Batten’s appointment of Yaxley-Lennon is a clear sign that he’s taking UKIP further into fascist territory, while as Cadwalladr says, Farage prefers, in the UK, to retain a veneer of respectability.

  259. says

    “Trump Administration Defends Legality of VA Shadow Rulers”:

    The Trump administration is defending the legality of having three Trump associates help steer the Department of Veterans Affairs from the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, asserting that a Watergate-era sunshine law on advisory committees shouldn’t apply.

    In a court filing last week, the government lawyers argued in part that the trio didn’t fit the law’s definition of an advisory committee because rather than being under the agency’s control, the three men reportedly wielded influence over the agency.

    “Far from alleging that the department managed or controlled the three individuals, the complaint asserts quite the opposite: that the three individuals asserted influence over the department,” Justice Department lawyers said in the filing, which was submitted on Friday.

    The government asked a judge to throw out a challenge from a liberal activist group, VoteVets, which alleged that the VA’s interactions with the so-called Mar-a-Lago Crowd violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The 1972 law, known as FACA, requires federal agencies to inform the public when they consult outside experts.

    The stakes of the lawsuit have risen since the VA’s inspector general told senators he would await the court’s decision before deciding whether to conduct his own investigation. The VA has also cited the litigation to resist releasing more documents about the Mar-a-Lago Crowd to ProPublica and to Congress, which a key Democrat called “a transparent attempt to stonewall.”

    The Mar-a-Lago trio — Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — have weighed in on many VA policy and personnel decisions despite having no official role or relevant expertise, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with former officials. VA officials flew to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to consult with the trio, and officials who didn’t get along with them were sidelined or removed.

    Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman were most deeply involved in an effort to overhaul the VA’s electronic health records — an expensive, high-stakes project that is already suffering from leadership turmoil that could put VA patients’ safety at risk, according to a ProPublica investigation….

    There was segment on MSNBC or CNN on Thanksgiving about families with political differences getting together for the holidays. A Trump follower talked about how he continues to support Trump in large part because of all the great things Trump has done for the military and veterans. Just off the top of my head I can think of about 20 ways Trump has seriously harmed veterans, people currently serving, and the military in general.

  260. says

    Senator Mike Lee of Utah proffered a ridiculous reason to ignore climate change

    Senator, are you bad at math or bad at basic reasoning?

    Sen. Mike Lee told Chuck Todd on Sunday’s Meet the Press that addressing climate change will actually hurt the U.S. economy. That’s a direct contradiction of what his own government has found. [A government report] conclusion based on scientific data and careful research [noted] that worsening climate change will in fact cost the country a fortune.

    […] The government report, made public Friday, determined that climate change is likely to cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars annually, or as much as 10 percent of the GDP by the end of the century.

    Sen. Lee has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money from the oil and gas industry and supports President Donald Trump’s agenda more than 80 percent of the time.

    The president, who does not understand the difference between weather and climate, believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China to trick the country into weakening our own economy. The Trump administration apparently released the report early, on Black Friday — a day when Americans are more likely shopping or spending time with family than catching up on news — to try to bury its findings.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) denies the timing was politically motivated, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that the report directly contradicts the president’s ridiculous personal views and his administration’s agenda of deregulation and support for the petrochemical industry. […]

  261. says

    On Joy Reid’s “AM Joy” show today, Charlie Pierce said that the White House can issue “decorum” rules if it likes, but White House reporters are obligated to break those rules in order to do their jobs.

    Brett Samuels, writing for The Hill, posted some interesting observations based on a report from The Guardian:

    A political reporter for The Guardian said Sunday she doesn’t believe White House reporters have agreed to guidelines set out by the White House for future press conferences following its controversial decision to revoke CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s credentials.

    “I don’t think that anyone has agreed to the rules because there’s no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs,” Sabrina Siddiqui said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

    The White House […] said it would enforce rules at future press events that limit the number of follow up questions a reporter can ask if they are recognized by President Trump or the communications staff.

    “Follow-ups are commonplace, and in fact they serve a very critical importance when you think about the fact that the president might for example try and avoid answering a certain question, or he might answer it in a way that’s misleading. That’s precisely where a good follow up question comes into play,” Siddiqui said.

    “So all of this really comes back to the idea that the White House does not want to admit that it got the Jim Acosta situation wrong, and it wants to prolong this feud with the media because they know that’s something the president can use to harden support within his base,” she added. […]

  262. says

    Former GOP Senator Rick Santorum said a bunch of stupid stuff about climate scientists and about climate change:

    […] “If there was no climate change, we’d have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive,” Santorum said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “And of course they don’t receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they’re not allowed to, because it’s tainted. But they can receive it from people who support their agenda. And that, I believe, is what’s really going on here,” he added.

    Santorum’s comments come after the Trump administration on Friday published a dire report that warned of catastrophic climate change if the U.S. doesn’t change its policies.

    Santorum said Sunday that the report was “generated by people who are in the bureaucracy.”

    “These are not Trump appointees,” he said. […]


  263. says

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez trolled Fox News in Spanish

    A Friday night show on Fox News used its closing segment to praise and poke fun at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but on Twitter [and Instagram], the congresswoman-elect laughed last.

    Ed Henry hosted “The Story” on Friday night, when he and three panelists discussed how a pair of Ocasio-Cortez’s shoes are set to go on display at Cornell University, in its “Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline” exhibit. A Twitter user pointed out to the Democrat from New York that a four-person discussion about her shoes was taking place on prime-time television.

    “No, no es amor/ Lo que tú sientes, se llama obsesión,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. The lyrics to Obsesión, by Aventura, translate to, “No, it’s not love, what you feel is called obsession.”

    After another user asked whether she was really going to make Fox hire a translator to read the tweet, Ocasio-Cortez took her shot:

    “Don’t worry, Fox News has made it clear that they are far superior to + more intelligent than me, who they’ve called a ‘little, simple person,’” she wrote. “So I’m sure catching up to me in spoken languages shouldn’t be a problem for them.” […]

    Washington Post link

  264. says


    BREAKING: Ukraine says Russia opens fire on Ukrainian navy ships in Kerch Strait near Crimea, one of them damaged.

    BREAKING: Ukraine’s president to convene emergency meeting of the military’s top brass amid Russia tensions near Crimea.

    BREAKING: Ukraine says number of boats hit by Russian fire increases to 2, 2 crew members wounded; both vessels seized by Russia.

    The spokesman for Ukrainian President Poroshenko says that the leader is convening an emergency meeting of the military’s top brass amid tensions with Russia near the Crimean Peninsula.

  265. says

    Ian Lucas, DCMS Committee member: “Facebook said: ‘The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook’. Too late.”

    Damian Collins, DCMS Committee chair: “The @CommonsCMS has received the documents it ordered from Six4Three relating to Facebook. I have reviewed them and the committee will discuss how we will proceed early next week. Under UK law & parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to as part of our inquiry.”

    The international grand committee on disinformation and fake news hearing will begin tomorrow (Tuesday, November 27) at 10:30 AM (5:30 AM ET in the US). Links to watch the livestream here.

  266. says

    In contrast to #397…Chrystia Freeland: “Canada condemns Russian aggression towards #Ukraine in the #KerchStrait. We call on #Russia to immediately de-escalate, release the captured vessels, and allow for freedom of passage. Canada is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

  267. KG says

    Facebook said: ‘The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook’. Too late. – SC@398, quoting Ian Lucas, MP

    Extraordinary to relate, the San Mateo Superior Court does not have jurisidiction over the UK Parliament!

  268. says

    More detail concerning Trump’s scandal-plagued Trump Foundation:

    A New York judge on Friday denied a request from President Donald Trump and his family members to dismiss a lawsuit against them and the Trump Foundation alleging that the charitable foundation violated state and federal laws for “more than a decade.”

    In her ruling, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York state Supreme Court shot down an argument from the Trump family’s attorneys that the case should be dismissed because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution suggests “a sitting president may not be sued.”

    Scarpulla also rejected Trump’s argument that the state court lacked jurisdiction over the president in this case. While the Constitution prohibits state courts from exercising “direct control” in a way that interferes with federal officers’ duties, Scaruplla wrote: “Here, the allegations raised in the Petition do not involve any action taken by Mr. Trump as president and any potential remedy would not affect Mr. Trump’s official federal duties.”

    Scarpulla noted that the defendants “have failed to cite a single case in which any court has dismissed a civil action against a sitting president on Supremacy Clause grounds, where, as here, the action is based on the president’s unofficial acts.”

    “I find that I have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump and deny Respondents’ motion to dismiss the petition against him on jurisdictional grounds,” she wrote. […]

    CNBC link

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] the New York attorney general’s office in June accused the Trump Foundation of being little more than a slush fund, which, among other things, made illegal in-kind contributions for Trump’s campaign.

    […] questions surrounding the president and his family allegedly running a fraudulent charitable entity. There are additional questions about violations of federal election law, which appear to have been quite flagrant.

    There’s also the fact that the president personally signed federal tax returns – under penalty of perjury – swearing that his foundation wasn’t used for political and/or business purposes, and we now know there’s quite a bit of evidence that suggests it was used for both. […]

    the New York Times also reported that the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance “has opened an investigation into whether the Donald J. Trump Foundation violated state tax laws, a move that could lead to a criminal referral for possible prosecution.”

    […] Trump’s lawyers have tried to make this case go away, peddling a series of arguments in a New York courtroom, each of which were rejected late last week.

    The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson recently reported on the court proceedings that occurred before Friday’s announcement in which “the judge in the case, Saliann Scarpulla, made a series of comments and rulings from the bench that hinted – well, all but screamed – that she believes the Trump family has done some very bad things.”

    The judge has urged the Trumps to settle. The president has said he won’t. […]

  269. says

    SC, thanks for keeping us up to date on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    From Josh Marshall:

    With a highly dangerous situation unfolding between Russia and Ukraine over the weekend, it’s important to return to a basic point about […] Trump and the danger he represents to the United States. This is as relevant to the crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia as it is with Russia and Ukraine.

    […] Trump comically overstates US dependence on Saudi Arabia for US jobs. More importantly, Saudi Arabia has much less hold over global energy markets than it did in the past. But even with all that, the US relationship with Saudi Arabia is far too complex and embedded to be radically upended even by one egregious incident like this.

    Similarly, with Russia, we hear discussions about whether Trump is too pro-Russia or pursuing US national interests. But again, this isn’t really the issue. We don’t want to take a reflexively hostile or militant stance in this conflict between Russia and Ukraine. […] The problem in both cases is that Trump appears to be pursuing some definition of his own personal interests over national interests. […] it makes the conduct of US policy almost impossible to predict or trust.

    […] we have a President who is in some sense owned or dominated by the President of Russia. […] it’s a great way to produce catastrophic misunderstandings between the countries in question.

    […] With Trump, on most fronts we have put up claims (half a trillion in investment from Saudi Arabia that can’t be squandered!!!) that simply do not match with the actions.

    As a country we remain in a state of shadow paralysis, not even able to adequately discuss or devise responses to critical foreign policy because the President’s actions are opaque and almost certainly corrupt.

  270. says

    Tomi Lahren, a Fox News host, tweeted that children getting tear-gassed at the border was the “highlight” of her Thanksgiving. Of course, she didn’t mention the children.

    Her tweet:

    Bum-rushing the border is a CHOICE and has consequences. Watching the USA FINALLY defend our borders was the HIGHLIGHT of my Thanksgiving weekend. 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

    From Alyssa Milano, in reply to Trump:

    You tear-gassed women and children, asswipe! And on Thanksgiving weekend, you piece of shit, asshole, motherfucking, evil-creature-person!!

    Trump’s tweet:

    Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer). Dems created this problem. No crossings!

    Additional details from Daily Kos:

    […] On Sunday, the Trump administration tear-gassed a group of people seeking asylum, including children, at the Tijuana border. As reported by CNN, about 500 people approached the border before teargas was dispensed. They actually closed the border entirely in response to migrants protesting slow processing of their entry applications, as well as shelter conditions in Mexico. […]

    Photos of migrant children who were tear-gassed at the border, from The Washington Post.

    A little girl from Honduras stares into the camera, her young features contorted in anguish. She’s barefoot, dusty, and clad only in a diaper and T-shirt. And she’s just had to run from clouds of choking tear gas fired across the border by U.S. agents.

    A second photograph, which also circulated widely and rapidly on social media, shows an equally anguished woman frantically trying to drag the same child and a second toddler away from the gas as it spreads.

    The three were part of a much larger group, perhaps 70 or 80 men, women and children, pictured in a wider-angle photo fleeing the tear gas. Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon shot the images, which provoked outrage and seemed at odds with President Trump’s portrayal of the caravan migrants as “criminals” and “gang members.” […]

    “Shooting tear gas at children is not who we are as Americans,” tweeted Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Seeking asylum is not a crime. We must be better than this.”

    Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor-elect of California, argued that images of kids sprinting from tear gas run counter to American ideals.

    “These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,” he tweeted. “Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this.” […]

    More analysis, from Peter S. Margulies, an immigration law expert at Roger Williams University School of Law:

    “The border is very long,” Margulies told The Post. But if the administration can “stop people just short of the border, there’s a better argument that those people are not entitled to asylum. I think it would be terrible policy and I think it would be morally repugnant,” he said, “but the administration would be on better legal footing.”

    From The Washington Post:

    […] Attempting to stop them short of the border appears to be just what Trump may be planning.

    Had the migrants made it to the border and presented themselves as asylum seekers, U.S. officials would have been required by federal law to consider their claim before sending them back to Mexico. Indeed, they are required to do so whether the migrants cross at a designated point of entry or anywhere else. […]

    American Civil Liberties Union immigration attorney Lee Gelernt told The Post on Sunday night. If and when an agreement is worked out, the law says, “there needs to be an assurance that individuals waiting on the Mexican side are safe, not just from the Mexican government but from gangs” and others.

    “We believe it would be impossible for the U.S.” to make that assurance, he added

    That last statement, from Lee Gelernt is very important.

  271. says

    Followup to comment 407.

    Trump’s tweet from this morning:

    Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!

    Pop star Rihanna’s reacted to the use of tear gas by the U.S. Border Patrol:

    […] She posted an Instagram drawing attention to a report that that U.S. Border Patrol had “just launched tear gas into Mexico.”

    “Breeze carrying it hundreds of yards,” read the tweet from an Associated Press reporter that Rihanna screenshotted. “Parents running away with choking toddlers.”

    “Terrorism,” Rihanna captioned the Instagram.

    The Hill link

  272. says

    Fox News is adding to Trump’s fear mongering by running hours of propaganda. (See comment 408 for Trump’s statement that characterized migrants as “stone cold criminals.”)

    Fox News has escalated efforts to stoke fears about a caravan of Central American migrants amid clashes at the United States-Mexico border. […]

    Media Matters for America senior fellow Matt Gertz on Monday morning posted screengrabs from the conservative network’s morning programming, including chyrons reading, “Crisis erupts as migrants storm the US border,” and “Caravan crisis escalates at the US border.” Fox News showed footage of migrants reportedly hitting border agents with rocks and bottles. […]

    In an interview on Fox News, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke of a “war” on the border.

    “What people are trying to do is a psychological war, very often guided, by the way, by American leftists who are activists and American left-wing organizations who are helping finance it,” he said, referencing a conspiracy theory that some progressives and Democrats are financing the migrant caravan.

    Conservative commentator and NRATV host Dan Bongino echoed the panic.

    “I don’t mean to be hyperbolic about it, but clearly what happened yesterday were people trying to invade our border,” he said. “What do you believe?”

    Guests also defended using pepper spray on migrants.

    “It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes,” Border Patrol Foundation president Rob Colburn said in an interview with Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” […]

    Vox link.

  273. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    In another escalation of Donald Trump’s war on immigrants, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents fired tear gas into Mexico Sunday to teach those people a lesson.

    Hundreds of migrants had been protesting the US’s deliberate slowdown of processing requests for asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry. After Mexican police blocked a pedestrian bridge, part of the group crossed a dry concrete riverbed, and some attempted to get through fencing at the border.

    CBP agents fired at least two volleys of tear gas, which drifted hundreds of feet, gassing not only people trying to get through the fences, but also women and children who were nowhere near them. Fox and Friends was there to assure us, though: Tear gas is really just nacho dust. […]

    The most important thing to remember is that all of this is perfectly normal, and all the people who got gassed were totally asking for it by being poor and fleeing violence in Central America. And yes, there really were some people in the group doing a bad thing:

    An Associated Press reporter saw U.S. agents shoot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate several points along the border. Mexico’s Milenio TV showed images of migrants climbing over fences and peeling back metal sheeting to enter.

    Honduran Ana Zuniga, 23, also said she saw migrants opening a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.

    Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.

    “We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” Zuniga told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.

    […] how many members of the group were doing those bad things? Buzzfeed reports a Mexican official said approximately 30 migrants actually breached the border and were arrested by the US, but there wasn’t any confirmation of that number from the US side. Also, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement (about which there has been no confirmation except from Kirstjen Nielsen) that some of the migrants “sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them,” ergo, all the thousands of refugees trying to keep their children from being murdered in Honduras don’t deserve asylum and definitely deserved to be gassed, and plenty of fine patriotic Americans on Twitter wish the Border Patrol had used live ammo. […]

    The Washington Post helpfully notes that presidents don’t actually have the power to “close the border permanently,” no, not even crazy presidents who have made ending immigration their best-selling brand. And even though Trump really, really wants to radically revise how asylum works (to the point of effectively ending it), so far, the courts won’t let him. And under US law, anyone who makes it to US soil is still entitled to ask for asylum, even if they didn’t cross at a port of entry.

    Of course, the problem with insisting that asylum seekers only go to ports of entry is that US officials are also restricting access to that option.

    […] At other ports of entry, border guards have been doing all they can to physically block people from even setting foot across the border. It’s a hell of a catch: You must come in the right way, but we won’t let you come in that way, either. […]

  274. says


    Extraordinary to relate, the San Mateo Superior Court does not have jurisidiction over the UK Parliament!

    The best part is that Zuckerberg was arrogant enough to suggest it – that they not even review the documents. Hilarious.

  275. says

    From Jennifer Rubin, writing for The Washington Post:

    […] The same lack of coherence and political support appears on the domestic policy front. The Post reports:

    President Trump is demanding top advisers craft a plan to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficits, but the president has flummoxed his own aides by repeatedly seeking new spending while ruling out measures needed to address the country’s unbalanced budget.

    Trump’s deficit-reduction directive came last month, after the White House reported a large increase in the deficit for the previous 12 months. The announcement unnerved Republicans and investors, helping fuel a big sell-off in the stock market. Two days after the deficit report, Trump floated a surprise demand to his Cabinet secretaries, asking them to identify steep cuts in their agencies.

    As striking as Trump’s utter inability to grapple with basic problems, his staff’s unwillingness to maintain any semblance of unity and loyalty suggests they no long think it’s in their personal interest to be associated with a president who makes mincemeat of one policy issue after another. His childish inability to make hard decisions […] makes him a hapless, inept figure. He’s not so much leading as he is meandering — with aides racing after him to prevent bigger disasters and embarrassments.

    Republicans would be wise to forge their own course on a whole array of matters and to stop defending an indefensible president (as they are doing on Saudi Arabia). If not, the 2020 election will make 2018 look like a smashing success for the GOP.

  276. says

    A few unrelated snippets of news:

    Beto O’Rourke is no no longer ruling out a run for the presidency in 2020:

    […] He said he’s focused on his family and representing his district until leaving the House on Jan. 3. But after that, he and his wife will “think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community.”

    O’Rourke then grinned at his wife, Amy, asking, “Was that OK?”

    Trump and the recent General Motors announcement:

    General Motors will cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it abandons many of its car models and restructures to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles, the automaker announced Monday.

    […] In October, almost 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were trucks or SUVs. That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.

    GM is shedding cars largely because it doesn’t make money on them […]

    The reduction includes about 8,000 white-collar employees, or 15 percent of GM’s North American white-collar workforce. Some will take buyouts while others will be laid off.

    At the factories, around 3,300 blue-collar workers could lose jobs in Canada and another 2,600 in the U.S., but some U.S. workers could transfer to truck or SUV factories that are increasing production. […]

    General Motors Co.’s pre-emptive strike to get leaner before the next downturn likely will be followed by Ford Motor Co., which has said it is restructuring and will lay off an unspecified number of white-collar workers. Toyota Motor Corp. also has discussed cutting costs, even though it’s building a new assembly plant in Alabama. […]

    GM doesn’t foresee an economic downturn and is making the cuts “to get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong,” CEO Mary Barra told reporters.

    She also noted that tariffs on imported aluminum and steel have hit the company, but she stopped short of saying they had anything to do with the restructuring.

    […] Trump said his administration and lawmakers are exerting “a lot of pressure” on GM.

    Trump said he was being tough on Barra. He said he told the company that the U.S. has done a lot for GM and that if its cars aren’t selling, the company needs to produce ones that will.

    At a rally near Lordstown, Ohio, plant last summer, Trump told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are “coming back. They’re all coming back.” […]

    Trump’s comments are a string of lies, past and present lies.

    More details on the reductions in GM staff, and on the closing of GM plants:

    […] The Detroit-based union has already condemned GM’s actions and threatened to fight them “through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership.” […]

    Bobbi Marsh, who has worked assembling the Chevrolet Cruze compact car at the Ohio plant since 2008, said she can’t understand why the factory might close given the strong economy.

    “I can’t believe our president would allow this to happen,” she said Monday. […]

    Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said the move will be disastrous for the region around Youngstown, Ohio, east of Cleveland, where GM is one of the area’s few remaining industrial anchors.

    “GM received record tax breaks as a result of the GOP’s tax bill last year, and has eliminated jobs instead of using that tax windfall to invest in American workers,” he said in a statement.

    […] GM is still hiring people with expertise in software and electric and autonomous vehicles. […]

    TPM link

    Reaction from Utah’s outgoing Representative Mia Love to Trump’s recent insults:

    “Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” Trump smirked. “Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

    […] “What did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?” she said […]. “This gave me a clear vision of his world as it is. No real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.” […]

    TPM link

  277. says

    The Washington Post reported about the violence done by right-wing extremists in the USA, “In the United States, right-wing violence is on the rise”:

    […]Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Trump took office.

    This year has been especially deadly. Just last month, 13 people died in two incidents: A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history. […]

    Excellent charts and graphs are available at the link.

    More details:

    […] Terrorism researchers say right-wing violence sprouted alongside white anxiety about Obama’s presidency and has accelerated in the Trump era. Trump and his aides have continuously denied that he has contributed to the rise in violence. But experts say right-wing extremists perceive the president as offering them tacit support for their cause.This month brought two more bodies: A military veteran who had railed online against women and blacks opened fire in a Tallahassee yoga studio, killing two women and wounding five. All told, researchers say at least 20 people have died this year in suspected right-wing attacks. […]

    More recently, Trump rallied crowds in the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections with incendiary rhetoric about Muslims and immigrants, terming a caravan of Central American refugees an “invasion” and ordering active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “If you have politicians saying things like our nation is under attack, that there are these marauding bands of immigrants coming into the country, that plays into this right-wing narrative. They begin to think it’s okay to use violence,” said Gary LaFree, criminology chairman at the University of Maryland and founding director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START.

    Much more at the link, including details regarding left-wing violence.

  278. says

    Just as I was heading out to dinner last night, the news broke that Mueller is saying Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying! Manafort’s lawyers put forward a halfhearted defense, but both parties appear to want a date to be set for sentencing. The takes on Manafort’s motives and what this means for the investigation span the spectrum, but I’m confident Mueller’s team know what they’re doing. Trump is tweeting desperate attacks on Mueller today; they’re a lot like a crime family, and Mueller has experience with crime families.

    Mueller has to submit information about the lies to the judge today. If it’s not under seal, we’ll know much more, but it could be sealed.

    This morning, the Guardian published “Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy.” WL vehemently denies it and it hasn’t (yet) been confirmed by other news organizations; on the other hand, Luke Harding (author of Collusion) is a very good investigative reporter who’s been following Manafort’s activities for several years. Don’t know.

  279. says

    Both NBC and the AP have withdrawn their calls of the CA-21 race for the Republican Valadao. Democrat T.J. Cox pulled slightly ahead yesterday as the votes continue to be counted. A win there would bring the Democrats to 40 House flips.

  280. says

    Trump’s latest tantrum about the Mueller investigation:

    The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue.

    The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his terrible Gang of Angry Democrats.

    Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives. Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and ‘Justice’ Department!

    From Steve Benen, some context:

    […] late yesterday afternoon, the plea agreement between Mueller and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, collapsed. Confronted with news coverage of the developments, the president lashed out wildly at the special counsel.

    Mueller says Manafort kept lying, even after the plea agreement.

    Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to sentence former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, saying he broke his plea agreement by lying to the FBI and investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller.

    […] “after signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement.”


    Manafort “flipped” in September, and had, supposedly, been cooperating with Mueller’s investigators.

    From Matt Miller:

    Manafort is either an incredibly stupid criminal or he’s protecting some secret so big that he’s willing to spend the rest of his life in jail to keep the world from discovering it.

    Maybe. I think Manafort is still expecting/hoping for a pardon from Trump.

    Or, is Manafort trying to get back into prison so that the Russians can’t assassinate him?

    Trump’s tantrum sounded like barely-concealed signals to his cronies not to cooperate were included.

    Also, Trump is still seizing every opportunity to discredit Mueller and the investigation. Trump thinks he can escape punishment by increasing public distrust of the justice system.

  281. says

    The disinformation and fake news hearing is still going on (see #411 for more), and Cadwalladr is livetweeting.

    Press conference: @damiancollins ‘We’re not yet ready to publish the seized documents because we need to go through them properly/redact etc. I promise you we will publish them. Very soon. Certainly within the next week’.”

  282. says

    Part of Trump’s excuse for firing tear gas canisters into Mexico:

    […] had to use tear gas […] We had tremendous violence — three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.

    Trump made the injuries up. He lied. He spouted total bullshit. From NBC News:

    That’s false, according to the president’s own administration. The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that there were no injuries during the weekend clashes in which border agents used tear gas against migrants seeking to enter the U.S.

    The Mexican government is now calling for “a full investigation.”

    From Steve Benen:

    As the Washington Post reported, Trump added yesterday that some of those who were tear-gassed were “grabbers” who took others’ children to protect themselves, but the evidence to substantiate the claims doesn’t exist.

    In the meantime, the White House and its allies have invested quite a bit of time arguing that tear gas is effectively meaningless. The president himself called it “very minor” and “very safe.” (It’s neither minor nor safe, especially for young children.)

    In conservative media, one Fox News guest said of pepper spray, “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” Conservatives have peddled this line before, and it’s plainly untrue.

    As for Mexico’s request for “a full investigation” into Sunday’s incident, we don’t yet know whether the White House will agree to such scrutiny.

    Why tear gas, lobbed at migrants on the southern border, is banned in warfare

  283. says

    WTF? Why? The Trump administration decided not to run FBI checks for people working as staff at a camp for migrant children.

    The Trump administration announced in June it would open a temporary shelter for up to 360 migrant children in this isolated corner of the Texas desert. Less than six months later, the facility has expanded into a detention camp holding thousands of teenagers — and it shows every sign of becoming more permanent.

    […] 2,324 largely Central American boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were sleeping inside the highly guarded facility […]

    More people are detained in Tornillo’s tent city than in all but one of the nation’s 204 federal prisons, yet construction continues. […]

    An Associated Press investigation has found that the camp’s rapid growth has created serious problems, including:

    — None of the 2,100 staff are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a government watchdog memo obtained exclusively by AP. “Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo says. […]

    — The government is allowing the nonprofit running the facility to sidestep mental health care requirements. […]

    […] federal immigration policies have resulted in the detention of a record 14,000 migrant children, filling shelter beds around the country to capacity. Almost all came on their own from Central America hoping to join family members in the United States.

    Some children have been detained at Tornillo since the tent camp opened in June. As the population inside the tall wire fences swells, and as some children stay there longer, the young detainees’ anguish has deepened. […]

    Failing to properly check staffers’ backgrounds “can lead to potential abuse and neglect of these kids,” according to Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    “We already know these settings are traumatizing for teenagers,” Kraft added. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  284. says

    Followup to comment 414.

    Trump found a new way to threaten General Motors:

    […] Trump on Tuesday threatened to try to end General Motors Co.’s federal tax credit for electric vehicles in retaliation for the company’s planned layoffs.

    Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon that is is “Very disappointed” with the company’s plans to close up to five manufacturing plants — four of them in the United States and one in Canada — and lay off about 15 percent of its workforce.

    “We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including … for electric cars,” he said. […]

    It’s unclear what other subsidies might be targeted by Trump, or whether he would try to only cut off GM, or end the tax credit altogether. Ending the subsidy would require Congress to pass a new law.

    The federal government currently gives a $7,500 tax break to taxpayers who buy electric vehicles. Two GM vehicles currently qualify: the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. […]

    “We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they should apply or not. I can’t say anything final about that, but we’re looking into it, ”[Larry] Kudlow told reporters in a White House briefing.

    “Again, that reflects the president’s own disappointment regarding these actions,” he said of the plant closings. […]

    The Hill link

  285. says

    From Mark Sumner, here is some informed speculation about Manafort’s plea deal, and about the subsequent events:

    […] The way in which this came down suggests that, from the beginning, Manafort made his plea not in an effort to reduce his sentence, but as a way to curry favor with Trump. […]

    Here’s how that might have gone:

    Manafort agrees to a plea deal, promising to tell all. However, what Manafort tells doesn’t just stop short of “all,” it includes deliberate lies and omissions.

    In addition to giving Mueller a sanitized version of events, Manafort reports back to Trump on what the investigation is asking him, providing invaluable prep as Trump determines his own actions.

    At the same time, Donald Trump is preparing to answer a set of written questions from Robert Mueller’s team. He delays and delays on providing these answers because … because he’s waiting for his inside man to reassure him that the special counsel has swallowed the “official” version of what happened hook, line, and sinker.

    Reassured by Manafort that he has sold Mueller’s team on a carefully edited version of the “truth,” Trump turns in his homework.

    And it’s only after Mueller has Trump’s answers in hand that he marches Manafort back into court and reveals that he knew the campaign manager was lying all along. Now Mueller doesn’t just have Manafort on record lying, he has written proof that Manafort and Trump were conspiring again to deceive and misdirect the investigation.

    In fact, if Trump and Manafort were working together to sell a story to Mueller’s team, it could not only represent the best example of Trump’s willingness to lie to avoid responsibility, it could be a definitive example how his lies never end. […]

    Maybe this version gives Mueller too much credit. Maybe there was no scheme between Trump and Manafort. But it certainly looks at this point as if Robert Mueller opened up a door marked “one last chance to demonstrate who you are” and both Trump and Manafort hurried in.

  286. says

    Farm bankruptcies have doubled under the Trump administration:

    […] Over the last 12 months ending in June, 84 farms have declared bankruptcy in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, more than doubling the number of bankruptcies over the same stretch in 2013/2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

    Additionally, the outlook moving forward doesn’t look good. Some farm exports actually spiked in the second quarter in the race to beat the implementation of China’s retaliatory tariffs. Soybean sales, for instance, have now “slowed to a crawl,” according the Star Tribune. Given the price drops on the products since June, Minneapolis Fed analyst Ron Wirtz tells the AP, “The trajectory of the current trends suggest that this trend has not yet seen a peak.”

    Analysts told the AP that many farmers were already producing beyond demand before the trade war with China escalated. Trump’s tariffs have exacerbated what was already a looming problem. […]


  287. says

    Melania Trump chose some spooky Christmas decorations for the White House.

    […] The color red was big, appearing in a dramatic forest of 40 towering crimson topiary trees in the East Colonnade and on 14,000 ornaments in the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall.

    The first lady’s office described the red motif: “The choice of red is an extension of the pales, or stripes found in the presidential seal designed by our Founding Fathers. It is a symbol of valor and bravery.”

    However, the unconventional grove of red trees evoked an immediate reaction online. They were described as scary and ominous and referred to as the “hallway of Yuletide murders” and “the avenue of blood red trees.” […]

    Washington Post link

  288. says

    tomh in comment 429, I agree.

    Furthermore, Trump all but confirmed the pardon offer by tweeting:

    I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!

    Another aspect of this issue: Manafort has been trafficking in lies and scams all his life. He may be incapable of cooperating properly with Manafort.

    A lot of people are speculating that Manafort still has, even after the plea agreement, some sort of joint defense agreement with Trump.