1. KG says


    Thanks! But it only takes one EU government to block an extension – and Salvini leads what is undoubtedly the more powerful partner in the Italian coalition.

    Here are the amendments the Speaker has selected:

    1) Sarah Wollaston’s – calling for an extension to article 50 to allow for time for a referendum on Brexit.

    2) Hilary Benn’s – saying next Wednesday should be set aside for a debate that would start the process of allowing MPs to hold indicative votes on Brexit alternatives. There is also an amendment to this amendment, from Labour’s Lucy Powell, changing the timing.

    3) Labour’s – saying article 50 should be extended to allow time for MPs to find a majority for a different approach to Brexit.

    4) Chris Bryant’s – saying Theresa May should not be allowed to put her deal to the Commons again.

    My guess is that 1 will pass, 2 and 3 will not. 4 is the most interesting – in effect, it forces the “D”UP and Tory Ultras to explicitly back keeping May’s deal alive if they want another chance to vote for it.

  2. says


    Thanks! But it only takes one EU government to block an extension – and Salvini leads what is undoubtedly the more powerful partner in the Italian coalition.

    Oh, I know. I’m astonished at what Farage, Banks, and Wigmore are up to, even though it’s perfectly in character and in keeping with past actions and interests.

  3. says

    For those reading Mueller tea leaves, here are the new ones: One of his lead prosecutors and his top FBI agent are taking new jobs, and yesterday, for the first time, nearly all of his team assembled in court to watch Paul Manafort be sentenced. (Mueller didn’t attend.)”

    Here’s the NPR story about Weissmann leaving (I’m not quoting from it because I find it annoying; also, if he’s going to “study [?] and teach” at NYU, presumably that would give him until the fall, so I’m not sure what the timeline is here).

  4. says

    FULL TRANSCRIPT of Peter Strzok’s closed-door testimony is out”

    JFC, I don’t have time for this. I was just going to post some thoughts on the Page transcript.

    Ah! Just remembered that we saw his public testimony. I’ll save it for later. One thing I will note about the Page transcript: Democrats quoted several Trump tweets about the FBI to her asking for her response to his wild claims. Read after the passage of time, they’re even crazier. Like, libelous and insane. I’m trying to imagine them quoted in a history book even 10 years from now and I almost can’t do it. If Mueller put even a few of them in his report, situated in the context of what was happening at the time, they would read as evidence of a plot to collude with Putin’s active measures to destroy the institutions working to stop him. Reading the tweets with several months of distance makes me question the “normalization” hypothesis.

    Roger Stone hearing starts in a few minutes.

  5. says

    Since it’s now buried at the end of the last iteration, here again is the link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog.

    And here again is the list of upcoming political events:

    Mar. 14: Flynn hearings (gag order hearing; status conference)
    Mar. 14: Senate votes on emergency declaration
    Mar. 15: Gates joint status report due
    Mar. 18/26: Supreme Court considers VA racial gerrymandering case
    Mar. 19: Preet Bharara book release (Doing Justice)
    Mar. 22: Supreme Court considers Mystery Appellant case
    Mar. 25: Gantz speaks at AIPAC
    Mar. 26: Netanyahu speaks at AIPAC
    Mar. 27: Felix Sater House Intel testimony (semi-open)
    Mar. 29: Brexit deadline

    Apr. 3: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses joint session of Congress
    Apr. 9: Israeli elections

    May 23-26: EU parliamentary elections

  6. says

    “House unanimously passes resolution calling for Mueller report on Trump to be made public”:

    The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be made available to the public and Congress.

    The measure passed 420 to zero, with four members voting present.

    That resolution is non binding, meaning that Mueller and Attorney General William Barr would not be forced to make any materials public, other than what the special counsel regulations dictate.

    The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the resolution….

  7. says

    SCO spokesman Peter Carr says: ‘Andrew Weissmann will be concluding his detail to the Special Counsel’s Office in the near future’.”

    “Mueller Is Close to Done, But the Andrew Weissmann Departure Is Overblown”:

    …After each prosecutor has finished their work on the Mueller team, he or she has moved on. Weissmann’s departure is more final, since he’s leaving DOJ. But his departure continues a pattern that was set last summer. Finish your work, and move on.

    Nevertheless, his departure is being taken as a surefire sign the Mueller investigation is closing up.

    Let me be clear: I do agree Mueller is just about done with the investigation. He’s waiting on Mystery Appellant, possibly on Andrew Miller’s testimony; he may have been waiting on formal publication of Jerome Corsi’s book yesterday. Multiple other details suggest that Mueller expects to be able to share things in a month that he’s unable to share today.

    None of that tells us what will happen in the next few weeks….

  8. says

    Beto O’Rourke is now officially in the Democratic Primary race for a presidential nominee.

    Here is Trump’s response:

    Well I think he’s got a lot of hand movement, I’ve never seen so much hand movement. I said, “Is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?” I’ve never seen hand movement. I watched him a little while this morning doing, I assume it was some kind of a news conference, and I’ve actually never seen anything like it. Study it. I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Here is coverage of Beto O’Rourke announcing his candidacy from NBC News, including a video. Beto emphasizes the points he is making with one or both hands, but he does not look crazy. He looks energetic and serious committed to running a “positive campaign.”

    There’s also this:

  9. says

    Sarah Kendzior on #11: “Trump is propped up by a transnational crime syndicate dominated by billionaires. Folks will emphasize the threat here — but it’s also an attempt to make himself seem rooted in all-American, blue-collar protection. In reality Trump’s big backers are corrupt elites just like him.”

  10. says

    Joint resolution to terminate the emergency declaration passes 59-41. Republican breakdown:

    Against Trump:

    With Trump:

  11. says

    “12 Republicans Cross Trump As Senate Votes To Repeal Emergency Declaration”:

    The Senate has voted to undo President Trump’s emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border, the most high-profile and bipartisan rebuke of Trump’s presidency.

    Every Senate Democrat and a dozen Republicans joined together to pass a resolution disapproving of Trump’s attempts to seize money Congress appropriated for other purposes to build his wall. The final vote: 59-41.

    A number of senior Republicans who hadn’t voted against Trump on any previous major legislation broke with the president on the high-profile vote — including Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of Senate GOP leadership.

    The resolution is purely a show vote: Trump has already promised to veto it, and his attempts to seize money Congress approved for military construction for his pet project is already tied up in court. But the vote marks the most robust rejection of Trump by members of his own party since his inauguration….

  12. says

    Strzok statement:

    Pete welcomes the release of his closed-door testimony, which we have been calling for since he voluntarily testified last June. It is further evidence that, contrary to the impression that the President’s allies in Congress tried to create with their selective and often inaccurate leaks, Pete at all times discharged his duties honorably, patriotically, and without regard to his personal opinions.

  13. says

    In other Congressional votes, we see that the House unanimously passed a measure calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be made available to the public and Congress. 420 to zero. Four members voted “present.” Michigan’s Justin Amash, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Arizona’s Paul Gosar, and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie — voted “present.”

    That vote should put some appropriate pressure on Attorney General William Barr.

  14. says

    Matthew Miller: “These transcripts are worth your time. What comes through is that Page and Strzok are two patriots who performed their jobs admirably under difficult circumstances. They deserve much better treatment than they have gotten from the GOP.”

  15. says

    Sanders added that the returns he plans to release wouldn’t contain any surprises. ‘Our tax returns will bore you to death’, he said.”

    Then why has he been promising to release them “soon” for more than two years?

  16. says

    Elijah Cummings is now asking the ex-Fox reporter Diana Falzone for an interview about the allegations in Jane Mayer’s NYer piece that Fox had and killed the Stormy Daniels story just before the election for political reasons. Falzone’s lawyer, who previously hinted that a subpoena would override her NDA with Fox, is now telling Ari Melber that a subpoena isn’t even necessary – a congressional investigation trumps the NDA, and Falzone will be doing the interview.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center fired Morris Dees, the nonprofit civil rights organization’s co-founder and former chief litigator.

    SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees’ dismissal over his misconduct was effective on Wednesday, March 13. When pressed for details on what led to the termination, the organization declined to elaborate.

    “As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” Cohen said in the emailed statement. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”

    Dees, 82, co-founded the Montgomery-based organization in 1971.

    “It was not my decision, what they did,” Dees said when reached by phone. “I wish the center the absolute best. Whatever reasons they had of theirs, I don’t know.”

    On Thursday, he said he hadn’t tried a case in at least a decade and hadn’t recently been involved in the day-to-day operations of the SPLC.

    Dees’ termination is one of several steps taken by the organization this week, Cohen said.

    “Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve — one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected,” Cohen said.

  18. says

    BuzzFeed is updating on the attack in Christchurch:

    What We Know So Far
    Police are responding to reports of a mass shooting a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
    In a statement, Christchurch police said armed officers had been deployed to the scene and asked residents in the city to remain indoors.
    The gunman appears to have live streamed video of the attack online and left a racist manifesto.
    At least one body could be seen on the ground outside the mosque. A witness told the Associated Press “many people have been killed.”
    Climate change rallies taking place across the city have been evacuated.

    “New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern will address the nation at 4pm local time (in around 20 minutes [10 minutes now]), Sky News has reported.”

  19. says


    The gunman appears to have live-streamed the shooting, filming himself loading several weapons inscribed with names into a silver van and driving to the mosque.

    Gun drawn, he walks through a gate to the entrance of the mosque and begins firing on people inside. According to the footage, the gunman was live-streaming through a GoPro device and onto Facebook. The nearly 17-minute video was also posted onto YouTube.

    In the first few minutes, the gunman says, “Remember lads, subscribe to Pewdiepie,” a popular Swedish YouTuber who has spewed racial slurs and made anti-Semitic comments on his channel.

    A Twitter account that appeared to be associated with the gunman posted photos of the exact weapons seen in the video. The user also shared links to a manifesto around the time the shooting began.

    Over 74 pages, the document outlines the white supremacist motivation of the attack. The writer, who identified himself as a 28-year-old white man born in Australia, quotes the 14 Words, the slogan shared by white supremacists worldwide, then at length bemoans the falling birthrate among white women. He said though he supported white nationalist groups, he alone had decided to carry out the attack. He described the victims as “invaders” and accused them of seeking to replace white people.

    The account frequently posted white nationalist content about “illegal immigrants” and minorities polluting European towns and worsening the fertility rate of white women. The user shared links to several Muslim associations

  20. says

    The New York state attorney general, Letitia James, says that Trump turned the Trump Foundation into a support organization for his campaign to win the presidency.

    Note that there is new court filing concerning the misuse of the charity.

    Insider testimony, emails and other evidence show […] Trump turned his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a new court filing Thursday.

    […] a lawsuit that seeks $2.8 million in restitution and an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.

    The filing was a response to an earlier court submission from the foundation’s lawyers, who have argued that the lawsuit against the charity is both flimsy and politically motivated.

    The Trump Foundation reached a deal in December to fold and distribute about $1.7 million in remaining funds to other nonprofits in a court-supervised process. Each charity will get the same amount, and the attorney general’s office has the right to reject the ones it deems unfit.

    [That earlier agreement] didn’t resolve the lawsuit, which says the foundation’s involvement in a Trump maneuver during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses in 2016 broke rules barring charities from getting involved in political campaigns.

    […] James said the evidence of banned coordination between campaign officials and the foundation includes deposition testimony from Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg and emails he exchanged with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. […]

    Trump was also accused in the suit of directing that $100,000 in foundation money be used to settle legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole he had built at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, instead of paying the expense out of his own pocket.

    […] foundation lawyers have said any infractions were minor and that the lawsuit ignored the charity’s philanthropic work.

    James […] also issued subpoenas Monday to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank seeking records related to four Trump real estate projects and his failed 2014 bid to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

    Trump decried that development as the work of “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS,” and said, “The Witch Hunt continues!”

    TPM link

  21. says

    A new infrastructure of lawsuits against Trump and his associates is emerging. As one reader commented: “Well, it’s infrastructure week.”

  22. says

    Ha! This is fun. Ireland’s prime minister threw some serious shade at Mike Pence.

    Ireland’s openly gay prime minister met with America’s openly homophobic vice president on Thursday. “Vice President Mike Pence invited me and Matt to his home at the Naval Observatory this morning,” Ireland’s Taioseach Leo Varadkar tweeted. “It’s great to be back here for a really warm reception.” But some choice words were saved for when the cameras were on Pence.

    “I stand here leader of my country,” Varadkar said to the audience assembled at the residence, “flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs.” Pence was sitting to Varadkar’s immediate right, just feet away.

    “I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible,” he continued. “It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are after all, all god’s children. That’s true of the United States as well, the land and home of the brave and free.” But it’s also true that the vice president’s wife works at a school that bans people like Varadkar and his partner, Matt Barrett.

    The same Pence that defended that bigotry was also seen chatting with Barrett before posing for photos. It really so perfectly sums up the giant phony that is Pence, and what a complete joke it is to believe this administration is in any way pro-LGBTQ […]. Remember that while Pence is smiling for the cameras, the administration he’s pledged his fealty to is busy implementing state-sanctioned hate.


  23. says

    NZ Police:

    Police is responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch. One person is in custody, however Police believe there may be other offenders…. This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts…

    however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities. Police is currently at a number of scenes. We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident.

    We urge New Zealanders to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111. We are mobilising resources nationally and support is being brought into the District. We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch…

    …residents to stay inside. We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.

    There will be a media stand-up at 5pm today at the Royal Society Te Aparangi on Turnbull Street, Thorndon, Wellington.

  24. says

    Republicans don’t want to curb anti-Semitism; they want to weaponize it

    Trump has touted a front group trying to lure Jews away from the Democratic Party

    Republicans are trying to lure Jewish voters from the Democratic Party by using Israel and anti-Semitism as wedge issues and by creating a campaign — that turns the story of Jewish slavery into something of a quip — to target millennials.

    […] Trump has gone so far as to assert that Democrats don’t care about Jews or Israel. […]

    Republicans are insisting there is a sizable and growing movement among American Jews — especially younger ones — to abandon the Democratic Party for supposedly embracing anti-Semitism, or at least anti-Israel positions. Trump himself made the case this week via Twitter, signal boosting one of his own former campaign staffers who is now purportedly the face a new group calling itself “Jexodus.” […]

    From Trump:

    “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.” Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.

    More from Think Progress:

    The “Jexodus” that Trump promoted to his 59 million followers? It’s little more than a landing page, set up the day before the 2018 midterm elections, directing people to sparse Twitter and Facebook accounts. The first thing on the homepage states: “We are proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics.”

    One might reasonably assume the “we” in that sentence refers to a collection of like-minded Jewish millennials, but in fact the entire “Jexodus” operation is the brainchild of Jeff Ballabon, a far-right Trump campaign adviser in his mid 50s. Ballabon has been predicting an end to the Jewish community’s support for Democratic candidates for more than a decade, and his “Jexodus” campaign is just the latest effort to bring his empty promise to fruition.

    […] The allure of politicizing anti-Semitism to the detriment of Democrats’ electoral prospects was enough to get Ballabon booked on conservative cable news following the flair-up over Omar’s [Representative Ilhan Omar] tweets. In early March, he appeared on Fox Business News and repeatedly called Omar “filth” before host Stuart Varney stepped in and asked if he felt comfortable using such strong language about one of two Muslim women in Congress.

    “I’m using this as a Jew,” said Ballabon. “I’m using this as someone whose family directly feels threatened — literally threatened, physically threatened — in the culture that’s being created now by the mainstreaming by the Democrats of these kinds of people.”

    Ballabon appeared far more comfortable days earlier, when he took the stage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to formally announce his “Jexodus” campaign alongside Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump administration staffer and a sworn member of a Hungarian Nazi group. […]

    More at the link.

  25. says


    New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern says this is an unprecedented act in the country.

    The person who has perpetuated this violence has “no place in this country”.

    “Migrants and refugees have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home. For the person who perpetuated this violence it is not.”

    “Whilst I cannot give any confirmation on fatalities and casualties I can say this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days. This is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

  26. says

    Let me quickly explain why the Christchurch mosque shooting affects many of us, not just Muslim communities. If the shooter’s manifesto and social media feed are accurate, he was inspired by a right wing ideological infrastructure that thrives, recruits and radicalizes online…”

    “It’s like White ISIS.” I propose “Whisis.”

  27. says

    JUST IN: The government is not done with Rick Gates. Special counsel lawyers tell the judge Gates ‘continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time’.”

  28. says

    Hearing today in case of Mike Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian — defense says government hasn’t produced all the evidence that makes Flynn an unreliable witness, given what’s publicly known

    ‘That’s the heart of our defense’, Kian’s attorney said — Mike Flynn’s unreliability. Govt. says they are sharing everything they have that could impeach Flynn.

    But government says they don’t want to hand over copies of all 15 special counsel reports on meetings with Flynn because ‘there are other investigations that would or could be hampered by disclosure of unfettered information’.”

  29. says

    From September – “Nigel Farage colonizes Australia”:

    …On a rainy, chilly Thursday, he got hundreds of Aussies to pay between $49 and $1,000 to listen to him talk about Brexit. He whipped the crowd into a “lock her up” chant with the mere mention of Hillary Clinton’s name — two years and 15,000 kilometers away from the U.S. election. He elicited boos by invoking George Soros. He generated applause and full-throated cheering for Viktor Orbán….

  30. says

    “Trump Abruptly Changes His Tune: ‘There Should Be No Mueller Report’”:

    President Donald Trump, yet to master a Twitter thread, buried a serious change of tone in his usual angry word salad about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Democrats: “…there should be no Mueller report.”

    Up until now, Trump has pretty consistently insisted that he has nothing to fear from the Mueller report, saying that there’s “NO COLLUSION.” Just a few weeks ago, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “We feel good about the fact that what we’ve said all along for last two years will be clear — there was no collusion.”

    It is unclear why Trump changed his position on the report.

  31. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 68.

    Trump’s anxiety, in the context of his entire tantrum:

    So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be ‘zero’ crime when the Special Counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the Special Counsel should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report.

    This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime. Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win. THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”

    From two days earlier:

    Q: Mr. President, should the Mueller report be released when you’re abroad next week?

    TRUMP: That’ll be totally up to the new Attorney General. He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department. So that’ll be totally up to him, the new Attorney – the new Attorney General, yes.

    Q: Should it be public? Should the report become public, do you think?

    TRUMP: I guess, from what I understand, that will be totally up to the Attorney General.

    Some reporters have speculated that Trump’s tantrum was aimed at William Barr and at the Justice Department more generally.

  32. says

    The White House is reacting weirdly to Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for the presidency. First, we had Trump postulating that O’Rourke might be “crazy” because his hand gestures are prolific. Now we have the White House refusing to use “Beto” as O’Rourke’s first name:

    FOX NEWS: “Beto O’Rourke is now in the game for the Democratic primary. What’s the president think about that?”

    WHITE HOUSE SPOX @hogangidley45: “Well first of all you pronounced it wrong. It’s Robert Francis.”

  33. says

    Trump on recent Brexit developments:

    I will tell you, I’m surprised at how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation.

    But I gave [British Prime Minister Theresa May] my ideas on how to negotiate it. And I think you would’ve been successful. She didn’t listen to that, and that’s fine. I mean, she’s got to do what she’s got to do. But I think it could’ve been negotiated in a different manner, frankly.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] I have no idea what, if anything, Trump suggested to the British prime minister, but since the American president knows very little about the subject matter, it’s probably safe to assume his proposed solution was of little value.

    As for the larger context, there was no reason for Trump to take another cheap shot at an ally, but sometimes, it seems he just can’t help himself.

    When Trump said last year, “I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” nobody in the UK took it kindly. Trump was so roundly criticized that he soon apologized. Now he is reverting to the same substance-less kind of statement.

    Trump can’t run the government here in the USA. No one should take his advice.

  34. says

    Mnuchin responded to talk of congressional Democrats requesting Trump’s tax returns:

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday he will protect President Donald Trump’s privacy if he receives a request from House Democrats for Trump’s tax returns.

    At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Mnuchin was asked whether he would meet a request for Trump’s past tax returns. Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., is expected to formally ask for those as Democrats seek to shed light on Trump’s financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

    “We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer” regarding their right to privacy, Mnuchin said.

    Under current federal law, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has the right to request tax returns. Upon receiving the request, the secretary of the Treasury is supposed to “furnish” the tax return.

    From NBC News:

    The unprecedented move [Mnuchin refusing to furnish Trump’s tax returns] likely would set off a huge legal battle between Trump’s administration and Democrats controlling the House. The fight could take years to resolve, possibly stretching beyond the 2020 presidential election.

  35. says

    Rightwing doofuses commenting on Fox News about the massacres in New Zealand mosques:

    […] “It is very understandable what he is trying to do on a political level, obviously it’s horrific and it should be condemned completely on the action level,” Walid Phares told Fox News on Friday, before discussing the attention the shooter likely wants to bring to his ideological beliefs through the attack and trial. […]

    Phares went on to express that it is the responsibility of the New Zealand government and governments around the world to “take action against” the ideologies that promote “violent action” and fight terrorism “from any side and all sides,” a remark that resembles President Trump’s response to the racist violence in Charlottesville.

    “Unfortunately New Zealand has joined the community of probably a hundred countries, victims, countries that are fighting terrorism from any side and all sides,” Phares said. “Mosques, churches have been attacked by extremists on all sides. But what is interesting here is that this individual allegedly has been inspired by an ideology that claims that you should take action, violent action, against immigrants or members of the Islamic faith, that is something that the government in New Zealand and around the world both in the Arab world, Muslim world needs to take action against.”


    From the readers comments:

    Walid Phares was in that now famous photo of Trump’s FP team in which George Papadopoulos, Sessions and Trump also appeared. He has been questioned by the Special Counsel about the campaign’s Russian contacts. His views on Islam appear to align with those of Michael Flynn.
    “it was “very understandable” what the shooter in the New Zealand mosque massacre was “trying to do on a political level.””

    Understandable political motive? What, to terrorize an entire group of innocent people?

    It’s white supremacists all the way down.
    “Mosques, churches have been attacked by extremists on all sides.”
    Bothsiderism and an idiotic thing to say and blantantly untrue. Charlottesville, Charleston, Pittsburgh, and New Zealand were all perpetrated by white men. Three were in places of worship. This man is despicable.

    Christians bomb clinics and murder doctors. Conservatives believe extremism against liberals is no vice. The Republican Party is fine with lawlessness and organized crime. Donald Trump has no issue with a non-Christian Prince who saws human beings into little pieces.

    Tell us again what Republicans “should” do?
    As John Oliver has stated
    “The bar has been lowered , through the ground , through the earths crust,through the molten core and clear out the other side “

  36. says

    Connecting the New Zealand shooter to Trump as “a symbol of white identity”:

    […] As part of his rant, the livestreaming shooter called Donald Trump a “symbol of white identity and common purpose.”

    In a manifesto posted to social media (deliberately not linked), the New Zealand shooter frames his motivations around “replacement”—the same term invoked by the Nazi marchers at Charlottesville that Trump described as “good people.” The shooter went on to call immigration “white genocide.”

    Despite the location of the shooting, the United States is at the center of the manifesto. The shooter spends a great deal of his 74 pages talking about “threats to the electoral college” and his desire to “end the melting pot” by “balkanizing” the United States “along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.” In his rant, he repeats phrases and themes from both Trump and American white nationalists, focusing on the Second Amendment as a primary divide in American culture. The shooter also throws out other familiar right-wing phrases, from his concern that “taxation is theft” to his discussion of “demographic change” in Texas that will lead whites to start a civil war.

    There is also a section on how to deal with immigration that seems to come from the Trump playbook: “Few parents, regardless of circumstance, will [be] willing to risk the lives of their children, no matter the economic incentives. Therefore, once we show them the risk of bringing their offspring to our soil, they will avoid our lands.” One whole section of the manifesto is titled “Diversity is weakness.”

    The theme of dividing the U.S. along racial lines reoccurs repeatedly in the manifesto. The shooter states that he deliberately chose to use firearms rather than bombs specifically to create more anger over gun violence in hopes of spurring the fight over the Second Amendment and driving a wedge through America. […]


  37. says

    Well, that’s rich. Deripaska is suing the U.S.

    […] Oleg Deripaska is suing the Treasury Department, asking a federal court to lift sanctions against him […]

    Deripaska filed a complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C., Friday, accusing the Treasury Department and Secretary Steven Mnuchin of acting “beyond the bounds of their authority” in imposing sanctions on him under a law meant to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. […]

    The complaint filed Friday argues that Deripaska became a “victim of this country’s political infighting and ongoing reaction to Russia’s purported interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.” […]

    “This case seeks the Court’s intervention to enjoin OFAC [Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control] from using the devastating power of U.S. economic sanctions without adhering to the bounds of its legal authority and in a manner that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” the complaint states. […]

    It argues that the sanctions have adversely effected Deripaska’s financial livelihood, asserting that his net worth has fallen more than $7.5 billion since last spring and noting he has been “forced” out of controlling interests in his businesses,[…].

    “The effect of these unlawful actions has been the wholesale devastation of Deripaska’s wealth, reputation, and economic livelihood,” the complaint states. […]


  38. says

    From Peter Kafka, writing for recode:

    […] Of course Facebook doesn’t want killers to live-stream their crimes worldwide. But the company built a tool that allows them to do exactly that. And it sits on a platform that is fundamentally built to let people say whatever they want, without asking for permission first.

    […] this platform structure is key to Facebook’s enormous success as a company — users supply the content, and Facebook’s software spreads it around the globe, instantly, with as little friction as possible:

    Facebook only works as a giant, billion-person-plus business because it allows users and advertisers to upload whatever they want to its platform, without human intervention. And the fact that Facebook doesn’t vet people’s comments, ads or (almost) anything else before it goes up is also what gives it a great deal of legal protection, particularly in the U.S.: If there’s something unpleasant or illegal up on Facebook, it’s not because Facebook put it there — someone put it on Facebook.

    This set-up isn’t unique to Facebook. All of the giant consumer platforms that have sprung out of Silicon Valley in the last decade or so work the same way: YouTube and Twitter don’t sign off on your comments or videos before you upload them, and Airbnb doesn’t vet you before you rent space in your house.

    As Zuckerberg noted in 2017, it does want to remove objectionable content after it has gone up, and the company says it took down the shooter’s account shortly after the live stream. The company also says it will be spending billions on a combination of software and human beings to combat abuse in the future. […]

    Zuckerberg announced plans to shift Facebook’s focus away from a public newsfeed and toward more personal, encrypted communication. But at the end of Facebook’s planned pivot, it would still allow the New Zealand shooter to do exactly what he did yesterday.

    It’s possible that Facebook’s shift would reduce the virality of shooting footage or other horrific stuff, but it wouldn’t prevent that stuff from going up on the platform. It’s also possible that Facebook would have a much harder time policing it, since the company plans to provide full encryption for the messages people pass back and forth. […]


  39. says

    “Graham says he’ll probe 25th Amendment discussions between McCabe, Rosenstein”:

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is demanding answers from the Justice Department about former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s explosive allegation that top officials there discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office.

    In a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, Graham said his panel intends to investigate the allegations and gave Barr a two-week deadline to turn over any documents relating to conversations between McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the 25th Amendment or about covertly recording Trump.

    “The committee is deeply concerned with these discussions and whether they essentially indicate that two of the highest ranking law enforcement officials in the United States were discussing what amounts to a coup against the President,” Graham wrote in his letter Friday.

    Graham asked Barr to turn over any memos from McCabe relating to his allegations, including any from meetings between McCabe and Rosenstein during the time before special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment, any relating to opening an obstruction of justice investigation into the president, any DOJ opinions relating to the 25th Amendment, and the documents used to form the basis for McCabe’s dismissal last year.

    I smell fear.

  40. KG says

    They voted to ask the EU for an Article 50 extension. Waiting for KG’s analysis. – SC@32

    I’m flattered! Been offline for various reasons most of today (partly gloom in the face of both Brexit and the terrorist slaughter in Christchurch), but here goes:

    The results of yesterday’s (Thursday’s) votes in the Commons were relatively good for May: Hilary Benn’s amendment to the Government motion calling for a delay in Brexit, which would have given MPs some degree (not very much) of control over business, was narrowly defeated 314-312, although only after May’s effective deputy (David Lidington) promised to give time for a series of “indicative votes” on what the Commons wants (as if they knew!) if May’s resurrected deal is defeated for a third time next week (probably Tuesday). An amendment supporting a new referendum was heavily defeated – 344 to 85. Labour whipped its MPs to abstain (some defied the whip on both sides), prominent pro-referendum bodies and individuals urged MPs not to support it, saying it was not the right time and yesterday was “about an extension”, but the fact that an absolute majority of MPs voted against is still a major blow to hopes of a referendum. (I’ve seen a claim elsewhere which I can’t now find that Corbyn will only try for a referendum if May’s deal is agreed – when, of course, the attempt couldn’t possibly succeed. This eems only too plausible.) A motion aimed at preventing May bringing back her deal a third time was withdrawn, apparently to avoid appearing to try and constrain the Speaker (it now seems unlikely the Speaker will try to block the third vote on it, although he could, partly because the motion passed mentions such a vote). However, the Government motion was opposed by the majority of Tory MPs (bizarrely, they were given a free vote), and passed 413-202 largely on the votes of opposition parties.

    The motion says an extension to 30th June will be requested if May’s deal is agreed (which exposes the nonsense of May claiming until this vote that she still wanted to leave the EU on 29th March – the necessary legislation simply isn’t ready), and a considerably loonger one (which would almost certainly require the UK to take part in European elections on 22nd-24th May) if it isn’t. So (and for once, at least something is clear), the next key event is that 3rd vote (and I was quite wrong in pronouncing May’s deal dead). Quite a few Tories who’ve voted against it twice now say they will vote for it, despite still thinking it stinks. Whether May will get enough of them to switch is still doubtful. It probably depends above all on the “D”UP, who are in intensive talks with the Government, seeking more “reassurances” – this time reportedly about the role Stormont (the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended for the past two years due to rows between the “D”UP and Sinn Fein having nothing to do with Brexit) will have if the backstop ever comes into force. I think this is just a search for a figleaf – they are looking for an excuse to back down – because whatever the government says now about Stormont, they’d have been willing to say before the previous two votes. Similarly if the ERG (Tory Ultras) back the deal, it will clearly be a capitulation on their part.

    There’s a subplot here about Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, who has now said the UK could get out of the backstop if it began to have a “socially destabilising effect” in Northern Ireland, using Article 62 of the Vienna Convention, which allows for a state to abrogate a treaty if there is a “fundamental change of circumstances”. This is complete crap, and Cox must know it’s complete crap. The dissolution of the USSR and Czechosolvakia was not held to be sufficiently fundamantal in a case brought by Hungary agaist Slovakia! What’s more, the “D”UP’s own lawyers say it’s complete crap. So despite his claims to be more concerned about his professional reputation as a lawyer than his political position, Cox has exposed himself as a complete hypocrite.

    My hunch is that there will be enough stubborn ERG-ers to defeat May’s deal again even if the “D”UP do switch, which I don’t think they will – of course, I’ve been wrong more than once. But anyway, we have two possible situations next week.
    1) If May’s deal passes, I would expect the EU 27 to grant the extension, but it’s not guaranteed. Even if they agree, they might attach conditions – e.g., concerning Gibralter – that the UK government and Parliament would find very hard to stomach.
    2) If it doesn’t pass, there is much higher chance a longer extension would be refused, or have onerous conditions attached. This may even be what May intends. At present she’s using the threat of a long extension against the “D”UP and the Ultras, but if that fails, she may switch to sabotaging it, planning to bring her deal back for a fourth go once the only alternatives are a no-deal Brexit or revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU. But she’d have to at least try to make it look as if they, and not she, was being unreasonable. Anyhow, we can divide (2) into:
    2.1) A long extension is not agreed. In this case, the options are May’s deal, no deal, or revocation. I now think May’s deal is the most likely outcome in this case, but not by much. It could depend on the order in which votes are taken.
    1 + 2.1.1) May’s deal is accepted. This would be far from the end of the Brexit farce. Negotiaitons with the EU over the future relationship would be very difficult and acrimonious, while at home, both Remainers and many Brexiteers would feel cheated, and everyone would know Parliament had no confidence in the deal and had been blackmailed into accepting it.
    2.1.2) Article 50 is revoked. May would have to resign, the Tories would elect a hard Brexiteer, and an election would follow. Legal challenges in the UK courts and the ECJ, and quite possibly, significant political violence from the Far Right.
    2.1.3) No deal Brexit goes ahead on 29th March. Dificult to know whether this would be very disruptive and unpleasant, or absolutely disastrous, with the economy seizing up sufficently to cause food and medicine shortages. I am doing a certain amount of stockpiling in case this happens.
    2.2) Long extension agreed. I expect that all factions would continue pushing their preferred options, probably until the new deadline approaches. But this is the most unpredictable situation of those I’ve surveyed.

  41. KG says

    Sorry about the unclosed link@80 – it does work, going to text about Article 62 of the Vienna Convention.

  42. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    I felt it was important to transcribe […] Trump’s exact words in which he dismisses the problem of “white nationalism” and suggests it’s unclear whether the Christchurch gunman is even part of the white nationalist or supremacist movement.

    REPORTER: “Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?”

    TRUMP: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing, a terrible thing.”

    Video available at the link.

  43. says

    More of Trump’s nonsense about the long-anticipated report from Mueller:

    On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency. Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!

    Trump is pretending that the unanimous vote was not really a rebuke. Trump, you were rebuked.

    Comments from Kate Riga:

    […] Apparently all Republicans didn’t get the message, since Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blocked the mostly symbolic vote from happening in the Senate as well. Graham insisted that a section be included about Attorney General William Barr setting up a special counsel investigation to probe the Department of Justice’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    Just this week, Trump seemed to pull an about-face on the Mueller report, tweeting that there should not be one at all. Previously, Trump has stuck to acting blasé about the report, claiming that he has nothing to fear.

    As an aside: why the heck was William Barr, (the Attorney General!), standing next to Trump’s desk when Trump vetoed the congressional resolution condemning his emergency declaration meant to steal money from other sources in order to build the vanity wall? William Barr should not have been there. Furthermore, Barr participated in one of the now-familiar rituals in which Trump basks in a round robin of praise and obsequiousness from all his lackeys that are present.

    […] Attorney General William Barr was on hand to tell the president that his emergency declaration was “clearly consistent with the law.”

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told him that the fact that it was an emergency was “undeniable.” […]

    ABC News link

  44. says

    Followup to comment 83.

    […] someone who has repeatedly claimed that “Islam hates us,” that Mexicans are “rapists,” and that immigrants attempting to enter the United States are a criminal “invasion” wouldn’t be all that concerned about the problem of white nationalism. Because he’s part of it.

    […] the new head of the pro-Trump Keep America Great PAC will be confederacy fan and white supremacy poster boy, Corey Stewart. The far-right Stewart, who describes himself as a “disciple” of Trump, managed to lose the Senate race in Virginia by a whooping 32 point margin after his racism, lies, and general nastiness sent voters running.

    […] Stewart had all the other qualities the GOP seeks in a modern candidate: He won a local race by railing about the “invasion” of immigrants and promoting laws to make it easier for police to hold people on suspicion of being undocumented, he declared himself biggest defender of Confederate monuments and said calls to take them down were “like ISIS,” and he smugly announced that he was “Trump before Trump was Trump.”

    That includes being a proud “birther” and declaring that Virginia rebelled in the Civil War because “the established order was wrong.” Stewart also called for a new rebellion “because they’re trying to rob us of everything that we hold dear: our history, our heritage, our culture” — language that could have been lifted from the racist manifesto of the New Zealand shooter. It’s that kind of language that helped Stewart earn the enthusiastic support of the “pro-white activists” behind the “Unit the Right” Nazi march in Charlottesville.

    Trump isn’t decrying white nationalists. He’s hiring them. […]


  45. says

    New Zealand’s elected officials have vowed to ban semi-automatic rifles.

    One day after 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 49 people in a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that her country’s “gun laws will change.”

    Attorney General David Parker took those statements further, announcing at a vigil at Auckland’s Aotea Square on Saturday that New Zealand will ban semi-automatic rifles.

    These statements were praised by gun control advocates in the United States, who have seen lawmakers in Washington fail to enact gun reform time and time again after mass shootings.

    “New Zealand bans semiautomatic rifles less than 24 hours after the Christchurch mass shooting. Imagine: elected officials putting public safety over gun manufacturers’ profits,” tweeted Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group fighting to end gun violence in the United States. […]

    Think Progress link

  46. says

    Followup to comment 86.

    In banning semi-automatic weapons, New Zealand is following in Australia’s footsteps. Here is an excerpt from Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] The country is following in the footsteps of its neighbor, Australia, which enacted strict gun control after a mass shooting in 1996, leading to a 47% decrease in the years following the ban. They have had no mass shootings since.[…]

    Here in America, we’re just gonna keep throwing our hands up into the air “Gosh, why does this HAPPEN?” while still not doing anything about gun control no matter how many mass shootings we have. You know, because the gun nuts need all that innocent blood for watering their tree of liberty or what have you. […]

    While New Zealand is making good decisions on gun control, Australia has once again banned Milo Yiannopoulos over his stupid ass Islamaphobic comments regarding the shooting. Again. They banned him before, it somehow got lifted and he was planning to tour the country this year, but that’s not happening now. Good! […]

    Just like every other time this kind of thing happens, the Right is going all googoots trying to find a way to claim the shooter was actually a big giant liberal who shot people for liberal reasons. Kellyanne Conway insisted the shooter was actually an eco-terrorist. Rush Limbaugh claims this is all a false flag and that the shooter was only pretending to be a white supremacist in order to make white supremacists look bad.

    Via Media Matters:

    The idea that there is far more crazed right-wing terrorism in America than there is any other kind is nothing more than a media narrative manufactured out of whole cloth, and it’s just waiting for events like this to take place, and this is what happens, folks. I don’t know, you probably get up and you see this news story and you just — in addition to all of the emotion you have over the sheer shock, terror, and horror of it all, then you realize you’re going to face a whole day of the politicization of it. You realize you’re going to face a whole day of Donald Trump being blamed for it, or you being blamed for it, or things you believe in being blamed for it.[…]

    Another thing that happens here when these events happen, you have all kinds of speculation that erupts. And there is an ongoing theory — Mr. Snerdley, correct me if I’m wrong about this. There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may in fact be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process. You know you just can’t — you can’t immediately discount this. The left is this insane, they are this crazy. And then if that’s exactly what the guy is trying to do then he’s hit a home run, because right there on Fox News: “Shooter is an admitted white nationalist who hates immigrants.”

    Sure, because it is, after all, really hard to make white supremacists look bad. […]

    Tucker Carlson, for his part, said that the real thing we all need to fear is not crazy ass white supremacists going on shooting sprees, but those who would seek to prevent crazy ass white supremacists going on shooting sprees by taking away their guns. Of course! He then claimed it was “absurd” for those on the left to suggest that Conservatives like himself were at all to blame for the massacre. You know, even though white supremacists themselves have repeatedly named Carlson and all his scaremongering about diversity as an influence and a force for radicalization. [Daily Beast link can be found in the Wonkette article.] […]

    From Andrew Feinberg:

    Looking back at #Christchurch it’s worth noting how cutting funds to the DHS “Countering Violent Extremism” program to combat white supremacist terrorism was among the first acts of the @realDonaldTrump administration.

    I asked him about it last November. His response was a lie.

    From Anna Fifield:

    The man accused of the New Zealand mosque massacres smirked and made a “white power” gesture when he appeared in court just now

  47. says

    From Daniel Byman: Right-Wing Terrorism Has Gone Global

    To counter violence like the New Zealand mosque attacks, we need to target white nationalism in the worldwide war on terror.

    […]Anders Breivik, who killed eight people in a car bombing in Oslo and then 69 more in a sustained shooting attack on a summer camp for youth members of Norway’s Labor Party, wrote a 1,500 page manifesto he posted online before carrying out his massacre. Terrorism analysts believe that Tarrant saw Breivik as a model, aping his anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Tarrant declared in his own manifesto, “I have read the writings of [Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter] Dylann Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik,” referring to Breivik by the Norwegian’s self-image as a heroic defender of Christian civilization. […]

    More detail is available at the link, including prescriptions for mitigating the spread of rightwing terrorism:

    […] Jigsaw and its partners, for example, designed a program to “redirect” individuals seeking jihadi content online to content that tried to turn them away from violence and radical ideas. Similar content for right-wing extremism should be created and promoted by social media companies. Borderline content might be prevented from being monetized, have the comments functioned disabled, and otherwise be limited in how it might spread. […]

    Meanwhile, Trump, (so-called leader of the free world), should STFU. Trump should stop demonizing immigrants and people of color.

  48. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] It was a short drive toward downtown Christchurch, a historic, English-flavored city on New Zealand’s South Island. “Take the second left toward city center,” the windshield-mounted navigator intoned, and the man — later identified by police as a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Harrison Tarrant — put on his turn signal. He drove carefully. At one red light, he reached to turn on a strobe attached to the military-style rifle resting between his leg and the door.

    A few blocks on, he hit a button and a Serbian nationalist song filled the car. He had made a mix tape for a massacre. […]

    Five minutes into the live Facebook video, the attacker pulled into a driveway on Deans Avenue, turned around in a small parking area and finally positioned the Subaru at the end of the drive, pointing outward, ready for a fast exit.

    Methodically, he readied his guns and magazines, all of which had been covered with white lettering and symbols, including references to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and the names of mass shooters.

    Military fife-and-drum music was playing as he climbed out of the Subaru, lifted the car’s rear hatch door and uncovered two other graffiti-covered rifles and multiple red gas cans. Selecting an additional shotgun, he walked to the sidewalk, leaving the car hatch open and the car running. […]

    Adeeb Sami, a 52-year-old engineer, had flown from Dubai to New Zealand the day before to surprise his twin children on their 23rd birthday, which was Friday, his daughter told Gulf News. Amid the firing, Sami reportedly threw his body over two of his sons, taking at least one bullet near his spine but shielding them. All three would survive.

    Many others were not as lucky. The father of a Syrian family that had fled to New Zealand to escape the carnage in their country was killed. So was a 71-old refu­gee who had survived decades of war in his native Afghanistan.

    Tavis, a Moroccan who moved to New Zealand 15 years ago, told the Herald he escaped by crawling through a broken a window. Later, Tavis said, he reentered the mosque to try to help.

    “There were people bleeding to death,” he told the Herald. “It was terrible.” […]

  49. says

    From Evan Osnos, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] As news spread of the gunman’s motives, Donald Trump, Jr., who is not known for his powers of restraint, expressed a sudden desire not to give the “NZ shooter what he wants.” He tweeted, “Don’t speak his name don’t show the footage. Seems that most agree on that. The questions is can the media do what’s right and pass up the ratings they’ll get by doing the opposite? I fear we all know the answer unfortunately.”

    Don, Jr.,’s newfound sympathy for decorum most likely owes less to a nuanced theory of violence and publicity than to the shameful reality that the New Zealand killer hailed his father […] as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” In the Oval Office, a few hours later, the President was asked if he considers white nationalism a rising threat. “I don’t, really,” he said. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” Trump called the incident “a terrible thing.” He was speaking, not incidentally, during a ceremony in which he vetoed an attempt to block his use of emergency funds to build a border wall. He complained, as ever, about an “invasion” of illegal immigrants.

    The New Zealand killer takes his place in the cracked pantheon of violent, Trump-admiring extremists: beside the gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, who blamed Jews for resettling refugees and immigrants, whom Trump vilifies as the center of his politics; beside the van-dweller in Miami who found purpose amid the throngs of Trump rallies and set about sending pipe bombs to George Soros, journalists, and Democrats. The New Zealand killer did not exact his violence in America, but he would be at home in our statistics: in the past decade, seventy-three per cent of all American extremist-related killings have come from the right wing, compared to twenty-three per cent from Salafi jihadism and three per cent from the left wing, according to the Soufan Center, which studies global security.

    Pointing out those patterns does not feed oxygen to the sources; it subjects them to the disinfecting power of sunlight. We can only have an honest analysis of the sources of this violence if we understand how it grows and spreads. […]

  50. says

    Hmmm. This is interesting. One of Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets has been taken off the air. People in New Zealand didn’t want to see Murdoch’s version of coverage of the massacres.

    Rupert Murdoch’s 24-hour Sky News Australia has been pulled off the air by independently-owned Sky New Zealand. The decision was made after Murdoch’s channel refused to stop showing graphic video footage shot by the man who killed 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday.

    This was despite calls from the police urging anyone broadcasting the disturbing footage to stop circulating it. “Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online,” the New Zealand police said in a statement. “We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.”

    On Saturday, the New Zealand broadcaster announced the decision to pull the channel off the air. “We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and have made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform until we are confident that the distressing footage from yesterday’s events will not be shared,” […]

    Meanwhile, Murdoch’s Fox News channel in the U.S. has aired several segments in which it positions conservatives as the victims, fearing the Friday massacre is being used as an attempt to limit their free speech.

    “Already tonight, you are hearing calls in this country for curbs on free speech in response to the New Zealand massacre,” Fox host Tucker Carlson said Friday night. “Jeff Bezos’ newspaper wasted no time in blaming the entire thing [on] free flow of ideas that are, quote, ‘spreading hate.’ For the censorship class, more control is always the solution. Ban more people, squelch more ideas, go deplatform someone.”

    Meanwhile, Fox radio host Rush Limbaugh promoted the theory that the whole event may be a false-flag perpetrated by someone on the left in order to blame conservatives.

    Think Progress link

  51. says

    Sounds like Republicans in Iowa are doing everything they can to stop college/university students from voting. (Students tend to vote more for Democratic Party candidates than for Republican candidates.)

    Iowa is regularly at the center of our national political conversation, thanks to the biennial Iowa caucuses, which mark the beginning of both the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries. Now, with Senate File 575, Iowa is once again making headlines, this time for its attempts at voter suppression.

    Under SF 575, which passed out of a committee earlier this month, students at Iowa’s public universities — University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa — would be unable to vote early on campus. This is because of a provision introduced in the bill that would prevent satellite voting locations from being set up in a “state-owned building.” This would not impact students attending private universities in Iowa.

    Additionally, this bill would require the approximately 70,000 students at Iowa’s public universities to fill out a form when they graduate indicating if they plan to stay in Iowa, or move out of state. If they indicate that they plan on moving, the state will automatically purge them from the voting rolls. If their plans change, and they remain in Iowa, they would have to start the voter registration process from scratch. […]


  52. says

    Jeanine Pirro was suspended from Fox News for making blatantly Islamophobic remarks on the air.

    Trumps chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went on the Sunday news shows to claim, over and over again, that Trump is not a white supremacist. Mulvaney, (red-faced), made the hard-to-defend point that Trump is a defender of religious freedom for everyone.

    Trump, meanwhile, posted comments to Twitter that undercuts descriptions of him as objective and reasonable:

    Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox …..

    ….must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true….

    ….to the people that got you there. Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine. Your competitors are jealous – they all want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!

    From Talking Points Memo:

    […] Pirro implied on her show last weekend that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) hijab was “antithetical to the United States Constitution.” […]

    A Fox News spokesperson issued two statements in response to the uproar that followed Pirro’s commentary last week: One was attributed to the network, which “strongly condemn[ed]” the comments, and another was attributed to Pirro herself, who said “my intention was to ask a question and start a debate.” […]

    In a separate interview Sunday, Mulvaney told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that “I don’t think anybody can say that the President is anti-Muslim.” […]

  53. says

    From the Washington Post: A timeline of Trump’s comments about Islam and Muslims.

    March 30, 2011: […] Trump publicly questioned then-President Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and place of birth. […], Trump said in a radio interview: “He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me — and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that where it says ‘religion,’ it might have ‘Muslim.’ And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.” (Obama is a Christian, and state records show he was born in Hawaii.)

    Sept. 17, 2015: At a campaign town hall in New Hampshire, a man in the audience shouted out: “We have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.” The man mentioned Muslim “training camps” and asked: “When can we get rid of them?” Trump responded: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.” […]

    Sept. 30, 2015: At a New Hampshire rally, Trump pledged to kick all Syrian refugees — most of whom are Muslim — out of the country, as they might be a secret army. “They could be ISIS, I don’t know. This could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army, maybe,” he said. In an interview that aired later, Trump said: “This could make the Trojan horse look like peanuts.”

    Oct. 21, 2015: On Fox Business, Trump says he would “certainly look at” the idea of closing mosques in the United States.

    Nov. 16, 2015: Following a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, Trump said on MSNBC that he would “strongly consider” closing mosques. “I would hate to do it, but it’s something that you’re going to have to strongly consider because some of the ideas and some of the hatred — the absolute hatred — is coming from these areas,” he said.

    Nov. 20, 2015: In comments to Yahoo and NBC News, Trump seemed open to the idea of creating a database of all Muslims in the United States. Later, he and his aides would not rule out the idea. […]

    Lots more at the link.

  54. says

    Followup to comment 94.

    From the readers comments:

    In the past few days Trump has managed to downplay and flat out ignore the increasing threat of neo Nazis and White nationalists on our country and the world.

    Threatened to unleash wayward law enforcement and militia types on the public as well as his biker regiment on the country like a nationwide version of the Hells Angels managing security at Altamont.

    Now he’s back to trashing McCain who endured the worst kind of torture at the Hanoi Hilton while he got a note from his Queens poditrist for alleged bone spurs.
    The guy goes to a Christian church -not his normal pattern -literally the day after a tragedy in two Muslim mosques. Maybe a coincidence, but I wonder if that’s supposed to be a message.

  55. says

    A Fox News host told viewers to stock up on AR-15s after Beto O’Rourke suggested that the semi-automatic weapons be banned.

    “Fox & Friends Weekend” host Pete Hegseth on Sunday urged viewers to buy more AR-15s after Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for a ban on sales of the weapons.

    The comment comes after O’Rourke, who last week announced that he is running for president, said Saturday that he doesn’t think the U.S. needs to “sell any more weapons of war into this public.”

    “If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely,” he said. “I just don’t think that we need to sell anymore weapons of war into this public.”

    Hegseth fired back on Sunday, saying: “If I own an AR-15, stocks of gun companies probably will go up after things like this. Responsible gun owners recognize their right to own rifles like that. You can use “weapons of war” or ‘assault ban’ all you want.”

    “This will appeal to his base, young people who are uninformed about the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic rifle. But, go out and get your second AR-15 today. Maybe it’s a good reason to do so,” he continued.


  56. says

    Followup to comment 96.

    From the readers comments:

    The next step is to suggest that their viewers [viewers of Fox News] need the AR-!5s to fight off the “Invasion” at the southern border.
    MIllions of Fox viewers may feel compelled to “self investigate” what’s going on down there, like that fellow at a certain pizza place.
    Gun manufacturers rejoice!
    Thank you Fox. Single handedly keeping the industry afloat
    I wonder if Mr. Hegseth has stock in the company(ies) that make these weapons?

  57. says

    Saturday Night Live aired a rerun. Trump apparently didn’t realize it was a rerun, so he took to Twitter and complained about SNL, as usual.

    It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of “the other side.” Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows……

    ….Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this? There must be Collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia! Such one sided media coverage, most of it Fake News. Hard to believe I won and am winning. Approval Rating 52%, 93% with Republicans. Sorry! #MAGA

  58. says

    Okay. Finally, Kirsten Gillibrand makes it official. Yes, she is running for president. She plans to deliver her first major campaign speech on the steps of the Trump International Hotel.

  59. says

    “Trouble with women …” Yes, that was one of the phrases that relatives and neighbors used to describe the New Zealand shooter.

  60. says

    In Russia-related-political-murder news,

    “Exclusive: Washington Autopsy Files Reveal Lesin Sustained Broken Bone In Neck”:

    Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister who turned up dead in a Washington hotel room in 2015, sustained a fracture to a neck bone just below the jaw line “at or near the time” of his death, according to documents released by the city’s medical examiner that provide new details about his final days.

    The finding does not provide clear-cut evidence of foul play in Lesin’s death; another statement in the documents suggests the bone could have been damaged “after death” — possibly during the autopsy.

    That detail, however, and others contained in the 149-page file released exclusively to RFE/RL offer the most precise scientific description to date about Lesin’s death, which officials ruled accidental and said was caused by blunt-force injuries amid excessive alcohol consumption.

    The autopsy record said the fracture in the hyoid bone was a “complete transverse fracture.” It also said that cartilage from the nearby thyroid was “atraumatic.”

    “The fracture margins are sharp and there is no gross evidence of healing indicating the trauma occurred at or near the time of death,” it said.

    According to a 2015 article published by the National Institute for Health, “fractures of hyoid bone resulting from trauma other than strangulation are very rare; hyoid bone fracture associated with panfacial trauma are even rarer.”…

    Illustration from the autopsy files.

    “Ruby witness Imane Fadil dies, said was poisoned”:

    A Moroccan-origin model who was a key prosecution witness in the ‘Ruby’ underage prostitute trials involving ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has died after claiming to have been poisoned.
    A murder probe has been opened, police said.
    They said she had died after a “month of agony”.

    Berlusconi was cleared of paying for sex with an underage prostitute after judges said he did not know Ruby was a minor.
    He has since been embroiled in cases of allegedly bribing witnesses to lie about the real nature of his bunga bunga sex parties.

    “Russian Authorities Seal Stalin-Era NKVD Archives”:

    Russia’s intelligence service has refused to declassify the names of members of Stalin’s notorious three-judge panels that issued death sentences without trials, Russian media reported this week.

    As many as 700,000 people were executed in Stalin’s “Great Terror” of 1937-38, according to conservative estimates. The Memorial human rights NGO keeps a database of some 3 million victims of Soviet repression.

    At least two Moscow courts have sided with the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) refusal to grant gulag historian Sergei Prudovsky access to files containing the names of so-called NKVD Troika judges, Kommersant reported on Thursday. The NKVD was the predecessor of the Soviet KGB.

    “[His] position could harm both the living relatives of officials who signed the protocols and the objective assessment of the 1937-1938 historical period,” senior FSB legal adviser Yelena Zimatkina reportedly told the court in response to Prudovsky calling the judges “butchers.”

    Meanwhile, the head archivist in Novosibirsk region has barred researchers from accessing local NKVD files pending an examination for classified materials, the Znak[dot]com news website reported on Wednesday….

  61. says

    “Federal Authorities Raided Trump Fundraiser’s Office in Money Laundering Probe”:

    Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.

    Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans.

    The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials. To obtain a search warrant, authorities have to convince a judge that there’s a probable cause they will find evidence of those specific crimes.

    The search warrant also for the first time links Broidy to a globe-trotting Miami Beach party promoter.

    The warrant, filed in July 2018, targeted Broidy’s office in Los Angeles. The scope of what authorities were seeking was broad. They planned to seize any evidence related to a list of dozens of people, countries and corporate entities, according to the warrant. Among the names on the list are Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign official who has pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe; Colfax Law Office, the firm founded by Robin Rosenzweig, Broidy’s wife; and several foreign countries.

    The search warrant shows that federal authorities are interested in Broidy’s alleged work for the Malaysian financier Jho Low, who is at the center of a sprawling international scandal known as 1MDB….

    Federal authorities were also seeking records in Broidy’s office related to the United Arab Emirates, UAE adviser George Nader, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and any travel to the Middle East.

    According to the warrant, federal authorities also sought to seize any records related to China and Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman and dissident who fled to New York, where he publicly accused the Chinese government of corruption.

    The search warrant for Broidy’s office also lists a name and corporation not previously linked to Broidy: “Joel Rouseau” and “Intelligent Resources.” There is a company by that name incorporated in Miami Beach by a Joel Rousseau, who is a friend of Michel’s. The search warrant does not describe Rousseau or Intelligent Resources’ role in the case.

    Filings in a court case over unpaid taxes describe Rousseau as an “entrepreneur” with income swinging from under $1,000 for 2009 to over $2 million in 2013. He paid a long-standing bill for back taxes and penalties of more than $700,000 in late 2017, the filings show….

  62. says

    !! BREAKING:

    Several years ago, FSB launched two undercover private firms in Prague, posing as regular IT companies. In reality, they served as hacking entities.

    Czech counter-intelligence BIS dissolved this network in early 2018, @okundra reports:…”

  63. says

    “‘Same rhetoric’: Bolsonaro’s US visit to showcase populist alliance with Trump”:

    Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro will meet Donald Trump on Tuesday on his first foreign trip since taking office – a visit he hope will showcase the alignment between the rightwing, populist leaders of the two biggest economies in the Americas.

    Bolsonaro’s spokesman said the visit showed “the priority the government gives to building a solid partnership with the United States of America”, while Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, called the trip a “historic opportunity” (although the effect was somewhat undermined by a tweet in which he called the Brazilian president “Bolonsaro”).

    “President Bolsonaro brings a real energy to the relationship, he’s determined to make progress,” Bolton told TV Globo. “We’re really very excited about being able to partner on a number of issues internationally.” The crisis in Venezuela is a priority, he said.

    “Bolsonaro has purposely been emulating Trump,” said Monica de Bolle, director of the Latin American programme at John[s] Hopkins University. “The rhetoric is the same.”

    Much of that rhetoric owes much to another star guest seated beside Bolsonaro at the “opinion formers” dinner: Olavo de Carvalho, a pipe-smoking rightwing Brazilian philosopher who broadcasts via internet to hundreds of thousands of followers from the amply stocked library of his house in Virginia.

    “He’s the ideological linchpin in all of this,” said De Bolle.

    In January, De Carvalho dined at the home of Bannon, who has described him as a “hero”, and on Saturday night, the former White House adviser hosted a screening of a crowd-funded film about De Carvalho.

    De Carvalho, who once worked as an astrologer, became more widely known in Brazil after some of his newspaper columns were compiled in a book which raged against globalists, Marxists and feminists. The book referenced rightwing conspiracy theorists like Jerome Corsi, and declared that anal and oral sex can cause cancer. It became a bestseller in Brazil….

  64. says

    Ted Lieu re #103:

    Another associate of @realDonaldTrump, Elliott Broidy, gets his office raided. Why does Trump surround himself with so many people that have had their office raided because there is likely evidence of crime?

    How many people do you personally know that had their office raided?

  65. says

    “Russia’s Putin Signs Into Law Bills Banning ‘Fake News,’ Insults”:

    President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation enabling Russian authorities to block websites and hand out punishment for “fake news” and material deemed insulting to the state or the public.

    The two bills that critics see as part of a Kremlin effort to increase control over the Internet and stifle dissent were signed by the president on March 18, according to posts on the government portal for legal information.

    The new legislation allows the authorities to block websites or Internet accounts that publish what they deem to be “fake news” and penalizing those who post material found to be insulting to state officials, state symbols, or Russian society.

    The new law empowers the prosecutor-general and his deputies to determine what constitutes fake news without a court decision, after which the state media and communications watchdog Roskomnadzor would block the site or account….

  66. says

    Daily Beast – “House Judiciary Committee Planning Hearing on the Rise of White Nationalism”:

    The House Judiciary Committee is planning on hosting a hearing in the coming weeks addressing the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and the hate crime and hate speech surrounding the movement, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the committee’s schedule.

    Though plans are still being finalized, the committee expects to bring in officials from within the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for questioning on the rise of white nationalism in the U.S and the efforts the agencies are currently adopting to combat it. One lawmaker said the goal is to “have a hearing in early April.”

    Addressing the rise of white nationalism and related movements has been a tricky proposition for government officials in the past. When the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland issued a warning in 2009 about the rise of right-wing extremism, the political backlash was so intense that then Secretary Janet Napolitano had to issue a formal apology. During the last few years, Republican committee chairs resisted calls to hold hearings on the rise of white supremacy even as Congress pass ceremonial votes condemning it….

  67. says

    Excerpts from the article to which SC linked in comment 111:

    […] Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia was ambivalent about the Brexit referendum, [however] he recently pressed May to “fulfill the will” of the British people and rule out a second referendum on the U.K.’s membership in the E.U.—which, polls suggest, would lead to a narrow win for Remain. […] Putin’s interests are squarely aligned with the Leave movement. Putin, they maintain, considers it strategically useful to weaken European alliances, and is happy to cause uncertainty and tumult in Britain, which has been at odds with Russia on a range of issues. […]

    According to Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment, “They [Russians] wanted to promote cleavages in the West, and that’s where their promotion of populist and nationalist groups and—I think—their support of Brexit fits in.”

    Banks’s [Arron Banks an entrepreneur whose fortune comes primarily from owning insurance companies, a guy that had financed and directed the most aggressive wing of the Leave campaign, Leave.EU] wife, Katya, is Russian. A prominent “ambassador” for Leave.EU, Jim Mellon, whom Banks has described as a “friend and business partner,” made much of his money by investing in Russia. […] Banks’s 2016 memoir, “The Bad Boys of Brexit,” acknowledges that before the referendum campaign he met with Russian officials, including Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to London.

    Subsequent reporting has uncovered several other previously undisclosed meetings and contacts between Banks and Russian businessmen, during which opportunities with Russian firms in the mineral sector were discussed. In light of these connections, and the National Crime Agency’s investigation, many Britons have asked whether some of Banks’s political donations can be traced to Moscow. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief, and an ardent Remainer, told me, “There are still so many questions unanswered about Banks—where the money came from, and his role in the Brexit campaign of lies and misdemeanors.” […]

    It’s Putin’s Brexit.

    In that article, there are also a lot of telling details about Nigel Farage, one of Trump’s buddies. For example:

    […] Farage came to public attention in the U.S. shortly after the 2016 elections, when they were photographed with President-elect Donald Trump outside his apartment in Trump Tower. A few days later, in London, Banks and Wigmore again met with the Russian Ambassador, recounting their meeting with Trump and passing on contact details for members of Trump’s transition team. […]

    There’s more evidence of “direct links between the political movements behind Brexit and Trump,” as some politicians in the U.S. have also noted:

    Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told me that there were “parallels and interconnections in abundance” between the apparent Russian efforts to influence Brexit and the well-documented, and possibly decisive, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election. He described Putin’s ambassadors in D.C. and in London as conduits of “malign influence.” According to an American lawyer with knowledge of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, Banks and Farage have become persons of interest in that inquiry. […]

  68. says

    From quoted text in SC’s comment 101:

    [harm] the objective assessment of the 1937-1938 historical period […]

    Objective assessment?! Putin’s lackeys seem to be promoting anything but an objective assessment.

    From quoted text in SC’s comment 112:

    President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation enabling Russian authorities to block websites and hand out punishment for “fake news” and material deemed insulting to the state or the public.

    OMG. Trump must be sooo jealous.

  69. says

    SC @106, Oh, FFS! How we are ever going to rid ourselves of this interconnected nest rightwing rats who are trying to out-trump Trump?

    SC @110, that’s hilarious … and depressing.

    The RNC Deputy Finance Chairman who’s under investigation for money laundering is a different guy from the RNC Deputy Finance Chairman who pleaded guilty in a federal fraud case and they’re both different from the RNC Finance Chairman who’s accused of rape and sexual misconduct.

    SC @113: Of course the “EU referendum was stolen.” Putin and guys like Arron Banks stole it.

  70. says

    Representative Beto O’Rourke raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign for president. That impressive influx of money is even larger than Bernie Sanders’ previously-record-breaking fundraising.

    In other campaign news, Senator Kamala Harris repeated that she supports a federal moratorium on the death penalty.

    Last, but not least, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg crossed the 65,000-donor threshold. That threshold is one of the criteria set by the DCC to participate in the Democratic presidential primary debates.

  71. says

    White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney can’t really defend Trump, but he tries:

    BRENNAN [CBS News’ Margaret Brennan]: During the campaign, as you know, as a candidate, the president called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. He said Islam “hates us.” This kind of language in the past leads to these questions of why isn’t the president now directly using that megaphone to condemn it.

    MULVANEY: Well, then take the words and put them in one category and take the actions and put them in another.

  72. says

    “Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died”:

    Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.

    Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.

    Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.

    But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown’s death, citing threats — mostly anonymous — that protest leaders continue to receive.

    The Rev. Darryl Gray said he found a box inside his car. When the bomb squad arrived, no explosives were found but a 6-foot (1.8-meter) python was inside.

    “Everybody is on pins and needles,” Gray said of his fellow activists.

    No arrests have been made in the two homicides. St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said witnesses have simply refused to come forward, leaving detectives with no answers for why the men were targeted.

    “We don’t believe either one was connected to each other,” McGuire said, but adding, “It’s tough to come up with a motive without a suspect.”

    Deandre Joshua’s body was found inside a burned car blocks from the protest. The 20-year-old was shot in the head before the car was torched.

    Darren Seals, shown on video comforting Brown’s mother that same night, met an almost identical fate two years later. The 29-year-old’s bullet-riddled body was found inside a burning car in September 2016.

    Four others also died, three of them ruled suicides.

    Activists say that in the years since the protests, they have been targeted in dangerous ways.

    “Something is happening,” said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests. “I’ve been vocal about the things that I’ve experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts.”

    Bush said her car has been run off the road, her home has been vandalized, and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time.

    She suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers. Living under constant threat is exhausting, she said, but she won’t give in.

    “They shut us up and they win,” Bush said.

    It’s unclear if residual stress from the protests or harassment contributed to the suicides, but Johnson said many activists feel a sense of hopelessness.

    “This has to have a big impact on their mental health,” Johnson said. “For many, law enforcement is not a recourse. Many times law enforcement is not on their side.”

    Experts say the deaths also are indicative of a concern at the core of the protests — the underlying difficulty of life for young people of color….

  73. says

    “Saudi Kingdom Tries To Prevent More Women From Fleeing”:

    After an 18-year-old Saudi woman, who said she feared death if deported to Saudi Arabia, arrived in Canada, she directed some of her first public comments back home. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun encouraged other women to flee family abuse and the oppressive controls imposed on them by the conservative kingdom.

    She has just showed them how to do it.

    Alqunun was offered asylum in Canada in January after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room, from where she mounted a sophisticated social media campaign that sparked international headlines and sympathy.

    But in Saudi Arabia, Alqunun’s successful escape from a prominent family spurred harsh media attacks and a social media narrative accusing Western nations of using Saudi women to undermine the kingdom. Still, the domestic campaign is unlikely to deter other young women from fleeing the kingdom, say activists who are in touch with women planning to run.

    The high-profile story is “going to set off copycat scenarios,” says Bessma Momani, a Middle East specialist at Canada’s University of Waterloo. “I think women will feel more emboldened.”

    She explains that Alqunun’s story has provided a virtual road map for others and revealed a network of groups willing to work out logistics and offer escape strategies. “Rahaf’s story showed there is a quasi-organized group that is willing to help,” Momani says.

    In Saudi Arabia, men wield vast powers over women. The guardianship system gives male relatives control over women’s travel, education, medical treatment and marriage. An app called Absher allows Saudi men to specify when and where a woman can travel. The service includes a message alert when a woman uses her passport at an airport or a border crossing.

    Fleeing even an abusive home is a crime. If caught, a woman can be jailed or housed in a government-run shelter until her guardian permits her release.

    Alqunun’s success was a “huge shake,” Damanhoori says, because she comes from a prominent family, the daughter of a powerful governor.

    “The more powerful the family, the harder for a woman to escape, because of family connections. But she made it.”

    Alqunun’s family status may explain why the Saudi government has ramped up a campaign to stem the flow. In recent weeks, the General Department for Counter Extremism released an online video as a warning. The animated message compares women who flee the country to young men who join terrorist groups — and blames a vast international conspiracy that it says is aiming to damage the kingdom’s image through its youth.

    “Everyone who tried to escape, they compare her with ISIS — it’s horrible,” complains Damanhoori.

    “This is not going to end,” says Hala Aldosari, a Saudi activist and writer based in New York. “It will get worse.”

    Aldosari says the government blames “agents of the West” and “women activists” as the culprits of the alleged global plot to destabilize Saudi Arabia, “rather than the grievance of the women.” She says the common denominator among those trying to flee is that they are “women who come from controlling or abusive families” and who believe that running is the only way to survive….

  74. says

    “Dems Ask FBI to Investigate Massage Parlor Owner Who Was Selling Access to Trump”:

    Top Democrats on four congressional committees have asked the FBI investigate the activities of Cindy Yang, the massage parlor owner who offered to sell Chinese business executives access to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

    In a letter sent Friday, the lawmakers requested that the FBI conduct “criminal and counterintelligence investigations into credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities by Ms. Yang.” They also ask the bureau to conduct an assessment of counterintelligence risks or related concerns “associated with any interactions between President Donald Trump and Ms. Yang.”

    The letter was sent by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees….

  75. says

    SC @122, meanwhile, Melania Trump held one her “Be Best” events today, an event meant to stop or to curb bullying. She could just take her husband’s phone away from him and accomplish a lot towards meeting her goals.

  76. says

    NYT – “It Wasn’t Just Khashoggi: A Saudi Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent”:

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign.

    At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October, suggesting that his killing was a particularly egregious part of a wider campaign to silence Saudi dissidents, according to the officials and associates of some of the Saudi victims.

    Members of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, which American officials called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, were involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017, the officials said.

    Some of the operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and detaining and abusing prisoners in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, the officials and associates said.

    Details about the operations come from American officials who have read classified intelligence assessments about the Saudi campaign, as well as from Saudis with direct knowledge of some of the operations. They spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions from disclosing classified information or, in the case of the Saudis, from angering the Saudi government.

    Saudi Arabia has a history of going after dissidents and other Saudi citizens abroad, but the crackdown escalated sharply after Prince Mohammed was elevated to crown prince in 2017, a period when he was moving quickly to consolidate power. He pushed aside Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who oversaw the security services, giving the young prince sway over the intelligence agencies.

    Since then, Saudi security forces have detained dozens of clerics, intellectuals and activists who were perceived to pose a threat, as well as people who had posted critical or sarcastic comments about the government on Twitter.

    “We’ve never seen it on a scale like this,” said Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst now with the Brookings Institution. “A dissident like Jamal Khashoggi in the past wouldn’t have been considered worth the effort.”…

  77. says

    Trump’s vile and unhinged weekend performance demands a response from Congress.

    Lies, distortions, rudeness, crudeness, and just plain meanness are all things that the country has come to expect from Donald Trump. But this weekend was special.

    Over the weekend, Trump delivered 52 tweets. 52. In them, he managed to hit every note from petty, as when he declared that he had “let” Republicans vote to release the Mueller report because “It makes us all look good and doesn’t matter,” to ultra-vile, as when he repeatedly attacked John McCain, including blaming the deceased senator for starting the Russia investigation. And then followed up with a slap to McCain’s daughter.

    There was the tweet in which Trump threatened to take away an American factory and give it to a foreign competitor. The one in which he made fun of France, lied about the cause of rioting in the country, and topped it by claiming that “the United States has gone to the top of all lists on the Environment.” Which could be true, if those lists are most-wanted lists. There was the tweet in which he threatened “consequences” against Saturday Night Live for making jokes about him. And the incredible follow-up in which Trump declared that the late night shows were in “collusion” with Democrats “and, of course, Russia!”

    And there was the one that … No, sorry. This one is too nuts to explain.

    Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S. Terrible! The good news is that they helped Crooked Hillary Clinton, and not Trump….and how did that turn out?

    The level of depravity, the sheer brutish, ugly, sleazy abandon of Trump’s weekend performance puts it beyond any pale. This was not even political theater. This was a man declaring that he could say anything, and no one—certainly no Republican—would object. And they didn’t. […]

    Trump went on multiple rants about Fox News, specifically defending Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro for their racist, misogynistic, and Islamophobic statements. If that wasn’t clear enough, he retweeted a white supremacist, delivered a whole swatch of tweets about how blocking immigration at the southern border was a national emergency, and tossed on a gory tweet about a girl stabbed “100 times” by a member of MS-13. If none of that was good enough, he retweeted a false story about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar being “removed from Congress.”

    If Trump wanted to drive home the point that he’s not concerned about white nationalism because he’s all for it […]

    Out of those 52 tweets, a full third went after the Russia investigation in one way or another, including claims that there “never should have been a Mueller report.”

    […] this weekend Trump proved, again, he’s not fit to be touring the White House, much less sitting there.


  78. says

    Former DNC chair Donna Brazile to join Fox News. Say, what now?

    I think we’ll have to wait and see how this works out. I’ll be surprised if Fox News hosts let Donna Brazile say even one sentence uninterrupted.

    Former interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile is joining Fox News as a commentator, the network said on Monday.

    The longtime Democratic operative will offer commentary on both Fox News and Fox Business, and her move comes as some in the Democratic Party have accused the channel of functioning as state-run television for President Donald Trump, especially after an article in the New Yorker outlined how intertwined the network is with Trump’s White House.

    Brazile in a statement said she was “delighted” to join the network and said she was eager to represent Democrats for Fox News viewers, who she argued don’t “hear enough from Democrats.”

    She acknowledged that she might catch heat from members of her party for the move, saying that “my response is that, if we’ve learned anything from the 2016 election, it is that we can’t have a country where we don’t talk to those who disagree with our political views.” […]


  79. says

    Another detail from team Trump’s proposed budget:

    […] Trump’s 2020 budget proposal has called for eliminating popular programs such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund stations such as PBS and NPR, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Trump had proposed eliminating the programs in his last two budgets as well, suggestions that Congress ignored.

    The 2020 request, which was released in its entirety on Monday, called for scrapping $435 billion from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and $126 billion from the National Endowment for the Arts, leaving both with a few million dollars to manage an orderly shutdown. […]

  80. says

    Looking at some of the nuances between single-payer Medicare-for-all programs and “Medicare for America,” both of which are health care solutions offered by Democratic Party politicians:

    […] That plan [Medicare for America], introduced last year by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), was founded on the previous work of the Center for American Progress and Yale professor Jacob Hacker. […]

    It would not move every American into a government health care plan over the next few years, as the Medicare-for-all bill authored by [Bernie] Sanders would. Employer-based insurance, which covers half of all Americans, would be preserved, though workers would have the option of leaving their work plan to join the new Medicare program. Over a long enough timeline, however, Medicare for America would likely cover most and maybe all Americans under a single government plan. The uninsured and people on Medicaid or Obamacare would be moved into the new public coverage right away, and newborns would be enrolled automatically in the plan as well.

    [Beto] O’Rourke has quickly become the bill’s most prominent proponent, citing it on the campaign trail as the best path to universal coverage despite his earlier support for single-payer health care. He is selling it as the more politically palatable solution. From the Texas Tribune:

    “It responds to the fact that so many Americans have said, ‘I like my employer-based insurance. I want to keep it. I like the network I’m in. I like the doctor that I see,’” O’Rourke said. “It complements what already exists with the need that we have for millions of Americans who do not have insurance and ensures that each of them can enroll in Medicare. It then suggests additional investments in that program so it becomes the program of choice and people who have private insurance migrate over to the Medicare system.”

    O’Rourke added: “Now listen, we may disagree about the best policy path forward, but for me, that affords us the greatest buy-in from the greatest number of Americans because this cannot be the policy or plan of just one person or one party. We’re going to have to get as many people as possible into this if we’re going to achieve that goal.”

    That Democrats are arguing whether their next health care proposal should cover every American in a government plan in a matter of years or a matter of decades shows how far to the left the party’s internal health care debate has shifted. But in a crowded presidential field, these distinctions are going to be treated as meaningful. O’Rourke is allying himself with more mainstream Democrats, setting up a collision with Sanders and the single-payer purists. […]


    A more detailed explanation of Medicare for America is available at the link.

  81. says

    Deadly flooding in Midwest after ‘bomb cyclone’ offers terrifying preview of climate impacts

    “Increased flooding is one of the clearest signals of a changing climate.”

    […] Nebraska is experiencing its worst flooding in half a century. At least three people are dead after several major rivers in the state rose to record levels. The Missouri, Platte, and Elkhorn rivers all crested over the weekend to record-shattering levels in the aftermath of last week’s “bomb cyclone” — a massive weather event that brought high-speed winds, snow, and heavy rain to the region. […]

    Connecting any one weather event to climate change is often impossible or incredibly challenging, but experts say the flooding is indicative of larger climate impacts. According to the government’s National Climate Assessment (NCA) released last fall, the Midwest is likely to see an uptick in flooding associated with global warming.

    “The NCA basically said, ‘Hey, climate change is going to mean more floods in Missouri and in the Midwest,’ so this is not a surprise,” Hickey, of the Sierra Club, said.

    In a statement to ThinkProgress, environmentalist and co-founder Bill McKibben also drew the connection between global warming and the devastating flooding.

    “Increased flooding is one of the clearest signals of a changing climate,” said McKibben. “Since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, we get increased evaporation in arid areas (think drought, and wildfire) and when that water comes down it tends to do so in torrents.”

    Citing Nebraska’s flooding in particular, McKibben argued that the state’s “current trauma is part of everyone’s future.” […]

    A good Twitter source for photos:

  82. says

    NYT – “Lobbying Case Against Democrat With Ties to Manafort Reaches Key Stage”:

    A long-running federal investigation into a former White House counsel in the Obama administration is reaching a critical stage, presenting the Justice Department with a decision about whether to charge a prominent Democrat as part of a more aggressive crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying.

    The case involving the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington. The previously undisclosed move was driven by Justice Department officials in Washington, and reflects an eagerness within the department to prosecute violations of lobbying laws after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, focused on foreign influence in his investigations.

    A decision about whether to prosecute Mr. Craig, who was White House counsel for President Barack Obama during his first year in office, is expected in the coming weeks, people familiar with the case said. The investigation centers on whether Mr. Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 — while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine.

    The work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort, who was then a political consultant collecting millions of dollars from clients in former Soviet states. Mr. Manafort, who went on to become President Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, was sentenced this month to seven and a half years in prison on charges brought by Mr. Mueller’s team related to obstruction of justice and violations of banking, tax and lobbying laws stemming from his work in Ukraine.

    Mr. Manafort’s case, and the investigations into Mr. Craig and other high-profile consultants who worked with Mr. Manafort, have left Washington’s K Street lobbying corridor scrambling to deal with the heightened scrutiny.

    The Justice Department recently signaled that its enforcement efforts were just getting started, indicating that scrutiny of foreign influence in American politics will continue after Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which began with a focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

    One of the first significant initiatives under the new attorney general, William P. Barr, was the reorganization of the unit that oversees FARA, suggesting that enforcing laws on foreign lobbying will become a priority of his tenure.

    The prosecutor brought in to run the unit, Brandon L. Van Grack, worked until recently in the special counsel’s office. The unit falls within the Justice Department’s national security division, which investigated Skadden Arps’s Ukraine work and must approve any charges against Mr. Craig….

    Odd that the report doesn’t mention Alex van der Zwaan.

  83. says

    “Sexist campaign coverage can’t be fixed if media won’t admit to 2016 fiasco”:

    …The press used to be willing to undertake serious self-examination. Following the media debacle of 2002 and 2003 during the run-up to the Iraq War, when the D.C. press helped market the doomed invasion, there was some sober and transparent self-reflection, particularly by the New York Times, which was sparked to action by its public editor. The paper admitted to its readers that it had made serious pre-war mistakes, basically asked for their forgiveness, and pledged the mistakes would not be repeated. None of that has taken place since 2016—and certainly not from the Times, which eliminated its public editor position soon after Trump’s election.

    So no, there still hasn’t been any meaningful media acknowledgment of the signature sexism that dominated 2016 coverage. Instead, the press seems much more committed to the idea that Clinton was a uniquely flawed or a “bad” candidate. That way journalists don’t have to acknowledge the sins of the 2016 coverage.

    Why is it important to admit mistakes? Because that’s how lessons are learned and bad behavior is fixed. In fact, perhaps one reason 2016 was so bad was that so few media players had ever apologized for sexist Clinton coverage back in 2008.

    Admitting mistakes can be uncomfortable, especially when they encompass misguided, sexist campaign coverage that stretched out over nearly two years. And especially when those transgressions run counter to a media outlet’s preferred brand narrative.

    But news organizations owe news consumers—and Democrats—an explanation, as well as a vow that the ugliness that unfolded in 2008 and 2016 won’t infect the 2020 campaign.

  84. says

    Alan Krueger taught me a lot about pain. That people are in a lot of pain when they are unemployed, and searching for a job was their most painful part of the day. That men w/out work reported a lot of pain & took a lot of pain relievers.

    He taught me the importance of low-cost pain relievers in the quality of lives around the world. Talking a tylenol when you have a headache is now easy in the US. It wasn’t always that way and it still isn’t in many places.

    His thinking on pain always connected labor market issues to real people. These were things that could hurt people. And good public policy could help. But now I know that he was also in pain, perhaps channeling his own pain into thinking about the pain of others.

    The truth is that we all have more pain than the world typically knows, so do something nice for someone today for no reason and be more forgiving than you want to be.”

  85. KG says

    So, an unexpected – but not completely unforseen – development in the Brexit black comedy: the speaker, John Bercow, has announced that he won’t allow the Government to bring back May’s deal for a third vote, unless there are substantial changes to it. This possibility was floated (and I discussed it) last week after the second vote, but most “expert” commentators thought it unlikely, and I accepted this consensus. Bercow bases his ruling on a rule of procedure that says the Commons cannot be asked to vote again on a motion it has already voted on, in the same session of Parliament – a rule which apparently goes back to 1604. (Bercow says the second vote was OK, because there had been changes in what was on offer.) Government supporters are furious, while both the Tory Ultras and opposition Remainers are jubilant. Bercow may have done May a favour in one way, as it already appeared she had not got sufficient support to get her deal through this week and so would have to resile from the vote she was expected to call, but as Bercow says he will rule on a specific motion at the time it is presented, she can’t rely on being able to bring it back next week with a new date for leaving the EU as the only change. What is surely undeniable is that May has been jerking the Commons around – scheduling votes then abandoning them, refusing to publish legal advice, being found in contempt of Parliament, above all transparently “running down the clock” in an attempt to leave MPs with no viable option other than her deal even after defeat by the largest majority against a Government motion in parliamentary history.

    The full implications of Bercow’s intervention are far from clear. There are possible ways round the obstacle for May – she could ask the Commons to suspend or change its standing orders (but might well lose), or ask the Queen to “prorogue” Parliament – end the session and start a new one – but this is not a simple procedure. There seems no chance of this being sorted before the EU Council of Ministers meeting on Thursday and Friday, when she will need to ask for an extension to the Article 50 period, so, humiliatingly, May will appear as a supplicant before the leaders of the 27 without even the appearance of being in control of events at home. “Taking back control”, forsooth!

  86. says

    “Last prosecutor on Michael Flynn case departs Mueller’s office”:

    A high-profile counterterrorism prosecutor who handled the guilty plea of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has departed Robert Mueller’s team, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office.

    “Zainab Ahmad has concluded her detail with the Special Counsel’s Office but will continue to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to her during her detail,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.

    The announcement of Ahmad’s departure comes on the heels of press reports that her colleague Andrew Weissman, the lead prosecutor on Paul Manafort’s case, would leave the office in coming days. The end of Ahmad’s detail is sure to be seen as another indication that the special counsel’s investigation is winding down….

  87. KG says

    I should perhaps explain why May might be more likely to lose a vote on suspending or changing standing orders than on her deal. The former would be seen by many MPs as a matter on which the House as a whole had an absolute right to make up it own mind, not one that should be decided merely to help the Government get its way, however crucial the issue.

  88. says

    “Robert Mercer is Fueling A Multimillion Dollar Anti-Muslim Propaganda Industry”:

    …The extremist views espoused by Tarrant are common in the modern white supremacist movement….

    But Tarrant’s Islamophobic rhetoric isn’t confined to the dark corners of the web. Far from it, actually. Inciting hatred towards Muslims is part of a multimillion-dollar propaganda business funded by some of the most prominent right-wing donors and organizations in the United States, including many that have direct ties to the Trump administration.

    According to a June 2016 report released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and University of California Berkeley’s Center on Race and Gender, more than $200 million was pumped into the anti-Muslim propaganda industry between 2008 and 2013.

    That money funded the activities of several dozen groups whose primary purpose is to “promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islams and Muslims,” and to push their Islamophobic rhetoric from the fringes into the mainstream.

    They achieve that goal in part by working hand-in-hand with media and tech companies to disseminate their propaganda via right-wing “scholars,” media personalities, grassroots organizations, and other associated entities.

    “This enables them to mutually reference each other’s highly inaccurate or purposively deceptive material as facts and then subsequently disseminate it to other grassroots groups and politicians through right-wing media outlets,” the Center for American Progress (CAP) explained in a 2011 report….

    Much more at the link.

  89. says

    NYT – wow – “A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump’s History With Deutsche Bank”:

    …Mr. Trump used loans from Deutsche Bank to finance skyscrapers and other high-end properties, and repeatedly cited his relationship with the bank to deflect political attacks on his business acumen. Deutsche Bank used Mr. Trump’s projects to build its investment-banking business, reaped fees from the assets he put in its custody and leveraged his celebrity to lure clients.

    Then Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, and the German bank shifted into damage-control mode, bracing for an onslaught of public scrutiny, according to several people involved in the internal response.

    In the weeks before Ms. Vrablic attended his swearing-in, the bank commissioned reports to figure out how it had gotten in so deep with Mr. Trump. It issued an unusual edict to its Wall Street employees: Do not publicly utter the word “Trump.”

    More than two years later, Mr. Trump’s financial ties with Deutsche Bank are the subject of investigations by two congressional committees and the New York attorney general. Investigators hope to use Deutsche Bank as a window into Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances.

    Deutsche Bank officials have quietly argued to regulators, lawmakers and journalists that Mr. Trump was not a priority for the bank or its senior leaders and that the lending was the work of a single, obscure division. But interviews with more than 20 current and former Deutsche Bank executives and board members, most of them with direct knowledge of the Trump relationship, contradict the bank’s narrative.

    Over nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank’s leaders repeatedly saw red flags surrounding Mr. Trump. There was a disastrous bond sale, a promised loan that relied on a banker’s forged signature, wild exaggerations of Mr. Trump’s wealth, even a claim of an act of God.

    But Deutsche Bank had a ravenous appetite for risk and limited concern about its clients’ reputations. Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable.

    After Mr. Trump won the election, Deutsche Bank’s board of directors rushed to understand how the bank had become the biggest lender to the president-elect.

    A report prepared by the board’s integrity committee concluded that executives in the private-banking division were so determined to win business from big-name clients that they had ignored Mr. Trump’s reputation for demagogy and defaults, according to a person who read the report.

    The review also found that Deutsche Bank had produced a number of “exposure reports” that flagged the growing business with Mr. Trump, but that they had not been adequately reviewed by senior executives.

    On Deutsche Bank’s trading floor, managers began warning employees not to use the word “Trump” in communications with people outside the bank. Salesmen who violated the edict were scolded by compliance officers who said the bank feared stoking public interest in its ties to the new president.

    One reason: If Mr. Trump were to default on his loans, Deutsche Bank would have to choose between seizing his assets or cutting him a lucrative break — a situation the bank would rather resolve in private.

    Two years after Mr. Trump was sworn in, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. The chamber’s financial services and intelligence committees opened investigations into Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump. Those inquiries, as well as the New York attorney general’s investigation, come at a perilous time for Deutsche Bank, which is negotiating to merge with another large German lender.

    Next month, Deutsche Bank is likely to start handing over extensive internal documents and communications about Mr. Trump to the congressional committees, according to people briefed on the process.

    Ms. Vrablic, who is intensely private and rarely discusses her personal life with colleagues, declined to comment. People familiar with her thinking said she expected to be called to testify publicly on Capitol Hill.

    Much, much more at the link. “Over the next few years, the commercial real estate group, with Mr. Kennedy now in a senior role, kept lending to Mr. Trump, including to buy the General Motors building in Manhattan. Occasionally, Justice Kennedy stopped by Deutsche Bank’s offices to say hello to the team, executives recalled.” How nice.

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes “All IN” is having a town hall meeting in Rochester Michigan with Kristen Gillibrand. Tune in if interested.

  91. says

    So here’s the story of the Russia conspiracy, distilled to a brief audiobook in seven chapters. What you’re about to hear is all taken nearly verbatim from actual Bob Mueller filings. We’ve cut a lot, moved stuff around, and changed a few words here and there to make it sound more like a narrative. We have changed the meaning not at all.”

    Lawfare isn’t ordinarily my favorite, but this is pretty fun.

    I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this, but “NARRATOR:…” is one of my favorite jokes/memes/rhetorical devices. It’s so easy to get caught up in and overwhelmed by the everyday onslaught, and this brings us out of it and momentarily lets people look at the present from the perspective of the future. “In truth and in fact, however,…” from the Mueller documents could serve a similar purpose. I’d love to respond to every statement from Trump & co. beginning with “In truth and in fact, however,…,” drawing on what’s already publicly known. A good book title for a history of the Mueller investigation would be In Truth and in Fact.

  92. says

    Update to #123 – Andrea Mitchell:

    State dept defending @SecPompeo limiting briefing today to “faith based media” saying they regularly do targeted media and “other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media.” Can’t recall religion being a test before for journalists

    State dept will not provide transcript of @SecPompeo call with so-called “faith based media” not say who took part or what criteria were for participating. Usually transcripts are provided for all on the record interviews.


  93. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Keep an eye on Sen Gillibrand. Feels like a real competitor to Beto with her energy.

  94. says

    From the ICO: “The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Vote Leave Limited £40,000 for sending out thousands of unsolicited text messages in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum.”

    Jo Maugham: “Yet more law breaking by Vote Leave. Now fined a further £40,000. How much more is still to emerge? What a sewer that referendum was!

    And if you are wondering why the Police are yet to bring any charges, don’t forget they cited ‘political sensitivities’.”

  95. says

    Daily Beast – “Cambridge Analytica Secrets Allegedly Covered Up by Trump Campaign Veterans”:

    British political consultants that worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign liked to boast that they could deploy dirty tricks and twist democracies all over the world without the risk of detection.

    The High Court in London heard on Monday that Cambridge Analytica was up to its old tricks from beyond the grave—by surreptitiously trying to halt investigations that could expose allegedly nefarious tactics before the company was shut down for good.

    The company filed for the British equivalent of chapter 11 bankruptcy last year after secret recordings of its boss, Alexander Nix, emerged in which he claimed that Trump’s data gurus had carried out illicit election campaigns all over the world. The company was also accused of using up to 87 million clandestinely harvested Facebook profiles to create a state of the art voter database that helped Trump win election in 2016.

    A lawyer representing a New York professor, who believes his private data was misused by the notorious campaign operatives, claims Cambridge Analytica’s data secrets are being shielded from justice and exposure by administrators in the pay of a shadow company set up by a band of executives linked to the Trump campaign veterans.

    The High Court heard that administrators had deliberately misled a judge during a previous hearing by obfuscating their financial links to Emerdata, a company which was set up by Nix, Rebekah Mercer, and other senior figures who were previously involved with Cambridge Analytica.

    In Britain, court-appointed administrators are supposed to work independently on behalf of all creditors to take over running of the company, similar to chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. But the legal team of David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School in New York who is fighting for access to the data compiled on him, claimed that the administrators of Cambridge Analytica has succumbed to undue influence. Emerdata appointed the administrator and subsequently committed to pay them up to $1 million in fees.

    The administrators, Vincent Green and Mark Newman of Crowe U.K. LLP, were accused of trying to liquidate the company before a full investigation into the company could be held.

    “It is extremely unusual, in my submission, to have the fees of an administrator underwritten effectively by the people who may themselves be the principal focus of any subsequent investigation,” said Andreas Gledhill Q.C., the lawyer representing Carroll in court.

    Carroll’s team hope the High Court judge will fire the administrator and pass the case to government receivers who would then appoint a new administrator willing to investigate legal breaches at Cambridge Analytica and five other interrelated companies.

    “This needs to go to the official receiver and there needs to be a whole set of investigations—someone needs to crack the vault,” Ravi Naik, a lawyer for Carroll told The Daily Beast outside court. “Without this case being successful, there cannot be an investigation because the company will liquidate. This is the dying embers.”

    Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer, are listed as directors of Emerdata. As is former Cambridge Analytica chairman Julian Wheatland, who is named on the list of people close to President Trump being probed by the House Judiciary Committee, alongside Nix, who resigned as a director of Emerdata on the same day that he was called back for further questioning by a committee in Britain’s House of Commons. Nix remains a shareholder.

    The judge has reserved his judgment on whether Crowe should be dismissed as the administrator. He is expected to rule in the coming days.

    More at the link.

  96. says

    SC @152, well this is all rather a long time coming,

    When Cambridge Analytica declared bankruptcy and supposedly died, I said that they would just reorganize under a new company name. They did. And, as far as I know, all of the data that Cambridge Analytica used is still out there somewhere. Possibly the new company Emerdata has it, and is still operating in the same criminal to semi-criminal way, with the backing of the same big money sources (Mercer family).

  97. says

    SC @147 and 150, well that is hilarious.

    One comment from the thread to which you linked in 147:

    The suit says the cow has 1,200 followers. As of now it’s at 48,000. 😀😀😀😀😀

    A lot of commenters made the point that they had never heard of the Twitter accounts of Devin Nunes’ Mom, nor that of Devin Nunes’ cow … until now.

    It’s as if Nunes’ goal was to look even more like a clueless dolt.

  98. says

    From today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog:

    “SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Greens urge Corbyn to be more positive about second referendum”:

    Jeremy Corbyn has held Brexit talks at Westminster with the leaders of the smaller opposition parties in the Commons: the SNP’s Ian Blackford, the Lib Dems’ Sir Vince Cable, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts and the Green’s Caroline Lucas.

    After the meeting Blackford, Cable, Saville Roberts and Lucas issued a joint statement urging Corbyn to be more positive about a second referendum. They said:…

    Labour issued its own statement after the meeting, implying that Corbyn was more interested in getting the other parties to support Labour’s Brexit plan. A party spokesman said:…

    Full statements at the link.

  99. says

    Nerd @145 and 149. I watched that. I thought Senator Kristen Gillibrand started out way too manic, frenetic, by half. She spewed a torrent of run-on sentences at hyper speed. Also, in the torrent, there were too many clichés and bumper-sticker slogans.

    However, she did settle down after a bit, and she did provide substantive answers when asked questions.

    I felt sorry for Chris Hayes at first. He just had to bear the brunt of the non-stop torrent. It was as if Senator Gillibrand thought she had to say everything EVERYTHING in the first minute or no one would ever hear it.

    I liked most of the conversation in the later half of the show better.

    I’m not sure where the line between having a lot of energy and going off the rails in a frenzy is.

  100. says

    SC @144, that’s all very interesting, and very damning. The facts damn the bank as well as Trump.

    I still feel like the connection between Deutsche Bank and the Russians has not been fully fleshed out. And, I suspect Russian pressure on the bank to make loans to Trump.

  101. says

    Another Republican revels in the idea of civil war, and of shooting Democrats:

    Rep. Steve King posted a meme Saturday about a hypothetical civil war between “blue states” fighting over which bathroom to use and “red states” with trillions of bullets.

    The post is an image of two figures composed of traditionally Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning states in fighting postures with text superimposed over top. The caption reads: “Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”

    “Wonder who would win?” the Iowa Republican wrote on Facebook.

    Roll Call link

  102. says

    “Brexit deadline extension only makes sense if it raises chances of deal: Barnier”:

    An extension of Brexit talks beyond the March 29th deadline would only make sense if it increased the chances of the already agreed deal being ratified by Britain, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday.

    Barnier said that after two years of talks with Britain on its withdrawal from the bloc, the key moment has now come for London to make up its mind and end the genuine uncertainty that its lack of decision on the way forward has created….

    From the Guardian liveblog – “Paris says UK should not get article 50 extension unless it presents new strategy”:

    Paris reiterated its tough line on Tuesday afternoon, insisting no extension could be granted to the UK without the government presenting a credible “new strategy or plan” which would need to have parliament’s backing. An Elysée official said:

    “Playing for time just for the sake of playing for time would not constitute a project or strategy. Now is not the time for procrastinating.”

    Paris, which is impatient for the EU to turn to other issues of reform rather than facing much more time bogged down in Brexit, has reiterated that it needs concrete solutions from London. France won’t back an extension unless it comes with a clear, new, credible plan which can gain majority parliament support….

  103. says

    Followup to comments 147, 150 and 158.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Nunes’ litigation specifically quotes the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought – not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

    In the congressman’s mind, this quote lends support to his case. It does the opposite.

    The whole endeavor makes Nunes appear quite small and petty. It’s likely that literally every member of Congress has been mocked and insulted on Twitter at one time or another, but only one filed suit against the platform and asked for $250 million.

    That the case was brought by a staunch opponent of frivolous lawsuits adds a touch of comedy to this unfortunate mess.

    So why file the lawsuit at all? Only the congressman and his lawyers know for sure, but I suspect it’s part of a misguided political game: in the coming weeks and months, Nunes will be able to send out fundraising appeals, bragging about being the one member brave enough to take on those Twitter rascals and their nefarious anti-conservative conspiracy for which there is no proof. We’ll likely see him heralded in conservative media and applauded at far-right gatherings. […]

    And when a judge throws out the case as meritless, it will likely lead to a new phase of fundraising in which the California Republican rails against the liberal judiciary that refused to punish those who had the audacity to hurt the poor congressman’s feelings. […]


    Trump thinks Nunes’ lawsuit is a good idea. Trump retweeted some info related to the suit, and he mentioned “defamation,” which, as we know, is one of Trump’s childish complaints about all media.

  104. says

    Lynna @ #162:

    I still feel like the connection between Deutsche Bank and the Russians has not been fully fleshed out. And, I suspect Russian pressure on the bank to make loans to Trump.

    Interesting idea. The NYT reporter who wrote the DB article was interviewed this morning. He said that he’s researching a book about it and hasn’t yet seen direct evidence of DB being used to launder Russian money to Trump, but noted that he doesn’t have subpoena power. Luke Harding’s book Collusion has strong chapters on Manafort’s work in Ukraine and the extreme sketchiness of DB’s relationship with Russia. So much more we need to know.

  105. says

    More detail concerning one aspect of Devin Nunes’ lawsuit, the claim of shadow-banning:

    The lawsuit claims that Twitter shadow-banned Nunes, a technique in which website users’ posts are visible only to them and thus receive little interaction. Although Republicans, including […] Trump, frequently claim they are the victims of shadow-banning, it simply isn’t true. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the low metrics are the result of the tendency of conservative users to interact with fringe accounts. Twitter accounts that interact with those on the fringe indicate to the platform’s algorithm that that account is either a troll or is helping to spread misinformation. Because right-wing accounts are more prone to spreading sensationalist content, people like Nunes assume they are being shadow-banned.

    The irony is almost too obvious to be believable. As Nunes sues over his poor metrics, the accounts he names in the lawsuit grow ever more influential, all but proving a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect. In other words, as the Economist puts it, “efforts to suppress a juicy piece of online information can backfire and end up making things worse for the would-be censor.”

    In conspiracy-laden language, the lawsuit claims that Nunes — who is derided by many in his district as a surrogate for Trump due to his handling of, and subsequent recusal from, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election — went through “extreme pain and suffering” as a result of Twitter’s lack of action against defamers. It also claims that Twitter had an agenda to “squelch Nunes’ voice,” “influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election.” […]


    From Ted Lieu:

    Oh look, here’s Devin Nunes trying to silence free speech. Here’s a thought: if you want better social media results, do better things.

  106. says

    Daniel Dale is livetweeting the sickening Trump/Bolsonaro press conference.

    For some reason, I’m reminded (once again) of Matthew Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire. From a review:

    Departing from expansionism, This Vast Southern Empire moves to examine efforts to defend slavery abroad. Southern interests in Brazil and Cuba, the two largest slave societies in the mid-19th-century Americas, were directed towards defending the institution of slavery from a worldwide cabal of abolitionists. Both nations were, for slaveholders and the elite Southern-dominated US diplomatic corps, sites of political intrigue and rhetorical tools. For instance, Southerners fretted over calls for manumission in Cuba, particularly when one Spanish governor planned to emancipate all slaves illegally imported from Africa, about one third of the population. Anxiety surrounding Cuban manumission was enough to hold back elite Southern support for filibustering expeditions to the island, as they feared that repeated failures would provoke emancipation. Trade between Brazil and the United States offered possible future opportunities for slaveholders to export surplus slaves and remind Northerners of their economic reliance on trade with the ‘slave power’ to the south. Like American expansion, defending slaveholding in the Americas was another element to this global protection of bondage.

  107. says

    The FBI says that Cohen opened his Essential Consultants account at First Republic before the month before the 2016 presidential election.

    The account ‘received substantial payments from foreign sources’, the FBI says.

    What follows is redacted.”

  108. says

    SC @166, “So much more we need to know.” Right. I doubt that there is a direct link between laundered Russian money and the Deutsche Bank loans to Trump. Instead, there is, I think, likely an indirect link. For example, the two main Deutsche Bank executives found to have approved risky loans might be connected to Russians through various middle men.

    It all smells bad.

  109. says

    From SC’s link in comment 168:

    Trump makes the scheduled announcement that he’ll designate Brazil a Major Non-NATO Ally, then adds, off-script, “Or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally.” He says he’ll have to talk to “a lot of people” to make that one happen.

    Trump makes unfounded and unspecific allegations of “collusion” involving social media companies. “Something has to be going on,” he says, adding, “Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter.”

    Trump says he is “proud” to hear the president of Brazil use the phrase “fake news.”

    Re SC’s comment 172, Oh, that’s not right. Sorry to see that. Donna is selling out to Fox News in small ways already. Does this presage a complete sellout over time?

  110. says

    A female mathematician wins a prestigious prize:

    Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck, a mathematician and professor at the University of Texas, has become the first woman in history to receive the Abel Prize, one of the most prestigious mathematics awards in the world.

    The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced that Uhlenbeck was the award’s newest recipient on Tuesday.

    The body said it chose Uhlenbeck for the award because of “her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.” […]


  111. says

    More about Secretary of State Pompeo and those briefings restricted to religious media outlets only:

    The State Department not only barred reporters from nonreligious outlets from covering a briefing call about international religious freedom with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday but also refused to release a list of people who participated in the event or even a transcript of what Pompeo said, according to CNN.

    CNN reported that only “faith-based media” were allowed to take part in the event and that the State Department wouldn’t answer questions “about whether a range of faiths was included.” Pompeo adheres to a fervent brand of evangelical Christianity and once characterized politics as “a never-ending struggle … until the rapture.”

    […] a State Department spokesperson justified barring reporters from Monday’s event by characterizing it as “designed” for “audience-specific media,” as opposed to “[d]epartment press briefings, teleconferences on a myriad of policy issues, briefings and sprays by the Secretary of State and other officials” that are open to all media outlets.

    On Tuesday, the Religion News Service (RNS) published a report about Pompeo’s comments during the call. According to RNS, Pompeo defended the State Department’s recent move to drop the word “occupation” from its description of the Golan Heights and Palestinian territories, and took questions from a number of faith-based or faith-affiliated outlets, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and a newspaper associated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. RNS reports that participants “were not told that the call was limited to faith-based media.”

    It’s true that government officials will often hold small roundtables with only a few relevant outlets. But when it concerns Cabinet-level officials like Pompeo, reporters who cover them normally get a transcript of meeting remarks and a list of who attended. […]

    Pompeo’s recent attempts to interact with the mainstream media haven’t gone great, either. During an interview on NBC’s Today last month, Pompeo, who was CIA director when the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump in May 2017, refused to answer whether he knew about the inquiry. In a bizarre twist, he referred further questions about it to Vladimir Putin.

    Days later, Pompeo did an interview on CNN’s State of the Union in which he denied that Trump said things he had tweeted for the whole world to see. […]


    From former State Department spokesperson John Kirby:

    This is absolutely not OK. Cabinet officials are public servants. They work for us. When they speak to reporters on the record everything they say — in its entirety — needs to be released at the earliest appropriate time. That’s proper accountability. That’s what we deserve.

  112. says

    More re #171:

    SCOOP @davidsirota, just hired as Bernie Sanders’ speechwriter and senior adviser, has been quietly writing speeches and advising him for months without disclosing it but while bashing pretty much every candidate in the field: [link to the article at the link]

    Sirota deleted 20,000 tweets last night after I contacted him about this, including all of the ones in which he has gone after O’Rourke, Biden, Gillibrand, Booker, Harris, Bennet, Hickenlooper and more. He said he was doing this as a journalist. Here’s a deleted tweet:…

    Sanders asked his supporters to “do our very best to engage respectfully with our Democratic opponents―talking about the issues we are fighting for, not about personalities or past grievances. I want to be clear that I condemn bullying & harassment of any kind and in any space.”

    Sirota helped write Sanders’ launch speeches while calling people who disagreed with his attacks on others “mentally incapacitated.” I asked Sanders campaign manager @faiz what he made of that, and he said: “He used those exact words?… I’m sure he regrets the tone.”

  113. says

    In other words, the Sanders campaign has been on the attack for months tearing down other candidates while talking about party unity.

    There’s a reason many of us have been warning you all about how damaging the Sanders campaign will be.”

    (Also, he needs to release those 10 years of tax returns.)

  114. says

    From the Edward-Isaac Dovere piece in the Atlantic:

    And then there’s O’Rourke. Sirota went after the former Texas congressman’s campaign-finance and voting records. He then turned those into an op-ed on December 20 in The Guardian, writing that “a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.”

    “This story was reported by David Sirota of Capital & Main,” the disclaimer at the end of the article read. He wrote another op-ed two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, headlined “Beto O’Rourke Is the New Obama. And That’s the Last Thing We Need.”

    This is very very bad, especially since we know that the Putin regime supported Sanders in 2016 and relentlessly works to attack and divide Democrats. There are people at the Guardian calling for far more transparency in this context. My guess is Sirota lied to the Guardian by hiding his role with the Sanders campaign, which is a major problem.

  115. says


    Pushing back against those who wondered why he was tearing into another Democrat, he dismissed via Twitter “the trolls trying to de-credential me & claim I’m not a ‘real journalist.’” In December, he said anyone who questioned his motives “illustrates something important: while Dems deride Trump’s war on the press, there are a cadre of Dems who try to bully campaign finance reporters if they report facts that are inconvenient to Democratic candidates.” He also tweeted that if “you are a political reporter or DC thinktanker, you see everything in front of you as a political scheme & cant fathom the idea of non-partisan issue-based missions. Election politics is the prism through which you view the world & so you assume everything is political.” He added later that he’s not engaged in “some sort of secretive political conspiracy for a particular candidate.”

  116. says

    NEW DETAILS: Rosenstein intends to stay at DOJ until the Mueller report drops. Why? A source familiar with the matter tells @PamelaBrownCNN that Rosenstein wants to stay around so he can be the “heat shield,” or absorb the punches, if there is fallout from the Mueller report.”

  117. blf says

    Apologies for being away for so long. (Everyone runs away and hides…) (Embarrassingly — or is this fortunately? — including the mildly deranged penguin.) The critical event in my personal crisis should be resolved by (and hopefully before) the end of next week…

    I’m out-of-date, both with this site / blog, and The News™ in general, but have been admiring the UK politician’s ability to fail more often, more dramatically, and in more and funnier ways, then the English men’s cricket team of some years ago. Back then, you could rely on the cricket team to find some new(-ish) / unique way of loosing; now, you can rely on UK politicians to find some utterly bizarre but often-predictable or even -warned-about method of shooting themselves in the feet they already shot off may times beforehand — and not realise it. I’ve been laughing myself silly at The Grauniad’s daily The Politics Sketch (by John Crace; the readers’s comments can be quite good as well).

    The highly-fraudulent “Yellow Vests” rubbish here in France has, sofar, just been a distraction. What started as a (semi-)manufactured protest about fuel taxes — back-then recently-raised to encourage reduced carbon emissions — was quickly hijacked by both nazis / Putin / hair furor allies and nutcases from the other extreme. The local le penazis have been out in force recently; one of the fecking facists managed to force a leaflet into my hands. It was the typical anti-(insert group of people here) rant. (A local cafe owner took a pile that had been left on her counter and stuffed them with gusto into the trash bin, to applause from myself.)

    The mildly deranged penguin has just returned. SInce I snarfed some of the cheese in her absence, I’d better run off and h——ouch! off me, you pea-brained pile of smelly herring!! arrggghhhhh!!!…!!1!…

  118. says

    SC @179, 180, 181 and 182, Thanks for that information. I suspected the Sanders campaign of already going off the rails a bit, and so it has.

    Now we all we need to find out is that Sirota is being paid by the Mercers or the Russians. [Joking, but still wondering where this asshat comes from, and what are his motives?]

    He added later that he’s not engaged in “some sort of secretive political conspiracy for a particular candidate.”

    Ha! Shades of protesting too much.

  119. says

    blf @185, good to see you back! BTW, many thanks for that view of the “Yellow Vests” as being hijacked by “nazis / Putin / hair furor allies and nutcases from the other extreme.”

  120. says

    Well, someone’s having some fun.

    Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne are among the student interns listed on a White House economic report.

    This year’s Economic Report of the President credits an unusual group of interns that includes the alter egos of Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America, Monty Python alumnus John Cleese, Kathryn Janeway from “Star Trek: Voyager” and the corpulent Star Wars villain Jabba the Hutt.

    These names are credited with helping to assemble the 711-page report issued Tuesday on the health of the U.S. economy and President Donald Trump’s economic agenda.

    The names appear to be following a similar prank in the intern listing for the 2018 report, in which “Star Trek” luminaries James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard worked for the White House Council of Economic Advisers. […]


    From Martha Gimbel, a comment and a screen shot:

    The Economic Report of the President has revealed that the quality of interns at CEA is much better than it was when I was there….we never got cool ones like Steve Rogers, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Aunt May, and John Cleese

    Screen shot available at the link.

  121. KG says

    May, under prerssure from hard Brexiteers in the cabinet, is asking only for a 3-month extension to Article 50. This implicitly conflicts with the Government motion of last Thursday, which passed with a large majority (but a minority of Tories, and with some of the cabinet voting against it – bizarrely, there was a free vote on the Tory side), which said a long extension would probably be necessary if May’s deal had not been passed. The aim of asking only for a short extension is quite clear: to make it impossible to either hold a new referendum, or negotiate a deal different from May’s. The point is that a long extension would, according to most knowledgeable people, require the UK to hold European Parliament elections in late May, and the last date for deciding to do that is reportedly 12th April. May can correctly say she didn’t promise to ask for a long extension – clearly an amendment should have been put forward mandating this – but we’ll have to see what the EU 27 say. I believe they could – and I hope they will – refuse to offer a short extension without May’s deal being passed. If they do agree the short extension, this will leave the only options – unless the Commons can force May to change her request before 12th April – as May’s deal, no deal, or revocation. Which is exactly the same as if the EU refused any extension.

  122. KG says

    A clarification to #192: the reason the UK would have to hold European elections if a long extension was granted is that if it was still an Eu member, but had no MEPs once the new European Parliament meets on 1st July, all its decisions would apparently be open to legal challenge. While the EU doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit, it would prefer that to such an outcome.

  123. KG says

    Further to #192: amendments were put forward to the “extension” motion calling for it to be of sufficient length to allow a referendum.

  124. says

    I keep thinking about the RICO suit filed against Trump last October – Doe et al. v. the Trump Corporation et al. It painted a devastating picture of how Trump operates, but for some reason received virtually no attention at the time or since. I can’t read the documents on Pacer, but it appears to still be moving as of last week. (The Trumps are trying to get it dismissed.)

    This happened in December:

    “Trump’s Outrageous Behavior Called Out By Federal Judge In RICO Case”:

    [T]he manner in which the president has used his position and platform to affect the course of pending court cases, as Ms. [Roberta] Kaplan said, is really without precedent. Whether instigated by him or by his supporters, the harms at issue here are not hypothetical. They are real, significant, and present an unwarranted obstacle to those who would seek to vindicate their rights in federal court.

    — Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York, orally granting a motion for plaintiffs to proceed pseudonymously in the civil RICO case filed against the Trump Corporation, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump due to the President’s inappropriate behavior. Roberta Kaplan of Kaplan Hecker & Fink represents the plaintiffs in this case.

  125. says

    “American Farmers Confront a Mental Health Crisis”:

    The worst agricultural downturn since the 1980s is taking its toll on the emotional well-being of American farmers.

    In Kentucky, Montana and Florida, operators at Farm Aid’s hotline have seen a doubling of contacts for everything from financial counseling to crisis assistance. In Wisconsin, Dale Meyer has started holding monthly forums in the basement of his Loganville church following the suicide of a fellow parishioner, a farmer who’d fallen on hard times. In Minnesota, rural counselor Ted Matthews says he’s getting more and more calls.

    “Can you imagine doing your job and having your boss say ‘well you know things are bad this year, so not only are we not going to pay you, but you owe us’,” Matthews said by telephone. “That’s what’s happened with farmers.’’

    Glutted grain markets have sparked a years-long price slump made worse by a trade war with top buyer China. As their revenues decline, farmers have piled on record debt — to the tune of $427 billion. The industry’s debt-to-income ratio is the highest since the mid 1980s, when Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert.

    So dire are conditions in farm country that Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, and Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, pushed for mental-health provisions to be included in the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation allocated $50 million over five years to address the shortfall of such services in rural areas….

  126. says

    SC, since you mention Iraq, I’ll point to my own response (from 2003, before they caught Hussein) which for a brief time was being pirated on any number of sites. In one place, I was accused of writing stereotypical “ethnic” dialect by someone who had apparently never heard of England.

    It’s still up on Scoop, in New Zealand, but other places have suffered link rot, so I now have it on my own blog, which I recommend to any alert reader who’d like to double my stats by showing up now and then, and maybe commenting:

  127. says

    From today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog:

    “Tusk says EU will only give UK short article 50 extension if MPs pass Brexit deal”

    Donald Tusk says he got the letter from Theresa May today.

    He spoke to her just now, he says.

    In the light of his consultations, he says a short, extension will be possible.

    But it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the Commons.

    He says, if there is a positive vote in the Commons next week, the extension can be finalised using a written procedure.

    But, if needed, he will call a summit next week.

    Tusk says he will not give up trying to find a deal until the end.

    He says he will maintain goodwill until the end.

    May is meeting with opposition leaders later.

  128. blf says

    I’ve begun referring to the UK as the “N.Korea of Europe” — a secretive nuclear-armed dysfunctional private estate, run for and by a small paranoid cabal, unable and unwilling to care for or about the population, whilst feasting and boasting, …”. A very recent example, UK retirees in EU say NHS plans under no-deal Brexit are ‘sick’:

    British nationals who have retired to EU countries have reacted with fury to what they describe as an insulting and offensive offer by the government to cover healthcare costs for up to one year if they had applied for or are undergoing treatment before exit day.

    This is in contrast to the current reciprocal arrangement whereby the NHS reimburses EU member states for treatment of those who have paid into the UK national insurance system for a qualifying number of years.


    The arrangement saves the NHS about £450m a year because healthcare is cheaper in many EU countries. In 2017, a senior health department official told a parliamentary select committee that Spain charges an average of £2,300 for every pensioner it treats, compared with £4,500 charged by the NHS.


    This could be seen as an attempt to force retirees (at least) back to the N.Korea of E., because N.Korea of E. (NKofE) subjects (not “citizens”) “belong” to NKofE, which is where they, and only they, should be. Unless you’re one of the cabal.

  129. says

    “The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam”:

    Every day, dozens of hungry reporters lurk inside something called PACER, the online records system for America’s federal courts. These days, they’re mostly looking for the latest scraps of intel on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian inference into the 2016 presidential election. And everyone, from lawyers to researchers to activists, uses the system to find similar criminal cases, track the latest arrests of terrorism suspects or argue for sentencing reform.

    But I’m here to tell you that PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records—is a judicially approved scam. The very name is misleading: Limiting the public’s access by charging hefty fees, it has been a scam since it was launched and, barring significant structural changes, will be a scam forever.

    The U.S. federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public. For such an exorbitant price—it can cost hundreds of dollars a year to keep up with an ongoing criminal case—you might think the courts would at least make it easy to access basic documents. But you’d be wrong. The millions of dollars the courts have reaped in user fees have produced a website unworthy of the least talented of Silicon Valley garage programmers; 18 years since its online birth, PACER remains a byzantine and antiquated online repository of legal information. As a result, the public routinely misses key developments in the evolution of the criminal justice system.

    It was never supposed be this way….

  130. blf says

    Nine days from ‘Brexit day’, does anyone have a clue what’s happening?:

    Ask any country “what are you doing in nine days’ time?” and it would go something like this:

    Sweden? “Same old, same old.”

    Germany? “Business as usual.”

    Belgium? “Same, but with waffles.”

    Australia? “Fighting spiders, as per.”

    Finland? “Same as always.”

    Japan? “Normal country stuff.”

    UK? “Not a fucking clue.”

    The people in charge have had three years to make a success of Brexit, and here we are nine days away from Brexit and we don’t even know if we’re nine days away from Brexit yet. Sure, Theresa May is asking for an extension, but only in the same way that you’re free to ask your teacher for an essay extension, when they know full well you’re going to cram that time full of yet more useless procrastination.


    We are out of options and nearly out of time. So how have we spent our supposed last precious few days in the European Union? As is traditional, we’re having ourselves a constitutional crisis.

    After seeing the government show up over and over again with the same deal and a good feeling about it this time, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, decided he’d had enough and invoked a parliamentary convention so old that not even Jacob Rees-Mogg saw it coming from his vantage point of 1837.


    It was admittedly quite funny that Theresa May is in the position of defending getting people to vote over and over again until she gets the result that she wanted, which is exactly what she’s said she objects to when it comes to a people’s vote. […]

    Three years Brexiters have had to sort this. Might I suggest that if you’re mad at Bercow for following parliamentary rules you might reserve a teensy-weensy bit of anger for a government whose only plan with 10 days to go was to show up with the same rejected scrap of paper wearing a false moustache.


    Meanwhile, at what passes for the grown-up table these days, it became clear that if May asked the EU for a short extension several cabinet ministers would resign, whereas if she decided to plead for a long extension several other cabinet members would resign.


    So, faced with one option that’s at least vaguely sensible and one that’s obviously shit, May decided to go with her usual strategy and do nothing whatsoever. At the end of the day, the EU announced that they had received no letter from the PM outlining her request, let alone an actual plan.

    Only Theresa May could, through indecision, decide to delay getting a fucking delay.

    She eventually announced this morning that she would like to delay our problems slightly, thus solving them forever.

    So here we are. Nine days to go, hoping that 27 countries that May said would be crushed if they didn’t offer her a good deal are kind enough to all let us stay a little longer if we beg. If we’ve annoyed any one of them enough, say, by calling them Nazis or likening them to Soviet prisons for the past three years, they could veto our extension.


  131. tomh says

    @ SC #204
    Re: PACER

    Should PACER be free?
    There is a suit pending appeal in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals asking for an end to administrative fees for accessing documents filed in the federal courts.

    The E-Government Act of 2002 authorized the judiciary to charge PACER access fees, but the fees were limited to “the extent necessary” to provide access to these records…even though PACER cost $3 million to operate in 2016, it brought in over $146 million in fees. For anyone who’s had to navigate the clunky interface that reminds a user of the nostalgia of how the internet used to work, it would not be unreasonable to wonder where all that money is going.

    The answer, of course, is that it’s going to fund all sorts of other court expenses. So now they’re asking the courts to cut off their own cash cow. There’s also a bill introduced in Congress to make all court records free. The NYT weighed in with an editorial also.
    Public Records Belong to the Public

  132. says

    I asked Pres Trump how his tweets about @gtconway3d fit the standard of the First Lady’s Be Best campaign.

    ‘He’s a whack job’, the President said, adding that George Conway is ‘doing a disservice to a wonderful wife. I call him Mr Kellyanne Conway. She’s a wonderful woman’.”

    Be Best!

  133. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    In the Commons the Labour MP Ian Murray says it has been confirmed that Theresa May will make a statement to MPs at 8pm. Can she be made to address the Commons?

    John Bercow, the speaker, says it is up to May to decide if she addresses the Commons. He says if May were to address the Commons, that would be well received.

  134. says

    “Gillum to launch Florida voter-registration campaign to trip up Trump”:

    Andrew Gillum has launched a Florida voter registration group dedicated to defeating President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in the nation’s largest swing state.

    The former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic nominee for governor is expected to formally announce the effort today at a speech in Miami Gardens. One of the groups working with Gillum — Bring it Home Florida, named after his signature campaign phrase — was registered last week by his supporters with the state election division overseeing third-party voter registration organizations.

    Meanwhile, the Florida Democratic Party says it will spend $2 million in the next year to register 200,000 voters ahead of next year’s presidential primary. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said the party has not “dedicated enough resources” to registering voters in recent years. There are currently 4.96 million registered Democrats in the state compared to 4.7 million Republicans and nearly 3.6 million voters with no party affiliation….

  135. says

    Some good news: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee received about $11.6 million in donations during the month of February. That’s the best record for donations, ever, even if one includes donation amounts during election years.

  136. says

    “Green party leader Caroline Lucas said she would ask the prime minister to withdraw her letter to Tusk, criticising May for only seeking consensus after the letter had been sent. She said

    Long after her letter to Donald Tusk found its way onto social media and without even bothering to send a copy to MPs, she has decided to invite us for a meeting about it.

    She sent her ERG-influenced request to extend article 50 to hold her party together, and now she is attempting to placate the rest of us by pretending to hear our concerns.

  137. says

    Uh-oh. This is bad news. Trump is trying to be the only person in control of negotiations with North Korea. Stephen Biegun is a better man, and is more experienced than Trump.

    […] In the wake of his failed summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, [Trump] is apparently taking […] “increased control” of negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has meant “sidelining his own top negotiator.”

    In recent days, Trump shut down an effort by Stephen Biegun, nominally the Administration’s lead negotiator with Pyongyang, to reestablish a back channel through the North’s United Nations mission in New York, according to four U.S. and South Korean officials.

    At the same time, Trump continues to dismiss the conclusions of the CIA, State and Defense Departments and other agencies that North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons program, continuing to insist that he and Kim can negotiate a deal, according to two U.S. officials.

    An unnamed U.S. official told Time that Trump’s “constant refrain” is that the North Korean dictator is his “friend,” which as far as the American president is concerned, creates an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough — even if he’s the only one who sees it.

    The article added, “Trump’s insistence on serving as his own lead negotiator, concentrating decision making at the White House, has rattled not only U.S. officials outside the White House, but also their counterparts in South Korea and Japan, all the officials said.”

    That’s an understandable concern. The United States’ first amateur president, who knows effectively nothing about nuclear weapons programs and/or international diplomacy, has convinced himself that his entire team is simply getting in the way of a deal with North Korea. […]


  138. says

    Trump has done a 180 on the electoral college … I think. Trump said and posted contradictory opinions.

    […] “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” Donald Trump declared on Nov. 6, 2012.

    […] Trump published a series of tweets about the need for a “revolution” to prevent the “disgusting injustice” of having an American president who only won thanks to the electoral college. [Obama won 51% of the popular vote.]

    Trump added at the time that the electoral college is “phoney.” (I assume he meant “phony,” and was not trying to describing something related to phones.)

    […] “I’m not going to change my mind [about the electoral college] just because I won,” Trump said the week after his election.

    As recently as last spring, he remained consistent on the issue, telling Fox News in April 2018 that he’d prefer a popular-vote system.

    But as his own re-election campaign nears, and a variety of Democratic presidential candidates express their opposition to the electoral college […] Trump has apparently abandoned everything he’s ever said on the subject.

    “Campaigning for the Popular Vote is much easier & different than campaigning for the Electoral College. It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win.

    “With the Popular Vote, you go to just the large States – the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power – & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”

    To the extent that reality matters, Trump’s argument is badly flawed. For example, the electoral college doesn’t require candidates to visit “many” states; it requires candidates to visit competitive states. Millions of Americans don’t live in battleground states, and as a result, they’re largely ignored by national campaigns.

    This affects residents with massive populations (California, New York), small populations (Vermont, Wyoming) and plenty of states in between (Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky). After the primaries, major-party nominees tend not to step foot in most states. […]

    Postscript: Overnight, [Trump tweeted] “Actually, you’ve got to win it at the Ballot Box!”

    […] that’s the whole point of the debate: the candidate who wins “at the ballot box,” as Hillary Clinton and Al Gore did, sometimes loses, despite winning more votes.


  139. says

    Sometimes, we are grateful that the Trump administration is so incompetent. It’s one reason that they lose so often in court.

    This is from the Washington Post:

    Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters.

    In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance, including providing legitimate explanations for shifts in policy, supported by facts and, where required, public input. […]

    [T]he rulings so far paint a remarkable portrait of a government rushing to implement sweeping changes in policy without regard for longstanding rules against arbitrary and capricious behavior.


    More at the link.

    From Georgetown Law School’s William Buzbee:

    [Trump administration officials are] making it very easy for the courts to reject them because they’re not doing their homework.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] if you’re a conservative who wants the Trump agenda to succeed, you want to see the administration win these court cases. Except they’re losing, not because nefarious liberals in black robes are being unfair, but because too often, Team Trump doesn’t know what it’s doing.

    Update: The Post also spoke to a pro-deregulation attorney, whom you’d expect to be on the White House’s side. The article said the lawyer has seen the administration make errors so basic that “he has to wonder whether agency officials are more interested in announcing policy shifts than in actually implementing them.”

  140. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump spoke to reporters this morning. He had Mueller, and Mueller’s report, on his mind.

    […] Trump attacked senior Justice Department officials and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an apparent attempt to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. […]

    “I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country — and even you will admit that — and now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote?” Trump complained to reporters outside the White House. […]

    Trump on Wednesday referred to Rosenstein as “a deputy” who was “appointed,” and who then “appoint[ed] another man to write a report.”

    “Explain that, because my voters don’t get it, and I don’t get it,” he added.

    Trump, of course, nominated Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate in a 94-6 vote. […]

    Recently, Trump said there ought not be any report at all, and incorrectly called Mueller’s investigation illegal. And just after that, he told Republicans in Congress to go along with a non-binding resolution asserting that the report should be made public. That resolution passed with unanimous support in the House of Representatives; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blocked a vote on it in the Senate.

    “Let it come out,” Trump said Wednesday. “Let the people see it. That’s up to the attorney general.”


    From the readers comments:

    “I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country — and even you will admit that — and now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote?”

    So he’s making the case that the Mueller report can be ignored, no matter what’s in it, because Mueller didn’t run for President.

    Got it… he’s certifiable.
    You. Are. Nuts. [quoting George Conway]

    You didn’t win a big election, you cheated your way into a very slim majority in 3 states that got you through the EC. Hillary won the popular vote. You keep forgetting that.
    Trump isn’t laying down cover fire. He’s running scared.
    It used to be the standard in bullshitting that it had to sound good at least for a few moments … if you were sympathetic to the bullshitter.

  141. says

    From Kellyanne Conway, commenting on George Conway’s tweets and Trump’s response:

    He [Trump] left it alone for months out of respect for me. [Fact check, not really.] But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?

    Don’t play psychiatrist any more than George should be. You’re not a psychiatrist and he’s not, respectfully.

    Trump, who is also not a psychiatrist, called George Conway a “whack job.”

    From the readers comments:

    My undergrad was clinical psych and while that’s not fully trained etc., I’m pretty sure George Conway was 100% accurate.
    I’m not a doctor, but if a guy stumbles onto my porch, collapses into one of the chairs, tells me he doesn’t feel good, and I can see he has an arrow through his head, I’d pass that information along to the 911 dispatcher. Sometimes the problem is that bloody obvious. Trump has NPD. There’s absolutely no question about it.
    Actually, yes, Kellyanne, we think he should take it sitting down. If he were a real leader with a real talent for understanding how to deal with people who were throwing grenades from the peanut gallery, he would not dignify it with a response. He would, at most, trot out a loser aide like yourself to deal with it. He’d consider it beneath his office and even beneath the worth of his time and attention.
    I do not have to be a trained psychiatrist to observe Donald Trump is fucking crazy. He’s hemorrhaging idiocies everywhere, we all know he’s nuts.

  142. says

    NYC official accuses Kushner Cos. of illegally operating buildings without certification

    New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres on Tuesday accused Kushner Companies of illegally operating nine buildings without a certificate of occupancy.

    “We’ve come to discover that Kushner Cos. is illegally operating buildings without a certificate of occupancy,” said Torres, who heads the Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigation.

    “Our investigation reveals that there are nine properties in the portfolio of Kushner Cos. that have no certificate of occupancy and one of those properties has gone six years without a certificate of occupancy.” […]


    Kushner Cos. is blaming the deficiencies on past owners:

    Similar to many other landlords, we inherited from prior owners certificates of occupancy with various issues,. Kushner will continue the long and detailed process to work with our consultants and the Department of Buildings to correct every issue outstanding.

  143. says

    From Wonkette:

    Former House Speaker and ongoing terrible person Paul Ryan has joined the board of the new Fox Corporation. The “new model” Fox officially began trading early Tuesday after 21st Century Fox completed the transfer of Fox News, Fox Sports, and Fox Broadcasting. Disney picked up what was left of 21st Century Fox’s assets in a to-go bag this morning.

    Ryan’s new colleagues include Formula 1 CEO and mustache tender Chase Carey, Aragon Global Holdings founder Anne Dias, former Telemundo CEO Roland Hernandez, and 21st Century Fox board member Jacques Nasser. He’ll also sit around a big glass table in the Hall of Doom with controlling shareholders Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch.

    “We are thrilled to welcome our new colleagues to the Fox board,” said Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch. “We look forward to working with and being guided by them as we begin a new chapter, steadfastly committed to providing the best in news, sports and entertainment programming.”

    On the surface, this seems an odd fit. Ryan is a lifelong politician whose most extensive private sector experience was as a “marketing consultant” at his family’s construction company. What does he have to offer the board of a major media conglomerate? True, he’s already provided his fellow board members and conveniently now himself generous tax cuts that schmucks like us are already paying for. Maybe that’s worth a 50 percent increase from what he was “earning” as one of the most ineffectual speakers in modern history. […]

  144. blf says

    Lynna@216, that reminded me of this from Saturday, Trump is cornered, with violence on his mind. We must be on red alert (I know hair furor’s threats were already covered in this series of threads):

    As investigators close in, the president invokes the support of the military, police and vigilantes. This is a perilous moment

    What does a megalomaniacal president of the United States do when he’s cornered? We’ll soon find out.

    House Democrats are beginning a series of investigations and hearings about Donald Trump. Senate Republicans have begun to desert him. Twelve defected on the wall. Seven refused to back Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

    Almost all have gone on record that they want Robert Mueller’s report made public. That report, not incidentally, appears imminent.

    Trump cannot abide losing. His ego can’t contain humiliation. He is incapable of shame.

    So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.

    In an interview with Breitbart News published on Wednesday, Trump noted: I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.

    In case you missed it, “they” are Trump’s political opponents, including House Democrats and the mainstream media. And the “certain point” could be impeachment but is more likely to be reached if the House investigations reveal crimes Trump committed both before and after he became president.

    […] In Trump’s mind, congressional investigations that could cause him shame and humiliation, and quite possibly result in a prison sentence, will be countered by forces loyal to him: the police, the military, and vigilante groups like Bikers for Trump.

    To put it another way, the work of a democratically elected Congress will be met by Trump loyalists who, he asserts, are “tougher” because they have brute force on their side.

    [… A]s Trump becomes ever more entrapped in the web of his own misdeeds, his threats are becoming more ominous.

    [… examples…]

    Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has given cover to some of the most vile bigots in America. As he grows more desperate, he is giving them encouragement.


  145. KG says

    The people in charge have had three years to make a success of Brexit, and here we are nine days away from Brexit and we don’t even know if we’re nine days away from Brexit yet. Sure, Theresa May is asking for an extension, but only in the same way that you’re free to ask your teacher for an essay extension, when they know full well you’re going to cram that time full of yet more useless procrastination. – blf@205

    QFT – and with highly amused admiration. If only the situation itself were funny. May’s statement is now expected at 20:15 UCT (15 minutes from now). I think it’s to “The Nation” rather than to MPs. Could be anything from proroguing Parliament to resignation to a general election to a declaration of war on the EU.

  146. says

    blf @220, thanks for that reminder of Trump’s threats of violence, predictions of violence, and weird admiration for “tough” (meaning “heavily armed”) people who might take up Trump’s cause against their fellow citizens.

    Meanwhile, Trump is still obsessing over John McCain:

    […] “I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as President I had to approve,” Trump said at a speech at a factory in Lima, Ohio. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank you, but that’s okay. We sent him on the way but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

    It isn’t entirely clear what Trump is talking about here, but it could be a reference to the permission he gave for military transportation of McCain’s body from Arizona to D.C. and for military pallbearers, band support and a horse.

    Trump then complained about the press always asking him questions about McCain, a grievance he aired during a speech in which he started up on McCain without any prompting. […]

    That trumpian, petty, and twisted mind is still on display.

  147. says

    Followup to comment 222.

    From the readers comments:

    His neediness knows no bound. It is as vast as his incuriousness or his amorality or his crassness.

    His off-the-cuff pool sprays with reporters and his tweeting over the past week are actually frightening. My initial inclination is to laugh…but DAMN…he is the POTUS.

    The potential, lethal consequences to having this madman in the Oval are gut wrenching.

  148. says

    Another round of black comedy, courtesy of team Trump:

    Even before Donald Tump declared a “national emergency” at the southern border (because refugees were trying to cross and Trump’s toxic base doesn’t like that), the xenophobe-in-chief had ordered active U.S. troops to the border to “support” Border Patrol efforts and to string a few sections of makeshift border fence using concertina wire, more commonly known as razor wire. It may have meant thousands in America’s armed forces were spending the holidays away from their families, but at least the border would be “secure,” right? Finally, an impenetrable military line worthy of our status as great power.

    Or, you know, not that. Because thieves in Tijuana, Mexico are simply making off with sections of the wire, selling them to city homeowners who are using it to shore up their own home “security.” […]

    Tijuana officials report between 15 to 20 arrests for the nighttime thefts, while government contractors on this side of the border work to replace the stolen wire. […]

    But as of right now? Mexican homeowners are building walls … and America is paying for them.


  149. KG says

    May’s statement (outside Downing Street, not to MPs) delayed to 20:30. On past form, we can expect it sometime next month.

  150. KG says

    Meanwhile Corbyn flounced out of a meeting of party leaders called by May, because Chuka Ummana (informally head of the Funny Tinge Group) was there. May apparently just repeated her robotic calls to support her deal, but by his flounce, Corbyn took the heat off her and made it all about him.

  151. says

    In a speech he delivered in Ohio today, Trump campaigned against clean/green energy systems … and against facts.

    […] “Hillary wanted to put windmills all over the place,” he told workers at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio.

    He then mimicked a man telling his spouse to “turn off the television” when the wind doesn’t blow in order to save electricity. The joke was reminiscent of a similar line he delivered during earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which derided the Green New Deal.

    “Put the windmills up and watch the value of your house if you’re in sight of a windmill — watch the value of your house go down by 65 percent,” he said Wednesday. “Wonderful to have windmills. And solar’s wonderful too, but it’s not strong enough, and it’s very very expensive.” […]


  152. KG says

    May’s statement was simply a reiteration of “I’m right, everyone else is wrong, none of this is my fault.” She blamed MPs for “faling to make a decision”. Yes, they did – back in January, rejecting her deal by 230 votes. If May was anything other than a Trump-level narcissist, she’d have started the search for alternatives then, at the very latest.

  153. blf says

    Lynna@224, I saw that earlier in the Grauniad, America pays for the wall: thieves mock Trump by stealing border razor wire, but was of two minds about excerpting it due to the reported reason for the thefts:

    [… T]he wire is proving attractive for residents of Tijuana, where the homicide rate reached 138 per 100,000 residents — making it the most murderous city in the world, according to the Mexican thinktank the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice.

    Local security officials blame the recent rise in violence in Tijuana on drug dealing disputes, especially the market for methamphetamines.

    Into the violence in Tijuana, the US government has started returning asylum seekers — with claims in US courts — to the city under an initiative known as “Remain in Mexico”. The asylum seekers are required to stay in Mexico until their cases are decided.

    Trying to protect yourself in a high-murder area is not funny. And hair furor and dalekocrazy deliberately insisting people stay in that same area whilst they do a brexit (endless procrastination with unlimited lying) is very much not funny. (And razor wire itself is also not too funny…)

  154. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #227:

    […] “Hillary wanted to put windmills all over the place,” he told workers at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio.

    …which they could conceivably be making as some of the millions of people who’d get new manufacturing jobs under the GND.

  155. says

    blf @229, good points. I’ve read commentary before about how it is an additional cruelty on the part of team Trump to return asylum seekers to the “murder capital of the world,” Tijuana, to await their court dates in the USA. That’s an entirely unworkable situation.

    As for the stolen razor wire, I wouldn’t want that war-zone look around my house. The people who live in Tijuana must be desperate beyond our understanding.

    It is funny that Trump’s razor wire is being stolen from the border, but it is funny in that black comedy, painful way. Dystopian.

  156. says

    More re #101 above – “Of Suspicious Minds: Medical Experts Cast Doubt On Lesin Autopsy”:

    A neck bone that rarely breaks, and when it does, it is almost always due to strangulation or asphyxiation. Soft-tissue hemorrhaging on muscles running along the sides and back of the neck. A swollen brain. Extensive bruising and cuts on legs, arms, hands, chest, face, and skull.

    The official conclusion is that former Kremlin media adviser Mikhail Lesin’s death in a Washington hotel room on November 5, 2015, was an accident, caused by blunt-force trauma to the head and other parts of the body suffered from falls during a drinking binge.

    Yet multiple forensic pathologists and medical examiners who pored over autopsy results and other documents obtained by RFE/RL from the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have raised fresh questions about whether the wealthy former Kremlin insider might have been murdered.

    “I’ve done 12,000 autopsies over my career,” said Donald Jason, a forensic pathology consultant and retired professor from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina. “A good number have been alcoholics. And I’ve never seen a fractured hyoid bone on someone who’s falling around drunk.”

    “I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Tom Andrews, who retired in 2017 as chief medical examiner for the state of New Hampshire, and reviewed the file at RFE/RL’s request.

    “This is an unusual case, the complexity of the injuries, even for an alcoholic,” he said. “It’s an unusual constellation of injuries to see in an accidental death, in a fall or a series of falls, from a standing height.”

    Karl Williams, chief medical examiner of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, echoed other observations that the absence of further information from the police investigative records makes it harder to get a full picture.

    “The key to this case lies in what’s not in the medical examiner’s file,” he said. “There’s more missing in the medical examiner’s file than what’s there.”

    As for the hyoid, he said, “It would be extraordinarily rare to see this fractured from a fall.”

    “This is the essence of it. Everything in it just makes me feel it just doesn’t look like a fall,” Williams said.

    Amid the skepticism, two common observations were shared by nearly all the experts consulted by RFE/RL: first, that Lesin was certainly not bludgeoned to death by a baseball bat or similarl object, a theory that had been discussed early on.

    And secondly, as Williams said, “The manner of death should be considered undetermined.”

    More at the link.

  157. says


    MoveOn is calling on 2020 presidential candidates to not attend the AIPAC conference.

    Here are 4 reasons why:…

    It’s time for progressives to recognize where their base stands––which means upholding progressive principles on domestic AND foreign policy.

    Skip #AIPAC2019

    (This should go for Latin America as well.)

  158. says

    Interesting: John Kelly is giving paid speeches.

    Also interesting: The video on his speaker’s page is the briefing where he defended Trump’s call to a Gold Star widow — and falsely attacked Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).”

    As one of the responses notes: “also interesting: he’s using his official Marine Corps portrait of himself in uniform to promote his private speaking venture.”

  159. blf says

    Whilst this is happening here in France, I must admit I wasn’t previously aware of it… and it is, in large part, connected to brexit, French customs strike continues to cause cross-channel travel chaos:

    Eurostar delays caused by more rigorous checks to highlight lack of Brexit preparations
    At Gare du Nord in Paris on Wednesday, hundreds of passengers queued in lines stretching the full length of the station, with an estimated six-hour wait for trains to the UK. Eurostar has encouraged people not to travel at all between Paris and London this week if they could avoid it.

    French customs officers are into their third week of industrial action over long-running anger at working conditions, saying a lack of preparation for a no-deal Brexit was the final straw.

    Instead of walking off the job, customs officers are diligently carrying out longer and more rigorous checks than usual, to demonstrate what might happen if full border controls are put in place after Brexit, particularly in the case of no deal.

    Union leaders said customs officers at the Eurostar terminal were simply asking two or three extra questions of passengers — which was causing acute delays and train cancellations.

    When the action began at Calais and Dunkirk ports on 4 March, customs officers simply carried out vehicle checks and requested registration documents, resulting in two weeks of lengthy tailbacks for trucks waiting to cross to Britain. Unions warned the disturbance caused by rigorous checks was a taste of post-Brexit reality.


    Of a no-deal Brexit, [secretary general of the customs branch of the Unsa union Vincent] Thomazo said: “We are absolutely not ready — no one is. Everyone is in denial.”


    Six hours!? Last time I traveled Eurostar (Paris-to-London & return) the ticket collection and security check / wait, in total, was just a few minutes. It took longer to walk along the platform to my carriage then the security checks (those trains are loonnngggg…). Of course, the Thalys(?) train (Brussels-to-Marseille) was even faster — no checks at all that I now recall, presumably in part to being inside the Schengen Area.

  160. blf says

    There’s an interesting / alarming reader’s letter in the Grauniad, which I quote in full, Women losing out under US visa policy:

    [… T]he systematic and widespread refusal of visas to many women from developing countries has stopped them attending the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women

    I write from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, as one of over 4,000 NGO delegates from across the world attending this annual UN event, to deplore the systematic and widespread refusal of visas to many women from developing countries (‘Gender’ dispute, 19 March). US embassies and consulates appear to be mandated, under the present US administration, to bar applications from NGOs using quite unjustified demands for documents. These refusals are in breach of the 1947 agreement with the US, at the launch of the UN, that it should facilitate the participation of civil society in UN meetings in New York.

    The UN CSW Bureau seems powerless to change the present US policy, which is appearing ever more racist, misogynist, and wishing to turn the clock back on women’s rights.
      — Margaret Owen, Director, Widows for Peace through Democracy

    The referenced article, US accused of trying to dilute global agreements on women’s rights, is itself alarming (link embedded above, Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Draft documents suggest US will refuse to reaffirm commitment to international declaration on women’s rights at New York forum

    US officials in New York are attempting to water down language and remove the word “gender” from documents being negotiated at the UN, in what is being seen as a threat to international agreements on women’s rights.

    In negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which resume at UN headquarters this week, the US wants to replace “gender” in the forum’s outcome document with references only to women and girls.

    The move follows similar attempts by the US last year to change language in documents before the UN human rights council.

    In draft documents, seen by the Guardian, the US is taking a step further at CSW by refusing to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the landmark Beijing declaration and platform for action, agreed at the fourth world conference of women held in 1995.

    The Beijing agreement is regarded as the blueprint for global women’s rights. Although it is not legally binding, the document is used widely by activists to hold their governments to account on policy related to women.


    The Guardian understands the US also wants references to migration and climate change completely removed from the CSW document.

    Under the Trump administration, US negotiators have found themselves more aligned with countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia than European nations. These countries consistently seek to undermine agreements on women’s rights at the UN, specifically around reproductive health and rights. This year’s US delegation includes Valerie Huber, a proponent of abstinence-only sex education and now a senior policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Bethany Kozma, an anti-choice activist and senior advisor for women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development.

    Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, said: “They {the US} are coming into the negotiations in a way that is very aggressive and that advances an anti-gender, anti-woman position from the very start. […]”


    The two-week long CSW, which began on 11 March, assesses progress on advancing gender equality and women’s rights, and reviews implementation of the Beijing agreement.

    Each year, more rightwing, conservative governments, along with the Holy See, which has official observer status, push for specific wording to be removed for the concluding document, which this year focuses on making social protection systems and public services work for women. This pushback is usually centred on references to women’s sexual and reproductive rights, gender and family.


    Last week, the US state department came under fire for excluding women’s rights from its annual country reports.

    Stephanie L Schmid, US foreign policy counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the decision “sends a clear message that the United States does not care about the plight of women and girls and is part of a comprehensive effort to erase sexual and reproductive health and rights from global discourse. This erasure is a blatant and unapologetic rejection of the basic principle that reproductive rights are human rights.”

  161. blf says

    A few excerpts from today’s John Crace’s The politics sketch column in the Grauniad, The Maybot’s binary messages have become just a series of noughts:

    For more than two years, the prime minister has spoken Maybot, a very primitive computer language only capable of basic sentences that are more or less grammatical, but still almost totally devoid of meaning. Since she became Leader in Name Only, Lino — hard to nail down, but easy to walk over — she can’t even manage that. Her binary messages into deep space are now just a long series of random noughts. She literally has nothing to offer. More worrying still, her already limited random access memory has totally failed. She now has no recollection of anything she said just days earlier.

    All of which made PMQs yet again one of the more excruciating sessions of the week. Time and again she was asked by MPs — the Labour old guard of Ed Miliband, Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper were out in force — how she could possibly reconcile her decision to ask for a short Brexit extension with her and David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, having said that to do so would be reckless in the extreme. And every time, Lino could only look a bit confused and blurt out some random beeps. 000 0 00 00 000000 0.


    With the government effectively having collapsed in on itself into a black hole, it was left to Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, to effectively take control of the UK. Not quite what was written on the Brexit tin. Or even the bus. As Lino couldn’t even get her letter to the EU in on time, Tusk delivered his own ultimatum. A short extension on condition of the withdrawal passing. After that, all bets were more or less off. Enough was enough. The EU throwing Lino a lifeline — to make remotely credible her threat that it was her deal or no deal — was just another humiliation.


    There was still time for Corbyn to have a hissy and stomp out of a meeting with the prime minister because Chuka Umunna had also been invited — you can rely on the Labour leader to choose the wrong molehill to die on — before Lino made an unscheduled TV address. Sure enough, she was even late for that. It’s a wonder she can get out of bed by herself.

    As so often, when she did find her way to the Downing Street lectern, she didn’t have anything new to add. She began by reminding everyone she had triggered article 50 two years ago and that since then she had managed to make a mess of everything. Schools, hospitals, Brexit. She’d buggered up the lot of them. “People have had enough,” she said. This at least was the truth. Everyone had had enough. Of her. Of her lies. Of her contempt for parliament. Of her clinically insane belief that everyone but her was to blame. Of her dogged determination to take everyone in the country down with her.

    As one reader observed in the comments, “It’s definitely gone all a bit Tom Lehrer around here (the ‘political satire is obsolete’ bit, obviously, not the songs)”.

  162. KG says

    The best one can say about May’s address to the nation last night is that she didn’t cuddle the Union Flag, Trump-style, on her way in. Other than that, it could hardly have been worse: a narcissitic, self-pitying whine in which she tried to cast herself as siding with the people (who she was keen to tell what they want) against MPs – straight out of the Trump playbook – to such an extent that some MPs have accused her of inciting violence against them, at a time many are already receiving death threats. Commentators seem to be more or less united in thinking it was counter-productive in terms of getting her deal through the Commons at the third time of asking (assuming the Speaker allows it to be debated, or she can get his ruling overturned). In particular, since the “D”UP and Ultras now see the prospect of the no-deal Brexit they want as the likely outcome of rejecting May’s deal, she has to rely on Labour MPs to get it through, and it’s hard to see even those who might have been inclined to vote for it doing so after last night’s performance. She is now off to Brussels to ask the 27 for an extension to 30th June, which it seems unlikely they will grant – for a short extension, they prefer 22nd May, the day before European elections start, and they seem likely to delay any agreement “until” May gets her deal agreed (which seems unlikely – see above). So, I’m off out shortly to increase our emergency stocks. If MPs don’t now seize the tiller from the hands of a captain hell-bent on steering us onto the rocks*, as they should have done weeks ago, they will indeed deserve every microgram of the odium she poured on them.

    *I suppose nautical metaphors come readily to Brits of every political stripe when disaster looms :-p

  163. KG says


    Yes, another political masterstroke from Corbyn – managing to focus attention on his ridiculous tantrum by walking out of a meeting, when he could have joined with all the other leaders there in condemning May’s blank refusal to listen to anyone else at that meeting, simply lecturing them all on the need to support her deal.

  164. says

    “New Zealand bans military type semi-automatic weapons used in mosque massacre”:

    New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in its worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

    In the immediate aftermath of last Friday’s shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Ardern labeled the attack as terrorism and said New Zealand’s gun laws would change.

    “On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern told a news conference.

    “All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”

    Ardern said she expected the new laws to be in place by April 11 and a buy-back scheme costing up to NZ$200 million ($138 million) would be established for banned weapons.

    All military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles would be banned, along with parts used to convert weapons into MSSAs and all high-capacity magazines.

    Ardern said more reforms would cover the firearm registry and licensing….

    More at the link.

  165. blf says

    KG@240, Yes, I haven’t seen a single commentator who says they think May’s address to the NKofE was appropriate. The closest I’ve seen is (paraphrasing from memory (I cannot find the quote now)), “It may be true but you don’t say those things.” So the excuses are now starting up, e.g., May’s hectoring tone in Brexit speech result of ‘frustration’, says Hunt:

    Foreign secretary says no PM in living memory has been tested in the way that May has

    Hunt, who is touted as a potential successor to May, struck a pointedly more emollient tone and repeatedly offered different interpretations of “what the prime minister was really trying to say”.

    Asked why she had not tried to appeal to parliament rather than making enemies of MPs, Hunt said: She was seeking to appeal to parliament. But let’s not forget that the extraordinary pressure that she has personally been under. She does feel a sense of frustration. […]

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. Except for the pressure bit, it’s all nonsense and lies — Hunt said it, so it very probably isn’t true. (Whilst not the serial liar hair furor is, he is reliably untruthful.)

    Hunt claimed MPs had a duty to reach a consensus to avoid Brexit “paralysis”. He said: Underneath what she was really saying is that in a hung parliament MPs have a different responsibility. In a hung parliament MPs actually have to make decisions because governments can’t decide things on their own … all of us as MPs have a special responsibility because a decision cannot happen without parliament giving it approval. […]

    MP’s have said “no” to no-deal, and “no” to May’s deal (twice!), and have been denied an opportunity for indicative votes, another referendum, repealing Article 50, or indeed anything except to agree May is to be NKofE’s dictator-for-life (until Putin decides to install someone else). And if they don’t agree, she will be anyway. So there! Vote for my deal!! You have no choice!!! 00 0000 0 0 00 00 0.

    The Grauniad’s live blog, , quotes Robert Harris (“the novelist, veteran political commentator and Neville Chamberlain expert”. 10:06 mark):

    That could prove the most fatal Prime Ministerial statement made in Downing Street since Chamberlain stuck his head out the window in 1938 and declared peace for our time. He apologised to Parliament 3 days later, pleading exhaustion. Wonder if May should do the same

    Paraphrasing the late Terry Pratchett, “approval of what May said is so far away it is easier to see the curvature of the Universe.”

  166. blf says

    More NKofExit, Petitions site crashes after 600,000 back call to revoke article 50:

    Petition posted on Wednesday night was getting 1,500 signatures a minute

    The UK government’s petitions website crashed on Thursday morning as thousands of people attempted to sign a plea for article 50 to be revoked.


    The petition calls on the government to revoke article 50 and keep Britain in the EU, continuing: “The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is the will of the people. We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now for remaining in the EU. A people’s vote may not happen, so vote now.”

    Tom Forth, the head of data at the Open Data Institute Leeds, said the distribution of signatures across the UK was uneven. The signatures were “extremely concentrated in just a few places, and a very strong correlation with places that voted remain,” he said:

    The best way to see where the “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU” petition is being signed is on the @ODILeeds hexmap viewer. A clear pattern, extremely concentrated in just a few places, and a very strong correlation with places that voted Remain.


    It was over 800,000 signatures when I checked a few minutes ago.

  167. blf says

    Now on the Grauniad’s live NKofExit blog (12:26 mark):

    Soon after [May] finished talking in Downing Street, the official UK government Facebook pay began paying to promote a clip of her speaking under the banner Brexit: Let’s Get On With It.

    The adverts, funded using public money, began running on Facebook last night […]

    [Farcebork users] saw a video in their newsfeed of Theresa May talking alongside the quote You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.

    Although the sums involved are not enormous — up to £10,000 has been spent promoting the video since last night — it is another example of how Facebook ads are being used to put pressure on MPs to back Brexit by directly targeting MPs. One mysterious group campaigning for a hard Brexit, which has never revealed its financial backers, has spent almost half a million pounds on targeted Facebook ads since last October.

    In other words, the NKofE’s dictator-until-Putin-decides-otherwise is continuing to ape hair furor and deploy fake news at taxpayers’s expense.

    (The live blog is also now reporting Corbyn saying Labour / he might support revoking Article 50, albeit he’s being wishy-washy about it; whilst also attempting to justifying his latest climbing-the-wrong-molehill stunt.)

  168. Oggie. My Favourite Colour is MediOchre says

    From blf @244:

    Foreign secretary says no PM in living memory has been tested in the way that May has

    My father is elderly. He remembers World War II, though he was a child at the time. A man down the street from me parachuted into France three weeks before D-Day to coordinate French Resistance efforts. My co-worker’s father, who is quite elderly, flew 103 combat missions in P-40s, P-38s, and P-51s over North Africa, the Meditteranean, and Northern Europe.

    Wow. I guess that National Health must be really, really, really bad if no one in England remains who remembers Chamberlain and Churchill. Now, I know that I am an historian, and my education was in modern military history and modern European history, but I’m pretty sure that I read, somewhere, that Chamberlain and Churchill were tested. Repeatedly. Not only by some bloke named Hitler, but also the press, the commons, and the lords.

    I guess that buying time for England to re-arm and co-ordinating a world war with multiple alliances is nothing compared to Brexit.

    Yes, Brexit is pivotal for England. But I’m pretty sure, as the last quoted paragraph in blf’s comment points out, people do remember World War II.

  169. blf says

    More on just how badly the NKofE’s-dictator-until-Putin-decides-otherwise rant has gone down, ‘How dare she claim she’s on my side’: readers on May’s statement (slight edits for formatting reasons (not marked)):

    [Grauniad readers] have been reacting in the comments to May blaming MPs for the delay and discussing what might be next for Brexit

    ● ‘She’s as crap at being a demogogue as she is at being prime minister’ […]
    ● ‘Below the belt and potentially dangerous’ […]
    ● ‘We will look back and reflect on what a terrible set of political leaders we were handed’
     [… W]e will look back at this time and reflect on what a terrible set of political leaders we were handed. Theresa May, when political persuasion and consensus were most needed, glances over the Atlantic and thinks going full Trumpian blaming the political elites is the best last roll of the dice. Jeremy Corbyn, not content to let May have her moment, once again rolled up his principles into a knife and turned it on himself. Everyone who didn’t want to discuss May’s incompetence had a fresh new scab to pick at. At least it avoided him having to sit down and explain his position. And the others wish everyone would compromise to exactly what they think is correct. […]
    ● ‘Such division and hate is the domain of the dictator’
     Her speech was a masterclass. If you want to learn anything about leadership, in about two minutes flat she displayed almost the entirety of the textbook definitions of what a leader should not do. Such division and hate is the domain of the dictator. […] May is a far right authoritarian with the interpersonal skills of a speak your weight machine […]. Her entire team appear to be attempting a coup to install her as, well I guess they are thinking chancellor at this point. […]
    ● ‘I was disgusted by her blame-shifting’ […]
    ● ‘I’m ever more fearful of what she has unleashed’ […]
    ● ‘She brings shame upon this democracy’ […]

    With obvious caveats about selection bias — by the Grauniad, their readers, and myself — Putin’s current choice of NKofE dictator (or “chancellor” as one of the above excerpts put it) does seem to have done something she’s never done before — convinced essentially everyone. Not to back her deal, but instead that she is a hair furor clone, an incompetent authoritarian, who will resort to chaos, violence, and threats thereof if she doesn’t get her way — and also if she does.

  170. says

    Soon after [May] finished talking in Downing Street, the official UK government Facebook pay began paying to promote a clip of her speaking under the banner “Brexit: Let’s Get On With It”.

    Well done. Really captures both the joyful spirit and the historic seriousness of Brexit.

  171. says

    Rory Carroll on the G liveblog:

    Ireland’s Twitterverse is roasting Tory MEP Daniel Hannan for bungling Irish history in a Telegraph article and then refusing to admit his mistake.

    In citing Ireland as an example of baleful EU influence, the Brexiteer wrote that Fianna Fáil won every Irish election between 1932 and 2008.

    The party in fact lost six times. When challenged about this and other points this week Hannan doubled down in a tweet.

    “I managed a Double First in Modern History from Oxford. One of the things I was taught is that historians necessarily have different takes on the same events. Please try to accept that yours is not the only interpretation.”

    Mockery has ensued via the hashtag #HannanIrishHistory positing revisionist interpretations of Irish history, such as the ambulance siren being invented in Nenagh, County Tipperary, and Michael Collins faking his own death in 1922 in an insurance scam before fleeing to America, piloting the Apollo 11 mission and being immortalised in the song In The Air Tonight written by his brother Phil.

  172. says

    The grift continues – “Trump Has Now Shifted $1.3 Million Of Campaign-Donor Money Into His Business”:

    Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money.

    In December, Forbes reported on the first $1.1 million that President Trump moved from his campaign into his business. Since then, his campaign filed additional documentation showing that it spent another $180,000 at Trump-owned properties in the final three months of 2018.

    …[T]he campaign has paid $54,000 to Trump Plaza LLC, which controls a property that includes two brownstone apartment buildings in New York City. The reason for those payments, which are listed as “rent,” remains unclear. Forbes staked out the property for 14 hours on a November day but still could not pin down what exactly the campaign was renting. A person working behind the front desk couldn’t make sense of it either. “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.” Six residents also said they had never seen any indication of the campaign in the buildings. A 2016 campaign staffer, however, said people sometimes crashed at an apartment there when they were in town.

    It is also unclear what exactly the 2020 effort is renting from Trump Restaurants LLC, which has received $60,000 in campaign funds. Trump Restaurants LLC is another holding company tied to Trump Tower. The building’s website, which features a handful of Trump-branded eateries, includes a page of legal disclaimers for Trump Restaurants LLC.

    Inside the building lie clues to the purpose of the payments. Near Trump Grill and Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor, there’s a kiosk where tourists can buy T-shirts, hats and other campaign memorabilia. The fine print at the bottom of a poster next to the stand says, “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”—the official name for the president’s 2020 campaign committee….

  173. says

    ThinkProgress – “Why was Franklin Graham schmoozing with a sanctioned Russian official this month?”:

    Franklin Graham, America’s most prominent evangelical leader, says Vice President Mike Pence signed off on his trip to Russia earlier this month. While there, Graham met with sanctioned Kremlin officials — even as U.S. investigations ramped up into Moscow’s election interference efforts. One official Russian governmental social media account touted the meeting as a way to “[intensify] contacts between the State Duma and the U.S. Congress.”

    In an interview with RIA Novosti, a major Russian state-run outlet, Graham said he called Pence directly to tell him of the trip. “He was very happy to hear the news,” Graham said. “And he admitted that he fully supported my decision.”

    Neither Pence’s office nor the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded to ThinkProgress’s requests for comment.

    According to interviews in Russian media and photos on his own social media accounts, Graham, currently the chair of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, traveled to Moscow earlier this month to meet with a number of prominent Russian figures. Most notably, Graham had a sit-down meeting with Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who is close to President Vladimir Putin and who has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2014 for his role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    While in Russia, Graham also met with a number of Russian religious figures. One of those figures included including Patriarch Kirill, allegedly a former KGB agent.

    On Twitter, Graham described the meetings with Russian officials as a “blessing.”…

    Much more at the link.

  174. blf says

    Re @245, very close now to one million signatures on the petition to revoke Article 50 (currently, just over 995,000 signatures).

    Eyeballing the attendee’s pre-summit comments as reported in the Gruniad’s live blog, it looks like NKofE will have just three options (in no particular order):

    (1) Agree to the deal next week and (maybe) get a short extension to late in May (not June (to avoid issues with the upcoming EU elections));
    (2) Don’t agree to the deal and crash out of the EU (“no-deal”) eight days from now;
    (3) Revoke Article 50 (which the NKofE can do unilaterally).

    I’ve also seen suggestions that if the deal is again rejected next week, then the EU could hold an emergency summit later in the week and perhaps offer a longer extension in return for an agreement on another referendum or revoking Article 50. The idea here is to try and avoid no-deal. Putin (and therefore May) won’t agree to that, plus I think any of the other EU countries could veto it, so my cynical side is very doubtful…

    (Whilst typing this, that petition has now gone over one million signatures… Parliament must consider it (I think the threshold is 100,000 signatures (10% of the current total)), but I do not know if they are obliged to do so in a timely manner?)

  175. says

    Very helpful – “Tracking House oversight in the Trump era”:

    House Democrats in the 116th Congress have several oversight tools to hold the Trump administration accountable and investigate executive branch misconduct. Two of the most significant mechanisms include holding congressional hearings as well as sending letters to executive branch agencies and to individuals involved in executive branch operations.

    Developed by Governance Studies, Brookings’s House Oversight Tracker monitors the actions being taken by House committees to conduct oversight of administration actions and policies since the 2016 election….

  176. says

    “Erdogan’s government in panic over risk of electoral defeats”:

    The campaign of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for the March 31 local elections will go down in history as the most polarizing campaign with the most virulent and offensive rhetoric that Turkey has seen under the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In no election before has the government employed religion and religion-based polarization so blatantly. The campaign has been marked also by unprecedented threats to opposition leaders and candidates as well as an apparent intent to not accept election results. Government spokesmen have virtually competed to delegitimize the opposition, seeking to keep their base intact by scaring voters with a demonized portrait of political opponents. The main cause of this extraordinary political syndrome is Turkey’s plunge into economic recession, which, coupled with a rising cost of living and growing unemployment, has raised the specter of the AKP losing the elections in big cities.

    The syndrome climaxed after the March 15 mosque massacres in Christchurch, New Zealand, marking the coarsest exploitation of religion and religion-based polarization that Turkey has ever seen in electioneering.

    All those examples show that despite its undisputed control over the media, public funds and the entire state establishment, especially the judiciary, the government is gripped by the panic of losing big cities under the bruising impact of the economic crisis, with the anxiety bringing out the oppressive propensity of its political culture like never before.

    Horrifying details at the link.

  177. says

    Happy World Poetry Day!

    Adam Zagajewski, from the “En Route” series (in Eternal Enemies):

    A Black Cat

    A black cat comes out to greet us
    as if to say, look at me
    and not some old Romanesque church.
    I’m alive.

  178. says

    So this just happened: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” (Trump by tweet)

  179. says

    SC @258, sounds like part of Jared Kushner’s “peace plan,” which is likely to start another hot war.

    In other, related news, Trump said this yesterday:

    We’re – in Syria, we’re leaving 200 people there and 200 people in another place in Syria, closer to Israel, for a period of time. I brought this out for you because this is a map of – everything in the red – this was on Election Night in 2016. Everything red is ISIS. When I took it over, it was a mess. Now, on the bottom, that’s the exact same. There is no red. In fact, there’s actually a tiny spot, which will be gone by tonight.

    From the New York Times:

    In Syria, officials with the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces near the last pocket of extremist-controlled territory said on Wednesday that a group of Islamic State fighters still controlled a sliver of land along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, where they were holed up with women and children.

    As long as that area was still under the Islamic State’s control, “it would be weird to expect an announcement in the next day,” said a Syrian Democratic Forces official, who was not authorized to respond to Mr. Trump’s comments and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Trump has claimed the demise of the ISIS “caliphate” many times. The Washington Post provided a list. Here’s an excerpt from that very long list:

    On Jan. 30, he tweeted that the caliphate would be destroyed “soon.”

    On Jan. 31, he told reporters that “you’ll be seeing something next week” about “what’s happened in Syria with respect to ISIS and the caliphate.” (“We’ve done tremendous in the last couple of weeks,” he said.)

    On Feb. 1, it was back to “soon” in a tweet.

    On Feb. 3, Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “we will be announcing in the not-too-distant future 100 percent of the caliphate which is the area — the land — the area — 100.”

    “We’re at 99 percent right now,” he added. “We’ll be at 100.” […]

    On Feb. 11, Trump told a rally in El Paso that “in the Middle East, our brave warriors have liberated virtually 100 percent of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.”

    “Now, you don’t hear that from these people,” he added, pointing to the news media. “Now, we’ve taken back — soon it’ll be announced soon, maybe over the next week, maybe less, but it’ll be announced very soon — we’ll have 100 percent.”

    On Feb. 15, […] “We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate,” he said. “And that will be announced over the next 24 hours. And many other things.”

    On Feb. 16, he claimed that the caliphate had been “100%” defeated already, so he was removing troops from Syria.

    On Feb. 22, it was again not 100 percent defeated.

    On Feb. 28, the caliphate was back to being entirely defeated.

    On March 2, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said that “as of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria. One hundred percent. One hundred percent.”

    And then, March 20: Complete eradication within 24 hours. […]

  180. says

    Fundraising update regarding Democratic Party candidates:

    We recently learned that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) raised $6.1 million on his first day as a presidential candidate, and yesterday, his team released some additional details: there were more than 128,000 unique donors, with an average donation of $47. In contrast, Bernie Sanders had 223,000 donors, with a $27 average contribution, on his first day.

    Lots of small donors for both candidates. Too early tell where this fundraising will go during the remainder of the presidential campaign. Also too early to tell how much of an effect it will have on the success of the candidates.

  181. says

    Politico (emphasis added) – “Cummings demands docs on Kushner’s alleged use of encrypted app for official business”:

    House Democrats are raising new concerns about what they say is recently revealed information from Jared Kushner’s attorney indicating that the senior White House aide has been relying on encrypted messaging service WhatsApp and his personal email account to conduct official business.

    The revelation came in a Dec. 19 meeting — made public by the House Oversight and Reform Committee for the first time on Thursday — between Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Trey Gowdy, the former chairman of the oversight panel, and Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

    Cummings, who now leads the Oversight Committee, says in a new letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone that Lowell confirmed to the two lawmakers that Kushner “continues to use” WhatsApp to conduct White House business. Cummings also indicated that Lowell told them he was unsure whether Kushner had ever used WhatsApp to transmit classified information.

    “That’s above my pay grade,” Lowell told the lawmakers, per Cummings’ letter.

    Lowell added, according to Cummings, that Kushner is in compliance with recordkeeping law. Lowell told the lawmakers that Kushner takes screenshots of his messages and forwards them to his White House email in order to comply with records preservation laws, Cummings indicated.

    Kushner, whom the president charged with overseeing the administration’s Middle East policies, reportedly communicates with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via WhatsApp.

    The details of the discussion about Kushner’s email and messaging practices came as part of a new Oversight Committee demand for a slew of new documents from Kushner and other current and former White House officials, including his wife Ivanka Trump, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, and former top strategist Stephen Bannon.

    Cummings is demanding the documents by April 4 and signaled he may issue subpoenas if the White House refuses to comply.

    Cummings also told Cipollone that the committee obtained a document showing that McFarland was using an account to conduct official White House business. Cummings said the document shows that McFarland was in communication with Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump confidant and the chairman of the president’s Inaugural Committee, about transferring “sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.”

    Barrack pitched the plan to Bannon through Bannon’s personal email account, according to Cummings….

    I can’t even.

  182. says

    Trump’s untruths about Veterans Choice illustrate the sheer audaciousness of his lies

    Trump takes credit for a program he didn’t create in order to demean the late war hero who in fact created it.

    […] As part of his bizarre, one-sided feud with the late Sen. John McCain, Trump boasted about an expansion of Veterans Choice legislation he signed into law last May that allows veterans to see doctors and go to facilities outside the VA system, and contrasted that with McCain’s purported failure to pass the law.

    “McCain didn’t get the job done for our great vets and the VA, and they knew it,” Trump said, before continuing:

    That’s why, when I had my dispute with him, I had such incredible support from the vets and from the military. The vets were on my side because I got the job done. I got Choice and I got accountability. Accountability — meaning, if somebody mistreats our vets — for 45 years they were trying — they mistreat our vets, and we say, “Hey, you’re fired. Get out.” You can’t mistreat our vets. They never got it done. [applause]

    And Choice — for years and years, decades, they wanted to get Choice. … For many decades, they couldn’t get it done. It was never done. I got it five months ago. …

    Instead of waiting in line for two days, two weeks, two months — people in line, they’re not very sick. By the time they see a doctor, they’re terminally ill. We gave them Choice. If you have to wait for any extended period of time, you go outside, you go to a local doctor. We pay the bill; you get yourself better. Go home to your family. And we got it passed. We got it done.
    […] Despite what Trump would have you believe, McCain was far more instrumental than Trump in getting Veterans Choice legislation passed. Back in 2014, before Trump was even a presidential candidate, McCain and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) co-sponsored the bill, which was signed into law by then-President Obama. It allows veterans to see doctors outside the Veterans Affairs system if they have to wait a long time for an appointment or travel a long way to a VA facility.

    Not only that, but the expansion of the program that Trump signed into law last year is named after McCain. Speaking on the floor of the Senate after the bill was passed, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) credited McCain for the legislation, saying, “I want to thank John McCain, whose idea this was originally. … John is the one who started the movement toward Choice, and he deserves the credit for it.” […]

    From Daniel Dale:

    This is the 60th time Trump has falsely taken credit for creating the Choice program. (He signed a bill that changes the program.) It’s the first time he has cited his nonexistent creation of Choice as evidence he’s done more for vets than the guy who actually created Choice.

  183. says

    Oh, please. John Hickenlooper, white male candidate for president and former Colorado governor, said this: “How come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’”

    From Li Zhou:

    […] To treat the idea of a man considering a woman as his running mate and a woman considering a man for that position as the same question simply ignores painful realities that still exist about the gender inequities in politics.

    The data highlights this all too clearly: Despite the groundbreaking “Year of the Woman” in 2018, only roughly 25 percent of Congress is currently made up of women lawmakers. A woman has never been president of the United States, or vice president. […]

  184. says

    Devin Nunes stepped in more manure in the fairly recent past (2010). He is creating most of the manure he steps in now, and that was his modus operandi in the past:

    […] some kind of hooligan whippersnappers (probably friends of the cow) found a video of young Devin Nunes on C-SPAN in 2010, just stone cold defending protesters calling John Lewis, Civil Rights Hero, the N-word. This was during the Age Of The Teabaggers, who were very upset about Obamacare, and just in general upset about how Barack Obama was a Kenyan Gay Muslim Usurper from Homosexi-stan, and also a literal dictator. […]

    NUNES: Yeah, well, I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people begin to act crazy. I think there’s people that have every right to say what they want. If they wanna smear someone, they can do it.

    Nunes added that it was “inappropriate,” and said he would “stop short of” […]

  185. says

    Sorry, forgot the link for text quoted in comment 265. Wonkette link

    Also from Wonkette:

    Conservatives thought they’d pegged New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: She was just some common Bronx bartender […] she was as dumb as a box of hair. But at a couple recent congressional hearings, Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated the readiness and intellectual rigor of someone who probably took her own college admissions exams.

    This obviously didn’t earn Ocasio-Cortez any grudging respect from conservatives. No, they’ve just plunged feet first into the murky waters of racist sexist conspiracy theories. This morning on “Fox & (White) Friends,” former governor and loathsome human Mike Huckabee first expressed shock that AOC is such a major figure, as if Fox hasn’t devoted more air time to her than any other freshman House member.

    HUCKABEE: You know, it’s amazing how big a deal she has become, to be a 29-year-old with no major accomplishments to her credit other than making some really bizarre policy pronouncements about the New Green Deal.

    Guys, for the umpteenth time, it’s the Green New Deal. Remember how FDR instituted the “New Deal” in response to the Great Depression? This is the environmental — or “green” — version of that ambitious program. It’s not like there’s already a Current Green Deal or even a raggedy Old Green Deal that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to remake like the lady Ghostbusters.

    Huckabee […] then suggests that the “best thing” Donald Trump and the GOP have going for them is if Ocasio-Cortez “continues to be the face of the Democratic Party.” We guess when you have no positive policies or outcomes for Americans, you can always just point to the young, attractive, smart lady and say, “Not us!” Can this get any dumber? It can indeed, because co-host Brian Kilmeade has some “thoughts.”

    KILMEADE: Somebody’s writing her questions. I saw the questions at Michael Cohen and saw the questions at Wilbur Ross. And there is some forces behind her. I think there’s a story there.

    Yes, the “story” there is that Kilmeade is a racist sexist pile of toenail clippings. It’s like the hearings were the latest Star Wars film. What he saw obviously wasn’t real. It was all special effects and clever use of CGI. AOC was probably just Andy Serkis in a motion-capture suit the whole time.

    HUCKABEE: Well, there very well could be. I know there has been some allegations she that was almost like the Manchurian Candidate, recruited, prepared. […]

  186. says

    Updated list of upcoming political events (let me know if I’m leaving out anything important!):

    Mar. 22: Supreme Court considers Mystery Appellant case
    Mar. 23: People’s Vote march, London
    Mar. 25: Gantz speaks at AIPAC
    Mar. 26: Netanyahu speaks at AIPAC
    Mar. 26: Supreme Court considers VA racial gerrymandering case
    Mar. 27: Felix Sater House Intel testimony (public) (9:30 AM ET)
    Mar. 28: House Intel hearing on Russian oligarchs and intelligence (public)
    Mar. 29: Brexit deadline???
    Mar. 31: Ukrainian presidential election
    Mar. 31: Turkish local elections

    Apr. 3: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses joint session of Congress
    Apr. 9: Israeli elections

    May 23-26: EU parliamentary elections

  187. tomh says

    NYT Editorial
    What Happens When Lawmakers Run Out of Abortion Restrictions to Pass
    By The Editorial Board

    Lost in the anxiety this year over the fate of Roe v. Wade is the reality that state legislatures nationwide are already taking steps to effectively ban all abortions.

    Not even three months into 2019, lawmakers in a dozen states have proposed so-called heartbeat bills, which would outlaw abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and thus make it all but impossible for nearly all women to get the procedure. Six of those bills have passed in at least one legislative chamber, and on Friday Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky signed one into law. Hours later, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Kentucky law, which was to have taken effect immediately.

    The court’s action is not surprising. Courts are nearly guaranteed to block these laws — because they’re flagrantly unconstitutional. (With its Roe decision, the Supreme Court enshrined the right to an abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy.) For that reason, heartbeat bills were not given much thought until recently.

    Still, the current increase in heartbeat legislation is concerning for some reproductive rights advocates. Opposition to anti-abortion laws can backfire: Anti-abortion forces push them in part because they want to prompt legal cases that could grant the newly abortion-hostile majority on the Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn Roe.

    That chance alone, however, doesn’t explain this new trend. Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, which researches abortion, noted that the recent cluster of heartbeat bills is also “a reflection of the fact that these states have done everything but ban abortion.” Kentucky lawmakers, for instance, have already passed laws that heavily restrict private insurance coverage of abortion, ban insurance coverage of the procedure for public employees, require a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion and mandate parental consent for minors. The state also has just one abortion clinic.

    For an anti-abortion lawmaker who wants to signal to his base that he remains committed to the cause, there’s little left to do but to try to outlaw the procedure.

    It was not hyperbole for the American Civil Liberties Union to declare on Friday that “Kentucky just banned abortion.” These are effectively full abortion bans. For one thing, many women don’t realize they’re pregnant before six weeks of pregnancy, which is about two weeks after a missed menstrual period. But even the “best case” scenario is difficult to imagine: A woman who has very regular menstrual cycles and notices right away that she’s late would have less than two weeks to purchase and take a pregnancy test, decide that she wants an abortion, schedule one and pull together money for travel costs, child care and the procedure itself.

    Things would get even more Kafkaesque in states with few clinics and mandatory counseling and waiting periods. Take Missouri, where a heartbeat bill passed the state House last month. If that bill were to be enacted, a woman hoping to have an abortion in Missouri would have to travel to the state’s lone abortion clinic for state-mandated counseling — during which she would be discouraged from terminating. Then she would have to wait 72 hours before making a second trip to the clinic to get the procedure.

    Some physicians won’t even perform abortions before around six weeks of pregnancy; an embryo at that stage is so small that it might not be visible on an ultrasound, which is used to ensure that a pregnancy is not ectopic, or growing outside the uterus.

    Given that these bills are so unambiguously unconstitutional, they might seem pointless. But their purpose is clear: to show the anti-abortion voting bloc that conservative lawmakers are willing to do anything — including waging expensive and most likely fruitless legal battles — to keep women from exercising their right to abortion. A heartbeat bill might never go into effect, but if conservatives keep pushing increasingly extreme pieces of legislation, they might ultimately win the war by bringing about the demise of Roe. They’re certainly betting on it.

  188. says

    About Trump whining that he was not thanked for approving John McCain’s funeral:

    The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. clapped back at […] Trump Thursday, with a spokesman clarifying that no funerals held there, including the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ), require the approval of a President.

    “Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain. All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former President involves consultation with government officials,” said Chief Communications Officer Kevin Eckstrom in a statement. “No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the President or any other government official.”

    Trump took credit for giving McCain the “funeral he wanted” during a speech on Wednesday, proceeding to complain that he wasn’t thanked for the ceremony.

    The funeral McCain wanted excluded Trump from the proceedings but included former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, a rebuke that, along with McCain’s no vote on the Obamacare skinny repeal, Trump just can’t seem to shake.


  189. says

    Followup to comment 266.

    Response from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    You know what’s amusing about this whole thing?

    Our leg staff (who help w Qs) *also* worked in restaurants, grew up in Appalachian trailer parks, and come from immigrant families.

    Wait until they find out I actually PAY them to do their jobs, coach them myself,& offer feedback.

  190. says

    Hmmm. Not good. I hadn’t thought of this aspect of the floods in the Midwest:

    Midwestern farmers have been gambling they could ride out the U.S.-China trade war by storing their corn and soybeans anywhere they could – in bins, plastic tubes, in barns or even outside.

    Now, the unthinkable has happened. Record floods have devastated a wide swath of the Farm Belt across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and several other states. Early estimates of lost crops and livestock are approaching $1 billion in Nebraska alone. With more flooding expected, damages are expected to climb much higher for the region. […]

    “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Tom Geisler, a farmer in Winslow, Nebraska, who said he lost two full storage bins of corn. “We had been depending on the income from our livestock, but now all of our feed is gone, so that is going to be even more difficult. We haven’t been making any money from our grain farming because of trade issues and low prices.” […]

    Reuters link

  191. says

    Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation kept donating to anti-LGBTQ groups

    In 2012, the company claimed it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government.”

    Chick-fil-A, the Georgia-based fast food chain known for its juicy chicken sandwiches — and for its executives’ conservative strain of Christianity — has continued donating to anti-LGBTQ charities through its foundation despite claiming it had no political affiliation […]

    The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017, according to recently released tax filings analyzed by ThinkProgress. That year, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its employees to refrain from “homosexual acts;” $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has been accused of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and advocacy for years and whose media relations director once claimed gay people “deserve death;” and $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home that teaches young boys that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”

    These donations were made five years after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said the US was “inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and we say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” Cathy’s comments prompted a nationwide boycott — as well as a counter-boycott, called “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” created by then-Fox News host Mike Huckabee — and an eventual apology from the company, which claimed it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and the political arena.”

    People weren’t just upset about Cathy’s comments; they were angry that the WinShape Foundation, a charitable organization founded in 1984 by Truett Cathy, Cathy’s father and the founder of Chick-fil-A, donated money to a number of anti-gay charities like the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Georgia Family Council, and Exodus International, a group that promotes conversion therapy. […]

  192. says

    Yeah, even Preet Bharara considered taping a phone conversation with Trump:

    Former US Attorney Preet Bharara, whom Donald Trump fired for probably criminal reasons, went on the Ari Melber MSNBC program on Tuesday afternoon […] and he shed some light on a subject that’s come up time to time over the past couple of years,[…] taping Donald Trump. In the process, he made some news, and it is that, just before Trump fired him for probably criminal reasons, he thought about taping Donald Trump. And why? Because FUCKER LIES. Therefore it might be a good idea to memorialize one’s conversations with the shithole human being, just in case fucker decides to lie in public about a conversation you had with him.

    Makes enough sense, right?

    Bharara recounted how Trump originally asked him during the transition to stay on at the Southern District of New York — which was in itself odd, as he was an Obama appointee — and then it got weird when Trump started calling him. And Bharara was the only US attorney Trump was calling. And then it got super weird when Trump called him after the inauguration, outside normal protocols. And so Bharara revealed that he considered taping Trump, if he were to return the weird phone call he got in March, you know, just in case Trump did something weird and/or criminal and proceeded to lie about it. Bharara and his people decided not to return the phone call, and soon after Bharara was fired. […]


  193. says

    If Trump’s actions don’t rise to the level of impeachment, whose would? What would someone need to do to warrant impeachment if what we already know he’s done doesn’t?

  194. blf says

    I’ve misplaced the link, but someone compared the NKofE chancellor’s rant last night to the famous scene in Downfall… seems apt.
    (No such recent parody exists, as far as I can tell.)

  195. says

    It is so telling that the Germans covered the cheating during the Brexit referendum better and more thoroughly than Sky News and @BBCNews. Why? Because Britain has a problem within its media establishment. They are too scared to fight the status quo, or inform the public.

    Granted though @itvnews and @Channel4News are the only British broadcasters to have delved deeply into the biggest electoral scandal in British history. It’s been a year and neither @BBCNewsnight or @BBCPanorama have touched it. They are endangering us through silence.”

    It would be great if the German program could be made available on YT with English subtitles.

  196. says

    “Trump’s Golan Heights Diplomatic Bombshell Was Bound to Drop. But Why Now?”:

    Since no one is any longer even trying to pretend that Donald Trump isn’t intervening in Israel’s election on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s behalf, the only question left to ask following the U.S. president’s announcement on Twitter that “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” is on the timing.

    Why now? Since Netanyahu is flying to Washington next week anyway, surely it would have made more sense for Trump to make the announcement standing by his side in the White House.

    You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to speculate, that given the extremely intimate level of coordination between Trump and Netanyahu’s teams, the timing is no coincidence. For a possible reason why Trump didn’t wait for Netanyahu to arrive in Washington before lobbing his diplomatic bombshell, check out Netanyahu’s pale and worried features at the press conference on Wednesday where he stated that Iran has obtained embarrassing material from Benny Gantz’s phone.

    Netanyahu is petrified that the new revelations on his trading in shares in his cousin’s company, which netted him $4.3 million and may have a connection with the company’s dealings with the German shipyard from which Israel purchases it submarines, could dominate the last stage of the election campaign. That’s why he so blatantly abused his position as the minister in charge of Israel’s intelligence services, to claim he knew what Iran had on Gantz. He desperately needs to grab back the news agenda.

    But the Gantz phone-hacking story, which leaked to the media last Thursday evening, has proven a damp squib….

    …Trump’s gesture is empty. Just as his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was….

    But none of that matters when all Netanyahu is fighting for is his political survival and possibly his very freedom, and he will use every possible advantage he can muster….

  197. says

    G liveblog:

    According to the Press Association, EU leaders are set to offer the UK a plan that would delay Brexit from 29 March to 22 May on condition that MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.

    If the deal is rejected in its third “meaningful vote” in the Commons, the UK would be given until 12 April to come to the European Council with its proposals for the way forward.

    If the UK agreed to take part in European Parliament elections in May, the possibility would be open for a further extension of several months.

    Tusk has not officially confirmed what the bloc’s offer will be but is meeting May right now to communicate it to her.

  198. blf says

    The revoke Article 50 petition has over 1.99m (almost 2m) signatures now.
    The NKofE’s chancellor has reportedly dismissed it: “a Number 10 spokeswoman told the Press Association that May worried failing to deliver Brexit would cause potentially irreparable damage to public trust.”

    And apparently the EU and NKofE have reached an agreement… (nothing official yet)…

  199. says

    From CBN interview:
    QUESTION: Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?
    SECRETARY POMPEO: As a Christian I certainly believe that’s possible.”

  200. Hj Hornbeck says

    From Donald Tusk himself:

    EU27 responds to UK requests in a positive spirit and:
    👉 agrees to Art. 50 extension until 22 May if Withdrawal Agreement approved next week
    👉 if not agreed next week then extension until 12 April
    👉 approves ‘Strasbourg Agreement’
    👉 continues no-deal preparations

    Haven’t seen an article on the Guardian yet, but their liveblog has been updating regularly.

  201. says

    “CREW Calls on All 2020 Candidates to Release 10 Years of Tax Returns”:

    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today called on all presidential candidates to release their tax returns from at least the previous ten years and launched the 2020 Tax Returns Tracker so that all Americans can compare what each candidate has released and read the publicly released returns.

    “Tax returns can illuminate conflicts and can also shed important light on a president or candidate’s charitable giving and whether they are paying their fair share of taxes,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said.

    The 2020 Tax Returns Tracker allows Americans to compare which candidates have released their returns publicly, which have only shown them to the press, whether they have released their full returns and how many years of tax returns they made available. It also allows readers to view and download the public returns.

    “Conflicts of interest cast doubt on every decision a president makes, as the past two years have demonstrated in vivid detail,” Bookbinder said. “The public cannot have confidence in a president’s decisions or appropriately evaluate candidates when their finances remain opaque due to a refusal to release their tax returns.”…

    Link to the tracker at the link. Not much there yet, since the only ones to have publicly released the past 10 years of returns are Warren and Gillibrand. (Still nothing from Sanders, despite his promises in both 2016 and in February to release them “soon” – see #41 above.)

  202. says

    Here’s the link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog. (Have I mentioned how much I love the Guardian liveblogs?)

    Pennycook asks Kwarteng to confirm there will be a meaningful vote next week.

    He asks how the government will comply with the speaker’s ruling that the motion must be different.

    When will the government publish the necessary secondary legislation?

    Can the minister confirm that, if MPs vote down the deal, it will not be government policy to leave the EU without a deal?

    And what process will the government follow to allow MPs to choose a way forward?

    Kwarteng is replying to Pennycook.

    He says it is the government’s “full intention” to bring the meaningful vote to the house.

    (But he does not say when.)

    He ignores the rest of Pennycook’s questions.

    And if the motion is different enough that it can be voted on, how could they be sure the EU would agree to it? Am I misunderstanding something?

  203. KG says

    And apparently the EU and NKofE have reached an agreement – blf@286

    It wasn’t really an agreement, but a “take it or leave it” from the 27 to May. Remarkable that 27 leaders, from countries with a range of governments and problems, were able to reach a unanimous agrrement which is, in fact, both coherent and creative. It puts the ball back in the UK’s court, but makes it clear trust in Theresa May has completely vanished, and the Commons should take over (which I think they will now seriously try to do, although with what success, we’ll see).
    1) If May can get her deal through next week (I’d be astonished if she can), then the 27 offer an extension to 22nd May, to get the necessary legislation through. The 22nd is the day before EU elections start. The EU doesn’t want the UK to be a member if it is not holding these elections, because that risks serious legal problems.
    2) If she can’t, there’s an extension to 12th April (might in practice be 10th, as that’s when the next European Council (the 27 leaders) is pencilled in.
    2.1) If no further extension is agreed, the UK will crash out without a deal on 12th April.
    2.2) But the possibility of a further extension (which would require the UK committing to hold the elections, and having a coherent plan agreed by a stable majority in the Comons) is left open.

    The summit was humiliating for May: she didn’t get what she asked for – and having to ask was humiliating enough. This, combined with her Trumpish speech, and the known splits in her cabinet, mean her political capital at home is near zero. Even if the “D”UP were now to vote for her deal, it’s almost certainly it won’t get through. Many of the ERGies want a no-deal Brexit, and since that remains the default, they are likely to think they can get it. So she would need Labour votes to pass it, but her speech has made it extremely difficult for any Labour MP to support her. That’s assuming the Speaker would allow a vote (which is probable). (A junior minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, is currently answering questions in the Commons. He says the third “meaningful vote” on May’s deal will be held next week, but is evasive about when, and implies the Government will block any “indicative votes” on what the Commons would accept until after the “meaningful vote”.)

    But in fact her decisions could be pre-empted, by a new attempt for the Commons to “seize control”. The last lost by 2 votes. It is rumoured a new one will be put forward as early as Monday, although exactly what form it will take is unclear. It’s not easy for the Commons to do this: the UK’s system is set up to give huge advantages to the executive in controlling business in the legislature. But given that the EU 27 have given them just 3 weeks, or in practice slightly less, they need to make the attempt immediately, not allow May to waste any more time.

    It may be that there will be an attempt within the Tory Party to force May out over the next few days. This is difficult because she can’t be challenged as party leader until December – having fought off a challenge last December, another cannot be made for a year. So it would have to take the form of concerted Cabinet resignations – but both Brexiteer and Remainer factions within the Cabinet probably fear leaving the other in place. In any case, it’s difficult to see her resigning voluntarily under any circumstances. The remaining possibility (no pun intended) is a new vote of no confidence in which enough Tories might abstain to bring the government down. But even that would leave her in place as a “caretaker” PM, unless someone else was able to win a vote of confidence within two weeks. But who? The ERGies would only support one of their own, or May as their puppet, Tory Remainers would not (ex hypothesi), support that, but it’s hard to see any supporting Corbyn, or Corbyn dropping the attempt to force a general election to support a more flexible Tory, or a LibDem such as Vince Cable (their current but soon-to-retire leader), even if that meant May hanging on as caretaker and refusing to ask for a further extension for any purpose other than getting her deal through.

    My conclusion: a no-deal Brexit is still an alarmingly plausible outcome, but May’s deal, a second extension, even outright revocation (signatures on the revocation petition 2,971,394 at 11.42 UCT) are all still possible.

  204. quotetheunquote says

    @ SC 295
    Just watched a bit of the embedded video with D’Souza (and of course, immediately regretted it…) He compared hiring Talia Lavin to teach journalism to hiring a chess coach who counsels players to cheat at chess. Yes, he really said that … pray tell, Mr. D’Souza, have you ever even seen a chess board?

  205. blf says

    (This is an edited cross-post from Mano Singham’s Unlike Jude, Theresa May takes a sad song and makes it worse thread here at FtB.)

    On “NKofE” (N.Korea of Europe): I’ve just learned ex-PM Gordon Brown warned, in 2015, the UK would become the NKofE if it left the EU, Leaving EU would make UK the N Korea of Europe, warns Gordon Brown.

    In today’s Grauniad, Rafael Behr opines (The EU knows it, so do our own MPs — Theresa May is finished ):

    European leaders have known for some time that the prime minister wasn’t up to the Brexit job. This week she’s proved it

    The EU has no time for Theresa May, which doesn’t mean there is no flexibility in the Brexit timetable. Continental leaders have granted an article 50 extension, but not the one requested by the prime minister. She had pitched for a new departure date of 30 June. She was given 39 days fewer, until 22 May. And that date only stands if parliament ratifies the deal.

    If May flunks another meaningful vote, the extension gets shorter — 12 April is the new cliff-edge that comes into view. That date marks the point at which Britain would have to start organising European parliament elections, should it want another even longer extension. A national change of heart on the whole Brexit business would still be welcome in Brussels but it is not expected, and the priority is to escort a troublesome ex-member off the premises with a minimum of disruption before those MEP ballots get under way.

    Does May like this plan? It doesn’t matter. She wasn’t in the room where it happened. The summit conclusions were handed down to the petitioning nation as it paced around an antechamber. This is the power relationship between a “third country” and the EU. Britain had better get used to it.

    The terms of the extension are not drafted for the prime minister’s benefit. They contain a message from the EU direct to the House of Commons. In crude terms: piss or get off the pot. If you want to leave with a deal, vote for the damned deal. If you are foolish enough to leave without a deal, do not blame us. Have a couple more weeks to think about it. But if you want something else, a referendum or a softer Brexit, work it out soon. And then send someone who isn’t Theresa May to talk to us about it.


    Broadly, the EU has provided Parliament with time for another chance for it to do its job and “take control” from the chancellor. Since Parliament itself is riven and deadlocked, it’s less-than-clear what that might accomplish, albeit one good sign is the current petition to revoke Article 50 now has over three million signatures (and is still climbing rapidly). The chancellor has indicated she isn’t paying any attention to that, but Parliament is obliged to do so (albeit not, insofaras I know, in a timely manner).

    The situation is changing by-the-hour; apparently there are now indications the chancellor is being(? has been?) bounced into allowing “indicative votes” to see what, if anything, Parliament might agree to, apparently including: chancellor’s deal, Article 50 revocation, second referendum (on what?), chancellor’s deal with customs union, several variants…, or no-deal.

  206. says

    NYT – “Prosecutor Who Led Case Against Michael Cohen to Step Down”:

    Robert S. Khuzami, the senior federal prosecutor in Manhattan who oversaw the criminal case against Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, will step down next month, according to people briefed on the matter.

    Mr. Khuzami’s departure, which is expected to be announced on Friday, comes even as his office’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s inner circle continues on multiple fronts. Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, will appoint his senior counsel, Audrey Strauss, to replace Mr. Khuzami as deputy United States attorney, the people briefed on the matter said.

    A public face of investigations that pose potential threats to Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Khuzami has told colleagues that his departure is for personal reasons and unrelated to any political pressure. The announcement comes as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is said to be close to wrapping up his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    With Mr. Khuzami’s departure, Ms. Strauss would assume oversight of any remaining aspects of the Cohen investigation that were subject to Mr. Berman’s recusal. Craig A. Stewart, a former Southern District prosecutor now at the law firm Arnold & Porter, will become Mr. Berman’s chief counsel….

  207. says

    Now I’m just a simple country lawyer, but usually you’re not wrapping things up when you’re sitting on a District Court and Circuit Court victory to obtain documents from a company wholly owned by a foreign state and just waiting for SCOTUS to deny cert.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Mueller believes the documents held by that company wholly owned by a foreign state are important to his investigation, hence going to the mat for them.

    I’d also reckon that Mueller ain’t closing up shop until he has reviewed them.”

  208. says

    “China’s Uyghur detention camps may be the largest mass incarceration since the Holocaust”:

    Over the last few years, a network of enormous detention camps has sprung up across China’s remote northern province of Xinjiang. According to the US State Department, the United Nations and other researchers and activists, they may hold at least a million Uighurs, a Muslim minority Beijing seems increasingly determined to strip of freedom and identity.

    It is almost certainly the largest mass incarceration of a racial or religious group since the Holocaust. And it is neither front-page news nor a major part of diplomatic or political dialogue.

    In many respects, that is testament to how ruthlessly effective China’s approach has been. The country has been remarkably successful at using its economic clout to minimise international criticism, while limiting outside and foreign access to Xinjiang and making it hard to tell what is truly going on. What experts and activists alike do agree, however, is that the situation for the Uyghurs is deteriorating quickly.

    Foreign powers – including Britain – have a host of challenges on which they feel they need China, leaving them understandably reluctant to raise thorny issues like the Uyghurs, Tibet or wider human rights abuses. There are some early signs that this is changing – but not nearly fast or far enough.

    What is happening to the Uyghurs could set an appalling precedent for the coming era. Already, Beijing’s cutting-edge technology and diplomatic clout – and complete lack of squeamishness about using it – means China’s Uyghurs are being pressured like no population before in human history. Within Xinjiang, networks of cameras with facial recognition software mean everyone is under continuous state surveillance.

    Any displays of behaviour dubbed “foreign” or Islamic – such as wearing a beard or publicly praying – can result in immediate imprisonment. Friends and relatives of Uyghur activists or journalists overseas, such as those for the US-funded Radio Free Asia, are often detained by the dozen. Foreign governments – including Muslim states such as Egypt, Malaysia and Pakistan – have been pushed into deporting Uyghur students back to China, where some are never seen again….

  209. KG says


    I don’t understand why you’re referring to May as “the chancellor”. The UK has a chancellor – in fact, more than one, but the best known is the Chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to “Finance Minister” or similar in most countries), currently Philip Hammond. If the reference is to Hitler, yes, he was Chancellor of Germany, but his distinctive and preferred title was Führer, which is just the German for “leader”. Would you enlighten me?

  210. blf says

    KG@303, see @248; a term borrowed from some Grauniad reader. Plus, as someone else pointed out (not here, I’ve lost the reference), her rant on Wednesday evening is reminiscent of you-know-who’s in Downfall; making it, yes, an oblique reference to some similarities: Arrogant, authoritarian, out-of-their-depth, never their fault, contemptuous of others, unfeeling and uncaring, ignorant, insists on their way to the exclusion of all other possibilities, dishonest, and so on…

    John Crace in the Grauniad is now referring to her as Lino (“leader in name only; also hard to nail down”), as well as Maybot (see Maybot has finally morphed into Lino: Leader in Name Only).

    Any confusion with the (position of) Chancellor of the Exchequer is unintentional. Führer is perhaps overdoing it, and risks Godwin… Dear Leader (or Great Leader), or perhaps Dear Lino, seems to work — the Dear Lino of the NKofE. Hum…

  211. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    So, at this point, could they hold a second referendum to force Nigel Farage (and followers) out of the European Union even as Britain stays in? I think that one might pass.

  212. blf says

    So, at this point, could they hold a second referendum to force Nigel Farage (and followers) out of the European Union even as Britain stays in? I think that one might pass.

    You wouldn’t need one. They claim to be so opposed to the EU they’d “force” themselves out… problem is, who’d be daft enough to let them in? Sadly, lions in the arena is no longer an option…

  213. blf says

    Everyone is piling it deeply on the NKofE’s dear lino, For Theresa May, ‘I’m a tin-eared lunatic’ seems to be the hardest word:

    Arriving at the EU summit this week, Theresa May had that purposeful air of a school superintendent walking up the drive to the Addams family mansion, determined that Wednesday and Pugsley should be enrolled in a conventional educational establishment without delay. Some long hours later, May staggered back down the drive much as that school superintendent might, short of having no shoes and an actual bat in her electrocuted hair.

    And so to the latest scenes in the Brexit farce. The formula for successful farce-writing, as laid down in the 19th century, is to get your character up a tree in the first act, throw stones at them in the second, then get them down in the third. As far as Brexit goes, the UK went up the tree voluntarily, and has now been throwing human waste at itself for two and a half years. Does anyone want to come and get us down? Sorry, it’s quite … disgusting up here now.


    Seven days from Britain crashing out without a deal, the EU used the summit to take back control. We have been given a fortnight’s extra grace to get our shit together — which was almost the formal wording on the communique. The anonymous briefing from the EU side was marginally less forgiving than napalm warfare. “It was 90 minutes of nothing,” one EU source said of May’s performance. “She didn’t even give clarity if she is organising a vote. Asked three times what she would do if she lost the vote, she couldn’t say. It was fucking awful. Dreadful. Evasive even by her standards.”

    But enough of the more positive comments. The negative ones are summarised by the briefing’s observation on May: “Instead of three days until 29 March to deal with her resignation, we have 15 days to prepare.” Oof. This is the equivalent of lying on your deathbed and hearing your relatives discuss how many finger sandwiches are honestly going to be needed for the wake. Let’s not over-cater, you know?


    According to ERG [“ultra” headbangers –blf] vice-chair Steve Baker, meanwhile, The wrong Conservatives have the levers of power. The wrong Conservatives … mmmmm. Go on, Steve. National humiliation is imminent through these ‘indicative votes’. Imminent?! […] Have you ever seen anything as preposterously, forlornly belated as that “imminent”?

    I’m afraid it would understate matters to compare this to Rose shivering on the door at the end of Titanic, and observing mildly that an iceberg might be “imminent”. No, on balance, this makes Steve the most disastrous baker since the one who set fire to London in 1666, who I suppose we now have to picture wandering through the smouldering remains of the capital and judging that the time to switch his oven off is “imminent”. Whichever way it pans out, next week’s political weather forecast promises some sort of conflagration. Do, please, adjust your “national humiliation” preparations accordingly.

    It possibly telling to note the “ultras” are opposed to any indicative votes. Just like dear lino. We can’t possibly try to measure what Parliament thinks is the way to proceed because they just might appprove something other than my answer…

  214. KG says


    So are the BBC. THey had Farage on Radio $’s Today yet again today. I’m afraid I can’t tell you what he said – a putrid stream of xenophobia and lies just after getting up is intolerable.

  215. tomh says

    @ #315
    Yes, the Supreme Court will release orders from the March 22 conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m.

  216. says

    WikiLeaks tweeted: “A build up of plain clothes ear-piece wearing operatives around the Ecuador embassy in London in the last two days has been sighted by Julian Assange’s lawyers. There are normally 2-4 plainclothes British operatives present. The reason for the increase is not publicly known.”

    They’re also tweeting out codes again. Marcy Wheeler:

    “Been a while since Assange has done this. Arguably this might break the new rules of staying in the Embassy.

    From time to time — before he started posting the Manning stuff, summer of 2016, a few other notable times — Assange posts insurance files. So if anything happens to him, whatever is in them will be accessible to impose a cost.”

  217. says

    blf @310, that’s an excellent summary of the situation. BTW, I am all for a referendum to force Farage and his ilk out of the EU, while leaving other, more reasonable persons in the UK as-is. However, I am afraid that Trump would welcome Farage to the USA.

  218. says

    George Monbiot – “How the media let malicious idiots take over”:

    If our politics is becoming less rational, crueller and more divisive, this rule of public life is partly to blame: the more disgracefully you behave, the bigger the platform the media will give you. If you are caught lying, cheating, boasting or behaving like an idiot, you’ll be flooded with invitations to appear on current affairs programmes. If you play straight, don’t expect the phone to ring.

    In an age of 24-hour news, declining ratings and intense competition, the commodity in greatest demand is noise. Never mind the content, never mind the facts: all that now counts is impact. A loudmouthed buffoon, already the object of public outrage, is a far more bankable asset than someone who knows what they’re talking about. So the biggest platforms are populated by blusterers and braggarts. The media is the mirror in which we see ourselves. With every glance, our self-image subtly changes.

    On both sides of the Atlantic, the unscrupulous, duplicitous and preposterous are brought to the fore, as programme-makers seek to generate noise. Malicious clowns are invited to discuss issues of the utmost complexity. Ludicrous twerps are sought out and lionised. The BBC used its current affairs programmes to turn Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg into reality TV stars, and now they have the nation in their hands.

    My hope is that eventually the tide will turn. People will become so sick of the charlatans and exhibitionists who crowd the airwaves that the BBC and other media will be forced to reconsider. But while we wait for a resurgence of sense in public life, the buffoons who have become the voices of the nation drive us towards a no-deal Brexit and a host of other disasters.

    Dismal examples at the link.

  219. says

    Followup to comment 216.

    Just a note on Trump’s weird claim that because Mueller was not elected, he should not allowed to investigate Trump. That’s a “sovereign citizen” trope.

    So-called “Sovereign Citizens” recognize Sheriffs as legitimate law enforcement officers because they are elected. No so, cops, Bureau of Land Management personnel, etc. have any law enforcement power over U.S. citizens. Ditto for federal courts. (Think about the Bundy family, for example; and also about many white supremacists, state’s rights fanatics, neo confederates, etc.)

    Excerpt from Wikipedia:

    Bundy has said that he does not recognize federal police power over land that he believes belongs to the “sovereign state of Nevada”. He also denies the jurisdiction of the federal court system over Nevada land and he filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the BLM case against him, saying that the federal courts have no jurisdiction because he is a “citizen of Nevada, not the territory of Nevada”. […] “We definitely don’t recognize [the BLM director’s] jurisdiction or authority, his arresting power or policing power in any way,” and in interviews he used the language of the sovereign citizen movement, thereby gaining the support of members of the Oath Keepers, the White Mountain Militia and the Praetorian Guard militias.The FBI considers sovereign citizen extremism a domestic terrorism threat.

    Just wanted to point out that Trump was dog-whistling to a very fringe group of U.S. voters.

  220. says

    My comment 320 should have also referred to a_ray’s comment 309.

    In other news, another bewildering move from Trump concerning North Korea:

    President Trump undercut his own Treasury Department on Friday by announcing that he was rolling back North Korea sanctions that it imposed just a day ago.

    The move, announced on Twitter, was a remarkable display of dissension within the Trump administration and represented a striking case of a White House intervening to reverse a major national security decision made only hours earlier by the president’s own officials.

    “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

    Mr. Trump appeared to confuse the day that the sanctions were announced, saying the move occurred on Friday rather than on Thursday.

    The Treasury Department on Thursday imposed new sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies that it says have been helping North Korea evade international sanctions. The sanctions linked to North Korea were the first that the Treasury Department had imposed since late last year and came less than a month after a summit meeting between Mr. Trump and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, collapsed in Hanoi, Vietnam, without a deal.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the decision was a favor to Mr. Kim.

    “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” she said. […]

    NY Times link

    Trump’s tweet:

    It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!

  221. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 324:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report on his Russia investigation to Attorney General Bill Barr, according to reports by CNN, NBC and the Los Angeles Times.

    The report was submitted Friday to Barr, who is reviewing it, according to the AP.

    The submission signals the winding down of a sprawling investigation that has resulted in more than three dozen people charged and at least five guilty pleas since Mueller was appointed in May 2017. The Russia investigation has also been subject of President Trump’s public and private ire, and a source of anxiety for the White House in the more than two years of its existence. […]

  222. says

    Followup to comments 177, 259 (SC), and 283 (SC).

    Trump’s pronouncement about the Golan Heights met with international condemnation.

    International condemnation flowed in on Friday in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

    Germany, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and Syria all criticized the move, saying it would only serve to further destabilize the region. The European Union and Arab League also reaffirmed that Trump’s announcement will not change how they view the Golan Heights.

    “The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory,” an EU spokeswoman told reporters Friday. […]

    Arab League head Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the move didn’t have legitimacy, and that “no country, no matter how important it is, can make such a decision.” […]

    The only congratulations for the move came from embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted, “Tonight on the phone call with my friend, President Trump. President Trump made history and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. We don’t have a better friend than him!” […]


  223. says

    Team Trump plans to screw retirees. “Lump-sum looting is coming back.”

    The Trump administration has quietly rolled out a technical change to current Treasury Department policies that will allow corporations the leeway to alter their existing pension arrangements. The move, announced in early March, puts the private sector retirement benefits that millions of Americans have earned at risk.

    The change allows businesses to offer retirees and their families a one-time payout to replace the monthly or yearly pension checks they currently receive.

    Such lump-sum buyouts can be tempting for older beneficiaries, who generally underestimate their life expectancy. As such, these one-time payouts often fall far short of what they might otherwise be due under their existing pensions.

    “It’s not that people are greedy, it’s that they’re afraid,” Economic Policy Institute (EPI) retirement expert Monique Morrissey told ThinkProgress. “And they have no way of evaluating this. They believe they’re being protected and they’re not.”

    Though the large numbers involved in a lump-sum offer can look generous on paper, recipients often suffer from a lack of context and comparison when evaluating their choices. Researchers have found that such buyouts almost always cheat retirees, costing them a significant amount of money when they are compared to the proceeds to which they would have been entitled under their original pension or even a privatized annuity system. The difference is big enough that when the Obama administration had the opportunity to act, the Treasury Department issued rules which effectively banned firms from offering such buyouts.

    […] Though almost no new workers are offered traditional defined-benefit pensions today, the old system’s legacy is substantial. More than 20 million Americans currently rely on pensions from their current or former employers.

    […] companies are under increasing pressure to offload the future costs and risks of pension promises. Restoring the lump sum option makes it easier for them to do so. […]

    Think Progress link

    Deregulation as a way to screw low income and middle income Americans.

    More context:

    […] Of course, a generation of corporate leaders didn’t just wake up one day and decide to stop honoring their obligations. Rather, it is the end result of diligent ideological campaigning, supported since the 1970s by a free-market think tanks and right-wing media outlets underwritten by the hyper-rich. […]

    Ironically enough, companies don’t even make productive use of the capital they free up by ditching retirees in this fashion. Instead, this boodle is bundled off to the very investors who brought this pressure in the first place, effectively enshrining a competitive stock share value as a corporation’s pre-eminent product. A fissure, between workers and the nominal productive goals of the firms for which they toil, naturally emerges. […]

  224. says

    Followup to comment 323.

    […] Even the administration’s allies were baffled by the reversal. Mark Dubowitz, an influential critic of the Iran nuclear deal who is chief executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, tweeted, “I’ve been working on sanctions policy for 15+ years. Don’t recall ever seeing a president overrule a Treasury announcement AFTER it was announced.” […]


  225. says

    Pompeo acts as top bible thumper:

    […] During an interview with Pompeo broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Middle East bureau chief Chris Mitchell noted that Wednesday and Thursday marked the celebration of Purim, which is derived from the story of Queen Esther, who in the Hebrew Bible was married to a Persian king and saved thousands of Jews from being killed.

    Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” Mitchell asked Pompeo.

    “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo, who was visiting Israel, replied.

    “It was remarkable — so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago — if I have the history just right — to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains,” he said.

    “I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” Pompeo concluded.

    The comments comes after Trump announced the U.S. will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights region. […]


  226. says

    Update to #319:

    Some speculation around this evening about a police operation involving Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. London’s Met police say they were in the area of the Ecuadorian embassy earlier this evening but it was in relation to “reports of an attempted burglary and a suspect at large”….

  227. says

    From Schumer and Pelosi:

    Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.

    Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.

    The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.


  228. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] We don’t know what the thing means yet, but we know that he gave the thing to Attorney General Bill Barr, who is presumably looking at the thing right now. Donald Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, so he does not have the thing […] we might have some real information on what is inside the thing sometime this weekend. […]

    The important piece here:

    In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I [William Barr] provide you with “a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General” or acting Attorney General “concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation.

    In other words, Meatball [Matthew Whitaker] didn’t even try to fuck Mueller up, and neither did Barr.

    This means that Mueller’s thing is officially over, but it does not necessarily mean the end of indictments or investigations or anything like that. […] It just means he is done doing the thing he was assigned to do and now he will go do a different thing. In many ways, we are simply moving on to the next phase of the investigation.


    Now give us the thing. And arrest some more people, now that Trump won’t even know who to attack for COLLUSION WITCH HOAX on Twitter. […]

  229. says

    ‘If you took it all in in one day, it would kill you’: What Mueller’s investigation has already revealed

    He pulled back the curtain on a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation — identifying by name the 12 Russian military officers who he said sought to sway a U.S. election.

    He exposed a Russian online influence campaign — bringing criminal charges against the 13 members of a Russian troll farm now accused of trying to manipulate U.S. voters and sow division through fake social media personae.

    And he revealed how those closest to President Trump defrauded banks, cheated on their taxes and, time and time again, lied to deflect inquiries into their ties with Russia.

    After 22 months of meticulous investigation, charges against 34 people — including six former Trump aides or confidants […]

    Barr said he plans to consult with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to determine “what other information from the report” could be made public.

    But through legal documents and court hearings, Mueller has already revealed rich details about the Russian attack on the U.S. democracy in 2016 — and his investigation has triggered unpredictable ripple effects.

    The special counsel indirectly helped expose hush money that Trump’s lawyer paid an adult-film actress, shed new light on secret foreign-backed lobbying efforts and helped force a reckoning at major technology companies over how social media can be used to divide and inflame.

    Mueller’s investigation also severed the bonds between Trump and some of his most loyal confidants, brought down a national security adviser and spawned spinoff criminal probes that appear likely to live on even after the special counsel’s office disbands.

    “He’s almost like a venture capital incubator who has spun out multiple lines of business,” said David Kris, a former Justice Department national security division chief and founder of the consulting firm Culper Partners. “He’s shown us an awful lot, and yet I think there’s an awful lot more to come.” […]

  230. says

    Schools in Virginia remain closed after racist threats of violence were posted online.

    […] The boy [a 17-year-old boy], who has not been publicly identified, was charged with threatening to cause bodily harm on a school property, a felony, and harassment by computer, a misdemeanor, police said in a statement.

    City leaders have worked to ease racial tensions in the city since a white nationalist rally in August 2017 descended into violence, with a white nationalist killing a counter-protester and injuring others after he drove into a crowd.

    The threat against Charlottesville High School was reported to the police on Wednesday afternoon, according to the police department.

    School officials then quickly decided to close all schools in the city. […] African Americans make up around 19 percent of Charlottesville’s population of nearly 50,000 people.

    “We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged,” Charlottesville City Schools said in a letter sent to parents and posted on its website on Thursday evening notifying them of Friday’s closures. “The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color.”

    The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that a person claiming to be a student at Charlottesville High School, one of the region’s largest schools, warned white students to stay at home so they could shoot dead non-white students in an act of “ethnic cleansing.” […]

    Reuters link

  231. says

    From Adam Schiff:

    There may be conduct that was criminal but not sufficiently provable or there may be a broader body of conduct that is deeply compromising to national security but not a criminal matter.

    If there’s evidence of a compromise, whether it arises to criminal conduct or not, it needs to be exposed.

    If necessary, we will call Bob Mueller or others before our committee. I would imagine that the Judiciary Committee may call the attorney general before its committee if necessary.

  232. says

    About reaction from Rudy Giuliani:

    […] Trump’s lawyers want an early look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings before they are made public.

    That’s according to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney. He says Trump’s legal team hasn’t received any assurances that they’ll get the early look they want, though. […]

    From the readers comments:

    Is DOJ giving the White House a pictures-only version of the report, so Spanky can understand it?
    Naw, SHS and KAC will deliver it in interpretive dance mode once Kayne lays down some beats.

  233. says

    Economists are not pleased with Trump’s “Terrible, Horrible” Federal Reserve board nominee, Stephen Moore.

    As news trickled out of President Trump intention to nominate “Trumponomics” author, Heritage Foundation fellow and CNN contributor Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board, economists and economic journalists alike responded with bewilderment.

    According to Bloomberg News, Moore’s nomination ham-handedly fell into place in true Trump fashion. Last week, White House Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow showed Trump one of Moore’s latest op-eds in the Wall Street Journal in which Moore blamed the Federal Reserve for slowing the U.S. economy and cheered Trump’s economic policies.

    A week later, to the shock of economists across Twitter, here we are.

    Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan economic professor and fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, let Judith Viorst express his disdain for him: “It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pick.”

    In a Twitter thread Wolfers pointed to several instances in which Moore has made botched assessments of the economy, including recently when he warned the U.S. economy was “in the midst of deflation (We’re not.)” he said. […]

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who is a columnist at the New York Times, called Moore a “hack,” as did many others, and tweeted out an article by the Columbia Journalism Review about how Moore has been wrong on so many occasions that some publications now refuse to publish his work.

    Amazing. Moore isn’t just a hack, with terrible judgment. He’s a hack who has repeatedly shown himself unable even to get basic facts right. The Columbia Journalism Review reported on this, and why some papers won’t print him anymore. So put him in charge of the economy instead?

    Bruce Bartlett, who served as a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and in the Treasury Department under President George H. W. Bush, took a similar tone, claiming Moore knows “absolutely nothing” about the board that he’s been nominated to nor “monetary policy.” […]

    From Jonathan Chait:

    I’ve been following Trump’s new Fed nominee for more than twenty years. He is not a smart person.

    From Mark Dow, a global macro trader who previously worked for the U.S. Treasury Department:

    Getting asked a lot about Stephen Moore. Here’s the TL;DR:

    Think Larry Kudlow, then subtract honesty, common sense and intellectual horsepower.

    All the best people.

  234. tomh says

    @ #341
    Board members are subject to Senate confirmation. We’ll see if the GOP Senate rubber stamps this appointment like they do Trump’s judges.

  235. blf says

    Brexit is solved, Uri Geller promises to stop Brexit using telepathy: “Illusionist [sic] has told Theresa May he will not allow her to lead Britain out of the EU”. His plan is probably to claim to have bent all the spoons in the NKofE, which will so distract everyone they’ll forget all about brexit, so dear lino can simply claim she did what they “all” wanted her to do. Since no-one can recall brexit, they must have wanted their spoons bent. All’s well then, down to the pub…

    The article also says he will keep Corbyn out of Number 10 by bending the keys. Seriously! Geesh…

    (Sadly, comments are not open on this article. I suspect Grauniad readers would have a blast with this one!)

  236. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    blf, In fairness, Geller’s approach is every bit as reasonable as that of most of the Leavers.

  237. blf says

    Geller’s approach is every bit as reasonable as that of most of the Leavers

    (snickers)… I still think one of the most ridiculous ideas from that group was the suggestion for Ireland to rejoin the UK. Yeah, sure, that’s gonna happen…

    Related, but with fewer Unicorns, less Leprechauns, and no known bent spoons: The petition to revoke Article 50 now has over 4.25m signatures, making it the most-signed ever (Grauniad live blog).

  238. says

    “People’s Vote march doesn’t represent the majority, Farage tells 200 people”:

    Today’s mass People’s Vote march doesn’t represent the majority of British people, Nigel Farage has told a rally of 200 people in a pub car park.

    The former Ukip leader joined the March to Leave in Linby, Nottinghamshire, telling the tiny crowd of supporters in the car park of the Horse and Groom pub that Theresa May had reduced the nation “to a state of humiliation”.

    The march started in Sunderland a week ago and organisers hope to arrive in London on the original Brexit day of March 29. It has been marked by small numbers, with Farage himself only lasting around an hour and a half before going to the pub.

    Speaking from the top of an open-top bus, Farage said those gathering for the People’s Vote march in London were not the majority, before leading the crowds through the village.

    Farage said he believed that, if there was another referendum, Leave would win by an even bigger margin.

    And asked about the March to Leave supporters being considerably outnumbered today by the People’s Vote March in London, he pointed to the 200 plus cheering marchers gathered in a pub car park and said: “There are 17.4 million here, can’t you see them?”…

  239. says

    NEW: We’ll wait at least one more day to find out what special counsel Robert Mueller concluded. A Justice Department official says its findings won’t go to Congress today.”

  240. says

    southpaw: “Earlier today we heard it might come in the late afternoon. I don’t imagine that a short delay will make much difference in the long run, but the longer Barr holds back the conclusions the more apparent it becomes that a Trump appointee is curating them.”

  241. says

    SC @349, Oh FFS!

    As far as the reactions to the Mueller report go, I don’t think it really matters much to Republicans what is in the report. No matter what, Republicans are going to proceed along the same lines that House Republican Whip Steve Scalise outlined when he said this:

    Like most Americans, I am glad to see that this investigation, which has taken nearly two years and cost tens of millions of dollars, has finally come to a close.

    The reports that there will be no new indictments confirm what we’ve known all along: there was never any collusion with Russia. The only collusion was between Democrats and many in the media who peddled this lie because they continue to refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election. I am glad Attorney General Barr will now be able to review the report, and I look forward to Congress being fully briefed on its findings, including the cost to taxpayers.

    From Representative Matt Gaetz:

    675 days, millions spent, a team of people biased against the President, and NO COLLUSION FOUND. Now, we have to have a review of how we got here: how we allow political opposition research to fuel an investigation that was never founded in fact or reality.

    So, now the Republicans will start investigating the FBI.

    And, as SC pointed out with a link to Lindsey Graham’s comments at Mar-a-Lago, they will restart investigations into Hillary Clinton.

    And, Republicans are still falsely claiming that the Steele dossier, “political opposition research,” started the investigation. That’s not true.

    From Representative Mark Meadows:

    The Mueller report delivery suggests no more indictments are coming from the Special Counsel. If that’s true, it would mean we just completed 2 years of investigating ‘Russian collusion’ without ONE collusion related indictment. Not even one.

    Why? Because there was no collusion

    So, to Republicans it doesn’t really matter what William Barr sends to Congress, and it doesn’t really matter what the Mueller report says, or does not say. They have their talking points and their strategy ready to go. Facts be damned.

    None of the Republican responses that I looked at mentioned the ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York, in Virginia, and in DC. None of them mentioned the indictments and jail terms that have resulted from the Mueller investigation.

    Gaetz’s pronouncement that the investigation “was never founded in fact or reality” is particularly galling.

  242. says

    In addition to renewed “lock her up” chants at Mar-a-Lago, images of President Lincoln wearing a MAGA hat were featured.

    Last night the logo for the GOP fundraiser Trump and Lindsey Graham hosted at Mar-a-Lago was Abraham Lincoln wearing a MAGA hat that said “keep America great.” These people are sick and twisted. Absolutely disgusting.

  243. says

    Followup to comment 360.

    Republican elected officials, (who have not read Mueller’s report), are joined by Fox News hosts, (who have not read Mueller’s report), in declaring total victory for Trump.

    “Well, happy No Collusion Day, Tucker!” Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told Tucker Carlson with a big grin on his face.

    “Happy No Collusion Day!” Carlson laughed.

    […] “The left’s favorite conspiracy theory is now dead,” said Sean Hannity at the top of his show, looking like the picture of sanctimony. “It is buried. And there was no collusion. No conspiracy. No obstruction. Nothing. The witch hunt is over.”

    […] Fox News’ personalities think they’ve been vindicated—but there’s no way they’re going to stop screaming “witch hunt!” Since they won’t need to use it against Mueller anymore, they’ll find a way to use it against Democrats. […]

    First, the network used the reports of no new indictments to characterize the entire Mueller investigation as exculpatory to the president. “I have spent 12 hours testifying in front of the House [Intelligence] Committee, and [Reps. Adam] Schiff and Eric Swalwell, who repeatedly said they are 100 percent certain that there was Russia collusion,” said former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. “They said it many times. Now we know that there was no collusion.”

    […] Even if the final Mueller report proves more nuanced than Fox’s initial interpretation—even if it proves outright damaging—the network knows its role is to declare total victory for Donald Trump. […]

    What about all the Trumpworld figures who have been indicted, sentenced, and convicted of charges brought by Mueller’s investigators? Easy: Fox’s talking heads dismissed these offenses as mere “process crimes.” […] Friday evening, Sean Hannity triumphantly slapped “PROCESS CRIMES” over an image of Mueller.

    […] “If it were true that [Trump] was an agent of Russia, you wouldn’t just be seeing one indictment. You’d be seeing dozens, if not hundreds of indictments,” contributor Mollie Hemingway told Tucker Carlson at the outset of his show.

    […] “Mueller should not be in charge of any investigation as it relates to Russia or Russian collusion or election interference, because he has yet another massive conflict of interest,” Hannity said all the way back in October 2017, one example of thousands.

    […] If you’re going to trust the Mueller report’s conclusions, you also have to accept the credibility of its chief author, the hated Robert Mueller. “The president and his allies have been out there attacking Robert Mueller,” National Correspondent Ed Henry told Tucker Carlson Friday. “But if Robert Mueller’s report now essentially clears the president—again, if, if, if— they’re gonna all of the sudden say, hey, we actually like Bob Mueller, we like this report, he followed the facts.”

    Already on Friday night, the network had begun to pivot toward depicting Mueller as a rock-ribbed paragon of prosecutorial virtue. […] Later on the same show, former Trump campaign staffer and Mueller interviewee Michael Caputo said that Mueller’s team was “the most remarkable group of investigators that we could have assembled.” On Carlson’s show, Ed Henry noted that congressional Democrats may have “missed a key point, which is follow the facts. And maybe to his credit—we need to see the details of the report—maybe Robert Mueller actually followed the facts.” All of this from a network that has spent 22 months criticizing the Mueller investigation as a partisan hackjob.


  244. F.O. says

    @Lynna, OM #363
    Fox News seem very confident of the content of the report. Did they get a preview?

  245. blf says

    The gilets jaunes here in France, a “movement” started for dubious reasons (truck drivers and others affected by fuel-tax increase, but rather fraudulently presenting itself as a more generalised protest) was rather quickly hijacked by extremists on both sides. Locally, they’ve just been a minor nuisance, but are causing problems in Paris (at least).

    Here’s a touching story about some of the damage the hijacking hooligans are doing, and the writer’s response, When protesters burned news kiosks in Paris, I had to take a stand…:

    The militant wing of the French protests picked on a beloved institution. So I set up a crowdfunder to help

    In 47 years of journalism, few things have shocked me as deeply as the sight of burning newspaper kiosks on the Champs-Élysées.

    Journalists are supposed to be neutral observers — impassioned but dispassionate. Forget all that. This was personal. This was an attack on the print newspapers that had been my life’s blood […]. This was an attack on something endearingly Parisian, something as instantly recognisable as the Eiffel Tower or the burned-rubber smell of the Métro.


    I had been tweeting from the Champs-Élysées last Saturday when five of the seven kiosks on the avenue were torched by the so-called “black bloc” ultra-leftists and a militant fringe of the gilets jaunes provincial rebels.

    The destruction was largely the work of the black bloc urban guerrillas — slender, self-satisfied young men from well-off families, not suffering protesters from a forgotten or peripheral France. These self-appointed representatives of “the people” attacked the livelihoods of men and women who scarcely earn the French minimum wage.


    What could be done for the burned-out kiosquiers? I set up a cagnotte (“kitty”) — the crowdfunding appeal — to help not only the Champs-Élysées kiosquiers but also the operators of nine other kiosks burned in Paris, and 13 others severely vandalised.

    I put in the first €100 at 9am on Monday. Money started to flow in — €1,000 in the first two hours. Contributions, ranging from €1 to €200, came from Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. Many were from journalists, but by no means all. The Paris street kiosks, stocked with postcards and souvenirs, umbrellas and soft drinks, as well as newspapers, are clearly a much-loved part of the streetscape. Some contributors left messages. David wrote: “Good luck! You deserve support – even from Scotland.” Sharon wrote: “Best wishes from Canada.” […]

    By Friday, the fund stood at €5,291 (£4,500). The Paris Syndicat de Kiosquiers (kiosk operators’ union) has asked me to keep it open until this Wednesday. Several other cagnottes have been created. Funds have also been donated directly by French press groups.

    Hocine Drif, president of the union, has promised to distribute the money next week between all kiosquiers who were attacked. […]

    I will leave the last word to Éric Fottorino, a former editor of Le Monde: “The printed press is a creature of the street,” he said. “Each kiosquier defends a little corner of democracy.”

    The fund is currently 7,758€ (c.8,700$); see the embedded link.

  246. says

    F.O. @364, good question. I doubt that they received a preview. Congress doesn’t yet have the report, so Congressional Republicans could not have leaked it to Fox News. Mueller’s team, famously, does not leak. My bet is that Fox News hosts are basing their irrational exuberance on a combination of wishful thinking, willful ignorance, and one thin reed of a fact (no more indictments coming from Mueller himself).

    Nancy Pelosi is working hard to encourage transparency:

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday she will demand open briefings from the administration on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, rejecting any attempt by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to limit the disclosures to a classified setting.

    During a Saturday afternoon conference call with roughly 120 members of the Democratic Caucus, Pelosi amplified earlier vows that Democrats will insist Mueller’s full report be released to the public. […]

    Democrats are also pushing to make public any underlying documents that could guide the Democrats’ ongoing investigations and potential legislative response. And Pelosi said she’ll also demand that the DOJ’s promised briefings be unclassified so lawmakers can speak publicly about the full scope of those discussions.

    “The takeaway from this call is that the American [people] deserve the truth,” she said, according to a person on the call. “Transparency is the order of the day.”

    The demand sets the stage for what are likely to be tense negotiations with the administration officials over how much of Mueller’s highly anticipated report about the Russia probe will be disclosed — and to whom. […]


    The devil is going to be in the details.

  247. says

    Say, what now?

    Forced Birth Enthusiasts Claim Vaccines Are Immunizing Us All To Their Prayers

    I don’t quite know how to tell you this, but a group of anti-abortion lunatics are currently urging people to stop immunizing their children on account of the fact that they believe that because some vaccines were made using cell lines from two aborted fetuses back in the 1960s, said vaccines are not only immunizing the world against disease, but against their prayers as well. They claim that were it not for these vaccines unfairly intervening with their plans, they would have overturned Roe v. Wade by now.

    The group calls themselves Intercessors for America, and their whole deal is basically that they think prayers are literal magic and that if they pray super hard for leaders to do what they want, all of their wishes will come true. They send out a newsletter filled with extremely specific prayers for various politicians based on what they are doing that day and also have an “interactive prayer wall” on their site, which is actually just a Facebook comment section of some kind where a bunch of people are posting their prayers. […]

    Well, that’s just basic science right there. It’s clear that the only way to truly protect the sanctity of life in this country is for people to make their children more susceptible to diseases that could kill them and to then spread those diseases to other unvaccinated children or to immunocompromised children that cannot take vaccines and thus rely on herd immunity to not die. […]

  248. says

    Trump’s legal troubles are far from over even as Mueller probe ends

    […] Nearly every organization Trump has run over the last decade remains under investigation by state or federal authorities, and he is mired in a variety of civil litigation, with the center of gravity shifting from Mueller’s offices in southwest Washington to Capitol Hill and state and federal courtrooms in New York, the president’s hometown and the headquarters of his company. […]

    Details at the link.

  249. says

    Evidence that either Trump, or the people marketing space in Trump Tower, or both, are capable of shame. They are ashamed of the name “Trump.”

    Could we interest you in a nice pre-built suite at 725 5th Avenue? It has a Starbucks on the Mezzanine level, floor to ceiling windows, and excellent light. The largest suites even come with a nice view of Central Park. However, as David Farenthold at the Washington Post points out, what’s missing from the description of this fabulous residential space is … the name of the building.

    The Trump Organization has put together a sales brochure pushing space at this phenomenal location, which just also happens to be Trump Tower, the central gem in Trump’s real estate crown. But nowhere in the brochure does one encounter the word “Trump.” It’s not there in the picture of the outside of the building. It’s not there in the name of the company offering the units. It’s not there in describing any of the location’s amenities.

    The pictures for the brochure have even been carefully cropped so that familiar lower floors of the outside of the tower can’t be seen. And there are no shots of the comically gaudy lobby and its banks of golden elevators. It’s all very clean, very “new” and very much not at all Trumpy. It seems very much like a brochure designed to lure potential condo purchasers to take a look, without ever revealing them that it’s Trump Tower. Because that’s exactly what it is.

    Shame about Donald Trump is something shared by about two-thirds of Americans. But it does seem odd to find that Donald Trump is part of that faction.


  250. says

    “Put it to the People march: a formidable sea of humanity and powerful strength of feeling”:

    There are still a few things in public life that you cannot fake. You can fake photographs and you can fake news. You can fake conviction and you can fake emotions. You can fake a Twitter-petition and you can fake Facebook outrage. But you cannot fake an almighty crowd.

    The numbers attending Saturday’s march for a second “people’s vote” on Brexit will no doubt be contested. The organisers claimed more than a million people were out; detractors inevitably argued a few thousand fewer. But make no mistake, for anyone who travelled to it, and shuffled along among it and who tried to find their way home after it, the Put it to the People march represented a formidable sea of humanity, and a powerful strength of feeling.

    And let no one tell you that this was just a London crowd. By 10.30 at Speaker’s Corner there were people arriving for the high noon rendezvous from all corners of the country and beyond. Groups draped in the saltires of Scotland and the dragons of Wales. Anna Soubry MP was among the earliest arrivals, walking cheerfully down Park Lane through the gathering crowds with her daughter (“my security for the day”) having been forced to stay away from her home last night after death threats.

    As the thousands upon thousands flowed down towards Parliament Square there was…a spirit that the Brexiters have failed over the past three years ever to begin to convey: that of creative optimism….

    There was a very droll Britishness in the spirit that tempered any edges of anger from the many younger voices on the march. There were lots more students’ union buses than on previous marches, and among them plenty who had lost their faith in the Labour leadership to solve the crisis and deliver on its conference commitment to campaign for a second referendum.

    That brief marchers’ favourite “Oooh Jeremy Corbyn” had been replaced for several sections of this crowd by a more plaintive “Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” The answer, perversely, was that the Labour leader was canvassing in Morecambe Bay – about as far from this event as it was symbolically possible to go.

    Only one of Labour’s frontbench felt able to lend his voice to this event. Tom Watson, breaking ranks, was given something of a hero’s welcome on the speakers’ stage alongside some of those others who have emerged from the sorry parliamentary process with heads held high: Soubry, Jess Phillips, Dominic Grieve, David Lammy, Caroline Lucas; and some of those from beyond the Commons who have best articulated the cause of returning to the people to find a way through the current impasse: Michael Heseltine and Nicola Sturgeon.

    Their collective message served as a reminder that when the prime minister stands up again this week and claims to speak for “the people” with her unloved deal and her fingernails-down-the-blackboard phrases about delivering Brexit, she will not speak for the million individuals who filled the wide streets and squares of the capital yesterday, or for the millions more across the country who were with them in spirit.

    Those who did this on Saturday will no doubt be told in the coming days, as Britain determines the kind of country it will become, that they were wasting their time and effort. But this march mattered in the simple and fundamental way that mass marches always matter: as a reminder to those who make decisions in their name that democracy is not a settled state, but a shifting expression of collective will. As one little girl’s sign had it: “The people are STILL speaking”.

  251. says

    David Kris:

    Regarding Mueller, there are of course a lot of possibilities, but here are a few predictions to occupy the mind while we wait.

    First, we are told no more indictments are coming (beyond the many already filed), but I bet the Mueller report will still include significant new derogatory information on the Trump inner circle and probably on POTUS himself.

    My bet is that, despite this new derogatory information, Mueller declined to bring new indictments mainly for “prudential reasons.”

    Meaning, for example, that some key evidence cant be used because it’s classified (despite CIPA); or there are problems with witnesses or document provenance; or the evidence shows that guilt is very likely, but it isn’t quite proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.

    If/when all or most of the facts come out, which is very likely, Trump critics will say Mueller was too cautious (I would not be surprised if some *within* SCO held that view), but in any event they will argue that the report makes out a clear case to impeach.

    Trump defenders, I predict, will go with “no-indictment-no-collusion” and/or discover a newfound appreciation for DOJ traditions and the vital democracy-protecting prudential standards in the Justice Manual.

    In the end, however, while it may not be as sexy as Russia, I predict that SDNY (or NYAG) will get him fair and square for campaign finance or other crimes.

  252. says

    CNN – “Investigations will continue despite submission of the Mueller report”:

    As Robert Mueller exits stage left, the Justice Department will continue to pursue a handful of investigations—and potentially more prosecutions — that began with or were bolstered by the special counsel’s work. And a significant group of them still focus around President Donald Trump.

    The still-live investigations range from an expansive probe into the Trump inaugural committee, to various investigations relating to former top Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, to tips that stemmed from Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen’s experience with Trump and his family’s company. It’s possible other investigations are being conducted quietly, as well.

    In all, Mueller leaves behind a mess [strange word choice – SC] of prosecutors in federal and state government still collecting documents, interviewing witnesses and prosecuting cases that may keep Trump’s family and associates on edge for months.

    Much of the apparent action so far has been out of the powerful, insular US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. The Southern District of New York office is already looking into donations and expenditures of the Trump inaugural, into the Trump Organization, into allegations from Cohen related to campaign finance and a possible suggested pardon. They’re also investigating well-known US lobbyists who worked for Ukraine.

    Prosecutors from state and local offices and other federal prosecutor offices are also getting involved in the sprawling set of cases….

  253. says

    “Recording Reveals Oil Industry Execs Laughing at Trump Access”:

    Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.

    Just five months into the Trump era, the energy developers who make up the Independent Petroleum Association of America had already watched the new president order a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that were cutting into their bottom lines — rules concerning smog, fracking and endangered species protection.

    Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the conference room audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior.

    “We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

    The recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group that spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies….

    In that Ritz-Carlton conference room, Russell also spoke of his ties to Bernhardt, recalling the lawyer’s role as point man on an association legal team set up to challenge federal endangered species rules. “Well, the guy that actually headed up that group is now the No. 2 at Interior,” he said, referring to Bernhardt. “So that’s worked out well.”

    Today, Bernhardt is in line for a promotion: the former oil industry lobbyist has been nominated by Trump to be secretary of the Interior. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Thursday, March 28. Bernhardt has been running the department since early January, when Zinke resigned amid an ethics scandal. The post gives Bernhardt influence over regulations affecting energy production on millions of acres of public lands, deciding who gets to develop it, how much they pay and whether they are complying with the law.

    At the meeting, the association’s leaders distributed a private “regulatory update” memo that detailed environmental laws and rules that it hoped to blunt or overturn. The group ultimately got its way on four of the five high-profile issues that topped its wish list….

  254. says

    SC @375, all the best people.

    In other news, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is explaining once again that:

    He [Trump] has no right to claim executive privilege on any evidence of wrongdoing. Executive privilege cannot shield evidence of wrongdoing.

  255. says

    Followup to comment 381.

    Also from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler :

    Obviously, we know there was some collusion. We know the president’s son and campaign manager were involved in a meeting with the Russians to receive what they thought was information stolen by the Russians from the Democratic National Committee, as part of the Russian government’s attempt to help Trump in the election. That’s the way the e-mail inviting them to the meeting put it..

    No, it doesn’t [recommend any additional indictments]. But we know there was collusion. Why there have been no indictments, we don’t know.

  256. says

    Trump declares he is ignorant:

    You know they say there are lots of things. I don’t know about these things [additional investigations], just so you understand. Everyone says this one that one, I don’t even know about this. I called, I said to my lawyers, are we being looked at here? They don’t even know what people are talking about.

    There’s so much fake news out there, it’s a disgrace. If you look over the past two years, how many breaking news stories was there about me that turned out to be nonexistent? So many of them.

    People are talking about the investigations ongoing in the Southern district of New York office, (just to mention one office of several with ongoing investigations). I doubt that SDNY investigators consider themselves purveyors of fake news.

  257. says

    Devin Nunes spouted some weapons-grade stupid responses to the Mueller report. Here is one example:

    You know we can just burn it up. It is a partisan document. I don’t really care what the Mueller report says. The Mueller special counsel should have never been appointed. And I say that and we can take any part of this investigation and we can show you how fraudulent it is.

  258. says

    Heffernan’s source: “We’ll have the conclusions in 30-45. Word of caution: this is NOT Mueller’s report.” So the comment @ #345 refers to the full report, it appears.

  259. says

    Heffernan: “This is hugely important. Expect Barr’s imminent summary of ‘principal conclusions’ to be a very BARR document. Highly abridged, expurgated, possibly even spun version of the Mueller report.”

    Possible. Or could just be bare-bones.

  260. says

    SC @370, thanks for posting that description of the protest march in the UK. “Put it to the People” indeed. The size of the march (about 1 million people), coupled with the massive online response to the petition (more than 4 million people), raises a tiny, tentative flame of hope that a second Brexit referendum might be possible.

    In other news, here is yet another summary of Trump’s current legal woes:

    The hush money investigation (SDNY): Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1”: Donald Trump.

    The Trump inaugural committee investigations (SDNY; Brooklyn and Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s offices; and the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office): potential corruption involving favors for donors, whether foreign funds were illegally given through “straw donors,” how the committee spent the money it took in, and how it accounted for that spending.

    Congressional investigations: House Russia and obstruction investigation; White House security clearances; Trump’s tax returns.

    State-based investigations in New York: Trump Foundation (civil lawsuit alleging a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, includes Donald Junior, Eric, and Ivanka); State tax investigations; financing for Trump’s projects through Deutsche Bank (New York State attorney general’s office). The last item in this list includes Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., a golf resort in Florida, a hotel and tower in Chicago, and an attempt to get a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills football team, all of which may involve financial crimes.

    Defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos: she says Trump repeatedly kissed her, touched her breast, and pressed his genitals against her, without her consent. Trump called her a “liar.” Currently, this is the most likely to result in Trump being deposed under oath.

    Emoluments lawsuit: attorneys general for Maryland and Washington, DC, filed suit over this, using the argument that Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause was giving his business (and specifically his DC hotel) an unfair advantage over other hotels or convention centers. Fourth Circuit judges who heard the case sounded skeptical of the plaintiffs’ arguments this week, but it is not over yet.

    Michael Cohen sued to get legal fees paid by the Trump Organization. Cohen wants Trump’s company to pay him $1.9 million.

    In addition to all of the above, there are questions about Trump offering pardons in return for “loyalty.” I don’t know enough about that to post anything specific.

  261. KG says

    for anyone who travelled to it, and shuffled along among it and who tried to find their way home after it, the Put it to the People march represented a formidable sea of humanity – SC@370 quoting The Observer (effectively the sunday edition of The Grauniad)

    I can confirm from personal experience that there were so many people it was more of a shuffle than a march – I started far back, with the Green contingent of the “left bloc”, and didn’t reach Parliament Square until after all the sppeches had finished. you can get a feel for the size of it here, and see some of the best placards here, although this doesn’t include my favourite: “It’s only March – but it feels like the end of May!”. Last night and this morning there were numerous reports of Cabinet plots against May, which those named as being involved are now denying.

  262. says

    Matthew Miller: “This ‘leaves it to the Attorney General’ language is so strange in that it seems to imply Barr had to reach a conclusion, when in fact he didn’t. He could’ve just passed on Mueller’s findings, but decided to put his thumb on the scale after a 48 hour review of the facts.”

    Looks like Heffernan’s skepticism @ #388 was well grounded. I’m calling total bullshit on Barr’s spin here.

  263. says

    southpaw: “Reading between the lines in the next paragraph, particularly ‘in our judgment’, it appears the obstruction case was a close call, and Mueller did not give them even the thinnest reed of his own conclusions to hold onto. Barr and Rosenstein are out on a limb on their own on this.”

    He retweets Nadler: “In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.”

  264. says

    It’s suspicious, quite frankly, that Barr chose this letter form to begin with. Presumably, Mueller’s report has an executive summary or concluding section or something, in Mueller’s own words, that could have been appropriately redacted and released. Barr’s choosing to do it this way instead gives away the game.

    The fix is in. Someone needs to leak the report.

  265. says

    SC @391 and 395: “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’.”

    “Mueller: Trump cannot be exonerated of obstruction of justice.

    Barr: I exonerate him.”

    Trump on the tarmac in Florida:

    It was just announced there was no collusion with Russia, the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction and none whatsoever. And it was a complete and total exoneration.

    It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.

    Trump’s tweet:

    No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

    Barr has a lot to answer for here.

  266. says

    From readers comments on the Talking Points Memo site:

    What was it I was telling people about Barr? He was hired to do exactly what he just did. This is a whitewash. Subpoena the damn report.
    I never thought they’d get him on Russia, Always thought they’d get him on Obstruction. Barr and Rosenstein made that impossible
    You were right about Barr. Geeez, what these fucking people won’t do. So, moving forward, what do you see playing out? Can we save the country or are we doomed?
    There was no collusion. Except for that time the candidate called on Russia directly to attack his opponents, in public, and they did. And except for the time that he had his campaign manager change the party platform to help Russia. And except for the time that his own son met with Russians to discuss getting dirt on Hillary. And except for the time that Kushner tried to set up a backchannel to continue illicit communications with the Russians.
    What the fuck?
    Does it seem odd that Mueller made a judgement that the evidence was insufficient regarding Trump conspiring with Russia but opted not to make a judgement on obstruction? Why make a judgement on one question and avoid judgement on the other?

    See Ari Melber on Twitter:

    Excerpt: “We see some gap distance between Mueller’s take on obstruction… and Barr going further”

    The video is well worth watching. It is only 2:16 minutes long.

  267. says

    Statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer:

    Attorney General [William] Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.

    From Senator Cory Booker:

    The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately — not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official.

    From George Conway,

    You misspelled “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Pls fix. Thx.

    Conway’s tweet above was in reference to this statement from Sarah Sanders:

    The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.

  268. says

    Everything in this thread from Brian Beutler:

    Can’t think of a more important occasion for close reading, but almost nobody is doing it. Barr’s letter asserts only that Trump associates did not participate in the specific crimes charged in the IRA and GRU indictments. Not that they didn’t “work[] w/Russia.”

    We know they “worked with Russia” because we’ve seen Jr’s inbox, learned about the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, watched Trump request hacking on TV, found that Manafort gave detailed polling data to a GRU agent etc.

    Barr’s letter only tells us the obvious: That this extraordinary record of misconduct wasn’t directly essential to the hacking of emails or the troll farm conspiracy.

    Exactly. Everything we already know or strongly suspect and much that we don’t yet know could all be true and Mueller could still have made that finding. The great lengths to which Barr goes to spin the report politically (and with exactly the results he and Trump wanted – it’s now a major propaganda victory, with shockingly irresponsible news headlines like “Report: No Collusion”) suggest how damning the actual report probably is.

  269. says

    David Gura:

    As an attorney in private practice, William Barr wrote a nineteen-page unsolicited memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, criticizing “Mueller’s ‘Obstruction’ Theory.”

    As the attorney general, he wrote a three-and-a-half-page memo summarizing the entire investigation.

  270. says

    Neal Katyal, who wrote the Special Counsel regulations, in the NYT – “The Many Problems With the Barr Letter”:

    On Sunday afternoon, soon after Attorney General Bill Barr released a letter outlining the Mueller investigation report, President Trump tweeted “Total EXONERATION!” But there are any number of reasons the president should not be taking a victory lap.

    First, obviously, he still faces the New York investigations into campaign finance violations by the Trump team and the various investigations into the Trump organization. And Mr. Barr, in his letter, acknowledges that the Mueller report “does not exonerate” Mr. Trump on the issue of obstruction, even if it does not recommend an indictment.

    But the critical part of the letter is that it now creates a whole new mess. After laying out the scope of the investigation and noting that Mr. Mueller’s report does not offer any legal recommendations, Mr. Barr declares that it therefore “leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” He then concludes the president did not obstruct justice when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey.

    Such a conclusion would be momentous in any event. But to do so within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American.

    The special counsel regulations were written to provide the public with confidence that justice was done. It is impossible for the public to reach that determination without knowing two things. First, what did the Mueller report conclude, and what was the evidence on obstruction of justice? And second, how could Mr. Barr have reached his conclusion so quickly?

    Mr. Barr’s letter raises far more questions than it answers, both on the facts and the law.

    Sometimes momentous government action leaves everyone uncertain about the next move. This is not one of those times. Congress now has a clear path of action. It must first demand the release of the Mueller report, so that Americans can see the evidence for themselves. Then, it must call Mr. Barr and Mr. Mueller to testify. Mr. Barr in particular must explain his rationale for reaching the obstruction judgment he made.

    No one wants a president to be guilty of obstruction of justice. The only thing worse than that is a guilty president who goes without punishment. The Barr letter raises the specter that we are living in such times.

    More at the link.

  271. says

    Jed Shugerman agrees with me – “Why Did Barr Share Only Four Incomplete Sentences from the Mueller Report?”:

    On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr introduced his letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees by saying: “I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and to inform you of the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.” This introduction does not fit his letter, though: If one wanted to advise of the report’s “principal conclusions,” one would expect that more of the “principal conclusions” actually be shared.

    Instead, Barr distributed parts of four of Mueller’s sentences throughout his letter—three of which offer any kind of conclusions, and none of which even appear to be complete sentences from Mueller’s text. Those sentences are obviously helpful for Trump legally and politically, but Barr’s short letter—one page on Russia, one page on obstruction—raises more questions than it even tries to answer.

    What Barr put out on Sunday was not Mueller’s summary, nor a summary of Mueller. It literally contains more of Barr’s legal conclusions—after just 48 hours of review—than of Mueller’s own conclusions over almost two years of investigation. It contained zero details of the evidence that led to either man’s conclusions. Mueller surely wrote an executive summary of his findings for Barr, and it clearly would have been easier for Barr simply to give Congress and the public Mueller’s summary than to write this letter himself. The question is why Barr didn’t.

    In past reports by independent counsels—the closest predecessor to the special counsel—the model has been for the prosecutor to provide an executive summary, an introduction, and/or section-by-section summaries of the counsel’s findings. Lawrence Walsh’s Iran-Contra Report, which went dozens of chapters and hundreds of pages, led with a one-page executive summary listing the five subjects of his investigation, followed immediately by a one-page “Overall Conclusions” section with seven short but damning core findings. Nothing in this summary raised problems for executive privilege or national security. Ken Starr’s referral about President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky started with a one-page introduction that also included seven short bullet-point findings that were damning. In its 445 pages, the Starr Report included 11 separate sections for “possible ground for impeachment,” most of which included short summaries. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Barr did not even reveal the length of the report that he had boiled down to four sentences….

    Eric Swalwell: “Until we hear from Mueller, call it the Barr Report.”

  272. says

    David Rothkopf: “Today is one of those days those in power are asking us not to believe our own eyes. It is also a day the powerful seem yet again to be able to act above the law. It is another brutal blow to our faltering faith in our institutions. It is further proof our system is rigged.”

  273. KG says

    The Grauniad has a useful guide to Commons votes on Brexit this year at the link, posted at 11:01 (the items on their Live feeds have an attached time). At 09:17 on the same page, there’s a short Q&A, and the agenda for today. Increasingly, the key question seems to be whether May will defy the Commons and go for a no-deal Brexit. No-one seems to think her deal has a serious chance of being passed this week, which would appear to mean* either a no-deal exit on 12th, which the Commons has voted against, or a request for a long extension, which May has ruled out. Legally, May could ignore anything except fresh legislation, and it’s far from easy for MPs as a whole to take control of the legislative timetable. But politically, it would be explosive. Some Tories have said they will resign the whip if no-deal becomes Government policy, but May will probably strive to pretend it isn’t, even when everyone knows it is: (“The choice is between my deal and no deal. The House should pass my deal.”).

    *The EU Council of Ministers insisted the deal should pass this week to get an extension to 22nd May. I don’t know what would happen if May’s deal was passed after this week but before 12th.

  274. says

    SC @421, Jerry Nadler commented on Barr’s “questionable legal arguments,” but this article by William Saletan really points out the skewed logic behind some of the conclusions in Barr’s letter. Trump finally did find his Roy Cohn.

    One, short excerpt:

    “The Russian government.” The letter quotes a sentence from Mueller’s report. In that sentence, Mueller says his investigation didn’t prove that members of the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The sentence specifies Russia’s government. It says nothing about coordination with other Russians. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, gave campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate who has been linked to Russian intelligence. Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner met secretly in Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected lawyer. But neither Kilimnik nor Veselnitskaya is part of the Russian government. They seem to be excluded from Barr’s analysis.

    I would point out that it is Putin’s, (and the Russian government’s), modus operandi to put middle men or women between them and the people they are directing to do unethical things. There are seldom direct connections to the Russian government.

    Another excerpt:

    “Absence of such evidence.” One reason to be suspicious of Barr’s conclusions is that in the course of the letter, he tweaks Mueller’s opinion to look more like his own. Mueller’s report, as excerpted by Barr, says “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.” Barr quotes that line and then, in the same sentence, concludes that “the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.” But the excerpt from Mueller’s report doesn’t refer to an absence of evidence. It refers to a presence of evidence, and it says this evidence isn’t enough to prove a crime. Throughout the investigation, this has been a standard Republican maneuver: misrepresenting an absence of proof as an absence of evidence. Barr’s use of this maneuver in his letter is a red flag that he’s writing partisan spin. […]

    “Related to Russian election interference.” Barr’s requirement of “an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” as a predicate for prosecuting obstruction of justice, exempts Trump from obstruction charges even if Trump is shown to have committed crimes—as long as those crimes aren’t specifically connected to the Russian hacking and propaganda campaigns.

    This immunizes Trump against prosecution for anything he did to obstruct investigations, not only into Flynn, but also into the established crimes of Manafort and the alleged crimes of Roger Stone. […]

    I think Trump’s intent was plain all along.

    How Barr sneakily narrowed the definitions in order to proclaim that there was no obstruction:

    “That the President was involved in.” In narrowing the permissible premises for an obstruction charge, Barr doesn’t just specify that the crime in question has to be related to the two Russian interference operations. He specifies that the crime has to involve Trump himself. […]

    Just like the Russians, Trump often puts someone one else at risk in order to keep himself protected.

    From the conclusion:

    We know from Barr’s letter that in the report, Mueller “sets out evidence on both sides” of the obstruction question—and that Mueller says his report “does not exonerate” Trump. For now, all we have is the letter. And it doesn’t show that Trump is innocent of collusion or obstruction. It shows that collusion and obstruction were defined to exclude what he did.

  275. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I think it is important first and foremost to understand that Putin and those who surround him are intelligence agents. As such, they distinguish between agents and assets. It is quite possible for them to view Darth Cheeto as an asset without him being an agent.

    The Trumpster fire has done plenty to fuel speculation that he is in fact an asset–and nothing we’ve heard from Meuller of Barr has quelled that suspicion. I am fine with Barr not releasing the report–it opens Rethugs up to charges of a cover up, and it makes it impossible for them to refute accusations, because they cannot cite the report. And if they get tired of being beaten about the head with that and release the report, I am sure it will provide ample material with which to renew the assault. I’ll use whatever cudgel they choose to give me. I’m done playing nice.

  276. says

    Useful thread: “98 words.

    That’s how much of the 1,670-word Barr Letter was taken verbatim from the Mueller Report — or about 6% of the total.*

    The other 94% is either Barr’s analysis or explanatory throat-clearing.

    For posterity’s sake, it’s worth cataloging the Mueller quotes….”

    And a portion of that is just the title of Mueller’s report.

  277. says

    “Father of Sandy Hook shooting victim found dead”:

    The body of a man whose child was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was found in Newtown.

    According to police, 49-year-old Jeremy Richman died of an apparent suicide at Edmond Town Hall, which is a theater and banquet venue on Main Street.

    The Newtown Police Department confirmed the death on its Facebook page….

    He had recently met with Sen. Murphy to talk about the work of the foundation he established in the name of his daughter, Avielle.

  278. says

    Chris Murphy: “My god. This is awful, horrible, devastating news. Jeremy was a good friend and an unceasing advocate for better research into the brain’s violence triggers. He was with me in my office two weeks ago, excited as could be about the Avielle Foundation’s latest amazing work.”

  279. says

    From my point of view, it looks like William Barr has pulled off a classic trumpian move. He has seized control of the narrative and of the news cycle. He has firmly planted what amounts to disinformation in the public discourse.

    I am seeing interviews of voters, especially of swing voters in purple districts, in which the voters say they are glad this is all over. They are glad the question has been settled and that we can now get on with discussing other subjects.

    No, the question is not settled. And the entire picture of Russians interfering with the election is being whitewashed, (or conveniently thrown out the window — pick your metaphor).

    Background for William Barr’s disingenuous pronouncements:

    […] Last summer, in his capacity as a private citizen, William Barr wrote a 20-page memo for the Justice Department, criticizing Special Counsel Robert Mueller for investigating Donald Trump over alleged obstruction of justice. The document was unsolicited — Barr had very strong opinions on the matter, and simply wanted federal law enforcement officials to be aware of his concerns.

    The Republican lawyer was unrestrained in his criticisms at the time, insisting that the line of inquiry was based on a “fatally misconceived” theory. Barr added that the special counsel’s efforts were, among other things, “grossly irresponsible” and opened the door to “potentially disastrous implications.”

    Six months later, Donald Trump tapped Barr as his new attorney general. […]

    I think everyone was hoping that Barr, despite that infamous memo, would act more ethically than he did. People like Neal Katyal were, I think, disappointed. (see SC’s comment 414).

    Trump is repeatedly crowing that not only is he completely exonerated (fact check: no), but that the entire Mueller investigation was “illegal.”

    From the Washington Post:

    “I think this is the weakest part of Attorney General Barr’s conclusions,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “You do not need to prove an underlying crime to prove obstruction of justice. Martha Stewart is quite aware of this fact.”

    “For example,” added former federal prosecutor David Alan Sklansky, now of Stanford University, “if the President wrongfully tried to block the investigation into Russian interference in the election because he wanted to protect the Russians, or because he didn’t want people to know that a foreign government had tried to hack the election in his favor, that would constitute obstruction.”

  280. says

    Followup to comment 414.

    Another excerpt from Neal Katyal’s article for the NYT:

    On the facts, Mr. Barr says that the government would need to prove that Mr. Trump acted with “corrupt intent” and there were no such actions. But how would Mr. Barr know? Did he even attempt to interview Mr. Trump about his intentions? What kind of prosecutor would make a decision about someone’s intent without even trying to talk to him?

  281. says

    More commentary that falls into the “Why was Barr the decider?” category:

    […] Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School, told TPM in an email that it was “very odd” that Mueller would not reach a conclusion on obstruction, leaving the decision in Barr’s hands instead.

    “The whole reason to have a special counsel is to insulate the decision maker from the executive chain of command,” McQuade said. “By making the decision himself, Barr feeds into the cynical narrative that President Trump appointed an AG who would protect him.”

    Justin Slaughter, an attorney and partner at Mercury Strategies, echoed McQuade’s assessment.

    “The smarter move for Barr and Rosenstein would have been to let a career DOJ official — or even a political — make the decision,” Slaughter said, adding that that would “have raised holy hell from the president.” […]


  282. says

    NEW: SDNY is charging Michael Avenatti for ‘attempting to extract more than $20M in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met’.

    SDNY is having a press conference on the Avenatti charges at 2:30pm.”

  283. says

    From House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler:

    I would in fact wonder if the attorney general pressured the special counsel into not making that finding so he [Barr] could make the finding. I’m not aware of any case where an attorney general made the decision on a prosecution or non-prosecution for obstruction of justice.

    Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is shouting to the rooftops that Trump and the American people are owed an apology, or millions of apologies! Something like that. And, of course, Trump does not owe Mueller an apology.

    The Hill link

    […] “For the last two years, the president has absolutely eviscerated Bob Mueller, a lifelong public servant, a former Marine, a registered Republican, I might add” Guthrie [NBC’s Savannah Guthrie] said to Sanders. “He’s called him a national disgrace, discredited, a prosecutor gone rogue who oversaw a gang of thugs.”

    Sanders responded that she thinks “the American people deserved better” from Mueller, Democrats and the media.

    “They didn’t deserve for the election of this president to try to be taken down,” she said.

    Guthrie cut in to again press Sanders on Trump’s “rhetoric … about a public servant doing [his] job.”

    “Are you kidding?” Sanders responded, saying that Trump’s rhetoric “matches” that of the media and Democrats.

    “[They] have called the president an agent of a foreign government,” Sanders added. “That is an accusation equal to treason, which is punishable by death in this country.” […]

    Guthrie also pushed Sanders on Monday for comparing Trump’s criticism of the investigation to Democrats and members of the media.

    “You have kids and you know that if you say, ‘Did you do this?’ The answer isn’t: ‘Yeah, but my brother did that,’” Guthrie said. “[Trump] trashed [Mueller] for two years, and in the end Mueller just did an investigation that ultimately the president considers a total exoneration of him.

    “Does he owe Robert mueller an apology for that kind of rhetoric?”

    “I think Democrats and the liberal media owe the president and they owe the American people an apology,” Sanders said. “They wasted two years and created a massive disruption and distraction.”

    “Did Robert Mueller deserve better from the president than this kind of language and behavior?” she asked.

    Video of SHS shouting illogical arguments is available at the link.

  284. says

    Well, it’s about damned time. Mitch McConnell finally decided that Russian interference is a bad thing.

    After years of deflecting and downplaying the notion that Russia interfered in an American presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Sunday that Russia poses a “significant threat to American interests.”

    McConnell acknowledged what all U.S. intelligence agencies have been saying for several years only after Attorney General William Barr reported that Russia had, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, interfered in the 2016 presidential race. […]

    McConnell’s statement represents a significant departure from the president, who maintains that no one knows who tried to hack the Democratic party’s computers and email servers. McConnell also tried to stonewall investigations into Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 election, including Russian outreach efforts to help the Trump campaign. […]

    Think Progress link

    McConnell still hasn’t proposed any kind of plan or legislation to stop future Russian interference.

    Baby steps. At least McConnell said this:

    Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing, and I welcome the Special Counsel’s contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia’s activities in this regard.

  285. says

    Followup to comment 436.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not the only Trump ally shouting about apologies needed and revenge strategies that should be implemented.

    […] After meeting Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday Trump told reporters that “there are a lot of people out there who have done some very, very evil things… I would say treasonous things against our country.”

    Those remarks echoed comments he made as he boarded Air Force One on Sunday to return to Washington after a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago weekend resort, describing the Mueller investigation as an “illegal takedown that failed,” and adding that he hoped “somebody is going to be looking at the other side.” […]

    “You’re going to see him [Trump] use this as a political bludgeon,” Cliff Sims, a former Trump aide, told CNN. “In terms of political retribution I think the main thing is going to be using this in the election in 2020 and on the campaign to remind people that… this is their [Democrats’] whole premise for beating me.”

    To further underscore this point the Trump re-election campaign on Sunday declared that the Mueller report had shown that Democrats had “lied to the American people continually.” […]

    Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), a frequent critic of the Mueller investigation, said on Friday that the report represented “the unraveling of the biggest political scandal in American history…[that] began as nothing more, nothing less as a Clinton/Obama operation with a bunch of dirty cops at the FBI.”

    Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said it was now time for Democrats who had pushed the investigation to apologize.

    “You would think they’d have the decency to say ‘I was wrong, I made a mistake’” Giuliani told Fox & Friends on Monday morning. “Even if they want to move on now to this other stuff, they’re going to look at and embarrass themselves, at least stop and say ‘I was wrong.’” […]


  286. says

    Oh FFS. Now what? Russian troops have landed in Venezuela?

    Nearly 100 Russian troops have reportedly landed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas as the United States, which has hinted that a military option is “on the table,” continues to pressure the country’s president to step down.

    Reuters reported Sunday that two Russian planes arrived in Caracas on Saturday, one of them thought to have carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff for Russian ground forces.

    Neither Venezuelan nor Russian authorities have issued a comment on the flights.

    Venezuela and Russia held joint military exercises in January, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized U.S. support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, as an interventionist.

    Moscow has also vowed to step in and prevent “any provocations to shed blood.” […]


  287. says

    From David Corn:

    […] Barr’s note is clear that Mueller did not uncover evidence Trump and his gang were in direct cahoots with Russia’s covert operation to interfere with the US election and boost Trump’s odds. But the hyper-focus on this sort of collusion—as if Trump instructed Russian hackers on how to penetrate the computer network of the Democratic National Committee—has always diverted attention from a basic and important element of the scandal that was proven long before Mueller drafted his final report: Trump and his lieutenants interacted with Russia while Putin was attacking the 2016 election and provided encouraging signals to the Kremlin as it sought to subvert American democracy. They aided and abetted Moscow’s attempt to cover up its assault on the United States (which aimed to help Trump win the White House). And they lied about all this.

    And, yes, there were instances of collusion—not on the specifics of the attack, but secret scheming between Trumpworld and Russia.

    None of the evidence underlying this is in dispute. No matter what Mueller report contains, a harsh verdict remains: Trump and his gang betrayed the United States in the greatest scandal in American history. […]

  288. says

    Followup to comments 436 and 439.

    As part of their revenge strategy, Republicans are demanding the ouster of Democrats like Adam Schiff. Fox News is backing up the Republicans … big time.:

    Republicans clamored for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s head Monday, demanding he give up his gavel or resign from Congress as part of their campaign of revenge against Democrats […]

    Trump and senior White House aides, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other allies of the president on Capitol Hill raced to paint the California Democrat as an overeager disciple of a theory debunked by the Justice Department in a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings released Sunday.

    Schiff was pummeled repeatedly on Fox News and other right-leaning media during the last two days. Trump himself picked up on the anti-Schiff tirade, retweeting a “Fox and Friends” interview where the California Democrat was excoriated.

    McCarthy called on Schiff to step down as Intelligence Committee chairman during an interview on Monday.

    “[Schiff] owes the American public an apology,” McCarthy said. “Schiff has met the standard that he has imposed on other members of Congress of when they should step back from their positions. He has exceeded that standard, and there is no question he should step down from the Intel chairmanship.”

    The GOP offensive comes as Schiff is forging ahead with a renewed congressional investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. His committee is slated to publicly interview on Wednesday Trump associate Felix Sater about his efforts to strike a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 campaign. On Thursday, the committee has a second Russia-focused hearing on how the Kremlin used oligarchs and their money to influence U.S. politics in 2016.

    Democrats are privately raising concerns that Americans won’t have the stomach for a new, heavily politicized Trump-Russia probe, and Republicans are seizing the momentum from the Mueller findings to lash out at Schiff. Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called for Schiff to resign immediately. And Donald Trump Jr. — who bristled over Schiff’s question’s after a closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 — tormented him on Twitter.

    “Has anyone heard from slimy Adam #fullofschiff Schiff today?” he wrote. “I mean it must be embarrassing to have have [sic] spent the last 2 years as the leader of the tinfoil hat brigade and have it all come crashing down so quick. I’m legitimately concerned for his mental state.” […]

  289. says

    Followup to comment 442.

    Nancy Pelosi responded to the attacks on Adam Schiff:

    […] Chairman Schiff has done an outstanding job and that’s the reason why he’s subject to these ridiculous attacks.

    Democrats aren’t going to be intimidated by the White House or Congressional Republicans, we’re not going to be distracted from securing the release of the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence, and we will continue to pursue legitimate oversight because that’s what the Constitution requires. The days of Congress ignoring the mountain of legal and ethical misconduct by this President and Administration are over. […]

  290. says

    Excerpts from Wonkette’s coverage:

    Now that William Barr has carefully explained that the Mueller report didn’t find enough evidence to prosecute Donald Trump for conspiracy, Republicans are all about proclaiming the Trump 2020 campaign slogan: WELL SHORT OF A FELONY!! Also, please never mind that part where even Barr admitted the report doesn’t exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, because why would anyone care about any other crimes?

    Of course, if you want to get all factual about it, not even Barr’s letter says Mueller found no evidence of wrongdoing — just that he couldn’t make a criminal case that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as Roll Call explains. Thin though that is, and regardless of what’s in the actual report, Trump allies are over the moon and ready to move on to the important business of putting Hillary Clinton in jail forever. Let’s watch the Premature Victory Parade!

    May as well start with Sean Hannity, who was so moved by Barr’s letter that he wrote some authentic Vogon poetry. In all caps:

    It’s got no beat and you can’t dance to it, but it’s very satisfying to some people’s lizard brains. […]

    Suck it, libs, Donald Trump Is Jesus and now the matter is settled.

    Not that we’d have expected anything other than a declaration of victory from these wieners anyway […]

    From Hannity:

    The left’s favorite conspiracy theory is now dead. It is buried, and there was no collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction. The witch hunt is over and there will be no further charges.

  291. says

    From Margaret Sullivan, writing for the Washington Post:

    It should be no surprise to anyone that […] Trump’s reaction to the Mueller report is to attack reporters for doing their jobs.

    That’s exactly what he has been doing for years. It’s a predictable political strategy — an ugly, undemocratic one […]

    And it should be no surprise that his media echo chamber — led by Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity — is calling for the heads of journalists whose work Hannity couldn’t begin to emulate even if given 100 years. […]

    Fairly typical of this was conservative writer Rich Lowry, who said the three biggest losers from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report were “the media, the media, the media,” which he described in a tweet as “obsessed & hysterical for 2 years.”

    There are calls for a “reckoning” on news coverage.

    All right, then. Here goes.

    I reckon that American citizens would have been far worse off if skilled reporters hadn’t dug into the connections between Trump’s associates — up to and including his son Don Jr. — and Russians. That reporting has not been invalidated.

    I reckon that the felonious lying to the public about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow remains a scandal — and that we know about this in large part because journalists were doing their jobs aggressively.

    I reckon that the hard-nosed reporting about former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn — roundly denied, you might recall, before it was proved — was an early sign of the venality that was to follow.

    I reckon that reporting […] drove forward a national conversation that needed to happen. As Americans saw with their own eyes Trump’s bizarre efforts to ingratiate himself with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, that reporting mattered and provided context. […]

    It’s important to acknowledge the value of the serious journalism because there’s a real risk that news organizations will take the edges off their coverage of this subject now.

    You could see it starting to happen over the weekend.

    It was strange, for example, to see Scott Pelley’s lead-in to CBS’s “60 Minutes” erroneously describe the Mueller report’s findings in a way that Trump might have scripted: He flatly stated that the report, as described by Attorney General William P. Barr, exonerated the president. […]

  292. says

    Trouble with media coverage and headlines that are misleading the public:

    The article on the front page of the New York Times this morning drew a specific kind of conclusion about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation:

    The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found no evidence that President Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s key findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr.

    At face value, that may seem like a perfectly fine summary of what we learned yesterday, but there’s a problem with the phrase “no evidence.” […] reports like these are taking a step that even Bill Barr was not willing to take.

    The attorney general’s summary specifically wrote, “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    And why is that difference important? Because it’s entirely possible that Mueller and his team found plenty of evidence pointing to coordination between Team Trump and its Russian benefactors, but it didn’t rise to the threshold of a federal crime. […]

    to say that Mueller “did not find evidence” is to make a leap about the findings we have not seen. […]
    Roll Call had a good report along these lines:

    “As any prosecutor, you’re not looking to exonerate someone – you’re looking through the lens of whether you have sufficient evidence to make a charge,” the former DOJ prosecutor said. “Here, they’re saying, based on their very extensive investigation – 2,800 subpoenas is bonkers – they don’t have sufficient evidence that they believe reaches the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard.”

    None of that precludes the possibility – not yet, at least – that Mueller’s team discovered at least some pieces of evidence that support the collusion theory, even if the synthesis of those pieces did not produce a clear enough picture to yield charges. […]

    The bottom line is this: jumping to a conclusion that Trump’s own attorney general didn’t reach seems like a mistake.


    USA Today ran a similar “no evidence” article. And there are plenty of similar examples.

  293. says

    Followup to comment 446.

    Josh Marshall talked about the misleading media coverage:

    […] I’ve marveled at how ingenuous and pliable so many media voices have been in the face of spin that was entirely predictable. The Times has been among the most credulous, more or less taking at face value the Barr/Trump claim of blanket exoneration. Interestingly, Roll Call has been among the most cautious and focused. But most of the mainstream outlets have taken the Barr letter almost entirely at face value, […]

    The Russia scandal isn’t a story in isolation. It’s part of a larger story about the rise of plutocratic corruption and right wing authoritarianism in the US, something Donald Trump has both embodied and catalyzed. In that sense it’s not separate from the rest of Trump’s scandals or, contrary to the claims of many, the range of right wing policies he and his Republican Party have advanced. […]

    On the obstruction question, what we have is a unilateral and unexplained decision on the part of an Attorney General recently appointed on the basis of a memo in which he argued that it was essentially impossible, as a matter of law and the constitution, for the President to obstruct justice. […]

    His judgement tells us nothing as a substantive matter and asks us all collectively to pretend we didn’t see what we all saw happen before our eyes. […]

    On the question of collusion or coordination, again, Barr’s gloss on the report similarly asks us to believe that none of us saw what we saw with our own eyes – numerous instances of covert communication, offers of assistance, back channels, business deals being secretly negotiated while the President aggressively pushed the Russian line, a campaign manager handing over campaign data to a Russian intelligence asset and planning peace deals and sanctions relief that was Russia’s top foreign policy goal.

    The quote from the report says the investigation did not “establish” conspiracy or coordination. I think we need to take this at face value – they did not find sufficient evidence to prove that a crime had occurred. […]

    Everything I see here tells me that the Barr letter looked its best on day one and will look worse on every succeeding day.

  294. says

    Pelosi sent talking points to House Democratic offices Monday afternoon suggesting they demand all documents relating to the investigation.

    “The Mueller report expressly does not exonerate the President. Instead, it ‘sets out evidence on both sides of the question’ of obstruction – including the evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. The assertion that there is ‘no collusion’ is an incorrect overstatement of the Special Counsel’s report,” one talking point reads.

    All of the talking points are presented as part of this article on Talking Points Memo.

  295. says

    Republicans in the state of Texas are gearing up for a new assault on voting rights … and they are doing so in the name of “election integrity.”

    […] an omnibus “election integrity” bill that would stiffen penalties for election-related offenses and make it easier to prosecute people who mistakenly violate voting laws. It also includes provisions targeted at methods used to assist disabled voters. Texas Civil Rights Project and MOVE Texas issued a statement calling the bill a “dangerous new assault on voting rights in Texas.” […]


    Texas Observer link

    […] Bowing to pressure from tea party groups, lawmakers passed legislation last session cracking down on mail-in voting. Hughes’ prop