Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

    “United States added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time”:

    The murder of the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi — in a year when more than half of all journalists who were killed around the world were targeted deliberately — reflects a hatred of the media in many areas of society, a free-press advocacy group said Tuesday.

    At least 63 professional journalists were killed doing their jobs in 2018, a 15 percent increase over last year, said the group, Reporters Without Borders. The number of deaths rises to 80 when all media workers and people classified as citizen journalists are included, it said in its annual report.

    The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three — India, Mexico and, for the first time, the United States — where journalists were killed in cold blood, even though those countries weren’t at war or in conflict, the group said.

    “The hatred of journalists that is voiced … by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

    Reporters Without Borders said 348 journalists were being detained worldwide, compared with 326 at this time in 2017. China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt hold more than half of the world’s imprisoned journalists, it said.

  2. says

    Daily reminder: No right to counsel in immigration cases. Most asylum seekers go against gov’t lawyers alone. Only 1.6% of parents w/ children prevail. Imm lawyers, when rarely funded, literally save lives. Success jumps to 26%. Fund access to counsel:…”

    Link to where people can donate at the link.

  3. says

    “Richest 3% Russians Hold 90% of Country’s Financial Assets – Study”:

    The wealthiest 3 percent of Russians owned 89 percent of all financial assets in 2018, according to joint research by the Higher School of Economics and the state-run VEB Bank.

    This is the first time a comprehensive study of wealth inequality has been attempted in Russia, the Kommersant business daily reported on Friday. Last month, Forbes magazine reported that fewer than 100 Russian billionaires’ combined wealth exceeds the entire population’s bank savings.

    An estimated 13 percent of the Russian population lives in extreme poverty by developed-world standards. Russia placed behind all of its Eastern European neighbors last year in an Oxfam aid agency rating of 157 countries’ commitment to reducing poverty.

    Independent polling has also found that Russians were most unhappy with President Vladimir Putin over the unequal distribution of income.

    (I have a pet peeve about people conflating income and wealth.)

    Bill Browder: “(And this is just what’s based on declared wealth, the real numbers are far worse). Not sure if any other country in the world has this inequitable a concentration of wealth.”

  4. says

    Ilhan Omar:

    This country was founded on the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness. But these core beliefs are under threat. Each and every day. We are under threat by an administration that would rather cage children than pass comprehensive immigration reform.

    An administration that would rather give billionaires tax breaks than provide a little cushion for working people. An administration that would rather attack fellow Americans who are transgender and wear our country’s uniform than fight for equality and opportunity for all.

    I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.

    No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

    Thank you for standing with me – against an administration that ran on banning Muslims from this country – to fight for the America we all deserve.

  5. blf says

    David Lammy says comparing ERG to Nazis ‘not strong enough’:

    Labour MP defends comments likening group to Nazi party and white supremacists

    David Lammy has said comparing the hard Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs with Nazis and proponents of South African apartheid was “not strong enough”, and suggested that the Brexit debate has allowed proponents of hard right views to flourish.

    […]

    Lammy pointed to the contact between the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Donald Trump’s former senior advisor Steve Bannon, as well as a tweet from the ERG chair, Jacob Rees-Mogg, quoting the Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland party.

    “We must not appease. Let me just be clear, I’m an ethnic minority. We have, in the ERG, in Jacob Rees-Mogg, someone who is happy to put on to his web pages the horrible, racist AfD party, a party that’s Islamophobic and on the far right,” he said.

    […]

    Rees-Mogg has defended his decision to tweet a video of a speech by a senior member of the AfD, saying he did not endorse the party’s views but that the opinions expressed had real importance.

    […]

    Asked if he was saying that Rees-Mogg and Johnson were the modern-day equivalent of Nazis, Lammy said: “Ask Boris Johnson why he’s hanging out with Steve Bannon.”

    Danny Lammy has form, from earlier this year, David Lammy accuses government of ‘pandering to far-right’ (video). And a short interview with him last year after he was named the Politican of the Year, David Lammy: ‘I bounce out of bed to do the job’: “The politician of the year on his Guyanese roots, faith in millennials […]”.

  6. tomh says

    I like this idea, from the NYT Opinion page.

    EVERYONE’S INCOME TAXES SHOULD BE PUBLIC

    Disclosure of tax payments would make it easier to hold politicians accountable. It also would help to reduce fraud and economic inequality.

    By Binyamin Appelbaum
    Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

    April 13, 2019

    In October 1924, the federal government threw open for public inspection the files that recorded the incomes of American taxpayers, and the amounts they had paid in taxes.

    Americans were gripped by a fever of interest in the finances of their neighbors. This newspaper devoted a large chunk of the front page to a list of the top taxpayers in Manhattan under a banner headline that read “J.D. Rockefeller Jr. Paid $7,435,169.” One story reported that a number of wives and ex-wives had lined up at a government office in New York to seek information about their present or former husbands. Journalists soon began to note the curious absence of some conspicuously wealthy people from the lists of top taxpayers.

    Congress had ordered the disclosure as a weapon against tax fraud. “Secrecy is of the greatest aid to corruption,” said Senator Robert Howell of Nebraska. “The price of liberty is not only eternal vigilance, but also publicity.”

    There is every reason to think that sunlight served the desired purpose. One important piece of evidence is that wealthy Americans absolutely hated the disclosure law, and soon persuaded Congress to execute a U-turn.

    Almost a century later, it’s time to revisit the merits of universal public disclosure. Democrats in Congress are fighting to obtain President Trump’s tax returns under a separate 1924 law, written in response to related concerns about public corruption. That issue could be resolved, at least in part, if Congress embraced the broader case for publishing everyone’s tax bill.

    Now as then, disclosure could help to ensure that people pay a fair share of taxes. Americans underpay their taxes by more than $450 billion each year, more than 10 percent of total federal revenue. Publishing a list of millionaires who paid little or no taxes this year could significantly reduce the number of millionaires who pay little or no taxes next year.

    In Norway, where tax records have been public since the founding of the modern state in 1814, a newspaper put the records online in 2001. One study estimated that the records’ greater availability caused a 3.1 percent increase in the reported incomes of self-employed Norwegians over the next three years, perhaps because they feared exposure.

    Disclosure also could help to reduce disparities in income, as well as disparities in tax payments. Inequality is easier to ignore in the absence of evidence. In Finland, where tax data is published each year on Nov. 1 — jovially known as National Jealousy Day — people treat the information as a barometer of whether inequality is yawning too wide.

    Consider that public corporations are required to report the compensation of top executives — who check disclosures of rival companies to ensure they are not underpaid.

    Another benefit would be identifying patterns of illegal discrimination against women or minorities. Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the 2009 fair pay law is named, would have learned a lot sooner that she was making less than her male colleagues at a Goodyear plant in Alabama if she could have looked up their annual incomes on a government website.

    Transparency could even help to increase economic growth. People who know how much their co-workers are paid — and how much people are paid at other companies, and in other industries — can make better career decisions.

    Tax data also is a rich source of information about American life. The I.R.S. tightly limits access, but one of the few researchers allowed to work with that data, the Harvard economist Raj Chetty, has produced a series of important studies illuminating the mechanics of economic inequality. He and his collaborators have shown that Americans have a dwindling chance of making more money than their parents, and that living in a good neighborhood as a child has a lifelong impact on earnings. One can only imagine what others might learn from the data.

    Calling for more disclosure may seem discordant at a time of growing concern about privacy. But income taxation is an act of government, not an aspect of private life. Property tax records provide a reasonable model. Local governments disclose the name of the property owner, the value of the property and the amount of taxes owed and paid. The same information should be available for income taxes — nothing more is necessary.

    Another reasonable rule: In Norway, it is a matter of public record when someone looks at tax records. Everyone can see who is nosing around. Wisconsin, which makes income and tax information available on request, imposes the same requirement.

    Income taxation in the United States began in public view. When Congress imposed the first income tax in 1861, during the Civil War, it required the disclosure of names, incomes and tax payments. Over the following decade, before Congress ended the tax, this data was posted in public and printed in newspapers.

    That practice was briefly revived in 1924. It’s time for another revival. The question is whether Americans are willing to endure a little sunlight in the interest of fairness and equality.

  7. says

    BBC – “Police open fire after car ‘driven at officers’ in London”:

    Officers opened fire in west London on Saturday morning during an incident involving a car that was colliding with vehicles.

    The Ukrainian embassy said its ambassador’s vehicle was “deliberately rammed” as it sat parked outside the building in Holland Park.

    When officers arrived on the scene, a car was “driven at them”, the Met said.

    Officers used firearms and a Taser before arresting a man in his 40s on suspicion of attempted murder.

    Police said the uninjured man was “taken to a central London hospital as a precaution”.

    They added that the situation was neither ongoing nor being treated as terror-related.

    The embassy said none of its staff had been injured and that police were now investigating “the suspect’s identity and motive for the attack”.

    The police arrested the man on suspicion of the attempted murder of police officers and criminal damage….

  8. blf says

    tomh@8, I’ve also been coming around to the idea of the Finnish model — tax “returns” / data (and the absence thereof) — are public, easily downloaded, and easily searched. The States is also one of the (relatively few?) countries in the world which taxes on world-wide income regardless of where it was “earned” — so publicly-available USAian federal returns should have an extensive knock-on effect. And all taxed entities are included, be they individuals, corporations, NGOs / similar, and so on…

    There are a few caveats about the data which is to be released. For example, spies working undercover overseas should not be exposed. Minors are problematic — most should be shielded — but there is a well-known series of tax dodges involving one’s children. Arguably, since the children didn’t necessarily agree-to, or are even (legally-speaking) competent to agree-to, the “deal”, they should still be shielded, but that does not mean suppressing the information “forever” — perhaps until they are old enough to be eligible for the draft, or else 18 (old enough to vote), whichever occurs first…

    And so on. However, the plausible benefits of even just summary data are well worth discussing, along with the handful of exceptions and the relevant safeguards. Plus the issue of returns / data for individual states…

  9. blf says

    Trump fixed on sanctuary city idea amid opposition and doubts over legality (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Donald Trump appears determined to send migrants held at the southern border to “sanctuary cities” around the US in a scheme meant to exact revenge on his Democratic foes, despite fierce political opposition and doubts over the legality of such a move.

    On Saturday night, to widespread consternation, the president tweeted that it was: Just out: the USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to sanctuary cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the state of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!

    […]

    “He has no right to spend money appropriated by Congress for other circumstances,” the New York Democrat [& House judiciary committee chair Jerrold Nadler] told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “{He should not} use immigrants or people who are claiming asylum as pawns in a fight with political opponents … it’s another misuse of presidential power against the law.”

    […]

    According to new research, meanwhile, if the administration does attempt to send migrants to sanctuary cities, it would be doing the migrants a favour.

    According to a team from Syracuse University in New York, such a move would put thousands of migrants in cities not only welcoming to them, but more likely to rebuff federal officials carrying out deportation orders.

    Furthermore, many such locations have more resources to help migrants make their cases to stay in the US than smaller cities. Some of the nation’s biggest immigration advocacy groups are based in San Francisco, New York City and Chicago.

    In effect, Trump could end up placing migrants in locations that make it easier for them to put down roots and stay in the country. The downside for the migrants would be a high cost of living.

    The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse announced this week that an analysis found that migrants in cities such as New York and Los Angeles are 20% less likely to be arrested than in cities without sanctuary policies.

    George Gascon, district attorney for San Francisco, told the Associated Press: “With immigrants being less likely to commit crimes than the US-born population, and with sanctuary jurisdictions being safer and more productive than non-sanctuary jurisdictions, the data damns this proposal as a politically motivated stunt that seeks to play politics with peoples’ lives.”

    […]

    The plan would raise financial, logistical and legal issues. The transportation of migrants to large and faraway cities would be costly at a time when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) is stretched, having released more than 125,000 migrants pending court dates since 21 December. Migrants are currently being released mainly in border states.

    Flights chartered by Ice cost about $7,785 per flight hour, according to the agency, and require multiple staffers including a medical professional. The agency also uses commercial flights. Longer transports would increase liability, especially considering that many in Ice care are families with young children.

    […]

    It is also unclear how long the migrants would stay in sanctuary cities, because under current law they are required to provide an address to federal authorities, typically of a family member, as a condition for their release.

    […]

  10. says

    Updated list of upcoming political events (nice not to have to include the Brexit deadline):

    Apr. 11 – May 19: Indian general elections
    some day this week: Barr to release some version of the Mueller report
    Apr. 14: Finnish parliamentary election
    Apr. 15: self-imposed deadline for Bernie Sanders to release 10 years of tax returns
    Apr. 17: Indonesian general election (some more information)
    Apr. 21: Ukrainian presidential election runoff
    Apr. 23: new deadline for IRS to furnish Trump’s tax documents to the House Ways and Means chair (their refusal to provide the documents is a felony)
    Apr. 26: Maria Butina sentencing
    Apr. 28: Spanish general election
    Apr. 30: Roger Stone status hearing

    May 5: Panamanian general election
    May 6: Michael Cohen scheduled to report to prison
    May 13: multiple elections in the Philippines
    May 23: results of Indian general elections announced
    May 23-26: EU parliamentary elections

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

    Re today’s Finnish elections:

    Finland is tipped to turn left in Sunday’s election, with the Social Democrats leading in polls.

    Should they be successful, the country will have its first left-wing leader in 20 years.

    But with several parties, including the right-wing Finns, jostling closely for second place, the Social Democrats’ ability to govern could be curtailed and coalition-building lies ahead….

    Climate change was the major issue in the elections.

  11. says

    “Judge orders Ukip to reveal Brexit referendum data use”:

    Ukip has been ordered to fully reveal details of how it used nearly £300,000 of political data services in the run-up to the Brexit vote and the 2015 general election after the party lost a two-year legal battle to block disclosure.

    An appeals tribunal found the political party, led at the time by Nigel Farage, failed to properly answer the information commissioner’s questions. It is now legally obliged to provide detailed answers to questions about how it spent political donations and used polling companies and data.

    The ruling is the latest watchdog finding to cast a shadow over the 2016 EU referendum and to raise concerns about the use of political and social media data.

    When the investigation opened in 2017, the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said more than 30 organisations were under scrutiny. While some were cooperating, she said, “others are making it difficult.”

    In the latest ruling, Judge Nicholas Wikeley criticised Ukip’s failure to cooperate with the ICO, saying: “Its answers arrived late and were brief and unsatisfactory, not least in being inconsistent with publicly available information previously supplied by Ukip itself. Overall, Ukip’s response gave the commissioner the clear impression that the party was not taking the request seriously.”

    When the commissioner first wrote to Ukip, the party replied: “It turns out we hardly use data at all.”

    It specifically denied using the services of Constituency Polling Ltd, which is linked to polling firm Survation, even though the Electoral Commission’s register showed that Ukip spent £186,613.13 with the company during the 2015 general election.

    Ukip also spent a small sum – £72.00 – on the unofficial Leave.EU campaign during the referendum, and directed much larger sums to companies whose owner Arron Banks was a major Ukip donor and founder of Leave.EU. “Better for the Country”, which was used to finance Leave.EU, received £67,236 during the EU referendum and Rock Services Limited was paid £64,762.73 during the 2015 general election.

    The National Crime Agency is investigating allegations of multiple criminal offences by Arron Banks and Leave.EU in the Brexit referendum. One focus of the investigations is £2m reported to have been lent to Better for the Country….

  12. says

    Followup to SC’s comment #2.

    Links back to the previous chapter of this thread:

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/04/01/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-10/comment-page-1/#comment-1993082

    Overcrowding, too few judges, too little time, too little appropriate legal representation … and now an 11-year-old girl is being deported to El Salvador, where she is likely to be killed. […]

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/04/01/discuss-political-madness-all-the-time-10/comment-page-1/#comment-1993085

    […] it sure would be messed up to take an 11-year-old fleeing gang violence and drop her right in the middle of El Salvador with no home or family because of a mistake by the court.

    More at the links.

  13. says

    History has shown that Saudi, the Gulf states and Egypt do not want to see the emergence of a truly democratic parliamentary system in the region, so they are always supportive of military dictatorships like their shameful stance now for what is going on in Sudan.”

  14. says

    SC @13, Sarah Huckabee Sanders considers herself smart enough to comment disparagingly about the intellectual capabilities of Democrats in the House of Congress? She’s joking, right?

    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, and others, have set a new deadline of April 23 for the tax returns.

    […] In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Sanders whether Trump would “demand that the IRS not turn over his tax returns” or, rather, “live with whatever the IRS decides.”

    Sanders responded by repeating an irrelevant line from Trump, saying that as long as the President’s taxes are supposedly under audit, he will not release his returns. (Trump has never shown proof that he is under audit, and even if he is, he can still release his tax returns.)

    Wallace pressed: “Will he tell the IRS not to release them though?”

    “We’ll have to see what happens on that front,” Sanders replied, not ruling out the possibility.

    She added later: “Frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and -women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.”

    “My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the President has and determine anything.”

    From readers comments on the story as presented by Talking Points Memo:

    Well, Dumbass SHS, if they aren’t smart enough (they are…), they are certainly smart enough to have a team of forensic accountants on hand to do that work for them.
    ———————
    Does she know how Congress works? I know she is not this stupid. It is highly likely that a forensic account was hired by Congress to evaluate the returns -line by frickin’ line.
    ———————
    So Sarah claims Congress is too stupid to review Trump’s return.

    Did Trump prepare his taxes on his own? Or was he too stupid to do so?

    SO MUCH BULLSHIT
    ——————-
    Trump isn’t smart enough so he has to hire SHS as his press secretary.
    ————————
    Says the woman who believes our planet is 6,000 years old.

    That evolution is a lie.

    That a bearded sky fairy is gonna rapture her.

  15. says

    https://twitter.com/NPRHealth/status/979645665994158081

    Time’s running out for many frail, older people in Puerto Rico … and for disabled people.

    https://n.pr/2GAdUX9

    […] After a lifetime of work on the U.S. mainland picking corn and asparagus and processing chickens in poultry plants, Maldonado returned to Puerto Rico a decade ago to help care for his ailing mother, who has since died. Today the retiree finds himself living day-to-day on the island. He receives $280 a month in Social Security and $89 a month in food stamps — or about $3 a day for food. […]

    The emergency government support that helped pay for some health care and medically related transportation needs of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria is running out. Private donations of water and food have slowed. And it’s not clear who, if anyone, will carry on with that work.

    Maldonado opens the cupboards in his tidy kitchen. There are a few cans of corned beef, SpaghettiOs and beans. […]

    Though the light in Maldonado’s refrigerator still works, power outages during Hurricane Maria broke the mechanism that helps keep food — and the insulin he depends on — cold.

    […] It has been months since Maldonado has had fresh vegetables in the house.

    “When there’s very little, then I kind of go on a diet,” he says. […]

    Maintaining a decent diet isn’t simply about staving off hunger; diabetes is consuming Maldonado’s foot, and unless he eats healthy food and takes his insulin, doctors have warned him, his foot will need to be amputated.

    Maldonado opens the door to his broken refrigerator and points to a vial that holds a few drops of insulin — the last of his supplies until he can afford the $3 copay for his refills and find a ride to the pharmacy. […]

  16. says

    Followup to comment 19.

    Kamala Harris released 15 years of her tax returns. Meanwhile, Trump has his lackeys appearing on Sunday TV shows to claim that if his tax returns are given to a Congressional committee, (per a lawful request to the IRS), the privacy of all U.S. citizens will be threatened.

  17. says

    In a response to Trump’s threat to transport “Illegal Immigrants” (Trump’s capitalization) to sanctuary cities, Jenny Durkan, the Democratic mayor of Seattle, wrote this op-ed:

    Here’s a message to President Trump: Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. In fact, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future.

    What does scare us? A president and federal government that would seek to weaponize a law enforcement agency to punish perceived political enemies. A would-be despot who thinks the rule of law does not apply to him…

    It’s clear he hates the fact that the very cities he scorns are engines of innovation, opportunity and economic power. But we will not be deterred. The president’s threats won’t intimidate me […]

    This president believes that immigrants and refugees burden our country and burden cities like ours. But he could not be more wrong.

    In Seattle, we know that our immigrant and refugee communities make our city a stronger, more vibrant place. Our immigrant neighbors make up more than 18 percent of our population, and 21 percent of our population speaks a language other than English at home. They create businesses and jobs. They create art and culture. They help teach our kids, serve in law enforcement and the military, and lead our places of faith…

    Our city has already taken on this president and won. When Trump and the Justice Department threatened to withhold federal funding over our policies, we beat him in court. When he announced his cruel plan to separate children and families, Democratic mayors stood up to say we are better than this as a country.

    So if this president wants to send immigrants and refugees to Seattle and other welcoming cities, let me be clear: We will do what we have always done, and we will be stronger for it. And it will only strengthen our commitment to fighting for the dignity of every person. We will not allow any administration to use the power of America to destroy the promise of America.

  18. says

    From Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell:

    [Trump] certainly acts on Russia’s behalf. And it’s a claim from someone who also worked as a prosecutor for seven years and had the responsibility of looking at evidence and putting it before a jury.

    He also acts like Russia’s leade. He attacks our free press. He acts in such a lawless way, and what we’re seeing most recently, telling a Customs and Border official that he would pardon him if he broke the law. And he puts his family in charge and in positions of power.

    The excerpts above are from an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

  19. says

    Neera Tanden: “For someone like @aaronmate who championed the Barr letter to ignore its contents, which found that Russia was behind the hacks of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign. That makes Assange their agent. You may take kindly to Russia undermining democracy — you have for years- I do not.”

    I’m still amazed that no one’s been able to pin down Greenwald and the others on their affirmative claims. Are they claiming:

    The GRU didn’t do the hacking?
    The hacking wasn’t part of a Kremlin effort to hurt Clinton and help Trump?
    The effort didn’t involve support for Sanders as a means to divide Democrats and suppress the Clinton vote?
    Assange didn’t get the data he released from the GRU?
    Assange didn’t orchestrate the releases so as to do the most damage to Clinton?
    Assange wasn’t communicating with the Trump campaign?
    The extensive public evidence of Trumpworld doing the Kremlin’s bidding doesn’t exist?

    Some of these? All of these? What specifically are they claiming constitutes the “hoax” or “conspiracy theory” to which they keep referring?

  20. says

    Finally something: “JUST IN: Speaker Pelosi says President Trump ‘must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video’ featuring Rep. Omar, and she has spoken with the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Rep. Omar, her family and her staff.”

  21. says

    “Cummings moves to subpoena Trump financial records”:

    House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is moving to issue a subpoena to obtain 10 years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA, the chairman told members of the panel in a memo on Friday.

    Cummings plans to issue the subpoena on Monday after Mazars asked for a so-called “friendly” subpoena, so that it could comply with the committee’s document demands.

    In his memo, Cummings explained that the committee asked for the records as part of its efforts to corroborate allegations made by Trump’s former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who told lawmakers in February that Trump artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets to his personal benefit.

    Cummings said the full committee will not hold a vote on whether to issue the subpoena because of the two-week congressional recess which begins on Monday. Instead, Cummings is giving the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, 48 hours’ notice before issuing the subpoena.

    Cummings asked members of the committee to “inform my office of their views and positions on this subpoena.”

    The chairman also used his memo to criticize Jordan for his “troubling actions,” accusing the Trump ally of urging Mazars not to comply with Cummings’ request for documents.

    “Obviously, such actions undermine the authority of the committee and impair its investigations,” Cummings wrote….

  22. says

    Pelosi’s full statement (from London):

    “Following the President’s tweet, I spoke with the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff. They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces.

    “The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger. President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”

  23. says

    I mean, seriously, if House Democrats don’t impeach this president then they might as well remove the impeachment clause from the Constitution. It’s this simple: if the openly corrupt & lawless President Trump isn’t worthy of impeachment then no president is – or ever will be.”

  24. says

    Watching part 3 of CNN’s Tricky Dick (part 4 is on shortly). It’s just incredible – the more you’re reminded of Nixon’s behind-the-scenes comments, the more awful he appears.

    On his visit to China (it should be noted that Nixon and his fellow Republicans were responsible for the fact that China was so closed off to the US in the first place):

    Kissinger: For every reason, we’ve got to have a diversion from Vietnam in this country.

    Nixon: That’s the point, isn’t it, yeah?

    Nixon: It’s the hope thing…. The American people are suckers. Getting to know you, all that bullshit. The grey middle America, they’re suckers.

    On bombing the Vietnamese: “You’re so goddamned concerned about the civilians, and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”

  25. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    As to the impeachment thing, I’m of two minds. Certainly, the current occupant of 1600 Penn Ave. is too stupid and corrupt to do the job. However, impeachment is a political, not a legal remedy, and unfortunately, the ‘Merican people are not sufficiently upset for impeachment to have a reasonable chance of success. Republicans in the House and Senate will stop at nothing because Darth Cheeto’s incompetence means they can implement their own agenda as long as they buy into his New Cruelty. There is literally no cost to them. The only way to change that is to make it more costly. The Rethugs have to be bludgeoned with the corruption, incompetence and moral bankruptcy of DJT. They have to fear for their political lives.

    Do we want them to release the Meuller report. Then we have to project on the blank space left by the report’s absence a picture that is uglier than anything the report could say. We want the report without redactions? Then remember that each redaction is a blank space where we can fill in the blanks with whatever makes grammatical sense.
    Ultimately, Nixon wasn’t wrong. Americans are suckers. They were gullible enough to believe a reality TV version of Trumplethinskin over the reality. The only way to get them to accept the truth is to make the lies too costly.

  26. says

    “Documents Link AfD Parliamentarian To Moscow”:

    …After the opening of the forum, [German MP Markus Frohnmaier] gave an interview to the Russian international broadcaster RT in the lobby of the luxury hotel. Frohnmaier said that when you drive along the switchbacks in Crimea, it feels like Verona: the architecture, the wine, the seaside location. “What more could you want?” The sanctions, the member of the German parliament said, finally need to end: “It is simply fact that Crimea is now Russian Crimea. The people who view this highly critically won’t be able to change that. Crimea isn’t coming back, and I think people just have to accept that now.”

    Frohnmaier sounded like a PR agent for the Russian president. He often sounds like that on many days.

    The AfD, which was founded six years ago as a euro-skeptic party, has proved to be a stroke of luck for Putin. It shares the Russian president’s goal of attacking the establishment. Putin wants to break the West’s power by driving a wedge through it. The AfD and the Kremlin also share a pronounced anti-American stance, as well as a disdain for modern values and marriage equality for same-sex couples.

    The Russian leadership sees the biggest opposition party in the Germany parliament, the Bundestag, as an ally in the war against “degenerate Europe,” as neo-fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin once described it. Their common goal is to weaken the enemy. Exclusive documents from the Moscow state apparatus show how this goal is to be attained. They also show how AfD politicians are, in this sense, turning themselves into Putin’s pawns.

    Reporting conducted jointly by DER SPIEGEL, German public broadcaster ZDF, the BBC and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica has uncovered how Moscow is weakening Western European democracies and trying to enlist right-wing parties to help it do that. The leaked emails and documents provide telling insights on how these kinds of strategies for attaining influence in the West emerge, how these parties came into Putin’s political sphere of influence and which instruments are being used to carry out the plans.

    The new findings are worrisome, given that many in Europe are concerned Russia might try to influence the elections for the European Parliament in late May. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the head of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), recently warned on ZDF that the Russian government is “putting a lot of effort into weakening, into destabilizing the countries in the EU and its close neighbors.”

    The emails include, for example, a strategy paper created before the 2017 German federal election that describes several “foreign-policy activities,” ranging from the “organization of meetings, vigils and other protest actions in EU countries to the successful support of resolutions in the national parliaments of the EU and to media campaigns.” The goal was to promote Russian interests and enable the “discrediting” of Moscow’s opponents.

    Who could be better suited for this than the AfD’s people, who are almost all foreign-policy novices? Experts unanimously agree that, for years, Russia has been seeking to exploit right-wing populists as a megaphone for its strategy of expansion in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine, to provide legitimacy for dubious elections and as agitators in German town squares. Previously, there hasn’t been any evidence that this kind of planning had been linked to the higher levels of the Russian state apparatus.

    Now these activities can be documented in detail. The revelations are particularly vivid when it comes to AfD lawmaker Markus Frohnmaier. He plays a central role in the strategy paper, which was sent from the Russian Duma to the highest levels of leadership in the presidential administration. The people behind it made no secret of how they view the now 28-year-old political neophyte: as a useful idiot.

    The document states, “we will have our own absolutely controlled MP in the Bundestag.” An AfD member of the Bundestag willing to help fulfil Moscow’s aims — does this still represent a free, independent mandate?

    DER SPIEGEL is also in possession of a draft of an English-language “action plan” for Frohnmaier’s election campaign in which “material” and “media support” for Frohnmaier is requested in exchange for a promise that the candidate would diligently work to promote the issues most important to Moscow as a parliamentarian in the Bundestag…. [I wish someone would explain why this document is in English. – SC]

    Much, much more at the link. Here’s the BBC Newsnight report from earlier this month (about 16 minutes long).

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    They have to fear for their political lives.

    However, thanks to gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the general level of stupidity and bigotry of the garbage people who live in the Redneck States, they won’t. Congressional Republicans are snug as a bug in a rug.

  28. blf says

    the general level of stupidity and bigotry of the garbage people who live in the Redneck States

    Don’t. Just don’t. Referring to a specific individual as, e.g., “hair furor”, or a well-defined group as, e.g., the “tory ultras” is one thing, but referring to an indeterminate, probably large, population is not that thing. To see this, replace “garage people” with, e.g., “hijab wearers” or “people of colour” or “cis males” or “pharyngula’s horde”.

  29. lotharloo says

    @SC:

    As far as I know Greenwald’s main objection is to the following theories, or in general theories of similar nature:
    A) Trump is a puppet government of Putin.
    B) Trump is a Russian agent working for Russian interests.
    C) Putin has highly incriminating evidence again Trump and thus Trump is actively working to appease Russian interests.
    D) There is so much illegal involvement between Trump campaign and the Russian government that they would eventually escort Trump on handcuffs from Whitehouse.

    His main point is that since Mueller did not charge anyone from immediate Trump family, Trump Jr, Ivanka, Jared, etc. most of these theories are bunk. As a side point, he also blamed Democracts as well as various mainstream Democratic venues of fear mongering and building conspiracy theories without any evidence.

  30. says

    “Barr’s Playbook: He Misled Congress When Omitting Parts of Justice Dep’t Memo in 1989”:

    On Friday the thirteenth October 1989, by happenstance the same day as the “Black Friday” market crash, news leaked of a legal memo authored by William Barr. He was then serving as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It is highly uncommon for any OLC memo to make headlines. This one did because it was issued in “unusual secrecy” and concluded that the FBI could forcibly abduct people in other countries without the consent of the foreign state. The headline also noted the implication of the legal opinion at that moment in time. It appeared to pave the way for abducting Panama’s leader, Gen. Manuel Noriega.

    Members of Congress asked to see the full legal opinion. Barr refused, but said he would provide an account that “summarizes the principal conclusions.” Sound familiar? In March 2019, when Attorney General Barr was handed Robert Mueller’s final report, he wrote that he would “summarize the principal conclusions” of the special counsel’s report for the public.

    When Barr withheld the full OLC opinion in 1989 and said to trust his summary of the principal conclusions, Yale law school professor Harold Koh wrote that Barr’s position was “particularly egregious.” Congress also had no appetite for Barr’s stance, and eventually issued a subpoena to successfully wrench the full OLC opinion out of the Department.

    What’s different from that struggle and the current struggle over the Mueller report is that we know how the one in 1989 eventually turned out.

    When the OLC opinion was finally made public long after Barr left office, it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. It is better to think of Barr’s summary as a redacted version of the full OLC opinion. That’s because the “summary” took the form of 13 pages of written testimony. The document was replete with quotations from court cases, legal citations, and the language of the OLC opinion itself. Despite its highly detailed analysis, this 13-page version omitted some of the most consequential and incendiary conclusions from the actual opinion. And there was evidently no justifiable reason for having withheld those parts from Congress or the public.

    When first asked by reporters about the OLC opinion that Friday, Barr said he could not discuss any of its contents. “I just don’t discuss the work of the office of legal counsel,” he said. “The office … provides legal advice throughout the Administration and does it on a confidential basis.”

    The idea that Barr and the administration would not even discuss the content of the opinion could not withstand public pressure. Barr’s stance was especially untenable because his OLC opinion reversed a prior OLC opinion (an unusual event), and the Justice Department had released that prior opinion in full to the public just four years earlier….

    Much more at the link. The content of the opinion is also highly disturbing, in my opinion.

  31. says

    lotharloo:

    As far as I know Greenwald’s main objection is to the following theories, or in general theories of similar nature:…

    But that’s not a response to what I asked. I asked not about any “theories” or “theories of a similar nature.” These are just words people are throwing around with no grounding in agreement or disagreement about the known empirical evidence. I asked which of those specific factual claims Greenwald, Taibbi, and others are disputing. There’s no point in having a discussion if people refuse to state clearly what they believe happened and didn’t happen. Otherwise, they could be acknowledging that everything I listed @ #24 above and #146 in the previous iteration is true but still talking about a “hoax” or “conspiracy” that’s based on other claims. I’ve seen a couple of indications lately that Greenwald and Taibbi might not believe the Russians hacked the Democrats. If that’s the case, I want them to be straightforward about it. Personally, I would consider that stubbornly irrational and really the end of serious debate. Like someone who claimed well into the Watergate investigation that the break-in hadn’t occurred. Imagine a trial in which the defendant’s lawyers simply assert that the whole case is a hoax and a conspiracy theory, but without disputing any of the evidence. It’s ridiculous.

  32. says

    Update to #26 – “Trump attorneys warn accounting firm not to hand over financial records”:

    President Donald Trump’s attorneys are warning of potential legal action if an accounting firm turns over a decade of the president’s financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

    Trump attorneys William S. Consovoy and Stefan Passantino are urging Mazars USA not to comply with a subpoena that Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) plans to issue on Monday for Trump’s financial documents, calling it a politically motivated scheme to take down the president.

    “It is no secret that the Democrat [sic!!! – SC] Party has decided to use its new House majority to launch a flood of investigations into the president’s personal affairs in hopes of using anything they can find to damage him politically,” Consovoy and Passantino wrote to Jerry D. Bernstein, Mazars’ outside counsel.

    The attorneys said they were formally putting Mazars ”on notice” — an implicit threat of legal action. They also urged Bernstein to hold off on providing the documents to Cummings until the subpoena can be litigated in court, suggesting that a protracted legal battle is likely to ensue….

  33. lotharloo says

    @SC:
    As far as I can tell, and I need to refresh my memory on this, I don’t think Greenwald denies the Russian involvement in the hacks. However, their point is that:
    A) US already meddles in elections all over the world, so for Democrats to suddenly be so surprised and riled up is highly hypocritical. Or in general, everyone meddles in everyone’s elections
    B) Wikileaks are journalists and if Russians hacked some emails and gave it to them, they can share it with Trump campaign or publish them.
    C) Since there were no charges against Don Jr or anyone involved in the Trump tower meeting, Mueller must have decided that those meetings did not raise to the level of criminality.
    D) Many aspects of the story is overblown. There might be some connection between wikileaks and Trump campaign but it was not coordinated. His primary evidence is that the campaigned sniffed that wikileaks has info on Hillary and as response they sent Roger Stone to find out but Stone at some point claimed incorrect leaks (some bullshit John Pedesta claims) which shows there was not that level of connection between wikileaks and the campaign.

  34. says

    More re yesterday’s elections in Finland – “Finland’s SDP tries to build coalition after narrow election win”:

    Finland’s Social Democrats will try to form a coalition government after a narrow win in parliamentary elections that saw left-leaning parties make sweeping gains, despite a stronger than expected showing from the far right.

    The centre-left SDP, led by Antti Rinne, a 56-year-old former trade union leader, will have 40 MPs in a fragmented 200-seat Eduskunta (parliament) after winning 17.7% of the vote following a campaign attacking the austerity policies of the outgoing centre-right coalition.

    The far-right, anti-immigration and increasingly radical Finns party won 17.5% of the vote and 39 seats – almost exactly the same as its total in elections in 2011 and 2015, but significantly more than they might have hoped for earlier this year.

    On a good night generally for the left, the SDP finished with six more MPs than in the previous parliament, while the Greens gained five and the Radical Left four. Voters chose between 2,500 candidates from 19 political parties and movements.

    The biggest loser was the Centre party of the outgoing prime minister Juha Sipilä, who blamed the slump in its support – to 13.8% of the vote and fourth place – on the “difficult economic decisions” his government had had to make to rebalance the economy after a protracted slowdown.

    “For the first time since 1999 we are the largest party in Finland,” a triumphant Rinne told supporters in Helsinki. “SDP is the prime minister’s party.”

    The result was further evidence of a modest social democratic comeback in Nordic countries, with left-leaning prime ministers now in power in Sweden and Iceland, and the Social Democrats leading in the polls in Denmark, where elections are due this summer.

    However, with no single party winning more than 20% of the national vote for the first time in 100 years, and deep divisions within the mainstream parties over the future of Finland’s widely-admired welfare system – which the left want to preserve by increasing taxes and the right to streamline because of rising costs – the SDP leader may find it hard to build a sustainable coalition.

    Most parties, including the SDP, have said they would find it difficult, if not impossible, to share power with the Finns party and its hardline leader, Jussi Halla-aho, who has shifted the party firmly to the right since a 2017 split that saw half its MPs leave.

    Greenpeace Finland had called Sunday’s vote the climate election, saying “climate and the limits of planet Earth” had “never before been discussed with such seriousness in Finland”. A recent poll showed 70% of respondents felt tackling climate change and reducing carbon footprints should be key priorities of the new government.

    The Finns party is the only group in Finland, which according to the World Health Organisation has the highest air quality in the world, to argue the next government should not speed up cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change….

  35. blf says

    Measles cases up 300% worldwide in 2019, says WHO:

    […]
    Measles cases worldwide rose by 300% during the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, amid growing concerns over the impact of anti-vaccination campaigns.

    Measles, which is highly contagious, can be entirely prevented through a two-dose vaccine, but the WHO has in recent months sounded the alarm over declining global vaccination rates.

    […]

    The agency noted that only about one in 10 actual measles cases were reported, meaning the early trends for 2019 were likely to underestimate the severity of the outbreaks.

    So far this year, 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to the WHO. At this time last year, 163 countries had reported 28,124 cases.

    “Spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States,” the WHO said. “The disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.”

    […]

    And, As Ebola kills in Africa, in the west lies over vaccines beguile the complacent:

    The epidemic in the DRC has been impossible to contain because of the spread of anti-vax myths

    With the possible exception of quinine […] and antibiotics, vaccines have saved more lives than any other intervention in medical history. Yet, from New York’s Brooklyn to Camden in north London to Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vaccines are in retreat, shunned by populations who seemingly have little sense of the risks they are running with their own or other people’s lives.

    […] Kivu, in the northeastern DRC, where in the midst of what is officially the second largest Ebola outbreak in history, the rejection of vaccines is having particularly tragic consequences. Initially, it was hoped that the epidemic, which began last August, would follow the same pattern as a previous Ebola outbreak in the DRC, which was controlled by deploying a “ring vaccination” approach — vaccinating and monitoring a ring of people around each infected individual.

    But that has not happened. Instead, in a region where one in four people is convinced that Ebola is “not real” and that the medical response is a scam by those in power to keep humanitarian aid flowing to the government, villagers have been hiding from World Health Organization contact tracers, while militias have been firebombing Ebola treatment centres, impeding the work of vaccination teams.

    […] So far this year, the United States, which eliminated measles in 2000, has seen 465 measles cases across 19 states. The majority have occurred in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods in Brooklyn and Rockland county, New York, where parents have shunned the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, seemingly influenced by claims that the vaccine is not “kosher” because it contains “pig DNA”. In fact, the final product is highly purified and most rabbis accept that vaccines are not prohibited by religious laws.

    […]

  36. says

    lotharloo:

    @SC:
    As far as I can tell, and I need to refresh my memory on this, I don’t think Greenwald denies the Russian involvement in the hacks. However, their point is that:

    D) Many aspects of the story is overblown. There might be some connection between wikileaks and Trump campaign but it was not coordinated. His primary evidence is that the campaigned sniffed that wikileaks has info on Hillary and as response they sent Roger Stone to find out but Stone at some point claimed incorrect leaks (some bullshit John Pedesta claims) which shows there was not that level of connection between wikileaks and the campaign.

    Your first points are irrelevant and I’ve addressed them here at great length over several years, so I won’t engage with them, except to point out, again, that they’re totally fucking irrelevant to what I’m talking about. It’s like asking an AGW denier to state whether they dispute that global warming is happening, that it’s caused by humans, that it’s likely to have particular effects, etc., and having them respond that Al Gore is fat or liberals drive cars or scientists are paid or whatever. I want to know what they’re arguing happened and didn’t happen, what specific claims they’re accepting or disputing.

    Greenwald tweeted this morning: “In an article that raises some interesting points, @AndrewCMcCarthy asks why DOJ didn’t also indict Assange for conspiring with Russia over its hacking, noting that had it done so, it would have been the only time they had to prove Russia hacking in court.” This contains the clear insinuation that he doesn’t believe Russia did the hacking [based on the transparently weak suggestion that this is the only reason Assange wouldn’t be charged with conspiracy, despite the fact that a) they would have to show that Assange knew when he was conspiring with Guccifer 2.0 that Guccifer 2.0 was the GRU (which he might not have; I suspect he did, maybe not in the summer but by October, but that’s beside the point), b) proving this in court could possibly require revealing sources and methods when the existing charges against Assange and possible ones to follow wouldn’t, and c) several other relevant considerations]. Assange’s not being charged with conspiracy with the Russian government, and indeed not being guilty of conspiring with the Russian government, is entirely consistent with the Russian government stealing the emails and giving them to WL using the Guccifer 2.0 persona. They used WL to distribute the stolen documents. Mueller’s team presented in their indictment extensive evidence, added to the evidence that was already public knowledge, that the GRU hacked the Democrats and that they passed the documents to WL. If Greenwald is disputing this, he needs to come out and say it, and to offer a reasonable alternative explanation for the existing evidence. To simply continue to make the same insinuations without putting his foot down anywhere is really shady and intellectually dishonest.

    Regarding this and your point D), I’ll link again to Maddow’s segment in which she quotes from messages between WL and Guccifer 2.0 (the GRU) and between WL and Don Jr. And we know Trump talked about WL 160 times during the closing months of the campaign. But it’s not like the only connection that existed between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign was through WL. It was all of the stuff I listed @ #146 on the previous iteration. I imagine there’s more to the Stone, Credico, Farage part of the story, but whether we’ll know about it anytime soon or not I have no idea; again, no individual aspect is the necessary smoking gun here. There’s a mountain of evidence of willingness to collude, collusion, and covering up (including for Putin!).

    And I’ll say one more thing. People like Neera Tanden and John Podesta were the victims of a plot by a rightwing foreign adversary to interfere in our election and to elect a racist, misogynistic, corrupt, unfit monster who would do Putin’s bidding as president. Their private emails were stolen and then spread throughout the world in the most vicious manner possible, accompanied by misrepresentations encouraged by an army of bots and trolls, which WL and the Trump campaign abetted and which Clinton’s primary opponent did little to condemn or stop. I’ve not only seen no evidence of compassion from Greenwald and crew, but they instead insist on portraying people like Tanden as the primary enemies of the Left. It’s both perplexing and extremely gross and it’s horrifying to see it continue into this election cycle.

  37. blf says

    Does Donald Trump believe his bizarre bluster on immigration?:

    […]
    There is no issue that better illustrates the parallel universe in which President [sic] Trump resides than immigration policy. In the real world, unauthorized immigration is the lowest it’s been in a decade, and violent crime has been dropping since the 1990s. Yet in Trump’s bizarre world, we are experiencing an out-of-control immigrant crime wave.

    Apparently MS-13 members with face tattoos are flooding across an unguarded southern border by the millions and are wreaking havoc in lawless “sanctuary cities”, where they are given voting rights, free healthcare, and the names and addresses of Trump supporters. Immigrants — at least those from whom he does not personally profit — are, in Trump’s words, gang members, drug dealers, human traffickers, and criminals of all shapes, sizes, and kinds. These aren’t people. These are animals. What better way, then, to punish his enemies than to send them people of whom Trump is so personally terrified?

    Such is the logic of Trump’s announcement that he intends to bus undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities. […]

    Trump’s proposal resembles a perverse re-enactment of the 1980 Mariel boatlift, when Fidel Castro emptied out Cuba’s prisons and encouraged convicts to flee to a United States that was welcoming the island’s dissidents with open arms. That Trump’s enemies don’t see today’s asylum seekers — mostly Central Americans fleeing gang violence, a growing proportion of whom are women and children — as the reincarnation of Scarface is lost on Trump.

    […] The only enthusiasm his proposal has attracted has been from the Democratic mayors he imagines he is trolling: the mayor of Oakland, whom Trump tweeted does NOT WANT our currently ‘detained immigrants’, responded that “Oakland welcomes all, no matter where you came from or how you got here.” If Trump were to follow through with his threat, it would probably be better for immigrants, who would benefit from the social support networks that exist in sanctuary cities.

    The reason Trump’s threat (which Trump’s deputy press secretary has clumsily tried to recast as an olive branch) has failed to elicit mass panic and capitulation by Democrats is that they live in those cities, and see sanctuary policies working pretty well. Political science research reflects this. Tom Wong of the University of California San Diego found that sanctuary cities are more likely to see undocumented immigrants report crime to local police, and that sanctuary cities tend to see less reliance on public assistance, and better labor force participation rates, than non-sanctuary cities. And Loren Collingwood of the University of California Riverside and Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien of San Diego State University found that sanctuary cities are statistically no more likely to experience crime than non-sanctuary cities. The then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, subsequently misrepresented their research, claiming it found the opposite of what it actually did.

    […] That [hair furor] actually buys into his own rhetoric is telling. Trump’s belief in an imaginary immigrant crime wave meriting dictatorial emergency powers is so unquestioning that he is genuinely surprised whenever his illegal executive actions get slapped down by courts, or voters react negatively to his policy of stealing children from their parents.

    It’s a common mistake [… to claim] demagogues don’t really believe what they say. They must be hucksters who, behind closed doors, mock their supporters as rubes. Throughout his campaign, Trump benefited from this presumption that he doesn’t really mean it: he’s saying these things to get attention, or to get a better deal with NBC. After years of Trump playing the willful idiot, it’s worth considering that it may not be an act at all.

  38. says

    The man Stephanie Ruhle is talking to cut out for a few minutes as he was saying that debris from the building was coming down like hail. When he called back, he said they had been told to move further away from the building, fortunately.

  39. blf says

    France24 is reporting only that fire MAY be related to the works. They just had an interview with a historian, who pointed out Notre Dame is exceptionally important to France, not just Paris, and then rattled off a series of symbolically important events which have happened there over the last few centuries.

  40. blf says

    France24 reports the police(? fire(? sorry, forgot!)) are reporting there are no known deaths. No word on any injuries. They are also reporting that a official/stated priority is to save the heritage in the interior.

    The works scaffolding is now starting to collapse. The on-the-spot reporter says that whilst the fire is clearly not yet under control, it does now seem to be confined to the central area, “the ends are no longer on fire”.

  41. blf says

    Marcon — who is now reported to be on the scence — twitteringed (in translation), “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.” (From the Grauniad’s live blog.)

    The France24 reporter reports there are fireboats and helicopters on-scene.

  42. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 53

    “Fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral was started by accident…

    That’s not going to stop the usual suspects from claiming the fire was started by Muslim immigrants, or something like that. Expect the racist conspiracy kooks to be feverishly posting screeds on Twitter right now.

  43. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo @41:

    A) US already meddles in elections all over the world, so for Democrats to suddenly be so surprised and riled up is highly hypocritical. Or in general, everyone meddles in everyone’s elections

    “Everyone” meddles? When did the Canadian government try to hack the federal Republican party during 2016?

    B) Wikileaks are journalists and if Russians hacked some emails and gave it to them, they can share it with Trump campaign or publish them.

    Assange was charged with cracking passwords, not sharing documents. Journalists are taught never to break the law in the pursuit of their stories, ergo by violating that guideline Assange isn’t a journalist.

    C) Since there were no charges against Don Jr or anyone involved in the Trump tower meeting, Mueller must have decided that those meetings did not raise to the level of criminality.

    Why did Mueller decide not to press charges? Was it because was able to assess what happened, and decided it wasn’t criminal conduct? Was it because he was able to get a good idea of what happened, but didn’t think he could prove it in a court of law? Was it because he wasn’t able to assess what happened, because of a flood of contradictory stories? Was it because he wasn’t able to assess what happened, because nobody would talk to him and/or documents were destroyed?

    You don’t know. I don’t know. The guy who currently does know has a history of releasing misleading memos and burying evidence, as SC pointed out earlier.

    On D), I defer to SC. What little info we got in the indictment against Stone was pretty damning, and there’s no reason to think it’s all of the evidence that exists.

  44. blf says

    France24 is now reporting the Interior Ministry is saying there are no injuries, either.

    The fire apparently started in attic in the centre / rear, which also happens to be where some of the original 13th C woodwork was. (The spire was rebuilt in the 19th C.) They currently have an architectural historian speaking, who points out its very unusual for any cathedrals to still have such an extensive amount of the original woodwork.

  45. blf says

    The Grauniad reports the French civil defence and crisis management agency has just given hair furor’s idiotic suggestion to water bomb the building the reception in deserves (in translation), “The drop of water by air on this type of building could result in the collapse of the entire structure along with the fire fighers who are currently doing their best to save Notre Dame.”

  46. blf says

    France24 is quoting a Notre Dame official as saying “all” of the artwork has been saved. That’s known to be BS; at least one of the (smaller) stained glass windows was clearly broken with flames shooting through it… and the “artwork” he listed was mostly relics…

  47. says

    Two weeks ago, Trump said that Mueller has acted honorably, and he added that it “wouldn’t bother me at all” if the Mueller report was made public.

    Trump also said, without having read the report:

    The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better.

    He was referring to Barr’s 4-page letter, but who are we to quibble over the facts.

    Over the weekend, Trump tweeted:

    Why should Radical Left Democrats in Congress have a right to retry and examine the $35,000,000 (two years in the making) No Collusion Mueller Report, when the crime committed was by Crooked Hillary, the DNC and Dirty Cops?

    Today, Trump tweeted:

    Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller findings (and great intelligence), have already ruled No Collusion, No Obstruction. These were crimes committed by Crooked Hillary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS! … The Mueller Report, which was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax. That is, never forget, the crime. Since there was no Collusion, why was there an Investigation in the first place! Answer – Dirty Cops, Dems and Crooked Hillary!

    Yep. A 180 degree shift in tone. As was noted up-thread, the White House has been briefed on the Mueller Report, so Trump’s increasingly bonkers bloviation via Twitter is a result of him knowing that the report, even in a redacted form, will contain plenty of bad news for him.

    Weirdly, Trump keeps upping the number of “angry democrats.”

  48. says

    blf @64, so glad to see that someone called Trump out for the ridiculous and dangerous advice he offered for putting out the fire in Paris.

    In bad campaign news, we see that Trump’s re-election campaign took in $30 million in the first quarter. The campaign now has about $40 million on hand despite having paid out some fairly large sums for legal fees.

    In good campaign news, Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivered an intelligent, compelling kick-off speech for his campaign. NBC News link

    A few excerpts from Mayor Pete’s speech:

    There is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back. It comes from people who think the only way to reach communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia, selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with. […]

    The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming. But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us, what is good in us, dare I say, what is great in us. […]

    The idea that security and patriotism belong to one political party needs to end now. […] no issue we care about, from gun safety to immigration, from climate to education to paid family leave, will be handled well unless our democracy is in better shape. […]

    Our conservative friends care about freedom, but only make it part of the journey. They only see “freedom from,” freedom from taxes, freedom from regulation … as though government were the only thing that can make you unfree.

    But that’s not true. Your neighbor can make you unfree. Your cable company can make you unfree. There’s a lot more to your freedom than the size of your government. […]

    A few details from Buttigieg’s résumé:

    […] Buttigieg, the son of two Notre Dame University professors, attended Harvard; went on to become a Rhodes Scholar; did a stint at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co.; was elected as the mayor of South Bend at the age of 29; took a leave of absence during his first term to serve in Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer; came out as gay in a column in his local newspaper a few months before his re-election; was re-elected with nearly 80 percent of the vote; married his partner Chasten in a church ceremony that was live-streamed on the Internet; and wrote a best-selling book.

  49. says

    Akira in comment 33: “[…] the general level of stupidity and bigotry of the garbage people who live in the Redneck States, […]”

    That “garbage people” comment is unacceptable. “Redneck States” is almost as bad. You have branded millions of people with derogatory labels. Less than half of those people voted for Trump, and some of those voted for a myth, or as a result of a con job that was nurtured not just by Trump and Republicans, but by Russian trolls and bots, (not to mention Fox News). You cannot look at the questionable judgement of some people and use that to brand entire populations as “garbage.” Your choice of words reminds me of Trump characterizing migrants as “an infestation.”

    Also, a vote for Trump does not turn a human being into “garbage.” I ask you, I strongly advise you, to avoid such wholesale, demeaning language when posting comments to this thread.

    Even when you are disagreeing with individuals, please try to be specific most of the time.

    Thank you.

  50. says

    Followup to comment 68.

    Cory Booker also formally kicked off his campaign over the weekend. Excerpt:

    […] The president wants a race to the gutter and to fight us in the gutter. But to win, we have to fight from higher ground in order to bring this country to higher ground. […]

    Because the people on my block, the people gathered here and folks all across the country can’t wait. They can’t afford a politics of division that sacrifices progress for purity. They can’t afford to allow this election to become just an exercise in political posturing or a box checking competition that is completely divorced from the realities of so many people who are struggling and hurting. […]

    And I know and you know that we don’t have the privilege to wait for what fits into someone else’s narrow view of what it means to be a progressive.

    Eric Swalwell, also officially launched his campaign for president today. Excerpt:

    […] A year ago, hope died at Parkland. But, in a uniquely American way, owing to the courage and strength of children, hope was reborn at Parkland. Hope has been reborn here in America too. That’s why I started my campaign at Parkland. I pledged to that community what I pledge to you — I will be the first campaign to make ending gun violence the top priority in my campaign.

    [Details omitted: a ban and buyback program for assault weapons and universal background checks for all gun purchases.]

    […] This is not a campaign that will be beholden to special interests. We will accept no corporate PAC money and we’re not going to be driven by the polls. […]

  51. blf says

    Both the Grauniad and France24 are reporting the French deputy interior minister, and also the fire brigades, as saying they are uncertain if they can save it — it’s still burning — with perhaps the next two-ish hours being critical.

  52. says

    Followup to comments 13 and 19.

    From Representative Katie Porter:

    I’ll take that bet any time. I’m trained in tax law, I’m a legal professor. I’m ready to go to take a look [at Trump’s tax returns]

    She was responding to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ claim that no one in Congress is “smart enough” to look at Trump’s taxes.

  53. says

    Climate scientists slam Breitbart article as ‘nonsensical’ and ‘woefully ignorant’

    “This is quite possibly the worst ‘climate’-related article I’ve ever encountered.”

    […] Breitbart’s latest piece of climate science denial — an article headlined “Scientists Prove Man-Made Global Warming Is a Hoax” — is so inaccurate and misleading that when the nonpartisan site Climate Feedback asked 10 climate scientists to comment on it, they got replies like “woefully ignorant,” “nonsensical,” and “a willful attempt to misguide their readership.”

    Breitbart has an audience of more than 20 million visitors each month, […] meaning its misleading claims have the potential to spread quickly. […] the article was a bizarre rewrite of a recent ThinkProgress article on a major new study that actually shows human-caused global warming is more worrisome than previously thought, not less.

    The study itself found that our current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, 410 parts per million (ppm), were last seen on Earth three million years ago — when temperatures were much higher, the great ice sheets were far smaller, and sea levels were some 65 feet higher.

    But in Breitbart’s Orwellian reinterpretation, it writes: “ThinkProgress reports that scientists have finally proven that the theory of man-made Global Warming is a total hoax.”

    Yet, Breitbart links to the study’s news release from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the first paragraph of which explicitly states, “today, it is the increase of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels that is fundamentally changing our planet, the analysis further confirms.”

    So how does Breitbart turn an analysis that confirms society’s burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change into one that somehow proves human-caused global warming is a hoax? By asserting that because slow changes in the Earth system caused high levels of CO2 in the past, fast changes caused by humans can’t be causing them now. […]

    As science has proven, that argument is nonsense, pure and simple. Numerous studies have shown how humans, not natural factors like changes in solar radiation and volcanoes, are the main driver of today’s rising global temperatures. […]

    More at the link.

  54. says

    Pulitzer Prize details:

    Multiple newspapers on Monday were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for their investigations into […] Trump.

    Reporters at The New York Times won the Pulitzer for explanatory reporting for their investigation into Trump’s finances, which revealed that Trump and his family allegedly engaged in tax dodging.

    The Times investigation found that Trump’s parents allegedly transferred more than $1 billion to their children and that the family paid $52.2 million in taxes, a rate of roughly 5 percent. […]

    The #Pulitzer for investigative reporting awarded to @latimesharriet, Matt Hamilton and @PringleLATimes at the @latimes for reporting on a USC gynecologist who was accused of violating young women for nearly 30 years […]

    The Wall Street Journal also won a Pulitzer for national reporting after reporting that, prior to the 2016 presidential election, Trump allegedly directed secret hush money payments to women alleging they had affairs with him years ago. […]

    Other newspapers awarded Pulitzers on Monday were the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which won in the breaking news category for its coverage of the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which was awarded the Pulitzer for public service for its coverage of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

    Link

  55. blf says

    More on British MP David Lammy calling nazis nazis (see @6), David Lammy was right to name and shame the ERG:

    […]
    They really don’t like it up ’em, do they? The horrific mutation of Eton, ego and the European Research Group (ERG) that produces the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg must not be called nasty names. Oh, no. It has been suggested that the Labour MP David Lammy went too far on The Andrew Marr Show when he said that comparing the ERG — a group of Tory MPs that supports a hard Brexit — to Nazis was “not strong enough”. […]

    [… L]et’s join the dots. Johnson says he is pro-immigration, and says he has only met Steve Bannon twice. I haven’t got all day to rehearse the racist remarks Johnson has made over the years.

    Rees-Mogg posted a video of the leader of the German political party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), although he said afterwards he was not endorsing them. The AfD march alongside neo-Nazis, want refugee boats sunk and say Islam is worse than the plague. In 2013, Rees-Mogg went to dinner with the Traditional Britain Group […] even though he admits he had been tipped off about their views. That group’s Facebook page has called for Doreen Lawrence and millions of others to be requested to return to their natural homelands.

    The BBC has reported that leading Brexiters informally call themselves Grand Wizards. Whether this is a reference to the leaders of the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan is, I suppose, debatable.

    […]

    On that same programme, […] Gerard Batten, the Ukip leader, who claimed his new adviser Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (I refuse to use his made-up name, Tommy Robinson) doesn’t have far-right views. The far right always pretends it is not the far right. That is the game it excels at, and the BBC plays right into it. Lammy refused to play by their rules, and who can blame him?

  56. says

    Followup to comment 68.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Pete Buttigieg’s speech:

    […] Do not be alarmed by that nearly two-hour timestamp on the video; we have advanced the start point to when Buttigieg actually takes the stage, whew. So it’s right around a half hour. [video available at the link]

    Buttigieg emphasized, as is his wont, that he’s a millennial who won’t be the current president’s age until 2054. He also made several affectionate references to his husband, Chasten, although the word “gay” never appears in the speech. But the announcement definitely acknowledged the historic nature of Buttigieg being the first major-party candidate with a halfway decent shot of lasting past the first primaries. He thanked “Chasten, my love, for giving me the strength to do this and the grounding to be myself as we go,” and later said he and Chasten knew all too well that “you are certainly not free if a county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry based on their political beliefs.”

    The speech as a whole is an extended exploration of Buttigieg’s three main themes, freedom, security, and democracy, and boy it’s nice to see someone talking about government as something that provides the basics of freedom, not a terrible tyrannical force that takes away freedom through evil taxes and regulations. Having the means to survive in a complex economy is about freedom, said Buttigieg:

    Health care is freedom, because you’re not free if you can’t start a small business because leaving your job would mean losing your health care. […]

    Racial justice is freedom, because you’re not free if there is a veil of mistrust between a person of color and the officers who are sworn to keep us safe.

    […] He also framed climate as a security issue, because if the world is burning and flooding around us, we aren’t exactly secure, now are we.

    And of course, “democracy” was a chance to talk about voting reform, campaign finance reform, ending the Electoral College, eliminating gerrymandering, full representation for Washington DC and Puerto Rico, and by golly, marriage equality, because the Demos includes everybody, dammit. We can get behind every bit of that. […]

    In one of the more moving parts of the speech, Buttigieg imagined what he’d tell his 17-year-old self if he could go back 20 years, reassuring him that he would someday fit in, and that it would be OK that he was a geeky bookworm who worried about being gay.

    If I found him, and told him what was ahead, would he believe me? If I could tell him that he would see the world and serve his country. That he would not only find belonging in his hometown but be entrusted by its citizens with the duty of leading it and shaping it. […]

    To tell him he’ll be all right. More than all right. To tell him that one rainy April day, before he even turns forty, he’ll wake up to headlines about whether he’s rising too quickly as he becomes a top-tier contender for the American presidency. And to tell him that on that day he announces his campaign for president, he’ll do it with his husband looking on.

    How can you live that story and not believe that America deserves our optimism, deserves our courage, deserves our hope. After all, running for office, itself, is an act of hope.

    […]

  57. says

    Followup to blf @64 and SC @69.

    From Victoria Brownworth:

    Says the guy who didn’t have a sprinkler system in Trump Tower and who ignored the California wildfires.

  58. says

    The redacted version of the Mueller report is coming out on Thursday, as was noted up-thread. That’s the day before Easter weekend, which many people consider to be a holiday. The timing, I think, is not accidental.

  59. blf says

    France24 is reporting one firefighter has been seriously injured.

    And that the fire brigades now believe the structure of the building can be saved. Not the roof or spire, obviously, but they seem to be saying the stones and iconic bell towers might, just might, be salvageable. The Grauniad confirms, “Notre-Dame’s main structure has been ‘saved and preserved’, a Paris fire official has told AFP.”

  60. says

    Pulitzer Prize news, Washington Post update:

    Washington Post critic Carlos Lozada […] reviewed many of the books published about […] Trump.

    […] They named Lozada the winner of the Pulitzer for criticism, bestowing journalism’s highest honor on him for his perspectives on politics and the presidency. It was one of several Pulitzers awarded Monday for journalism that examined Trump’s past and present and his impact on American society. […]

    Two other journalists affiliated with The Post were also cited by the Pulitzer judges for their work during 2018. Lorenzo Tugnoli, a freelance photographer, won in the feature photography category for his stark and gripping portfolio of images from war-torn Yemen that were commissioned and published by The Post. Darrin Bell, a cartoonist best known for his comic strip “Candorville,” won for editorial cartoons about Trump and other topics. […]

    Reuters’s awards were in the breaking-news photography category, for documenting the journey of Central American migrants to the United States, and for international reporting, for accounts of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The latter articles landed their principal reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, in prison, sparking an international outcry. Reuters shared the international-reporting prize with a team from the Associated Press for its coverage of the war in Yemen. […]

    The Post’s reporting and opinion columns about the killing of one of its own contributing columnists, Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, was a finalist for the public-service medal, one of three Post entries to earn finalist status. The others were opinion writer and editor Elizabeth Bruenig’s account of the aftermath of a sexual assault at her high school in 2006 (in the feature-writing category) and The Post’s series on neighborhoods across the country where homicides are clustered but arrests are rare (in explanatory reporting). […]

  61. says

    From John Judis, writing for TPM about Pete Buttigieg:

    […] What accounts for his popularity? I’ll list five factors. First, he is the smartest person in class. […] “Pete Buttigieg is a gay Harvard alum, fluent in Gramsci, Joyce, and Norwegian.” Being thought of as brilliant is a plus in elections. It helped John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Barack Obama in 2008. […]

    Second, Buttigieg’s being gay is probably a plus in the Democratic primary, and not just among gay voters. […]

    Third, he is running as the candidate of the millennials, as my daughter Hilary Judis, a millennial herself and enthusiastic supporter, informed me weeks ago. […] The election, he said, is “not just about the next four years—it’s about preparing our country for a better life in 2030, in 2040, and in the year 2054, when, God willing, I will come to be the same age as our current President.”

    Fourth, he is running as the mayor who brought a rust belt city back to life and implicitly as someone who can appeal to erstwhile Trump voters in the deindustrialized Midwest. […]

    Fifth, he promises to reclaim patriotism and religion for the Democrats. […] recounting that when he was driving soldiers in Afghanistan “the men and women who got in my vehicle, they didn’t care if I was a Democrat or a Republican. They cared about whether I had selected the route with the fewest IED threats, not whether my father was documented or undocumented when he immigrated here. They cared about whether my M-4 was locked and loaded, not whether I was going home to a girlfriend or a boyfriend.”

    Buttigieg also understands that successful political campaigns are based on themes and not on policies. His announcement speech was lacking in bullet points and numbers. Instead of taking a specific stand on “Medicare for All,” he talked about how because of Medicare, when his parents got sick, “all we had to think about was what was medically right for Mom and Dad both. Not whether our family would go bankrupt.” “I want every American to have that same benefit,” he concluded.

    But unlike Beto O’Rourke, whose campaign seems based on his theatrical prowess, Buttigieg can, if questioned, get into the bullet points and numbers. […]

  62. says

    Rep. Ilham Omar said death threats against her have spiked as a result of an inflammatory video that was shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter about a remark she made regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    USA Today link

  63. says

    From Talking Points Memo: “Jerome Corsi Accuses Roger Stone Of Violating Gag Order In Bizarre Filing”

    In a fringe-figure mad libs of a court filing made public Monday, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi accused Roger Stone of violating his gag order by using intermediaries to smear Corsi and taint the jury pool in his case. […]

    Corsi told Jackson [U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson] that Stone “is employing surrogates, specifically in this instance his longtime associate Michael Caputo, to continue to smear and defame Dr. Corsi and his counsel Larry Klayman, while directly violating this Court’s February 19 ‘gag’ order.” […]

    The complaint pointed specifically to a Caputo MSNBC appearance last month where Caputo suggested Corsi was not ultimately indicted because he will testify against Stone at trial.

    “In actuality, Dr. Corsi was not indicted because he was truthful; nor did he threaten to kill a material witness and his service dog, as did Stone,” Corsi shot back in the complaint, referring to threats Stone allegedly made against radio host Randy Credico and Credico’s dog Bianca.

    By acting as “joint tortfeasors,” Stone and Caputo are seeking to “coerce and threaten Dr. Corsi to testify falsely if subpoenaed to be called as a material witness in Stone’s ensuing criminal trial,” Corsi alleged.

    “The goal of these defamatory statements is to create the false implication that Plaintiffs are not true conservatives and not supporters of President Trump and are dishonest and underhanded because they were willing to help Special Counsel Robert Mueller try to take down President Trump by having his adviser Roger Stone indicted, among other false implications,” the lawsuit last week said. […]

    Okay. I’m feeling sorry for U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is going to have to read all the mad libs and then rule on this.

  64. says

    Hm… Government says WaPo can’t have unredacted Manafort documents. Key papragraph (p. 8):

    The redactions at issue were undertaken and approved recently – from December 2018, through March 2019. No material changes have occurred in these past months. Although the Special Counsel has concluded his work, he has also referred a number of matters to other offices. The ongoing investigations that required redactions – many of which were already being conducted by other offices – remain ongoing. And the privacy interests that warranted redactions remain the same.

  65. says

    Game-of-Thrones-ish action inside the National Rifle Association:

    The Wall Street Journal brings us an epic tale of an ancient and secretive dynasty struggling for its survival in a changing world, and the palace intrigue that’s erupted into a contentious struggle for power. We only wish there were some ice zombies to up the stakes, though everybody’s pretty white to start with, regardless of where they’re walking.

    It seems the National Rifle Association is suing its longtime ad agency, Ackerman McQueen Inc., and accusing it of not providing details to justify all the money the company has billed the nonprofit, which has been running a deficit for two years now. […]

    The NRA has been losing money since its great big spending spree in the 2016 election, and some board members are wondering what exactly Ackerman McQueen is doing with all the money it gets — $42.6 million in 2017 according to tax filings. The agency is the NRA’s single biggest contractor, and “has been widely credited with helping to transform the NRA from a grass-roots operation to a powerful national advocacy group.” What’s more, Ackerman McQueen actually produces the online streaming outlet NRATV, the source of constant publicity for the parent organization — we were going to say “embarrassment” too […]

    Oh, and then there’s the vague whiff of possible grift involving the ad agency’s contract with NRA’s new-ish president, Upstanding Patriot Oliver North:

    Mr. North was hired last year by Ackerman McQueen to host a documentary program on NRATV—”Oliver North’s American Heroes.” […]

    […] Ah, but there’s even MORE possible fuckery afoot! That “outside NRA lawyer” who’s leading the lawsuit, William A. Brewer III, is “related to Ackerman McQueen’s two top officials, who are his brother-in-law and father-in-law.” The WSJ story calls this “a Shakespearean twist,” […]

    Brewer, of course denies that his worthless cheating dishonest relatives have anything to do with it (we are of course comically paraphrasing for satirical purposes and therefore cannot be sued). Then again, he does seem to have his own fingers well and deeply inserted into the NRA’s proverbial pie (it is a metal-jacketed semiautomatic pie). Brewer’s law firm is becoming a major vendor to the NRA, and is representing the group in that whiny federal lawsuit against Andrew Cuomo and other New York state officials, claiming New York is repressin’ the poor gun lobby. […]

  66. says

    “Bernie Sanders’ Last 10 Years Of Tax Returns Show He’s Now Among The Millionaires”:

    Bernie Sanders grew up in a three-and-a-half room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn. His father, a paint salesman, “worked hard his entire life, but never made much money.” In the 1970s, as a young candidate in Vermont, he borrowed gas money from friends to campaign in his Volkswagen bug. The windshield wipers didn’t work. He struggled to pay bills. In 1981, after his inauguration as mayor of Burlington, he bought his first suit.

    Decades later, as a two-time presidential candidate and celebrity, he talks often about his years living “paycheck to paycheck.” Unlike Donald Trump, he says, “I know what that is about.”

    Now tax returns from the last ten years, released for the first time by his campaign aides on Monday, show how much Sanders has risen, and profited, from national politics in the three years since an improbable presidential campaign made him one of the most popular politicians in America.

    According to copies of the returns, Sanders earned more than $2.7 million from 2016 through 2018 — an income that puts him among the ranks of the “millionaires and billionaires” he has railed against for years….

  67. says

    NYT – “Congressional Investigators Subpoena Deutsche Bank and Other Lenders”:

    Congressional investigators on Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and numerous other banks, seeking information about President Trump’s finances and the lenders’ business dealings with Russians, according to several people with knowledge of the investigation.

    The subpoenas, from the House’s Intelligence and Financial Services committees, were the latest attempts by congressional Democrats to collect information about the finances of Mr. Trump and his family-owned company. Another House committee is separately seeking Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.

    The committees that issued subpoenas on Monday are jointly investigating Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump. Over the past two decades, Deutsche Bank was the only mainstream bank consistently willing to do business with Mr. Trump, who has a long history of defaults and bankruptcies. The bank has lent him well over $2 billion, and Mr. Trump had more than $300 million in outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank by the time he took office, making the German bank the president’s biggest creditor.

    Kerrie McHugh, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman, said the company was “engaged in a productive dialogue” with the committees. “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations in a manner consistent with our legal obligations,” she said.

    At multiple other banks — including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — also received subpoenas on Monday, according to two people with knowledge of the subpoenas. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

    The subpoenas seek records related to business the banks did with a list of suspected money launderers from Russia and other Eastern European countries, according to a person familiar with the subpoenas….

  68. says

    David Enrich from the NYT is saying (consistent with what Maxine Waters has described) that Deutsche Bank has been working with congress to help them draft subpoenas narrowly enough that they would be able to respond. He thinks they’ll be turning over the information in fairly short order.

  69. says

    Crossposted with the Notre Dame thread:

    Incredible: “Inside #NotreDame. Only a small part of the vault collapsed. Interior seems relatively untouched. Alleluia!”

    After watching the fire live, I’m astounded at these images. I’ve even seen a(n unsourced, unconfirmed) report that the organ survived. Great news.

  70. lotharloo says

    @SC:

    From minute 24 ish.
    His position on the Russian involvement is that:
    A) It is very plausible Russians were involved, and in fact this is what they do
    B) He wanted to see solid evidence
    C) He does not want to completely trust evidence or selected leaks from agencies that have a history of misleading the public

  71. lotharloo says

    @SC:

    And I’ll say one more thing. People like Neera Tanden and John Podesta were the victims of a plot by a rightwing foreign adversary to interfere in our election and to elect a racist, misogynistic, corrupt, unfit monster who would do Putin’s bidding as president.

    First, so what? US meddles in elections all over the world, including when it’s being lead by fucking Democratic presidents. Hillary was a terrible candidate, she had a hawkish foreign policy and she called war criminals such as Kissinger her “friend”.

    Second, you may say “irrelevant this” or “irrelevant that” but here you yourself are spreading the conspiracy that Trump is doing Putin’s bidding. Care to explain how it works?

  72. says

    “The 21-Year-Old Accused Of Setting Fire To Three Black Louisiana Churches Now Faces Hate Crime Charges”:

    Prosecutors in Louisiana have charged the man accused of setting fire to three black churches with hate crimes.

    Holden Matthews, who was arrested last week, pleaded not guilty to three hate crime charges on Monday, along with several counts of arson involving a religious building, according to the St. Landry Parish District Attorney’s Office.

    The three St. Landry Parish churches, which were all empty at the time, burned to the ground within 10 days of one another, with the first fire occurring on March 26. About 77% of residents in Opelousas, Louisiana, the town the burned churches were in or near, are black.

    The additional hate crime charges confirm that authorities believe that Matthews targeted the churches because of the race of their attendees, District Attorney Earl Taylor explained to BuzzFeed News, a potential motive that investigators had held off on suggesting until Monday.

    Matthews, 21, could face about 65 years in prison, Taylor said.

    The suspect is the son of a sheriff’s deputy and has no history of arrests or violence, authorities say. According to CBS, Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning testified in court that Matthews documented the fires on his phone, even superimposing himself on copies of news reports to claim responsibility for the damage.

    At a news conference last week, the state marshal’s office said investigators believe black metal music may have influenced his actions. Matthews was passionate about the genre, specifically Norwegian black metal music, and was also very active in pagan Facebook groups….

  73. says

    lotharloo:

    First, so what? US meddles in elections all over the world, including when it’s being lead [sic] by fucking Democratic presidents.

    Gah. I started a longform response to this, but I’m not going to bother right now. I’ve written about US global political and electoral interference for years. Look at my damn blog.

    I find your reasoning politically insane and morally repugnant. Presumably you oppose US efforts to interfere in electoral politics in Honduras, Bolivia, Venezuela,…, and that you do so on political and moral grounds. It’s contrary to all democratic values and invariably leads to the entrenchment of authoritarian rightwing client states that aren’t beholden to their people; are corrupt; exacerbate inequality; destroy movements for social justice; roll back rights gains; wreck the environment; use propaganda and lies; imprison, torture, and murder with impunity;… If your response to this happening to the US is to say “Ha, serves those establishment Democratic assholes right – Good one, Putin,” you need to take a long hard look at your fucking commitments. Not only are you saying that you don’t really care about any of the people or countries victimized by this except as a cudgel to use against the US, but that you don’t care about anyone in the US or around the world (including but not limited to the direct victims of the hacking) who is suffering and will suffer as the result of a despicable interference. Your dismissing and condoning the Kremlin (I have to wonder how much you really know about that regime) is also helping enable them to push their fascist puppets in Europe and create chaos in those democracies, but hey, fuck those countries, too, and fuck all of Putin’s enemies in Europe who have their personal information stolen and used against them in a campaign of misrepresentations. That you apparently hate liberal Democrats so much that you would condone fascist electoral sabotage that resulted in a deranged clown as US president says nothing good about you.

    This also points to why it’s so difficult to have a discussion or debate about this with Greenwald and that group. They present it as a rejection of factual claims (a “hoax,” a “conspiracy theory”), but won’t have the discussion at that level because it’s not really about whether any of it is true or not, is it? At root, they don’t care if it’s true because they don’t give a flying fuck what Putin or Trump or his campaign did. It’s all about attacking and laughing at the real enemy, the liberal Democratic establishment.

    Second, you may say “irrelevant this” or “irrelevant that” but here you yourself are spreading the conspiracy that Trump is doing Putin’s bidding. Care to explain how it works?

    So after everything I said in #146 (to which much more could be added: the nomination of Tillerson, the constant attacks on allies, the suggestion that NATO commitments are optional, the suggestion that the people of Montenegro are “very aggressive” and could cause a third world war, the refusal to talk about or address ongoing or future election interference, the calls to investigate the investigators,…) this is all you have. You’re completely proving my point. Won’t respond to the pattern of evidence – just keep shouting the word “conspiracy” and asking the same intentionally vague questions to which you’ve been given the answers dozens of times. I’m done with this conversation.

  74. says

    lotharloo:

    From minute 24 ish.
    His position on the Russian involvement is that:
    A) It is very plausible Russians were involved, and in fact this is what they do
    B) He wanted to see solid evidence
    C) He does not want to completely trust evidence or selected leaks from agencies that have a history of misleading the public

    This is an epistemological shell game, again similar to what AGW deniers do. He’s always willing to be convinced, but the bar for convincing him somehow is never reached to the point where he absorbs that information into his view of the world. I don’t know when this was recorded, but on this question there’s no need to wait for the Mueller report. Mueller has put the evidence (that can be made public) into the GRU indictment. It includes knowledge at the level of the keystrokes of GRU agents, who are indicted by name. He said he trusts the independent investigation, and even if nothing more is put forward in the report that we see that should well be enough. That indictment was filed in July of last year. Greenwald tweeted (see #45 above) “In an article that raises some interesting points, @AndrewCMcCarthy asks why DOJ didn’t also indict Assange for conspiring with Russia over its hacking, noting that had it done so, it would have been the only time they had to prove Russia hacking in court” yesterday. This is not reasonable skepticism; it’s intellectually dishonest bullshit. But neither you nor Greenwald appear to give a fuck what the Kremlin did or who it continues to hurt in any case.

  75. says

    I had missed this:

    Bloomberg – “Trump Immigration Agenda Suffers New Defeat With Ruling on Haitians’ Status”:

    A federal judge blocked the U.S. from ending Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, the second court to find that revoking TPS was improper.

    The decision, the latest in a series of blows to the White House’s immigration policy, comes after the Trump administration planned to remove the protection from tens of thousands of Haitians living legally in the U.S. They gained it after an earthquake devastated the island nation in 2010. The U.S. said conditions had improved enough for their return.

    “The evidence shows the White House exerted significant influence” over Elaine Duke, then acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, “to reach a predetermined decision to terminate TPS and abate the presence of nonwhite immigrants in the country,” U.S. District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, New York, said Thursday in issuing a preliminary injunction blocking the program’s termination.

    “Evidence of their political motivations is replete throughout the administrative record,” Kuntz wrote. He found that Duke “considered how the Haiti TPS decision fit into the White House’s grander “America First’ strategy.”

    The Justice Department didn’t have an immediate comment on the ruling.

    The ruling is the second to block President Donald Trump’s administration from halting the program. A federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary order in October stopping the government from ending TPS for immigrants from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Sudan as well as Haiti. The government had already granted an extension of the program after that decision. Kuntz issued his own ruling after a non-jury trial in January.

    It comes after a succession of obstacles to the president’s plans for a wall on the Mexican border and after a ruling Monday barring the administration from forcing Central Americans seeking asylum from persecution to wait in Mexico while their applications are being processed.

    In a 145-page decision, Kuntz cited evidence that administration officials pressured Duke to end TPS for Haitians. He cited a November 2017 meeting convened by John Kelly, then chief of staff, that also included Stephen Miller, an adviser to the president and an immigration hawk, and Jeff Sessions, attorney general at the time. Howard Roin, a lawyer for the Haitians, had argued Sessions “leaned on” Duke to terminate TPS.

    “The manner in which Acting Secretary Duke, DHS and the Department of State undertook the review process also strongly suggests the decision was pretextual,” Kuntz said in his ruling. He cited Kelly’s directives to his staff to “search for criminality and welfare data” as “further evidence the agency was fishing for reasons to terminate TPS for Haiti.”

    Duke faced a deadline in late 2017 to extend TPS for 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. and was leaning toward renewal, Roin told Kuntz in opening arguments. Kuntz said Thursday it was only after the Kelly meeting, with direct pressure from the White House, that she decided to end the program.

  76. says

    “WH Officials Having ‘Breakdown-Level Anxiety’ That Mueller Report Will Show They Ratted On Trump”:

    Multiple current and former White House officials-turned-witnesses for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are fretting that their identities will be exposed in the full report, outing them as the sources of damning information about President Donald Trump.

    According to an NBC News report, many of them have contacted the Justice Department to determine if their names, or at least obvious clues about their identities, will be redacted from the report. The DOJ has reportedly stayed mum.

    An NBC source close to the White House reported “breakdown-level anxiety” among those who shared information with Mueller….

  77. lotharloo says

    If your response to this happening to the US is to say “Ha, serves those establishment Democratic assholes right – Good one, Putin,” you need to take a long hard look at your fucking commitments.

    I’m not celebrating that Putin hacked DNC. I personally don’t care.

    Not only are you saying that you don’t really care about any of the people or countries victimized by this except as a cudgel to use against the US, but that you don’t care about anyone in the US or around the world (including but not limited to the direct victims of the hacking) who is suffering and will suffer as the result of a despicable interference.

    No, I disagree with this assessment. If Hillary Clinton were a candidate who did not have hawkish foriegn policy, who did not have a history of voting for wars, and if she were not the secretary of State, or if she were always committed to a moral foreign policy, I would have cared. Then the Russians would be fucking over an innocent party, and what not. But that’s not what happened. Sure, we can nitpick and say that Hillary Clinton is obviously better than Putin, which is true, but nonetheless, she was always committed to the stupid US foreign policy even if it’s preferable to the more corrupt Russian foreign policy.

    Your dismissing and condoning the Kremlin (I have to wonder how much you really know about that regime)

    I hate the Russian government and the oligarchs associated with it. They are a blight in virtually every they get involved with, from politics, to fucking chess. I actually confess that I have a rather bigoted view towards Russians which is not nice.

    That you apparently hate liberal Democrats so much that you would condone fascist electoral sabotage that resulted in a deranged clown as US president says nothing good about you.

    First off, it is not clear how much the Russian meddling influenced the election. Second, I hate the Democratic establishment with their pathetic politics, their pandering, their meaningless opposition to the Republican, their incompetence, their non-stop submission to the Republican and rightwing agendas in forms of Obama making Bush’s tax cuts permanent, Dems voting for Republican wars, and so on. But I am not condoning Russian actions, I’m just saying this is a back and forth that has been going on for a long while and if both sides have their hands dirty, then it’s hard to feel sympathy for any of them.

    So after everything I said in #146 (to which much more could be added: the nomination of Tillerson, the constant attacks on allies, the suggestion that NATO commitments are optional, the suggestion that the people of Montenegro are “very aggressive” and could cause a third world war, the refusal to talk about or address ongoing or future election interference, the calls to investigate the investigators,…) this is all you have. You’re completely proving my point. Won’t respond to the pattern of evidence – just keep shouting the word “conspiracy” and asking the same intentionally vague questions to which you’ve been given the answers dozens of times. I’m done with this conversation.

    I personally think there’s a financial connection between Trump and some Russian which makes him soft towards them. However, I don’t think it rises to the level that makes Trump a Russian puppet or makes him do Putin’s bidding. You mention a pattern of behaviour that is inline with your theory that Trump is doing Putin’s bidding, however, you are also ignoring other actions by Trump government that goes against Russian interests, e.g., US meddling in Venezuela, bombings of syrian bases, iran deal, Trump’s pressure on Germany to not buy gas from Russians https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-07/germany-wobbles-on-russian-gas-pipeline-as-trump-pressure-tells and so on.

    On top of that, Trump is also unpredictable, incompetent, and loves dictators. He has been saying crazy stupid things about the North Korean regime and its leader but I suppose since that does not serve in the “Trump is a russian puppet” theory, we just ignore it.

    If Trump is doing Putin’s bidding, I personally find it very difficult to believe that Robert Mueller missed it and that after so many months of investigation, he turned up with no inditements on this specific charge. It just doesn’t make sense.

    This is an epistemological shell game, again similar to what AGW deniers do. He’s always willing to be convinced, but the bar for convincing him somehow is never reached to the point where he absorbs that information into his view of the world.

    I don’t agree with Greenwald on this, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Russians hacked DNC but I think his views are fair, given that intelligence agencies have fooled the public in the past.

  78. lotharloo says

    Something that I forgot to add, while it’s true that Trump has been critical NATO and he has done actions that seem to hurt NATO (and obviously these support the theory of “Trump does Putin’s bidding”), he has been pressuring the NATO allies to spend more on their defense budget. How does this fit in the theory? Well, I don’t think it does. The only consistent pattern here is that Trump is a fucking idiot who has no clue what he’s doing.

  79. Oggie: Mathom says

    Resident right-winger in my office was wondering, quite loudly and persistently, wondered how many Muslims were on the construction crew, why they were allowed to work on a church, and will we ever know which one of them set the fire.

    What the fuck is wrong with the world?

  80. says

    If Hillary Clinton were a candidate who did not have hawkish foriegn policy, who did not have a history of voting for wars, and if she were not the secretary of State, or if she were always committed to a moral foreign policy, I would have cared. Then the Russians would be fucking over an innocent party, and what not.

    Mossadegh, Árbenz, Lumumba, Allende, Chávez, Correa, Maduro, Morales, Zelaya,…

    Are/were all of these pure? “Innocent”? What’s the standard for political innocence such that we’re supposed to brush off a person or party’s sabotage by hostile foreign governments? “She had a hawkish foreign policy so I don’t care if the election is sabotaged by Russia in favor of a rightwing would-be autocrat, regardless of who’s hurt in the process” is quite a take.

    Sure, we can nitpick and say that Hillary Clinton is obviously better than Putin, which is true,…

    Sure, centrist Democrat vs. fascistic kleptocrat – nitpick. Are you out of your fucking mind?

    I actually confess that I have a rather bigoted view towards Russians which is not nice.

    It’s worse than not nice.

    …I hate the Democratic establishment

    Yes, I grasp that now. It’s clearly interfering with your ability to evaluate the evidence in the Russia-Trump matter, and to respond to what’s happened, but beyond that I still find it perplexing. Your recent intervention on the subject began with: “I personally think while the Democrats should try to get the full version of the report, they should give up on the ‘collusion’ story as it turning out to be a bullshit conspiracy theory.” That almost sounds like friendly (if ill-founded) advice, but it plainly wasn’t. Your inexplicably intense hostility is coloring your approach.

    “I supported Bernie and so won’t be voting for Clinton” in 2016 was crazy enough. “I hate the Democrats so much that I don’t care about the Russian attack to subvert her campaign and help Trump win the election” is batshit.

  81. blf says

    US deports husband of soldier killed in Afghanistan – then lets him back in:

    José González Carranza was arrested by Ice officers and deported to Mexico, but brought back after an Arizona paper reported on it

    US immigration officials deported the husband of a soldier killed in Afghanistan — then reversed course and let him back into the country.

    José González Carranza […] was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers last week at his home in Arizona and quickly deported to Mexico, he and his attorney told the Arizona Republic.

    After the paper reported on his expulsion, Ice officers let him re-enter the country and brought him back to Phoenix.

    The Mexican immigrant’s wife, Barbara Vieyra, a private in the army, was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2010 when insurgents attacked her unit. They have a 12-year-old daughter, who is a US citizen.

    […]

    González Carranza entered the US illegally in 2004, but after his wife’s death, he was granted a protection called parole in place, offered to family members of military troops, which allows them to stay in the US without threat of deportation.

    But Ice filed a new deportation case against him last year for reasons that are not clear, his lawyer, Ezequiel Hernandez, told the Republic. […]

    “There are plenty of people you can go after, but not a guy whose wife died in Afghanistan,” Hernandez said.

    […]

    The article says Mr Carranza was brought back to the States in handcuffs! At which point my incredulity detector is beeping… I need some independent confirmation on that one.

  82. KG says

    But I am not condoning Russian actions, I’m just saying this is a back and forth that has been going on for a long while and if both sides have their hands dirty, then it’s hard to feel sympathy for any of them. – lotharloo@106

    IOW: “I am not condoning Russian actions, I’m just condoning Russian actions”.

  83. says

    Channel 4 – “Revealed: How Leave.EU faked migrant footage”:

    The pro-Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU, faked a viral video and appear to have staged photos of “migrants”, shortly before the EU referendum.

    An investigation by Channel 4 News found that images purporting to show “migrants” attacking young women in London seem to have been staged.

    The group – backed by businessman Arron Banks – was also behind a fake video, claiming to show how easy it is for migrants to sneak into Britain. In reality, satellite data shows the men on board had not left UK waters.

    The photographs and video both involved a former SAS soldier, Jonathan Pollen, who works for Banks’ corporate intelligence agency.

    Although the photos were never used, the fake video went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook.

    Just days before the EU referendum in 2016, Leave.EU published an “undercover investigation” on Facebook, purporting to show how easy it is to smuggle migrants across the Channel.

    But satellite data, seen by Channel 4 News, shows the footage was filmed in reverse. The shots of “migrants” entering the UK were actually filmed before the boat had even left British waters.

    Just days earlier, Leave.EU was also behind a series of seemingly-staged photographs that show a woman being violently attacked by a man wearing a hooded jacket. Another photo appeared to show a woman being grabbed from behind as she walks into a shop.

    One of the attackers seen in the photos is wearing a distinctive grey denim jacket, with black leather sleeves and a white hood. A strikingly similar outfit is worn by one of the “migrants” seen in the Channel crossing video.

    Leaked emails, seen by Channel 4 News, show the pictures were emailed by Mr Pollen to Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s head of communications and Arron Banks’ right hand man.

    Mr Wigmore then forwarded them on to Leave.EU press team, saying: “Migrants beating up girl in Tottenham [on] Saturday… Can we get this ready to go as a press release.”…

  84. says

    Zoe Tillman:

    A judge just heard args in BuzzFeed and @JasonLeopold’s FOIA request for the Mueller report. Judge denied request for an injunction to have the report produced under FOIA by 4/18 — judge wants to wait and see what gets released by AG Barr on Thursday and go from there

    But: The judge indicated he wants to move on the FOIA side of this, which involves litigating redactions, quickly. He said the AG had “created an environment” that caused a sign. part of the American public to question whether there’s been full transparency re: the Mueller report

    The judge told the government that it should start thinking about how he can assess whether they’ve properly withheld information under FOIA. This could mean “in camera” inspection by the judge — aka, the judge gets to read what’s behind the redaction bars

  85. blf says

    US measles cases surge nearly 20% in a week, CDC says:

    […]
    The number of confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year jumped by nearly 20% in the week ending 11 April, in the country’s second-worst outbreak in nearly two decades, federal health officials reported on Monday.

    As of 11 April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 555 cases of the disease since the beginning of the year, up from 465 cases confirmed by 4 April. The cases were found in 20 states spanning the country.

    […]

    Five parents filed a lawsuit with the New York state court against the city’s health department on Monday, requesting a halt to emergency orders requiring the measles vaccine on the grounds that it goes against their religious beliefs.

    There is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify the respondents’ extraordinary measures, including forced vaccination, said the lawsuit […]

    Oh for feck’s sake. My interpretation of the ramblings of a stone age imaginary magic sky faerie requires other peoples’s children to get needlessly sick with a dangerous avoidable disease! So there!! Ni!!!

    New York City has confirmed 329 cases of measles since October, including 44 since last week’s emergency order […]

    Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the city’s outbreak a public health emergency last week and ordered unvaccinated people in the affected parts of Brooklyn to get the vaccine or face a fine. It is the worst outbreak seen in the city since 1991 […]

  86. blf says

    Yet more on hair furor’s utterly absurd unsolicited ignorant advice, Experts deride Trump’s Notre Dame firefighting advice as ‘risible’:

    [… analysis of just how stoopid waterbombing would have been…]

    Lt Col Gabriel Plus of the Paris fire brigade said that “everything was against” the first firefighters on Monday.

    “Time and the wind were against us and we had to get on top of it fast. We had to make a rapid choice … and the priority we gave ourselves was to save the two bell towers, and both were saved,” he added.

    “Imagine if the woodwork in the belfries had been weakened, the huge bells would have collapsed, and that might have brought the towers down.”

    […]

    Guillermo Rein, professor of fire science at Imperial College in London, praised the work of the French firefighters.

    “The fire brigade had to be aggressive fighting the big roof fire with the aerial ladders designed for high-rise buildings, but at the same time be gentle with the vulnerable structure of the stone vaults and walls. They did a fine job, and how they tackled this fire will probably be studied in the years ahead.”

    […]

    Indeed. Reports are “A greater disaster was averted by members of the Paris fire brigade who risked their lives to remain inside the burning monument to create a wall of water between the raging fire and two towers on the west facade” — Notre Dame was ‘15 to 30 minutes’ away from complete destruction.

  87. says

    Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, praised Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act):

    Quite obviously, more people have health insurance than would otherwise have it, so you got to look at it as positive.

    Trump still calls the Affordable Care Act a “disaster.” Trump still says that he thinks Republican Senators should repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump still talks about a non-existent replacement healthcare plan.

    Senator Grassley in 2009 raised funds based on “defeating Obama-care,” and he spread the ignorant conspiracy theory of “death panels,” etc.

    From the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake:

    It is worth taking stock of this moment. What we are seeing here is the marking of a willful GOP capitulation to Obamacare. Republicans are essentially admitting it is here to stay, barring unforeseen changes. They are trying to dress it up and put a good face on it for Trump, given that he apparently is not willing to concede the point. But it appears their long-emphasized push to get rid of this allegedly destructive law is effectively over.

    However, even though Republicans like Senator Grassley are now admitting that, overall, Obamacare is a good thing, (or they are at least admitting that they are not going to fight over it), and even Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he is not going to come up with a replacement plan … even with all that going on, we still have Trump’s White House and Trump’s Justice Department backing the efforts of a judge in Texas to destroy Obamacare.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-admins-insane-health-care-gambit-was-the-white-houses-idea
    Excerpt:

    [March 27, 2019] the Trump administration has a radical new health care position: it wants the courts to not just strip protections from Americans with pre-existing conditions; the administration also wants the courts to destroy the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

    In terms of real-world impact, the Trump administration, unable to pass a reform law of its own, believes judges should help Republicans take coverage from tens of millions of Americans, and take critically important health care benefits from tens of millions more. […]

    The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case in July.

  88. says

    As the New York Times reported, Elizabeth Warren unveiled her proposal for the management of public lands yesterday.

    Excerpt:

    […] promises an executive order that would prohibit new leases for fossil fuel drilling offshore and on public lands, calls for the creation of “a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps” staffed by 10,000 young people and seeks to reduce inaccessible public acreage by 50 percent.

    It also aims to undo some of the environmental actions undertaken by the Trump administration, which she said amounted to “selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar,” accelerating a “climate crisis” in the process. Under the plan, Ms. Warren said she would reinstate Obama-era air and water protections and wield the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law, to restore national monuments that President Trump shrank.

    “America’s public lands are one of our greatest treasures,” she wrote in the Medium post. “But today, those lands are under threat.”

    “We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess,” she said. “All of us — local communities and tribes, hunters and anglers, ranchers and weekend backpackers — must work together to manage and protect our shared heritage.” […]

  89. says

    Cory Booker unveils plan to cut taxes for half the country

    The Rise Credit would boost existing tax credits for workers by an estimated $2.5 trillion, according to the 2020 candidate’s campaign.

    […] The Rise Credit, as the campaign has dubbed it, would expand on the existing Earned Income Tax Credit, which supplements wages for lower-income workers.

    Booker’s plan calls for expanding the tax credit’s benefits to higher incomes — from a maximum income of $54,000 to $90,000 for married couples — and raising the maximum benefits as well. Joint filers could receive a 25 percent higher maximum credit, topping out at about $8,000 per year. The plan includes a bigger bump in benefits for childless workers, whose tax credit payout is currently capped at about about $500, but would rise up to about $4,000 under Booker’s plan. […]

  90. says

    Oh, FFS.

    This is from Michele Bachmann:

    I pray according to the scripture, which says we need to pray to expose, ask the Lord to expose the hidden deeds of darkness. And he has remarkable ways of doing this, where you can only say it’s the hand of God who exposes the hidden deeds of darkness.

    She was referring to the so-called “deep state” during an interview on an Olive Tree Ministries radio show. The show focuses on end-times religion.

    More from Bachmann:

    In my lifetime I have never seen a more biblical president than I have seen in Donald Trump. He is highly biblical and I would say to your listeners [that] we will, in all likelihood, never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime. So we need to be not only praying for him, we need to support him, in my opinion, in every possible way that we can.

    Nope, that’s not satire from The Onion. No, that is not an SNL skit. That’s the real far-right evangelical voice of America.

  91. says

    Do we really care? Probably not that much. But this latest plan from Trump does prove that he has thin skin, and that he can’t take a joke.

    […] Trump announced he will head to Wisconsin for the rally he’ll hold instead of attending the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

    His reelection campaign rolled out details about the Green Bay, Wis., event that will take place next Saturday while much of Washington’s press corps heads to the annual journalism celebration Trump has scorned since he became president.

    Though he attended the star-studded event several times before running for office, including in 2011, when he was skewered for promoting the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., he has broken with years of tradition in not attending a single dinner since becoming president. He has instead hosted competing events with his supporters.

    Several weeks ago, Trump told reporters he would again skip the event “because the dinner is so boring and so negative,” saying that “we’re going to hold a very positive rally instead.” […]

    Link

  92. says

    Pete Buttigieg suggested a national service program that sounds sort of similar to Elizabeth Warrens’ plan for a “21st century Civilian Conservation Corps.” Maybe the two candidates can work on that together.

    From Buttigieg:

    We really want to talk about the threat to social cohesion that helps characterize this presidency but also just this era. One thing we could do that would change that would be to make it, if not legally obligatory, but certainly a social norm that anybody after they’re 18 spends a year in national service. […]

    It’s one of these ideas that everybody kind of likes, but it was always important and never urgent. How would that ever kind of hold on its own in a policy debate where we deal with kids in cages and we have to deal with climate change and there are all these pressing, burning issues? […]

  93. lotharloo says

    @SC:

    It’s clearly interfering with your ability to evaluate the evidence in the Russia-Trump matter, and to respond to what’s happened, but beyond that I still find it perplexing.

    Then tell me what do you think is the plausible scenario. Tell me how does it work that Trump does Putin’s bidding. Do they have a code language? How does Putin send his messages? Encryption? Secret emails? Secret meetings? How did Mueller not figure this out?

  94. says

    From The New Yorker, “The Dangerous Dregs of ISIS.”

    A few days before the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate, I visited one of the new “pop-up prisons” that had been hastily converted to hold thousands of surrendering fighters in Syria. The numbers wildly exceeded all expectations, including estimates by U.S. intelligence. The most striking sight at the prison entrance was a mound of human hair lying on the raw concrete floor. Clumps of it—some brown, some graying, most of it greasy or matted—had been shaved off the heads and faces of fighters before they were taken to group cells. “Lice,” one of the guards told me.

    […] In just four days, the compound of modest brick and stucco buildings had been filled with fifteen hundred fighters from countries on four continents, including France, Libya, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq, and the United States, […]

    After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. […] there are tens of thousands of captured ISIS members whom no nation wants to repatriate, and the local militia holding them has neither the resources nor the personnel to keep them indefinitely. […] The prisons, the hospital, and the camp are all bursting.

    “There is nothing else in the world that compares to this unprecedented humanitarian and security situation, which is legally complicated and politically fraught,” a senior State Department official told me. So far, the local Syrian Democratic Forces militia (S.D.F.), the U.S.-led coalition of more than seventy countries, and several international relief agencies have been improvising—total ad-hockery, in the words of a senior U.S. military commander involved in Syria. […]

    The pop-up prisons are combustible politically and vulnerable physically, a dozen U.S. diplomats and military officials told me. ISIS has its roots in an earlier prison culture—notably in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, two infamous prisons in Iraq that were run by the United States between 2003 and 2011. Its founding “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was held at Camp Bucca for nine months, in 2004. He and other future isis leaders created an embryonic network there. […]

    Despite its recent loss of terrain in both Syria and Iraq, U.S. military and S.D.F. officials told me, ISIS underground cells still have those basic capabilities. Prison breaks, they added, are almost certain to be one way that the group tries to rebuild. […]

    The camp for the dregs of ISIS in al-Hawl was one of the dreariest places I’ve seen over forty years in the Middle East. On the morning I visited, it was chaotic and cacophonous. Litter was everywhere. The whole area stank. Trucks were still hauling people in, even though a U.N. agency had declared the camp “extremely above capacity.” More than seventy-three thousand people were living in an area of less than four square kilometres. […]

    Women were among the earliest targets of isis, for slavery and sex trafficking. […]

    Yet thousands of women in al-Hawl were also “suspected foreign fighters,” the U.N. reported. Women played valuable roles in ISIS, ranging from suicide bombers to spies, morality police, and assassins. They were among “the most brutal enforcers,” according to a report by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. ISIS had all-female units. […]

    Among the people I met, destitution did not deter their loyalty. Salimah Athilayabah, a twenty-two-year-old Chechen from Russia, lived in one of the camp’s few cinderblock facilities covered with a bright-blue tarp roof. It held dozens of women and children, many of them crying. The shelters had no furniture, only mats on the ground; several of them were shared. Athilayabah told me that she had joined isis four years ago. “We and everyone like me came to assist God,” she told me. […] “there’s a caliphate in our hearts.”

    […] Without a longer-term plan, however, U.S. officials fear that the camp, like the prisons in Iraq, will become an ecosystem that perpetuates ISIS ideology—and just breeds another generation. Sixty-five per cent of al-Hawl’s residents—some forty-eight thousand—are under the age of eighteen. Almost a quarter of them are under the age of five. […]

    “All of those people spent five years of their life serving in the isis caliphate,” he [General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, who launched a makeshift rehabilitation program in Syria] told me, at his forward operating base, near the Iraqi border. “All of these people still believe in the ISIS ideology. We are forced to solve this problem with the countries that they belong to. If we don’t, it’s going to be dangerous for all of our futures.”

    Much more at the link. I think the Trump administration is ignoring this problem.

  95. says

    One of the points that Mayor Pete Buttigieg made on Rachel Maddow’s show last night was that Republicans can’t win a fair fight, so they are always trying to restrict voting rights. Yesterday, the Republican-controlled state House in Tennessee proved his point.

    […] The bill imposes fines on registration groups that turn in too many incomplete registration forms, while also allowing criminal penalties, including jail time, if the groups violate certain rules regarding voter registration.

    Great Republican plan: make registering new voters more onerous. This reminds me of the kind of tactics that Stacey Abrams is fighting against.

    Republicans, including Secretary of State Tre Hargett, pushed the bill after local election officials in Tennessee’s Shelby County were sued in 2018 by a black voter group for their handling of voter registration forms.

    Oh, yes, throw in a little revenge against black voters as well. Very Republican.

    Under the new proposal, voter registration groups that turn in more than 100 “deficient” registration forms can be fined up to $2,000, and those that turn in more than 500 deficient applications would face fines up to $10,000. The groups also must be registered in state, are required to submit the registration forms within 10 days of collecting them, and are banned from paying workers per registration completed, under the legislation.

    Violating those rules could land a paid worker of a voter registration drive in prison for nearly a year and also impose a $2,500 fine. The penalties apply only to groups that pay workers for the collection of registrations.

    Voting rights group say that the legislation is geared at chilling voter participation efforts in a state that has one of the lowest registration rates in the country. […]

    In the 2018 litigation, the Tennessee Black Voter Project alleged that the officials in Shelby County, which contains Memphis, had failed to process thousand of applications the group had submitted. The county election commission claimed that the registration group had bombarded officials at the last minute with nearly 10,000 applications […] The group countered that the applications were being deemed incomplete for minor deficiencies, like a failure to check the “Mr./Mrs./Ms” box.

    Right. So, even if citizens work hard to register voters, Republicans will find some excuse to invalidate those registrations. Automatic registration to vote should be a nationwide standard.

    The new legislation now heads for a vote in the Senate, where it has already been approved by a committee. Talking Points Memo link

  96. says

    lotharloo:

    Then tell me what do you think is the plausible scenario. Tell me how does it work that Trump does Putin’s bidding.

    WTF? I described what I think is the actual scenario @ #146 on the previous iteration, and added to the list @ #102 above. That’s just some of the evidence already in the public sphere.

    Do they have a code language? How does Putin send his messages? Encryption? Secret emails? Secret meetings?

    Yes, they have fucking had secret meetings! After which Trump has parroted Putin’s talking points. Do you even follow the news? Of course, all Trump would have to do is follow the Kremlin’s propaganda (and the bizarre Montenegro comments suggest he does) to gather the line of the moment, but that’s not even necessary since it’s all just variations on well-known themes.

    Here’s an article I happened upon just a few hours ago that speaks to some of these questions: “Is Trump a Russian Agent?: Explaining Terms of Art and Examining the Facts.”

    How did Mueller not figure this out?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. We haven’t seen a full sentence from Mueller’s 400-page report. The fact that he didn’t charge conspiracy with the hacking and dissemination doesn’t make all of the evidence disappear. We know there’s been collusion and Trump doing Putin’s bidding because there’s extensive public evidence of it. Mueller’s report can’t reduce the amount of information we have – it can only add to it, which I’m sure it does. NBC reported that “some [Mueller] team members say his findings paint a picture of a campaign whose members were manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation.” Virginia Heffernan has a source who said the Mueller report “really damaging to the president” and bears no resemblance to Barr’s non-summary summary.

    Anyway, it’s clear to me that you’re determined to maintain your chosen posture regardless of what I say, so I suggest we put this off until the Barr-redacted version of the Mueller report is released and go from there.

  97. says

    Followup to comment 130.

    Texas Republicans are also working hard to restrict voting rights.

    Just a little more than a month after a federal judge told Texas not to try purging its voter rolls of suspiciously brown people based on very bad drivers license data, the state Senate is back with a whole NEW load of voter-suppressing fuckery, once again in the name of fighting “voter fraud,” which is exceedingly rare to start with. This time the vehicle for reducing turnout is a steaming pile called Senate Bill 9, which passed Monday and will now head to the state House. SB 9 will treat submitting “false information” on a voter registration form as a “state jail felony,” even if the incorrect information is an honest error — like writing the wrong zip code. And that’s just for starters!

    The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, is very very concerned about the integrity of the ballot, you see. That’s why his bill will make it a lot easier to turn voters into criminals! Now, we should say from the start that there is exactly one (1) good idea in the bill: It requires that electronic voting machines provide a paper record of each vote, to allow audits of voting after a close election, or if hacking is suspected. A hearty round of applause for that truly essential bit of good government! But the rest of it is a mess.

    […] the bill would also punish people for casting a provisional ballot if they’re not eligible to vote. That’s actually pretty fiendish, and may violate federal law, […]Presently, there’s no penalty in Texas for an ineligible voter casting a provisional ballot […]

    “Under state law, provisional voting ballots automatically serve as a voter registration application,” Menéndez said. “(This bill) would criminalize people who aren’t sure of their registration status and fill out a provisional ballot.” […]

    Another fun provision of SB 9 would crack down on those horrible evil frauders who drive people to the polls with the intent of letting just anybody exercise their legal franchise. […] SB 9 would require anyone who drives someone to the polls to fill out a form stating that the voter is physically unable to get to the polls without assistance, or at risk of damaging their health. Maybe that could be followed up with a provision requiring poll workers to sneak up on any such voters and yell “BOO!” to see if they jump to their feet. […]

    Texas is so bad at letting people vote, in fact, that Jim Jordan is trying to block an investigation of it!

    […] State Sen Menéndez and another Democrat, state Sen. José Rodríguez, both offered amendments that would clarify that people should only be punished if they intentionally broke the voter registration or provisional ballot sections of the new law.

    “If we’re going to make people felons, we should at least make sure they are intentionally committing the fraud and not just checking the wrong box,” Rodríguez said.

    […] the state Senate rejected both amendments, and now the bill goes on to the House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sees the bill as a top priority, so it’s likely to pass there as well. Then when Gov. Greg Abbott signs it with a big speech about cracking down on (nearly nonexistent) “voter fraud,” it’ll be time for the lawsuits to start flying, […]

    Wonkette link

  98. says

    Brexit news from Nancy Pelosi:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to Britain and Ireland this week. What’s being discussed? “Brexit, Brexit, Brexit,” she said.

    In the old days, bilateral U.S.-U.K. talks would be all about counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, NATO, Russia and China — and the special relationship.

    Today, Brexit dominates. And on one particular point, Pelosi is emphatic: Don’t mess with the Irish peace accord.

    The speaker said Tuesday that she had warned Prime Minister Theresa May, Conservative pro-Brexit hard-liners and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that if the churn of Britain’s messy break with the European Union in any way weakens the Northern Ireland peace pact known as the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, the U.S. Congress will block any trade deals Britain might seek with the United States.

    “Don’t even think about that,” Pelosi said she had warned. “We made it clear to all that if there were any harm to Good Friday accords, no treaty.”

    Pelosi did not have to remind her hosts that the Trump administration can negotiate treaties and trade deals. But she emphasized that Congress has to approve them. […]

    Washington Post link

  99. says

    Some more good news:

    The Maine American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents over 160 local labor unions across the state, announced its support Tuesday for the state’s recently introduced Green New Deal legislation.

    This is the first Green New Deal-branded proposal to be backed by a state AFL affiliate.

    “We face twin crises of skyrocketing inequality and increasing climate instability. Climate change and inequality pose dire threats to working people, to all that we love about Maine and to our democracy. The work of moving towards a renewable economy must be rooted in workers’ rights and economic and social justice,” Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO, said in a statement, emphasizing the need for workers and unions to “have a seat at the table in crafting bold climate protection policies.”

    This endorsement comes after the national arm of AFL-CIO, the country’s largest union federation, criticized the federal Green New Deal resolution proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), calling it “not achievable or realistic.” […]

    Think Progress link

    Bolding is mine.

  100. stroppy says

    Trump-Putin

    It’s not rocket science. Each knows what the other wants, and understands well enough the political realities of their respective situations.

    Putin can be relatively satisfied so long as, one way or another, Trump continues to erode American society.

    Trump wants to expand his empire of gilded turds into Russia.

    Putin has the upper hand. He also sees that Trump sometimes has to bend to congress on Russian affairs.

    They needed very little contact early on through intermediaries to make sure they understood each other, so we don’t have much of a paper trail. On the other hand, you don’t need one when actions speak. This is how we know mobsters, and it’s how they get away with things anyway.

    It’s amazing how naive people can be, but that’s why, at the beginning of the Trump administration, we have those sickening images of Russians smirking at the American press as they walked into a closed meeting with Trump.

  101. Hj Hornbeck says

    lothalloo:

    Tell me how does it work that Trump does Putin’s bidding. Do they have a code language? How does Putin send his messages? Encryption? Secret emails? Secret meetings?

    Secret meetings. Haven’t you kept up with the news?

    The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that when Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit in November, no U.S. official was on hand to take notes. The only other two people present for the conversation, which lasted roughly 15 minutes, were First Lady Melania Trump and Putin’s translator. The group was reportedly “among the last to leave” their table. Though the White House had acknowledged that the two spoke informally while in Argentina, the conversation was “longer and more substantive” than had been implied previously. The White House also failed to note that no official was present as the two leaders spoke.

    The news comes just weeks after the Washington Post reported that Trump went out of his way to hide details of his conversation with Putin at the 2017 G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Though a U.S. translator was present at that meeting, Trump confiscated her notes and told her not to discuss what was said with any other administration officials (then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was also present). During a dinner that night, Trump sought out Putin for a second, informal meeting that lasted close to an hour. He didn’t tell advisers about this second meeting, and the White House didn’t confirm it took place until after it was reported on days later. While flying home to Washington, D.C., the next day, Trump dictated a false statement about Russian adoptions for Donald Trump, Jr. to give to the New York Times, which was seeking an explanation for why Trump’s eldest met with a delegation led by a Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower the previous summer. It was later revealed that Trump, Jr., was attempting to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton from Veselnitskaya.

    Trump also closely follows the alt-Right, and the alt-Right has a thing for the Kremlin. This creates a pathway for Kremlin propaganda to land on the presidents’ ears, hence why he keep repeating their talking points.

  102. says

    WaPo – “Trump moves to resist House inquiries, setting up fight over congressional subpoena powers”:

    President Trump’s attorneys and the White House are moving to resist a growing number of congressional requests for information, increasing the likelihood of a protracted legal fight that could test the power of congressional subpoenas.

    The building battle will shape how much material House Democrats will be able to obtain about Trump’s policies and personal finances through multiple investigations launched by various congressional committees.

    White House officials are already digging in their heels on a slew of requests related to Trump’s actions as president. The administration does not plan to turn over information being sought about how particular individuals received their security clearances, Trump’s meetings with foreign leaders and other topics that they plan to argue are subject to executive privilege, according to several aides familiar with internal discussions.

    The slew of demands from the House committees has infuriated Trump, who has told aides that he does not want to cooperate with the inquiries, according to people familiar with his thinking.

    He is particularly angry about the efforts by the Ways and Means Committee to obtain his tax returns, telling aides he will fight that demand all the way to the Supreme Court and adding that, by then, the 2020 election will be over.

    “You’re never going to see his tax returns,” Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House official and Trump adviser, said on MSNBC on Tuesday. “He’s not going to release them.”

    The White House also plans to hold back information being sought about how particular individuals received their security clearances, and will reject requests for notes on the president’s meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders, senior adviser Jared Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders, and the president’s conversations with Cabinet members about initiatives, among other topics, according to the people with knowledge of his thinking.

    Cabinet agencies have been told to seek White House permission before giving any documents to Congress, and lawyers in the counsel’s office are closely monitoring the requests, aides said.

    House Democrats who have been bracing for a legal battle with the administration said Trump’s stonewalling was maddening.

    “They are fighting us on everything now. They’re fighting us on release of the uncensored Mueller report, they’re fighting us on the president’s taxes . . . they basically have decided that they want to thwart congressional oversight power,” said Raskin. “It’s an assault on the separation of powers and specifically the congressional oversight function.”

  103. says

    ACLU last night:

    BREAKING: Attorney General William Barr tonight directed immigration judges to deny bond hearings to asylum seekers.

    Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process.

    We’ll see the administration in court. Again.

  104. says

    “AP Exclusive: Undercover spy targeted Kaspersky critics”:

    Keir Giles’ first thought was that the man’s cheap-looking suit didn’t seem right for a private equity executive. The man seated in front of him at the London hotel claimed to live in Hong Kong, but didn’t seem overly familiar with the city. Then there was the awkward conversation, which kept returning to one topic in particular: the Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab.

    He also asked Giles to repeat himself or speak louder so persistently that Giles said he began wondering “whether I should be speaking into his tie or his briefcase or wherever the microphone was.”

    “He was drilling down hard on whether there had been any ulterior motives behind negative media commentary on Kaspersky,” said Giles, a Russia specialist with London’s Chatham House thinktank who often has urged caution about Kaspersky’s alleged Kremlin connections. “The angle he wanted to push was that individuals — like me — who had been quoted in the media had been induced by or motivated to do so by Kaspersky’s competitors.”

    The Associated Press has learned that the mysterious man, who said his name was Lucas Lambert, spent several months last year investigating critics of Kaspersky Lab, organizing at least four meetings with cybersecurity experts in London and New York.

    Giles said he met with Lambert twice last year, ostensibly to discuss Giles speaking at a cybersecurity conference that Lambert’s company was organizing. But Lambert seemed far more interested in finding out whether anyone had been paid to publicly undermine Kaspersky.

    Kaspersky Lab declined to answer questions from the AP about whether it had any involvement with the meetings.

    The operation targeting Giles and others came at a sensitive time for the Moscow-based company, which boasts one of the world’s most popular consumer antivirus products and a research unit widely respected for routinely exposing elite hacking groups.

    U.S. officials had occasionally expressed wariness about the firm over the years, but criticism of the company intensified in the aftermath of Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

    U.S. lawmakers began calling for restrictions on Kaspersky, contending that a Russian firm could not be trusted to keep American networks safe, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered federal agencies to remove the firm’s antivirus software from their computers. Congress later passed legislation banning the software from government networks.

    By the time Giles met with Lambert, Kaspersky was suing the U.S. government over its decision, arguing that it never helped hackers and was being “considered guilty until proven innocent.” U.S. judges have since dismissed the lawsuit.

    The AP learned that Lambert also targeted Michael Daniel, who served as former president Barack Obama’s cybersecurity czar, though it is unclear whether he actually managed to meet with Daniel.

    In an email exchange with the AP, Lambert insisted that he and his company were genuine, but he did not reply to follow-up questions about the multiple discrepancies in his story or make himself available for an interview. The AP could find no evidence of the existence of the firm Lambert said he worked for, Tokyo- and Hong Kong-based NPH Investments.

    Research by Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog group based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, suggests the Lucas Lambert operation is linked to an almost identical one involving a man calling himself Michel Lambert. Michel’s bungled attempt in a Manhattan restaurant to entrap John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the lab, was caught on camera by AP reporters two months ago.

    The two Lamberts appear to be different individuals. A few days after the AP published Michel Lambert’s photo, he was outed as former Israeli intelligence officer Aharon Almog-Assouline. In a Canadian court filing , a Toronto attorney said Assouline “bears a striking similarity” to a man he identified as an operative for Black Cube, an Israeli private intelligence firm.

    Black Cube has denied any connection to the operation targeting Citizen Lab or to Michel Lambert….

  105. says

    Michael McFaul: “A @nytimes reporter, @kenvogel, has blocked me on @twitter. 1st time ever. I have interacted with Mr. Vogel in the past, trying to help his reporting. Can someone from @nytimes please justify this behavior? I find it unethical.”

  106. blf says

    Signs of climate change affect White House scenic spot (video):

    Rising sea levels near US seat of government affects Tidal Basin reservoir’s visitors.

    US President [sic] Donald Trump has repeatedly called climate change a hoax, but rising water levels at a beauty spot near the White House may be making a mockery of his denials.

    So far, he’s not commented on the frequent flooding affecting the area near the seat of his presidency.

  107. says

    In other cheating news… “Intel: Turkey’s future hinges on electoral commission’s decision on Istanbul rerun”:

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) formally demanded a rerun today of Istanbul’s mayoral race in what is seen as a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results that gave the opposition candidate a narrow victory. The move follows two weeks of appeals and recounts in the country’s financial capital amid claims of fraud by the AKP.

    AKP deputy chair Ali Ihsan Yavuz repeated the fraud allegations as he announced the move. AKP officials brought three suitcases full of documents purportedly documenting irregularities to the headquarters of the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) in Ankara.

    Why it matters: The decision for a rerun was clearly made by Erdogan, who seems determined to cling to power in Istanbul. Controlling the city’s mayor office helps finance a multi-billion-dollar patronage network that has allowed the AKP to govern alone since 2002. And it was likely made from the get-go. During the past two weeks of opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu tirelessly campaigning to get his victory recognized, Erdogan’s propaganda machine has run full time to discredit the result and repeat the claims he made throughout the campaign: that the opposition were traitors and terrorists in the service of foreign powers bent on wrecking the country.

    Nicholas Danforth, a senior non-resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, noted, “When accusing your opponents of treason isn’t enough to win an election, it can still lay the groundwork for trying reverse the results.” The trouble, though, he told Al-Monitor, is that “while not all of the AKP’s supporters appear comfortable with the course the party is taking, they’re no longer able to effectively object.”

    What’s next: The ball is now in the YKS’s court. And on its decision hinges not only the future of Istanbul, but many would argue the fate of whatever shreds are left of Turkey’s democracy.

    A rerun would signal to millions who cast their votes for the opposition that with the system already solidly stacked in Erdogan’s favor, change can no longer come through the ballot. It will also reinforce the sentiment that the AKP will cheat its way to victory. It is then up to the opposition to weigh the benefits of legitimizing the rerun by participating against boycotting the polls. Kurdish support, which helped tip Istanbul in the opposition bloc’s favor, will prove key. Whatever the YSK and the opposition decides, a prolonged bout of instability and hardship likely lies ahead….

  108. Ichthyic says

    How did Mueller not figure this out?

    what makes you think he didn’t.

    the better question is, since the evidence of such is multiple and ALREADY entered into the public record…

    why haven’t YOU figured it out?

    you’re not stupid, so it must be that you don’t WANT to see the obvious.

    how does that make anybody with the ability to actually reason based on evidence wish to discuss this issue with you? I mean, why would they?

  109. says

    Simon Rosenberg:

    Short thread on impending Barr Report. First, recall the Mueller Report is called “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” It’s abt an attack on nation by Russia. Gravity of the issues at hand here cannot be understated.

    That the President broke American election laws, lied repeatedly abt his connections to Russia during the campaign and cheated his way to the White House HAS ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED AND IS NOT IN QUESTION.

    Whatever happens w/Russia and obstruction in the new report, the issue of an Presidential candidate conspiring to break a series of American campaign finance laws and cheat their way to the White House has to be now debated and considered by Congress.

    Congress must also develop a comprehensive approach to protecting our elections in 2020, something Trump has prevented from occurring. This is an urgent priority. Some ideas on what we can do now:…

    Finally, time for us to recognize that our nation was established to prevent people like Donald Trump from coming to power here or anywhere else. His authoritarian ways, contempt for democracy, private and personal over national interest, are an obscene betrayal of our creed.

    In the coming days Democrats must find their voice on just how grave a betrayal of America and what it is has always represented Trump’s Presidency is. No other President has held our democratic ways in such contempt; we cannot let the American beacon go dark on our watch.

  110. Saad says

    The secret meeting alone means there was/is collusion (or whatever the fuck word is being used for it now).

  111. says

    Jed Shugerman:

    Remember when the @nytimes closed down its ombudsman office & invited readers to serve that role on social media?
    Today I called @kenvogel’s tweets on @neeratanden’s mom “gratuitous,” “prurient,” & “unbecoming.” That was it. So guess how he responded? He blocked me:…

  112. says

    William Barr’s record of deception has been well-documented. Last night, Rachel Maddow presented the clearest picture so far of Barr’s habits of obfuscation and deception.

    In 1989 as assistant attorney general, Barr declared documents sought by Congress to be confidential and offered his personal summary of the supposedly confidential documents. The documents were not confidential, and Congress had a right to see them. Barr’s summary of the main points was not just deceptive, it was so far off as to be a pack of lies.

    Barr’s document said that President Bush had the right to arrest General Noriega in Panama, and to then bring Noriega to the U.S. for trial. Barr’s “summary” was that he was just clarifying U.S. laws, and blah blah blah. Barr’s sneaky deception was exposed later when the real document was released. However, exposure years later didn’t really get him in trouble, nor did it get Bush in trouble, since George H.W. Bush was no longer in office then.

    Excerpts from news coverage in 1989:

    The Justice Department, acting with unusual secrecy, has given the FBI legal authority to apprehend fugitives from U.S. law in foreign countries and return them to the United States without first obtaining the foreign state’s consent. The ruling could apply to such cases as the U.S. effort to bring Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega to trial.

    Department officials refused to discuss the broad new grant of power, the legal grounds used to justify it or even to acknowledge its existence. The refusal to discuss the ruling is puzzling because the document does not carry a security classification.

    The new opinion by Barr carries the title “Authority of the FBI to Override Customary or Other International Law in the Course of Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.”

    Excerpts from Barr’s 1989 testimony before Congress:

    Mr. Barr: Although the content of the 1989 opinion, like other advice renewed by the Office of Legal counsel, must remain confidential, I am happy to share with the committee or legal reasoning and our conclusions. Before turning to these legal issues, I think it is important that the committee understand …

    Mr. Edwards [Committee Chairman]: Mr. Barr, may I interrupt? Why does it have to remain confidential? Is this a change in policy? We have a copy of other nonclassified opinion. This is not a classified document, Mr. Barr. Why are you withholding it from this committee?

    Mr. Barr: It has been the long established policy of OLC that excerpt in very exceptional circumstances, the opinions must remain confidential.

    That last statement from Barr is a lie. There was no such policy.

    Barr went on to say, “We have no objection to explaining our conclusions and our reasoning to the committee. My testimony summarizes the principal conclusions of the opinion.” Barr never gave Congress the document. Congress subpoenaed the document about two years later.

    The video is about 27 minutes long. It is worth watching more than once.

    I will repeat a point I made earlier: Barr is not only a partisan player, he is also not as smart as has been claimed. I don’t think Barr’s brain works well, and that as he gets older, this is even more of a problem. His focus often seems narrowed. He can’t see the big picture and the details at the same time. He lacks integrity. Like Trump, Barr seems interested in being an all-powerful autocrat that makes decisions the little people in Congress are not allowed to question.

    In 1989, Barr misled the Congress. Barr is doing the same thing now. In 1989, Barr’s summary “bore no relation at all to what was actually in the underlying document,” as Rachel Maddow pointed out.

    From Ryan Goodman:

    When the [1989] OLC opinion was finally made public … it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions.

    Keep that in mind when you read Barr’s redacted version of the Mueller report, which is supposed to be made public tomorrow morning.

  113. blf says

    In Italy, Salvini ‘crossed red line’ with refugee boat policy, says military (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Italian military officials have accused Matteo Salvini of “unprecedented interference” as tension mounts over the far-right interior minister’s policy of closing ports to rescued migrants.

    Salvini, who is also Italy’s deputy prime minister, sent a letter to the heads of the navy and coastguard reportedly ordering them to maintain the policy by paying close attention to events at sea, in particular the movements of Mare Jonio, a charity rescue ship that was seized in March after defying an order not to bring migrants to Italy.

    […]

    “The {directive} is a real and unprecedented interference in the recent history of the republic that violates every principle and protocol,” the sources said.

    A group of MPs from leftwing parties have called for the issue to be raised in parliament.

    […]

    Salvini said the risk of terrorists infiltrating migrant boats was a certainty and he held authority in terms of public security […] The port is assigned by the interior minister, whether you like it or not, Italians pay me to defend them and I am doing it.

    […]

  114. says

    Oh. FFS. Ken Starr is participating in Fox News propaganda:

    Former independent counsel Ken Starr on Wednesday argued that there was a “fair concern” over whether special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted final report, set to be released Thursday, would be “fair and balanced.”

    In an interview on Fox News, Starr said “the concern, that I think is a fair concern,” was: “Is the report going to be written in a fair and balanced way?”

    Starr blamed Mueller’s “choice of staff.”

    “So many questions have been raised about that staff and their leanings and so forth,” he said, referring without naming him to President Donald Trump, and his characterization of Mueller’s team of prosecutors as “angry Democrats.”

    Some on Mueller’s team donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, though Mueller himself and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed him, are Republicans. Justice Department regulations would have prevented Mueller from considering his prosecutors’ political leanings.

    Mueller and his staff, Starr said, have “had the opportunity without any kind of cross examination — and kind of check, any kind of balance — to write whatever they want to write. And that, I think, legitimately raises concern of fairness and balance.” […]

    Link

  115. says

    blf @157, Salvini is closing a “border” to migrants Trump-style. He is claiming “public security” as his excuse, just like Trump does. And, Salvini is working hard to involve military personnel in his bad policies.

  116. blf says

    On the on-going probable travesty of justice in Italy, Sudan secret police ‘worked with UK’ to arrest suspected human trafficker:

    Officials testify before Italian court in case of man who may be victim of mistaken identity

    A member of Sudan’s secret police has said he collaborated with the British National Crime Agency in order to facilitate the arrest of a suspected human trafficker who may be a victim of mistaken identity.

    As millions of Sudanese protesters forced the removal of Omar al-Bashir as president, Italian prosecutors controversially invited two of his officials to Palermo to testify in the case against the arrested man.

    Aid groups describe Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (Niss) as one of the most brutal forces in the world, accusing it of torturing, raping and killing thousands of people.

    The two officials were part of a joint operation between Bashir’s regime, the Italian police and the NCA responsible for the arrest in Khartoum in 2016 of a 35-year-old Eritrean man who they alleged was Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

    […]

    A documentary last year by the Swedish broadcaster SVT, in collaboration with the Guardian, concluded Mered was “living it up” in Uganda, while the arrested man, a refugee whose name is Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, was delivered to authorities in Italy.

    DNA samples taken from Mered’s three-year-old son and from Berhe’s mother also suggest it is a case of mistaken identity.

    The prosecutor’s office in Palermo continues to insist the arrested man is Mered, despite the fact it has not been able to provide a single witness to testify against him in the past three years.

    […]

    “We were told we had to arrest a man who was accused of human trafficking,” he said. “They gave us a picture and a phone number. We have just executed the order. The detainee told us he was not the trafficker Medhanie Yedhego Mered, but called himself Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe. He also said he was a refugee and that a trafficker had asked him for $1,800 to reach Europe.”

    […]

    At the end of the hearing, Berhe described being tortured by Sudanese police officers.

    “[…] I had an ID card with me from Eritrea and a document from the refugee camp when I was in Ethiopia. But they took everything. I had a little money with me and they took that too. They told me if I’d had more money, they would have released me.”

    Berhe’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, told the Guardian: “Today in court, we heard the testimony of a member of one of the most brutal police bodies in the world about how he had arrested my client. I think there is nothing to add.”

    Riccardo Noury, a spokesman for Amnesty International in Italy, said: “In the last days, Niss has been involved in the brutal crackdown on the Sudanese protesters. The fact that today, in an Italian court, a member of Niss was speaking before a judge is totally unacceptable.”

    In the past week, as more than 30,000 signatures have been gathered in favour of Berhe’s release, hundreds of people have been protesting in Oslo, Stockholm, London and Frankfurt, calling for Italian authorities to release the arrested man. They are all Eritreans and many of them were trafficked to Europe by Mered, who appears to be still on the run.

  117. says

    “Alan García: Peru’s former president kills himself ahead of arrest”:

    Former Peruvian President Alan García has died after shooting himself as police arrived at his home to arrest him over bribery allegations.

    Mr García was rushed to hospital in the capital, Lima. His death was confirmed by current President Martín Vizcarra.

    A crowd of supporters gathered outside the hospital and were held back by a line of police.

    Mr García was accused of taking bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht – claims he denied.

    Mr García served as president from 1985 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011.

    Officers had been sent to arrest him in connection with the allegations.

    Interior Minister Carlos Morán told reporters that when police arrived, Mr García asked to make a phone call and went into a room and closed the door.

    Minutes later, a shot rang out, Mr Morán said. Police forced the door open and found Mr García sitting on a chair with a bullet wound to his head.

    Four of Peru’s most recent presidents are all being investigated for alleged corruption, with a fifth – Alberto Fujimori – serving a prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

    Ex-leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was taken to hospital with high blood pressure on Wednesday just days after his own arrest in connection with Odebrecht charges. Reports said he was in intensive care.

    The current leader of the opposition, Keiko Fujimori, is also in pre-trial detention on charges of taking $1.2m (£940,000) in bribes from Odebrecht.

    In October, an opinion poll by Datum showed 94% of Peruvians believed the level of corruption in their country was either high or very high…

  118. blf says

    Boxer Sadaf Khadem halts return to Iran after arrest warrant issued:

    • Sadaf Khadem fought Anne Chauvin in France on Saturday
    • Boxer defied Iranian rules over women’s sporting dress

    Sadaf Khadem, the first female Iranian boxer to win an overseas fight, intends to stay in France, where she fought last weekend, after an arrest warrant was issued by her country.

    Khadem and her trainer, Mahyar Monshipour, are in Poitiers and had been expected to return to Tehran after the win over Anne Chauvin. The 24-year-old, who works as a fitness trainer in Tehran, had defied her country’s rule that female athletes should dress in line with Islamic laws. Khadem was bare-headed and wore shorts for the bout in Royan.

    “I was fighting in a legally approved match in France,” Khadem told L’Equipe, “but as I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, which is completely normal in the eyes of the entire world, I confounded the rules of my country. I wasn’t wearing a hijab, I was coached by a man — some people take a dim view of this.”

    […]

  119. says

    “APNewsBreak: Ivanka Trump says she passed on World Bank job”:

    White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump says her father asked her if she was interested in taking the job of World Bank chief but she passed on it.

    In an Associated Press interview, President Donald Trump’s daughter said Wednesday she was happy with her current role in the administration. She spoke during a trip to Africa to promote a global women’s initiative….

    Good job, Republicans.

  120. says

    Carole Cadwalladr’s TED talk – “Facebook’s role in Brexit – and the threat to democracy”:

    In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK’s super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters — and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election — Cadwalladr calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?

    About 15 minutes long.

  121. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live blog, Trump administration imposes new restrictions on travel to Cuba:

    Travel to Cuba will only be allowed for family visits and there will also be new limits on money sent by Cuban Americans to relatives
    […]
    National Security Adviser John Bolton denounced Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as the three stooges of socialism as he announced new sanctions on the Latin American countries.

    The US will now cap how much money families in the US can send to relatives in Cuba at $1,000 per person per quarter, the Associated Press reported. The administration is also ordering new restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens, except for trips to visit family.

    Bolton, in a speech in Florida to veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, also announced sanctions on the Central Bank of Venezuela and financial services provider Bancorp, which he labeled a slush fund for Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, AP reported.

    The United States looks forward to watching each corner of this sordid triangle of terror fall: in Havana, in Caracas, and in Managua, he said.

    The announcement comes after the State Department said it would allow US citizens to sue foreign companies doing business in properties seized by the Cuban government after the 1959 communist revolution. The move will allow lawsuits against mostly European companies that operate out of hotels and other properties that were nationalized by Fidel Castro’s government, either owned by Americans before the revolution or owned by Cubans who have since become US citizens.

    Some excerpts from the cited NBC article Trump will allow lawsuits over U.S. properties seized in Cuba (link embedded above):

    The move marks a change in more than two decades of US policy on Cuba.
    […]
    The 1996 Helms-Burton Act gave Americans the right to sue the mostly European companies that operate out of hotels, tobacco factories, distilleries and other properties that Cuba nationalized after Fidel Castro took power. The act even allows lawsuits by Cubans who became US citizens years after their properties were taken.

    Canada, France, Spain, Great Britain and other countries with large investments in Cuba have ferociously protested the law and threatened to sue in the World Trade Organization if Washington tries to interfere with the business ties between Cuba and another sovereign nation. US airlines and cruise lines that bring hundreds of thousands of travelers to Cuba each year appear to be exempted.

    Every US president since Bill Clinton has suspended the key clause to avoid those trade clashes and a potential mass of lawsuits that would prevent any future settlement with Cuba over nationalized properties. […]

    […]

    Speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement, the Trump administration official said there will be no more waivers to the key piece of Helms-Burton, known as Title III.

    The official said the administration also plans to start enforcing the section of the act that allows the US to deny entry visas to Cubans and citizens of other countries involved in trafficking in the confiscated property.

    That last phrase, “deny entry visas to […] citizens of other countries involved in trafficking in the confiscated property” can be parsed in so many ways I don’t know what it means. The most “sensible” reading is perhaps denying visa to people directly involved with the properties in question (which, I’m guessing, is roughly what the act allows), but it can also be read as (e.g.) denying visas to everyone from somehow-involved countries (i.e., much of Europe). Hair furor and teh dalekocrazy is so batshite I cannot rule out the latter (and similar) readings, whatever the arguably-batshite-itself act says.

  122. says

    “How Farage’s Campaign COLLUDED WITH PUTIN to Weaponise HATE AND ISLAMOPHOBIA”:

    Following Channel 4’s revelations that Nigel Farage’s Leave EU campaign faked inflammatory photos of sexual attacks and staged videos about migrants, Byline Times has evidence of more racist propaganda sourced from the Kremlin.

    By the time of the EU referendum, Russian news agencies like RT and Sputnik were clearly pushing a pro-Brexit agenda, particularly focusing on (mainly false) allegations of rape and criminality by asylum seekers and migrants.

    One of Leave EU’s most popular videos was mainly sourced from Russian propaganda and deliberately portrayed foreign migrants as sexual predators.

    Four weeks before the referendum vote in June 2016, Leave EU created a videos called ‘Worrying Scenes in Europe’ mainly based on clips from RT.

    One disturbing sequence in the video is all Leave EU’s creation. It apparently shows sexual assault by dozens of men (alleged to be refugees). But the clip is actually of an assault that took place in Tahrir Square in Egypt in 2013.

    There’s little doubt Leave EU knew the real source and deliberately doctored the contents to make them ‘disturbing scenes from Europe’ rather than Egypt. The original footage from Lively has been pixelated and cropped the original video to disguise the real location.

    As Britain faces possible European Elections at the end of May, Farage’s new Brexit party is leading in the latest EU election polls.

    The Leave EU/RT video has been viewed 1.4 million times and is still available on its Facebook page which is now devoted to promoting Farage’s Brexit party.

  123. says

    Followup to blf’s comments 64 and 119.

    More comments from professionals in France who know that Trump’s suggestions for putting out the fire at Notre Dame were tres stupide:

    “Everything would have collapsed,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bernier, a fire chief who speaks for the national civil defence organisation and who described the suggestion as “risible”.

    Releasing even one load from a Canadair water bomber used to fight forest fires on Notre-Dame would be “the equivalent of dropping three tonnes of concrete at 250 kilometres per hour (155mph)” on the ancient monument.

    “It would have been like bowling with the cathedral… the two towers might have fallen.

    Yahoo News link

    In front of the entire world, Trump embarrasses Americans again.

  124. blf says

    Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population:

    […]
    The findings, described as “astonishingly unequal”, suggest that about 25,000 landowners — typically members of the aristocracy and corporations — have control of half of the country.

    The figures show that if the land were distributed evenly across the entire population, each person would have almost an acre — an area roughly the size of Parliament Square in central London.

    Major owners include the Duke of Buccleuch, the Queen, several large grouse moor estates, and the entrepreneur [and brexit supporter –blf] James Dyson.

    While land has long been concentrated in the hands of a small number of owners, precise information about property ownership has been notoriously hard to access. But a combination of the development of digital maps and data as well as pressure from campaigners has made it possible to assemble the shocking statistics.

    […]

    The book [Who Owns England?]’s findings are drawn from a combination of public maps, data released through the Freedom of Information Act and other sources.

    [Author Guy] Shrubsole estimates that “the aristocracy and gentry still own around 30% of England”. This may even be an underestimate, as the owners of 17% of England and Wales remain undeclared at the Land Registry.

    […]

    The public sector — central and local government, and universities — appears to be the most open about its landholdings, according to Shrubsole, partly in order to advertise land it has wanted to sell off in recent years. He concludes that the public sector owns 8% of England.

    […]

    Carys Roberts, chief economist of the left-of-centre thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research, […] said that one effect of the sale of public land is that the public lost democratic control of that land and it could not then be used, for example, for housing or environmental improvements. “You can’t make the best social use of it,” she added.

  125. says

    Barr will be doing a press conference at 9:30 tomorrow morning with Rosenstein, because of course he will.

    Josh Marshall:

    There it is. Barr to hold news conference to add more Trump spin to the parts of the report he chooses to release.

    Barr presser has been under consideration since the weekend. There was some question whether he’d really be so brazen, but why anyone would question that wasn’t clear.

    In fairness there’s clearly a public interest in hearing from the man who had virtually no role in the investigation other than telling the President the whole investigation was bullshit when he interviewed for the job.

  126. says

    Matthew Miller:

    I can’t think of any reason Barr needs to hold a press conference to discuss a report Mueller wrote. He needs to get out of the way.

    And, needless to say, the fact Trump announced this press conference before DOJ did makes it all the more suspicious.

  127. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 169, 170, 171, and 172.

    Here’s what Trump said:

    You’ll see a lot of strong things come out tomorrow. Attorney General Barr is going to be doing a press conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see.

    None of this augurs well. From Trump’s phrasing, it sounds like team Trump has already discussed the contents of Barr’s press conference.

    Trump will, maybe, also preside over a press conference. That sounds like a threat.

    Both press conferences are bound to be spin and propaganda.

    The fairly early morning Barr presentation will not leave reporters or the public time to look at the redacted Mueller report before Barr starts spinning the narrative into LaLa Land.

    There is some speculation that Barr will also announce a reopened investigation into the origins oranges of the FBI investigation into Russian meddling, as well as possibly announcing more investigations into Hillary Clinton.

    It looks like Trump has turned Barr not only into his Roy Cohn, but also into a member of the Sarah Huckabee Sanders communications team.

  128. says

    One more example of the never-ending flood of Republican anti-abortion legislation:

    The Alabama House Health Committee has approved a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. […]

    The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Terri Collins (R), looks to enforce some of the strictest regulations on abortions in the nation. If passed, a person performing an abortion could be charged with a Class A felony, which carries a prison sentence between 10 and 99 years, according to Al.com. The news outlet noted that a Class C felony would be handed out to a person who attempted to perform an abortion.

    Al.com reported previously that the bill would prohibit abortions beginning two weeks after conception. While the bill would let women receive an abortion if they had a “serious health risk,” the legislation does not address cases of sexual assault or incest. […]

    Al.com notes that supporters of the bill expect the measure to be struck down by lower courts. However, Collins said her hope is to force higher courts to revisit Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that said a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion.

    “I don’t plan to take amendments for this bill because this is not what I think is going forward,” Collins said. “This bill is designed to ask the courts to revisit what I think was a bad decision.” […]

    Link

  129. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the William Barr fiasco:

    Twas the night before Mueller and all through the house, everybody was pretty sure whatever “Mueller report” we’re getting on Thursday morning is gonna be some bullshit, considering how Bill Barr has been spearheading the most pathetic cover-up we’ve seen in our human lifetime. First he released a “summary” of the report in his own words, which gave Trump a clean bill of health on all Russia-related questions, then he got mad everybody called it a “summary,” then he ignored demands from Congress for the full and unredacted report because “reasons,” and the end result tomorrow will likely be as whitewashed as possible, in order to make Trump look good. […]

    If we were as stupid as Barr and Trump would like us to be, we’d probably ignore tomorrow entirely, considering how Bill Barr already told us that Bill Barr has exonerated Trump on all Russian crimes past, present and future — except not actually NOPE — and also on obstruction of justice, because Bill Barr says so.

    Ryan Goodman reported an interesting history story about Bill Barr […] To make a very long story short (read it all yourself, please), Barr had written a memo that concluded it was super OK for the FBI to kidnap people in other countries. This was handy, because as Rachel Maddow explained last night, Poppy Bush had been just suggesting for a while that maybe there should be a coup in Panama and Manuel Noriega should be removed. And now it was OK to kidnap him, in violation of international law! News of the existence of the memo trickled out on Black Friday in 1989, and when Congress asked to see it — it wasn’t classified or anything — Barr said NUH UH! But he said he could to this other thing:

    Barr refused, but said he would provide an account that “summarizes the principal conclusions.” Sound familiar? […]

    We don’t want to bury the surprise, so we’ll tell you right now that when Barr “summarized the principal conclusions,” he actually misrepresented and mischaracterized a lot of the conclusions. And he left out A LOT. […] Simpering neophytes who haven’t been covering politics for a very long time like Glenn Greenwald might think there’s no reason to doubt Bill Barr’s goodness or purity of intention, […] people who know better are ready for tomorrow to be a heaping pile of horseshit, based on Barr’s past behavior and also the things he’s been doing with the Mueller report right in front of our faces.

    […] he appears to have near zero respect for the equal branch of government known as Congress, especially when he is on the payroll of a Republican president […]

    […] recent American history filed under “Would you look at this fucking guy? Unfuckingbelievable!” […]

    Video available at the link.

  130. says

    John Dowd has not read the Mueller report: “John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, is calling the Mueller report ‘pure mischief’ and ‘not fair,’ believing that it will cause undue problems for the president.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/dowd-mueller-report-pure-mischief-not-fair

    […] “I haven’t read it, but it’s just wholly unnecessary,” he told the Daily Beast. “You just don’t need it. It’s pure mischief.”

    “The trouble is, these special counsels inflate themselves, think they’re more important—and they’re not, in the scheme of things, and it ruptures the system of justice and it’s not fair,” he added. “To me, it’s a probe that’s tainted by politics and by hate, and I don’t like it.” […]

  131. blf says

    Turkish opposition candidate declared winner of disputed Istanbul vote:

    Turkey’s main opposition candidate was declared Istanbul’s mayor Wednesday after election recounts were completed, despite an appeal still pending by President Tayyip Erdogan’s party to re-run the vote.

    Initial results from the March 31 local elections gave a narrow victory to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) […]

    New CHP mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was handed a paper, mounted in a gold frame, which formally granted his mandate as city mayor in a ceremony at an Istanbul court which was surrounded by a throng of supporters.

    […]

    On Tuesday, after 16 days of appeals and recounts, the AKP asked the High Election Board (YSK) to annul and re-run the election in Istanbul over what it said were irregularities. Its nationalist MHP allies made a similar request on Wednesday.

    […]

    CHP Deputy Chairman Muharrem Erkek responded that there were “no concrete documents, information or evidence in the AKP appeal for an annulment.”

    […]

    Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo political risk advisers, said it was puzzling to call only for a re-run of the mayoral elections, and added that some of the areas where the AKP claimed fraud took place were under its responsibility.

    […]

  132. blf says

    Follow-up to @165, EU, Canada reject Trump’s Cuba sanctions policy:

    The EU and Canada issued a joint warning against the United States on Wednesday after Washington said it would allow US lawsuits against foreign investments in Cuba.

    “The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to international law,” the EU’s foreign affairs supremo Federica Mogherini and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement that was also signed by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

    […]

    Under the provision of the Helms-Burton Act, any companies that operate in property seized by Cuba during Fidel Castro’s 1959 communist revolution could face lawsuits in US courts from the vast and politically powerful Cuban American diaspora.

    Pompeo called on all businesses that own buildings in Cuba to fully investigate whether they are stolen in service of a failed communist experiment.

    […]

    But the European Union and Canada, which have long warned against the Helms-Burton Act, swiftly condemned the move.

    In a letter ahead of the announcement, Mogherini and Malmstrom warned Pompeo that enforcement of the law would lead to reprisals in Europe.

    The European Union “will be obliged to use all means at its disposal, including in cooperation with other international partners, to protect its interests,” said the official letter seen by AFP by EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and trade commissioner Malmstrom.

    […]

    Countries with large investments in Cuba have ferociously protested the law and threatened to sue in the WTO if Washington tries to interfere with the business ties between Cuba and another sovereign nation.

    “The extraterritorial application of the US embargo is illegal and violates international law,” said Alberto Navarro, EU ambassador to Cuba. “I personally consider it immoral. For 60 years the only thing that’s resulted from the embargo is the suffering of the Cuban people.”

    […]

    […] Phil Peters, director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Cuba Research Center, […] said he also believed the new measure could hurt the Trump administration’s effort to force Maduro from power with help from allies like Spain.

    “There are plenty of countries that are interested in helping Venezuela find a soft landing after Maduro, but they are not interested in waging an economic war on Cuba,” Peters said.

  133. says

    From Rachel Maddow:

    Per @RepJerryNadler , Barr tomorrow is planning to:

    — hold his own press conference about Mueller,

    — without Mueller there,

    — well before anyone will be allowed access to even Barr’s redacted version of Mueller’s findings.

    Why?

    Where’s Mueller?

  134. says

    From Representative Nadler:

    I’m deeply troubled by reports that the WH is being briefed on the Mueller report AHEAD of its release. Now, DOJ is informing us we will not receive the report until around 11/12 tomorrow afternoon — AFTER Barr’s press conference. This is wrong. #ReleaseTheReport

    From Peter Carr, the Special Counsel spokesman:

    Neither Mueller nor anyone else from the special counsel’s prosecution team will be in attendance at the Barr press conference.

  135. says

    From The New York Times:

    […]
    Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings. […]

    The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by Attorney General William P. Barr since he received Mr. Mueller’s findings late last month. […]

    Does any of this make Barr look better? No. Everything we are seeing reveals that Barr is Trump’s man.

  136. says

    From Trish Turner:

    Senate Dem aide tells ABC that Intel Cmte was just informed that DOJ is delivering hard copies of the Mueller report at *11AM* “a full hour and a half post presser, and they have informed us they won’t even begin to have a discussion about redacted material until Friday.”

    The White House is coordinating with the Justice Department, (or at least with William Barr), to further obstruct justice, and to obscure the truth.

    From Sam Stein:

    So, if Nadler’s tweet is true, Bill Barr will have summarized the Mueller report, redacted it, briefed the White House on it, and then given a press conference on it all before allowing Congress to see it.

  137. says

    From Hakeem Jeffries, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Member of the Judiciary and Budget Committees:

    So-called Attorney General is presiding over a dog and pony show.

    Here is a thought.

    Release the Mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut.

    You have ZERO credibility.

  138. says

    From Glenn Kessler:

    Barr news conference at 9:30 am, Mueller report released at 11 am: In the annals of pathetic efforts to spin apparently bad news in Washington, this ranks near the top.

  139. says

    From Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff:

    Bill Barr sent a letter purporting to summarize Mueller’s conclusions.

    He took it upon himself to reach a conclusion on obstruction.

    He adopted the President’s “spying” smears.

    Now, he will spin a report no one has read.

    My advice: Wait to read Mueller’s words for yourself.

    From Representative Val Demings:

    Pretty convenient of the Attorney General to take questions on the report before anyone has a chance to read the report.

  140. Hj Hornbeck says

    Oh right, Trump’s polling data! It came up a while ago, and I swatted down that down as being premature. Now that we’re several weeks from Barr’s original announcement, we can assess how much impact it’s had.

    NATIONAL POLL: @realDonaldTrump rating 40% approve (44% in March) 54% disapprove (51% in March)
    Approve/Disapprove by party REP 83% / 13% IND 40% / 49% DEM 7% / 92%

    That’s just from one pollster, though. On one of FiveThirtyEight’s podcasts, Nate Silver said the report had given Trump a 0.2% bump. I don’t have a link to that, alas, but their live aggregator shows a minor blip about a month ago that’s barely perceptible.

    Tomorrow may bring a bigger change, but we won’t know for at least a week after.

  141. Hj Hornbeck says

    If any readers were thinking Barr’s deliberately drew out the reveal of the report to coincide with a holiday, give yourself a cookie.

    Trump’s allies are also betting on the timing of the report’s release — just before two major religious holidays leading into the weekend — will help dampen any potential media storm.

    “The reality is this is a 24-hour to 72-hour news cycle and nothing more,” the source said, after noting the report’s Thursday release would be coming just ahead of the Easter and Passover holidays.

    “If there’s no collusion or obstruction charge, there’s probably nothing in there that people will be talking about past the weekend,” said the source.

    Also, everybody’s overreacting!

    The source further said the “administration scuttlebutt” was that some officials had seen the report and concluded that “it’s going to be less bad than even what people today have expected” in the wake of Barr’s summary.

    See? Trump and his advisors have all seen the report on whether or not Trump and his advisors obstructed justice, and concluded there’s no major wrongdoing on display. Congress has nothing to worry about!

  142. Hj Hornbeck says

    Just spotted this press release from key Democratic Party members in the House:

    Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Committee on Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, and Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel issued the following joint statement calling for Attorney General William Barr to cancel a press conference on Special Counsel Mueller’s report scheduled to take place before Congress is set to the receive the report

    There’s more behind the link, but you get the gist.

  143. says

    “Australia Says It’s ‘Ready To Confirm’ A Key Meeting That Led To The Investigation Into Trump’s Russia Links”:

    A senior Australian diplomat has said the government is “now ready to confirm” a series of events in 2016 between the country’s high commissioner to the UK and a Trump campaign adviser, which led to US authorities investigating Donald Trump’s links with Russia.

    The release of the Australian diplomatic documents comes as a redacted copy of the final Mueller report is expected to be released on Thursday.

    The London meeting between former high commissioner Alexander Downer and Trump adviser George Papadopoulos was first reported by the New York Times in December 2017, reportedly revealing how Downer had been told by Papadopoulos that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    Until now, the Australian government and Downer have refused to confirm or give any details about the meeting central to the beginning of the Trump-Russia investigation, repeatedly citing the need to preserve national security.

    But in a letter sent to Australia’s Information Commissioner after a 15 month-long FOI battle with BuzzFeed News, a senior foreign official said his department was ready to confirm the meeting and release redacted documents, because Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was now finished.

    Included in the documents released to BuzzFeed News is a calendar invite, and a diplomatic cable Downer wrote about the meeting. The senior foreign official said Downer’s cable had been heavily-redacted because the full contents could “reasonably be expected” to damage Australia’s relationship with the United States….

    I wonder if there’s anything in the report about Papadopoulos telling Russia-friendly high officials in the Greek government as well.

  144. says

    Natasha Bertrand – “Post-Mueller report likely to target Russia dossier author Steele”:

    The frenzied anticipation around special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report has overshadowed another Justice Department report on the Russia probe that could land as soon as next month, and which will likely take direct aim at the former British spy behind an infamous “dossier” on President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

    For the past year, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has been examining the FBI’s efforts to surveil a one-time Trump campaign adviser based in part on information from Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 agent who had worked with the bureau as a confidential source since 2010.

    Several people interviewed by the Inspector General’s office over the past year tell POLITICO that Horowitz’s team has been intensely focused on gauging Steele’s credibility as a source for the bureau. One former U.S. official left the interview with the impression that the Inspector General’s final report “is going to try and deeply undermine” Steele, who spent over two decades working Russia for MI6 before leaving to launch his own corporate intelligence firm.

    With his reputation on the line, Steele—who has not commented publicly on the Trump-Russia investigation—intends to rebut the Inspector General’s characterizations, if necessary, in the form of a rare public statement, according to people familiar with his plans….

    Former U.S. officials interviewed by the inspector general were skeptical about the quality of his probe. They emphasized to Horowitz that information in a warrant application need not be wholly verified, as long as the reliability of the source of the information is disclosed to the court, which the FBI did in the Page FISA case with regard to Steele. But the inspector general seemed neither well-versed in the FISA process nor receptive to the explanations, the officials said….

    Great.

  145. says

    Ted Boutrous: “This absence tomorrow by Mueller and his team is emblematic of a—maybe the—major failing of the Mueller investigation. Silence, a blind refusal to explain to the public what has been happening and why.”

  146. says

    Maggie Haberman: “Sorry but this is not a press conference – it’s an opportunity for Barr to put a spin on the ball or defend himself. No one can ask real questions here.”

    Barr all along has been claiming he’s settled issues and informed congress/the public about them (executive privilege claims, the timing and process of the release of the redacted report, the nature of the redactions, whether or not he’ll speak about the redacted report before it’s released) and then just completely ignoring his earlier dishonest statements.

  147. says

    Alternate Barr: Trump & campaign encouraged and embraced Russian interference in election without rising to level of criminal conspiracy and then covered it up and obstructed justice but without sufficient provable criminal intent to make it a crime in eyes of pro-Trump lawyer.”

  148. says

    NEW: Nadler has formally invited Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee — ‘no later than May 23’.”

    Barr said in response to a question that he wouldn’t object to Mueller testifying.

    He had no answer to the question about why Mueller wasn’t there.

  149. says

    Chris Wallace on Fox: ‘The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the Attorney General, talking about his motives, his emotions… Really, as I say, making a case for the president’.”

    On Fox.

  150. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Well, as defense opening statements go, that was pretty tepid–hardly a full-throated defense of an “honest man” wronged by “the system”. The Rethugs have signaled very clearly that the game being played here is politics. It will be interesting to see whether the Dems are sufficiently adroit to get the message. This should make for an interesting if unproductive afternoon.

  151. says

    “Beginning in June 2016, [redacted – Harm to Ongoing Matter] forecast to senior Campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to candidate Clinton.”

  152. lotharloo says

    I fucking hope at least one of those 14 investigations is about the financial ties. They really need to find something incriminating on Trump, the obstruction itself is not going to do it.

  153. says

    SC @221, Barr substantially mischaracterized the Muller report. He did that in public. He did that in an official press conference. He has done that five times so far … and all before he released the report to Congress and to the public.

    The Mueller report also provides the details of when Trump asked McGahn to see that Mueller was fired.

  154. says

    From Steve Benen, “In bizarre press conference, Barr said what Trump wanted to hear”:

    All Attorney General Bill Barr had to do was release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. That’s it. Donald […]

    But that apparently wasn’t good enough for Barr. Instead, the attorney general scheduled a press conference to discuss the report, hours before the release of a redacted version of the document, to effectively pre-spin what the Republican lawyer wants the public to believe about Mueller’s findings.

    The result was a bizarre spectacle in which the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, whose credibility and political independence have already been called into question, positioned himself as a defense attorney for the president who appointed him.

    […] “In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.

    “And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.

    “Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the president took no act that in fact deprived the special counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.”

    As SC noted up-thread, the White House did not fully cooperate!

    I’m at a loss as to how anyone could take this seriously. Trump may have obstructed justice, but it’s all right because he felt “frustrated and angered”?

    [snipped details showing that the White House did not fully cooperate]

    Stepping back, when the attorney general issued his original, four-page memo last month, he seemed to be going out of his way to frame the Mueller report in a way that was favorable to the White House, before anyone had an opportunity to evaluate the document for themselves. Today, he did the exact same thing, positioning himself as an extension of Trump’s political messaging operation. […].

  155. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    So one big finding so fa […]. It’s in the “Introduction to Volume II”, the obstruction part. It’s very specific and detailed. But it’s only two pages. You can read it yourself. It’s pages 213-14 in the PDF, pages 1 and 2 of that volume of the report.

    The gist though is that the Special Counsel decided not only that they couldn’t indict a sitting President but that it would not be fair even to accuse him of a crime without indicting him. They also say that if they decided he shouldn’t face prosecution (under the normal standards that would apply to a non-President) that they would say so. They did not.

    The gist is that the whole non-finding of obstruction seems to rest on the DOJ/OLC belief that a sitting President cannot be indicted – quite contrary to Barr’s claim.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/key-part-of-the-report-on-obstruction

  156. says

    Here’s what Watergate experts thought of Barr’s ‘political defense’ of Trump

    “He was a shill for the president,” one Watergate expert said.

    […] It was a political defense,” David Dorsen, former assistant chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, said of Barr’s comments Thursday. “What Barr did was, he was a shill for the president. He reminded me of Sean Spicer, who would say anything Trump told him to say,” he said, referring to Trump’s former press secretary.

    Ken Hughes, an expert on Watergate at the University of Virginia, said Barr’s comments on Trump line up with defenses offered by the Nixon White House.

    “Richard Nixon also sincerely believed that the Watergate investigation ‘was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,’” Hughes said, quoting Barr’s morning press conference. “None of that justified obstruction of justice then, and none of it justifies obstruction now.”

  157. says

    Mainstream news outlets fall for the White House’s spin of the Mueller report. Again.

    Attorney General William Barr sought to spin the Mueller report before its release. Several news outlets were happy to oblige.

    […] So what was the immediate reaction by CNN as Barr strode away from the podium?

    “Alright, so there you have almost a complete vindication of the president of the United States by the attorney general of the United States,” declared CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. […]

    [Jake Tapper was more circumspect] “He made the point [“no collusion”] several times which will no doubt please President Trump,” said Tapper. “I guess the question is now, what does the report say? And how well does that line up with what the attorney general just said?”

    CNN was hardly the only news outlet to parrot the White House’s talking points to their audience. Shortly after Barr concluded his political address, the New York Times trumpeted Barr’s “no collusion” comments atop its homepage, without so much as a mention of the bright line that Barr had drawn around the report’s conclusion about potential obstruction of justice violations. […]

    Naturally, Fox News and other publications aligned with the White House were happy to emphasize Barr’s supposed exoneration of the Trump campaign. For the discerning public wondering what to make of the Mueller report, the advice is simple: Wait until the report itself is actually made public and thoroughly reviewed before drawing any conclusions.

  158. says

    Matt Miller was just reading from a section that makes clear that Senate Intel Committee Chair Richard Burr fed Trump (via McGahn, I believe) the names of the investigation’s targets. I wonder if Mark Warner is just learning this.

  159. says

    From David Corn:

    At his spin-before-release press conference on Thursday morning, Attorney General Bill Barr repeatedly bolstered Donald Trump’s mantra. “No collusion,” he said multiple times. And he gave the president a big pass on obstruction of justice, noting that Trump had been sincerely “frustrated” by the Russia investigation—as if that is a legitimate excuse. It was a great big PR wet-kiss for Barr’s boss. […]

    Moreover, Barr’s spin hid the basic foundation of the Trump-Russia scandal. Barr pointed out that the Russian government “sought to interfere in our election process.” That is, Putin’s attack was no hoax. Yet Trump and his crew, during the campaign and afterward, repeatedly denied that any such attack was underway or had occurred. Famously—or infamously—Trump at a press conference with Vladimir Putin in July 2018 said he saw no reason not to believe Putin’s denials.

    During the election, when it mattered the most, Trump and his folks kept saying there was no Russian assault. They echoed Putin’s disinformation: Moscow is doing nothing. That provided cover for the Kremlin and helped it get away with this operation.

    And at the same time, they were enthusiastically interacting secretly with Russians. [snipped details of enthusiastic interactions] They raise the question: If Trump and his aides did not commit crimes, did they still engage in treachery and betrayal?

    Barr, of course, did not address this. He stuck to the limited issue of whether there was any direct Trump involvement in the Russian attack. He pointed out that Mueller did investigate links and contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russians but did not uncover any “conspiracy to violate US law.” Yet not all misconduct is criminal conspiracy. […]

    Barr decided to contextualize the report before releasing it—an unorthodox decision—and now the contents of the report will have to catch up to the spin.

    Link

  160. says

    From Representative Eric Swalwell:

    […] Barr never should have been confirmed, but once confirmed, he should have recused himself from all oversight of the Mueller investigation. […]

    Today, he made a show of allegiance to the President over the American people by declaring “no collusion” and excusing the President on the basis of his emotional state. He has proved that he’s an embedded Trump ally who puts this President’s political future above of the rule of law. That makes him unfit to serve. He must resign.

    And there’s this, as Zack Budryk wrote, which sounds like more witness tampering by Trump:

    Former White House Counsel Don McGahn refused repeated requests from the White House to deny that President Trump asked him to fire Robert Mueller, according to Mueller’s investigation.

    […] Trump’s personal counsel and two aides told McGahn to deny the accounts, according to Mueller.

    “Each time he was approached, McGahn responded that he would not refute the press accounts because they were accurate in reporting on the president’s efforts to have the Special Counsel removed,” Mueller’s report states.

    Trump later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office with only then-Chief of Staff John Kelly present to try to get him to deny the accounts, according to Mueller.

    “McGahn refused and insisted his memory of the President’s direction to remove the Special Counsel was accurate,” according to Mueller’s report.

    In the meeting, Trump denied to McGahn that he had used the word “fire” in reference to Mueller, the report says.

    Trump in the same meeting reportedly asked McGahn why he had told Mueller’s office that he had been asked to have Mueller removed, according to the report.

    McGahn said that he had no choice and that their conversations were not protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump went on to confront McGahn on his practice of taking notes during their discussions, saying “What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” according to Mueller’s office.

    “I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes,” Trump reportedly added, in reference to his mentor and onetime personal lawyer, who also served as chief counsel during Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wis.) hearings in the 1950s, according to the report.

    “The President’s statements reflect his understanding-and his displeasure-that those events would be part of an obstruction-of-justice inquiry,” Mueller noted.

    Link

  161. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo @222:

    I fucking hope at least one of those 14 investigations is about the financial ties. They really need to find something incriminating on Trump, the obstruction itself is not going to do it.

    In the past, obstruction alone was enough.

    ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT EXHIBITED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN THE NAME OF ITSELF AND OF ALL OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AGAINST RICHARD M. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT OF ITS IMPEACHMENT AGAINST HIM FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS.

    ARTICLE 1

    In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his consitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice…

    What’s changed is twofold. The Republican Party has become more authoritarian, in that it follows the whim of the President far more than it did decades ago, and that it is far more concerned with retaining power than being ethical. Also, the media landscape has become far more deferential to the President and the Republican Party; historian Michael Beschloss has argued that Nixon would have fared a lot better if Fox News existed back then.

  162. lotharloo says

    From CNN: “Minimal reference to Trump’s finances in Mueller report.

    There are no references in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to President Trump’s taxes or loans to his business beyond the discussions around Trump Tower projects in Moscow that was evaluated under the “collusion” umbrella.”

    I would say that’s great news. I find it unlikely he did not investigate them so hopefully one of those 14 investigations …

  163. lotharloo says

    And I have to add that Russian skeptics were generally right. As it turns out, the “Trump a Russian asset/puppet, or Trump doing Putin’s bidding” conspiracy theories have been bullshit, at least as far as I can see.

    It’s time to go beyond this “Russian derangement syndrome” and focus on things that can actually hurt or bring down Trump: his finances.

  164. lotharloo says

    @Hj Hornbeck:
    I’m sure you know but Democrats don’t have the votes to do shit.

  165. says

    New: @PressSec Sarah Sanders admitted to Mueller her public comments about FBI weren’t based in fact. Specifically, Sanders said her assertion in response to question about FBI agents supporting Comey wasn’t ‘founded on anything’, according to Mueller.”

    Lying asshole.

  166. says

    SC @239, I could tell Sarah Huckabee Sanders was lying when she said that, not just because it was unlikely that she had spoken to a bunch of FBI agents who purportedly hated Comey (or thought he was a terrible boss), but because she looked like she was desperate and making shit up.

    So glad to see her caught for blatantly lying.

  167. says

    Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts for today:

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday compared special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to a “political proctology exam” on President Trump who emerged from the metaphorical procedure unscathed.

    Where asked about the “unflattering” aspects of the report that show the President in his most untethered form, Conway was dismissive.

    “So? Intent matters and that’s the whole point here. What all these people have had to say over millions of words, thousands of hours on TV, in print, on Twitter, has zero legal significance. What matters is what the Department of Justice of the special counsel concluded here, which is no collusion, no obstruction, and complete exoneration, as the President says. This has been a political proctology exam and he’s merging with a clean bill of health. There’s no other way to look at it.”

  168. says

    “We concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller wrote.

    Mueller also explained why this is constitutionally proper. “Congress can permissibly criminalize certain obstructive conduct by the President, such as suborning perjury, intimidating witnesses, or fabricating evidence, because those prohibitions raise no separation-of-powers questions.”

    Exactly.

  169. says

    Followup to comment 244.

    More text, more context:

    “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” the redacted report, released Thursday, states.

    The report continues: “The separation-of-powers doctrine authorizes Congress to protect official proceedings, including those of courts and grand juries, from corrupt, obstructive acts regardless of their source… The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

  170. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lotharloo,
    I think that you may have some confusion as to what constitutes an “asset”. To be an asset, all one has to do is perform some desirable service that furthers your goals. It can be willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly. One does not even have to meet or know the asset.

    DJT has demonstrated a willingness to curry favor with Putin since well before he decided to run for office. He’s shown he can be manipulated easily and predictably through flattery, cajolery or disinformation. Moreover, it is clear that the man has a lot that he wants to keep hidden. Keeping secrets is a great way to advertise your services as an asset. It is inconceivable to me that someone like Putin, coming from an intelligence background, would look at DJT and not think “Asset”.

    Agent is another story.

  171. says

    From the Mueller report:

    The investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.

    “The Office charged some of those lies as violations of the federal false statements statute.

  172. says

    From the Mueller report, text from a footnote:

    Comey’s briefing included the Steele reporting’s unverified allegation that the Russians had compromising tapes of the President involving conduct when he was a private citizen during a 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant.

    During the 2016 presidential campaign, a similar claim may have reached candidate Trump. On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know… .” … Rtskhiladze said “tapes” referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia. …

    Cohen said he spoke to Trump about the issue after receiving the texts from Rtskhiladze. … Rtskhiladze said he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen.

    A Russian businessman involved in the Trump Tower Moscow project seems to have said that the “pee tapes” were fake. How do you stop the flow of fake tapes? Other than that, we don’t have any news here. There’s no confirmation that the tapes were fake, no confirmation that the tapes were/are real, and no confirmation if the tapes exist, ever existed, etc.

  173. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo @237:

    And I have to add that Russian skeptics were generally right. As it turns out, the “Trump a Russian asset/puppet, or Trump doing Putin’s bidding” conspiracy theories have been bullshit, at least as far as I can see.

    So wait, I show that Trump had several secret meetings with Putin and that he was repeating Kremlin talking points, and your response is that anyone thinking there was collusion/coordination between Trump and Putin is engaging in “bullshit” “conspiracy theories”?

    Riiiiight. I see where your head is at.

  174. Hj Hornbeck says

    Mike Levine:

    From the Mueller report: Michael “Cohen also discussed pardons with the president’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message he would be taken care of.”

    Or, in other words, Trump dangled pardons to encourage a witness to lie and thus obstruct an ongoing investigation.

  175. Hj Hornbeck says

    nycsouthpaw:

    Manafort had Gates regularly send campaign data to Kilimnik (who the FBI says has links to Russian intelligence); he also met with Kilimnik twice in the US in 2016 and gave him campaign info. Mueller’s office never figured out why the info was sent or what Kilimnik did with it.

    That’s effectively coordination of messaging between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, during the election, in order to benefit Trump. The only thing missing is the smoking gun.

  176. Hj Hornbeck says

    Steve Reilly:

    The Special Counsel’s Office made 14 referrals of evidence of potential criminal activity to outside offices. Only two are publicly known at this point.

    That’s a LOT of shoes that have yet to drop.

  177. lotharloo says

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space:
    He does the same thing with Netanyahu, yet nobody accuses him of being Netanyahu’s puppet. He also sucks up to Kim Jong Um, any no conspiracy theories there.

  178. Hj Hornbeck says

    This strikes me as interesting. From the report, emphasis mine:

    “Recognizing that the President would not be interviewed voluntarily, we considered whether to issue a subpoena for his testimony. We viewed the written answers to be inadequate. But at that point, our investigation had made significant progress and had produced substantial evidence for our report. We thus weighed the costs of potentially lengthy constitutional litigation, with resulting delay in finishing our investigation against the anticipated benefits for our investigation and report”

    “We determined that the substantial quantity of information we had obtained from other sources allowed us to draw relevant factual conclusions on intent and credibility, we are often inferred from circumstantial evidence and assessed without direct testimony from the subject of the investigation.”

    Combine that to Lynna’s quote from Josh Marshall @226, emphasis by me:

    The gist though is that the Special Counsel decided not only that they couldn’t indict a sitting President but that it would not be fair even to accuse him of a crime without indicting him. They also say that if they decided he shouldn’t face prosecution (under the normal standards that would apply to a non-President) that they would say so. They did not.

    The gist is that the whole non-finding of obstruction seems to rest on the DOJ/OLC belief that a sitting President cannot be indicted – quite contrary to Barr’s claim.

    In essence, the SCO is saying they had enough information to determine intent, but due to existing policy they couldn’t even accuse him of a crime. It sounds like Mueller and team were trying to say “Trump obstructed justice” in the report, but without explicitly saying those words.

  179. says

    Adam Schiff: “The House Intelligence Committee has formally invited Special Counsel Mueller to testify on the counterintelligence investigation.

    After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin.”

    They’re asking to arrange a date in May.

  180. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo @253:

    He does the same thing with Netanyahu, yet nobody accuses him of being Netanyahu’s puppet. He also sucks up to Kim Jong Um, any no conspiracy theories there.

    Israeli agents weren’t contacting his election team offering dirt on his opponent. His campaign manager wasn’t giving internal polling data to someone connected to the Mossad. He hasn’t tried to hold secret meetings with Netanyahu, or tried to destroy any paper trail of what was said during said meetings. He hasn’t repeatedly denied he was building something in Israel, in the middle of his election campaign.

    I mean, I know by now that you’ve got a loose grip on reality, but c’mon. You should have been able to answer this one yourself.

  181. lotharloo says

    @Hj Hornbeck:
    So what? The important point is whether or not there was coordination, or else as I have noted above, Trump also parrots right-wing Israeli propaganda and takes direct measures to empower them, he even tried to help Netanyahu win with his latest stupid policy.

  182. lotharloo says

    @Hj Hornbeck:
    Again, my understanding of the Mueller’s report is that there was no coordination. Without coordination, it’s Russia trying to pursue Russian interests. And since we are on the topic of Israel, I’m pretty sure Netanyahu’s government will try to get Trump re-elected. But so what? That’s the game that’s been played.

  183. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    The number of “fake news” claims by President Trump and the WH now thoroughly debunked by the Mueller report is mesmerizing.

    To name a few:

    1-Trump claimed he never asked for loyalty from Comey – Mueller found he did.
    2-Trump claimed he never asked Comey to let Flynn matter go – Mueller found he did.
    3-Trump claimed he never pushed McGahn to fire Mueller – Mueller found he did.

  184. F.O. says

    It seems like the report, even redacted, is painting a horrible picture of Trump.
    I’m surprised Barr didn’t redact more tho.
    What game are they playing?

  185. unit000 says

    HJHornbeck@#254
    That was certainly my interpretation of the Introduction to Volume II (@#225)
    Reading further, it’s clear Mueller considered there was sufficient evidence o indict on more than one count of obstruction

  186. Oggie: Mathom says

    F.O.:

    <

    blockquote>What game are they playing?<?blockquote>

    They are playing the game of “Let’s muddy the water enough so that the GOP voters can still vote for us, the rich asswipes will still donate to us, and Fox News will still be able to present it as a political attack”. Remember, many of the things that I, and others, think are horrible about Trump are exactly the things that his followers like. And his followers will be voting in the primaries.

  187. says

    SC @264, So good. That one had me laughing out loud. Same for 265.

    F.O. @267, they are counting on the fact that most people will not read the report. They are counting on the fact that many people will accept, and form their opinions based on, what William Barr said on TV today. They are, unfortunately, probably right.

  188. says

    From Garrett M. Graff, writing for WIRED:

    […] as Mueller lays out in sometimes lurid detail, in at least 10 episodes over the ensuing months Trump sought to block or stop that very investigation. He did so even as Mueller doggedly made public the “sweeping and systematic fashion” in which the Russian government attacked the 2016 presidential election, and brought serious criminal charges—and won guilty pleas—from a half-dozen of the president’s top campaign aides. […]

    Barr appears to have misled the public about the severity of the evidence on obstruction of justice. He also misrepresented Mueller’s reasoning for not making a “traditional prosecutorial decision” on the obstruction half of his investigation.

    The attorney general has implied that Mueller left that choice to Barr. In truth, the report makes clear that Mueller felt constrained by the Justice Department policy that a sitting president could not be indicted. Don’t mistake lack of prosecution, in other words, for absence of wrongdoing. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president did not obstruct justice, we would so state,” Mueller’s report says. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    Mueller then points to Congress, not the attorney general, as the body appropriate to answer the question of obstruction. As Mueller wrote in what seems to be all but a referral for impeachment proceedings, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balanced and the principle that no person is above the law.” […]

    There was, Mueller also concludes, good reason for the president to attempt to obstruct the ongoing FBI probe. “The evidence does suggest indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal or political concerns,” Mueller wrote.

    After reading through the numerous episodes, it seems almost nothing short of a miracle that Mueller’s probe appears to have wrapped up on his own terms, though not for lack of effort on Trump’s part to derail it. Instead, Mueller paints a picture of a commander-in-chief who fought back in private and public against the probe, but was ultimately saved from his worst instincts by aides like McGahn, who cooperated extensively with Mueller’s probe and testified for some 30 hours before his team. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” the report reads, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  189. Hj Hornbeck says

    I was wondering whatever happened to this. Emphasis mine.

    On September 8, 2016, Sessions met with Kislyak in his Senate office. Sessions said that he believed he was doing the Campaign a service by meeting with foreign ambassadors, including Kislyak. He was accompanied in the meeting by at least two of his Senate staff: Sandra Luff, his legislative director; and Pete Landrum, who handled military affairs. The meeting lasted less than 30 minutes. [A number of topics were discussed, mostly benign.] Landrum recalled that Kislyak referred to the presidential campaign as “an interesting campaign,” and Sessions also recalled Kislyak saying that the Russian government was receptive to the overtures Trump had laid out during his campaign. (830) None of the attendees, though, remembered any discussion of Russian election interference or any request that Sessions convey information from the Russian government to the Trump Campaign.

    The Kremlin thought that Trump was asking for their help with the election, according to Sessions himself.

  190. says

    From the Mueller report:

    Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of the President’s conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent. In particular, the actions we investigated can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President’s motives

    The first phase covered the period from the President’s first interactions with Comey through the President’s firing of Comey. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally under investigation. Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry.

    At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.

    Also, we should note that after he knew that he was indeed under investigation, Trump continued to tell the public that he was not under investigation.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] there’s a degree of irony to the circumstances. Earlier in the Mueller report, the document concluded that “substantial evidence indicates” that the catalyst of the president firing then-FBI Director James Comey was “Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the president’s repeated requests that Comey make such an announcement.”

    In other words, Trump told the FBI director to tell the public he wasn’t under investigation. Comey balked, which led the president to fire him, and soon after, Trump found himself under investigation – a point he repeatedly lied about. […]

    It’s entirely possible the president will soon tell supporters that he was never under investigation […]

  191. Hj Hornbeck says

    I want what Glenn Greenwald is smoking.

    The two-pronged conspiracy theory that has dominated U.S. political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner.

  192. lotharloo says

    @HJ Hornbeck:

    Okay, I looked into and I found this on the 10t page:

    the investigation did not
    establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian
    government in its election interference activities.

  193. says

    Text describing how Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied repeatedly:

    When a reporter indicated that the “vast majority” of FBI agents supported Comey, Sanders said, “Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.” Following the press conference, Sanders spoke to the President, who told her she did a good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments. Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from “countless members of the FBI” was a “slip of the tongue.” She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made “in the heat of the moment” that was not founded on anything.

    Other statements Sarah Sanders made while she lied in the same vein:

    “Most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”

    “Most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI, as evidenced by the numerous comments that we’ve seen from Democrat members in the House and Senate, Republican members, members of the FBI, and people across the board.”

    She also claimed that Trump himself “had countless conversations with members from within the FBI.”

    That’s a lot slips of the tongue.

  194. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump used the Game of Thrones font and style to depict himself with a “Game Over” graphic that also proclaimed “No Collusion. No Obstruction. For the Haters and the Radical Left Democrats—Game over.” Trump posted this using all caps for the text. (I’m not going to link to this garbage.)

    From HBO:

    Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes.

  195. says

    “If this is what a complete and total exoneration looks like, I’d hate to see a damning report.”

    […] I asked 12 legal experts to examine what the report had to say about collusion and obstruction of justice. Specifically, I wanted to know if Barr’s decision not to pursue obstruction charges was justified, and if the evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign amounted to criminal conspiracy.

    There was a near-consensus on both questions. While Mueller may not have had sufficient evidence to charge anyone with conspiracy, the experts agree that plenty of evidence exists. The same is true of the obstruction question. As one expert put it, “the Mueller report provides a road map for prosecuting Trump for obstruction of justice, but stops short of this finding because of legal doubts about indicting a sitting president.” […]

    Jessica Levinson, law professor, Loyola Law School
    If we were talking about Mr. Trump, not President Trump, we’d be talking about an indictment for obstruction of justice. […] Mueller found substantial wrongdoing that would plague, and perhaps end, any other presidency in American history. […]

    Miriam Baer, law professor, Brooklyn Law School
    […] Even if each of the events described and analyzed by the special counsel independently falls short of establishing obstruction as a legal matter (and that’s a debatable proposition), viewed in the aggregate, they indicate a stunning willingness to ignore and subvert the rule of law. […] Trump’s supporters can call it an exoneration, but his opponents may well view it as a road map for impeachment.

    Stephen Legomsky, law professor, Washington University
    Ever since Attorney General William Barr released his purported “summary” of the Mueller report’s conclusions, most media accounts have assumed that Mr. Mueller ultimately decided there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians. […]

    Those accounts gave the president an undeserved free pass, for even Mr. Barr’s cherry-picked quotes had made no such claims. We can now see that all Mr. Mueller decided on that issue was that “the investigation did not establish” such a conspiracy. To non-lawyers this might seem like splitting hairs, but lawyers understand how important that difference is. “Establish” is prosecutor talk that simply means “I won’t bring an indictment because I don’t think a jury would find the proof of conspiracy to be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’” — an extremely high standard of proof. As the Mueller report emphasizes in the introduction, “A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

    To the contrary, we now know that Mr. Mueller found abundant evidence of precisely such a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The section titled “Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials” was very heavily redacted, but even the non-redacted evidence of conspiracy was substantial […]

    Peter Margulies, law professor, Roger Williams University School of Law
    […] The Mueller report provides a road map for prosecuting Trump for obstruction of justice but stops short of this finding because of legal doubts about indicting a sitting president. Trump could be charged after he has left the White House […] Congress could start impeachment based on Mueller’s road map, although political factors might weigh against that move. […]

    Keith Whittington, politics professor, Princeton University
    If this is what a complete and total exoneration looks like, I’d hate to see a damning report. We have often been cautioned not to rush to judgment because we did not know what the Mueller team knows. […] the report collects all that information in a single place and provides new details that do not put the president in a favorable light. […]

    Moreover, the president has behaved remarkably badly in regard to the investigation into the 2016 campaign. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

    A mention of Putin:

    Victoria Nourse, law professor, Georgetown University
    “Putin has won.” Election Day 2016, an intercepted message to Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian national “closely connected to Putin.” (On page 149 of the Mueller report.) This line says everything that the American public should remember about the Mueller investigation. […] It is not a crime for any citizen to associate with criminals and spies, nor to enjoy their favors, but that is surely too low a standard for a president of the United States. […]

  196. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo, you cut out the surrounding context. Bolding is my emphasis, italics is what you quoted.

    As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfere~ in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

    Below we describe the evidentiary considerations underpinning statements about the results of our investigation and the Special Counsel’s charging decisions, and we then provide an overview of the two volumes of our report.

    The report describes actions and events that the Special Counsel’s Office found to be supported by the evidence collected in our investigation. In some instances, the report points out the absence of evidence or conflicts in the evidence about a particular fact or event. In other instances, when substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.

    “Establish” is a term of art with a very narrow meaning, don’t project your lay understanding onto it. In this case, it means something more like “justified beyond a reasonable doubt,” a pretty high standard to hit.

  197. says

    AOC:

    Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President.

    It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution.

    As such, I’ll be signing onto @RashidaTlaib’s impeachment resolution.

  198. lotharloo says

    @HJ Hornbeck:

    “Establish” is a term of art with a very narrow meaning, don’t project your lay understanding onto it. In this case, it means something more like “justified beyond a reasonable doubt,” a pretty high standard to hit.

    Okay, I get your point. So it’s not an exoneration. It does not even say that Trump did not collude with Russia on other issues. But nonetheless, it’s a much worse outcome than what I was hoping to get let’s say a year ago.

  199. Hj Hornbeck says

    lotharloo @285:

    But nonetheless, it’s a much worse outcome than what I was hoping to get let’s say a year ago.

    Can’t help you there. Still, if one way you judge this report’s effectiveness is by how Trump reacts, he refused to take questions this afternoon after previously promising to take questions. It sounds like the White House didn’t expect this level of blow-back.

  200. consciousness razor says

    I’m still trying to figure out how much of the conspiracy findings amount to “we know they tried on multiple occasions, but they (1) may have been too stupid to understand that’s illegal, or (2) were too incompetent to succeed, or (3) were prevented from doing so by third parties.” It seems to be “(4) all of the above,” but then there’s also “(5) redacted.” It’s totally unacceptable no matter what, of course.
    Another option is that this was also meant to be passed off to Congress to start impeachment proceedings, along with the obstruction stuff. If the reasoning is that they could only investigate the latter (not make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” ) — hence the way that’s somewhat obscured in the language, and was mangled into a contradicting interpretation by Barr, Trump, etc. — then that would apply just as well to any conspiracy findings. That isn’t specific to something like obstruction; it’s a completely general issue related to presidential powers. So of course they’re going to avoid a clear, explicit “determination,” in so many words, because that’s not what they set out to do in their report.
    Anyway, I’m sure the sophistry from Trump supporters (and other ignorant/confused people) will continue, and only become more ridiculous if that’s possible. They should just be ignored/mocked/etc., so the grown-ups can take care of things. But I’m really not sure that establishment Democrats will do their jobs, as opposed to obsessing over their polling numbers….

  201. Hj Hornbeck says

    consciousness razor @288:

    But I’m really not sure that establishment Democrats will do their jobs, as opposed to obsessing over their polling numbers….

    I was feeling that way, until I listened to the second segment of the latest Pod Save America. Long story short: impeachment may be the right thing to do, but with Republicans and the right-wing noise machine pushing back it could easily backfire. Rather than begin all-or-nothing impeachment hearings that would climax just before the elections, start up a lot of smaller investigations and begin a steady trickle of damning judicial and legislative findings. Weather away at Trump’s diehard base, and let the voters do the impeachment for you. That is both safer and more likely to succeed.

  202. Hj Hornbeck says

    Having said that, Maxine Waters offers up a strong counter-point. I’ll just quote the conclusion:

    At this point, Congress’ failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms. Congress’ failure to impeach would set a dangerous precedent and imperil the nation as it would vest too much power in the Executive Branch and embolden future officeholders to further debase the U.S. presidency, if that’s even possible.

  203. consciousness razor says

    Long story short: impeachment may be the right thing to do,

    No, it is part of their job, according to our Constitution. This isn’t a game of chess, and it isn’t about political strategizing. Article I does not tell the House to “ask yourself whether or not you think this will be politically advantageous right now.” You do what the Constitution requires, as an elected official, or you may resign. Both Democrats and Republicans need to accept that responsibility, or they should have never run for office in the first place. They can go work in an International House of Pancakes instead, where they will do less damage.
    But let’s think about this. Suppose the Republicans do want to play games. They should be happy to see Democrats harm their chances politically, if that’s what they genuinely believe will come of this. I’m not going to be scared off by that, however. If they know what they’re doing with their games, they should jump at the chance to allow it, because they believe it will be good for them — do you see them acting that way? I don’t. Let them figure that out among themselves, if they think they understand the minds of millions of people so well. They don’t seem to understand much of anything very well, and I don’t buy it.
    But I just don’t care about that anyway. I didn’t vote for Democrats so they can do what is most convenient for them (or me) at any particular moment. They have to follow the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, and have a meaningful separation of powers, or else we are all fucked, not just Trump. And …. when Dems don’t do that, what exactly is my vote supposed to reflect in next election? Definitely not that I approve of them being afraid of responsibility, not that I like when they once again fail to use their control of the House, and definitely not that they are more interested in manipulating voters like me than simply doing their fucking jobs. My vote will reflect desperation, at best. As a strategy, if that’s how you insist on thinking about it, that leaves something to be desired.

  204. KG says

    The gist is that the whole non-finding of obstruction seems to rest on the DOJ/OLC belief that a sitting President cannot be indicted – quite contrary to Barr’s claim. – Lynna, OM quoting Josh Marchall@226, emphasis added

    Well that shouldn’t have stopped Mueller – after all, what he was dealing with is a lying President ;-)

  205. Akira MacKenzie says

    consciousness razor @ 291

    I didn’t vote for Democrats so they can do what is most convenient for them (or me) at any particular moment.

    But… that’s been the Democrat’s strategy since 1992.

  206. Akira MacKenzie says

    Hj Hornbeck @ 289

    Weather away at Trump’s diehard base, and let the voters do the impeachment for you.

    Ummm… Trump’s diehard base are fascist, racist, inbred, Bible-humping, gun-fondling garbage people. They have no problem with anything Trump does, legal or illegal, as long as it “triggers the lib-tards.”

    You can’t expect help from that redneck trash.

  207. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    FWIW, the Constitution does not specify any circumstances under which the House MUST impeach the President. All it says is that only the House can impeach, only the Senate can convict, and upon impeachment AND conviction, the President SHALL BE removed from office.

    What is more, impeachment is quite rare. Only 2 Presidents have been impeached–both subsequently acquitted. (Nixon wasn’t one of them, and while it is likely he would have been impeached, it is possible the Senate might not have convicted him.) Fewer than 10 Federal officials (mostly judges) have been removed from office by impeachment–although several others have resigned, some to actually be acquitted afterwards!
    To my mind, impeachment is probably a bridge too far. I think it could be more valuable to investigate the hell out of DJT and friends, forcing the Rethugs to defend the indefensible. What really matters is 2020. Whoever controls state houses after 2020 will control redistricting and so control the House for the next decade, as well as determining whether the electorate is broadened or narrowed.

    If you support a liberal agenda, this should be the prize you keep in mind. Legislators are a lot more likely to cater to the left if the only challenges they face come from that direction.
    The game being played here is politics–and I guarantee that the sausage being made by either party isn’t vegan.

  208. Chris J says

    The problem is, if impeachment doesn’t happen now when it has happened to Clinton for lying under oath, the message this sends is, at best, that we no longer care how illegally, immorally, or terribly a president acts; they can use the government as their tool however they like and still be considered a useful leader of the country.

    At worst, it sends the message that it doesn’t matter how illegally, immorally, or terribly a president of one party acts, as long as the rest of the party puts power over everything else and breaks governmental systems to achieve their goals.

    Yes, it helps if the president can be charged with and prosecuted for crimes they commit once they leave office, in that something is better than nothing, but there’s all sorts of nonsense around what you can and can’t do to a sitting president and who a president can and can’t pardon. Plus, the president (according to sections of the Mueller report) has a lot of power to bury or destroy evidence that could be used for prosecution because they are the highest singular leader in this country. Without impeachment, we could have a system where a president can rule absolutely and blatantly criminally, then just destroy evidence and interfere with investigation so they are safe once they leave office.

    It’s a terrible mess to be in, all because you think that impeachment might not be the politically best move to make.

  209. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Chris J.,
    What it says if the current occupant of 1600 Penn Ave. is not impeached is:
    1) Democrats are better at doing math than Republicans–the math says this isn’t an action that wins them votes.
    2) The American people realize that impeachment is political, not legal.
    3) It expresses confidence in American institutions that they can survive 4 years under an utter imbecile.
    4) It says that Democrats are willing to play the long game and set up the shot before they take it.

    Above all, it shows there’s an appreciation that if DJT were impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate, that he could ride a wave of sympathy back into office for another 4 years.

  210. Chris J says

    I just can’t agree with your points. It definitely is a gamble about whether the presence of impeachment would affect the election one way or another, but let’s add to that gamble by pointing out that if the current occupant of 1600 Penn Ave. is not impeached, then he has free reign to paint the whole investigation as partisan (as he’s been doing) that found no collusion (as he’s been doing) and that boost in political morale could fuel his re-election.

    Making impeachment political is one thing, but making it partisan is another, and the lack of any consequences as a result of everything that has been found cements the investigation as partisan, not merely political or not-legal.

    Meanwhile, checks and balances become meaningless.

  211. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Chris J.,
    I share your frustration–the man is utterly vile. However, what would be the point of impeaching DJT if you can’t even muster 50 votes in the Senate to bring the issue to the floor, let alone 67 votes needed to convict? And even if you did convict, the replacement would be Mike Pence!
    The risk-reward calculus just isn’t there. Meanwhile, if they take a page a day from the Meuller report for hearings, they can keep a steady drip of corruption, incompetence and downright fuckery until after election day. The goal is not just to defeat DJT, but to defeat the Republicans. Defeating Trump but still having to deal with McConnell is not a win.

    The electoral map is tight. The former blue-wall states are now swing states, and DJT has a formidable war chest of campaign funds he can use to drip poison into the ears of the citizens there. DJT is starting with a solid base of 40% who will vote for him no matter what. We cannot afford to alienate that many voters before the DJT’s re-election comes within stealing distance.

  212. Chris J says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    I can also share a need for practicality. I’m usually an extremely practical person. But in this case, I think we need to take a more righteous stance to preserve the few bits of institution we have left.

    Mike Pence as president faces re-election in 2020 if Trump is impeached, with the usual problems of ramping up and new leadership. Trump has already hobbled the government, so I don’t see Pence as being able to cause much more trouble than Trump already is. Additionally, a successful impeachment would mean that even Republicans have judged Trump and the whole debacle of an administration he set up as too far. I see that as a plus for the 2020 elections, and one that would allow Democrats to campaign on something other than Anti-Trump more successfully.

    So what happens if impeachment passes the house and not the senate? Given all the information in the Mueller report, I see this still as positive for Democrats in 2020. It means that Democrats are willing to act on the report’s findings and grant it legitimacy, and they can hammer Republicans for not doing the same. Meanwhile, Republicans put themselves even more at Trump’s disposal, who may be popular with a rabid fan base but still only has a 40-ish% approval rating.

    The problem I see with avoiding impeachment is that voters will see that the people who are in charge of impeachment don’t see the Mueller findings as a big deal. No matter what they personally think, they’ll wonder why the investigation happened at all if the findings weren’t going to matter, and the more center-ish voters will start to see the investigation and the Democrats who pushed it so hard as a big flop. Disillusionment is strong in this age, and it works in service of Trump and the Republicans.

    In other words, I see it more likely that doing nothing will alienate voters on the fence, because the investigation will look exactly like Benghazi; a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing in the end, with Democrats who can’t follow through. Impeachment would involve laying out exactly what grounds the impeachment is based on, and there are enough facts in the Mueller report, I believe, to convince a normal voter that there is grounds for doing so.

  213. Saad says

    It’s pretty cool that we’ve come to the point where a serious case is being made that there shouldn’t be any consequences for the president this president for attempting to obstruct justice.

  214. consciousness razor says

    A nice long article from The Atlantic: Impeach Donald Trump
    a_ray, you said you want a bunch of hearings that show “a steady drip of corruption, incompetence and downright fuckery.” What’s supposed to be the fucking difference? It’ll show all of that … but somehow, they’re also not supposed to charge Trump (or his cronies) with anything. Presumably, that’s the difference, even though makes no sense. It would be an extended whining session, about things you consider unimportant (since you may call them corruption, incompetence and downright fucking, but you don’t really mean it). It would just be a bit of political theater and nothing more. Pretending as if you’re running the government and making a case, but only ever pretending.
    Isn’t that what you’re asking for? If so, what would be the point of that?

  215. consciousness razor says

    correction: “fuckery” not “fucking”
    It sounds like what you want the House to do, by the way. Just fuckery, not governing.

  216. says

    a_ray @302:

    The electoral map is tight. The former blue-wall states are now swing states, and DJT has a formidable war chest of campaign funds he can use to drip poison into the ears of the citizens there. DJT is starting with a solid base of 40% who will vote for him no matter what.

    You’re right. And Donald J Trump is not the only one wielding a formidable war chest in his re-election campaign. He also still has the backing of Russia. As I write this, Russian trolls and bots are flooding the internet to push Trump’s view of the Mueller report, and to weaken the impact of any bad news about Trump. They are also obviously pushing previously-debunked conspiracy theories about the FBI “spying” on Trump … and on and on.

    It’s a formidable re-election machine and it will continue to bury the facts and to nurture Trump’s lies right through 2020.

    What went on in the past, and a harbinger of what is to come:

    […] The troll group, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), also successfully used fake accounts on Twitter to provoke reactions from high profile American users from across the political spectrum.

    The report makes clear that Mueller’s team found no evidence that Americans who had interacted with the accounts knew they were tied to Russia or any other foreign country.

    But whether those Americans knew — and even whether they were retweeting the fake accounts to support what they had said or publicly disagreeing with them — may not have mattered to the trolls. Any interaction between one of the accounts and someone with a significant number of Twitter followers would have gotten the account in front of more people, and likely led to new followers. The more followers the accounts got, the more legitimate they would have looked to both regular users and high-profile ones alike.

    The report names former Ambassador Michael McFaul, political operative Roger Stone, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security adviser, as either responding to or retweeting tweets sent by the Russian group.

    Responding to the report on Thursday, McFaul, who served as US ambassador to Russia under President Obama, tweeted, “for heaven’s sake. I was not ‘influenced’ by these Russian bots (and I engaged with hundreds more , bots and real people). I was trying to refute them.”

    Tweets from one troll account, @TEN_GOP, which was designed to look like it was associated with the Republican party of Tennessee, were cited or retweeted by multiple Trump campaign officials or surrogates. Among those who interacted with the account were Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, along with Kellyanne Conway, who is now counselor to the president, and Brad Parscale, who is now the campaign manager for Trump’s reelection campaign.

    “The investigation identified no similar connections between the IRA and the Clinton Campaign,” the report noted. […]

    CNN link

    Here’s Trump’s nonsense from today, (this is basically what Russia is repeating in various ways):

    Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.

    Note that Trump is scapegoating the note-taker, Don McGahn, the lawyer who gave the Mueller team some of the most damaging information on Trump when it came to obstruction of justice, or attempts to obstruct justice. McGahn is credible. Trump is not.

  217. Akira MacKenzie says

    Most Americans (yes, even Republicans) know Trump and Co. are corrupt shits, it’s just that they don’t care. Until his policies hurt them personally (especially in the pocket books) they won’t care.

  218. says

    Akira @294:

    Ummm… Trump’s diehard base are fascist, racist, inbred, Bible-humping, gun-fondling garbage people. They have no problem with anything Trump does, legal or illegal, as long as it “triggers the lib-tards.”
    You can’t expect help from that redneck trash.

    Akira! Wake up. Please read comment 35 (from blf), and especially comment 70 (from me). Read those two comments several times. Make sure you understand.

  219. says

    From Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] The appointment of Mueller did not lead to the end of Trump’s Presidency. Not yet, and probably not ever. […] But the report’s belated publication, almost four weeks to the day after Mueller submitted it to Attorney General William Barr, is hardly the “complete and total exoneration” that Trump initially claimed it was and that Barr misleadingly and incompletely portrayed to the country. We knew that wasn’t the case the minute Trump said it.

    What we didn’t know until Thursday, when we finally saw the four-hundred-and-forty-eight-page document, is how much evidence Mueller had amassed about the President, panicked and in crisis mode, trying to shut down and block the investigation. The report documents ten different incidents that raise questions about the President’s behavior. Was it obstruction of justice? […] that that is a matter for Congress to decide. And Congress, as a matter of political calculation and senatorial math, remains unlikely to pursue the question to its bitter end.

    […] Trump is one of only a few Presidents in American history to win the Presidency via the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. The Mueller report appears to have arrived at a similar outcome. […]

    […] the portrait of the White House that Mueller and his team have produced, which is surely one of the most damning insider accounts ever written about a Presidency in modern times. What the report portrays, in numbing legalese and revealing footnotes, is a breathtaking culture of lying and impunity, distrust and double-dealing. […] it is based on sworn testimony and on contemporaneous notes, e-mails, and phone records that only a prosecutor could have had access to. […]

    We pretty much knew this was coming. On Wednesday evening, President Trump himself announced that Barr would give a press conference the next morning. Then came news from the Justice Department that Congress and the public would get the report only after the press conference. Then came a Times report that the Justice Department had, in fact, briefed White House lawyers about the Mueller findings before the release, aiding their preparations to rebut it.

    To say that Washington heads were exploding would be an understatement. Imagine Richard Nixon announcing that Leon Jaworski would be giving a press conference the next day to exonerate him, and you get some sense of how this late-breaking information was received.

    By 8 p.m., Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Democratic-controlled House, was telling reporters that the “Attorney General appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report.”

    The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, tweeted, “AG Barr has thrown out his credibility and the DOJ’s independence with his single-minded effort to protect @realdonaldtrump above all else.” […]

  220. says

    Trump is joking about staying in office as president for more than two terms. This “joke” makes my stomach turn:

    […] At an event for the Wounded Warrior Project, Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, chief executive of the veterans charity, gave Trump a trophy to thank him for his support.

    “Well, this is really beautiful,” Trump told the crowd in the East Room of the White House. “This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that okay?”

    After some laughter from the crowd, Trump continued: “I was going to joke, General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we’ll say six.”

    Trump also made a joke on the same topic last year. In a speech to Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago estate, he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing away with term limits.

    “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said, according to CNN. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

    Washington Post link

    We’d better keep an eye on this.

  221. says

    The Mueller report debunks Barr’s ‘No Collusion=No Obstruction’ lie:

    […] Mueller found evidence of a corrupt intent in at least some of the episodes he investigated as part of his obstruction inquiry. Intent is a key question in determining whether certain conduct fits into the legal framework of an obstruction offense.

    “Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect noncriminal personal interests, to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area, or to avoid personal embarrassment,” Mueller said. “The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong.”

    […] In assessing the motive for the Comey firing, Mueller said that a “thorough FBI investigation” would expose the work Michael Cohen had done on the Trump Tower project in Moscow throughout 2016, even as Trump repeatedly denied he had any connection to Russia. In a semi-redacted sentence, Mueller also seemed to point to an additional motive for firing Comey: Trump’s awareness that he had privately sought information about the Wikileaks’ email dumps during the campaign even after it was publicly reported that Russia was behind the hacks. […]

    According to Mueller’s report, the perceived criminal liabilities of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting — where his inner circle met with Kremlin-tied individuals — also may have motivated some of Trump’s allegedly obstructive conduct. […]

    TPM link

    Much more at the link.

  222. says

    Armed white nationalist militias are now coordinating with U.S. Border Patrol to “detain” migrants.

    Text excerpts below are from the New York Times and the Guardian.

    Armed rightwing militia members detained a large group of migrants at the US-Mexico border and coordinated with US border patrol agents to have them arrested, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, in a series of actions the civil liberties organization called a “kidnapping” and a flagrant violation of the law.
    ——————
    The group of white, rightwing vigilantes—dubbing itself the United Constitutional Patriots, and operating in southern New Mexico—has been given tacit permission by U.S. Border Patrol agents to terrorize migrant families and hold them at gunpoint until agents arrive to “process” them.
    ———————
    A video posted Monday night by Jim Benvie, a member of the armed group, appeared to show the militia ordering around a large group of migrants, including many children, and telling them to sit on the ground. As he filmed the migrants kneeling in the dirt, Benvie narrated on his video: “There’s no border patrol here. This is us.”

    […]

    Benvie mirrored Trump’s anti-immigrant language in his videos, saying, “This is an invasion. Gotta build the wall.”

    In another video posted Wednesday, Benvie filmed himself stopping a group of four adults and three children and said “border patrol” to them as he approached, before calling for another member of his group to join.
    ——————–
    “The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law,” the ACLU of New Mexico said in a letter to the state’s governor and attorney general, urging them to “immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct”.

    The ACLU described the group as “an armed fascist militia organization” made up of “vigilantes” working to “kidnap and detain people seeking asylum” and accused the group of directly making illegal arrests.

    Link

  223. says

    A Florida man was arrested over violent threats against Democratic members of Congress.

    […] A trio of Democrats — Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Reps. Eric Swalwell of California and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — were on the receiving end of belligerent messages from 49-year-old John Kless, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. […]

    The complaint quotes a profanity-laced message allegedly targeting Swalwell, who has made gun control a centerpiece of his platform and clashed with critics on Twitter, warning that “the day you come after our guns” is “the day you’ll be dead.”

    Swalwell has previously highlighted similar threats, posting to Twitter a voicemail in which a caller can be heard mimicking the sound of gunfire and saying the California congressman would be a “casualty.” Swalwell responded to Kless’ arrest on Friday by praising law enforcement for “for protecting my staff and constituents.” […]

    “Tell your Taliban friend to” stop talking about 9/11, he is quoted telling Tlaib, adding that “this ain’t Trump’s fault” and “you definitely don’t tell our president, Donald Trump, what to say.”

    According to the complaint, Kless had earlier made “profane/harassing calls” to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which he spoke of “Congress taking away his guns, abortion, illegal immigration and Muslims in Congress.”

    Link

  224. says

    Republican Representative Matt Gaetz just hired a white nationalist.

    […] former Trump administration aide, Darren Beattie, will join his Capitol Hill office.

    “Very proud to have the talented Dr. Darren Beattie helping our team as a Special Advisor for Speechwriting. Welcome on board!” Gaetz tweeted Friday.

    Beattie was fired from the White House in August 2018 after reports that he had delivered remarks at a 2016 conference, dubbed an “active hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, alongside a well-known white nationalist, Richard Spencer.

    Organizers of the event, the H.L. Mencken Club, described it as a gathering for the “independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right.” But the SPLC has described its attendees as “a band of white nationalists, pseudoacademic and academic racists.”

    Link

  225. says

    Followup to comment 279.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ lies that were discussed in the Mueller report:

    […] The actual video of the post-Comey press conference […] shows that Sanders first slips her tongue in response to a reporter’s direct question about the White House’s bullshit story, which contradicted the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. When asked by yet another reporter to confirm that she’d “personally” heard from “countless” FBI agents, her tongue keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. It’s a pretty funny exchange.

    REPORTER: You personally have talked to countless FBI officials, employees, since this happened?
    See, it’s barely been a day. What she’s saying strains credulity […]. He’s giving her an off-ramp but she won’t take it.

    SANDERS: Correct.

    REPORTER: I mean … really?

    SANDERS: Between like e-mail, text messages, absolutely.

    REPORTER: 50, 60, 70?

    SANDERS: Look, we’re not gonna get into a numbers game. I mean, I have heard from a large number of individuals that work at the FBI that said that they’re very happy with the president’s decision.

    […] Now, Sanders is on damage control. She tried to reassure the public of her honesty on Hannity last night […] She showed up today on “CBS This Morning” and further slimed Comey, insisting that Trump firing him was “one of the best decisions” the president ever made. Considering that’s what led to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Sanders doesn’t really understand how decisions work.

    Sanders repeated her absurd argument that her lies were just statements made “in the heat of the moment.” […] This was a press conference and later multiple appearances on TV where she justified the sudden termination of the FBI director. But Sanders wants us to believe the lies weren’t a “scripted thing.” Why? Because she’s still covering up for her boss

    Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti observed back in February that if Trump directed Sanders to lie it would show consciousness of guilt. Why else was it so important to promote a narrative that Comey was a bumbling incompetent, a common Inspector Clouseau? Trump could’ve fired him for any reason. […]

    Trump knew and was advised that canning Comey was legally perilous. He made every effort to distance himself from his own decision. He repeatedly tried to justify the termination as fully warranted and even something the FBI rank-and-file not-so secretly desired. This is why Sanders insists that Trump never directly told her to lie. […] The hosts of “CBS This Morning” pressed her on this point.

    JOHN DICKERSON: In the course of your time at the White House, has the president ever asked you to say something that you knew not to be true?

    SANDERS: The president isn’t asking people to break the law, isn’t asking them to do anything that is dishonest.

    [That is both untrue and avoids the question.]

    ANTHONY MASON: That’s not the question, Sarah.

    DICKERSON: So you’re saying the president has never asked you to say anything you knew not to be true.

    SANDERS: Correct.

    Why would anyone believe Sanders at this point? Everything she says is a lie wrapped in an insult. Longtime foe April Ryan struck down Sanders yesterday with great vengeance and furious anger. […]

    Link

    Several video snippets are available at the link, including a video of April Ryan responding.

  226. says

    Yes, one guy on Fox News still tells the truth:

    Before 30 seconds had passed during Thursday’s episode of Shepard Smith Reporting, the host had said what most of his Fox News colleagues had been trying very hard not to say all afternoon. “The bottom line on today’s document—according to the document, not the attorney general—is this: Robert Mueller reports he could not exonerate President Trump,” Smith declared.

    After noting that the special counsel had found that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “was no hoax” and that “the [Trump] campaign expected to benefit from the stolen information that the Russians released,” Smith reiterated his initial point. “Robert Mueller’s report does not clear President Trump of obstruction of justice,” he said. “In fact, the special counsel wrote that if he could clear the president of obstruction of justice, he would, but that he could not.”

    […] In recent years, Smith has spent much of his airtime speaking slowly and directly into the camera, in the soothing tones used by crisis negotiators. During these monologues, he rebuts the dumb things said by his colleagues on the network’s opinion side. His program is a beacon of candor in a sea of partisan bullshit. […]

    Link

  227. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump has reverted to blaming President Obama for allowing Russian interference in U.S. elections:

    [Trump tweeted] “Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President. He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected.”

    Nearly everything in Trump’s tweet was wrong. The vote was affected. Barack Obama did a lot more than “nothing,” and he would’ve done more were it not for Mitch McConnell’s opposition. The “anything the Russians did…” suggests Trump may still have some doubts as to the nature of the Russians’ attack, which is an issue that does not lend itself to skepticism.

    […] Yesterday, for example, Trump blamed Obama for the Russia attack. Earlier this week, Trump made up a story about hearing from a “big tough guy” who was “crying” because Obama ruined his life. Last week, Trump focused his attention on his approval rating — as compared to Obama’s.

    Earlier that day, Trump tried to defend his family-separation policy by falsely claiming it was actually Obama’s policy. Four days earlier, Trump went after Joe Biden by condemning Obama.

    Three days earlier, Trump told the National Republican Congressional Committee, “By the way, the carbon and all of the things flying up in the air, you know, the carbon footprint? President Obama used to talk about the carbon footprint and he’d hop on Air Force One, a big 747 with very old engines, and he’d fly to Hawaii to play a round of golf. Now, you tell me, the carbon footprint. But that’s the way it is.”

    Obama, incidentally, never flew to Hawaii solely to play a round of golf.

    The week before that, Trump suggested Obama was responsible for orchestrating a conspiratorial scheme against the Republican campaign in 2016. […]

    Link

    Trump does not look good when compared to Obama. Trump does not look good when he reveals his ongoing obsession with President Obama.

  228. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.

    Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.

  229. says

    From Mitt Romney:

    I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia.

    Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.

  230. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    CR and CJ, Actually, impeachment would be more political theater than would hearings, since the Senate would fail to convict and might not even bring it to the floor. Once the House pulls that trigger, they have shot their bolt. They relinquish control and attention. The ball is squarely in McConnell’s court.
    Hearings can be timed to make lives miserable not just for DJT, but also for his enablers well into the election year.

    And what is more, the public support for impeachment is not there. I am old enough to remember the Clinton impeachment. All it accomplished was neuter Newt and give Clinton a boost in popularity that he did not deserve. Politics is the art of the possible. I say we should focus on the ones we can actually win.

  231. lotharloo says

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    Initially, I thought impeachment was pointless but after thinking about it for a while, I think it’s the right thing to do.

    Cons:
    1) Impeachment will result in a political theater, with little actual gain.
    2) It will hurt Democrats in the short term. Fox news will play the “impeach the motherfucker” clip over and over and over again, and tell its ignorant viewers that the Dems wanted to do the impeachment regardless of the outcome of the Mueller report, which by the way is great and totally and completely exonerates Trump and says that it was all Obama’s fault!
    3) It will distract from other issues, e.g., Trump taxes, actual policy positions, etc.

    Pros:
    1) It’s the right thing to do. It’s very clear Trump tried to obstruct justice, multiple times and through multiple ways.
    2) In a few years, after the Foxnews propaganda is forgotten, impeachment will still stay as the right decision that Democrats made. For a moment, think about the legacy of the Clinton impeachment for the Republicans. It’s that “Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton because of a blowjob”. That’s what the public remembers, even though at the time Republicans used a lot of fake holy rage about the office of the president, testimony under oath and many other talking points that are completely forgotten. What would be the legacy of the Democrats if they don’t impeach? It would be that Donald J. Trump tried everything he could to obstruct justice and Democrats were fine with it.
    3) It will help fire up the Democratic base. It will show the base that their representatives are willing to fight instead of doing political calculations.

    I don’t think it’s an easy decision but I think there are stronger arguments for the impeachment position.

  232. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lotharloo,
    OK, so let me get this straight. The right thing to do is for Democrats to fall on their sword, throw their legislative agenda into chaos, trash whatever good will they have built up in opposition to Darth Cheeto and all with zero probability of succeeding and the likelihood that their actions will deliver a second term to the imbecile?

    Yeah. OK. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Impeachment died when Democrats didn’t take back the Senate–which means that it really died in 2012 (the math was always against winning the Senate), before Trump even declared.

    Has Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses. Without doubt. Is he a disaster as President? Again, no doubt. But since impeachment will never happen in the current incarnation of the Congress–hell, it’s not even clear it would make it through the House–what matters, all that matters is winning BIG in 2020. We cannot do that with the base only. We can’t do that when over 50% of the public opposes impeachment.

    Again, politics is the art of the possible–not the beau geste.

  233. Akira MacKenzie says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @325

    And what about the law? What other crimes should we ignore because it’s politically inconvenient to enforce. What else is the president above?

    Impeaching Trump is not about gestures, it’s about THE FUCKING LAW.

  234. lotharloo says

    @a_ray_in_dilbert_space:
    I’ll take your points in reverse order.

    We cannot do that with the base only.

    Yes, we can. You don’t need to convince the republican voters to vote for a Democrat. You don’t need to convince the right-leaning independents. If you can motivate your own base, you can win. Therefore, any political maneuver should be judged not only on its potential to pull in people who are not in your camp to vote for you, but also on its potential to bring more of your base to the voting booths.

    Has Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses. Without doubt.

    While it’s true that we all thought he had committed impeachable offenses, the difference now is that we had a special council investigation that concluded that. Not impeaching means that the special council investigation was in fact meaningless to a large degree, and that Democrats were planning to not do anything unless Mueller could catch Donald Trump swearing fealty to Putin.

    OK, so let me get this straight. The right thing to do is for Democrats to fall on their sword, throw their legislative agenda into chaos.

    I confess this is one of the two main reasons to not do impeachment, that it will prevent the Democrats from pursuing their agenda. But on the other hand, the Democratic agenda is fucked anyways. Republicans will never let Democrats implement anything meaningful anyways, however, shifting the focus to the impeachment rather than the issues and policies is going to hurt the Democrats.

    … the likelihood that their actions will deliver a second term to the imbecile?

    I would say this is the main reason not to do the impeachment. However, the blowback is only going to be short term.

    Let me bring up an example to see where you stand on these types of political strategies: When Dianne Feinstein received the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, her ultimate choice was to bury the story because she thought that it would motivate the conservatives in the upcoming elections. The story was leaked eventually but it is likely that she was right. So just for the sake of the argument let’s assume that she was right. Do you think she made the right decision?

    I don’t think so. She did the short-sighted political calculation and went for a strategy to maximize short-term gains. However, the eventual hearings and Ford’s testimony was extremely credible and moving and it motivated a lot of people on the left to get involved with politics.

    I think it could be the same with the impeachment. The Republicans could become more energetic for a few months but it could help motivate the Democratic base in the long run.

  235. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna OM @ 309

    I’ve been trying to compose as polite a response to your request as humanly possible. The following is the best I can come up with:

    Oh… boo hoo. My heart bleeds for the hurt feeling of the inbred, Bible-beating, gun-fondling, uneducated, rural scum who are a millstone around this civilization’s neck. Cry me a fucking river.

    As fir BLF @ 35

    To see this, replace “garage people” with, e.g., “hijab wearers” or “people of colour” or “cis males” or “pharyngula’s horde”.

    We aren’t talking about some historically marginalized group or discriminated race or ethnicity. If that were the case, I’d agree We’re talking about a particular group of WHITE PEOPLE. You know, the morons who believe in JEEZ-us, creationism, and carry AR-15s into Walmart! The ones who voted for Trump The ones who stand in the way of everything you claim to value.

    Call them what you will, but according to my moral calculas, “Garbage People” is a appropriate epithet to hurl at these hicks.

  236. Akira MacKenzie says

    Forgive the lapses in punctuation in the last comment. My attention to detail tends to suffer when I’m furious.

  237. says

    Akira in comment 328, you began this discussion by talking about “the general level of stupidity and bigotry of the garbage people who live in the Redneck States.” That’s too general.

    See bf’s comment 35 … again: “Referring to a specific individual as, e.g., “hair furor”, or a well-defined group as, e.g., the “tory ultras” is one thing, but referring to an indeterminate, probably large, population is not that thing.”

    You are missing the point.

  238. Hj Hornbeck says

    Akira MacKenzie @328:

    My heart bleeds for the hurt feeling of the inbred, Bible-beating, gun-fondling, uneducated, rural scum who are a millstone around this civilization’s neck.

    Take it down a notch. A lot of their support comes from being fed a continual dose of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Take those away, and their support for Trump may soften enough that you think of them as human again.

    Anyway, I hope this angle gets more traction.

    It’s not simply that his staffers disregarded his orders. After all, Trump didn’t need Mueller to tell him that. Trump already knew these things didn’t happen. Sessions didn’t unrecuse. Corey Lewandowski never sent his backchannel messages to Sessions. And of course Robert Mueller was never fired. What I suspect is most angering to Trump, most humiliating is precisely that these narratives show he never did anything about it. […]

    The image is one of weakness, someone who blusters but is actually surprisingly, paradoxically conflict averse.

    The SCO report makes it crystal clear that Trump is a spinless coward. Much of the White House chaos can be attributed to that weakness: Trump doesn’t lead, so much as let others do whatever they want so long as they keep him rich and happy. And even when they don’t hold up their end of the bargain, it takes him a long time to do anything about it.

  239. says

    https://twitter.com/maddow/status/1119452258591215616

    Tweet from Rachel Maddow regarding the Maria Butina sentencing filing, which includes this:

    […] the defendant provided the Russian Official with the name of an individual she claimed was being considered for Secretary of State. She asked the Russian Official to seek the input of the Russian government on the name she provided and told him, “our opinion will be taken into consideration” in the United States.

    From Rachel:

    The opinion of the Russian government “will be taken into account” on … what’s that you say?

  240. says

    Hj @331, regarding your comments about the Mueller report: one man is still hopping mad about the Mueller report. Trump. This gives me hope in one way. It indicates that Trump knows how damaging the information in the Mueller report actually is.

    These tweets are all from Trump, and all from today:

    Despite the fact that the Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place & was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is No Collusion, No Obstruction!

    The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to stir up and anger the pols and as many people as possible seldom mentioning the fact that the Mueller Report had as its principle conclusion the fact that there was NO COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA. The Russia Hoax is dead!

    United States weekly jobless claims just hit a 50 year low. The economy is doing GREAT!

    The end result of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history is No Collusion with Russia (and No Obstruction). Pretty Amazing!

  241. says

    From CNN:

    […] Now, those close to him say Trump is newly furious at the people — most of whom no longer work for him — whose extensive interviews with the special counsel’s office created the epic depiction of an unscrupulous and chaotic White House. And he’s seeking assurances from those who remain that his orders are being treated like those of a president, and not like suggestions from an intemperate but misguided supervisor. […]

  242. says

    As someone who lives in a conservative, rural area, I’m not too happy at being categorized as a “garbage person” on the basis of geography.

  243. blf says

    Ah, but poopyhead@335, since you are someone who can also be reasonably called one of the WHITE PEOPLE, you clearly are one of the morons who believe in JEEZ-us, creationism, and carry AR-15s into Walmart!

    Anyone else notice the rather extreme racism is the apparent-troll’s reply, or (somewhat disguised) in their comment about the Notre Dame fire?

  244. says

    From Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer:

    Special Counsel Mueller’s report paints a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behavior and acting as if the law doesn’t apply to him.

    But if you hadn’t read the report and listened only to Mr. Barr, you wouldn’t have known any of that because Mr. Barr has been so misleading.

  245. says

    William Barr has offered to let just a few lawmakers see a less redacted version of the Mueller report, but Barr also placed severe restrictions on that viewing.

    […] Barr’s offer, which would allow just 12 senior lawmakers and certain staffers to see the fuller version of the report, also fails to guarantee lawmakers access to grand jury material. They say they’re open to “discussing a reasonable accommodation” but that members of investigative committees — such as the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee in each chamber — require access as well.

    “While the current proposal is not workable, we are open to discussing a reasonable accommodation with the Department that would protect law enforcement sensitive information while allowing Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties,” they write. […]

    Link

    I think Barr is just playing a game of stall-them-until-they-give-up. He is buying time for Trump and his lackeys to cement the “no collusion, no obstruction” false narrative in the minds of the public.

    Barr won’t let lawmakers take copies of the report to their offices. He doesn’t want the few lawmakers that he does allow to see a less redacted report to discuss that report with their colleagues. Lawmakers, even the special few, will still be blocked from seeing grand jury testimony. Barr is preventing Congress from performing its oversight functions.

    Barr is also acting like an all-powerful autocrat.

  246. says

    blf @336:

    Anyone else notice the rather extreme racism is the apparent-troll’s reply, or (somewhat disguised) in their comment about the Notre Dame fire?

    Yes, I noticed that. It sounds like hate speech to me.

    Akira is also coming close to fostering divisiveness, just like a Russian troll. It’s weird. I can’t quite figure it out.

    I live in a rural area with “rural scum” (as Akira calls them) that I do not find to be a “millstone” around my neck, nor do I find them to be “garbage people.” Yes, there are many flaws in this population, but I would not indulge in wholesale condemnation of them.

  247. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes.

  248. says

    About Erik Prince’s appearance in the Mueller Report:

    Erik Prince really was up to no good in that Seychelles meeting.

    Mueller revealed that Erik Prince, Blackwater founder and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, did in fact wildly mislead Congress about the purpose of his January 2017 Seychelles trip.

    The report revealed that Prince flew to the island nation specifically to meet with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. On two occasions during that trip, they sat down to talk U.S.-Russia relations, and Prince described the conversations to Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

    That’s a far cry from what Prince said in a tense interview with the House Intelligence Committee: “I didn’t fly there to meet any Russian guy.”

    In his testimony, Prince bristled at suggestions there was anything untoward about his trip, saying he just shared a beer with Dmitriev during a chance encounter.

    The report doesn’t explicitly say that Prince perjured himself during his congressional testimony, as those interviewed in the investigation were offered so-called “queen for a day” immunity. Mueller also declined to indict Prince for lying to Congress.

  249. says

    Rudi Giuliani is now calling don McGahn a liar. That’s rich.

    Some background information:

    […] So far as Trump is concerned, McGahn made a basic error—he was truthful and cooperated with a criminal investigation. In the process McGahn made it clear just how much Trump tried to hamstring, harm, and end the investigation into Russia’s interference in a the 2016 election. As the New York Times reports, McGahn became one of witnesses most cited in the report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller. References to the White House counsel’s testimony came up 157 times.

    And there was a good reason. Trump twice called on McGahn to remove Mueller and end the investigation. […] Instead, McGahn threatened to resign, saying that Trump was ordering him to do “crazy shit.”

    Clearly, speaking the truth is the one sin that cannot be tolerated by Trump or anyone around him, so current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has issued an attack on McGahn. According to Giuliani, McGahn’s statements “can’t be taken at face value.” He followed up by speculating that McGahn was lying, or McGahn wasn’t remembering correctly, or Trump was only making a joke by “venting his frustrations” with Mueller.

    Trump had previously posted a twisted attack on McGahn’s credibility for a reason that for anyone else, would seem incredibly strange. McGahn took notes during meetings. According to the former counsel, Trump asked about the notes at the time, and McGahn had to explain that it was what “real lawyers” did. But Trump later tweeted “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”

    […] The concept that other people want an accurate record of events isn’t just odd to Trump, it’s threatening. […]

    Link

    From the Washington Post:

    “The narrative is written as if it’s all true and somebody proved it. Nobody proved it,” Giuliani said in an interview Friday. “I’m frustrated by the report because in some ways I’d love to have a trial and prove that it’s not true.”

  250. says

    The courts dealt two major blows to Trump’s environmental agenda during the past week:

    […] Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana ruled late Friday that the Interior Department under former Secretary Ryan Zinke acted illegally when it sought to overturn a 2016 ban on coal mining on public lands. More than 40% of U.S. coal is currently mined from federal lands and the Obama administration imposed the ban on most federal coal sales three years ago.

    The Trump administration sought to lift that moratorium as part of a larger effort to revive the coal industry, but Morris said that in doing so government officials ignored the environmental implications associated with selling large amounts of coal obtained from U.S. lands. The judge slammed Interior officials for describing the move “as a mere policy shift” […]

    While Morris’ ruling does not go so far as to reinstate the Obama-era ban, legal experts said it would likely force officials to revise their justification for the decision. The judge has moreover said he will issue a second legal decision this year on whether the mining ban should be reinstated.

    Also on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ordered the EPA to finally take action on widespread demands from environmental groups to ban chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide. […]

    The court ruled Friday that the EPA has 90 days to make a decision on banning chlorpyrifos across the country, giving the agency until mid-July to act.

    Environmental groups have expressed concern that the Trump administration may continue to drag out the case, but also sounded a note of optimism following the court’s ruling.

    “We’ll find out in three months if the Trump EPA remains under the tight control of the chemical agriculture industry, or if Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler will finally take his job seriously and ban this brain-damaging pesticide,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook in a statement to ThinkProgress and other publications. […]

    Link

  251. tomh says

    Interesting opinion in the Washington Post.

    Trump tried to obstruct justice. But he was too inept to do it.

    The Mueller report shows that ineffectiveness kept the president from more legal jeopardy.

    By Jennifer Daskal
    Jennifer Daskal is an associate professor of law at American University Washington College of Law and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice.
    April 19

    Reading the redacted report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Thursday felt like reading the story of a particularly clumsy mob boss. President Trump’s longtime former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is told: “The boss loves you.” “Everyone knows the boss has your back.” Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, gets the message: “Sit tight.” You will be “taken care of” as a result. Trump himself says of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort: Thank you for not flipping. You are so “very brave.”

    Except that Trump doesn’t appear to have been anywhere near as effective as the fictional gangsters he resembles in Mueller’s work.

    Perhaps one of the most striking takeaways from the report is the degree to which the president and those close to him tried their very best to coerce, coordinate and conspire — and ultimately break the law — but couldn’t quite succeed in doing so. Failure may be the key thing that has, at least for now, saved Trump and his immediate family members from indictment.

    Much more at the link.

  252. Kreator says

    @blf #336, Lynna #339:

    Once, Akira also referred to Middle Eastern people* as “goat-fuckers,” so I think he’s definitely a racist. To be honest I was surprised when he wasn’t banned then and there, or at least given a warning by PZ.

    (*) being generous you could say that he meant just terrorists, but that’s not much better. Isn’t being a terrorist bad enough?

  253. blf says

    Kreator@346, They then apologised (see later in that thread). However, judging by both the recently-cited comments, and also the multiple cases of majorly missing the points flying very low and loudly over their head, they don’t seem to have taken on aboard what the problems are… nor how to present an opinion without resorting to crude bigotry or inaccurate overgeneralism. Plus (perhaps understandably on the subject of hair furor supporters?), what seems to be a whiff of USAian exceptionalism.

  254. blf says

    Follow-up to @313, FBI arrests member of rightwing militia accused of detaining migrants:

    Larry Mitchell Hopkins accused of illegal weapons possession after videos apparently showed men stopping migrants in New Mexico

    A member of an armed rightwing militia group accused of illegally detaining migrants at the US-Mexico border has been arrested, officials said on Saturday.

    The FBI arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins […] for alleged unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition , days after his group posted videos that appeared to show armed men stopping migrants at the border in New Mexico, ordering them to sit on the ground and coordinating with US border patrol agents to have them taken into custody.

    […]

    On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for an investigation into the pro-Trump, anti-immigrant men who have been patrolling the border and calling themselves the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP).

    The ACLU in New Mexico described the group as “an armed fascist militia organization” made up of “vigilantes”, saying they were working to “kidnap and detain people seeking asylum” and had directly made illegal arrests and held migrants at gunpoint.

    Hopkins’ role in the group was unclear, and it was also not clear if he was facing any charges directly related to the videos of the men stopping migrants. The New Mexico attorney general’s office described Hopkins as a “dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families” and labeled him an “armed individual detaining migrants at the border”.

    […]

    The Daily Beast reported that Hopkins has a history of pushing far-right conspiracies and has a conviction for impersonating an officer and felony firearm possession. He could not be reached on Saturday and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

    Stephanie Corte, an immigrant rights campaign strategist with the ACLU in New Mexico, said her group was still trying to make contact with the detained migrants and was uncertain if any had been released.

    “Our next focus is to try to get their story and making sure they feel safe to tell their story of being held at gunpoint,” she told the Guardian, adding that the ACLU would explore legal options.

    […]

  255. Akira MacKenzie says

    Oh, irony-of-ironies, I’m being called out by supposedly LEFT-WING ATHEISTS for denigrating the Bible-fucking, NRA-life-member, redneck who threaten our very existence.

    Are you people aware that you defense of sibling-fucking, Southern-fried, shitkickers is EXACTLY the same rhetoric the Right Wing uses to defend the poor, besieged, white, heterosexual, Christian, conservative?

    What fucking side are you people on!?

    At this point your ability to criticize the Right, Trump, Creationists, Capitalists, et al, is severely hobbled.

  256. blf says

    ‘Whimsical, uninformed’: French ambassador’s parting verdict on Trump (the Grauiad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    [Gérard Araud, t]he outgoing French ambassador to the US has compared the Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader.

    […]

    “When they say America first, it’s America alone,” Araud said in an interview with the Guardian. “Basically, this president and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really {about} bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defence of narrow American interest.”

    […]

    “They {the Trump administration} are not thinking in terms of multilateral cooperation first. And secondly, they don’t have any affection towards the Europeans. They treat Europeans the way they treat the Chinese,” Araud said. “And when the British come for a free-trade agreement, there will be blood on the walls and it will be British blood. […]”

    […]

    In Washington he stood out among the diplomatic corps in part because he lived with his partner, the photographer Pascal Blondeau, at a time when the administration is increasingly inhabited by conservative evangelical Christians hostile to gay marriage.

    […]

    Araud was also unusual on the diplomatic circuit for his blunt and acerbic language — in person and on Twitter — in defence of multilateral diplomacy, liberalism and international law at a time when they have been under siege.

    At 2am on the night Trump was elected, the ambassador tweeted: “It is the end of an era, the era of neoliberalism. We don’t yet know what will succeed it … After Brexit and this election, anything is possible. A world is collapsing before our eyes. Vertigo.”

    […]

    On the issue of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, for example, Trump has gone from threatening fire and fury against the Pyongyang regime, to meeting Kim Jong-un in Singapore and declaring himself to be in love with the dictator. He said then he was in no hurry for disarmament, but at a second summit in Hanoi in February he demanded full denuclearisation in advance of any sanctions relief, before cancelling sanctions imposed by his own administration in March because President Trump likes Chairman Kim and declaring himself once more open to a step-by-step approach.

    “It’s like {trying} to analyse the court of Louis XIV,” Araud said. “You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed, but he wants to be the one deciding.”

    Like the Sun King who dominated France in the 17th and 18th centuries, Trump “doesn’t want to appear under any influence and he wants to show it”, Araud said.

    He portrayed the current situation as the opposite extreme of the meticulous though sometimes ponderous decision-making process pursued by the previous administration.

    […]

    Now that inter-agency process is largely dead, killed off and replaced by John Bolton, the ultra-hawkish national security adviser, while other centres of power in the state department and Pentagon are withering, weakened by multiple unfilled senior positions, and top officials serving in acting capacity only, without Senate confirmation.

    “Actually, we don’t have interlocutors,” Araud said. “{When} we have people to talk to, they are acting, so they don’t have real authority or access. Basically, the consequence is that there is only one centre of power: the White House.

    […]

    Araud said the tweeted cancellation of North Korean sanctions, and the exclusion of Bolton from key meetings and meals at the Hanoi summit, were designed to “humiliate” Bolton and demonstrate that the president “is the master and the bureaucrats are nothing”.

    […]

    He said Bolton’s view was that international law was mere convention, with “no gendarme and no judge” to enforce it. “But it’s a sort of a fragile wall or dam against barbarians,” he said.

    […]

  257. blf says

    I see teh troll is back (@350)…

    ● Goalpost shifting: No-ones defended hair furor or his dalekocrazy. Disingenuous to asset so, especially without any citations.

    ● Invention out of whole cloth: A long stream of abuse, to-date said only by teh obvious troll and by few, if any, of the people they are addressing — and again, note the lack of citations — is extremely reminiscent of hair furor’s insults. Who is not blamed; instead, it’s people who have been noting / documenting what he and his daleks have been doing, saying, lying…

    ● Lack of logic: Somehow — notably not explained — the troll’s racism, goalpost shifting, point-missing, and lying means the people the troll is addressing ability to criticize the Right, Trump, Creationists, Capitalists, et al, is severely hobbled.

    Based on past recent performance, the above points will also zoom over teh troll’s head, who, if they respond, will engage in more insults, no citations, and an apparent complete lack of self-awareness. Probably with added overgeneralisation; season with incoherence and please dispose of safely.

  258. Akira MacKenzie says

    Furthermore, let me point out that I was on the Right-Wing side of politics and economics for a large portion of my life. I know what they think and what they want, and it isn’t pretty. I live in the sticks, so I get to see land hear Right-Wing, capitalist,and Christian bullshit day-in day out! My right-Wing, Republican, Catholic father spews the bullshit he gathers daily from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Breitbart as hype wishes. Meanwhile, I, who lives paycheck to paycheck and has to sit and put up with my father’s right-wing-Catholic rants without the ability to contradict them lest I end up on the street , has to keep my mouth shut.

    Also, DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE ACCUSE ME OF BEING GODDAMN RUSSIAN TROLL!!! i voted for that hypocrite HRC, even though she was a capitalist, Christian, shit, if only to keep that fascist, CHRISTIAN, scum Trump out of the Olive Office.

    But hey, PZ, if my hatred of theists, capitalists, and Stone-to Iron-Age cultures and their latter-day adherents who still control the body politic isn’t enough to for you to listen to, then ban-hammer me. It’s your blog, it’s your decision. I won’t hold it against you,

  259. says

    Hmm. Akira’s ability to form grammatically correct sentences in English has diminished markedly. See comments 350 and 353.

  260. says

    Followup to comment 342.

    From former White House Counsel Don McGahn:

    It’s a mystery why Rudy Giuliani feels the need to re-litigate incidents the attorney general and deputy attorney general have concluded were not obstruction. But they are accurately described in the report.

    Link

    I conclude those incidents were obstruction, and that attorney general (Barr) and deputy A.G.(Rosenstein) are wrong, (and they are in disagreement with Mueller).

    But I agree with McGahn that Giuliani’s many comments are strange. Giuliani said, in part: “It could be the product of an inaccurate recollection or could be the product of something else.”

    It also seems that McGahn’s description of the incidents were accurate, as reported by Mueller.

    From the readers comments:

    This is the difference between a real lawyer and a TV lawyer. Trump’s people need change the conversation and not discuss the report at all. Trump promised total exoneration. Now all his supporters want to talk about is how Crooked Hillary and Obummer were worse so it doesn’t matter what’s in the report.

  261. blf says

    Akira MacKenzie@353, An unfortunate set of circumstances does not make insulting an entire population with a superficial resemblance to one’s perceived oppressors valid. Or even helpful to whatever the point one’s trying to make is.

    Both Lynna and poopyhead have self-identified as rural, but there’s no reason to suspect either are garbage people or morons who believe in JEEZ-us, creationism, and carry AR-15s into Walmart!; nor is there any reason to suspect their ability to criticize the Right, Trump, Creationists, Capitalists, et al, is severely hobbled. Indeed, they’ve both objected to those characterisations.

    Yet all of those things have been said (the first repeatedly), and said without qualification (or any citations or other evidence). Insults, insinuations, lack of citations, divisiveness, and lack of evidence, are characteristic of disinformation — trolling — which is why that word as been used. A (presumably paid) “Russian” troll? Doubtful, the known ones seem a bit more competent in spreading divisiveness, and / or less hysterical.

    As others have said, dial it down. Please!

  262. blf says

    Lynna@355, Thanks for the rapid apology — I, or maybe the mildly deranged penguin, was going to “take you to task” (or at least withhold some cheese) over the self-acknowledged petty comment. (I obviously cannot, and do not claim to, speak for the individual concerned.)

  263. says

    blf @358, yep. I made a mistake. I’ll withhold cheese from myself for one day.

    Regarding other matters, I was sorry to hear about Akira MacKenzie’s oppressors and/or unfortunate circumstances.

    I did not call Akira a Russian troll. I made the point that posting many deliberately divisive comments on social media is what Russian trolls do. Something to be avoided. Some of Akira’s comments seemed more divisive than informative. That does not make Akira a Russian troll, it makes the divisive posts look similar to those of Russian trolls.

  264. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna @ 354-355

    Yeah, admittedly I was under the influence of cheap whiskey when I wrote that last one.

    Since I don’t seem to be doing anything but making a colossal ass of myself I’ll hoist the white flag. You guys win. I’ll tone it down.

  265. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira, I sympathize with your disillusionment with the Trumpetariat. It has been very difficult for me not to write off anyone who was sufficiently stupid or greedy or vile to vote for that imbecile. It is difficult for me to envision how I could trust such a person ever again–whether they be a relative a co-worker or a friend.

    However, it is important to understand how we got to the point where rural America was desperate enough to embrace a “burn it all down” strategy. There was a time when Democrats could be relied upon to support initiatives that improved rural areas–rural electrification, aid to small farmers, subsidies to rural school districts… That went by the wayside during the false austerity of the 80s and 90s, when Democrats became mostly indistinguishable from Republicans in their embracing of “magic of the market place, rising tide lifts all boats” capitalism. Since then, rural areas in America have become dismal places, perhaps as dismal as the unreclaimed and ungentrified urban areas, and it is no wonder that voters there are angry. This does not justify their having embraced a grifter like Darth Cheeto. However, anger has never been a basis for good decisions.
    The thing we have to keep sight of is that these people are first and foremost people and second are just as much victims of DJT as the rest of us. Divisions and acrimony only help the patriarchy. True subversion consists in making common cause with all of the oppressed, not in favoring one group and rejecting another. That is why ideas like the Green New Deal have power. They empower the oppressed, wherever they live, whatever they believe, and in so doing, they weaken the patriarchy. I have to keep reminding myself of this.

  266. says

    Oh, FFS. Really?

    Giuliani’s spin, performed in his role at Trump’s TV lawyer, is really off in LaLa Land today.

    […] Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday defended the Trump campaign’s attempts to accept foreign help during the 2016 election.

    “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information,” Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview.

    “Who says it’s even illegal?” he asked, adding later: “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”

    While accepting foreign campaign help is illegal, Mueller said in his redacted final report released Thursday that he did not charge Donald Trump Jr. or others on the Trump campaign for seeking Russian help — in the form of a meeting they took during the campaign at Trump Tower with several Russians they believed had dirt on Hillary Clinton — because there wasn’t sufficient evidence to establish the Trump officials knew they were breaking the law.

    Link

    Okay, stop right there for a moment. First, who is that stupid? Second, tell that to the woman who had the temerity to vote while she was out on probation. She didn’t know it was illegal. She was sentenced to five years in jail. Washington Post link to “Texas woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting while on probation.” Yes, she is a black woman.

    More from the Talking Points Memo article:

    Mueller said of meeting organizer Don Jr., for example, that he “could mount a factual defense that he did not believe his response to the offer and the June 9 meeting itself violated the law.” […]

    Link

    So now we’re going to have more presidential and congressional candidates taking help from adversarial countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia? Giuliani is bonkers.

    From the readers comments:

    Of course it is illegal to accept campaign assistance from a foreign ENEMY. Spinning this shit does even more harm because it pretends it’s not illegal.
    ——————–
    I rise to point out that beyond the legal fine points, it’s obvious to any election professional that when a hostile foreign government steals confidential information and weaponizes it to meddle in a national election, you don’t say “Oh goodie!” and repeatedly encourage them to do it more and praise the effort as it happens, and you then don’t deny that it happened at all, and commit multiple instances of obstruction to prevent the facts coming to light and protect the criminals. You CALL THE FBI the moment you hear such a thing is going on. You announce a bipartisan effort to stop it and future meddling. And you don’t pooh-pooh it as normal, Guiliani, you has-been clown.
    ———————-
    Rudy already takes foreign money from several bad actors. Everyone in his circle does too. If we allow “who says it’s illegal?” to become our mantra, this country is gone.
    ———————
    As Muller points out, it’s a violation of the law for a political campaign to take anything of value from a non citizen of the United States. In this specific instance, Muller says it was unclear if the information offered was of sufficient value to trigger the laws, but Rudy presumably is talking about information with specific value. Ethics aside, it’s clearly illegal to accept anything, including information, of value from non citizens for a political campaign.

  267. says

    From House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff:

    […] the obstruction of justice in particular in this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did.

    In a normal circumstance, the level of evidence in the Mueller report would be without question within the realm of impeachable offenses.

    We are, unfortunately, in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like Kevin McCarthy, are willing to carry the President’s water no matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the President’s conduct may be.

    It means that an impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful.

    [He said that Democrats could still opt to pursue impeachment, and that Democrats should ask themselves, “what is the best thing for the country?”]

    Whether or not to impeach ia a very tough question, and I think it’s one we ought not to make overnight.

    My prediction is that Schiff will be ready to move on impeachment proceedings after Mueller testifies before Congress. (Sometime in May.)

    I’m not sure that Schiff will ever get the completely unredacted Mueller Report that he wants so that he will have all of that particular set of facts. William Barr is good at stalling and at playing political games to keep that report out of the hands of Democrats. Schiff may have to act based on testimony from Mueller and others; and on what he has been allowed to see, so far, of the Mueller Report.

  268. says

    Akira @360, thank you.

    In other news, a city in Michigan plans to make it a a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for “participating in their lives.” This is a reaction to people calling 911 to report that, for instance, black people are having a picnic in the park: barbecuing while black, or #LivingWhileBlack, etc.

    Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill said the ordinance is a new concept in Michigan. It isn’t meant to discourage 911 calls, she said. Rather, it’s meant to make people “check their biases” before calling the police.

    “Call the police, but if you’re calling because your neighbors are having a barbecue and you’re calling because of some implicit bias because they’re people of color, we don’t want to see that,” she said. […]

    Adding a “bias crime reporting prohibition” and making it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives. That is, no person shall make a police report that is based in whole or in part on an individual’s membership in a protected class and not on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in consideration of all available facts and the totality of the circumstances. […]

    Link to “Grand Rapids could make it illegal to call police on people of color for ‘participating in their lives”

    An incomplete list of other instances of the police being called to investigate black people living their lives:

    Operating a lemonade stand

    Golfing too slowly

    Waiting for a friend at Starbucks

    Campaigning door to door

    Moving into an apartment

    Napping in a university common room

    Eating lunch on a college campus

    Riding in a car with a white grandmother

    Babysitting two white children

    Wearing a backpack that brushed against a woman

    Delivering newspapers

    Swimming in a pool

    The list is summarized from a CNN report.

  269. says

    From the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler:

    If proven, some of this would be impeachable. Obstruction of justice would be impeachable.

    We’re going to see where the facts take us.

  270. says

    Another freshman Congressperson to watch: Tom Malinowski.

    […] Malinowski, 53, is just one of nearly 100 members of the freshman class in the House — but he’s quickly becoming one of the Democrats’ most influential voices on foreign policy, educating his fellow members about key issues and aggressively pushing the Trump administration to prioritize global human rights issues and re-orient its often chaotic foreign policy.

    […] Born in Poland and having emigrated to the U.S. at age 6, he spent 12 years as a top official at Human Rights Watch before joining Barack Obama’s State Department as head of the bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor — hardly the usual launching pads for a congressional career. In the 2018 midterms, he narrowly defeated a GOP incumbent in a Republican-leaning central-north New Jersey district […]

    Building a public profile around foreign policy and national security issues is a daunting task in any era. And in a freshman class that includes firebrands like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, it often seems impossible to jerk the media spotlight over to sobering topics like the incipient famine in Yemen. Yet that’s exactly what Malinowski is aiming to do — while assiduously tending to the needs of his constituents: Officially, his top issue is pushing for the construction of the proposed Gateway Tunnel linking New Jersey with Manhattan.

    “You know my job in Congress: Dig a tunnel and save the world — in that order,” he often says, ranking his spot on the Transportation Committee above membership on the Foreign Affairs panel. But it’s clear that human rights — not bridges and tunnels — remains his true passion.

    Calling out and punishing human-rights abusers is one of the few actions that routinely brings Republicans and Democrats together on Capitol Hill […].

    Trump’s stunning reversal of North Korea sanctions would soon be forgotten, a fact that clearly irked Malinowski, who was enraged by the president’s decision.

    “We’re inured to this. The president ‘likes’ the leader of an adversary state and therefore will not take action against him?” Malinowski said soberly in his characteristic deep, monotone voice that he almost never raises. “You don’t wait for your Treasury Department to sanction people and then the next day theatrically overturn them. You don’t do that.” […]

    “Every institution cares apart from the White House,” Malinowski added. “And unfortunately, the president speaks for the United States, so the world gets a warped impression of what the United States is all about right now because of one man. And that is consequential. But it can be reversed.” […]

    He recently introduced a resolution condemning white-supremacist rhetoric and those who amplify or repeat it. The legislation doesn’t mention Trump specifically, but it’s an implicit dig at the president with a twist: The resolution almost entirely quotes conservative darling Ronald Reagan from his final speech as president. It was an address Malinowski described as a “love letter” to immigration. It’s something close to his heart as an immigrant himself. […]

    Link

    Much more at the link.

  271. says

    Followup to comment 362.

    More eyebrow-raising comments from Rudy Giuliani:

    […] On CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper asked Giuliani to expand on why he believed the report was not credible.

    “How about looking at it this way,” Giuliani responded. “People [Mueller’s team] who were unfair to him [Trump], people who wrote an unfair report, people who came close to torturing people to get information and break them.” […]

    “Came close to torturing people?” Tapper asked.

    “Yes, how about having Manafort in solitary confinement and questioning him 13 times?” Giuliani responded, before walking back the statement. “Maybe torture is too much.” […]

    Yeah, Rudy, way too much.

    From Mueller’s team:

    “Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates’ units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workspace to prepare for trial,” Mueller’s team said.

    In more than one phone call, “Manafort has mentioned he is being treated like a ‘VIP,’” the filing says. […]

    Link

  272. says

    More than 200 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Several churches and hotels were attacked.

    Explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people and injured 450 Sunday. This is what we know so far:

    ● Police say coordinated attack by suicide bombers

    ● At least 207 deaths, 450 injured

    ● Churches attacked as worshipers gathered for Easter services

    ● Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says “several” Americans killed

    ● No claim of responsibility; 13 arrested

    ● Prime minister says elements of government had prior intelligence of attacks

    […] No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, the worst violence in Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war a decade ago. Thirteen people have been arrested, police said, and three police officers were killed in a raid on a house as they attempted to interrogate an individual.

    The dead included “several” Americans, Secertary of State Mike Pompeo said; he blamed “radical terrorists.”

    Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe told reporters that elements of the government had prior intelligence about the attacks. He did not elaborate. […]

    Washington Post link

  273. says

    Isaac Chotiner interviewed Neal Katyal. Neal Katyal, is a lawyer and a professor at Georgetown Law. In 1999, in the wake of the Starr report, Katyal was enlisted to help draft the special-counsel regulations. Under President Barack Obama, Katyal served as the acting Solicitor General.

    What is your sense of why, exactly, Mueller and his team declined to come to a definitive conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice?

    I think the most important thing to understand about the Mueller report that was obscured by Barr’s letter and his press conference was that Mueller was guided by two things, and Barr’s press conference mentioned neither of them. One is that, if I have all the evidence that shows you, Trump, to be guilty as sin, I am still not going to say so, because I can’t indict a sitting President, and fairness concerns counsel against calling you criminal if you have no way of clearing your name, because there is no criminal process. And the second is that, if I have no evidence you have committed a crime, I will say so in the report and exonerate. Everything about the obstruction of justice needs to be read in light of those two things.

    So what Mueller is doing in this report is laying out the instances of obstruction of justice and not drawing a conclusion, because, he says, There is enough there that I can’t exonerate you, but I can’t go further and call you guilty because you have no way to defend yourself. And, in this respect, the pattern of this report looks very much like what Leon Jaworski did in Watergate, and what Ken Starr did in the Lewinsky and Whitewater referrals. Jaworski just laid out the evidence and ultimately just left it to Congress and the American people to decide. When we were writing the special-counsel regulations, back in 1999, the template was Jaworski. Absolutely. And I am sure Mueller knows that, and so it is not surprising to me that Mueller followed that same path. […]

    New Yorker link

    Much, much more at the link.

  274. says

    Followup to comment 369.

    More from the Chotiner-Katyal discussion:

    […] Would it have been helpful for Mueller to say more explicitly that he would have charged the President, if not for the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted? Or, as you are saying, would that have been unfair because Trump can’t defend himself in court?

    Exactly. I think Mueller answers that right away, in page 2 of his report. He says Trump would have no opportunity to clear his name, because there would be no criminal process for him to go through and ultimately be potentially vindicated. So, ultimately, Mueller says, that is exactly what I am not going to do. And I feel like it is the Barr four-page letter and the press conference which obscured that, and we are here, twenty-four hours after the report, and you are asking that question. […] Had we just gotten the document, we would have done what normal people do and just read the introduction, which has a summary of the conclusions. But because of the Barr spin, it took a while for those two key things to really get picked up.

    And I would say there is even a third one, near the end of the report, that is more subtle. Maybe Mueller can be faulted for being subtle. It is footnote 1091. It says impeachment isn’t the only remedy here and, just because there is an impeachment possibility, it doesn’t take criminal actions off the table, and, in particular, even though a sitting President can’t be indicted, once a President leaves office, he can be. That footnote did not need to be in the report, and it is in there, in my judgment, as a very pointed footnote.

    Do you understand why Mueller didn’t push harder for an interview with Trump?

    […] Mueller had uncovered significant evidence of the President’s corrupt intent. So you don’t need the interview in order to absolutely make that case. […] When Mueller first began investigating, for the first seventeen months or so, he was the only game in town. He was the only one who could investigate, in terms of getting to the details of these episodes. And there it made sense to leave no stone unturned. But after November, once the Democrats take control of the House, there is a new investigator in town, and Mueller doesn’t have to do everything. And it is not surprising to me that, shortly after the November election, we started to hear the first signs that Mueller might wind things down, because he could pass the football to somebody else.

    Is that a political decision rather than a decision about best legal practices?

    Well, I don’t think it is political. I think any investigator is always thinking about who else are the investigators. I would think about that with regards to U.S. Attorneys’ offices. But I would also think about it with respect to state investigations, and what is the best strategic allocation of resources when you have multiple investigators. So I think it is absolutely something that would be considered, and it is absolutely reasonable that an investigator would consider something like that.

    And then you have the third, most important fact, which is Mueller had to know that, if he tried to subpoena the President, given what the President had been saying, there would have been a fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I think Mueller would have won that fight, but it would have been years down the road, and, if your goal is to try and get the information to the American people and to Congress as quickly as you can, a lengthy court fight is going to put things back. I think it is a reasonable decision to make here, to forgo that extra source of information because it is so long before that source can yield results. […]

  275. says

    Another salient quote from Neal Katyal:

    What kind of witch hunt is it when Mueller says, Look, even if you are guilty as sin, I am not going to tell the American people that? I would say three people’s colors have been revealed by this report. We have learned Mueller’s reputation is real. We have learned Trump’s disregard for the truth and the rule of law is real. And we have learned Barr has become a total Trumpian Attorney General.

  276. says

    Update on the elections in Ukraine:

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a Jewish comedian who plays the President of Ukraine on TV, has been elected President of Ukraine by a landslide margin of 73% of the vote, according to a just released exit poll.

  277. blf says

    Akira MacKenzie@360, Thank you.
    Not unrelared to your, and mine, and presumably most readers here, concerns about the people who voted for, and those who support, hair furor, is Trump’s moral squalor, not impeachment, will remove him from power:

    Congress cannot rid us of this appalling man. Democrats must focus on voters who hold the keys to the White House

    [… T]he question of “wink-wink” cooperation with Russia still looms. Mueller’s quote of Trump, when first learning a special counsel had been appointed — “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked” — has already become a national tagline. Why, Americans wonder, would Trump be “fucked” if he hadn’t done something so awful as to cause its revelation to “fuck” him?

    Added to this will be Mueller’s own testimony before Congress, and Congress’s own investigations of Trump.

    But let’s be real. Trump will not be removed by impeachment. No president has been. With a Republican Senate controlled by the most irresponsible political hack ever to be majority leader, the chances are nil.

    Which means Trump will have to be removed the old-fashioned way — by voters in an election 19 months away.

    The practical question is whether the Mueller report and all that surrounds it will affect that election.

    Most Americans hold a low opinion of Trump. He’s the only president in Gallup polling history never to have earned the support of majority for single day of his term.

    Yet Mueller’s report probably won’t move any of the 40% who have held tight to Trump regardless.

    So how to reach the 11% or 12% who may decide the outcome?

    Reveal his moral loathsomeness.

    […]

    Even though Mueller apparently doesn’t believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump’s character.

    Trump is revealed as a chronic liar. He claimed he never asked for loyalty from FBI director James Comey. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never asked Comey to let the Michael Flynn matter go. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never pushed the White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Mueller finds he did. Trump even lied about inviting Comey to dinner, claiming falsely, in public, that Comey requested it. Trump enlists others to lie. He lies to his staff.

    Trump treats his subordinates horribly. He hides things from them. He yells at them. He orders them to carry out illegal acts.

    He acts like a thug. He regrets his lawyers are not as good at protecting him as was his early mentor Roy Cohn — a mob lawyer. When reports surface about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, Trump directs the cover-up.

    Trump is unprincipled. The few people in the White House and the cabinet who stand up to him, according to Mueller — threatening to resign rather than carry out his illegal orders — are now gone. They resigned or were fired.

    This is a portrait of a morally bankrupt man.

    We still don’t have the full story of Trump’s tax evasion and his business dealings with Russian financiers. But we know he has lied to business associates, stiffed contractors, cheated on his wife by having sex with a porn star, paid the porn star hush money, and boosted his wealth while in office with foreign cash.

    It continues. In recent weeks he wilfully endangered the life of a member of Congress by disseminating a propaganda video, similar to those historically used by extremist political groups, tying her to the 9/11 tragedy because she is a Muslim American speaking up for Muslim Americans. […]

    […]

    How many of Trump’s followers or those who might otherwise be tempted to vote for him in 2020 will recoil from this moral squalor?

    Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the seven deadly sins &mdash pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, envy and sloth […]

    [… N]o voter in 2020 should be allowed to overlook this basic reality: Donald Trump is a morally despicable human being.

  278. blf says

    Follow-up to @313 and @348, Member of armed militia who detained migrants faced similar charges in 2006:

    Larry Mitchell Hopkins, arrested on Saturday, was also arrested in Oregon in 2006 for impersonating a police officer while unlawfully carrying a firearm as a convicted felon

    […]

    In Klamath county, Oregon in 2006, Hopkins was accused of impersonating a police officer and claimed to be a fugitive bounty hunter, the Santa Few New Mexican reported. In his guilty plea, Hopkins acknowledged he had given “the impression to others that I was a peace officer” while unlawfully carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.

    […]

    In the 2006 incident in Oregon, a sheriff’s office report said Hopkins was found at a gas station in Keno showing firearms to youth and telling them he was a police officer. Hopkins displayed a badge that said “special agent” and had numerous medals pinned to his shirt, according to the report obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

    The newspaper said the court records were uncovered by the Southern Poverty Law Center […]

  279. Akira MacKenzie says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @ 361

    That is why ideas like the Green New Deal have power.

    I assure you, where I live, the GND has absolutely no power, AOC is another name of Satan, and it will be ill advised to go around singing the praises of social democracy. Your argument about government depriving rural America resources would sound more convincing if they were demanding MORE government programs and assistance rather than screaming to gut what’s left of the welfare state.

  280. says

    So now Trump is suing the Democrats in the House of Congress. I doubt that this lawsuit will work, (I think the courts will rule against Trump), but it will succeed in one way: it will slow down this investigation.

    Lawyers for President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization are suing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoena for years of financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA.

    The lawyers filed the lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, saying the subpoena “lacks any legitimate legislative purpose, is an abuse of power, and is just another example of overreach by the president’s political opponents.” […]

    “We will not allow congressional presidential harassment to go unanswered,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said in a statement — a phrase Trump often uses to attack his critics in Congress.

    The lawsuit argues that House Democrats have “declared an all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump” and that “subpoenas are the weapon of their choice.” It goes on to say that Democrats are “obsessed” with finding something that could “damage the president politically.” […]

    NBC News link

    There is, in my opinion, a solid basis for the subpoena since the House Oversight Committee heard testimony from Michael Cohen about a series of financial shenanigans committed by Trump, including deflating and inflating his assets depending on the circumstances. In other words, Trump had his accountants submit a pack of lies to banks, insurance companies, etc. (allegedly).

    The committee that Elijah Cummings heads has evidence of possible wrongdoing. Cohen submitted documents to back up his testimony.

  281. says

    From the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson:

    Already, Republicans are urging the country to move on [from the Mueller Report]. In this case, moving on would ignore and reward corruption on a grand scale.

    And a followup to comment 320, in which Mitt Romney bemoaned “the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.” Now Mitt Romney says, “The business of government can move on.”

  282. says

    Oh, dear. Sean Hannity is upset.

    Fox News host Sean Hannity was displeased Easter Sunday that reporters pointed out that Russian television has been using clips of his monologues insisting on Trump’s innocence in light of the redacted Mueller report.

    “Maybe the Daily Beast should look at itself and the rest of the Fake News industrial complex in America, as they are no better than Russian propaganda outlets—perhaps even worse,” Hannity raged in a 13-part Twitter thread.

    The Daily Beast reported that Russian TV has been splicing in clips from Hannity’s show to further Trump’s “no collusion” narrative.

    Link

    From the readers comments:

    I note in passing that it’s not the Daily Beast that Russian TV has been using in its stories.
    —————-
    Rage tweeting at actual factual truth. Ho hum and it’s another Monday in the Confederate Nazi America.
    —————–
    Is the Murdoch family proud of the fact that they have such a high profile in Russia?
    Good work Sean, keep up the good work, maybe there is a nice Dacha there for you.
    ——————
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…they have been screaming about TRUMP’S INNOCENCE forgetting the investigation was about Russian interference and NOW they are screaming because the Russians are regurgitating their original whines. Gotta love it.
    ———————-
    Follow Julia Davis on Twitter, and you’ll see her regularly post clips from Russian television in which they openly joke about having swayed the election in Trump’s favor . . . and, not quite as regularly, harshly critique Trump’s weakness as a president.

    It’s a lot like watching FOX, come to think of it

  283. says

    Elizabeth Warren has the biggest free college plan yet

    Warren doesn’t just want tuition-free college. She also wants to cancel millions of Americans’ student debt.

    In a new plan detailed on Monday, Warren became the first Democrat running for president in 2020 to detail a sweeping higher education plan with the goal of alleviating America’s $1.5 trillion student debt crisis.

    Warren’s plan is unique in that is would assist former and future college students alike. The plan would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for an estimated 42 million Americans, and invest in debt-free college for students attending two- or four-year public institutions. It also comes with a hefty price tag of $1.25 trillion over 10 years. Warren plans to pay for it with the ultra-millionaire tax she introduced in January, which would tax the 75,000 wealthiest families in America. […]

    Here’s what the sweeping plan would do:

    Cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000, and give “substantial debt cancellation” to every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. (Those making above $250,000 wouldn’t qualify.)

    […] Out of the almost 45 million Americans with student debt, Warren’s policy team estimates this plan would give debt relief to over 95 percent, and entirely forgive student loan debt for over 75 percent.

    Make public two- and four-year institutions tuition-free and expand Pell Grant funding to go toward additional college costs like housing, transportation, food, and books.

    Cut off for-profit colleges from receiving any federal funds (including federal student loans or military benefits). These schools tend to account for a huge number of defaults on their loan payments. A majority of students who attend for-profit colleges default within three to five years after they begin repaying what they owe.

    Create a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, and add more money to it over time.

    Warren intends to pay for this plan, which her team estimates would cost $1.25 trillion over 10 years, this way:
    Take money from Warren’s proposed tax on America’s ultra-millionaires and billionaires, which includes the 75,000 wealthiest families in the country (those making over $50 million).

    Warren’s tax plan would put an annual 2 percent tax on wealth above $50 million and an additional 1 percent tax on wealth above $1 billion.

    Warren estimates this tax would raise $2.75 trillion in revenue over 10 years, meaning her debt-forgiveness and universal education plan would cost less than half of the total revenue raised. […]

    Link

    More at the link, including a comparison to Bernie Sanders’ “College for All Act.”

  284. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of the Mueller Report:

    […] the tick-tock that starts on page 90 is HOLYSHITDUMB. Trump calls Corey Lewandoski into the Oval Office on June 19, 2017, says “Corey will you please call the Justice Department and tell Jeff Sessions they’re only allowed to investigate Russian election interference OF THE FUTURE?” […] why would Mueller want to investigate what happened in 2016?

    So Corey silently told Trump to fuck off and didn’t do it. (To be clear, though, he tried. He even set up a meeting with Sessions, and when that didn’t work out, he tried to farm the job out to Rick Dearborn. He just didn’t try very hard. Still, Corey Lewandowski is a fucking idiot, and also an accessory.)

    ONE MONTH LATER, Trump is like “hey Corey, did you relay my very important and normal and smart request to Jeff Sessions?” He had not, but said he would. (He was not going to.) […]

    From the statement Trump dictated to Corey Lewandowski:

    <

    blockquote>The President directed that Sessions would give a speech publicly announcing:

    I know that I recused myself from certain things having to do with specific areas. But our POTUS … is being treated very unfairly. He shouldn’t have a Special Prosecutor/counsel b/c he hasn’t done anything wrong. I was on the campaign w/ him for nine months, there were no Russians involved with him. I know it for a fact b/c I was there.H e didn’t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history.

    Now a group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United states. I am going to meet with the Special Prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections.

    More from Wonkette’s commentary:

    […] LOL, so after the meeting a month later was when Corey finally gave the notes to Rick, and it was Rick who really was like UM YEAH NO. So he told Corey the situation had been dealt with, when the truth was fuck you.

    To be clear, part of this request to Corey and to Rick involved how Jeff Sessions should resign if he’s not willing to give the very important and normal speech pasted above, about how Trump is a genius and Robert Mueller should not check the trunk for bodies, we mean investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    So basically Trump was trying to get Corey Lewandowski — who didn’t even work for the White House — to fire Jeff Sessions for him. Did you know that private citizens are allowed to fire the attorney general? We didn’t!

    On that note, Bill Barr, Wonkette on line one. We need to fire you. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  285. says

    Oh, FFS.

    From Jennifer Hassan:

    President Trump tweets (then deletes) claim that 138 million people were killed in today’s Sri Lanka explosions. Our latest reporting states that the blasts killed more than 150 people, with hundreds injured.

    Yes, Trump really did that. There are screen grabs of Hair Furor’s crazy tweet:

    Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more. We stand ready to help!

    https://twitter.com/GuinnessKebab/status/1119922410944389120

  286. says

    Well, at last, some sort of good news: Herman Cain has withdrawn from consideration as Trump’s nominee for the Federal Reserve. This will be good news until Trump nominates someone even more unqualified for the job.

    Even Republicans did not support Cain’s nomination:

    […] Trump’s planned nominee for the Federal Reserve, withdrew from consideration on Monday, after a lack of Republican support in the Senate doomed his prospects for confirmation.

    President Trump made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!” […]

    Some lawmakers, economists and Wall Street investors questioned his qualifications for the central bank and noted the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct that derailed his campaign. […] one of the accusers said she would testify at his confirmation hearing if given the chance.

    Many also had concerns that the nomination of a close political ally of the president who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Trump and lashed out a Trump’s critics would threaten the bank’s independence. […]

    Washington Post link

  287. says

    Trump wants to be seen as a strong man, a man whom everyone obeys. Okay, that’s not factual. Read the Mueller report.

    Despite the facts, Trump is insisting that “Nobody disobeys my orders.” [laughter]

    […] Trump says that “nobody” disobeys his orders, a reference to the Mueller report, which paints a deeply unflattering picture of his presidency.

    Trump made the comments Monday during the annual Easter Egg roll when asked by reporters about special counsel Robert Mueller’s portrayal of a White House in which staffers often ignore the president’s orders.

    The report suggested that some of those refusals helped protect the president from himself.

    But Trump insisted Monday that: “Nobody disobeys my orders.”

    Boston.com link

  288. says

    Followup to comment 385.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] we already knew that Trump’s team routinely ignored the president’s instructions. Bob Woodward’s latest book, for example, highlighted an incident in which Trump directed then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to prepare a plan to kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mattis listened, told Trump he’d get right on that, hung up the phone, and told a senior aide, “We’re not going to do any of that.”

    There was also a separate incident in which Trump asked Mattis to provide him with military options for Iran. The Pentagon chief reportedly “refused.”

    […] this comes up with alarming regularity. For example, Trump announced in June 2018 that he had “instructed” U.S. officials “not to endorse” an official G-7 communique negotiated by diplomats from member nations. Officials didn’t much care about the tweet and they proceeded to ignore Trump’s online instructions.

    A few months earlier, the president announced via Twitter that Russia should “get ready” because he was poised to launch a military offensive in Syria. White House officials found Trump’s declaration “distracting,” and proceeded “as if nothing had happened.”

    “What is most remarkable is the extent to which his senior officials act as if Trump were not the chief executive,” Jack Goldsmith, a top Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, wrote a while back. “Never has a president been so regularly ignored or contradicted by his own officials…. The president is a figurehead who barks out positions and desires, but his senior subordinates carry on with different commitments.”

    But the Mueller report took this dynamic to an even more embarrassing level.

    As the Washington Post explained last week:

    Trump often asks aides to falsely deny things or do things that make them uncomfortable. […].

    In one section, then-White House counsel Donald McGahn got a message from Trump’s personal lawyer saying Trump wanted McGahn to put out a statement denying a New York Times report that said Trump had tried to fire Mueller. McGahn declined, because Trump had in fact tried to fire Mueller.

    In another instance, Trump asked outgoing deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland to draft an internal email stating Trump hadn’t instructed national security adviser Michael Flynn to speak with the Russian ambassador about sanctions during the transition period. (This is the episode that Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about.) But McFarland didn’t know that to be true, so she didn’t do it.

    [snipped the Lewandoski incident, which is detailed in comment 381]

    […] The special counsel’s report listed a series of others in Trump’s orbit who also blew off his instructions.

    […] “Nobody disobeys my orders”? If Trump actually believes that, I have some bad news for him.

    Link

  289. says

    Oh, man. Another Democratic presidential candidate? I have completely lost track of some of them.

    Representative Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, announced his candidacy today. I think this makes 17 Democrats who are now running, (if you count Bernie Sanders as a Democrat and not as an independent). Moulton is also a military veteran.

  290. says

    What other stupid and counterproductive thing could Trump do to screw up legal immigration to the U.S.? This:

    The Trump administration may begin closing some international U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices as soon as the end of June, BuzzFeed reports. The office in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, would be first, on June 30, followed by Manila, Philippines. “All offices, including the main district offices for the separate regions, are scheduled to close by March 10, 2020.”

    Officials reportedly claim that the closings will save “millions of dollars every year,” with the agency’s spokesperson adding that “the agency is working with the State and Homeland Security departments to coordinate and avoid interruptions in services.” The administration could also save millions of dollars by cutting down a certain someone’s golfing outings, but it’s never really been about saving money for these guys.

    BuzzFeed reports that “The offices primarily deal with international adoptions, family visa applications, petitions for citizenship for military members stationed in foreign countries, and citizenship applications, along with help on refugee processing and investigations of fraud.” Despite claims otherwise, targeting legal immigration, especially by non-whites, has long been a goal of the Trump administration, particularly of White House aide and white supremacist Stephen Miller.

    Asylum is also legal immigration, but the administration, from the very start, has taken and supported illegal actions stomping on the right of vulnerable people to ask for protection. Closing USCIS offices continues this trend of systematically walling us off from the world. Former officials have been condemning the closures, including former Refugee Affairs Division official Barbara Strack, who warned, “It will be a great blow to the quality and integrity of the legal immigration system.”

    Link

  291. says

    Big donors, the Trump campaign, and corruption … how does it work, or more accurately, how will work for the 2020 Trump reelection campaign?

    […] On May 7, elite big-moneyed Republicans will formally unveil their Trump project at “a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides,” which will undoubtedly be at the Trump D.C. hotel so he can make even more money off of it. Party officials explained to Politico that the plan will be that “high-performing bundlers who collect at least $25,000 for Trump Victory, a joint Trump 2020-Republican National Committee fundraising vehicle, will earn rewards like invitations to campaign-sponsored retreats, briefings and dinners.” Probably at Trump properties, where he can make an additional buck off of them. Because Republicans love them some grift.

    It gets grosser. “Party officials have been reaching out to top fundraisers in recent weeks and wooing them with the prospect of joining ‘raiser clubs,’ with names like 45 Club, Trump Train and Builders Club.” Like this is all completely normal and Trump isn’t burning the whole country down around our ears. Of course, they’re still reaping the benefits of his big tax scam, […]

    The Republican Party should just plaster a big gold TRUMP on party headquarters and call it good.

    Link</a<

  292. blf says

    Follow-up to @313, @348, and @374, Leader of militia at US border boasted of training to kill Obama — FBI:

    Larry Hopkins, arrested Friday on weapons charges, allegedly said his group also trained to assassinate Hillary Clinton and George Soros

    […] Hopkins appeared in court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The FBI said it found guns during a 2017 visit to his home. Defense attorney Kelly O’Connell said Hopkins planned to plead not guilty and noted that the charges were unrelated to UCP’s actions at the border.

    […]

    UCP spokesman Jim Benvie previously said the group was helping the border patrol and publicizing the border crisis. […]

    Crowdfunding sites PayPal and GoFundMe last week barred the group, citing policies not to promote hate or violence, after the ACLU called the UCP a “fascist militia”.

    […]

    “Hopkins also allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama” because it believed that they supported leftwing, anti-fascist protesters, the complaint said.

    Former state and federal prosecutor David S Weinstein said border patrol’s tacit allowance of the UCP may have let it to go beyond what citizens are legally allowed to do.

    “To the extent where the FBI has got involved, I think it’s escalated to a point where they need to send a stronger message out to them that, ‘No, we told you not to do this,’” said Weinstein, a partner at the law firm of Hinshaw and Culbertson.

  293. blf says

    America’s new voting machines bring new fears of election tampering:

    […]
    By design, tens of millions of votes are cast across America on machines that cannot be audited, where the votes cannot be verified, and there is no meaningful paper trail to catch problems — such as a major error or a hack.

    For almost 17 years, states and counties around the country have conducted elections on machines that have been repeatedly shown to be vulnerable to hacking, errors, breakdowns, and that leave behind no proof that the votes counted actually match the votes that were cast.

    Now, in a climate of fear and suspicion over attacks to America’s voting system sparked by Russia’s attacks on the 2016 elections, states and counties across the country are working to replace these outdated machines with new ones. The goal is to make the 2020 elections secure.

    […]

    The draw of the new machines, called ballot-marking devices (BMD), is the promise of a paper ballot. The voter will use a touchscreen to vote, then the BMD will print out the votes. Theoretically, the voter will look over that ballot, make sure it is correct, and insert it into an optical scanner that will quickly count it and save the paper in a secure lockbox. This paper trail solves [sic] the problem of the previous system by allowing election officials to audit the election.

    […]

    At least two companies that sell the machines, Dominion and Election Systems & Software, combined a BMD, which prints a filled-out ballot, with a scanner, which counts the votes. Large election jurisdictions such as Delaware, Georgia, New York and Philadelphia are purchasing these “hybrid” systems, which some observers say creates two problems.

    First, the printer and the scanner share the same paper path. If a voter leaves any races blank — a common practice called undervoting — the machine could in theory autofill those races. Neither the voter or election administrators would be able to detect the change. Second, the hybrid machines have a feature critics are calling “permission to cheat”. Voters can opt to not to review their ballots, meaning that the BMD prints the ballot straight to the scanner and into the lockbox. In such cases, there would be no way to confirm that what the voter intended to vote was actually what was printed and counted.

    Due to these problems, the New York state board of elections is reviewing the state certification of the voting equipment. But other jurisdictions are not.

    […]

    But there is another potential weakness, too. Many BMD models on the market print a sort of two-in-one ballot with one section to be read by machines and another to be read by humans.

    Barcodes — or QR codes — that represent a voter’s choices are printed on the ballot along with plain text showing, presumably, the same information in a way people can understand. When the ballot is scanned, it is the barcode that is scanned and counted, not the text that voters can read. If a barcode is printed that represents a different choice, or the scanners were hacked, voters would not know the difference.

    Hanging over all of this is a question that scares many: what if voters did find problems with their ballots? And what would election officials do if it was found that ballots were cast on hacked machines? There may not be a better way to sow chaos in American democracy than to force dozens of jurisdictions across the country to redo elections.

    More likely, complaints about the machines would be written off as user error and manipulation would go undetected. After all, thousands of complaints were made about the old machines in Texas and Georgia in the 2018 midterms. Neither the results nor the machines in either election have been investigated.

    […]

    Redacted from the above except are several other problems. One of them, apparently, is security researchers / experts are not trusted by most(?) companies making the equipment. Hence the expert’s expertise, suggestions, vulnerability testing, et al is downplayed if not simply ignored.

  294. blf says

    Representative Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, announced his candidacy today. I think this makes 17 Democrats who are now running

    Nineteen, apparently, Seth Moulton: meet the 19th Democratic contender for US 2020 race (video).

    Here’s a useful guide, Who is running for president? The full list of 2020 Democratic candidates: “Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have confirmed, and Joe Biden look likely — but they’ll have to see off a historically large field of candidates first”.

    Vice President Biden is apparently thought to be announcing this week (Seth Moulton: Democratic congressman enters crowded 2020 presidential race), so this circular beanball contest may grow some more.

  295. says

    blf @390, OMG, all the best people for sure.

    Very glad to see that PayPal and GoFundMe barred those fascist groups.

    “Training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama” … WTF!? Scary. And of course they use the word “patriot” in their group’s name.

  296. says

    blf @392, “Nineteen, apparently.” Ah, thanks. I knew I had lost track of the number of Democratic presidential candidates.

    In other news, the Trump administration has taken another step in sanctions against Iran … and I don’t think this is going to go well. Trump is also threatening friends and allies at the same time.

    […] it will scrap all waivers that allowed eight governments to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions — a move designed to choke off Tehran’s oil revenue.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned foreign countries and companies that Washington would enforce U.S. sanctions banning the purchase of Iranian oil without exception, […]

    “Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits,” Pompeo told a news conference.

    The news prompted a surge in oil prices. Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, rose $2.26, or 3.1%, to $74.23 per barrel on Monday.

    The policy shift affects Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China and India. The three other countries that had been granted oil sanctions waivers — Taiwan, Italy and Greece — have already stopped purchasing Iranian oil.

    […] The move raised the risk of aggravating relations with allies such as India, which has been one of Iran’s biggest oil customers, and raising tensions with China at a moment when Washington is trying to negotiate a major trade deal. The Trump administration is also looking to Beijing to help push North Korea to agree to abandon its nuclear and missile arsenal in return for a relaxation of economic sanctions. […]

    […] the foreign ministry said Iran was carrying out consultations with European and other international partners” on the sanctions and that it would make an unspecified announcement later on the issue. […]

    “The #US decision to end sanctions waivers on #Iran oil imports will not serve regional peace and stability, yet will harm Iranian people. #Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbors,”Cavusoglu [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu] posted on Twitter.

    Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters last week that Turkey “expected” another extension from the U.S. but said his government had been offered no assurances. […]

    NBC News link

  297. says

    In a move to hobble any Democrats who win a position as governor in their red state, Republican legislators in Kansas have proposed legislation that would curtail Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s power to fill vacancies in some top state posts.

    Instead, that power would be given to Republican party leadership.

    Republicans were sneaky about introducing the legislation:

    […] The measure was introduced on Friday, April 5, the last day of the session, according to legislative records. It was not introduced in a meeting, and lists no individual sponsors, just the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. Several members of the committee said they were not aware of the proposal. […]

    A second bill, HB 2410, would remove the governor’s power to fill vacancies in the offices of the state treasurer and insurance commissioner. The bill was requested for introduction on March 25, also by Carpenter.

    The legislation may be a sign that Republicans are expecting top leaders to depart before their terms end in 2022. […]

    Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park, sits on the Federal and State Affairs committee, and upon reading the legislation, called it “morally wrong.”

    “How can the people trust us when we are making laws based on political gain as opposed to how to best structure and run our democratic system that we have here in the state of Kansas?” Clayton said. […]

    Kansas City Star link
    `
    Republicans say that Democrats can do the same thing to a Republican governor in the future, but that’s a situation that is unlikely to come about. What is more likely is that, if a Republican is elected as governor in the future, the dominant party in the legislature (still the GOP in red-state Kansas) would just change the law again to allow the Republican governor to appoint conservatives to fill state-level vacancies.

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