1. says

    Every elected Democrat needs to loudly and repeatedly demand the release of the full Mueller report.

    No one moves on from anything until the public is allowed to read it.”

    I’m tired of these Democrats on the news talking about how their constituents don’t care about this. We were waiting for Mueller to finish his investigation, and now the House committees have given Barr an April 2 deadline to turn over the full report and we’re expecting them to subpoena it if that deadline isn’t met.

  2. KG says

    Corbyn now sayaLabour MPs will be whipped to support an amendment calling for a second referendum, if (as can safely be assumed) it is called by the speaker:

    The motion, tabled by Dame Margaret Beckett, suggests parliament should not ratify any Brexit deal “unless and until” it has been approved in a “confirmatory public vote”.

    One shadow cabinet source suggested the amendment went beyond what had been agreed by Corbyn in calling for a referendum on any deal passed by the house, which some believe undermines efforts to reach a compromise Brexit deal that Labour has pursued over recent weeks.

    Several shadow ministers are expected to resign and defy the whip – alongside a parcel of existing backbenchers, no doubt. So the pressure on Corbyn from the Remain side of Labour must have been huge – possibly threats by McDonnell andor Starmer to resign.

  3. says

    From today’s Guardian liveblog:

    “Bercow puts prospect of fresh meaningful vote in doubt by firming up his ‘no repeat votes’ ruling”

    John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, is now talking about his ruling about “no repeat votes”, that prevented Theresa May from bringing back her meaningful vote before the EU summit.

    He says there is talk of the government bringing back the vote on Thursday or Friday next week.

    He says that, for this to be allowed, there would have to a substantial change to the motion.

    And he says he has instructed the clerks to block any attempt by the government to ge round this ruling by tabling a “notwithstanding” motion – ie, a one-off rule change that would allow the debate to go ahead despite the usual Commons rule.

    This is new, and unexpected. It has probably reduced the chances of the meaningful vote being brought back this week (MV3), and it makes the chance of MV3 never happening a distinct possibility.

    It wasn’t unexpected by me. :))

  4. says

    “Man charged with NZ mosque attacks gave cash to Austrian far-right: Chancellor Kurz”:

    Austria’s far-right Identitarian Movement received cash from the man charged with killing 50 people in mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Wednesday.

    “We can now confirm that there was financial support and so a link between the New Zealand attacker and the Identitarian Movement in Austria,” Kurz said.

    A spokesman for prosecutors in Graz said the head of Austria’s Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, received 1,500 euros ($1,690) in early 2018 from a donor with the same name as the man charged over the March 15 Christchurch attacks.

    Sellner, who did not reply to requests for comment from Reuters, published two videos on YouTube in which he said he had received a donation which involved an email address that matched the name of the Australian alleged to have carried out the Christchurch attacks.

    In one of the videos, he said: “I’m not a member of a terrorist organisation. I have nothing to do with this man, other than that I passively received a donation from him.”

    He said the donation was from early 2018 and that he would give the money to a charitable foundation.

    Sellner said that police had raided his house over the possible links to the attacker.

    Austria’s Identitarians, who say they want to preserve Europe’s identity, are a relatively new, media-savvy far-right movement which uses the internet to promote their actions on the streets.

    They imitate the tactics of more established activist groups such as Greenpeace. In 2017 they helped charter a ship as part of what they said was a campaign to defend Europe, and they have tried to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.

    Hansjoerg Bacher, spokesman for Graz prosecutors, said an investigation was underway about whether there were criminally relevant links between Sellner and the mosque attacker.

    Kurz said Austria was looking into dissolving the Identitarian Movement.

    Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), said the FPO had nothing to do with the Identitarian Movement.

    New Zealand has announced a royal commission inquiry into the March 15 attack on two mosques in Christchurch….

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “It’s not a difficult decision. It’s an evil one.”
    Damn, that could be the Trump Admin bumper sticker.

    As to the release of the Meuller Report, I am content to bludgeon the Republicans for obstruction as long as they continue to refuse to release. As long as they refuse, they cannot refute. And if they back down, I’ll bludgeon them with whatever is actually in the report.

    Personally, I think that “too little evidence of colluding with a hostile foreign power to bring an indictment” is a mighty low bar to apply to the nominal “leader of the free world,” and I think they are vulnerable on this account. Lindsey Graham et al. will try to change the subject to “anti-Trump bias,” and we have to make sure they are unsuccessful.

    The whole spectacle reminds me of Iran-Contra–a President and his administration colluding with an hostile foreign power to subvert the democratic will of the people. Of course, Iran-Contra was merely about sending arms to right-wing thugs in a foreign country, while the Russia collusion was about bringing right-wing thugs to power here.

  6. says

    “Facebook Bans White Nationalism and White Separatism”:

    In a major policy shift for the world’s biggest social media network, Facebook banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform Tuesday. Facebook will also begin directing users who try to post content associated with those ideologies to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups, Motherboard has learned.

    The new policy, which will be officially implemented next week, highlights the malleable nature of Facebook’s policies, which govern the speech of more than 2 billion users worldwide. And Facebook still has to effectively enforce the policies if it is really going to diminish hate speech on its platform. The policy will apply to both Facebook and Instagram.

    Last year, a Motherboard investigation found that, though Facebook banned “white supremacy” on its platform, it explicitly allowed “white nationalism” and “white separatism.” After backlash from civil rights groups and historians who say there is no difference between the ideologies, Facebook has decided to ban all three, two members of Facebook’s content policy team said.

    While there is unanimous agreement among civil rights experts Motherboard spoke to that white nationalism and separatism are indistinguishable from white supremacy, the decision is likely to be politically controversial both in the United States, where the right has accused Facebook of having an anti-conservative bias, and worldwide, especially in countries where openly white nationalist politicians have found large followings. Facebook said that not all of the groups it spoke to believed it should change its policy.

    But Facebook said that the overwhelming majority of experts it spoke to believed that white nationalism and white separatism are tied closely to organized hate, and that all experts it spoke to believe that white nationalism expressed online has led to real-world harm. After speaking to these experts, Facebook decided that white nationalism and white separatism are “inherently hateful.”…

  7. says


    Personally, I think that “too little evidence of colluding with a hostile foreign power to bring an indictment” is a mighty low bar to apply to the nominal “leader of the free world,” and I think they are vulnerable on this account.

    From Stephen Colbert’s monologue last night: “And I’ve gotta say, being told you’ve not been indicted for betraying your country is a pretty low bar for a victory lap. If I don’t run anyone over in my car tomorrow, I expect to celebrate with an ice cream cake.”

  8. says

    The bigger issue isn’t that the White House, for purely political reasons, insisted that DOJ take an indefensible position with regard to courts throwing out the entire ACA; it’s that an Attorney General who supposedly (and correctly) objected didn’t resign when he was overruled.”

  9. says

    SC @14, I agree. Barr is a lackey. He has revealed his true nature.

    In other news, here’s some eye popping high dudgeon from Kellyanne Conway:

    The idea that any of us, and me as a campaign manager, would cheat, steal, lie, cut corners, talk to Russians, was an insult from the beginning.

    Guilty on all counts, Kellyanne.

    […] Conway’s predecessor in the president’s political operation was Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to several years in a federal penitentiary for, among other things, committing fraud. [Cheating? Check.]

    Is it outrageous to think a top member of the Trump campaign would “steal”? I’m afraid not. Rick Gates, who served as the deputy chairman of the president’s political operation conceded last summer he may have helped himself to some of the money raised by the Trump inaugural fund. [Stealing? Check.]

    Is it outrageous to think a top member of the Trump campaign would “cut corners”? Actually, Donald Trump himself has been directly implicated in a hush-money scandal that ran afoul of federal campaign-finance laws. [I could include a very long list of corners cut, and it would include the serious matter of Trump not even nominating qualified personnel to fill many government positions.]

    Is it outrageous to think a top member of the Trump campaign would “talk to Russians”? Well, as it turns out, despite Conway’s previous assertions that no one from the Republican campaign team spoke to Russians during their attack on our elections, we now know more than a few Trump campaign officials and advisers had these communications. [Talking to Russians? Check, check, check …..]

    […] White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about talking to Russians.

    In other words, it appears that what Kellyanne Conway described as wrong to the point of being insulting happens to be true.


    Kellyanne just summarized the wrong doing.

  10. says

    Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled another substantive policy proposal. She has a plan to address consolidation in the agribusiness industry.

    Des Moines Register link

    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is taking aim at some of the nation’s largest agribusiness companies, such as Tyson and Bayer-Monsanto, continuing her campaign’s assault on corporate consolidation. […]

    “We can make better policy choices — and that means leveling the playing field for America’s family farmers,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her proposal.

    […] Warren is announcing her plan to take on corporate agriculture days before traveling to Iowa to speak at a rural issues forum. […][

    Warren’s campaign has focused on the idea that the federal government no longer works for working families and small businesses but instead is rigged in favor of the wealthy and well-connected. The senator has separated herself from a crowded field of Democratic contenders early in the race by releasing multiple policy proposals shaped around those themes.

    […] Iowa, where nearly 90 percent of the state — roughly 30 million acres — is covered in farmland.

    Rural Iowa, in particular, has felt the effects of farm consolidation, which creates ripple effects through local economies. According to data for the U.S. Agriculture Census, Iowa lost 32,600 farms during a 30-year period that ended in 2012. […]

    Warren argues small farmers are unable to get ahead “because bad decisions in Washington have consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists” over their own. […]

    “The number of purchasers of soybeans or hogs has shrunk dramatically,” she said. “The number of seed providers has shrunk dramatically, and the diversity of the seeds (offered) has shrunk. Concentration in those industries has put a real squeeze on small- and medium-sized farms in Iowa.”

    She is calling for a reversal of the $66 billion merger between Bayer AG and Monsanto, which was approved by federal regulators earlier this year. […]

  11. says

    Say what now? A Republican elected official read from Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” on the floor of the House of Congress?

    Yes. That was Representative Mo Brooks, who is planning to run for a Senate seat for the state of Alabama. Brooks thinks that Hitler’s use of “colossal untruths” applies to Democrats. He connected that claim to the Mueller investigation.

    “A ‘big lie’ is a political propaganda technique made famous by Germany’s national socialist German Workers Party,” Brooks said on the House floor. “For more than two years, socialist Democrats and their fake news media allies, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, Washington Post and countless others have perpetrated the biggest political lie, con, scam and fraud in American history.”

    No. I can’t explain it. Brooks is just off in LaLa Land as far as I can tell. Maybe his takeaway is that Democrats are Nazis? And that Hitler was a socialist?

    Later, in a committee hearing, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas also compared Democrats to Nazis by saying that the fascism of the Nazi Party was the same as the socialism of the Democrats.

    NBC News link

  12. says

    Trump is in hole when it comes to healthcare, and he is digging fast.

    […] Trump bragged about his administration’s move to abandon Obamacare in federal court, telling reporters in the Oval Office that “If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare.”

    The comments were, as usual, mostly detail-free and fact-free: In an Oval Office meeting with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, Trump claimed the “only difference” between his administration and former President Barack Obama’s “is that we’re administering Obamacare very well.”

    Well, that’s a colossal untruth.

    “We’ve made it better but it’s still horrible, no good,” Trump said. “It’s something that we can’t live with in this country, because it’s far too expensive for the people.”

    In fact, the Trump administration has undermined Obamacare over and over, including by dramatically scaling back funds for advertising and outreach, and for so-called navigator groups that provide free guidance for insurance shoppers. […]

    Trump also eliminated “Cost-Sharing Reduction” payments to insurance companies, which were used to lower costs for qualified consumers, leading to confusion about the true cost of plans. He also undercut a central pillar of the law when he signed a tax bill that eliminated penalties for non-exempt people without health insurance.

    As Alice Ollstein wrote in August last year:

    […] most of [what HHS Secretary Alex Azar called the “damage” done by Obamacare] is the result of the Trump administration’s policies, including the repeal of the individual mandate, the sabotage of the 2017 open enrollment period, and most recently, the introduction of skimpy, short-term, off-market insurance plans designed to draw younger and healthier people out of the regulated market.


    Oh, yeah, that is certainly “administering Obamacare very well.” Not.

  13. says

    Followup to comment 18.

    From the readers comments:

    And black is white and freedom is slavery. Time to bust out the Orwell tomes.
    LOLOLOLOLOL We’ve been hearing this “we have a better plan ready to go” for nearly 4 years now. [Lynna: more like 8 years] And yet, no plan exists or has ever existed. If it had, then the compoletely Republican controlled country (President, House AND Senate) could have passsed and enacted it.

    So effing pathetic…
    I’d show you the “Plan”, but it’s being audited.
    AG William Barr is preparing a four page summary of the “Plan”.
    “The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”

    From Adam Schiff:

    If you thought Trump was done trying to cancel coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, think again.

    DOJ just asked a court to strike down the entire ACA, which would cost 30 million Americans their insurance — meaning fewer benefits and higher costs for almost everyone.

  14. says

    Puerto Rico Gov Hits Back After Trump Whines About Hurricane Relief Funds

    Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is fed up with President Trump’s disparagement of the island following reports that Trump complained to Senate Republicans on Tuesday about the amount of disaster relief funding that went to Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria last year.

    “The comments attributed to Donald Trump today by senators from his own party are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States. They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified,” Rosselló said in a statement released Tuesday. “Enough with the insults and demeaning mischaracterizations. We are not your political adversaries; we are your citizens.”

    Rosselló suggested that perhaps Trump got “misleading information from his own staff” about the funds the island has received and the state of its recovery process. He invited Trump to visit the territory — where nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the catastrophic storm — and “put all of the resources at his disposal to help Americans in Puerto Rico, like he did for Texas and Alabama. No more, no less.”

    During a meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, Trump reportedly whined about how much aid Puerto Rico had received and said the island could be bought “four times over for $91 billion.”

  15. says

    This is quite an interview with Mark Corallo. Even with all the excuses he (pretty halfheartedly, it seems to me) makes for Trump & Co., it’s remarkably damning. Total contempt for the rule of law and the public. Here’s why Corallo says he left:

    …CORALLO: Yeah and so I pointed out that the statement was inaccurate and that there were documents, that I understood there were documents that would prove that. Hope Hicks replied to me when I, when I said look there are you know there are documents. She said, well nobody’s ever going to see those documents. Which you know made my throat dry up immediately. And I just – at that point I just said, Mr. President we can’t talk about this anymore. You got to talk to your lawyers. And for me, it was just the fact that she was even A. that you would say something like that in the presence of the president the United States. That you would not be aware that that could be construed as obstruction. Right? The threat to withhold documents? Like what does that mean that no one’s ever going to see them? What are you gonna destroy them? She showed a complete lack of understanding of the situation and was completely in over her head.

    VLSATO: Right. But it’s not criminal, but it goes back to what you were saying before.

    CORALLO: Right. It’s not, it’s not.

    VLASTO: Sometimes you have to show criminal intent.

    CORALLO: Right. I wasn’t really worried as much about the stakes in a criminal investigation. I was more worried about a potential impeachment down the road. And, you know, that’s the kind of thing that definitely goes to, you know, impeachable offenses. If you’re going to, if you’re going to charge impeachable offenses in articles of impeachment. Those are the kinds of stories that come up….

    Did we know that when Hicks said “nobody’s ever going to see those documents,” Trump was on the phone? Because I don’t remember knowing that.

  16. tomh says

    WaPo: Judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky, Arkansas

    A federal judge in Washington threw a significant roadblock into the Trump administration’s efforts to require poor people on Medicaid to be compelled to work in exchange for health benefits, rejecting a Kentucky program for a second time while saying that rules in effect in Arkansas “cannot stand.”

    The twinned opinions, in a pair of states that have been national leaders in the move towards Medicaid work requirements, cast doubt on the Trump administration’s approvals of efforts to re-envision the public insurance program. The opinions undo the permission the U.S. Health and Human Services Department had given those two states, telling the agency it must reconsider their applications with an eye towards the effect on poor people who depend on the coverage.

    Judge James E. Boasberg, of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, concluded that in letting Kentucky go forward with its requirements, HHS had been “arbitrary and capricious” — the same criticism he leveled once before.

  17. says

    “Detained Saudi women’s rights activists tell judges of abuse”:

    Nearly a dozen Saudi women’s rights activists seated before a three-judge panel in a Riyadh courtroom Wednesday laid out their defense and spoke of physical and sexual abuse they say they were subjected to by masked interrogators, according to people with knowledge of the case.

    It marked a significant moment for the 11 women on trial, nearly all of whom were taken from their homes in the Saudi capital 10 months ago and transferred to the Red Sea city of Jiddah just weeks before the kingdom lifted its ban on women driving.

    The women, appearing in their second court session since their arrest in May, had long pushed for the right to drive and called for an end to restrictive male guardianship laws. The laws require women of all ages to have a male relative’s consent to travel abroad, obtain a passport, marry or undergo certain medical procedures.

    Several people with knowledge of the cases say charges against the women relate to their efforts to promote women’s rights and having contact with accredited foreign reporters, diplomats and human rights groups.

    On Wednesday, the women sat next to their relatives in Riyadh’s criminal court and spoke through a microphone to the presiding judge who sat before them, according to details provided to The Associated Press. In between the emotional speeches, in which some of the women wept, they were able to hug and speak with one another and their families.

    The women were expected to appear back in court next week for what could be the final session of the trial.

    Journalists working for foreign media, diplomats and other independent observers have not been allowed to sit-in on the hearings.

    The judge was expected to decide Thursday whether to grant some of the women temporary release from prison. The releases, if granted, would not be before Sunday.

    Several of the women on trial are considered Saudi Arabia’s most prominent rights activists. Among them are Aziza al-Yousef, a grandmother and former professor and Eman al-Nafjan, a mother of four and linguistics professor, and Loujain al-Hathloul an outspoken rights activist who was pursuing a master’s degree in the United Arab Emirates before her family says she was abducted and forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia last year.

    State-linked media published images of the three women and branded them traitors and “foreign agents” shortly after their arrest.

    Prosecutors allege those arrested had the “aim to undermine the kingdom’s security, stability and national unity.”

    Al-Hathloul questioned the alleged criminal offense of speaking to reporters.

    “If talking to foreign Western journalists is a crime so why Saudi officials are having interviews with Western media?” he said.

  18. says

    Emily Jane Fox in Vanity Fair – “‘She Was Not Involved’: E-mails Show Ivanka’s Lawyer Asked for Changes to Michael Cohen’s Congressional Testimony”:

    …President Trump, he said, had spoken in “code” to prompt Cohen to lie about the Moscow project. Moreover, Cohen said, his false testimony was coordinated with the president’s attorneys. “Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” he said in his prepared remarks. At the time, Cohen had a joint defense agreement with the president, so the document was reviewed by Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, as well as Abbe Lowell, the lawyer representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. According to Cohen, neither attorney raised objections to the document, which included his false statement about the Moscow project.

    Sekulow issued a statement protesting Cohen’s assertions: “Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false.” But Cohen had communications detailing these alleged edits, some of which lawmakers requested in a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence Committee the following week. One document, which I have reviewed, was an e-mail exchange between Cohen and his then attorney, Stephen Ryan, outlining changes that Ryan said Lowell had asked them to make in order to distance Ivanka from the Moscow deal. Attached to the e-mail were drafts he said were Lowell’s suggested edits. The extent of Lowell’s involvement has not been previously reported.

    “Abbe asks for us to affirmatively address in our statement on the 25th:

    -[Ivanka] was not involved in the backs and forths with FS [Felix Sater] and MC [Michael Cohen]

    -she did not know FS was involved in the possible project in that country

    -she was not in any meetings or calls with people putting it together (esp. from that country)

    -and maybe that, by then, MC knew she was at least skeptical about him.”

    Ryan included his response to Lowell. “Yes, am developing the writing and shared it this am with MC to see if I have it right. MC will want me to do anything your client asks that is accurate, which is not really an issue—but it may be perceived as awkward to go as specific as your requests.” Ryan added that he was hoping to share a version “only with” Lowell that week. Later, in the e-mail chain, Ryan attached a document that he said had Lowell’s red-line edits included. A spokesman for Lowell declined to comment….

    More at the link.

  19. says

    SC @23, I saw the interview in which Nadler said he couldn’t give the reporters a number of pages for the Mueller report. When asked why, Nadler said he had been told by Barr, (or shown by Barr?), but had not been given permission to repeat the information. Still seems weird.

  20. KG says

    As widely predicted, none of the eight Brexit-related options MPs voted on last night was accepted. The closest was a proposal for a permanent customs union (264 for, 272 against), while the most votes for was for a referendum on whatever deal Parliament agrees (268 for, 295 against). No-deal was heavily defeated. Meanwhile May has promised to resign before the second phase of negotiations with the EU if her deal is passed. This has brought round some of those who have most fiercely denounced her deal (notably Boris Johnson, who I’m sure no-one at all suspects of being motivated in this by personal ambition). But calculations suggest that with the “D”UP and a hard core of ERGies still holding out, and any wavering Labour MPs likely to be put off by her resignation promise – because of the likely succession of Johnson – the deal will still be rejected if she brings it back.

    (BTW – I had the feeling I’d posted these points last night, but no sign of the comment. Not sure what happened.)

  21. says

    Neal Katyal:

    Or, instead of subpoena, if Barr won’t turn over Mueller Report to Congress, House should defund the Office of the Attorney General and Barr’s salary

    Congress appropriates funds paid by US taxpayers. If the People are kept in the dark by this lawlessness, we shouldnt pay for it

  22. says

    “BBC pays damages to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko over report”:

    The BBC has apologised and agreed to pay damages to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.

    The apology relates to an incorrect report claiming a payment was made to extend a meeting between Mr Poroshenko and US President Donald Trump.

    An article, published last May but since removed from the BBC website, alleged $400,000 was paid to Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

    The allegation, relating to a meeting in June 2017, was untrue.

    “We apologise to Mr Poroshenko for any distress caused and have agreed to pay him damages, legal costs and have participated in a joint statement in open court,” the broadcaster said.

  23. says

    Virginia Heffernan, asked about any updates on the Mueller report:

    Nothing new. Source says the report is extensive and bad for the president, and the Barr letter bears almost no resemblance to it. Source concurs with others who say the report is hundreds of pages long.

  24. says

    Republicans on the House Intel Committee are in a hearing on Russian intelligence reading prepared statements demanding Schiff resign as chair. He’s having none of it.

  25. says

    The “House Intelligence Hearing on Russian Interference Tactics” is going on now.

    “Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and a former CIA Russian operations chief are the witnesses at a House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing about Russia’s election interference tactics.”

    You can watch it on c-span[dot]org. I can’t believe the Republicans used this hearing for that attack on Schiff.

  26. says

    Now Nunes is using this hearing – again, about Russian interference – to try to grill Michael McFaul about Carter Page and the Steele memos. Wild. They’re so desperate and nuts.

  27. says

    Just in: Maria Butina will be sentenced on April 26 at 10am. Her lawyer is hoping she gets a sentence of time served, allowing her to promptly return to Russia. He says he gave Butina’s passport to ICE in Dec. to facilitate a smooth deportation process.”

  28. blf says

    Forget Trump — anti-vaxxers are the clear and present danger:

    It can be hard, reading the news at the moment, to settle on any one individual or interest group to dislike the most viscerally, and this week was particularly tough. Donald Trump’s I didn’t commit treason, you committed treason remarks to the FBI; the ongoing madness in Westminster and the proposal by the US education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to cut funding for the Special Olympics made it a bad week even by current standards. But then news emerged, on Wednesday, of a measles outbreak in Rockland County, New York. Public health officials said there were 153 confirmed cases.

    This is an entirely preventable emergency that, in a crowded field, has thrown anti-vaxxers back to the top of the league table of those to be held in utter opprobrium. As most sane people know by now, measles was declared wiped out in the US in 2000 but has since come roaring back thanks to parents failing to immunise their children. It’s a pattern repeated across the western world. According to the World Health Organization, in 2018 measles cases tripled across Europe. In the US, they went up by 559%.

    […] I know otherwise intelligent people who, while not going the whole hog and failing to vaccinate their children, have vacillated and put it off for a few years while researching the science online.

    One is supposed to have sympathy for anyone worrying about their children. And telling people they are stupid doesn’t win arguments. On the other hand… jeez, this one is hard. While we fret about rising sea levels, the threat posed by Russia and the implications of having a lunatic in the White House, coming in from the blind side it’s going to be the anti-vaxxers who end up killing us all.

    In the meantime, there they are, weaving conspiracy theories about what the Center for Disease Control won’t tell us. In Rockland County, at least, health officials seem to have lost all patience, declaring a state of emergency this week and taking the extraordinary measure of banning, from the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, anyone under the age of 18 who is not vaccinated against measles from public places until the outbreak is over.

    For the rest of us, the only sanction is to turn failure to vaccinate into a much greater social taboo. Remember that guy from a few years ago who caused a public health panic in New York by returning from Guinea during the Ebola outbreak, then cheerfully rode the subway and went bowling? Everyone yelled at him online, although it was a freak event. The rise in measles is a trend. It might be the one context in which public shaming has a grain of justification.

    There’s three things not mentioned in this opinion piece. In no particular order:

    (1) Hair furor is also an anti-vaxxer (see Orac, The long, sordid antivaccine history of Donald Trump).

    (2) The community in Rockland County includes many Jews who are overrepresented in the people who are not- or under-vaccinated. As such, there is a Risk of opprobrium directed at anti-vaxers becoming, or at least being confused with, antisemitism. This has apparently happened, ‘Stakes are serious’: how a New York county is tackling the longest measles outbreak in decades:

    The outbreak has been concentrated in the Orthodox Jewish community, which tends to have a lower take-up of vaccinations.

    “The county has dealt professionally and diligently with this the past five months. But we’re not in the clear yet,” said Yossi Gestetner, the cofounder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council.

    But Gary Setzer, the CEO of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland county, said he feared the new rules would spur acts of antisemitism. “We believe that people need to be vaccinated and encourage them to do so. Measles is a serious illness. It is a serious problem in Rockland county,” he said.

    Yet hateful messages have already circulated on social media targeting Jews in light of the measles outbreak, Setzer said, and the new rules could make it worse. “They end up being used by people who are bigots and haters as an excuse to manifest their bigotry,” he said.


    While measles cases have been clustered in the Orthodox community, it is far from unique in having pockets of resistance to vaccines.

    There are dozens of unvaccinated kids at one Waldorf school in Rockland county, where parents sued to challenge an earlier rule barring some unvaccinated kids from classes.


    About 27% of residents under 18 have not been fully vaccinated, officials say. Most of the people who have contracted measles — 84% — have been minors.


    And last but very much not least, (3) The opinion piece barely distinguishes between those who are vaccine-hesitant and those who are vaccine-rejectors. This matters. Full opprobrium / shunning ahead to rejectors.

    But the vaccine hesitant can be dealt with. Make it difficult-to-impossible to obtain an exemption for anything other than valid medical reasons. In the States, W.Virginia, Mississippi, and (since 2016) California, have adopted this approach state-wide. There are also local initiatives to frustrate (using the example in the opinion column) “by pretending to be [religiously] devout, they can be excused from the requirement [to vaccinate]”. One example of such an initiative is requiring attendance at the local Public Health Agency.

    Whether or not Rockland County’s local initiative — the 30-day emergency ban — will work or not is unclear. But the move seems to be worth trying (from the second cited / excerpted article):

    [… A]bout 17,000 extra people [have been] vaccinated since last October.

    Public health experts praised the county’s moves.

    “They send a really clear signal that the stakes are serious, and to vaccinate is critical. And not vaccinating has consequences. It has health consequences, and it could now have legal consequences,” said Jason Schwartz, an assistant professor of health policy at the Yale school of public health.

  29. says

    Note to journalists: It is not ‘fairness’ or ‘objectivity’ to accept the Barr summary as the end of the Mueller Report story, nor will it be to accept the Mueller Report as the end of the Trump corruption story. In fact, it is just promoting GOP propaganda & obscuring the truth.”

  30. blf says

    Not really political, but encouraging, Canadian film made in language spoken by just 20 people in the world:

    Plenty of films are somewhat incomprehensible, but a forthcoming movie is in a language that only about 20 people in the world can speak fluently.

    With subtitles, audiences will be able to understand a feature film titled SGaawaay K’uuna, translated as Edge of the Knife, which has its UK premiere in April.

    It is in two dialects of the highly endangered Haida language, the ancestral tongue of the Haida people of British Columbia. It is unrelated to any other language, and actors had to learn it to understand their lines.

    The film is playing an important role in preserving the language, its director Gwaai Edenshaw said. He told the Guardian: “I know that, if our language is this far gone, statistically it’s supposed to be over. But that’s not something that we’re willing to accept.”

    The Haida are an Indigenous First Nations community whose traditional territory is Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago of forested islands off the west coast of Canada.


    The few Haida speakers are extremely concerned about the language’s future and were very enthusiastic about the film, he said. “We had to rely heavily upon the elders for the translation. We wrote it in English.”

    More than 70 local people worked on the production, with Haida speakers taking incidental roles, weavers creating the costumes and other craftspeople making props.

    The film, set on Haida Gwaii in the 19th century, is based on an old Haida myth about a man who survives an accident at sea, only to become so weakened that he is taken over by supernatural beings.

    It is part of a wider push to preserve the Haida language, including a new dictionary and recordings of local voices.


    2019 is Unesco’s Year of Indigenous Languages, “to preserve, support and promote” them worldwide.

    Mark Turin, associate professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia and a specialist in endangered languages, told the Guardian that about half of up to 7,100 languages worldwide were “severely endangered” and would likely cease to be used as everyday vernaculars by the end of this century unless action is taken.


    He pointed to recent research that shows a correlation between indigenous language sustainability and decreased youth suicide within indigenous communities: “Speaking your indigenous language is not just learning French in school. It has public health implications.”

    He observed that Haida is among languages that have been “pushed almost to the edge” and that, while numerous indigenous communities worldwide are trying to revive their language, the Haida people have taken a particularly innovative approach. “This film — which I’ve watched and loved — has done something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, using a feature movie as a process of language revitalisation … It’s a hugely creative and powerful commitment for the community to have made,” he said.


    There’s a trailer and short documentary on making the movie.

  31. says

    SC @30, all hail to Daniel Dale again. He is a hero for listening to that garbage and fact checking it.

    I am worried that statements on Fox News will actually warp reality for 40% or so of the population. (Have done so already.) If people believe sections of the Trump/Hannity conversation like this, “Trump continues to lie that NBC deceptively edited or shortened his comments to Lester Holt about the Comey firing,” I think that too many voters may believe that Trump did not tell Lester Holt that he fired Comey because he had Russia on his mind.

    The actual entire why-I-fired-Comey statement was aired unedited and in context. Trump is warping reality in a way that makes the media look like a nefarious conspiracy to make him look like a criminal.

    An oh-FFS moment that was almost laughable, if not so appalling: “I was the most innocent human being.”

  32. says

    “Jared Kushner Spoke In Private To The Senate Intelligence Committee As It Probes The Russia Investigation”:

    Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee interviewed Jared Kushner behind closed doors on Thursday morning, less than a week after the attorney general sent his summary of the Mueller investigation to Congress.

    Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, exited the committee’s secure space just before noon Thursday and did not answer questions. The meeting, which included several senators as well as staff, began at around 9:30 a.m.

    “I can’t tell you anything about the investigation,” Committee Chair Richard Burr said as he left the committee’s secure space. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair, declined to comment….

  33. tomh says

    From NYT:
    The Flood of Court Cases That Threaten Abortion
    By Linda Greenhouse

    Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have looked for judges and justices who could be counted on to oppose the right to abortion. To a startling degree, the fruits of that effort are apparent in the cases now making their way to the Supreme Court. Red states are competing with one another to enact abortion restrictions that, while flagrantly unconstitutional under current law, could provide opportunities for the newly composed Supreme Court to reopen the issue.

    The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights, reported last week that since the beginning of this year, 304 abortion-restricting bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Lower court judges are constrained by Supreme Court precedent to invalidate these new laws, but the opinions by which they are doing so are suffused with their personal views on abortion and their complaints about how the high court has tied their hands.

    Many more details at the link, including quotes like this one from new, Trump-appointed, 5th Circuit judge, James C. Ho, who in a published opinion refers to, “the moral tragedy of abortion.”

  34. blf says

    And elsewhere in the world of authoriation lunatics, Brunei brings in death by stoning as punishment for gay sex:

    Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

    From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

    Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system which imposes strict corporal punishments. It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as a great achievement.


    Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, said: “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls. To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself.”


    The sultan, despite the austere religious laws governing moral behaviour in Brunei, was embroiled in scandal involving his brother Prince Jefri Bolkiah, who embezzled $15m from the state during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s, leading to a long-running feud between the pair.

    Jefri’s flamboyant and un-Islamic lifestyle, which came to light in a series of court cases, involved a harem of foreign mistresses and the purchase of cars, erotic sculptures and a luxury yacht he called Tits.

  35. says

    SC @31, Neal Katyal is usually calm almost to a fault. But now that he sees what is going on here, Katyal is starting to sound like a firebrand.

    It sounds like he sees the abuse, misuse, and diminishment of the DOJ into a political arm of the Trump administration as an affront that he just cannot stand.

    SC @52, so the Republicans just came to the hearing to read their prepared statements attacking Adam Schiff and then they left? Were they afraid they might actually hear some facts if they stayed? Trump and his lackeys are attacking Schiff online, on TV, and in print. The attacks, as far as I can see, are baseless. Trump, however, really wants to take Schiff down.

  36. says

    Followup to many comments upthread about the Republican assault on Adam Schiff:

    […] Trump this morning insisted that [Adam Schiff] acted “unlawfully” — the president didn’t say which laws Schiff allegedly broke — and “should be forced to resign from Congress.” A few hours later, every Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, which used to be a relatively non-partisan panel, issued a letter calling on Schiff to surrender the chairman’s gavel. […]

    Given the intensify of the GOP crusade, one might assume that Schiff has been caught up in a horrible scandal, perhaps even facing a criminal indictment. But what’s bewildering about the offensive is its inanity: the Republican outrage that’s been manufactured out of whole cloth.

    Schiff’s unforgivable misdeed was arguing that there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 — an assertion Republicans believe has been discredited by the Mueller report, despite the fact that they have no idea whether the Mueller report supports their argument or not.

    To his credit, the Intelligence Committee chair, who seems to realize he’s done nothing wrong, isn’t backing down. On the contrary, he’s sticking to his guns and doing his best to remind everyone, friend and foe alike, that the arguments he’s made and the evidence he’s pointed to remains fully intact. […]

    “My colleagues might think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.

    […] You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.

    “You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered, a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said that it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s OK that it was reported that the president helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.

    “You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s OK, I don’t.

    “You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK. […]

    “You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s OK that he lied about it to the FBI.

    “You might say that’s all OK, that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt – and evidence of collusion.”

    “Now I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel, and I would accept his decision, and I do. He’s a good and honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor.

    “But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day that America lost its way.”

    “[…] I don’t think it’s OK that he [Trump] advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help to make money. […] There is a different word for that than collusion, and it’s called ‘compromise.’

    “And that is the subject of our hearing today.”

    Each of the factual points the chairman raised are supported by evidence, and as best as I can tell, none of the factual assertions have been contested by Trump, any of his allies, or the contents of Attorney General Bill Barr’s memo.

    In theory, this should represent the end of the Republican tantrum over Adam Schiff.


  37. says


    SC @52, so the Republicans just came to the hearing to read their prepared statements attacking Adam Schiff and then they left? Were they afraid they might actually hear some facts if they stayed?

    It seemed like they each stayed just until their turn was over. They used their time to pitifully attempt to defend their unseemly attack on Schiff, pose loaded questions to the expert witnesses, and then argue with the expert witnesses when they tried to explain the facts (e.g., Trump’s public attacks on NATO allies play into Putin’s hands, as does Trump’s refusal to call out the Kremlin’s active measures).

    Even after everything Nunes pulled on the committee, I don’t recall Schiff ever attacking him personally. It was awful to watch them as a gang attack and lie about Schiff during a hearing like that, and I can only imagine how hurtful it must have been for him personally.

    Warren Leight: “Republicans on the Committee opened with an attack on Schiff, he was prepared, and this video, as it goes viral, should bury them.”

  38. says

    Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar described her $1 trillion infrastructure plan today. Most of the Democratic candidates are rolling out policy proposals that are substantial, and for which they provide details on how to achieve their goals.

    […] The plan calls for leveraging $650 billion in federal funding through public-private partnerships, bond programs and clean-energy tax incentives. It would restart the Build America Bonds program President Barack Obama’s administration created to help stimulate the economy during the recession.

    About $400 billion of the $650 billion federal spending would come from raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 25 percent. The rate was cut from 35 percent to 21 percent in Trump’s 2017 tax bill. Klobuchar also calls for closing tax loopholes and imposing a “financial risk fee” on large banks.

    Klobuchar has criticized Trump for pledging to pass a “significant” infrastructure plan but not doing so.

    Her campaign says her plan provides a “concrete, common-sense” way to fund infrastructure investments. Those include connecting every U.S. household to the internet by 2022, modernizing public transportation and investing in renewable-energy development and drinking and wastewater systems. […]

    AP News link

    On Saturday, Klobuchar will visit communities in Iowa and Nebraska that are beset with major flooding and other difficulties related to infrastructure repair needs.

  39. blf says

    US fundamentalists spent £38m on European politics:

    Rightwing Christian groups donated $50m in the past 10 years, says OpenDemocracy

    US Christian fundamentalist groups have spent over $50m (£38m) in Europe over the past decade, and have dramatically ramped up campaigning in recent years, according to a report by the UK political website OpenDemocracy.

    The analysis comes amid growing concern about the extent to which western democracies can be influenced using “dark money”, political funding from unknown sources. None of the groups examined by OpenDemocracy identify their financial backers.

    [… some examples…]

    Several of the organisations are partners of the World Congress of Families [(WCF)], which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its campaigns against LGBT civil and human rights.

    The WCF is organising a conference in Verona, Italy this weekend that is expected to be attended by several far-right European activists and politicians, including the Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right party the League.

    Others scheduled to attend include a Nigerian activist who has compared gay people to the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, and a Ugandan politician who campaigned for gay people to be jailed for life or executed.


    A group of 40 members of the European parliament has written to the European Commission to express concern over US rightwing organisations’ growing efforts to cultivate influence in Europe.

    The letter, signed by members of the green, socialist and liberal groups, called on the commission to examine the funding “with greatest urgency” ahead of the May European elections.

    Caroline Lucas MP, the former leader of the Green party in the UK, told OpenDemocracy: “It’s deeply worrying to see US far-right millionaires exporting their particular brand of hate-filled politics to Europe.”

    “If these groups are going to operate in Europe’s courts and in the European parliament, the EU should at the very least force them to reveal who is bankrolling them.”

  40. says

    David Fahrenthold:

    NEW: How did @realDonaldTrump inflate his net worth to lenders?
    –Added 10 stories to Trump Tower.
    –Added 800 acres to his winery.
    –Added 24 ready-to-sell lots to his property in CA.
    We’ve got (some of the) inflated docs investigators now want to see.

    WaPo link at the link. (I’m out of WaPo articles for the month.)

  41. says

    SC @63, yes that was really painful to see. I only watched segments, but JFC. The Republicans came at Schiff like a pack of wild dogs, or like they wanted to demonstrate mob mentality. It was crazy. I was startled to see that much coordinated defamation being spewed in the House of Congress. Those nine Republicans have no shame.

    The pack consisted of nine (9!) Republicans attacking Schiff personally, and, as SC pointed out, Schiff did not attack them personally.

    From the readers comments posted on TPM:

    When the Republicans send Representatives to the Intelligence Committee, they are not sending their best.

    I love that Schiff didn’t give them time to respond. Keep that leash yanked tight on the yappy dogs.
    I have a hope that the more strident and obnoxious the GOP gets, the better it will be for us. Could be wrong about that, but we’ll see.
    Schiff — together with the other three Dems granted de jure access to classified US intel — knows.

    And his GOP colleagues know it, too.

    How the Russians laundered campaign contributions through the NRA to Republican leadership.

    And to half their rank-and-file

    For years.

    They. Are. Panicking.
    Schiff is smart, experienced, articulate and ethical – all traits that the R’s can’t abide, so naturally they want him to resign.
    The intellectual firepower of those 9 Republicans combined couldn’t light a match. Schiff will have to pull his punches to keep from demolishing them completely.

    I see Will Hurd’s moment of integrity has been consumed by the black hole once again.

    Off topic, but somehow inserted into the online discussion of the attacks on Adam Schiff:

    Brexit is like setting fire to your house just to teach the neighbours a lesson by annoying them with the smoke.

    The quote comes from the UK parliament coverage.

  42. says

    from blf’s comment 66:

    Caroline Lucas MP, the former leader of the Green party in the UK, told OpenDemocracy: “It’s deeply worrying to see US far-right millionaires exporting their particular brand of hate-filled politics to Europe.”

    “If these groups are going to operate in Europe’s courts and in the European parliament, the EU should at the very least force them to reveal who is bankrolling them.”

    Exactly. I agree with Caroline Lucas.

  43. blf says

    Just how evil is Farcebork itself — not the content spewed by the people it fooled into using it, but it itself? Well, Facebook charged with housing discrimination in targeted ads:

    US government says company is breaking the law by restricting who can view housing-related ads based on their ‘race, color, national origin, religion’

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (Hud) has charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act, alleging that the company’s targeted advertising discriminated on the basis of race and color.

    In a statement, Hud said Facebook was breaking the law by restricting who can view housing-related adverts on its site, which the department said “unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability”.


    “Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said the Hud secretary, Ben Carson. […]

    The civil charges could cost the social network millions of dollars in penalties. But more than that, they strike at the business model that has made Facebook into a company with an annual revenue of close to $56bn, and raise questions of whether this could signal more regulatory pressure on the industry to come.

    The technology at the heart of the clash with Hud can offer advertisers and groups great ability to direct messages to exactly the crowd that they want to see it.

    Facebook said it was surprised by the decision and has been working with Hud to address its concerns and has taken significant steps to prevent advertising discrimination across its platforms.

    And if one thinks Farcebork really is surprised (read: doesn’t do it), then they have several Brooklyn Bridges for sale by mysterious princes needing to raise money…

    Hud said Facebook is allowing advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those areas on a map. The company was also accused of giving advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women.

    The agency also charged that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude parents; those who are non-American-born; non-Christians; and those interested in Hispanic culture, accessibility for the disabled, or a variety of other topics.


    Presuming Hud is correct, this is very nasty, even in cases where advertisers are using stuff developed for more-innocent reasons against Farcebork’s policies de jour.

  44. says

    What Caroline Lucas was doing yesterday – “The answer to climate breakdown and austerity? A green new deal”:

    Faced with unprecedented challenges, politicians appear more divided than ever – that’s why Labour’s Clive Lewis and I are doing something bold. We are jointly tabling a bill in parliament designed to address two of the greatest threats we face – climate breakdown and spiralling inequality. Our bill would introduce a “green new deal” – an unprecedented mobilisation of resources invested to prevent climate breakdown, reverse inequality, and heal our communities. It demands major structural changes in our approach to the ecosystem, coupled with a radical transformation of the finance sector and the economy, to deliver both social justice and a livable planet….

  45. says

    From blf in comment 72: “Hud said Facebook is allowing advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those areas on a map”

    OMG, “red lining” is an old practice that used to be done by hand. Trump’s father refused to rent or sell to people of color by using various versions of red lining. The fact that Facebook makes it easy with some technical wizardry is really unsettling.

  46. says

    SC @67, as Hunter wrote, these errors are “not wee little oopsies.”

    […] These are, ahem, obviously not wee little oopsies. While a slightly less insane real estate developer might regularly overestimate the expected sale price of properties, for example, claiming a property is almost twice as large as it actually is or claiming your signature tower has sprouted ten more floors overnight would appear to be the sort of thing that would get any other developer thrown in prison.

    But there somehow seems to be some debate, in the Post’s article, as to whether or not this counts as true financial fraud. To be sure, he outright lied to financial firms about his holdings in an effort to secure more favorable terms—which would seem to be the only needed definition—but there’s some tittering over whether the lies are so egregious that they were perhaps not … meant to be taken seriously? Or something? […]


    Fraud. Yes, it is criminal.

  47. blf says

    Brexit is a triviality, hair furor and the dalekocrazy a sideshow, climate change a minor nuisance, and vaccine denial doesn’t even rate, the most serious problem of the moment is New Yorkers horrified by ‘crime’ of bagels sliced like bread:

    A man who brought his colleagues bagels sliced like bread is getting an earful from New Yorkers and social media.

    Alex Krautmann on Monday tweeted a photo of his bagels and called the vertical slices “the St Louis secret”. Krautmann said it creates more slices and more surface area for cream cheese. He said the few remaining slices make nice bagel chips with hummus.

    “It was a hit!” he wrote.

    However, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader and a born-and-raised New Yorker, wasn’t buying it.

    He tweeted: “On behalf of the New York Delegation: St Louis, fuhgeddaboudit.”

    New York City’s chief of detectives, Dermot Shea, thanked posters for reporting “this crime”. He said it would never happen in New York.


    If the controversial bagel technique isn’t already a crime, several lawmakers expressed interest in making it one.

    “I believe this is a class A felony in New York City. And if it’s not, it should be,” wrote Brooklyn City councilman Justin Brannan.

    Manhattan state Senator Brad Hoylman agreed. “This should be illegal,” he tweeted.


    Religious authorities weighed in as well. “This is a violation of all that is good and holy in this world,” wrote Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg.

    “Haven’t we Jews suffered enough already?” added Sophie Vershbow.


    Of course, they are all missing the point. The crime isn’t quite so much how you butcher the bagel, it’s the cream cheese… (The mildly deranged penguin nods enthusiastically, spraying small bits of cheese everywhere — most of which she manages to catch and eat before they hit the ceiling, wall, floor, or me.)

    Apropos of nothing much, earlier I had a snack of toasted pain complet with Fromage à tartiner aux fines herbes et à l’ail (Smeerkass met fijine kruiden en knoflook).

  48. says

    Oh – I started to report this during the hearing, but got a phone call or something and lost my train of thought: one of the Republicans during the House Intel hearing – Stewart, I think – actually said that if an action doesn’t rise to the level of being criminally prosecutable it’s “meaningless.”

  49. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 67.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] The 2013 statement that Cohen provided — and which he said was also given to Deutsche Bank, in pursuit of a loan to buy the Bills — is different from the other two.

    It is just two pages long, with a slightly different title: “Summary of Net Worth.” It does not include the usual disclaimer from Trump’s accountants, so readers aren’t told that the debts from Trump’s Chicago and Las Vegas hotels are missing. […]

    This document also includes a new “asset” that wasn’t there before.

    It says that Trump’s brand value — his name, essentially — was worth $4 billion, and that it ought to be counted among his assets as if it were a building or a resort. With his brand included, Trump’s net worth jumped from $4.6 billion to $8.6 billion. […]

  50. says

    From one of Josh Marshall’s sources:

    A few thoughts on the Barr Gambit, which I think will go down as a singular achievement in the annals of intellectual dishonesty and bad faith legal jujitsu:

    1. It is undisputed that the Russian government brazenly interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump. In so doing, the Russians and those acting on their behalf committed a variety of federal crimes including computer hacking and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Those crimes were committed to benefit (a) Vladimir Putin and the interests of the Russian government; and (b) Donald J. Trump. It is also undisputed that Trump and his campaign joyfully used and weaponized the information the Russians stole against Hillary Clinton. Trump personally trumpeted the Wikileaks disclosures 141 times during the campaign, and his surrogates countless more times. While Mueller’s team apparently “did not establish” (i.e., did not find enough evidence to charge criminally) that Trump personally conspired with the Russian government to commit the underlying crimes, there is no question that he was (along with Putin) the single biggest beneficiary of those criminal efforts.

    2. […] Barr’s reasoning goes, Trump lacked corrupt intent to obstruct because, at least in part, he was not involved in any underlying crime. This argument is both legally wrong (obstruction charges don’t depend on the existence of an underlying crime, just an investigation or proceeding), and it flies in the face of one simple fact: Trump was a prime beneficiary of the undisputed criminal conduct that did occur. […] This investigation […] posed a direct threat to prying open Trump’s shady business empire. Barr’s argument might hold water if the Russian election interference was intended to help Hillary and Trump’s campaign was not the subject of the investigation. As it stands, the President had a deep personal stake in the outcome of the investigation and it appears he used his executive power to thwart it. […]

    3. The non-charging decision on obstruction by Mueller cannot be explained as a failure of evidence. […] As too many members of the media seem to get wrong, this was not a “no evidence” situation, but rather a failure to get to the required level of admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. And the level of proof had to be something in between probable cause (you can’t get 500 search warrants without it) and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. […] There was lots of evidence of an underlying conspiracy, but it was always going to be very difficult to prove […] Even if it’s “clear and convincing” evidence that doesn’t rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, you decline the case.

    So what is going on here? To me, the only answer is that they had a chargeable obstruction case but stopped short of making a decision to charge the President–because he’s the President. […] or it could have been out of deference to the legislative branch and its impeachment prerogatives. Any way you cut it, I just can’t see Mueller shying away from a tough evidentiary call. If we ever get to see it, I fully expect the actual Mueller report to contain a devastating case against the President for obstruction of justice. This is why we should expect to see Barr, the White House, and the Republicans in Congress fight like hell to keep as much of the report as possible away from the public […]

  51. says

    More details concerning the “crisis of their own making” at the U.S.-Mexico border:

    A U.S. Border Patrol facility in El Paso is overflowing with asylum-seekers who’ve been needlessly detained far past reasonable processing times, with families and children being held for weeks or months on end. The processing facility is estimated to be at 395 percent capacity, and the situation is so bad that asylum-seekers, including children, are now being contained behind fencing and barbed wire under the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry bridge. […]

    While the Border Patrol and Republicans use this footage to garner headlines about the growing humanitarian crisis along the border, they leave out critical facts—first and foremost that this is a crisis of their own making. They have deliberately slowed the processing of these asylum cases as a means to discourage others from Central America from making the dangerous trek for a chance at a better life. Jud Murdock, acting assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, made the admission during testimony to Congress in December 2018.

    The cruelty of holding these children and families who are escaping violence and poverty is entirely by design. The United States has the capability to humanely and expeditiously process these applicants’ asylum claims, which they are bound to do by U.S. law, and they choose to inflict maximum pain instead. […]

    McAleenan [Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan] used the press conference to sound the alarm about the crisis without ever noting the U.S. government is purposely holding these families unnecessarily […]

    Daily Kos link

    See the link for photos, and for more information.

    Related links:


    Nick Miroff’s Twitter feed, a particularly good source of photos.

  52. says

    Quoted in blf’s #66:

    Several of the organisations are partners of the World Congress of Families [(WCF)], which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its campaigns against LGBT civil and human rights.

    The WCF is organising a conference in Verona, Italy this weekend that is expected to be attended by several far-right European activists and politicians, including the Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right party the League.

    The WCF has been a scheming joint US-Russian transnational Christo-fascist organization for several years (see Christopher Stroop’s work and Gessen’s The Future Is History and “Family Values”). I thought I knew about the efforts of the US Religious Right to export hate to other countries, but only more recently learned about the role of the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church in the global political effort.

  53. Hj Hornbeck says

    Big changes might be coming in the Senate:

    Sahil Kapur: Mitch McConnell is on the Senate floor complaining about Democrats trying to obstruct Trump’s nominees and “throw a systematic tantrum” for losing the 2016 election.

    Nuclear Option Alert — McConnell says plans to change Senate rules to cut debate time on district court nominees from 30 hours to 2 hours. This would clear the way for Republicans to speedily confirm a boatload of Trump judges.

    “This is a change the institution needs.”

    It needs to be debated and voted on first, so assuming his fellow Republicans are on board it won’t come into effect for about a week.

  54. Hj Hornbeck says

    Meanwhile, the Republican Party and a super-PAC are plotting to go after journalists, by leveraging Barr’s memo.

    Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”

    They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.”

  55. says

    I wrote @ #39 above:

    Now Nunes is using this hearing – again, about Russian interference – to try to grill Michael McFaul about Carter Page and the Steele memos. Wild. They’re so desperate and nuts.

    It was bizarre. McFaul was there as an expert witness in a hearing about Russian interference, and he’s one of the people Putin has spun a crazy conspiracy about and who he got Trump to agree at Helsinki that Putin could interrogate. Nunes started out by reminding McFaul that he was under oath and it would be a crime to lie, and then went on to ask him if he knew or had met a series of people (like Kislyak! McFaul was the US ambassador to Russia!). He never brought it together or explained why he was asking. It really seemed like nothing but an attempt to advance Putin’s smears and conspiracy claims. In a hearing about Russian interference!

    People are asking McFaul about it on Twitter:

    What was Devin Nunes up to when he asked about people you might know? What a strange line of questioning.

    I agree. Very strange. And frankly, not very pleasant. I felt like he was suggesting that I was involved in some kind of wrongdoing. That’s really insulting. (& he didn’t ask one question about the subject matter of the testimony, for which I worked hard to prepare)

  56. Pierce R. Butler says

    Prominent black Mississippi-Alabama abortion provider Dr. Willie Parker now accused of Shermeresque sexual misconduct.

  57. says

    Ben Collins:

    Write off the sheer prevalence of the Qanon cult at your own risk.

    I’ve been covering Qanon for a year, and the amount of pro-Q people in this video from yesterday’s Trump rally line in Grand Rapids is absolutely shocking. This is just a portion of it.

    So many things in American society had to fail for this many people to believe one party is run by an actual Satanic cabal that eats children, and Trump, Jesus and Bob Mueller are secretly ending it.

    Social media companies helped it grow, but this is widespread systemic failure.

    Video at the link.

  58. Hj Hornbeck says

    Theresa May had pulled out the stops to get her version of Brexit passed. This included splitting it in two, so MPs were only voting on the more mechanistic and short-term parts of it, as well as hinting that she’d resign if it passed. This was enough to get some of her deal’s opponents, such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, to agree to it.

    MPs have rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time, by 344 votes to 286, despite the prime minister’s offer to her Tory colleagues that she would resign if it passed. A string of Brexit-backing Conservative backbenchers who had rejected the deal in the first two meaningful votes, including the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, switched sides during the debate, to support the agreement.

    But with Labour unwilling to change its position, and the Democratic Unionist party’s 10 MPs determined not to support it, it was not enough to secure a majority for the prime minister.

  59. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] this is a moment where you can make a difference by contacting your member of Congress and asking their position on a critically important issue.

    Earlier this month the House voted unanimously to demand the release of the full Mueller Report. But now House Republicans are shifting gears and saying that the Barr Letter is all we need to see. We’re compiling a list of which Reps stand by that original vote. If you hear from your member of Congress let us know at If you want to reach me directly with a question or comment you can send a note to me at

    In situations like this, Representatives rely on herd anonymity. So it’s important to get individual Reps to state clearly where they stand on releasing the full report, especially because they’re all on the record demanding its release. (I explain this in more detail in the link above.)

    If calling your Rep isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine. I mainly want to let you know we’re doing this. I hope you’ll stop by the site today and watch our progress as we try to compile a list of where Representatives stand on this critical issue. […]

  60. says

    SC @90, thanks for that link.

    Here are a few more excerpts from that thread:

    TRUMP: “If Hillary got in… you’d be doing wind. Windmills. Weeeee. And if it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night. ‘Darling, I want to watch television.’ ‘I’m sorry! The wind isn’t blowing.’ I know a lot about wind.”

    Within 90 seconds Trump gets his fans cheering policies that represent tax cuts for the rich and taking away health care from poor people. #populism

    Trump makes up a story about @maziehirono being surprised when she learned that the Green New Deal meant she wouldn’t be able to travel back to Hawaii anymore because planes would be banned.

    TRUMP: “Another two caravans now are pouring up. Mexico could stop them, so easy. And you know what, if they don’t, it will cost them a whole lot of money, honestly. Cause they could do it so easy. And if they don’t, we will close the damn border!”

    Trump gaslights about the veto override vote: “2 days ago, our great Republicans in the House — I won’t get fancy with you, I will just say, they essentially give us the right to build a wall, and lots of money for it. We are building a wall, we will be finishing the wall.”

    Trump falsely accuses Democrats of wanting to allow doctors to execute babies “after birth.” His audience responds with huge boos.

  61. says

    What Trump said during his rally in Michigan:

    You ready? Can you handle it?” he asked. “I don’t think you can handle it. I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They are beautiful. They are big, very deep. record deepness, right? And I am going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years. So, we will get it done.

    Facts, reality, etc.:

    […] Putting aside the president’s curious interest in the Great Lakes’ “record deepness” […] it’s difficult to say with confidence whether the Republican actually supports full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Sure, he made that announcement last night, but there’s often no meaningful relationship between the administration’s actions and Trump’s rhetorical boasts.

    But even if we accept his words at face value, the rhetoric was kind of bizarre. For three years, Trump has tried to cut Great Lakes restoration. As the report added, “Over the past two years, Trump proposed a 90 percent cut to the program. During his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program.”

    Just this month, the White House called for taking $290 million out of the $300 million initiative.

    Last night in Michigan, however, Trump bragged that he’s “going to get” the full $300 million, in effect telling supporters, “Good news, everyone, I’ve decided to save you from me.”

    As ridiculous as this sounds, the presidential boast is still factually wrong: the program hasn’t been waiting for “over 30 years” for full funding. Just the opposite is true: Congress has ignored Trump’s proposed cuts and fully funded Great Lakes restoration, ignoring the White House’s wishes.

    The president didn’t have to bring any of this up, but he appears to have made a conscious decision to deceive his supporters. Even for Trump, it was an absurd display.


    Record gaslighting? Record shallowness? Record setting stupidity?

  62. says

    Ah, Roger Stone. He never learns.

    Instagram fanatic Roger Stone published a post of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) head laid over a “bullschiff” meter on Friday.

    It’s unclear whether the post technically violates the gag order imposed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in D.C., but the post will, at the very least, test her patience.

    Stone is not supposed to speak publicly about people involved in his case, though he is allowed to insist upon his innocence and hawk his legal defense fund.

    Schiff may be too far removed for the post to constitute commentary on special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Stone, but that decision will ultimately lie with Jackson, who Stone has a penchant for pissing off.

    TPM link

    I’m not going to link to Roger Stone’s Instagram account, but you can see the insulting image at the TPM link.

    From the readers comments:

    They’re going after Schiff pretty relentlessly, and I have to think it’s because they’re scared he already knows something(s) or soon will with further investigation. And Pelosi yesterday gave him her strong backing while mocking Barr. I even wonder if Stone coordinated this attack with Trump, who, per usual, delivered a very juvenile, petty attack on the Chairman yesterday.

    Even without the actual Mueller Report, we’re probably still going to get some embarrassing revelations regarding Conspiracy.

  63. says

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was busy welcoming journalist-butchering Saudis to the USA yesterday.

    […] A State Department spokesperson confirmed [Saudi Prince] Khalid bin Salman’s meeting with Pompeo in Washington, D.C., […] described the discussion as a continued part of efforts to “advance the U.S.-Saudi partnership.”

    According to the CIA’s assessment of Khashoggi’s murder, Khalid bin Salman encouraged Khashoggi to visit the embassy to retrieve documents so he could get married. Khalid bin Salman denied that he helped lure Khashoggi to the embassy. […]

    Khalid bin Salman is not the first member of the royal family that Pompeo has played nice with since Khashoggi’s murder. He met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in October, just weeks after Khashoggi was murdered. […]


    From the readers comments:

    Trump is greenlighting massive nuclear sales and technology transfers, which Saudi Arabia is most certainly paying a hefty price for. The firms raking in that money are in a wink-n-nod arrangement with Trump to kick back a portion of their receipts, to him and the GOP, for the upcoming election.

  64. says

    A few more details concerning the ways in which Trump mocked asylum seekers during the rally in Michigan:

    They are all met by the lawyers and they say “say the following phrase: I am very afraid for my life,” […]

    And then I look at the guy. He looks like he just got out of the ring. He’s a heavyweight champion of the world [In reference to a mythical asylum seeker that apparently appears in Trump’s fantasies.]

    It’s a big fat con job, folks.

    Commentary from Kate Riga:

    Most asylum seekers are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, but Trump has frequently made them a target and painted them as unsavory characters who lie about their desperation to infiltrate the United States.

  65. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    @RepAdamSchiff’s calm, professional leadership is something we should all be proud of. Unlike his predecessor [Devin Nunes], his time as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has been a shining example of how to responsibly carry out the committee’s mission. […]

    They’re [Republicans] afraid of the truth; they’re afraid of competence; they’re afraid of a leader who is recognized in our country for being calm, professional, patriotic. I’m so proud of the work of Chairman Adam Schiff — in stark contrast to the irresponsible, almost criminal behavior, of the previous chair of the committee.

    From Trump:

    Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking, should be forced to resign from Congress!

    From Adam Schiff:

    The gentleman will not yield.

  66. says

    The newest favorite chant at Trump rallies is “AOC sucks.”

    From Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:

    It feels like an extra job. I’ve got a full-time job in Congress and then I moonlight as America’s greatest villain, or as the new hope. And it’s pretty tiring.

  67. says

    Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute said this on Fox news:

    [Trump] should look at withdrawing security clearances for members of Congress, including AdamSchiff, Swalwell and Mark Warner because they openly lied to the American people.

    Bradley P. Moss replied:

    I am breaking my silence today to respond to this —@marcthiessen members of Congress don’t have traditional clearances. There is nothing to revoke. And Schiff and Warner are part of the Gang of 8, genius.

    Be a bigger hack. You can do it. I have faith.

    Steve Vladeck responded too:

    (1) Members of Congress don’t have security clearances that can be withdrawn.

    (2) There’s longstanding Executive Branch practice (and numerous statutory requirements) to share highly classified information, at a minimum, with the “Gang of Eight.”

    Other than that, though…

    From Wonkette:

    […] He’s saying Trump should “look into” something Trump doesn’t have the authority to “look into,” and even if he did, those guys don’t even have traditional security clearances, and also too besides, Congress is a CO-EQUAL BRANCH OF THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT, ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION […]

    Let’s murder healthcare and the Special Olympics! Let’s have the president tweet for House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff to resign! Let’s have all the Republicans on the committee DEMAND that Schiff resign, because he is very mean and says obvious facts about Trump and Russia too much […]

    And now let’s have this dipshit Marc Thiessen.

    Oh, and even better, let’s have this dipshit say Trump should do this because — get this — those guys told lies. That’s right, the lyingest motherfucker trashbag ever to stink up the White House should look into those guys because they told lies. (That aren’t actually lies.)

    Did we say go fuck yourself in this post already? Might as well say it again! […]

    From Eric Swalwell:

    I don’t have a security clearance. I’m an elected Member of Congress from a SEPARATE BUT EQUAL branch of government. Sorry, @marcthiessen (& @realDonaldTrump), we don’t live in a kingdom. I won’t be silenced.

  68. says

    In case you were wondering, Trump renewed his threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border because Lou Dobbs told him to close it.

    Lou Dobbs — a sometime WH adviser whose show President Trump watches regularly — and his guests were urging President Trump to follow through and close the border last night.

    Twitter link

    And … On Hannity, Rush Limbaugh told Trump to close the border:

    From last night’s edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Rush Limbaugh: “I think the president should shut the border. If he shuts the border and builds the wall, there is nobody, Sean, who can beat him in 2020.”

    And that’s why Trump threatened to close the border during his speech at the rally last night, and that’s why Trump tweeted all this nonsense:

    The DEMOCRATS have given us the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the World. Mexico has the strongest, & they make more than $100 Billion a year on the U.S. Therefore, CONGRESS MUST CHANGE OUR WEAK IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW, & Mexico must stop illegals from entering the U.S….

    ….through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING…..

    ….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week. This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!

    Closing the border would trigger an economic crisis in Mexico and in the United states.

  69. says

    Mitch McConnell has washed his hands of Trump’s health-care bill, (or of Trump’s problem coming up with a health-care bill).

    I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker.

    Okay, let’s translate: “You, Hair Furor, get together with Nancy Pelosi and write a health-care bill to replace Obamacare and I will be over here taking a nap.”

    Trump claims that Senators John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy and Rick Scott are working on crafting legislation. “They are going to come up with something really spectacular,” Trump told reporters.

    The White House, and Trump himself, are not working on any healthcare proposals … nada, nothing, pie in the sky. They do have some propaganda:

    We’re going to get rid of Obamacare. And I said the other day, the Republican Party will become the party of great health care. It’s good. It’s important.

  70. says

    A response to the nonsense Trump spouted about wind power:

    The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy says that the power grid is capable of handling the variation that comes with wind energy.

    In response to the frequently-asked-question, “What happens to the electricity supply when the wind isn’t blowing?” the agency cites studies that say the power grid can handle a large amount of “variable renewable power without sacrificing reliability.”

    USA Today link

  71. says

    And that’s why Trump threatened to close the border during his speech at the rally last night,…

    In fucking MICHIGAN. MICHIGAN. They’re like 1,700 miles from the fucking southern border. This is insanity.

  72. says

    “House Democrats increasingly troubled by Barr’s plan for Mueller report”:

    House Democrats are on a collision course with Attorney General William Barr as it appears increasingly unlikely he will comply with their demands to see Robert Mueller’s full unredacted report — let alone the evidence that backs it up.

    At a Thursday briefing, senior House Democratic staff elaborated on a Wednesday night call between Barr and Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., telling reporters that Barr refused to commit to asking a judge to release grand jury information to Congress.

    And the staffers emphasized that Barr all but refused to give Nadler an unredacted copy of the report.

    “I asked whether he could commit that the full report and unredacted full report with the underlying documents and evidence will be provided to Congress and to the American people, and he wouldn’t commit to that,” Nadler told reporters Wednesday night.

    Staffers also said Barr acknowledged making a mistake by speaking extensively with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, over dinner before he had spoken with Nadler.

    It’s all setting up a major confrontation next week if the Justice Department doesn’t send the full Mueller report to Congress by Tuesday, as six committee chairmen have demanded.

    The next step, the staffers said, would be a subpoena. “We’ll have more to say on April 3,” one staffer said.

    Democrats are also fleshing out the legal and political arguments they’ll make next week if the Justice Department does refuse to release the report….

  73. says

    JUST IN: Barr says Mueller “is assisting” DOJ in process of making redactions to the report—including grand jury material and ‘information that would unduly infringe on the…reputational interests of peripheral third parties’. No plans to submit to White House prior to release.

    Barr also says they’re redacting material that could compromise sources and methods, indicating the presence of findings from the counterintelligence probe. Barr confirms that the report is nearly 400 pages, and says his memo was ‘not an exhaustive recounting’ of Mueller’s probe.”

    Says Mueller is involved in the redactions – grand jury material, classified info, preventing harm to “peripheral third parties,” and protecting ongoing investigations that Mueller has farmed out. Expects to have it by mid-April at the latest.

  74. says

    Elizabeth Holtzman is on MSNBC saying she doesn’t understand why Barr is acting like he’s bound to keep grand-jury material secret, when he has the power as AG to go to a judge and ask for the material to be released to congress, as has happened in the past.

  75. says

    “NRA to oppose Violence Against Women Act: report”:

    The National Rifle Association (NRA) will oppose renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), National Journal reported this week.

    The NRA’s opposition reportedly stems from so-called “red-flag” provisions that seek to prevent people who have committed domestic abuse from obtaining firearms. Republicans discussed asking the NRA to oppose the bill to give them political cover vote against it, according to National Journal.

    The VAWA provides funds for programs aimed at preventing domestic violence. The measure was first signed into law in 1994 but lapsed last month after Congress did not extend it. House Democrats plan to vote next week to renew it….

  76. says

    “Statement by the European Commission on the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons”:

    Brussels, 29 March 2019

    The Commission regrets the negative vote in the House of Commons today. As per the European Council (Article 50) decision on 22 March, the period provided for in Article 50(3) is extended to 12 April. It will be for the UK to indicate the way forward before that date, for consideration by the European Council.

    A “no-deal” scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a “no-deal” scenario at midnight on 12 April. The EU will remain united. The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a “no-deal” scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option.

  77. says

    From the G liveblog:

    The rallies in Westminster are dying down but Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the far-right activist also known as Tommy Robinson, has returned to the stage. With a much-diminished crowd, the chants of “oh Tommy Robinson” continued as he led a singalong of Rule Britannia.

    Yaxley-Lennon, who’s serving as an adviser to the Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, had previously told the crowd that Nigel Farage, the party’s former leader, “does not care about you, he is exactly the same as the establishment”. Farage was speaking at a rival rally nearby.

    And, just now, a report has emerged of tensions between Yaxley-Lennon’s supporters and the police beginning to simmer. According to the Press Association, some have been engaging in a tug of war with officers over metal railings. Some Robinson backers are wearing yellow vests, while others have masks on, and appeared to be swearing and shouting at the police.

    Earlier, the SNP MP, Joanna Cherry, tweeted:

    Very relieved to be safely back to my base in London. Was abused by trailing ends of the #LeaveMeansLeave protest as I walked home. Called a traitor. Told to go back to my own country. Such a contrast from #PeoplesVoteMarch last weekend

    The Labour MP, Lisa Nandy, had also said she was the object of abuse.

    …Supporters of Yaxley-Lennon have marched to Downing Street. Many of his backers have begun to engage in heated exchanges with the police officers there, according to the Press Association. They chanted “we want our country back” and “we want Brexit”, before turning on a television crew.

  78. KG says

    “May hopes to hold fourth vote on Brexit deal”.

    No, that is not a joke – at least, it is, but not from me. Hopefully, the Speaker will tell her to fuck off: such an attempt would be a contemptuous abuse of Parliament, and the very thing the convention Bercow cited before is intended to prevent. If he allows a fourth vote, it will be defeated again (there’s absolutely no reason anyone willing to vote for it would not have done so today), and May will try to bring it back for a fifth. The Commons, I am convinced, will have to pass legislation ordering the Prime Minister to ask the European Council for a long delay – and will need to have a convincing plan for using that delay to come to a conclusion. They need to get on with this on Monday.

  79. KG says

    Fascists gotta fash. The pro-Brexit turnout was risible compared to the People’s Vote march last Saturday, and those attending were split not only between followers of Farage and Yaxley-Lennon, but on their reaction to the news that May’s deal had been rejected – some cheered, others booed.

  80. KG says

    Further to #122. If the European Council refuses the long delay – quite possible in my view, it only takes one of the 27 to do so – the Commons will have to choose between a disastrous crashing out on 12th April, and revoking Article 50 – which again, would have to be in the form of a law instructing the PM to do so. I would much prefer a People’s Vote to outright revocation, but I’m extremely grateful to those Scottish politicians who took a case on whether the UK could unilaterally revoke to the ECJ.

    May has hinted at a general election. This would be most unlikely to solve the issue – most existing MPs would be returned – and few Tories are likely to want one until they have axed May.

  81. says


    Fascists gotta fash. The pro-Brexit turnout was risible compared to the People’s Vote march last Saturday, and those attending were split not only between followers of Farage and Yaxley-Lennon, but on their reaction to the news that May’s deal had been rejected – some cheered, others booed.

    That’s what it looked like to me. It was depressing that the commentators on TV here kept talking about how “thousands” of people were there, allegedly more than had been anticipated, the majority supporting Leave. It didn’t look like a particularly large crowd from the aerial shots. I only saw a portion of the coverage, but I didn’t hear one reference today to the People’s Vote march, nor did they show footage from it, nor did they cover it extensively at the time. Depressing.

  82. says

    SC @107, that sounds like Steve Bannon … and like Trump … and like Putin’s favorite fantasy. Farage, Bannon, Trump, Putin and their ilk all out to destroy the European Union. I wonder if Theresa May knows that she is helping them.

  83. says

    In fraud cases, we would call Barr’s letter a ‘lulling letter’. It’s a communication designed to squelch immediate action by making people think it’s all going to be okay — later. Kinda like ‘The check’s in the mail’. Very glad that Dems are not going to fall for it.”

  84. says

    SC @110

    Barr says Mueller “is assisting” DOJ in process of making redactions to the report […]

    I think Barr is using Mueller’s name as cover. He knows many people don’t trust him, (and quite rightly), so he is holding up the trusted name of Mueller as a shield.

    It seems likely that Barr will just have Mueller help in identifying broad categories of info he wants to redact, and then Barr will redact all of that info. Barr’s redactions will likely not be based on Mueller’s judgement, approval or disapproval. The redactions will be based on the need to preserve, as much as possible, the fiction that Trump is innocent.

    It is likely that Barr does not need to redact all the Grand Jury testimony. He could easily get permission to release it to Congress, or at least to the Gang of Eight.

    It sounds to me like Barr is seizing on every thin excuse he can find to redact portions of the Mueller report.

    That bit about “peripheral” persons really bothers me. Who decides what persons are peripheral?

  85. says

    Adam Schiff:

    Congress has asked for the entire Mueller report, and underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline stands.

    In the meantime, Barr should seek court approval (just like in Watergate) to allow the release of grand jury material.

    Redactions are unacceptable. #ReleaseTheReport

  86. KG says

    I’m very concerned for the safety of the politicians. I think about Jo Cox all the time. – SC@127

    Yes, i’m afraid it wouldn’t be a surprise if one or more were physically attacked. Their work demands that they be accessible to constituents, and in any case, there are too many for all to be given serious protection.

    I wonder if Theresa May knows that she is helping them. – Lynna, OM@128

    I think she has become so obsessed with getting “her deal” through, and possibly with staying in office, that she simply can’t see, or refuses to see, any wider context. Immediately allowing it to be understood that she intends to bring it back for a fourth vote is revealing in that regard. But she could drag the whole country down with her if she’s allowed. Even if a “no deal” Brexit would be merely damaging rather than disastrous with proper preparation, that preparation simply hasn’t been done.

  87. says

    KG @133:

    I think she has become so obsessed with getting “her deal” through, and possibly with staying in office, that she simply can’t see, or refuses to see, any wider context.

    Ah, that makes sense. That’s an interesting observation.

    If you are right, that does place Theresa May at trumpian levels self-obsession and of self aggrandizement.

  88. says

    Hahahahahaha!!! Omg. The TIMING! On the day Britain was set to leave European Union, the official campaign finally admits it broke the law. Deliberately. Massively. And overseen by Theresa May’s closest advisor & one of her ministers. Incredible.”

    Vote Leave spokesperson: “Vote Leave has today withdrawn its appeal and related proceedings against the Electoral Commission’s finding of multiple offences under electoral law, committed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.”

  89. says

    Followup to comment 130.

    Barr’s latest letter also notes that Trump is not claiming executive privilege concerning the Mueller report, but, instead, Trump is leaving that up to Barr!

    WTF? The Attorney General that Trump appointed to be his Roy Cohn is going to assert executive privilege, as he sees fit, for the president? WTF?

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reminder, AOC is on Chris Hayes’ All In talking about the Green New Deal in the Bronx at 8 pm eastern, 7 pm central. For me, must see TV.

  91. says

    Barr has his priorities:

    Congressional staffers today said the attorney general “acknowledged making a mistake by speaking extensively with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, over dinner before he had spoken with Nadler.”

    Of course Barr talked to the “loyal” Republicans first.

    NBC News link

  92. says

    Shahmir Sanni: “Yesterday the official campaign for Brexit categorically admitted to breaking the law to win the 2016 referendum. Today neither I or anyone involved in bringing this all to light have been asked to talk about it. So please if you come on TV/Radio today/tomorrow, TALK ABOUT IT.”

  93. blf says

    Teh raping children cult, misogynistic division, Vatican women editors resign from women’s magazine:

    The all-women board on the Vatican women’s magazine have resigned citing a campaign to discredit them and put them “under the direct control of men”.

    Founder Lucetta Scaraffia said pressure on staff at Women Church World had intensified after it had published reports about sexual abuse of nuns by other members of the clergy.


    Her criticism was made in an open letter to Pope Francis.

    Last month, the Pope publicly acknowledged that nuns had been abused by the clergy and said the Church was still attempting to address the “scandal”. He was speaking days after Women Church World highlighted a culture of abuse of women.


    “We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimisation,” said Ms Scaraffia, in a letter addressed to Pope Francis. She said later that there were 11 women on the magazine and they had all quit.


    Although they had not been first to speak of exploitation and sexual abuse that nuns had suffered, they had reported it after the facts had emerged, and had received letters from ordained women who had told of their experiences, she said. “We could no longer stay silent,” she wrote.

    But she said the Vatican newspaper’s new editor, Andrea Monda, had tried to control the magazine’s editorial line and bring in external collaborators. The freedom of speech — “parresia” — that Pope Francis had so often sought was being abandoned.

    “They are returning to the practice of selecting women who ensure obedience,” she said.

    [… ]

    In no way have I chosen anyone, man or woman, with the criterion of obedience, Mr Monda said in a statement.

    Spotted via ‘The Leggings problem’: can we just never hear about them again?, the most recent The Week in Patriarchy column: “A weekly newsletter on what’s happening in the world of feminism and sexism, from politics to pop culture.”

  94. blf says

    All teh bestestist for teh dalekocrazy, edition so-many-we-need-to-use-Aleph numbers, Trump Fed pick was held in contempt for failing to pay ex-wife over $300,000:

    Records obtained by Guardian show Stephen Moore reprimanded by judge for not paying alimony, child support and other debts

    Stephen Moore, the economics commentator chosen by Donald Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, was found in contempt of court after failing to pay his ex-wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in alimony, child support and other debts.

    Court records in Virginia obtained by the Guardian show Moore […] was reprimanded by a judge in November 2012 for failing to pay Allison Moore more than $300,000 in spousal support, child support and money owed under their divorce settlement.

    Moore continued failing to pay, according to the court filings, prompting the judge to order the sale of his house to satisfy the debt in 2013. But this process was halted by his ex-wife after Moore paid her about two-thirds of what he owed, the filings say.

    In a divorce filing in August 2010, Moore was accused of inflicting “emotional and psychological abuse” on his ex-wife during their 20-year marriage. Allison Moore said in the filing she had been forced to flee their home to protect herself. She was granted a divorce in May 2011.

    Moore said in a court filing signed in April 2011 he admitted all the allegations in Allison Moore’s divorce complaint. […]

    […] A former economics writer for the Wall Street Journal who has held positions at several conservative thinktanks, Moore was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has championed the president on cable television.

    Unlike all current members of the Federal Reserve board of governors, Moore does not hold a doctoral degree. Greg Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard University who was a senior economic adviser to former president George W Bush, has said Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas” for the job and urged senators to reject him.

    The Guardian revealed this week that Moore owes the US government $75,000 according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). […]


    Moore’s 2018 book Trumponomics, co-authored with the veteran economist Arthur Laffer, said many Americans felt a sense of not being loved (tied to divorce and family breakup)[] and argued this was one reason people should be required to work to receive money from government assistance programs.

    He has frequently derided the views of the American left on cultural issues, claiming in a 2015 article published by the Christian Broadcasting Network that to liberals if you support traditional marriage, you are a fascist.


    Last week the Guardian reported that Moore created a controversial political attack group during the 2008 presidential election campaign with his friend Paul Erickson, a veteran Republican operative.

    Erickson has been indicted on federal charges of money laundering and tax fraud, to which he has pleaded not guilty. His girlfriend, the Russian pro-gun activist Maria Butina, pleaded guilty to working as a Russian agent by trying to infiltrate the conservative political movement in the US. […]

    And Economists Forecast Stephen Moore Wouldn’t Be Good For Fed Post:

    “Almost universally, economists have spoken out and said this is not a fit candidate for a board position,” said William Luther, who directs the Sound Money Project at the American Institute for Economic Research.

    Moore has spent decades opining on economics — at the conservative Heritage Foundation, on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and on cable TV.

    I’ve been a economic policy person in Washington for well over 30 years, Moore told NPR’s Morning Edition. So I do think that I have probably more experience in this game than many, many other people and in fact a lot of the people who have served on the Federal Reserve Board.

    It’s precisely that track record that worries many economists.

    “More than possibly any other economist in modern America, he has a track record of getting the big issues wrong,” said Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan. “Not just occasionally but time after time.”

    During the Great Recession, for example, Moore complained that the Fed’s efforts to prop up the economy with low interest rates would spark runaway inflation. That never materialized. Today, with unemployment below 4 percent, Moore is making the opposite case, warning that by raising interest rates last year, the Fed was causing a dangerous drop in prices, or deflation.

    That prompted a testy exchange in December on CNN with Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell, who pointed out — correctly — that none of the indicators watched by the Fed show deflation.

    Critics say that Moore’s counterintuitive prescriptions for Fed policy — tight money in bad times, loose money in good — seem to be guided more by who’s in the White House than any objective measure of the economy.

    “If your goal is to stabilize the macroeconomy, then Stephen Moore’s policies go in exactly the wrong direction,” said Luther of the American Institute for Economic Research. “If instead your goal is to push Democrats out of office and get Republicans re-elected, then Stephen Moore’s policies make perfect sense.”


    Moore’s credentials as a partisan player are well-established. He was one of the founders of the Club for Growth, which advocates limited government and low taxes. In 2012, Moore helped design a tax-cutting experiment in Kansas that blew a big hole in the state’s budget but failed to produce the promised economic boom.


    Eventually Kansas lawmakers changed course and reversed the tax cuts. Nevertheless, Moore wrote an op-ed for the Star in 2014 defending the cuts and insisting that low-tax states outperform others. Only after the column was published did [the-then(?) editorial page editor at The Kansas City Star Miriam] Pepper and her colleagues discover that Moore had his numbers wrong. When the paper ran a correction with the right numbers, the data didn’t support Moore’s argument.

    “That kind of factual error is just unacceptable,” Pepper said. “While he was the so-called top economist at Heritage, we decided we were finished with him.”


    Even conservative economists who might share Moore’s policy preferences have spoken out against his nomination. […]

    The above excerpt is from NPR, which, of course, hair furor and his dalekocrazy want to defund / close.

      † I dithered about putting this in eejit quotes as it can be reasonably seen as an awkward & clumsy attempt to acknowledge the disappointment, disconnect, and (sometimes) delusion it does seem many people have. However, I ultimately decided that since, as reported, it was then further twisted and construed — as well as being presumably evidence-free — to be a reason for the absurd work-for-welfare, to alter the typesetting.

  95. blf says

    From shock to shrugs: Europe’s press react to third Brexit deal defeat:

    “Season four of Brexiternity is now under way and will probably air next week,” said France’s Libération, breezily. “After three defeats, the PM is supposedly going to try a fourth time. Unreal? Unthinkable? Of course not. Uncertainty reigns, there is no Plan B, and all options, more or less, remain open.”

    That reminds me of what Die Zeit said last week:

    “Most series start getting dull after a second or third season, but Brexit’s different,” said Germany’s Die Zeit. “The longer it lasts, the better the plot gets. Yesterday’s twist was the best yet: first the unloved PM offers to go, then MPs seize the initiative and it seems the tide may be turning.

    “But wait … In the end, it turns out they can agree on — absolutely nothing. So, cue uproar in the house, and the credits start running. ‘Order,’ roars John Bercow. Please do not adjust your set: we’ll be back right after the break.”

    Back to this week’s edition:

    The Irish Independent said classic comedy fans were now “running out of Brexit analogies”. Monty Python’s Black Knight and dead parrot had already been enlisted to portray Theresa May and her deal, the paper said, while Laurel and Hardy were sadly unavailable to do justice to Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.


    Denmark’s Dagens Nyheter said that although “everything in Britain has revolved around Brexit” for what seems like for ever, the country “appears now to be back at square one. May’s agreement has been voted down for the third time. Almost anything can happen. It’s as if two years of political crisis have served for nothing.”

    The Netherlands’ De Volkskrant said Brexit was now “in injury time” […]

    Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza said “weeks of negotiations, scary nightmare scenarios, and even the promise of her own resignation” had not helped May convince MPs to back the divorce agreement reached with Brussels. “What’s next with Brexit?” it asked. “Who knows?”

    So, of course teh NKoE’s dear lino is monotonically saying 00 0 0000 0 0 000, which seems to decode as a fourth attempt this next(?) week. Everything is up for grabs in Schrödinger’s Brexit:

    How will the UK leave the EU, will there be an election and who will be PM? Anything is possible

    On the bright side, Theresa May got her margin of defeat down into the high double figures. […]


    She knew she had lost, but that was about it. She didn’t have a vision because she never had. Lino was right out of ideas. She’d see what happened during the second round of indicative votes and then do something else. Probably bring back more or less the same deal that had now been voted down three times. When in doubt, crash yourself and revert to default settings. Besides, one more defeat wouldn’t be so bad. Brexit had got her hooked on failure.


    Trying to separate the withdrawal agreement from the political declaration was never likely to fool anyone. Especially, the Labour leavers whom [attorney general Geoffrey] Cox was sent out to woo. Why would anyone trust a government that had repeatedly proved itself to be untrustworthy and which would soon have a leader whom they trusted even less than the last one?

    […] After nearly three years, most MPs have long since said everything they had to say about Brexit. Like Lino, they too are now on repeat. The one exception was Dominic Raab who stood up to say that you would still need to be insane to support an exit deal as bad as the one the government had negotiated. But because he now realised he was clinically certifiable, he was going to vote for it. It was the first time anyone had ever launched a leadership bid by effectively ending it. His last remaining cohort of Spartans who would never take yes for an answer would never trust him again. A small win on the day.

    This was the day when Big Ben was supposed to ring at 11pm to mark the UK’s departure from the EU. When the Red (white and blue) Arrows did a fly past. When new 50p coins were worth 40p. Instead, we were back in a looking-glass world where everyone knew less than they did before. It can’t be long before no one knows anything. Back to the future.

    Everything was up for grabs in Schrödinger’s Brexit: when we were leaving, if we were leaving and how we were leaving; who would be the prime minister, and if there would be a general election. Anything and everything was still possible. Parliament had said something but no one could interpret the language it was speaking. […]

  96. tomh says

    @ #151

    Of course, none of that carries any weight with Senate Republicans.
    From WaPo:
    Stephen Moore edges closer to Fed seat as key GOP lawmakers express support

    A number of key Senate Republicans are expressing openness to confirming conservative economist Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, a positive sign for the White House as aides gauge support for the controversial pick.

    “If he’s nominated and confirmed, he would bring a new voice over to the Fed, and sometimes they need some new voices,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Banking Committee that would consider Moore’s nomination.

    Moore in December called on President Trump to oust Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell, an explosive suggestion that came as White House officials were furious the central bank was slowly raising interest rates.

    Moore said at the time that there was no need to raise interest rates because inflation was low, echoing sentiments expressed by Trump.

    Moore served as a campaign adviser to Trump during the 2016 election and is very close with Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council. Some critics of his appointment have expressed concern that he could make the Fed more political by serving more as an ally of the White House and less as a collaborator studying nuanced developments in the economy.

    “Very intelligent guy, certainly has had some provocative comments in the past. But having known him for a while, I think he will serve well,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another Banking Committee member. “I think separating the rhetoric as a commentator from an actual member of the Federal Reserve, you’ll find him to be a very astute, contemplative thinker who has the ability to add value to the board.”

    Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said that as the panel’s leader he did not want to prejudge Moore’s nomination, but “We’ll give it prompt attention, I can assure you.” Crapo said it was a priority to fill all seats on the Fed board.

  97. lumipuna says

    (From Sunday morning’s Brexit news)

    “Massive quantum uncertainty surrounding Brexit proceedings causes entire UK to temporarily flicker out of existence between 3 and 4 AM…”

  98. blf says

    “Massive quantum uncertainty surrounding Brexit proceedings causes entire UK to temporarily flicker out of existence between 3 and 4 AM…”

    In the NKofE, that would be interpreted as (pick whatever suits you, after checking any logical reasoning skills and brains you may possess at the door):

    ● The EU flickered out of existence, therefore brexit works!

    ● But there’s still Polish plumbers and Pakistani waiters here! (Probably said whilst eating a curry.)

    ● There will be a fifth vote…

    ● “Brexit attempted to hijack the Tardis, sneaking its way inside and managing to dematerialise. At which point an argument broke out about what to do next, where to go, and when it should be. There were more factions than hijackers. Expressed opinions included the 18th C, Dunkirk, and the first staging of Love’s Labour’s Won by that up-and-coming new playwright, W.Shakespeare, after which there would be bear-baiting and jousting.
      “The doctor stays silent and does nothing, correctly reasoning this tanturm of eejits would eventually rematerialize back where they were before…”

    ● Cern announces the discovery of a new particle defying all known physics, the brexitatron, which is extremely unstable, annihilating with itself. The debris flies about doing lots of incidental damage before recoalescing into yet another brexitatron. The cycle then repeats. “However, it has no substance — it’s massless — and seems to have even possible spin simultaneously”, said the leader of the team who discovered this anomaly.

    The rest of the world just sighed in relief.

  99. says

    Trump, being the total lowlife that he is, lied about the facts of a migrant girl’s death.

    Trump is misrepresenting the circumstances of a 7-year-old migrant girl’s death as he seeks to steer any potential blame for it away from his administration.

    Trump, after mockingly painting asylum seekers as a “con job” in a rally the previous night, asserted on Friday that Jakelin Caal Maquin was given no water by her father during their trek to a remote border area and that the dad acknowledged blame for his daughter’s death on Dec. 8. Those assertions are not supported by the record.

    TRUMP: “I think that it’s been very well stated that we’ve done a fantastic job. … The father gave the child no water for a long period of time – he actually admitted blame.” — to reporters Friday.

    THE FACTS: An autopsy report released Friday found that Guatemalan girl died of a bacterial infection just more than a day after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. The El Paso County Medical Examiner’s office said traces of streptococcus bacteria were found in Jakelin’s lungs, adrenal gland, liver, and spleen, and she experienced a “rapidly progressive infection” that led to the failure of multiple organs.

    […] Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz said after his girl’s death that he made sure she had food and water as they traveled through Mexico.

    Moreover, the Border Protection timeline on her case said she was checked for medical problems upon her apprehension and: “The initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues.”

    The girl and her father were caught at 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 6 […]

    Her first distress was reported at 5 a.m. the next day, when her father said she was vomiting on a bus waiting to take them to a Border Patrol station at Lordsburg, New Mexico. When the bus arrived close to 6:30 a.m., the father said Jakelin was not breathing. A Border Patrol emergency technician revived her twice. She had a temperature of 105.7 degrees. At 7:45 a.m., a helicopter flew her to the nearest trauma center, in El Paso, Texas, where she went into cardiac arrest late that morning and was revived once more.

    By then breathing by machine, with brain swelling and liver failure, she died on Dec. 8 at 12:35 a.m., her father with her.

    Afterward, Trump insisted in tweets that the girl and another Guatemalan child who died in custody, Felipe Gomez Alonzo , were “were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol.”

    […] On Friday, he said of the children’s deaths when asked about them: “It’s a horrible situation. But Mexico could stop it.”
    Find AP Fact Checks at

    From the readers comments:

    This morning I read the report in WaPo, other agency reports on Facebook linked articles, and PBS and in each and every case the trolls=MAGAggots are out in force. Some are blaming the immigrants for bringing foreign diseases here to infect all of us. Isn’t Streptococcal sepsis, already here? I believe the disinformation campaign has gone into full attack mode.
    These are political tactics which lead us to a moral and ethical abyss.

  100. says

    Team Trump lost another battle in court:

    The United States District Court for the District of Alaska has declared Donald Trump’s opening of over 128 million acres of coastal waters to oil and gas drilling was illegal. At the same time, District Judge Sharon Gleason moved to block construction of a highway through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, protecting an area that’s been described as “America’s last true wilderness.”

    As the Washington Post reports, Judge Gleason found that Trump’s actions violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act by withdrawing protection over federal lands without seeking congressional approval. […]

    Judge Gleason’s ruling, unless overturned, would place the decision back with Congress, which would have to approve any areas to be opened for development. With Democrats in control of the House, it seems very unlikely that Trump could win approval for the kind of sweeping gift to the oil and gas industry he originally proposed, though smaller, regional areas might be approved in areas where the industry is strong.

    The halt on off-shore drilling follows a ruling two weeks ago that halted development on over 300,000 acres of federal land that had been auctioned off by the federal government without taking into account how development of that land would affect climate change.

    The Interior Department hasn’t commented on either ruling, but it can be expected that these rulings will be tested at the Supreme Court.


  101. says

    Some details from the town hall with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez that was hosted by Chris Hayes:

    […] “I worry that what we do is if we have basically the mirror image of a Trump rally on climate change that we drive all the people away that could come our way and solve this thing now,” Inglis [former Representative Bob Inglis, a Republican] explained,” alluding to the idea that having a progressive or left-leaning event (such as the one he was currently participating in) might scare off moderates or conservatives.

    “You can’t do it in a single congress —the entire Green New Deal. It is literally impossible,” he added. […]

    He went on to ask a wrap-up question, basically suggesting that climate change should come first, then issues like healthcare could come later. (Obviously, he’s selectively ignoring a lot of overlap in these subjects.)

    His exact words: “Is it possible that we say, climate change … we’ve got to act now? Can we come back maybe to universal basic income a little bit later?”

    The Democrat from New York was about to reply when an audience member, among the boos, shouted out that Inglis was a “moron.”

    In what can only be reminiscent of being disciplined by your favorite teacher, Ocasio-Cortez stopped, pointed in the direction of that audience member, and said, “Hey! Hey! Hey! That’s unacceptable.” She added, “And that’s the difference between me and Trump,” when turning back to face Inglis. […]


    AOC later tweeted about that moment:

    Let’s debate, not debase.

  102. says

    Trump is, very likely, overstepping the bounds again here. He thinks he can sign a decree, like a king. I think this issue is also headed back to the courts.

    […] Trump handed a victory to a major North American energy company on Friday afternoon with a new presidential permit allowing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to go forward. Many say the move is an effort to sidestep judiciary and environmental review and is likely to face legal challenges.

    Pipeline company TransCanada Corp. is authorized to “construct, connect, operate and maintain” pipeline facilities running between the United States and Canada, per the permit issued on March 29. It additionally allows the maintenance of a pipeline facility in Phillips County, Montana. […]

    In November 2018, a Montana judge invalidated that permit [an earlier, March 2017 permit] and it is currently being appealed, while a December lawsuit and subsequent injunction largely halted pre-construction activities on the pipeline. The Trump administration was, as a result of the November legal action, ordered to conduct a new environmental review of the pipeline — something the new presidential permit apparently seeks to sidestep.

    “This permit supersedes the Presidential permit issued to the permittee, dated March 23, 2017,” the new permit notes. Some think that logic stems from the Justice Department’s previous argument that the permit isn’t subject to environmental review by the State Department if it is signed by the president himself. [JFC. Authoritarianism.]

    […] “What’s especially appalling about Trump’s move is that many parts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska are literally underwater right now with devastating floods impacting the Midwest, and instead of offering support to the communities who will face more of these kinds of disasters as the climate crisis worsens, Trump is offering a Canadian fossil fuel company another chance to build a gigantic fossil fuel project that would only unlock more climate pollution while putting already suffering communities further at risk,” said Greenpeace USA campaigner Rachel Butler […]

  103. blf says

    Follow-up to @66 and @81, on teh World Congress of Families (WCF), Christian right summit in Verona draws massive protest (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    20,000 rally in Italy against anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-feminist conference

    The hosting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a US coalition that promotes the values of the Christian right, has been especially contentious in Italy as it is supported by the far-right League, a partner in the country’s coalition government. Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s deputy prime minister, spoke at the event on Saturday evening.

    He said he was there to support a festive day with a smile: the right to be a mother, a father and a grandparent. Salvini pledged not to change Italy’s abortion law, known as Law 94, but said the country needed to reverse its shrinking population. Italians need to start bringing children into the world. A country that doesn’t make babies is a country that dies.

    Apropos of nothing much, that last bit of blathering reminds me of a recent and much cheerier recent France24 video, Baby crazy! Why do French women have so many kids? (English): “French people have a reputation for being pessimistic and yet they have a lot of babies. In fact, France is the baby-making champion of Europe. Some say it’s a model for countries struggling with a quickly-ageing and ever-shrinking population. So what explains this ‘French exception’ and is it sustainable? And what is it like to have children in France? [… W]e unveil the secret to bringing up baby à la française.” People used to USAian- or NKofE-style child care are possibly in for a shock.

    Back to the Grauniad’s report on teh frothing of eejits in Italy:

    The protest was brought together by about 70 rights associations from across the country.

    “The only positive thing to come out of this event is that all these groups have come together and Italy is uniting,” said Luisa Rizzitelli, a spokesperson for Rebel Network, a women’s group.

    “This is a battle to protect the rights and freedom for all, not just one group. We’re all under threat. This congress is not about religion but political power, and we don’t accept this dangerous regression.”

    The self-declared goal of the congress, which began on Friday and ends on Sunday, is to restore the natural order. Speakers have railed against same-sex relationships, radical feminists and abortion, which has invariably been described as murder and a crime. […]


    Yuri Guaiana, the campaign manager for All Out, a gay rights’ association, said: “They’ve said terrible things about homosexuality, divorce and contraception, and yet they {those involved with WCF} played the victims, saying we were attacking them simply for defending the family.

    “This is why it’s important to protest — to show that Italy is not going to surrender to hate.”

    Other speakers have included Brian Brown, the WCF president, who fought against same-sex marriage in the US; Theresa Okafor, a Nigerian activist who likened gay people to the Boko Haram terrorist group; and Lucy Akello, a Ugandan politician who helped pass an anti-gay law that sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. Among the delegates were Russian Orthodox and Mormon leaders as well as Katalin Novák, the Hungarian minister for family affairs.


  104. F.O. says

    yet they {those involved with WCF} played the victims, saying we were attacking them simply for defending the family.

    They are going hard on this.
    I had a brief argument with one of them
    WCF: “Heterosexuals are discriminated”
    ME: “I’m heterosexual, I’ve never had the slightest problem.”
    WCF: “Well, then you were distracted”

    These people are bullies, good at dishing out discrimination, but have no fucking clue about how it is to be on the receiving end.
    If they received one tenth of what they do to others, they’d be a puddle of tears.
    BTW, turned out the gentleman above, who collected likes and retweets for his answers to me, was a supporter of Casa Pound, ie the main neo-fascist group in Italy, just if you had any doubts about with whom the WCFers cozy up, and what they mean by “restoring the natural order”.

  105. lumipuna says


    Err, that should be “… every possible spin simultaneously”.

    It certainly feels like we’re entering some permanent state where Brexit is simultaneously just about to happen, never happening and already happened.

  106. blf says

    More on teh NKofE’s vote illusion’s now-admitted law-breaking, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove under fire on Vote Leave’s law-breaking (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Conservative leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are facing growing calls to account for illegal behaviour by the official Vote Leave Brexit campaign.

    The group has dropped its appeal against the Electoral Commission’s ruling that it broke the law by channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of donations to an ostensibly independent campaign group, BeLeave.

    When the Observer revealed evidence a year ago that Vote Leave had broken spending rules, Johnson attacked the report on Twitter as utterly ludicrous and said it had won … legally. A Johnson adviser said on Saturday that the former foreign secretary would not comment on the end of the appeal.

    Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called on Johnson to recognise the campaign acted illegally. “I’m sure the man who seeks to be your prime minister will acknowledge … Vote Leave broke the law,” he said on Twitter.

    Gove has previously said the appeal prevented him from commenting on the ruling, but his office did not respond to a request for a comment now the legal process has ended.

    Anna Soubry, the former Tory MP who joined the Independent Group […] dismissed the claim the appeal had been dropped for financial reasons.

    “The one thing we do know, all these people have access to considerable amounts of money, so to say they are dropping it for lack of funds is absolutely ludicrous,” she said.


    Gove and Johnson played key roles in Vote Leave, Gove as co-convener and Johnson as a figurehead for the official Brexit campaign. A series of other senior government or Tory figures also sat on its committee, including Liam Fox, Iain Duncan Smith, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and the former international development secretary Priti Patel.

    IDS is evil incarnate, the prototypical nasty party apparatchik, and Patel is, well, apparently so dim an absolute vacuum is a model of clear thinking (Minister for absolute clarity muddies the Brexit waters, very probably referring to Priti Patel struggles to explain how UK would spend cash not sent to EU: “Pro-Brexit Tory minister says of £160m being contributed to EU, £100m would go on NHS but then flounders over rest” (both from 2016)).

    There has been no government response to the appeal being dropped and little media coverage. And while national broadcasters and newspapers gave prime coverage to Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliot when he launched an aggressive media campaign against the watchdog’s initial findings, few covered the decision to to end the appeals process in any depth.

    After the announcement, whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, who was outed by a member of Theresa May’s team, lost his job and was vilified as a fantasist after his revelations about Vote Leave’s spending, said: “The {end of the appeal} feels extremely vindicating, but the way the media has responded to it has been extremely disappointing. The only excuse they had is that they were appealing. Now we know they broke the law, they need to be held to account.”


  107. blf says

    The European far right has its eye on education:

    Conservative and far-right forces across Europe are seeking to control mass education and indoctrinate a new vanguard.
    Education has never been politically neutral and has always been shaped by a particular vision of society. With a right-wing ethnocentric world view becoming more appealing to western electorates and far-right parties, strengthening their representation in political and administrative institutions, they are naturally trying to imprint their views on culture and education.

    This includes the right in Italy, which has its eye on the education sector under the current populist government. In fact, the current political environment in Italy which appears quite favourable to nurturing far-right activism has attracted even foreign far-right ideologues.

    Earlier this month, the media zoomed in on an educational [sic] project […] Steve Bannon set up in an old monastery in Italy. The so-called modern gladiator school will aim to give its students the necessary tools to defend the Judeo-Christian West and its values.


    With his new project, Bannon wants to establish an elitist school [sic] that would work towards cultivating the future thought leaders of the far-right movement. This idea seems to be, at least partially, inspired by Julius Evola, the Italian fascist philosopher who promoted the formation of a hierarchical society run by a spiritually superior caste — a small elite of warriors.

    Evola viewed progress and equality as poisonous illusions and rejected the liberal democratic order. His anti-democratic ideology remained popular in far-right circles for decades after his death and today, it is embraced by a diverse bunch of right-wingers — from Bannon to the Greek Golden Dawn, from the US alt-right to the Russian far right as well as other extremists opposing markets-led globalisation, liberalism and multiculturalism.


    Bussetti, the Italian education minister […], recently decided to exclude history from the exit exam for high schoolers, thus decreasing its importance in the curriculum. This move is part of the plan of the far-right League party, which is part of Italy’s governing coalition, to give more prominence to vocational subjects over humanities in high schools.

    The party hopes a high school education focused on skills necessary to perform specific jobs and basic citizenship duties would reduce university attendance rates and probably expose fewer young people to leftist and liberal ideas in institutions of higher education.


    In Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is seeking to rewrite the history syllabus. Its Saxony-Anhalt chapter, for instance, has called for history lessons to be redesigned so they promote among students a fundamentally positive relationship to their country and a consolidated national identity.


    A few regional AfD organisations have also targeted teachers who, it asserts, use their lessons for leftist indoctrination. They have set up websites in which pupils can denounce left-leaning teachers, promising to send these cases to the highest institutional level. […]


    And here in France, le penazi mayors have been trying various antics. Fortunately, their powers in this area are limited, and about all they’ve been able to do is ban providing alternatives when pork-based dishes are served for lunch. On the other hand, should a le penazi become president or become more than a minor nuisance in parliament, then they would be able to pull on the educational levers.

  108. says

    blf @161, thanks for keeping us up to date on “teh frothing of eejits in Italy.” Of course those major doofuses and bigots, Mormon leaders, were there to help spread misinformation and hate.

    It was, however, refreshing to see so many anti-hate groups getting together to protest the wildly inaccurately named World Congress of Families.

  109. says

    blf @165, JFC. I see an army of Betsy DeVos clones. And Steve Bannon replicas. Bannon is smarter than DeVos, and is perhaps more dangerous than Devos when it comes to dismantling good educational systems. DeVos, however, by being blithely ignorant (of both financial and cultural issues) has somehow managed to damage education systems in the U.S. during her relatively short tenure on team Trump.

    DeVos is also extremely rich, so she can extend her malfeasance by throwing money around.

    From the text quoted by blf:

    part of Italy’s governing coalition, to give more prominence to vocational subjects over humanities in high schools.

    Very trumpian of them.

  110. blf says

    Bosnians deported from Croatia for ‘refusing to spy on Muslims’ (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Citizens and politicians say Croatian intelligence label Bosnians who do not collaborate as national security threats.

    Dozens of Bosnian citizens have claimed that Croatia has revoked their working permits, deported them and labelled them as national security threats after they refused to work as spies and provide information on Muslims in Bosnia.

    Their testimonies were published this month in Zurnal, an independent Bosnian news website.

    Zurnal claimed that Croatian intelligence officials have been trying to recruit Bosnian collaborators, specifically members of the Muslim Salafi group, to plant weapons and explosives in mosques, according to documents provided by Bosnia’s security agency.

    In one case, it is claimed that Croatian intelligence requested a Bosnian Salafi known as HC to transfer a bag full of weapons to a mosque in central Bosnia in April 2018.

    Prior to that, a Croatian official had reportedly ordered him to create a fake Facebook profile praising the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS [daesh –blf]), and use it to spy on Muslims in Bosnia.

    Because he worked in Slovenia, he often travelled through Croatia, making him a target for blackmail and recruitment, HC told Zurnal.

    Dragan Mektic, Bosnia’s security minister, told local media following the news that the “false flag” operation was intended to prove allegations made by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a terrorism haven.

    He said that for the past two years, Croatian agencies have tried to exhort Bosnian citizens connected with Salafis to transport weapons to mosques in Bosnia, where they would later be discovered.


    Goran Kovacevic, professor at the University of Sarajevo’s criminology and security studies faculty, said Croatia is “certainly leading a special type of warfare against Bosnia”.

    “We’ve seen this with their propaganda directed against Bosnia by way of Croatian politicians, other officials and media,” Kovacevic told Al Jazeera.

    Damir Becirevic, a former member of the monitoring committee for Bosnia’s security agency, told Al Jazeera that the case exemplifies Croatia’s years-long attempt to discredit Bosnia.


    Nermin Spahic […] worked as a carpenter in Croatia for 17 years, but his troubles began when he received an official work permit.

    He says he was called in for interrogation six or seven times in 2018, with each session lasting around two hours.

    One officer asked whether he attends a mosque, where he was at certain times during the war — such as in June 1993, whether he knew of any Wahhabis in his hometown and demanded to know his opinion on ISIL.

    “I don’t even know where I was last year in June, let alone in 1993,” Spahic told Al Jazeera.

    “I’m not someone who goes to the mosque but when he began with this sort of talk, I told him I go to the mosque five times a day {on purpose}.

    “I told him what I think about ISIL — that they’re s***,” Spahic said.

    An officer said he was failing to cooperate.

    In late 2018, he received a deportation order saying that as a national security threat, he was banned from entering Croatia for 10 years.


    Analysts told Al Jazeera that Croatia’s intention is to destabilise Bosnia, in order to eventually create a third, Croat entity in the country.

    “Why does the state president {Grabar-Kitarovic} talk about a third entity in Bosnia? Why did she come out with false information that there are 10,000 terrorists in Bosnia, when the director of Croatia’s security and intelligence agency confirmed at a meeting in Sarajevo that it’s incorrect?” said journalist Avdo Avdic, who broke the news of the affair.

    “This is their motive: political destabilisation of Bosnia and it is happening continually.”

    According to Emir Suljagic, professor of international relations at the International University of Sarajevo and former deputy minister of defence, Croatia’s goals haven’t changed since the war — either formally divide Bosnia or create a proxy entity which would allow it a stake in running the country.


    According to Emir Suljagic, professor of international relations at the International University of Sarajevo and former deputy minister of defence, […] “[…] important is the deep-seated belief in both political and Church corners that Bosniak-Muslims represent the Asian ‘Other’ — that they are successors of the Ottoman invader and as such barbaric and in need of ’emancipation’.

    “It is high time NATO and the EU paid attention to the hybrid war one of their member-states is conducting in Bosnia.”

  111. says

    Trump plans to cut U.S. aid to Central American countries. Sounds like an ignorant, bullying move that will result in more migrants seeking asylum, not less.

    […] Trump plans to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to three Central American countries in retaliation for what he called their lack of help in reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S. border. […]

    The State Department said in a statement Saturday that it would be “ending . . . foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle” — a region representing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — for the past two years. The aid affects nearly $500 million in 2018 funds and millions more left over from the prior fiscal year.

    Trump’s action was the culmination of a months-long battle in the U.S. government over the aid program, which grew substantially under the Obama administration and was intended to address the root causes of migration — violence, a lack of jobs and poverty.

    Some Trump administration officials felt the program had failed to achieve enough results, and in recent months have been looking into alternatives. But the president’s decision to cut off the remaining funds appeared to take many people by surprise. […]

    One former U.S. official said there was “chaos” in the State Department and embassies overseas as officials tried to figure out whether they had to cancel existing contracts, or simply not renew them. […]

    “I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras and El Salvador. No more money is going there anymore,” Trump told reporters. “We were giving them $500 million. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us.”

    Democratic officials, aid groups and former officials said Trump’s action could boomerang, by shrinking or eliminating some of the very programs keeping would-be migrants in Central America.

    “Ironically, our goals of having people stay and thrive in El Salvador are very similar to the current administration’s,” said Ken Baker, chief executive of at Glasswing International [], which runs education, health and entrepreneurship programs in El Salvador and receives USAID funding. “Through our programs we’ve been able to provide opportunities and the belief that they [would-be migrants] can thrive here.” […]

    Jim Nealon, a former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, said that Trump didn’t seem to understand the way the Central American aid program worked. The U.S. government doesn’t give the money to foreign governments, but rather “to programs designed and implemented by the U.S., with the cooperation of governments and civil society,” he said. Much of them are administered by nonprofit groups.

    He also said Central American governments aren’t seeking to send their citizens to the United States. “To the contrary, they already cooperate with us in trying to deter migration. But they can’t prevent their citizens from leaving the country.”

    Washington Post link

  112. says

    The FCC is not effective when it comes to enforcing fines levied against robocallers:

    […] The Wall Street Journal has done an investigation into the FCC‘s handling of robocallers, and discovered that they aren’t doing much about it. According to the paper they received records through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), and found that while the FCC has fined companies a total of $208.4 million since 2015, they have only collected $6,790 of that money.

    To put that into perspective, for every $10,000 in punitive fines to companies violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC has collected a little less than 4 pennies. To put that into further perspective, if someone fined me $10,000 for something—I would feel it pretty badly for three to four years, as I tried to pay it off. If you told me that they would only ask for fewer than 4 pennies I would forget that I was fined $10,000. […]


    Trump’s chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, promised to crack down on robocalls. He has not done so.

  113. says

    An excerpt from Beto O’Rourke’s speech, delivered today at a rally in El Paso:

    Let’s bring millions more out of the shadows and on to a path to contribute to maximum potential to the success of this country. Let’s not only follow this country’s asylum laws, make sure we never take another child from their mother at a desperate and vulnerable moment.

    Let us reunite every single one of those family that is are still separated today. Let’s remember, every single one of us, including those who are just three or four blocks from here, detained under the international bridge that connects us with Mexico, behind chain linked fence and barbed wire, they are fellow human beings and deserve to be treated like our fellow human beings.

    See comment 80 for more details about the migrants being held under a bridge.

  114. KG says

    More from the Grauniad: rumours that Tory MPs would try to block an election if May tried to call one, as she has hinted is possible. An election is called if 2/3 of the total House votes for one (so that’s 434 of the 650), so it would take less than 200 Tories to block this route (as the “D”UP and the Tingies will not want one and they add up to 21). But if this route was blocked, May could try to engineer a no-confidence vote in herself – Labour would cooperate, and presumably, Tories loyal to May would support a no-confidence motion against her, while rebels against her would declare their confidence in her!

  115. blf says

    France sees rise in conversion therapies to ‘cure’ homosexuality:

    In the United States, it is estimated that 700,000 young people have been sent to […] rehabilitation [sic] centre. But it might come as a surprise to learn that they also exist in Europe — particularly in France.

    According to Laurence Vanceunebrock-Mialon, a member of Parliament from centrist party La République en Marche (LREM), two main trends have emerged: religious circles that enrol young victims in sexual reorientation “internships”, and doctors who “treat” homosexuality with anti-anxiety medication.

    Véronique Lesage works on the telephone helpline of the association Le Refuge, which helps young gay people in distress. She once answered a call from a young girl. “Hello, my parents have made an appointment with an exorcist for me. I came out last week and I’ve been going through hell ever since. They are practicing Catholics and they think demons have entered me and that I am condemned,” said the girl. Lesage had received calls like this before. She says this girl and her counterparts are young men and women whose homosexuality has caused such family devastation that so-called “healing” seems to be the only way out.

    In France, these “sexual reorientations” are practiced by some Christian evangelical groups inspired by the American model and by some Muslim preachers. Young people undergo “internships” that combine prayers, readings, exorcism sessions and sometimes even complete isolation. “We had the case of a teenage Jehovah’s Witness whose homosexuality had been publicly disclosed in the community. His parents had then seized his phone and his computer, and he was forbidden from interacting with the outside world,” says Lesage.

    “This type of exclusion is also sometimes observed in some migrant populations where young people are forced to marry and are constantly monitored.”

    At STOP Homophobie, which fights against LGBT discrimination, a recent situation left its mark. “We asked for a doctor’s help for a 19-year-old. When the subject of homosexuality was raised, the doctor said that these people were potential paedophiles, vectors of AIDS and that medical treatment was needed. We were extremely shocked,” says Terrence Katchadourian of STOP Homophobie.


    Anthony Favier, president of the Christian LGBT association David & Jonathan […] says that the phenomenon has grown with the explosion of the evangelical movement in France in recent years. “It is a modern movement in form but very conservative in substance,” says Favier. “And there is no interpretation of religious texts.”


    In terms of Islam, the trend is less pronounced, according to Ludovic Mohamed Zahed, a doctor and imam who specialises in LGBT issues. “Homosexuality remains a very taboo subject in many families and so imams avoid confronting it head-on. Some even go so far as to say that it does not exist among Muslims. Nevertheless, cases of conversion therapies have occured and are still happening, particularly ones involving exorcism.”


    French conversion therapies currently exist in a legal limbo. The practice of sexually redirecting or ‘curing’ homosexuals is legal but there have been European directives to change this.

    Vanceunebrock-Mialon is trying to change the situation with the introduction of a new bill, one of whose aims would be to send a strong signal to families of gay children.

    “Education is required,” says Vanceunebrock-Mialon. “It is not a question of prohibiting the support of young homosexuals who are suffering, but of clearly distinguishing cases where it is suggested that they can be ‘cured’ of their sexuality, because this is where psychological abuse occurs.”

    Vanceunebrock-Mialon has been working on her proposed bill for over a year. Today, she says she feels isolated from her parliamentary peers. “This subject is very sensitive and parliamentarians are afraid to provoke uproar when it comes to religious issues; there is a clear lack of political courage.”


  116. says

    Mimi Rocah: “Someday (soon) I’d like to know the answer to this question: would Manafort’s cooperation have made the difference in ‘did not establish’ a criminal conspiracy with Russian gov’t if he hadn’t lied to prosecutors for 50 hours? In other words, did Trump’s pardon-dangling work?”

  117. says

    Tom Watson – “Labour’s plan for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal can heal the country”:

    …Last Saturday, I went on the march for a people’s vote. It was huge and passionate but there was also a calmness and dignity in this million-strong protest that I have not always experienced in the past few years.

    Then, on Wednesday night, my party came together around a position on Brexit that can unite our members, voters, MPs and, yes, the leadership too. I respect the different judgments reached by some of our MPs – none of these decisions is easy – but more than 80% of Labour MPs backed Margaret Beckett’s motion saying that any deal to leave the EU should not be pushed through by parliament unless it has also been approved by the people.

    Whenever a final deal is reached, and whatever that deal eventually looks like, I think this question can only be truly settled by giving the decision to the people. Our plan to put any final Brexit deal back to the people has already begun to unite the Labour party. And, if the last referendum divided our country, I believe a new one might help heal it.

  118. says

    “Saudis hacked Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’s phone, says company’s security adviser”:

    The security chief for Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos says the Saudi government had access to Bezos’s phone and gained private information from it.

    Gavin de Becker, a longtime security consultant, said he had concluded his investigation into the publication in January of leaked text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sánchez, a former television anchor who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.

    In an article for The Daily Beast website, De Becker said the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc, had privately demanded De Becker deny finding any evidence of “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news gathering process”.

    “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’s phone, and gained private information,” De Becker wrote. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”

    De Becker alleged Saudi Arabia has targeted the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, following the death last year of one of its columnists, Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey. Khashoggi, a Saudi national, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October….

  119. says

    Quoted in blf’s #161 above:

    Salvini pledged not to change Italy’s abortion law, known as Law 94, but said the country needed to reverse its shrinking population. “Italians need to start bringing children into the world. A country that doesn’t make babies is a country that dies.”

    …Refugees still need to get out, though, needless to say.

  120. says

    “Tuesday’s court race is the biggest Wisconsin election of the year. What will it tell us about the mood of the voters?”:

    Urban strength, suburban inroads and a Dane County tidal wave helped propel Democrats to victory in Wisconsin last fall.

    Could that Trump-era pattern repeat itself in Tuesday’s state Supreme Court race?

    Or have the GOP’s midterm losses delivered a wake-up call to the party’s conservative base?

    The judicial showdown between two state Appeals Court judges, Lisa Neubauer and Brian Hagedorn, is far from a perfect barometer of the post-midterm Wisconsin electorate.

    That’s because it’s a nonpartisan spring race and turnout for Supreme Court elections is typically around 20% of the voting-age population — less than half that of a contest for governor.

    But Supreme Court races have become far more politicized than they used to be and are now viewed through a partisan lens by the parties, activists, the media and many voters.

    Republicans are aligned behind the more conservative Hagedorn (onerecent pro-Hagedorn ad praises President Donald Trump). Democrats are lined up behind the more liberal Neubauer.

    Like any election, the Hagedorn-Neubauer race is its own contest with its own issues and own dynamics.

    But like any election, it may offer broader takeaways. It may provide some hints about current levels of motivation and engagement on the Democratic left and Republican right.

    It may tell us more about whether the partisan voting patterns of the Trump era extend to big, nonpartisan court races. It will shed light on the balance of power in judicial elections in Wisconsin. And of course, it will help determine the philosophical makeup of the state’s highest court as we head into another big court race in April 2020.

  121. says

    Upcoming political events:

    Mar. 31: Ukrainian presidential election
    Mar. 31: Turkish local elections

    Apr. 2: House deadline for Barr to turn over full Mueller report
    Apr. 2: Wisconsin Supreme Court election
    Apr. 3: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses joint session of Congress
    Apr. 9: Israeli elections
    Apr. 12: some sort of Brexit deadline
    Apr. 26: Maria Butina sentencing
    Apr. 30: Roger Stone status hearing

    May 6: Michael Cohen scheduled to report to prison
    May 23-26: EU parliamentary elections

    June 26 and 27: first Democratic primary debate (Miami)

  122. says

    “The media’s shameful attempt to help Trump bury the Mueller report”:

    Battered by bogus allegations that Russiagate coverage was botched simply because Trump won’t be indicted, many in the press seem to be scrambling to do their best to help the White House bury Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation. It’s arguably the most important government report compiled in the last 30 or 40 years. Yet it’s under lock and key, and much of the Washington press doesn’t seem to care.

    It was bad enough when the media immediately opted to play along with Attorney General William Barr’s dubious, three-and-a-half page summary that he released last Sunday, pretending that the cherry-picked document was in any way a credible stand-in for the contents of sprawling, two-year investigation. But by having spent the entire week since then doing its best to prop up the Barr summary while raising virtually no collective demands about seeing the Mueller report itself, the press has played an absolutely central role in the unfolding cover-up.

    In a country facing unprecedented political polarization, there’s actually huge bipartisan agreement that the Mueller report needs to be made public. That’s a stunning development that received very little news coverage this week. One week after Mueller delivered his report to the Department of Justice, we’re just now finding how many pages it is!

    Not surprisingly, Clinton administration alumni are expressing their shock at how the Beltway press corps, which spent most of the ’90s madly pursuing a Democratic president and the GOP-generated scandals around him, seems to have suddenly decided that cozying up to an administration under fire is the best option. “For a moment in 1998 I thought why don’t we get a political flunky to review the Starr report and release a 4 page letter exonerating the President, former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart tweeted facetiously. “Then I thought the press will never fall for that. What a moron I was.”

    What’s so astonishing is the GOP premise for keeping the report secret is so illogical. On what planet does Trump’s politicized Department of Justice keep under lock and key a report that supposedly exonerates Trump? The whole idea is insulting, not only to American voters, but to journalists covering the story. It’s also humiliating for them. The Mueller report has been anxiously anticipated for two years, with the investigation generating tremendous amount of news coverage. Yet here we are and reporters at the most prestigious news outlets in the nation have no access to the report and no idea what Mueller actually concluded, let alone what all the underlying evidence shows. It’s embarrassing—and unprecedented—for Beltway scandal coverage.

    My hunch is that it’s a stab at self-preservation….

    And so Mueller postmortems are pouring in as journalists, who typically demand access to documents when evaluating investigations, make sweeping conclusions based on the Barr press release….

  123. tomh says

    Once the Supreme Court upholds these laws, there will be no need to strike down Roe. From NYT:
    Georgia Is Latest State to Pass Fetal Heartbeat Bill as Part of Growing Trend

    Tensions over a growing movement to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected intensified this week as lawmakers in Georgia passed a bill that stands to become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

    The bill, which narrowly passed in the Republican-controlled legislature on Friday, is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. The measure generally prohibits the procedure after doctors can discern a fetal heartbeat, a milestone that happens around six weeks of pregnancy — before some women know they are pregnant.

    Georgia’s so-called fetal heartbeat bill passed as momentum for similar proposals is building in several Republican-controlled state capitals. The governors in Mississippi and Kentucky signed fetal heartbeat measures into law in recent weeks, and other states — including Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas — are expected to approve similar measures this year.

    But the efforts have so far not gained traction in the courts, which quickly halted the fetal heartbeat bill from taking effect in Kentucky and found similar measures in Iowa and North Dakota unconstitutional.

    The measures clash with Supreme Court decisions that have recognized a woman’s right to an abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

    Abortion opponents have said that is part of the intent: to land a new case before the Supreme Court, which became more conservative with the appointment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh last year, lending urgency to the question of whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, could be overturned or weakened.

  124. says

    I somehow completely missed this election (probably for the best, as it turns out – positive result without the stress):

    “Slovakia’s president-elect hails victory for progressive values”:

    The woman who has been elected Slovakia’s first female president said her victory showed “you can win without attacking your opponents”, after fighting a positive campaign based on progressive values and political reform, and providing a rare moment of hope for liberal politics in central Europe.

    Zuzana Čaputová, a 45-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, won 58.4% of the votes in Saturday’s poll and will take office in June.

    A political outsider who was polling in single figures a few months before the vote, her campaign used the slogan “Stand up to evil”, but she eschewed personal attacks on her opponents and has spoken of the importance of the values of “humanism, solidarity and truth”.

    “Let us look for what connects us. Let us promote cooperation above personal interests,” she told a crowd of supporters in Bratislava. “I am happy not just for the result, but mainly that it is possible not to succumb to populism, to tell the truth, to raise interest without aggressive vocabulary.”

    After topping the first round of voting two weeks ago, she comfortably won the run-off against Maroš Šefčovič, an EU energy commissioner backed by the governing party Smer, an ostensibly centre-left grouping that has increasingly used rightwing populist rhetoric over recent years.

    Šefčovič said during the campaign that he wanted to appeal to voters “who insist that Slovakia remain a Christian country”, an attack on Čaputová’s liberal views on LGBT rights and abortion legislation….

    Much more at the link.

  125. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    MSNBC has two shows of Headliners Starting at 8CT (9 ET), with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez followed by Beto O’Rourke an hour later.

  126. says

    It looks like good but perilous news from Turkey at this very late hour. The opposition has won Ankara and a number of other cities, and it even looked when Erdoğan spoke earlier like he’d conceded the narrow loss of Istanbul, but now it seems they’re trying to pull a Honduras by stopping announcing the Istanbul vote totals when the opposition candidate was on the cusp of overtaking the AKP candidate.

    blog with updates

    “Intel: How Turkey’s local elections mark a rebuke for Erdogan’s one-man rule.”

    “Erdogan bloc ‘loses Ankara’; Imamoglu says he won Istanbul polls.”

    Whatever cheating they’re trying to get away with in Istanbul, the performance of the opposition is incredible given the repression and media blackout they’re facing.

  127. says

    AJ – “Turkey election board: CHP’s Imamoglu leads Istanbul race”:

    Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate is leading in the mayoral race in Istanbul, the country’s largest city and economic centre, over the nominee of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, the head of Turkey’s election board said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara on the results of Sunday’s local elections, High Election Board Chairman Sadi Guven said CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu is leading with 4,159,650 votes over AK Party’s Binali Yildirim with 4,131,761.

    Guven added: “So far results coming from 31,102 ballot boxes have been defined in our system, count of 84 ballot box results have not been completed because of objections.”

    Meanwhile, Sezgin Tanrikulu, a senior CHP MP from Istanbul, said that his party expected the board to declare victory later in the day.

    “We have won the election in Istanbul with around 28,000 votes. For legal reasons, the board is waiting for the objection period to be over to declare our win,” Tanrikulu, who is also a lawyer, told Al Jazeera.

    “There have been complaints about certain ballot boxes. Legally, the party objecting should show a valid reason in doing so over each partucular ballot box. Therefore, the number of boxes votes will be recounted in is limited,” he also said.

    “The government should respect the results.”

    The legal objection period to the board to end at 3pm (12:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

    If the AK Party officially loses in Istanbul, it means that the three largest cities of Turkey will have mayors from the main opposition party, according to preliminary results.

    In Ankara, unofficial results showed that CHP candidate Mansur Yavas had garnered 50.9 percent, with 99 percent of the votes counted. He was followed by Mehmet Ozhaseki, the AK Party nominee, in the capital, with 47.2 percent.

    In the third-largest city, Izmir, the Nation Alliance candidate Mustafa Tunc Soyer was in the lead with 58 percent. Nihat Zeybekci, the candidate for Erdogan’s bloc, had 38.5 percent. Ninety-nine percent of the votes have been counted….

  128. says

    Via the liveblog @ #191:

    “Nine hours after the flow of results abruptly stopped, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency ‘breaks’ the news everyone already knows” – Imamoglu’s apparent victory.

    “This video is doing the rounds on Twitter this morning: a crowd in a town close to the Black Sea bursts into a spontaneous chant of ‘welcome democracy’ as the opposition CHP is confirmed the winner.”

    Here’s the link.

  129. says

    Frightful propaganda on that Anadolu English Twitter account. Since the Istanbul vote was announced, they’ve had nothing about the elections, with two exceptions: “World leaders hail Turkey’s #Erdogan on local vote win” and “On Sunday, the Turkish people voted for country’s survival and stability, and AK Party won election by landslide, says Turkish foreign minister” (who will be in DC meeting with Pompeo and Bolton on Thursday, because of course he will).

    Twitterers have responded with appropriate mockery.

  130. says

    Anadolu Agency – finally, after over 13 hours – updates its data and shows İstanbul as red, belonging to the CHP. And this update by AA itself is breaking news.

    AKP General Secretary gave a short statement to the press saying the AKP would contest the results in Ankara and Istanbul.

    CHP’s @ekrem_imamoglu speaking live: ‘There are 16 [uncounted] ballot boxes left. My lead is by 25,158 votes. I would like to thank the Supreme Election Council (YSK) for sharing the results’.

    The most amazing aspect if this press conference by İmamoğlu is that Turkish TV channels and media outlets are actually broadcasting it! All last night and this morning, it was only Fox TV and few lesser known opposition TV channels.

    İmamoğlu acknowledges that he has received votes from AKP supporters and HDP supporters […] from all segments’.

    İmamoğlu’s speech is inclusive, service oriented and emphasises peace and societal harmony.”

  131. says

    Renato Mariotti in Politico – “William Barr Can’t Hide the Mueller Report”:

    …It didn’t have to be this way. Barr could have written a letter containing lengthy quotations from the report itself. He could have reached out to congressional leaders, shown them as much of the report as possible now and negotiated a timetable for them to see the rest. That would have been consistent with the transparency Barr pledged during his confirmation process.

    Instead, Barr has refused to commit to ever letting Congress see the full report. In the face of a request by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler for the “full and complete Mueller report” by April 2, Barr appears committed to release only a redacted version to “the appropriate congressional committees,” including Nadler’s.

    Barr’s position is indefensible. The Constitution gives the “the sole Power of Impeachment” to the House of Representatives, and the House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over impeachments. The Mueller investigation was, among other things, an investigation into possible criminal conduct by the president of the United States. There is no legal principle, including the separation of powers, that would permit the executive branch to block the results of an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by the president from the House of Representatives. To do so would deny the House’s ability to carry out its constitutional power of impeachment.

    So why isn’t Barr more forthcoming? The details contained in the report will not be as unwaveringly positive toward Trump as Barr’s four-page letter. As Barr notes, his letter is not a “summary” of the report and does not detail Mueller’s findings and analysis. While Barr provided the top-line conclusion that Mueller could not prove a conspiracy with Russia beyond a reasonable doubt, he did not detail incriminating evidence of potential coordination.

    We also still do not know the evidence that caused Mueller not to reach a decision regarding whether Trump obstructed justice. The actual report is almost certainly murkier than the picture painted in the media after Barr’s letter—which is probably why Mueller pointedly said his findings did not “exonerate” the president.

    That may explain why Barr appears to be stalling….

    Barr’s lack of transparency regarding the Mueller report is a violation of the oath he took when he became attorney general. He might well succeed in keeping the full Mueller report secret for the time being—but the Constitution says he won’t be able to do so forever.

  132. says

    Fourth poll: CNN, CBS, PBS/NPR/Marist & NBC/WSJ showing the Barr strategy, while allowing Trump Admin to control initial dialogue, has utterly failed in lifting the cloud for any voters beyond his base. Maybe that’s all Trump cares about, but got to think Barr wanted more impact.”

  133. says

    Good grief – “Intelligence report appeared to endorse view leftwing protesters were ‘terrorists'”:

    An intelligence report produced for law enforcement agencies in the months before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in which a neo-Nazi killed one protester by driving a car into a crowd, appeared to endorse a view that leftist demonstrators were “terrorists” and at least equally as responsible for street violence as white nationalists, the Guardian can reveal.

    The report, Antifa/Anti-antifa: Violence in the Streets, was produced by the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC) in May 2017….

    Experts say the report mischaracterizes the dynamics of the street violence that was emerging at that time, and is mistaken in characterizing white nationalist groups as “anti-antifa”, suggesting they act in opposition to leftwing groups or out of a sense of anarchism rather than having their own political and violent agenda.

    ROCIC is one of six Regional Intelligence Sharing System (RISS) Centers throughout the country. RISS is a federally funded program designed to share intelligence between federal, state and local agencies. ROCIC serves 14 southern states, including Virginia, the site of the 2017 Unite the Right rally.

    Documents accompanying the Foia request indicate that the US Secret Service was among the agencies that the report was provided to.

    The report frames political street violence in America as an evenly-poised battle between “antifa’s”, described as “an alliance between anarchists and communists to confront and defeat fascists and white supremacists by whatever means necessary”, and “anti-antifa, a loose collection of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Ku Klux Klanners, white identity groups and a group called the alt-right”.

    The report blames the two sides equally for the violence, continuing: “So it’s the anarchists versus the nationalists, the communists versus the Nazis, the leftwing extremists versus the rightwing extremists and the confrontations are becoming more violent and destructive.”

    Michael German, a former FBI agent who infiltrated far right groups in the 1990s, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the report’s framing was wrong.

    “Somehow they have this set up almost like antifa is the antagonist, and anti-antifa has developed to resist it,” he said “What it seems to do is completely whitewash the history of white supremacist violence in this country.”

    German said that framing it this way belies the way in which “far-right groups use these public spectacles as the method to incite violence. And they come knowing that it will attract protest groups from the community.”

    The report takes the description of anti-fascists as “terrorists” at face value, something many experts disagree with.

    The report makes further assertions about the relationship between the groups that experts say are unsupported by facts. At one point, the report says: “The antifa can be considered leftwing anarchism and the anti-antifa can be considered rightwing anarchism.”

    Bray said: “That’s ludicrous … most of these rightwing groups are not opposed to the state as a form of social organization. Many of them are fascists of some sort or another and believe in a strong state.”

    Shane Burley, the author of Fascism Today: What it is and how to fight it, agreed, saying that “this idea that it’s rightwing anarchists, that’s not a phenomenon, that’s not a thing that actually exists”.

    The report is heavily redacted, but spends much of its unredacted length discussing alleged antifascist violence, and sometimes implicitly blames those groups for violence visited upon them.

    In the ROCIC report there is also no discussion of the specific groups actively organizing the Unite the Right rally not long after the report’s publication date….

    The report also extensively sources information from conservative media and rightwing advocacy groups….

    Neither ROCIC nor RISS replied to repeated requests for comment on the report.

  134. says

    Useful thread: “Never in my adult life have I seen Turkey’s opposition — fragmented, bitter and colossally self-obsessed — put on an election show of the kind I watched last night, especially in Istanbul and Ankara.

    Please indulge me with a brief thread as I explain why….”

  135. says

    Bloomberg – “Germany Blames ‘Silver Spoon’ U.K. Elite for Brexit Chaos”:

    European exasperation over the chaos in Brexit talks descended into profanity and name-calling, as Germany’s deputy foreign minister said the U.K. government consists mostly of clueless boarding-school graduates.

    “Brexit is a big shitshow, I say that now very undiplomatically,” Michael Roth said at an event of his Social Democratic Party in Berlin on Saturday. He accused “90 percent” of the British cabinet of having “no idea how workers think, live, work and behave” and said it would not be those U.K. politicians “born with silver spoons in their mouths, who went to private schools and elite universities” that will suffer the consequences of the mess….

    Where’s the lie?

  136. says

    The authorities’ candidate lost, and for 12 hours state institutions froze while a decision was made whether to acknowledge it.

    Now they’ve acknowledged it, but there’s still Plan B – see if you can scrape it out of recount of invalid votes. Right now don’t know if this is a face-saving way to avoid fully conceding, or a real plan to overturn the results.”

  137. says

    Yahoo – “Democrats to prepare subpoenas for full Mueller report”:

    The House Judiciary Committee will prepare subpoenas this week seeking special counsel Robert Mueller’s full Russia report as the Justice Department appears likely to miss an April 2 deadline set by Democrats for the report’s release.

    The Judiciary panel plans to vote on subpoenas Wednesday, a day after the deadline. The chairmen of several House committees asked for the full report last week after Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary laying out the report’s “principal conclusions.” Barr said in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees on Friday that a redacted version of the full 300 page report would be released by mid-April, “if not sooner.”

    The planned committee vote, announced Monday morning, would not automatically issue subpoenas but authorize House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to send them.

    The panel will also vote to authorize subpoenas related to a number of President Donald Trump’s former top advisers, including strategist Steve Bannon, Communications Director Hope Hicks, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Counsel Donald McGahn and counsel Ann Donaldson. Donaldson served as McGahn’s chief of staff before both left the administration….

  138. says

    NYT – “Whistle-Blower Tells Congress of Irregularities in White House Security Clearances”:

    A whistle-blower working inside the White House has told a House committee that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career employees, the committee’s Democratic staff said Monday.

    The whistle-blower, Tricia Newbold, a manager in the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in a private interview last month that the 25 individuals included two current senior White House officials, in additional to contractors and other employees working for the office of the president, the staff said in a memo it released publicly.

    Ms. Newbold told the committee’s staff members that the clearance applications had been denied for a variety of reasons, including “foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct,” the memo said. The denials by the career employees were overturned, she said, by more-senior officials who did not follow the procedures designed to mitigate security risks.

    Ms. Newbold, who has worked in the White House for 18 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, said she chose to speak to the Oversight Committee after attempts to raise concerns with her superiors and the White House counsel went nowhere, according to the committee staff’s account.

    Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who is the Oversight Committee’s chairman, included information provided by Ms. Newbold in a letter to Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, on Monday again demanding that the White House turn over files connected to the security clearance process and make administration personnel available for interviews.

    Mr. Cummings said he was prepared to authorize subpoenas as soon as Tuesday to try to compel the White House to comply with an investigation into whether national secrets were at risk — an escalation that could force Mr. Cipollone either to reach an accommodation with Congress or fight in court.

    Mr. Cummings said he planned to issue a subpoena for the testimony of Carl Kline, who until recently served as the head of the personnel security division and was Ms. Newbold’s boss, and he identified five other senior White House officials whose testimony he planned to seek.

    He requested summaries of the security clearance adjudication process and any related documents for nine current and former officials, including Mr. Kushner; Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and White House adviser; and John Bolton, the national security adviser. Mr. Cummings also asked for a document Ms. Newbold said she assembled on the 25 individuals whose clearance denials she said were reversed.

    Mr. [sic] Newbold also asserted that Trump administration had made changes to security protocols that made it easier for individuals to get clearances. The changes included stopping credit checks on applicants to work in the White House, which she said helps identify if employees of the president could be susceptible to blackmail. She also said the White House had stopped, for a time, the practice of reinvestigating certain applicants who had received security clearances in the past….

    Emphasis added. More at the link.

  139. says

    Robert Peston:

    So @CiceroGlobal have crunched the numbers and have @NickBoles’s Common Market 2.0 motion winning by 307 to 253, now that Labour are whipping in favour of it. As the least Brexity of all the Brexit options, that would put an enormous predatory cat among the Tory pigeons…

    And it would reinforce the PM’s case to her rebel MPs that if they hold out against her deal till it can’t even make a Carrie style hand-up-through-the-grave comeback, they may end up with the kind of Brexit that would might well be identified as Remain in a police line up.

    I don’t understand how she would be allowed to bring up her deal for another vote.

  140. KG says

    There seems to be a lot of jockeying for position and potential for tactical voting in today’s second House of Commons “indicative votes” debate. See SC’s link @199 for live updates.

    From The Grauniad: motions submitted to the Speaker for debate today – the Speaker selects as many or as few as they want. The current rumour is the “Common Market 2.0” is being backed by Labour, and could get a majority. If this happens, it will be a huge blow to May and the Brexiteers: it would (unless another motion gets one earlier tonight!) be the first time the Commons has managed a vote for something, after thrice rejecting the Government’s plan. It would be utterly absurd for a Prime Minister who has so completely lost the support of the House on an issue of the utmost importance to continue in office – that’s not to say it won’t happen – but what if she does resign, for that or any other reason*, at this point? For the time being, she would presumably stay in power as a caretaker – but could a caretaker PM make any agreement with the European Council or its member states? Would she have the legal right to do so, and even if she did, would the other parties have confidence her successor would not repudiate them. The same applies if a no-confidence motion in the Government is passed – what authority would the “Prime Minister” have in that case, whoever it was? And considering that it would in fact be Theresa May… The crisis of the British state deepens inexorably.

    Motion D: common market 2.0
    Tabled by the Conservatives Nick Boles, Robert Halfon and Dame Caroline Spelman, Labour’s Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell plus the SNP’s Stewart Hosie. The motion proposes UK membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area. It allows continued participation in the single market and a “comprehensive customs arrangement” with the EU after Brexit – including a “UK say” on future EU trade deals – would remain in place until the agreement of a wider trade deal that guarantees frictionless movement of goods and an open border in Ireland.

    On 27 March, MPs voted against this option by 283 to 189.

    *In the event she agreed to follow the Commons’ lead in a “doft Brexit” or “BRINO” (BRexit In Name Only) direction many Brexiteers in her cabinet have threatened resignation.

  141. KG says

    Hi SC, i hadn’t seen your #208 when I posted #209.

    I don’t understand how she would be allowed to bring up her deal for another vote.

    May will probably parcel it up with something else, or perhaps more likely, put down a motion such as:

    This House overwhelmingly prefers the PRIME MINISTER’s magnificent deal, which will unite the country in a march to the sunlit uplands of true British Freedom, to the squalid surrender-to-the-surrender-monkeys disgrace of “Common Market 2.0”.

  142. says

    Thanks, once again, KG.

    Carole Cadwalladr (whose tweets I hear in her voice): “This is extraordinary. Electoral Commission says it can’t go after DUP because it already found Vote Leave guilty of same offence. I can’t emphasise this enough or say it too many times: it stinks. The whole thing. And we desperately need a proper inquiry.”

  143. says

    SC, sometimes Carole Cadwalladr reminds me of Rachel Maddow. Cadwalladr’s insights are spot on.

    From quoted text in SC’s comment @206:

    A whistle-blower working inside the White House has told a House committee that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career employees, the committee’s Democratic staff said Monday. […]

    I think this issue of security clearances being granted improperly is going to blow up. It will be a bigger concern as the investigation continues. Republican Congress critters should have looked into this last year, as part of their oversight responsibilities. It would be good to see Jared Kushner, Ivanka, John Bolton, etc. pulled off their pedestals (metaphorically speaking, no violence intended) over these shenanigans.

    “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security,” Cummings quotes Newbold as saying.

    She purportedly added that she fears retaliation from her politically appointed supervisors, supposedly telling the committee, “I’m terrified of going back.”

    In other news, Trump’s re-election campaign is raising money by selling t-shirts featuring House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) with a pencil for a neck, [a reference to yet another one of Trump’s childish bullying tactics. The graphics for the shirt are weird in the extreme. The “pencil” is thick and substantial. They also put a red clown nose on Shiff. Link

    Response from Adam Schiff:

    I’d rather stick my next out, and be criticized by this president than bury my head in the sand, and be judged by history.

  144. says


    I think this issue of security clearances being granted improperly is going to blow up. It will be a bigger concern as the investigation continues. Republican Congress critters should have looked into this last year, as part of their oversight responsibilities.

    The House Oversight memo (linked @ #207) very effectively summarizes what Newbold told them during her interview. The problems with clearances are even more serious and systemic than I’d thought.

  145. says

    tomh @185, by hook or by crook. Conservatives are reversing Roe v. Wade by employing their death-by-a-thousand-cuts method. Thanks for the update, however discouraging and depressing this news is.

    Thanks, SC, for the update on the elections in Turkey and in Slovakia (comment 186 on Slovakia). I find myself clinging to tentative good news like it was a life raft.

    From quoted text in SC’s commet 184:

    […] On what planet does Trump’s politicized Department of Justice keep under lock and key a report that supposedly exonerates Trump? The whole idea is insulting, not only to American voters, but to journalists covering the story. It’s also humiliating for them. The Mueller report has been anxiously anticipated for two years, with the investigation generating tremendous amount of news coverage. Yet here we are and reporters at the most prestigious news outlets in the nation have no access to the report and no idea what Mueller actually concluded, let alone what all the underlying evidence shows. […]

    And so Mueller postmortems are pouring in as journalists, who typically demand access to documents when evaluating investigations, make sweeping conclusions based on the Barr press release….

    I’ve been thinking about this failure on the part of the media and becoming more and more incensed. Even NPR failed when it came to creating headlines: “Impeachment Just Got Less Likely And 6 Other Takeaways From The Barr Letter.” Other media outlets were even more supportive of Trump and, shockingly, of the process in which Barr was indulging.

  146. says

    SC @ 213: “The problems with clearances are even more serious and systemic than I’d thought.” Exactly! Broader, and more serious. This is a big deal.

    In other news, here is an excerpt from analysis by Steve Benen regarding Trump’s decision to cut financial aid to three Central American countries (not to “three Mexican countries” as the banner on Fox News read):

    […] facing nightmarish conditions in the Central American “Northern Triangle,” [people] fled their homes in search of safety. Many, not surprisingly, have sought refuge in the United States.

    Trump, of course, doesn’t want them here, and he’s furious with officials in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador for not stopping these migrants from reaching the U.S./Mexico border. It’s why he’s threatening to cut off American financial assistance.

    […] if he cuts off aid to the Central American nations, local conditions will deteriorate further, which – you guessed it – will lead to more migrants.

    […] he sees desperate Central Americans fleeing awful conditions, and he hopes to stem the tide by making awful conditions worse. […]

    To know anything about Donald Trump is to know he often peddles nonsense he doesn’t mean. With this in mind, the best case scenario here is that the American president is just blowing off some steam, lashing out with public threats he has no intention of acting on.

    The alternative is, Trump will deliberately hurt Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, which would be among the ugliest and most counter-productive mistakes of his presidency.