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)


  1. blf says

    Oh noes, the space pirates have won:

    US House Defense Subcommittee fails to fund President Trump’s Space Force. Instead, it allocates $15 million to study the idea “provided that nothing in this provision shall be construed to authorize the establishment of a Space Force.”

    I rather suspect there are better things the $15m could be spent on, but at least that particular spigot tap to hair furor’s cronies has been turned off.

    (From the Grauniad’s live blog.)

  2. says

    Channel 4 source says the broadcaster has been blacklisted from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party events since the investigation aired into Arron Banks and Farage’s finances last Thursday, confirming @paulwaugh’s previous tweet.

    Very very worrying.

    I’ve contacted the major UK broadcasters – BBC News/ITV News/Sky News/LBC radio – to see whether they’ll continue to cover the Brexit Party and Nigel Farage’s events while Channel 4 News is ‘blacklisted’ from attending for its story.

    I’ll keep you updated with each response.”

  3. blf says

    Also from the Gruaniad’s live blog:

    For the 24th time, Trump lies that California and San Diego were begging him for a wall and then hypocritically started criticizing him after he built it. There was no begging. San Diego opposes the wall. Even San Diego’s Republican mayor opposes the wall.

  4. says

    After his Fox News town hall, Fox & Friends launches a propaganda onslaught against Pete Buttigieg


    Fox hosts called Buttigieg a ‘clown’, said his town hall was stacked with friends and relatives, and mischaracterized his positions

    This onslaught will almost certainly continue throughout the day and into the night. Fox’s propaganda is very effective, so this will likely stymie any impact Buttigieg had in speaking directly to network viewers.

    Meanwhile, Fox has reaped dramatic benefits from Democratic participation in its town halls.

    Fox entered the spring in a state of crisis as advertisers fled the network for safer harbors. But these town halls allow the network to rebrand itself and thus make the case to advertisers that it is safe to return.

    As Fox faced disaster, Democratic presidential candidates bailed it out. And now the network will pay them back by doing whatever it can to undermine their message and ensure their defeat.”

  5. blf says

    Here in France, After failed appeal, ex-French president Sarkozy looks headed to trial:

    A top French court on Friday rejected an appeal by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to avoid facing charges of illicit financing for his failed 2012 re-election bid, with a trial of the ex-head of state now appearing inevitable.

    Prosecutors claim Sarkozy spent nearly 43 million euros ($51 million) on his lavish re-election bid — almost double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros — using fake invoices, and demanded he answer the charges in court.

    Sarkozy has denounced the charges, saying he was unaware of the fraud by executives at the public relations firm Bygmalion, who are also among a total of 13 people likely to face trial.

    Sarkozy’s lawyers appealed to the Constitutional Council, which rules on the admissibility of laws and legal rulings, arguing that he had already paid a financial penalty for the overspending.

    But that ruling concerned just 364,000 euros of overspending in the campaign, and came before revelations of the “Bygmalion affair” and fake billings.

    Bygmalion executives and Jerome Lavrilleux, the deputy manager of Sarkozy’s 2012 campaign, have acknowledged the existence of fraud and false accounting.

    On Friday, the Constitutional Council ruled that a criminal trial was justified on the grounds that it concerned “the potential breach of probity by candidates or elected officials.”


  6. says

    Mixed messages on Iran:

    […] when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed foreign intelligence officials on Iranian aggression, they were insulted by how weak the pitch was. One NATO official was quoted saying, in reference to Trump administration officials, “Do they think that we are stupid?”

    […] When Sen. Tom Cotton seemed to lobby for an escalation in tensions, Rep. Ruben Gallego explained, “I get the same intel as Cotton. He is greatly exaggerating the situation to spur us to war. Don’t fall for it.”

    Soon after, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he received a briefing from White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and, as far as Graham’s concerned, it’s “clear” that Iran has “created threat streams against American interests.” The senator raised the prospect of “an overwhelming military response.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added soon after that Republicans are “twisting” the intelligence.

    […] Donald Trump [is] contradicting his allies. When a reporter asked the president yesterday afternoon where things stand with Iran, the president replied:

    “We have no indication that anything has happened or will happen. But if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force. We’ll have no choice.”

    The key part of that answer, of course, was the presidential assertion that U.S. officials “have no indication that anything has happened or will happen.” That was a far cry from Lindsey Graham’s assertion, made just hours earlier after hearing from John Bolton, “It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq.”

    […] Will the president back away from his own rhetoric? Will Republicans denounce Trump’s newest claim? Will the administration make any effort to explain the contradiction? Will the Pentagon address why Trump’s comments were similar to the top British general who faced an American rebuke? […]


    On another topic, regarding bf’s comment 37, I wonder how many charges of “breach of probity” we could lay at Trump’s door?

  7. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 495 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Trump responded to the ruling from a a federal judge in Washington D.C. in favor of the House Oversight Committee’s bid to obtain President Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm.

    Well, we disagree with that ruling. It’s crazy – because you look at it; this never happened to any other president. They’re trying to get a redo. They’re trying to get what we used to call in school: a deal – a “do-over.” And if you look, you know, we had no collusion, we had no obstruction. We had no nothing.

    The Democrats were very upset with the Mueller report, as perhaps they should be. But, I mean, the country is very happy about it because there was never anything like that. And they’re trying to get a redo, or a do-over, and you can’t do that.

    As far as the financials are concerned, we think it’s the wrong – it’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge. He was a recent Obama-appointed judge.

    Steve Benen took a look at that little rant from Trump:


    1. The only “crazy” legal argument here is the one floated by Trump’s lawyers.

    2. The underlying legal questions have been tested by other presidents. In fact, yesterday’s ruling emphasizes this point literally in the first sentence of the first page. (Trump’s not much of a reader.)

    3. There are a variety of questions about the president’s controversial finances, but Trump’s insistence that these lines of inquiry have something to do with the Mueller investigation is quite odd. It’s as if Trump doesn’t really understand the most basic elements of the congressional investigation.

    4. Presidents have to honor court rulings, even if they hate the president who nominated the judge who issued the decision.

    Other than that, Trump’s little tantrum was fine.


  8. says

    Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, (author of driving-while-brown-laws, other anti-immigrant laws, and of about a dozen different schemes to disenfranchise voters who are not white Republicans like him), will consider taking an Immigration Czar gig… if the White House acquiesces to his demands, (he gets a private jet and weekends off, among other perks).

    According to the New York Times, those dealbreakers include being named DHS Secretary by November, some coveted West Wing real estate and weekends off. He also wants to be the main television presence on immigration issues, to have unfettered access to the Oval Office and to have use of a private jet.

    The White House was reportedly taken aback by Kobach’s presumptuousness. They are also considering former acting ICE head and once regular Fox News contributor Tom Homan for the gig.

    Kobach has long been the king of unflattering headlines.

    In April 2017, he clutched plans for amendments to the National Voter Registration Act while grinning next to the President. Too bad for him, the plans were facing outward and caught by the Associated Press’ sharp camera, eventually leading to a judge demanding that he hand the document over as part of a case centered on his strict voting laws.

    A couple months later, a judge shot down part of those voter restrictions, his proof of citizenship requirement, and smacked Kobach with ordered legal education classes for his “non-compliance” with court orders and “flagrant violations” of various courtroom rules.

    Kobach, unswayed, geared up for a gubernatorial run where he ultimately lost dramatically to Democrat Laura Kelly […] Just last month, he popped onto Fox Business network to share his plan to create processing towns on the border for immigrants, made up of “empty mobile home trailers.” […]


    From the readers comments:

    The douche is strong in this one, Obi Wan.
    Wow, for a persistent loser, he sure has a high opinion of himself.
    But Only If His Conditions Are Met
    You left out a free lifetime membership to Donnie’s Narcissist Anonymous Club
    Here are three of K-K-Kobach’s demands :

    Staff of 7 people (2 attorneys, 2 research analysts, 1 scheduler, 1 media person, 1 assistant).

    POTUS sits down individually with Czar and the secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Ag, Interior, and Commerce, and tells each of the Secretaries to follow the directives of the Czar without delay, subject to appeal to the President in cases of disagreement.

    24/7 access to either a DHS or DOD jet. Czar must be on the border every week.

  9. says

    But their emails!

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joins a long list of private email users in the Trump administration.

    […] Trump’s supporters might be excused for not hearing about the news over the roar of a campaign rally chanting “Lock her up!” at the mention of Hillary Clinton’s name [last night]

    […] the Education Department’s acting inspector general, Sandra D. Bruce, said that her office found emails DeVos had received on her private email […] the inspector general separately found emails sent from DeVos’ private accounts […]

    “We did not identify any instances where the Secretary forwarded emails from her personal accounts to her Department email accounts,” Bruce wrote, flagging that Devos’ emails “related to government business were not always being properly preserved.”

    […] list of current and former senior Trump administration officials confirmed or reported to have used private email addresses or messaging apps for official business:

    Mike Pence (as Indiana governor); Jared Kushner; Ivanka Trump; Steve Bannon; Reince Priebus; Gary Cohn; Stephen Miller; K.T. McFarland; James Comey; Kris Kobach and other former members of Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission; John Gore, to correspond with members of the President’s bogus voter fraud commission; and Scott Pruitt (as EPA administrator and Oklahoma attorney general).

  10. says

    Another Russian connection to efforts to destroy stability … along with another connection to possibly unethical law firms in the USA, and to team Trump:

    For the past decade, Republika Srpska — a region of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) — has been governed by the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, or SNSD, a Serb nationalist party that advocates upending the hard-fought stability the Balkans have enjoyed for the past two decades. The party’s head, Milorad Dodik, has not only grown close to the Kremlin over the past few years, but he’s steered BiH closer to outright disintegration than any point in the past two decades.

    In the process, Dodik — who was recently described by one regional analyst as potentially “one of the most dangerous men in Europe” — was, in the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, specifically sanctioned by the United States. (The Trump administration has not removed these sanctions.)

    Dodik recently moved on from running Republika Srpska, ascending to Bosnia’s three-person presidency and leaving the region governed by one of his SNSD underlings. But now, Republika Srpska has a new partner: McGinnis Lochridge, a Texas-based law firm that recently registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of the regional government.

    […] While he’s largely unknown in the U.S., regional analysts have long pointed to Dodik as one of the primary causes of recent escalations in ethnic tensions in BiH, as well as throughout the broader Western Balkans.

    It’s not difficult to see why. Recently described by the AP as an “ardent pro-Russian nationalist,” Dodik last month claimed that the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica, in which Bosnian Serb troops massacred over 8,000 Muslim men and boys, was a “fabricated myth.”

    […] Dodik and Republika Srpska have grown increasingly close with Russia. Last year, The Guardian reported that “Russian-trained mercenaries were helping build paramilitary units for Dodik,” and Dodik has himself described Russia as an “ally” of Republika Srpska. A recent profile of Dodik in The Atlantic also pointed out that in 2018 he “welcomed the Night Wolves, a pro-Kremlin biker group, to Bosnia, and in October even called for Republika Srpska to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” […] Dodik has even been spotted in the past with Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who has helped finance Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. (Both the Night Wolves and Malofeev are sanctioned by the U.S.) […]

    […] Among those who’ve helped Dodik and his SNSD party are Mike Rubino and James Osborne, two lobbyists from Turnberry Solutions LLC who were once employed by the Trump campaign. (Rubino was recently hired back into the Trump administration itself.) […]


  11. says

    Ben Carson is on the receiving end of Maxine Waters’ wrath:

    House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) ripped into Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Tuesday in his first appearance before the committee since she took the gavel in January.

    Ticking off concerns with an “outrageous plan” to reduce rental assistance, delays in providing disaster aid to Puerto Rico and a “cruel proposal” to bar undocumented immigrants from subsidized housing, Waters told Carson, “the department is actively causing harm.” […]


    More at the link.

    From Representative Nydia Velázquez, speaking to Carson after Carson tried to make excuses:

    Why, if you recognize that there is a housing crisis in our nation, that there are 4.4 million people on a waiting list … why did you request $9.6 billion less for HUD’s budget for fiscal year 2020?

    Do you understand why this sounds like you’re talking from both sides of your mouth?

  12. says

    Followup to comment 8.

    From Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:

    Today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only.

    Trump has recently said that Rouhani should call him.

    […] He also said he would “certainly negotiate” with Iran “if they called.”

    “But that’s going to be up to them,” he added. “I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready, they don’t have to bother.”

    His invitation to Iran came days after he threatened in a tweet to bring about the “end of Iran” if Tehran sought to fight and after the Pentagon dispatched a number of military assets to the region in response to what the administration has said is an increasing threat. […]


  13. says

    Nadler accuses Trump of witness intimidation, threatens legal action over McGahn testimony

    House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused President Trump of witness intimidation on Tuesday and threatened legal action to enforce his panel’s subpoena for public testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.

    “He took to Twitter to call Mr. McGahn a liar. His lawyers went on cable television to do the same,” Nadler said at a brief committee hearing that was supposed to feature McGahn’s testimony.

    “In short, the president took it upon himself to intimidate a witness who has a legal obligation to be here today,” he added. “This conduct is not remotely acceptable.” […]

    Trump instructed McGahn to evade the public appearance earlier Monday, citing a Department of Justice legal opinion arguing that he is immune from congressional testimony. […]

    Nadler on Tuesday blasted the White House’s legal argument as “baseless” and said the panel would look to “enforce” the subpoena for documents and testimony from McGahn even if it meant going to court. […]

    “Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said Tuesday. “Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for his scheduled appearance. If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him.” […]

    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the committee’s top Republican, accused Nadler of political theater and said the hearing served no “legitimate legislative purpose” other to embarrass Trump. […]

    House leaders say they want to wait until after Memorial Day to go after the group of individuals who are refusing to comply with their investigations and who have been given contempt citations.

    It is unclear what the next steps will be with respect to McGahn. Nadler warned in a letter to the former White House counsel late Monday that he would face “serious consequences” if he did not show up for the scheduled testimony, adding that the committee “is prepared to use all enforcement mechanisms at its disposal.”

  14. says

    Trump’s troubling response to “lock them up!” chants during his Pennsylvania rally

    The chants were disturbing. Trump’s response to them was even worse.

    […] Trump’s reelection rallies might have found version 2.0 of their familiar “lock her up!” chants: “Lock them up!”

    […] Monday evening in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, [Trump revived] his baseless treason accusations against the FBI and Democrats.

    “We caught ’em — they were spying,” Trump said, referring to the counterintelligence investigation of his campaign that began in 2016 and followed normal procedures. “They were spying on our campaign. I’ll tell you what — if that ever happened to the other side, this thing would’ve been over two years ago, and you know, it would have been treason. They would’ve called it treason. And that’s what it is — it was treason. And it should never be allowed to happen to another president again. Ever, ever, ever.”

    Trump’s accusation is transparently meritless, but that’s beside the point. Heading into his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump — with help from Barr — is trying to establish a narrative that the entire investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia stemmed from anti-Trump bias in the law enforcement and intelligence communities, not his campaign’s secretive contacts with people in the Kremlin’s orbit. Trump wants to portray himself as a victim and Obama-era officials as bad actors who had it out for him from the beginning.

    Trump’s audience seemed ready to get on board, cheering his accusations of treason and then breaking out in “lock them up!” chants. Trump basked in the chants for a moment before threatening to sic Barr on law enforcement officials who investigated him.

    “Well, we have a great new attorney general who is going to give it a very fair look,” Trump said. […]

  15. says

    Mitch McConnell seems to like foreign interference in U.S. elections.

    […] Although several Republican-controlled Senate committees are still trying to address potential meddling by foreign adversaries — the Judiciary Committee approved two election security bills last week — the Senate majority leader now says he won’t even bring election security bills up for a vote. It’s a position McConnell took last year, and one he’s standing by as pressure has ramped up to consider reinforcing US defenses ahead of 2020. […]

    He’s acknowledging Trump’s aversion to the subject — which the president sees as too closely tied to questions about the outcome of the 2016 election […]

    McConnell’s unwillingness to tackle election security isn’t just sending a political message, however; it also has massive consequences.

    As a result of this inaction, the US Senate — which allocated $380 million in election security funds last year — is now effectively promoting a do-nothing approach to a subject that special counsel Robert Mueller and countless national security officials have raised as a serious threat that requires additional action. While US intelligence agencies and other bodies are doing what they can to bolster American defenses before the 2020 election, Republican leadership appears content to sit idly by despite numerous warnings about the need for more resources to prevent potential breaches.

    As Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) explicitly stated during a hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr in May, it’s a cue that’s been coming directly from the White House. “It was Don McGahn,” Klobuchar said during the hearing while discussing the forces that blocked a bipartisan election security bill she’s co-sponsored with Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “He called Republicans about the bill, didn’t want them to do it. And McConnell also didn’t want the bill to move forward. So it was a double-edged thing.”

    President Trump’s position on such bills — and McConnell’s longstanding resistance to advancing them — could mean that they’ll remain stalled. […]


  16. says

    Secret documents show Russian plot to stoke racial violence in America

    It’s super messed up.

    The Russians who interfered in the 2016 US presidential election are still at it — and this time, they’re trying to ignite racial violence in America and a partial collapse of the United States.

    According to secret documents obtained by a Russian opposition group, hackers have discussed plans to stir up racial resentment in the United States in hopes of tearing American society apart. The operatives are apparently associates of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man who set up a troll farm and was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for his role in 2016 meddling. […]

    the apparent new plot, discussed as recently as 2018 ahead of the 2020 presidential election, goes much further. The documents reportedly contain shocking proposals such as sending black Americans to Africa “for combat prep and training in sabotage,” as well as targeting people who have previously been incarcerated and people “who have experience in organized crime groups … for participation in civil disobedience actions.” […]

    It’s possible Prigozhin’s associates felt they had an opening to do this because President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory “deepened conflicts in American society,” per one of the documents.

    This would be quite the dastardly plan, but it’s important to note two things. First, there is no indication of how seriously the documents — titled “Development Strategy of a Pan-African State on US Territory” — and the plan overall have been received in Russia. It’s possible the set of proposals went absolutely nowhere and were viewed as too extreme (or ridiculous) even for Moscow.

    Second, there’s little to no chance the plot would have worked even if the Kremlin had put it into action. Russian trolls could try to stir up anger among African Americans online, but it’s multiple steps too far to believe Moscow would find enough willing recruits for a takeover of America’s Southern states.

    What the proposals do suggest, though, is that Russians with ties to President Vladimir Putin are plotting ways to weaken America ahead of the 2020 election. What’s worse, it looks like some of the thinking is much more violent than before. […]

    More at the link.

    Looking at the 2018 midterm elections, and looking forward to the 2020 elections:

    […] After the 2018 midterms, Coats [Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats] and other top US intelligence officials said they’d seen no evidence that those elections had been hacked. But they did confirm that Russia had tried to influence them “by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics,” according to a statement released by the FBI.

    The Boston Globe also reported at the time that the federal government had logged more than 160 instances of suspected interference since August 1, and that the number jumped to about 10 instances a day in the few weeks before the midterms.

    And earlier this year, Coats told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia and the same other three nations would try to interfere in the next presidential race. “We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests,” he said. “We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences and efforts.”

    Based on the new documents, it seems like trying to foment massive racial violence in America could be viewed as a “new tactic” to be used before November 2020. […]

  17. says

    From Steve Benen:

    At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last night, Trump condemned former Vice President Joe Biden (D) for moving to Delaware with his family when Biden was 11 years old. Yeah, I didn’t understand the criticism, either, though Trump seemed quite excited about this line of attack.

    Bad financial news for the DNC:

    Politico reported overnight that the RNC raised nearly $16 million in April, far more than the DNC’s $6.6 million over the same period. As May got underway, the RNC has $34.7 million cash on hand, while the DNC ended April with $7.6 million cash on hand.

    In a followup to comment 10, everybody finds Kris Kobach irritating:

    […] in Kansas, the national Republican Party is so panicked about the prospect of Kris Kobach (R) running for the U.S. Senate next year that the party leaders are letting locals know that they would intervene in the primary in the hopes of bringing him down. Kobach, who ran a failed gubernatorial campaign in Kansas last year, is also under consideration to serve as Trump’s new “immigration czar.”

  18. says

    About Trump’s proposal to pardon some war criminals:

    Fox News host Pete Hegseth has aggressively lobbied President Donald Trump in private to pardon several accused war criminals, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday. Trump appears to have heeded his and others’ calls, indicating over the weekend that he was preparing to pardon multiple alleged war criminals.

    In recent months, Hegsheth has had multiple conversations with Trump about pardoning the men, three unnamed people with “knowledge of the situation” told the Daily Beast. The list includes Navy SEAL platoon leader Edward Gallagher, who’s accused of murdering an Islamic State prisoner who was receiving medical care, and shooting civilians, among other things. […]


    More at the link.

  19. says

    Followup to comment 21.

    From Steve Benen:

    It was all quite creepy. Here was an American president, accusing his perceived enemies of “treason,” and comforting his followers — who want U.S. officials imprisoned — with promises about the attorney general looking into it. Trump thought nothing of following this up with boasts about he, unlike his recent predecessors, is “loyal” to Americans.

  20. says

    From Mark Sumner, “William Barr isn’t Trump’s personal attorney, he’s the agent provocateur of authoritarianism”:

    When Donald Trump was young, attorney Roy Cohn passed onto him the same lessons that he did to Sen. Joseph McCarthy: always attack, never apologize, never admit a mistake. Taunt. Insult. Don’t worry about the facts. Don’t worry about the law. Just “Tell them to go to hell and fight the thing in court.”

    […] In just a few months on the job, Barr has demonstrated a willingness to lie to the American people, flip the truth on its head, defy Congress and the Constitution, and live out that advice from Cohn: Tell them to go to hell, let’s take it to court.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, Barr is deeply upset by those people who suggest that he’s turned the office of the attorney general into that of a personal attorney for Donald Trump. He insists that’s not the case. And for once, Barr may be telling the truth. He’s not Trump’s attorney. He’s there to defend the right of any Republican despot to ignore any law ever made, and to uphold the ideal of an authoritarian executive who answers to no one, on anything.

    […] as Barr’s new Office of Legal Counsel made clear on Monday, the official position of the Department of Justice is now that advisers to Trump are “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoenas. And, just in case the Congress is thinking of reviving powers not used since 1935, Barr is a step ahead of them. The OLC has already ruled that every member of the executive branch is exempt from Congress’ power of inherent contempt.

    Neither of these ideas is supported by case law […]

    The position Barr has taken is one in which there is not only no obligation for the executive to cooperate with Congress on any matter […]

    Barr isn’t there to be an attorney for Trump. He’s in place to be an agent provocateur for authoritarianism, present only to plant bombs in the system. His idea of an executive immune to review isn’t one that was intended, or even contemplated by the people who framed Article II. In fact, it’s why that role isn’t in Article I. There is nothing in the Constitution that implies members of the executive branch are immune to congressional subpoena; nothing that implies they are immune to inherent contempt; and nothing at all that suggests the kind of massive expansion of privilege supported by Barr has any basis in law.

    The Office of Legal Counsel, now once again under Barr’s thumb, was where he first served in the Justice Department, and where he helped to create rulings like the one that says that a sitting executive can never face indictment, no matter the gravity of his crimes. But the man who followed Barr in that position, Walter Dellinger, has a different view on Barr’s goals. “Protecting the president who has violated his oath of office and probably the criminal code,” says Dellinger, “is not an application of a strong view of executive power. That’s just wrong.”

    But now that Trump has both his new Roy Cohn […] He can barely wait to get to court.

  21. says

    Thousands of people took to the streets today to protest extreme abortion bans that were recently passed or signed into law in some Republican-dominated states. (Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and others.)

    From Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, “We’re looking to build support… against these egregious abortion bans.”

    Other organizations supporting and organizing the protests: NARAL Pro-Choice America, the ACLU, Surge Reproductive Justice, EMILY’s List, and the National Women’s Health Network.

    […] More than 500 rallies are set to take place in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Canada, with many mobilizing outside state capitols and courthouses to signal their opposition to lawmakers and judges who seek to limit reproductive freedom. […]

    Laura Simmons, Georgia state director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said her organization is also playing the long game by focusing on electing reproductive rights champions to office.

    “We know that if we would have had more women, pro-choice women in office, this wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “We’re going to stand up and fight back.”

    Ahead of the protests, Fox, who is based in Georgia, said the rally in Atlanta was expected to draw at least 1,000 people. […]


    More on Twitter:

  22. says

    A hearing hosted by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which is chaired by a Republican, invited industry leaders to speak, but did not invite any climate scientists to speak. The hearing was supposed to gather information on agriculture and climate change.

    […] The four-speaker panel, however, was dominated by industry ties, with an emphasis on livestock. No climate scientists spoke on the panel.

    Experts say a significant amount of research and data has established the relationship between agriculture and global warming. Around 8% of U.S. emissions come from farming, with some 42% of those emissions generated by animal agriculture. […]

    But panelists on Tuesday veered away from those findings. Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a Kansas cattle breeder who has won praise from the agrochemical company Monsanto, touted the “positive story” of U.S. beef, arguing that the industry embraces climate-friendly practices.

    Another speaker, Frank Mitloehner, a livestock expert and professor at University of California, Davis, also took aim at efforts to introduce “meatless Mondays” and other attempts to scale back U.S. meat consumption. Mitloehner slammed a 2016 report that emphasized the link between agriculture and climate change, arguing that “this myth is one of the chief reasons we are advised to eat less meat.” […]


  23. says

    Trump threatened swift but vague action against Mexico.

    I am very disappointed that Mexico is doing virtually nothing to stop illegal immigrants from coming to our Southern Border where everyone knows that because of the Democrats, our Immigration Laws are totally flawed & broken.

    Mexico’s attitude is that people from other countries, including Mexico, should have the right to flow into the U.S. & that U.S. taxpayers should be responsible for the tremendous costs associated w/this illegal migration. Mexico is wrong and I will soon be giving a response!


  24. says

    “New Video Shows Nigel Farage Courting Fringe Right-Wing Figures At A Private Tea Party Hosted At The Ritz”:

    New footage reveals Nigel Farage privately sought money and help for his new Brexit Party from fringe right-wing figures including a millionaire Putin cheerleader and a self-proclaimed “influencer” who has posted a string of anti-Islam remarks online.

    Videos posted on Facebook show the Brexit party leader addressing a closed-door gathering at London’s five-star Ritz hotel on April 9, organised by key backers of a pro-Trump political group, Turning Point UK.

    Farage was among the guests at the event, which was described by the organisers as a “tea party” and not a Brexit Party fundraiser. But in a five-minute speech, he asked the small group for “any help, any support, whether it’s verbal, whether it’s getting your friends involved, whether it’s giving us money, whatever it is, we need all the help we can get”.

    Farage has previously publicly vowed that the Brexit Party “will be deeply intolerant of all intolerance” and would not “even be discussing Islam”, but he has been forced to distance himself from several of the party’s senior officials in the last few weeks over their anti-Muslim comments.

    Recordings of the Ritz tea party were posted by another guest, John Mappin, a pro-Kremlin cheerleader who has repeatedly posted about conspiracy theories — including about vaccines and the widely debunked paedophile conspiracy known as QAnon — while also spreading far-right videos and memes about George Soros, claiming the Jewish financier controls the media, banks and US politicians.

    Mappin, a Scientologist, was quoted by the Mail on Sunday as saying “being friends with Putin is very smart. We love him.” He also questioned the UK government’s account of the Salisbury Novichok attack, echoing a Kremlin talking point.

    He has separately said Putin “should be commended for his noble deeds”, commented that the Russian leader has “the sort of qualities we want to see in world leaders”, and invited him to a hotel he owns in Cornwall.

    One of the hosts for the event was Amanda Eliasch, an artist and “influencer” who was present at the Turning Point UK launch in December last year. In a series of posts online, Eliasch endorsed Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and claimed “ethnic diversity is a huge problem” in Britain.

    Dubbing the guests the “Ritz Rebels” and the “cream of political intellect of the UK”, Mappin said in his Facebook post: “History tells of small dedicated groups that have shaped the past and the future. In a thousand years some poor school boy will almost certainly be studying all about this afternoons [sic] meeting.”…

    More at the link. I’m still finding it so hard to believe that this band of corrupt far-Right wackadoodles has political support.

  25. blf says

    Far-right MEPs could threaten EU climate policy, experts warn:

    An influx of climate-denying far-right MEPs could pose a “toxic” threat to EU climate policy after the European elections, according to senior MEPs and academics.

    Populist parties are expected to take up to a third of the parliamentary seats in Thursday’s vote, with Matteo Salvini’s League in contention to be the largest single party, and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) overtaking Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche in some polls.

    Cooperation among the fractious far-right forces is far from assured, but those at the centre of an alliance Salvini is trying to craft with Le Pen, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland view climate action as a potential barrier to fossil fuel-led growth.

    With key decisions looming on EU emissions targets, fears are growing that rightwingers could block or water down EU climate action.

    Alexander Carius, the director of the Berlin-based Adelphi Institute thinktank, said: “Climate policy is going to be the new battleground between the democratic centre and rightwing populists attacking institutions and questioning the scientific foundation of decision-making. […]”


    A strong populist vote could also “lead to nasty nominations from member states for European commission posts”, [the UK Labour party’s environment spokesman in the EU parliament, Seb Dance,] added. “That combination could be quite toxic.”

    A bigger number of populist MEPs would win greater visibility and access to resources. They would also have more leverage in battles to select commission officials, committee members, rapporteurs and legislative amendments.

    “The tone in discussions is going to change,” Carius warned. “EU climate policy and debate on the level of ambition in the next European parliament will be significantly lowered.”

    An Adelphi study in February found populist groups were using the electoral campaign trail to raise tropes of scientific dissent, sovereignty, economic loss and a multilateral global elite to oppose the Paris climate agreement.

    The extreme-right Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) bloc had the most negative voting record of any grouping in the last parliament on 22 climate proposals analysed in the study.


    Many environmental NGOs believe the greater threat to climate policy comes from centrist and traditional hard-right parties, which have a weak climate record.


  26. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live blog:

    The Justice Department is offering the House Intelligence Committee some additional materials related to the Mueller report if the committee drops its threat to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt.

    To be clear, should the Committee take the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the Attorney General, then the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interests in these materials, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to the committee, the Hill reports.

    Hopefully the now-dummie controlled committee will hold their nerve and dropkick that absurd idea into the Sun. Materials wanted include the entire unredacted report, not another set of mischaracterisations & and misleading partialities.

  27. says

    Watch Representative Katie Porter teach Ben Carson his own job:

    In an uncomfortable episode during a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson a series of specific mortgage-related policy questions that he was utterly unable to answer.

    One exchange is emblematic of the entire back and forth:

    Porter: Do you know what an REO is?

    Carson: [Pause] An Oreo…

    Porter: No, not an Oreo. An REO.

    Carson: Real estate…

    Porer: What’s the “O” stand for?

    Toward the end of the conversation, Carson said that he’d be happy for her to work with people at HUD on her questions. She brushed him off, saying she’d already done that in her past job, and that her job now is to ask him questions.

    Porter previously oversaw California’s $25 billion national mortgage servicing settlement under then-Attorney General Kamala Harris.

    This isn’t the first time Porter used her expertise to leave witnesses at her committee’s hearings tongue-tied. She completely flustered JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon when she grilled him about how his employees are supposed to make ends meet at their current salaries.


  28. says

    “Austria’s Sebastian Kurz to face no-confidence vote as far-right ministers quit”:

    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will face a no-confidence vote in the wake of an undercover video scandal that has blown apart his coalition with a far-right party.

    The main opposition Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) requested a special parliamentary session next Monday, according to parliamentary spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundbroeck.

    The opposition “Jetzt” party is planning to introduce the no-confidence motion during that session, party spokeswoman Eva Kellermann said. CNN has seen the written motion sent to parliament….

  29. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@34, Theresa May’s new Brexit deal: point-by-point analysis. The short summary is there isn’t much of anything there, there, and a lot of it is “not new”, “too woolly to be worth much”, “makes little difference”, “already been promised”, “blindingly obvious”… The EU have already figured this out, EU despairs at emptiness of May’s latest Brexit offer:

    Theresa May’s bold offer to MPs ahead of a final vote on the Brexit deal consisted of a series of platitudes and the restatement of negotiating objectives that have already been rejected, EU officials said in response to the prime minister’s appeal to the Commons.

    As Conservative MPs who have previously voted in favour of the withdrawal agreement turned on May over the speech, the response in Brussels was one of despair at what was viewed as the emptiness of the prime minister’s proposals.

    [… details on frictionless trade]

    EU officials added that the restatement by the UK government of an objective rejected last year offered little evidence that future negotiations would be any smoother than the last two years of tortuous talks.


    An EU source noted that the prime minister had both promised to give remainer MPs the chance to vote in favour of a second referendum while warning Brexiters that Brexit would be imperilled if they did not vote in favour of the government. “You get both sides voting against at that rate,” the source added.


  30. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Rebranding run amok:

    The politically powerful Koch network is looking to change its image. In the face of rising support for progressive policies, the well-funded network wants to rebrand from greedy capitalists to benevolent philanthropists.

    Until the Kochs and their fellow donors stop supporting policies that increase income inequality and all forms of pollution however, any effort to create a new image will be nothing more than greenwashing.

    For years, the Koch network has brought together some of the wealthiest right-wing donors to support a host of self-serving policies, such as tax cuts for the wealthy and rolling back environmental regulations.

    The network is now being rebranded as a “philanthropic community,” the Washington Post reported Monday after previewing a letter from billionaire fossil fuel magnate Charles Koch to the group.

    “The Seminar Network,” a web of groups funded by billionaire Charles Koch and hundreds of other conservatives and libertarians, is changing its impersonal-sounding name to the more benevolent “Stand Together Foundation.” […]

    It’s all lipstick on a self-serving plutocrat. In early 2018, the Seminar Network bragged about all it had achieved politically by backing right-wing policies and politicians. These victories include Trump’s tax cut, a massive redistribution of wealth toward the rich and powerful, as well as the rollback of crucial clean air and clean water protections, including the Paris Climate Agreement. […]

    Think Progress link

    More at the link.

  31. says

    “Polish towns go ‘LGBT free’ ahead of bitter European election campaign”:

    Teresa Drzewiecka grew up during World War Two, when German and Soviet troops battled for control of her town of Swidnik in eastern Poland.

    Now 83, she sees another threat to her country’s survival: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

    “Let children have a father and a mother, not such deviations,” said Drzewiecka, resting on a bench in a Swidnik park. “Otherwise there will be fewer and fewer children, and Poland will shrink.”

    In March, her local council in Swidnik passed a motion to reject what it viewed as the spread of “LGBT ideology” in homes, schools and workplaces. A handful of other areas, mostly in conservative rural Poland, have issued similar statements.

    Views that are offensive or illegal in many European countries have been widely aired in Poland ahead of the European Parliament elections, where LGBT rights are a hot-button issue.

    In a bitter campaign, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has depicted such rights as dangerous foreign ideas that undermine traditional values in Poland, a staunchly Catholic country.

    PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has urged Poles to vote for what he calls “the only party that gives a 100% guarantee that our values will be protected”.

    LGBT rights and WHO standards constitute foreign values that pose “a real threat to our identity, to our nation,” he has said.

    Analysts say that PiS hopes to re-energize its mainly rural base by vowing to push back against Western liberalism.

    With turnout in European elections typically lowest in PiS’s rural strongholds, the party needs to persuade more people to vote, especially as some polls show it running neck and neck with a rival pro-European coalition….

    Putin’s playbook.

  32. says

    From Senator Chris Murphy:

    I‘m listening to Republicans twist the Iran intel to make it sound like Iran is taking unprovoked, offensive measures against the US and our allies. Like it just came out of nowhere. I’ve read the intel too. And let me be clear: That’s not what the intel says.

    From Representative Ruben Gallego, a member of the House armed Services Committee and a retired Marine:

    Lindsey [Graham] and I get the same intel. That is not what is being said. This is total information bias to draw the conclusion he wants for himself and the media.

  33. blf says

    Even cartoon aardvarks are nasty antifa who must be banned! Arthur: Alabama bans episode of kids’ show featuring same-sex wedding:

    Alabama Public Television has refused to air a recent episode of a children’s program that featured a same-sex wedding.

    An episode of the popular animated series Arthur, titled Mr Ratburn and the Special Someone, was deemed inappropriate for the state’s young viewers by Mike McKenzie, the director of programming for the station, saying broadcasting it would be a violation of trust.

    Not at all like censorship. Oh no, not at all. Nothing to see here, quite literally, now move along…

    The series, which has aired since 1996, follows the adventures of the titular eight-year-old aardvark. In the episode in question, he and his classmates overhear their teacher Mr Ratburn, who is a rat, discussing plans for a wedding with a woman, who they assume is his bride-to-be. At the end of the episode it’s revealed that the woman is his sister and that he is actually marrying Patrick, an aardvark. The children, in attendance at the wedding with their parents, delight at the surprise.


    Same-sex marriage has been legal in Alabama since 2015, although a number of counties subsequently refused to issue such licenses, a controversy which has become yet another battleground in the state this year.

  34. says

    Followup to comments 3 and 15.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Don McGahn’s no-show today:

    […] The Washington Post erroneously headlined its report on McGahn’s blow-off announcement, saying Trump had “blocked” McGahn from testifying, which is actually not a thing Trump can do with a private citizen. Nine paragraphs in, the Post told the truth:

    As a private citizen no longer in the government, McGahn is not necessarily bound by the White House directive, or the Office of Legal Counsel memo, to refuse to comply with the subpoena.

    And the choir said, “No fucking DUH.”

    Nadler responded with his own letter Monday night, and just like this morning, he was pissed. Nadler noted that the OLC memo didn’t actually cite case law — because there isn’t any — supporting its contention that McGahn isn’t required to appear, but mostly cited its own previous opinions. Nadler stated that the Justice Department’s “own longstanding policy” is that “executive privilege … should not be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing or criminality on the part of executive officers,” which is pertinent because the committee specifically would like to ask McGahn about CRIMES DONALD TRUMP ASKED HIM TO COMMIT.

    Nadler reminded McGahn that Trump has been mean-tweeting and calling McGahn’s testimony to Mueller into question, and that, as the Mueller Report laid out, Trump literally wanted McGahn to lie in public and deny press reports that Trump had asked McGahn to get Mueller fired. Executive privilege who what now? […]

  35. says

    NEW President Trump’s lawyers notified a federal judge that they have appealed ‘all aspects’ of his Monday ruling that the president’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress in a gathering legal battle over its oversight powers.

    Andy Wright, a former Obama associate White House counsel and House oversight committee staff director from 2007 to 2011, said Mazars case could move quickly: in 2016 Supreme Court took only 39 days to refuse a request by [Backpage] to block a Senate subpoena.

    ‘It’s not one size fits all … but in a sense the stay litigation is the ballgame, and the burden is on the person resisting the subpoena to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits, as well as that it is in the interests of justice’, Wright said.

    Wright, a partner at K&L Gates, added, ‘It is possible, if Judge Mehta’s reasoning holds, that both the D.C. circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court could resolve this within the next five weeks in an adverse way to President Trump. So that’s pretty fast’.”

  36. says

    NEW: House Judiciary Cmte issued subpoenas to Hope Hicks, fmr WH comms dr & Annie Donaldson, Don McGahn’s fmr chief of staff for testimony & documents related to its investigation into obstruction of justice by Trump & his associates.”

    Donaldson took a lot of notes.

  37. blf says

    Hee hee hee, cue the very tiny violins, With friends like these: Bannon visit puts Le Pen on the defensive ahead of EU vote:

    Former Trump campaign guru Steve Bannon is making a surprise cameo in France’s European election campaign, ostensibly to help populist ally Marine Le Pen win. But he’s proving an inconvenient interloper and giving Emmanuel Macron’s side a lifeline.


    Enter Steve Bannon [… who] has made a sideline of aiding populist forces all across Europe in their bid for power for more than a year in the run-up to this month’s elections. Bannon set down his bags in Paris this weekend at the Bristol, a luxury hotel steps from the Elysée Palace. He received French media for interviews in a lavish suite, praising Marine Le Pen’s resilience and championing her chances for glory at the ballot box. The Journal du Dimanche, one of the newspapers to interview Bannon there, noted “each of his nights during this week in Paris in one of the Bristol Hotel’s most beautiful suites costs €8,000, six times a minimum-wage earners’ net income”. The paper took notice of the so-called palace’s proximity to the Champs Elysées, “where so many shop fronts were smashed” by Yellow Vest protesters, leaving the contradiction to suggestion.

    In an interview Bannon gave to Le Parisien from his room, he reprised nearly word for word his praise for Le Pen’s thinking at her party’s 2018 convention in Lille, likening the nation state to a precious gem. The political divide between left and right is no longer pertinent, he said then and now. What matters today is whether you consider the nation state as an obstacle to be overcome or as a jewel to be polished, loved and nurtured, he’d told the rapt crowd in Lille.

    Indeed, amid the spectacle of Brexit, Le Pen’s party has dropped its pledge to extract France from the EU and the euro currency […].


    With Bannon ensconced at the Bristol, centrists saw their opening. Treating the foreigner like a walking illustration of a hypocrisy they might not otherwise have articulated so well, [Marcon’s] Renaissance reps highlighted the irony in domestic nationalists allying with foreign nationalists who may harbour conflicting objectives.

    “The new far-right international… is materialising to destroy the European Union, and today the National Front is the useful idiot in that political programme; it’s Trump’s and Putin’s Trojan Horse,” Pascal Canfin, number two on the Renaissance list, said Sunday.

    Bannon’s visit also happened to fall just as a corruption scandal involving Russian influence was taking hold amid Austria’s ruling right-wing coalition.

    And just last week, after French television aired a report showing footage of National Rally heavyweights — including party number two Louis Aliot — meeting with Bannon in London to discuss party financing, a cross-party clutch of French lawmakers demanded an inquiry. The footage was from Alison Klayman’s behind-the-scenes Bannon documentary “The Brink”, which notably highlights the frequent contact between the American former banker and National Rally [le penazis] executives.


    “Who today is trying to divide Europe or weaken it? Precisely those who have an interest in doing so. To the East. Or to the West,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Monday, alluding to Russia and the US. “Mr Bannon comes to Europe, to France, to say how much of an interest there is for him and for President Trump for us to change Europe’s scope and the values that enabled us to build Europe,” Philippe added.

    In effect, Bannon’s highly remarked-upon visit put Le Pen and her party on the back foot, scrambling to distance itself from the meddlesome visitor.

    [… A]s Bannon’s controversial visit continued on Monday, Le Pen told franceinfo she only learned about his visit through the media. She said the former Donald Trump aide had no role in the [le penazi] campaign and said she last met with him three months ago. He is in Paris for business because he is in the process of selling one of his companies to a big French bank, so it has strictly nothing to do with the campaign, Le Pen said. Bannon, meanwhile, was singing Le Pen’s praises, simultaneously on another channel.

    Listening to Steve #Bannon and Marine Le Pen at same time on a Monday morning. Yes, #EU parliament elections around the corner. I need more coffee…

    Le Pen’s remarks struck a sharp contrast to Bannon’s own stated reasons for visiting the French capital. He told Le Parisien that he came to Paris because, of all the elections that will take place next weekend in Europe, including in the UK with Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party, the most important one by far is here in France. Without a doubt. Asked why he didn’t attend Salvini’s populist confab in Milan on Saturday, Bannon replied, I wanted to go, but given how things are going in France, I’ll be more useful here where I will give interviews in the media to talk about the RN.

    The party in question doesn’t seem to feel the same. And the discrepancy wasn’t lost on observers. “RN executives’ very annoyed reaction over the turn Bannon’s interference has taken shows that they do perceive the gap between calling oneself nationalists of a middle power and being seen to be chaperoned by a nationalist from a foreign superpower at precisely the moment it is proclaiming ‘America First’,” France Inter radio editorialist Thomas Legrand opined on Tuesday.


  38. says

    Updated list of upcoming political events (let me know if I’m leaving anything off):

    May 21 (today): multiple elections in Pennsylvania and Kentucky (more information here)
    May 22: hearing in New York on Trump’s motion to block House Financial Services Committee’s subpoena of records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One
    May 23: Indian general election results announced
    May 23-26: EU parliamentary elections (more information here)
    May 31: Judge Sullivan’s deadline for public release of (presumably John Dowd) voicemail recording, transcripts of conversations with Russian officials, and unredacted section of Mueller report in Flynn case

    week of June 3: another vote on May’s Brexit deal
    June 3-5: Trump’s UK state visit
    June 19: Hicks subpoenaed to appear before House Judiciary
    June 24: Donaldson subpoenaed to appear before House Judiciary
    June 26 and 27: first Democratic primary debate (Miami)

  39. blf says

    I anticipate the Irish will give hair furor the “welcome” he deserves, albeit due to the (probable) location, he might be shielded from the public protest part, Trump confirms first visit to Ireland as US president in early June:

    Mr Trump will touch down in Shannon on the afternoon of June 5th after a three-day state visit to Britain. He will then depart the following morning to attend the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.


    Following disagreements over the location between [sic] Shannon airport emerged in recent days as the most likely venue for a meeting between the Taoiseach and the US president [sic].


    It is understood that high-level contacts between Mr Trump’s inner circle and government officials close to Mr Varadkar took place over the weekend, after the White House expressed concern over US media reports about the delay in announcing the visit.

    In particular, there was widespread feeling in Dublin that Mr Varadkar’s comments last week that protestors would be “welcome” had been misconstrued. Asked about potential protests last week, the Taoiseach said that, in a democracy, protest “is allowed and is welcome.”


    Yeah, “allowing protests” is something hair furor would misconstrue, probably hearingimaging censorship (as in freezing peaches). The Taoiseach is no pushover, so I presume he will chew, in that very special Irish way, on hair furor, albeit I also expect hair furor will mishear / misconstrue, and also simply lie about, what was said.

  40. blf says

    me@50: …imaging censorship → imagining censorship

    (But “hallucinating” is perhaps better.)

  41. says

    BREAKING: IRS attorneys wrote an internal memo finding it has to give over tax returns requested by Congress, contradicting Treasury’s denial for Trump’s tax returns

    The Washington Post has a copy you can read”

    WaPo link at the link. I’m guessing that won’t help them in court.

  42. blf says

    Protests grow against authoritarian slide in Czech Republic:

    Rally marks a fourth week of demonstrations since the controversial appointment of Marie Benesova as justice minister.

    Fifty-thousands [sic] people filled Wenceslas Square on Tuesday to protest what they say is an attack on judicial independence that threatens to send the country down a similar route with its internationally pilloried neighbours.

    The event marked a fourth week of growing demonstrations since the sudden appointment of Marie Benesova as justice minister in April. Her nomination came one day after investigators recommended Prime Minister Andrej Babis should face criminal charges for European Union subsidies fraud.

    “I think they’ve crossed the line,” Mikulas Minar, one of the student founders of the Million Moments for Democracy (Milion Chvilek), the NGO organising the protests, told Al Jazeera when asked why the demonstrations have picked up such momentum so quickly.

    “Complaints about Babis have been common, but now people are afraid it’s no longer a game but a serious assault on democracy,” added fellow activist Benjamin Roll.


    Milion Chvilek fears the new justice minister will derail the case against Babis, and is calling for guarantees that supreme state prosecutor Pavel Zeman, who is now deciding whether to press charges, will not be replaced.

    Babis, who put his agricultural and chemicals conglomerate Agrofert into a trust before becoming government leader in 2017, rejects the conclusions of the Czech police and the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF that he hid ownership of a leisure resort named Storks Nest in order to qualify for a two million euros small business grant from the EU.

    The populist billionaire insists the case is part of a plot by the country’s elite to force him from politics. He remains defiant in the face of the demonstrations.

    “People have the right to protest,” government spokesperson Jana Adamcova told Al Jazeera. “But the prime minister was democratically elected and has the right to choose whichever ministers he wants.”

    However, there are worries that it may not be Babis calling all the shots.

    Although his anti-establishment Ano party won elections in 2017 on the back of promises to reject migrants and stamp out corruption, mainstream political parties have refused to cooperate, citing the potential charges. That has left Babis leading a minority government that relies on informal support from hardline parties on the left and right.

    Many claim this support is orchestrated by President Milos Zeman, a controversial populist with links to Russia and China […]


    Minar […] said the protests have already averted the worst-case scenario by serving the government a warning that it’s being closely watched. Milion Chvilek’s long-term aim, he added, is to help Czechs become more politically engaged in order to “avoid going the way of our neighbours”.

    The Czechs have a history of defenestration of politicians and similar critters who become too annoying. A few milkshakes certainly wouldn’t hurt.

  43. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia to execute three prominent moderate scholars after Ramadan”:

    Three prominent moderate Saudi Sunni scholars held on multiple charges of “terrorism” will be sentenced to death and executed shortly after Ramadan, two government sources and one of the men’s relatives have told Middle East Eye.

    The most prominent of these is Sheikh Salman al-Odah, an internationally renowned scholar known for his comparatively progressive views in the Islamic world on Sharia and homosexuality.

    Odah was arrested in September 2017 shortly after tweeting a prayer for reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbour Qatar, three months after Riyadh launched a blockade on the emirate.

    The other two slated for execution are Awad al-Qarni, a Sunni preacher, academic and author, and Ali al-Omari, a popular broadcaster. They too were arrested in September 2017.

    All three had massive followings online. Odah’s Arabic Twitter account boasts 13.4 million followers alone, and the hashtag #freesalmanalodah emerged after his arrest. Omari’s TV station “For Youth” also had a huge audience.

    Two Saudi government sources independently confirmed the plan to execute the three men, who are currently awaiting trial at the Criminal Special Court in Riyadh. A hearing was set for 1 May, but was postponed without setting a further date.

    One source told MEE: “They will not wait to execute these men once the death sentence has been passed.”

    A second Saudi government source said the execution of 37 Saudis, mostly Shia activists, on terrorism changes in April was used as a trial balloon to see how strong the international condemnation was.

    “When they found out there was very little international reaction, particularly at the level of governments and heads of state, they decided to proceed with their plan to execute figures who were prominent,” said the source, who like the first spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The timing of the executions will also be dictated by the current rise in tensions between the United States and Iran.

    “They are encouraged to do it, especially with the tension in the Gulf at the moment. Washington wants to please the Saudis at the moment. The [Saudi] government calculates that this enables them to get away with this,” the first source said.

    A member of one of the scholars’ families told MEE: “The executions, if they go ahead, would be very serious, and could present a dangerous tipping point.”

    The detention of the three scholars has already provoked the condemnation of the United Nations and the US State Department, as well as rights groups Human Rights Watch (HRW), Reprieve and Amnesty International….

    Odah is charged in part with “exposing ‘injustices towards prisoners’ and…’expressing cynicism and sarcasm about the government’s achievements’.”

  44. says

    From blf’s #55:

    The populist billionaire insists the case is part of a plot by the country’s “elite” to force him from politics.

    I can’t even.

  45. says

    “Judge orders public release of Michael Cohen search warrants”:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s search warrants in his investigation of Michael Cohen will be made public with redactions on Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.

    The five warrants in total encompass the searches the special counsel conducted between July and November 2017 of Cohen’s emails and other content related to his email accounts, the order said.
    Chief Judge Beryl Howell issued the order in response to a lawsuit by CNN and other media outlets seeking the release of the court records….

  46. says

    Prof Madawi Al Rasheed warns that MBS may be preparing to execute major Saudi figures that he perceives as opponents. MBS is not done spilling blood – in fact, now that nobody believes his ‘reformist’ shtick, he’s getting comfortable with what he really is – a bloodthirsty tyrant

    Whatever collection of tragedies the Middle East has seen in its modern history – MBS is going to take all of that and multiply it by a hundred. MBS’s actions are making the Middle East a more violent, brutal, unstable, and volatile place.

    Mark my words: The region will not see a day of peace so long MBS is in power in Saudi Arabia.”

  47. says

    Schiff’s Intel Committee to start getting subpoenaed counterintelligence and foreign intelligence documents”

    Schiff statement at the link. Rolling production beginning “this week,” with the initial phase expected to be completed by next week. On the one hand, the contempt threat for Barr shouldn’t be necessary, nor should any deal of this sort (for the intelligence committee to receive intelligence documents, ffs); on the other, the DoJ clearly doesn’t want Barr to be held in contempt and will take action to avoid it.

  48. says

    More re #61 – “Schiff cancels ‘enforcement’ meeting after Justice Department offers to share Mueller documents”:

    House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff is scrapping a Wednesday morning meeting intended to take an “enforcement action” against the Justice Department after it agreed to begin providing the committee with counterintelligence documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    The decision to postpone the business meeting — where Schiff was threatened to take an unspecified action against Attorney General William Barr for not complying with the committee’s subpoena for Mueller’s counterintelligence materials — is a rare sign of the Trump administration and a House panel successfully negotiating around a Democratic subpoena for documents.

    The development also is a significant boost to Schiff in his effort to view the special counsel’s investigative materials beyond what was contained in the public Mueller report, especially given the Trump administration’s typical stance of all-out resistance to Democrats’ subpoenas and investigative requests.

    Schiff had issued a subpoena for all of Mueller’s counterintelligence materials, but he had proposed that the Justice Department begin the effort by providing 12 specific sets of counterintelligence materials that were referenced in the Mueller report. The Justice Department wrote in a letter to Schiff Tuesday that it was continuing to review the initial tranche of 12 categories of documents Schiff wanted and would make them available “in relatively short order,” so long as he didn’t move forward with an action holding Barr in contempt of Congress.

    “The Department of Justice has accepted our offer of a first step towards compliance with our subpoena, and this week will begin turning over to the Committee twelve categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence materials as part of an initial rolling production. That initial production should be completed by the end of next week,” Schiff said in a statement Wednesday morning.

    “As a result of the Department’s acceptance, the business meeting has been postponed,” Schiff added. “The Committee’s subpoena will remain in effect, and will be enforced should the Department fail to comply with the full document request. The Department has repeatedly acknowledged the Committee’s legitimate oversight interest in these materials. I look forward to, and expect, continued compliance by the Department so we can do our vital oversight work.”…

  49. says

    Today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog.

    Current title: “Brexit: MPs leave Commons as May makes statement on new deal.” From a linked tweet: “Members of the Cabinet have abandoned the #PM on the front bench as she now speaks alone in her Statement on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.” From another: “Theresa May still doughtily defending her bill in the Chamber – but one cabinet source says, ‘something funny going on here… may move very fast’.”

  50. says

    Today’s Guardian US-politics liveblog.

    Current title: “House Democrats to discuss whether to impeach Trump.”

    The entire Democratic House caucus is meeting today. Top of the agenda: whether to initiate impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Two dozen Democrats publicly support impeaching the president, according to reports, although in private that number could be a lot higher.

  51. says

    Update – “EU to investigate Nigel Farage over expenses funded by Arron Banks”:

    The European parliament is to investigate Nigel Farage for failing to declare lavish expenses funded by Arron Banks.

    The European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, “today refers the Farage issue to an advisory committee”, a source told the Guardian.

    The advisory committee is a group of five MEPs who act as watchdogs over the parliament’s code of conduct. It stipulates that all members must declare expensive gifts and report whether third parties fund attendances at events.

    Last week, Channel 4 revealed Farage was generously funded by Arron Banks in the year of the Brexit referendum. Invoices, emails and documents showed Farage benefited from a £13,000-a-month Chelsea home, a car with a driver, and promotional visits to the US in 2016.

    Under the parliament’s code of conduct, MEPs are required to declare whether they receive travel, accommodation or subsistence expenses from external sources to attend events. The declaration should reveal the name and address of the funder, details about the expenses and the type of event.

    Farage, who gets a €102,000-a-year MEP salary, earned up to €700,000 from media appearances in 2014-18, putting him in sixth place on a European parliament “rich list” of MEPs’ outside earnings. The precise sum of his extra earnings is not known because MEPs only have to declare other earnings in broad bands.

    The advisory committee will not meet until 4 June at the earliest, after this week’s European elections. It will appoint one of its members to lead the examination and write a report with a recommendation for a possible sanction. Any punishment, which could range from a reprimand to withholding expenses, will be decided by the European parliament’s president.

    The Brexit party leader, an MEP for 20 years, was last year docked half his MEP pay after parliament administrators concluded he had misspent EU funds intended to staff his office. A political group dominated by Ukip – Farage’s former party – was asked to repay €173,000, after an official report said EU funds had been misspent on national campaigns.

    The European parliament has shown a lenient attitude to MEPs found to have breached its code of conduct in the past. According to Transparency International, 24 MEPs were found to have broken ethics rules between 2014 and 2018. But only one reprimand was issued and none were sanctioned….

  52. says

    NEW: Electoral Commission says investigation of Brexit Party’s fundraising is ‘ongoing’ & notes crowdfunding creates ‘additional risk’ of ‘significant sums entering UK politics from overseas’.”

  53. says

    Bloomberg report on #71 – “Michael Cohen Filings Show 950 Messages With Russian Oligarch’s Cousin”:

    President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, exchanged more than 230 phone calls and 950 text messages over eight months with the chief executive of a U.S. money-management firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, according to newly unsealed court documents.

    The communications between Cohen and Andrew Intrater, the chief executive officer of Columbus Nova LCC, began on the day of Donald Trump’s election, according to a U.S. search-and-seizure warrant filed in Washington on Aug. 7, 2017, and unsealed on Wednesday.

    Citing public records and news reports, the government said Columbus Nova is an investment management firm controlled by Renova Group, which is itself controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a wealthy Russian citizen. Intrater, an American, is a cousin of Vekselberg.

    Columbus Nova has denied that it’s an arm of Renova Group.

    “Telephone records related to Cohen’s cellular telephone show that on or about Nov. 8, 2016, the day of the presidential election, a telephone registered to Cohen exchanged the first in a series of text messages with the CEO of Columbus Nova,” according to the filing.

    The relationship between Cohen and Columbus Nova has been previously reported, with news reports indicating that the U.S. firm invested about $500,000 with Cohen after the election. The full extent of the contacts between Cohen and Intrater hasn’t been reported.

    The search warrant applications show that federal authorities were investigating Cohen for matters including violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Cohen wasn’t charged with FARA violations….

  54. says

    Trump is doing some unscheduled rant in the Rose Garden. I have it on mute, but he appears to be angry at Pelosi’s entirely correct “cover-up” remark @ #68 above. For a while, MSNBC was resisting just airing his lies live, but now unfortunately they’ve fallen back into the habit.

  55. says

    Complete with “Trump says…” and “Trump calls…” chyrons. Sigh.

    Pelosi and Schumer are doing a press conference at noon (in just a few minutes). They tried to meet with Trump on infrastructure this morning, but he whined that he couldn’t do it while they were investigating him, so the whole thing was like 10 minutes long.


  56. says

    Trump, who seemed to be having difficulties with his mouth, just had a public temper tantrum that doubled as a news conference of sorts”

    David Rothkopf: “What the president just said and did should make it clear that should investigations and hearings proceed he will go crazier and crazier. He will self-destruct. (But watch out for the collateral damage. It will be a doozy.)”

    Pelosi/Schumer press conference beginning now. She seems pretty delighted with Trump’s little meltdown.

  57. says

    Pelosi is now doing a pre-scheduled interview before an audience with Neera Tanden at a CAP event, which CNN is airing live. She’s getting to talk about the infrastructure policy they want to do and all of the investigations into Trump.

  58. says

    Meanwhile, all indications from the G liveblog are that there’s an imminent no-confidence vote against May. Looks like she’s going to make them (change the rules and) do it – no plan to resign tonight, and refusing to meet with people.

    “And Theresa May is not the only party leader today pulling up the metaphorical drawbridge to keep out her enemies. According to this Sun story, which must win the award for headline of the day, Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, has been ‘trapped on [his] Brexit bus due to people armed with milkshakes’.”

  59. says

    From linked tweets:

    “Source says chief whip told 1922 executive that the PM isn’t going anywhere. Said she is campaigning tomorrow and to focus on elections. ‘They accepted that’. Rule change was not mentioned in that meeting.

    So rule change wasn’t mentioned according to source, which doesn’t mean it won’t happen. MPs being held outside meeting room waiting to be let back in to find out what decision, if any, has been made.”

  60. says

    SC @54, today, Mnuchin told Maxine Waters that the first time he had seen that memo was in the car as he was being driven to testify. Why hadn’t he seen it? Seems important. Why is the Secretary of the Treasury so debilitatingly ill-informed?

  61. says

    As Pelosi and Schumer suggested and others have noted explicitly, Trump has no infrastructure plan and no ideas about how to pay for infrastructure. He was supposed to present something at this meeting, and just ran out of rope on this particular con.

  62. says

    Rep. Beyer:

    “The President of the United States says he will refuse to talk with Congress about lowering the cost of your prescription drugs because of lawful investigations which he sees as a threat to himself.

    In case you are wondering who he cares about.”

  63. says

    SC @81, I think that is the correct analysis.

    Also, Trump was pissed at Pelosi because she had earlier called him out regarding his part in the “cover-up” that is preventing Congressional oversight.

    So Trump just opted to go bonkers in front of everybody in an effort to conceal his lack of an infrastructure plan, and to vent his bile at Pelosi.

    It looks to me like Trump planned all along to walk into the infrastructure meeting and lambast Democrats for two minutes, and then walk out like the King he thinks he is. He didn’t even let Pelosi or Schumer say a word before he huffed on out of there.

    It also looks like Trump planned all along to give the “impromptu” Rose Garden speech in which he lied, ranted, lied, and ranted. He not only had new posters created and hung up for the purpose, (as SC noted with George Conway’s tweet – linked in comment 74), and he also had printed handouts to give to all of the media people who were gathered to hear him lie, rant, lie, and rant.

  64. says

    In his Rose Garden speech, Trump told everyone who would listen that Democratic lawmakers have to choose between investigations (congressional oversight) and legislation like infrastructure bills:

    Trump said he had intended to sit down with Democratic leaders, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, about infrastructure, but cut the planned White House meeting short.

    “I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure, I want to do more than you want to do it,'” Trump said. “‘But, you know what? You can’t do it under these conditions.'”

    NBC News link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] According to multiple reports, Trump arrived late, did not shake anyone’s hand, did not sit down, and complained about Pelosi’s comments this morning about the president “engaging in cover-up.”

    He then made a familiar declaration before leaving the room: Trump expects lawmakers to choose between oversight and legislating. […]

    First, Trump’s infrastructure plan was already dying due to Republican opposition. Even his White House chief of staff has said he’s against Trump’s plan. By walking away from today’s meeting, the president is obviously trying to blame Democrats for the fact that Trump couldn’t even get his own party to sign on to his goal.

    Second, we already know the president’s excuse – he won’t work with lawmakers investigating his scandals – is demonstrably false. Indeed, Trump sat down with Democratic leaders three weeks ago to work on an infrastructure deal, and there were several ongoing congressional investigations underway at the time. He never said a word about derailing oversight as a precondition to legislating on this or any other issue. […]

    Finally, if [Trump] is serious about wanting to see the end of the various congressional investigations, it’s within his power to expedite the process: Trump could stop stonewalling and start cooperating. The sooner the White House provides lawmakers with the answers to their questions, the sooner the investigations will end.

    Unless, of course, Trump and his team have something damaging they’re eager to hide.

    Postscript: For what it’s worth, telling Democrats the legislative process will end unless they end all oversight isn’t much of a threat. Mitch McConnell has already derailed the legislative process, and if every investigation of Trump’s scandals were to end today, the infrastructure plan would still have no chance of success.


  65. says

    According to multiple reports, Trump arrived late, did not shake anyone’s hand, did not sit down,…

    If he’s running a con or trying to manipulate someone, he can flatter, schmooze, threaten (even then, it’s transparently fake to many people); but if he’s not, he can’t even manage the rudiments of decent behavior. He’s just a total asshole. It sounds like that’s how he acts a lot of the time when he’s with European leaders or others who intimidate him and arouse his jealousy. I can’t imagine what they must think.

  66. says

    So far, Trump’s golfing trips have cost American taxpayers $102 million.

    GAO estimated that federal agencies incurred costs of about $13.6 million for the President’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 through March 5, 2017. This estimate consisted of approximately $10.6 million for operating costs of government aircraft and boats and $3 million for temporary duty costs of government personnel supporting the President’s travel, including transportation, lodging, and meals and incidental expenses.

    From the Government accountability Office.

  67. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 88. Yep, When Trump is not trying to schmooze people and trick them into doing his will, he just behaves like an asshole. Your comment reminded me of European leaders describing a dinner at which Trump came in an interrupted anyone who tried to speak, and where he berated all the European leaders for not paying him enough for purportedly protecting them.

    Oops: Trump admitted he blew up the infrastructure deal, not Democrats.

    […] Trump blew up talks with congressional Democratic leaders on Wednesday, vowing that he would not do anything to address America’s crumbling infrastructure — an issue he has repeatedly cited as a chance for bipartisan cooperation — until Congress stopped doing oversight of his administration.

    Trump met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday morning, ostensibly to discuss a path forward on legislation to rebuild roads and bridges. Last month, the trio had agreed to the outlines of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending plan. But with congressional Republicans and his own advisers reportedly objecting to the cost, it quickly became apparent that Trump had little intention to actually reach an agreement at this meeting.

    Minutes after the meeting, Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden and announced that he was angry that his campaign’s Russian ties and his repeated attempts to obstruct investigations are still being scrutinized even after he (falsely) declared himself totally exonerated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    He admitted at the podium he was the one to scuttle infrastructure talks before they even began.

    “So, I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer, Speaker Pelosi: ‘I wanna do infrastructure. I wanna do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that, that’s what I do. But you know what, you can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with,’” he told reporters.

    Trump delivered this announcement in front of a printed sign that repeated his false mantra that the Mueller investigation found no collusion and no obstruction and was run by “18 Angry Democrats.” It also repeated the false claim that the investigation cost more than $35 million, though in reality it brought in more in asset forfeitures than it cost, including $22 million in real estate once belonging to Paul Manafort.

    In a press conference after Trump’s speech, Schumer pointed out Trump’s behavior on Wednesday proved that the plan to talk was little more than a charade on the president’s part. “[N]ow that he was forced to actually say how he’d pay for it, he had to run away,” the New York Democrat explained. He noted that the press conference was obviously “not a spontaneous move on the president’s part. It was planned.” […]

  68. says

    Donations to groups that support women’s reproductive rights have soared in recent days.

    A month ago, Amanda Reyes was working in relative obscurity, trying to protect women’s reproductive rights in a state that was always hostile to them and was becoming increasingly more so. Then, Alabama’s assault on abortion rights reached a new height last week, as Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.

    Now Reyes, the 30-year-old president of the Yellowhammer Fund, is dealing with a barrage of attention and donations—with press calls coming from as far away as Sweden and Spain; celebrities like singer Maggie Rogers and politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders urging their supporters and followers to raise money for the group; and Portland Trail Blazers fans even pledging to donate $1 for every point the team scored during a NBA conference finals game.

    All the attention is already paying huge dividends: The Yellowhammer Fund is on track to help fund three times as many abortions as last year. […]


  69. says

    All the best people.

    From Wonkette:

    Border vigilante Jim Benvie, the spokesman for that mob […] in New Mexico that livestreamed itself detaining a group of migrants crossing the border in April, really likes to portray himself as a proud upholder of The Law. Armed men holding immigrants at gunpoint are actually just exercising their constitutional rights, he explained, because those illegals broke the law, you see. “They’re breaking the law. They went across the border, they’ve broken the law.” […]

    He wears a badge with the words “Fugitive Recovery Agent.” He refers to Border Patrol agents as his “backup.” He claims to be protecting America from a “criminal invasion” at the nation’s southwestern border.

    […] this great supporter of law and order is facing charges for stealing a rental truck in Oklahoma, and that the arresting officer suspected Benvie of fraudulently collecting money for a boy with cancer whose name Benvie couldn’t quite come up with, although no charges have been filed regarding the apparent scam.

    After Benvie livestreamed the detention of the migrants, the group’s leader, Larry Hopkins, was arrested by the FBI for being a felon illegally in possession of a firearm, which just proves the Deep State is out to get patriots. The group he founded, “United Constitutional Patriots,” has split up, with Benvie forming a new outfit called “Guardian Patriots.” […]

    Benvie is proudly defiant, telling El Paso station KDBC he’ll continue his fight to enforce the LAW. […]

    “More Americans will follow,” Benvie said. “You’re not gonna get rid of me. I’m America.”

    Well, shit, you can’t really argue that one. Benvie is still livestreaming exciting video of immigrant detentions, including one just last night in which he informed us that all asylum claims are bogus, because just look at the nice shoes these particular border crossers are wearing. People who fear death and violence in their home countries don’t have nice clothes, that is just logic.

    Now, won’t you help this poor little stock photo of a boy who has cancer?

  70. says

    Wonkette’s coverage of Trump’s baby-man hissy fit in the Rose Garden today:

    Well, lordy Jesus, that was 10 minutes of our life we’re never going to get back.

    […] all the reporters on Twitter started saying, “Um, we are getting called to the Rose Garden and we don’t know why.” Democrats were supposed to be meeting with Trump about Infrastructure Week, but instead, this was happening […]

    Hooray! There was a sign in the Rose Garden! It said how big the Mueller Investigation was! And most importantly the Mueller Investigation said NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, PREZNIT TRUMP GOOD, NOT A RUSSIAN.

    (It did not say that. Not even a little bit. And just this morning, House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff announced a surely temporary detente with the Justice Department because it’s FINALLYFUCKINGFINALLY agreed to start handing over counter-intel information from the investigation to the committee. Just this morning.)

    Preznit No Russias held the sign! […]

    So there the president found himself in the Rose Garden, and he had a sign, and everything he said was basically everything he tweets. […]

    And so it was that the president of the United States sniffed and he sniffed and he said NO COLLUSION and he said Jerry Nadler sucks and he read words from a Wall Street Journal op-ed that said NO COLLUSION and he told those Democrats that if they don’t stop their investigations right now, then they won’t get to join in the big Infrastructure Week party Donald Trump, President Of Accomplishments, is throwing, and won’t they be sad then?


    And, um … the end, we guess?

    Literally, that was it. Dipshit was mad, so Dipshit went to the Rose Garden to whine.

    […] As Aaron Rupar points out, fucker’s mouth seemed to be on the fritz again […]

    What a special American moment this has been, […]

    From Ben Siegel:

    New: Some WH aides close to President Trump tried to stop him for marching to the Rose Garden to denounce Democrats’ investigations, senior level administration sources tell ABC News

  71. says

    Trump’s gripe-filled news conference was annotated and fact-checked by the Washington Post. Here are a few excerpts:

    […] “I’m the most — and I think most of you would agree to this. I’m the most transparent president, probably in the history of this country.”

    The Trump White House did turn over lots of documents and provided staff to Robert Mueller’s team to interview.

    -It has essentially canceled the daily press briefing
    -It has not turned over the tax returns Trump promised to turn over as a candidate
    -Trump rarely does interviews that aren’t on Fox News or with some other friendly host
    -Trump declined to personally interview with Mueller
    -It is now blocking essentially all subpoenas from House Democrats
    -It doesn’t turn over White House visitor logs, as previous White Houses have […]

    “We’re the most — most people employed today that we’ve ever had in the history of our country”

    This is true, but only because there are more people in the United States than at any time in our history. As The Post’s Philip Bump wrote a while back: “Since 1939, more than half of the months have had new records in the total number of non-farm employees, including each of the past 56 months — going back to about halfway through President Barack Obama’s second term.”

    In other words, this stat means next to nothing. […]

    And I said, “Let’s have the meeting on infrastructure. We’ll get that done easily. That’s one of the easy ones.”

    Trump has been trying to get an infrastructure bill moving for almost his entire presidency. There is interest on both the GOP and Democratic sides, but there are many details that make it difficult – most notably how a $1-2 trillion plan would be funded.

    It’s so difficult, in fact, that the president who just said infrastructure could be “done easily” said 18 days ago that, “There is nothing easy about a USA infrastructure plan.” […]

    “And of the 19 people that were heading up this investigation — or whatever you want to call it — with Bob Mueller, they were contributors to the Democrat Party, most of them, and to Hillary Clinton. They hated President Trump. They hated him with a passion. They went to her big party after the election that turned out to be a wake, not a party. It was a wake. And they were very angry.”

    About half of Mueller’s team had donated to Democrats.

    But when Trump says “they” attended Clinton’s election-night party, that claim isn’t supported. One of them, Andrew Weissmann, has been reported to have attended, not multiple members of the team. […]

    “Even last night, we had a great election. I went there on Monday. We had an election for Fred Keller, who’s a 50-50 shot and he won in a landslide. We went and we did a rally. Hardly mentioned today. And yet if he lost, it would have been the biggest story in the country, even bigger than this witch hunt stuff that you guys keep writing about.”

    Of all the counterfactual claims in this press conference, this might take the cake. The district Keller won is Pennsylvania’s 12th district. PA-12 went for Trump in 2016 by a massive 36 points. Democrats didn’t really contest this one, because it wasn’t winnable.

    He’s right that it would have been a major story if Republicans had lost; that’s because it would have been the most shocking result in many decades of congressional elections.

    Trump often claims credit for special elections in which Republicans were heavy favorites. […]

    Washington Post link

    Much more at the link.

  72. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Donald Trump directed his personal fixer to make illegal hush-money payments to some of his alleged mistresses, in the hopes of keeping the controversies hidden.

    The president insists he doesn’t “do cover-ups,” which is true, just so long as one overlooks his many cover-ups.

  73. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 98, 99, and 100.

    Ramos: “These subpoenas are all in service of facially legitimate investigative purposes.”

    Yep. “All.” Trump and his lawyers are so wrong that they are not even on the same playing field.

  74. says

    And … even worse news for Trump: no preliminary injunction, no stay pending appeal.

    A federal judge on Wednesday rejected an attempt from President Trump’s personal attorneys to halt a House subpoena to Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

    […] personal attorney William Consovoy, Trump demanded that Ramos issue a preliminary injunction that would halt the subpoenas to the Trump lenders.

    After the U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos issued his ruling denying the preliminary injunction, Trump’s lawyers asked for a stay pending appeal.

    “That application is denied,” Ramos immediately said. […]

    Trump sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from carrying out subpoenas sent by the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees, using private attorneys he hired.

    Deutsche and Capital One have taken no position until the case is resolved; House Democrats are defending the subpoenas in court. […]

    TPM link

  75. says

    Trump administration announces there’s no chance it will put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill.

    […] it was announced in April 2016 that famed American revolutionary and slave liberator Harriet Tubman would be put on the $20 bill. That was all before a bunch of racists took control of the White House and the Treasury Department.

    In March, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was cagey when asked about the progress of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, saying, “We haven’t made any decisions as to whether we’ll change the bill, or won’t change the bill.” Considering that women of color have always been given the short end of the stick in our country, this wasn’t a shock so much as a disappointment. One could pretend to hold out hope that Tubman’s appearance on the bill would still happen by 2020, but understanding the nature of white supremacy in this country made that hope seem futile.

    On Wednesday, under questioning from Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan in a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Mnuchin said that there were no plans to produce a Harriet Tubman $20 bill this coming year. He added, “The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues.” In fact, there are no plans for a redesign even possibly happening until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will be redesigned first, according to Mnuchin.

  76. says

    Ben Carson guts homeless shelter gender protections 24 hours after telling Congress he wouldn’t.

    Tuesday the HUD secretary was “not currently anticipating changing the rule.” Wednesday, he rolled out changes.

    Transgender and gender non-conforming people could soon be barred from federally funded shelters […]

    HUD’s rulemaking would rescind the Equal Access Rule that currently requires shelters that wish to segregate clients according to their gender to modify their structures accordingly – rather than turn people away.

    Homeless shelters serve a particularly crucial role in protecting the lives and safety of gender minorities, who are often put out on the street early in life by intolerant families and are frequent targets for violent bigots once they find themselves in such a vulnerable situation. The Equal Access Rule, enacted in 2012, has been heralded as an essential protection by hundreds of advocacy groups concerned by this cycle of abandonment and violence.

    The rulemaking notice concludes with language promising that the new policy would somehow maintain the protections enshrined in the rule the agency is looking to scrap. However, that sentence is a fig-leaf: To allow shelters to “conside[r] an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation…and…admission,” as the notice describes the forthcoming rule, is to allow federally-funded shelters to refuse to serve people. […]

  77. says

    Cogent analysis from Jennifer Rubin, writing for the Washington Post:

    […] Trump’s fit amounts to saying “I will NOT do my job so long as Congress is doing its job!” That’s what this amounts to, a confession of sorts that his legal stonewall strategy may not be sufficient and that his personal vulnerability is so great that he is unable to do his job. That would seem, well, grounds for impeachment. But while impeachment is unpopular, a president refusing to do things he promised to help voters because he is under investigation is even more unpopular.

    In her comments to the media after Trump stalked out, Pelosi observed that maybe it was “lack of confidence on his part” that caused him to short-circuit infrastructure talks. “He just took a pass and it just makes me wonder why he did that,” she said. “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.” She certainly knows how to rub it in.

    However, she was not done. Appearing shortly afterward at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference, she recounted, “In an orchestrated, almost to an ‘oh, poor baby’ point of view. . . . [Trump] came into the room and said that I said that he was engaged in a coverup.” She continued, “It’s really sad.” As she put it, it was all “very, very, very strange.” For good measure, she added, “This president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a coverup. And that could be an impeachable offense.”

    Whether Pelosi intended this result or not, her ability to treat Trump as a spoiled child and provoke even more self-destructive behavior has several positive benefits for Democrats […]

  78. says

    UPDATE: Deutsche Bank says it will abide by court order compelling it to provide Trump’s financial records to lawmakers.”

    I’m so confused about this. Does it mean they’ll do it immediately?

  79. tomh says

    @ #106
    The Bank has yet to issue a statement beyond what you quote, but according to the NYT story:

    The judge’s ruling brings Deutsche Bank a step closer to handing over a trove of detailed, confidential information about Mr. Trump, his family and his business empire. But if Mr. Trump appeals the decision, Deutsche Bank is likely to hold off on delivering the files to Congress until the litigation is resolved.

    OT: Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the NYT seems to have lifted their limit on articles you can click and read.

  80. says

    BREAKING: CBS News has learned that a sixth migrant child died after crossing the U.S. border, an HHS official confirmed Wednesday.

    The 10-year-old girl’s death had not been previously reported.”

  81. says

    SDNY: “Bank CEO Stephen Calk charged with corruptly soliciting a presidential administration position in exchange for approving $16 million in loans.”

    This first came out during the Manafort case.

  82. says

    Pelosi said people around Trump should stage an intervention “for the sake of the country.” In response to a question about it, she elaborated that she’s unclear on who’s in charge, because Trump will say something and then the WH say something completely different (she said she thought he must have been in charge yesterday because no decent advisor would advise him to do that).

    Schumer said this morning that he doesn’t think Trump is competent to do the job.

  83. says

    “Bank CEO charged with bribing Manafort for Trump administration post”:

    A Chicago bank executive tried to bribe Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with roughly $16 million in loans after the 2016 election in the hopes of scoring a top Trump administration post, according to a federal indictment released on Thursday.

    Stephen Calk, then the CEO of the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, “sought to leverage his control over” Manafort’s proposed loans in order to obtain a senior administration position, said court documents unsealed in the Southern District of New York. And Calk approved the loans even though he “was aware of significant red flags regarding” Manafort’s ability to pay back the money.

    The indictment is just the latest reverberation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Manafort’s corruption and Russia’s election interference. The loans were first mentioned during Manafort’s Virginia prosecution on bank- and tax-fraud charges, when one of Calk’s colleagues described the potential quid pro quo during courtroom testimony.

    However, the case is not one of the 14 criminal referrals Mueller made to the Justice Department during his probe, according to an SDNY spokesman. A spokesman for Mueller, Peter Carr, declined to comment. The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

    The indictment also references a “Transition Official-1,” who appears to be Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

    An email submitted during Manafort’s trial revealed that Manafort had reached out to Kushner in November 2016 urging him to consider Calk for Army secretary.

    “Mr. Calk willingly risked his national professional and personal reputation as an active, vocal, early supporter of President-Elect Trump,” Manafort wrote to Kushner on November 30.

    While Kushner’s response — “On it!”— wasn’t included in the Calk indictment, prosecutors did note that Kushner forwarded Manafort’s recommendation to three other Trump transition representatives asking that Calk be considered.

    Manafort resigned from the campaign on Aug. 19, 2016 amid a controversy over his work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled to Russia after being ousted in a popular uprising in 2014.

    But Manafort continued to signal to Calk that he could secure him a Cabinet position, prosecutors said, leading Calk to provide Manafort with a ranked list of the jobs he wanted as Manafort’s loans were pending approval. At the top was Treasury secretary, followed by Commerce secretary and Defense secretary, “as well as 19 ambassadorships similarly ranked and starting with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy,” according to prosecutors.

    Manafort managed to secure tickets for Calk to Trump’s inauguration, according to an email disclosed at Manafort’s trial. He also arranged for Calk to be interviewed for the No. 2 position at the Army at the Trump transition team’s New York offices in January 2017, prosecutors revealed in the indictment. He was ultimately not hired….

    I’m surprised it’s not one of the 14 Mueller referrals.

  84. says

    Polling update from Monmouth University: 60% of Americans don’t think Trump should be re-elected. 37% believe he should get a second term. Among men, Trump is -9. Among women, he’s -36.

    If only we could count on those 60% to actually go to the polls and vote in November 2020.

  85. says

    From Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The president’s feelings weren’t hurt. [Pelosi] accused him of a crime. Let that sink in.”

    Ah, poor baby.

    More of the same nonsense:

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Thursday on CNN that “it’s insane” to think infrastructure talks can continue as if Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not accused Trump of a “cover-up,” as Pelosi did Wednesday shortly before the White House meeting. Sanders said, “It’s real simple, you can’t go down two tracks.”

    “It’s very hard to have a meeting where you accuse the president of the United States of a crime and an hour later show up and act as if nothing has happened,” Sanders told reporters outside the White House.

    Quoted text above is from the Associated Press.

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] Pelosi said the president has engaged in a cover-up because there’s overwhelming evidence that the president has, in fact, engaged in multiple cover-ups. If the White House press secretary is prepared to respond to the substance of the allegation, she should certainly do so, but going with the “Pelosi is a big meanie” defense isn’t likely to go well.

    For another, yesterday’s rhetoric wasn’t altogether unique. Other Democratic leaders have used identical language in recent weeks – again, because it’s true – and it never caused a White House freak-out. It suggests this newfound outrage on Team Trump isn’t altogether sincere.

    But even if we put these relevant details aside, if accusing a political rival of a crime is simply a bridge too far, and such rhetoric inevitably makes bipartisan cooperation impossible, perhaps Sarah Huckabee Sanders can comment on the many instances in which Donald Trump has accused Democrats of felonies.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but just off the top of my head, the Republican president has – just recently – accused Dems of treason, obstruction of justice, being “complicit” in murders, and supporting infanticide. […]

    If Pelosi is willing to work on serious issues with Trump, prioritizing governing despite his insults, why exactly should anyone take the purported rationale behind the president’s latest tantrum seriously?

    “Let that sink in.”

  86. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 119.

    I was glad to see Judge Ramos’ ruling concerning Deutsche Bank, (a ruling which generally followed the logic of the ruling that Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars (comment 46), should also turn over requested documents to the congressional committees that had requested them).

    In late April, House Intelligence and Financial Services committees issued subpoenas to financial institutions — including Deutsche Bank — to obtain the materials Trump is desperate to hide.

    The president and his lawyers quickly filed suit to block the subpoena. Late yesterday, that lawsuit failed.

    A federal judge […] ruling that two banks can hand over his financial documents in response to congressional subpoenas. […]

    In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said he disagrees with the arguments from the Trump family attorneys that the subpoenas don’t have a legitimate legislative purpose.

    Deutsche Bank said in a statement after the ruling was issued that it has no intention of contesting the court order. “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations,” the statement read.

    That, of course, is not what Team Trump wanted to hear. The president’s attorneys, hired specifically to help hide his finances, will appeal, but the ruling suggests their case simply has no merit. […]

    Also yesterday, lawmakers in New York approved legislation that would give Congress access to the president’s state tax returns, which may not be identical to his federal returns, but would very likely shed important light on Trump’s financial history.

    And in case that weren’t quite enough, NBC News reported late yesterday that Wells Fargo and TD Bank have complied with congressional subpoenas demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization. […]


  87. says

    It looks like disaster relief legislation won’t be signed before the Memorial Day weekend holiday kicks in. Team Trump has poisoned the legislation with demands for border wall funding.

  88. says

    Followup to comment 127.

    From Josh Kovensky:

    […] I was in the courtroom where Ramos issued his 25-page ruling from the bench, calmly and methodically intoning his way through an opinion that dismantled the President’s legal position.

    But before he got to ruling, Ramos held oral arguments with Trump’s personal attorney Patrick Strawbridge and House of Representatives general counsel Douglas Letter.

    On the sidelines sat attorneys for Deutsche Bank and Capital One, who remained completely silent throughout the hearing. At one point, Ramos joked with them, asking them why they weren’t talking since they had “come all this way.”

    The attorneys grimaced in response. […] on the substance of the case, Ramos grilled both sides with equal intensity.

    His questioning of Strawbridge led the Trump attorney to repeat that he had a problem with Congress investigating the “private finances” of public officials.

    Strawbridge ended his portion of the arguments by implicitly accusing the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees of recapitulating the work of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) on the Un-American Activities Committee, citing a Supreme Court decision from the time that cautioned against congressional overreach. […]

    Throughout the questioning, it was difficult to discern where the judge was leaning. During a brief recess that Ramos called before issuing the ruling, people in the gallery expressed surprise at how oral arguments had gone. Strawbridge grinned as House attorneys appeared deflated.

    But Ramos’s 25-page, hour-long bench ruling was a deep rebuke of Trump’s argument. He read his opinion in a monotone, only raising his voice towards the end while saying that the lawsuit was not “serious” in a courthouse sense, though the matter at hand did have “serious political ramifications.”

    After issuing his ruling, Ramos asked the gathered attorneys if they had any further statements.

    Strawbridge stood up and asked for Ramos to issue a stay of his ruling, pending appeal.

    “That application is denied,” the judge replied without hesitation.

  89. says

    BBC: “Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi scores resounding victory in Indian general election, securing second five-year term.”

    Mehdi Hasan:

    Unemployment at its highest point for 45 years. Farming incomes at their lowest point for 18 years. Yet the far-right BJP re-elected in a landslide.

    Another reminder that #economicanxiety isn’t what’s driving the rise of populism, nationalism &, yes, fascism, across the globe.

    Solidarity with India’s Muslims, Christians, and Dalits, many of whom will now be living in fear or anxiety under this re-elected, emboldened, far right, Hindu nationalist government. Hate crimes & lynchings were already on the rise *before* the BJP re-election in a landslide (!).

  90. says

    G liveblog summary:

    Britons have been voting in European elections that were never expected to happen in the United Kingdom because the UK was supposed to be out of the EU by now. Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party is expected to win by a huge margin, in a result that will probably over-shadow other considerations in the forthcoming leadership contest, but the results will not be out until Sunday night.

    Opposition parties have condemned the way some EU nationals have been prevented from voting because of administrative errors by councils. (See 4.13pm, 5.11pm and 5.50pm.)

    Theresa May will agree tomorrow to the Conservative leadership contest to choose her successor starting on Monday 10 June, ITV’s Robert Peston is reporting.

    Unfortunately for you all, that means Trump’s state visit is still on.

  91. says

    Ah, yes, no surprise. Republican lawmakers in Texas devised yet another way to keep likely-Democratic voters from voting.

    “It is voter suppression pure and simple,” one Democratic official said about a new ban on mobile polling stations.

    Texas Democrats are condemning a GOP-backed bill that bans mobile polling stations that makes it possible for thousands of college students, senior citizens, and low-income residents throughout the state to vote.

    The bill passed both chambers of the Texas legislature and is awaiting a signature from the state’s Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott […]

    “It is a direct hit on populations that don’t have easy access to a voting location in their neighborhoods or they don’t have access to transportation,” said Maxey [Glen Maxey, the legislative affairs director for the Texas Democratic Party]

    Critics say the bill is one of a raft of measures meant to slow recent gains by Democrats in Texas. […]


    More at the link.

  92. says

    New thread from Justin Amash:

    Mueller’s report describes a consistent effort by the president to use his office to obstruct or otherwise corruptly impede the Russian election interference investigation because it put his interests at risk.

    The president has an obligation not to violate the public trust, including using official powers for corrupt purposes. For instance, presidents have the authority to nominate judges, but a president couldn’t select someone to nominate because they’d promised the president money.

    This principle extends to all the president’s powers, including the authority over federal investigations, federal officials, and pardons.

    President Trump had an incentive to undermine the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included investigating contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    The investigation threatened to uncover information, including criminal activity, that could put Trump’s interests at risk. Ultimately, the investigation did uncover very unflattering information about the president, his family, his associates, his campaign, and his business.

    It also revealed criminal activities, some of which were committed by people in Trump’s orbit and, in the case of Michael Cohen’s campaign finance violation, on Trump’s behalf.

    The investigation began before the president was elected and inaugurated. After Trump assumed the powers of the presidency, Mueller’s report shows that he used those powers to try to obstruct and impede the investigation.

    Some excuse Trump’s conduct based on allegations of issues with the investigation, but no one disputes the appropriateness of investigating election interference, which included investigating contacts between the Trump campaign and people connected to the Russian government.

    Some examples in Mueller’s report of the president’s obstructing and impeding the investigation include:

    1. Trump asked the FBI director to stop investigating Michael Flynn, who had been his campaign adviser and national security adviser, and who had already committed a crime by lying to the FBI.

    2. After AG Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation on the advice of DoJ ethics lawyers, Trump directly asked Sessions to reverse his recusal so that he could retain control over the investigation and help the president.

    3. Trump directed the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to have Special Counsel Mueller removed on the basis of pretextual conflicts of interest that Trump’s advisers had already told him were “ridiculous” and could not justify removing the special counsel.

    4. When that event was publicly reported, Trump asked that McGahn make a public statement and create a false internal record stating that Trump had not asked him to fire the special counsel, and suggested that McGahn would be fired if he did not comply.

    5. Trump asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to tell AG Sessions to limit the special counsel’s investigation only to future election interference. Trump said Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired if he would not meet with him.

    6. Trump used his pardon power to influence his associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, not to fully cooperate with the investigation.

    Trump, through his own statements—such as complaining about people who “flip” and talk to investigators—and through communications between his personal counsel and Manafort/Cohen, gave the impression that they would be pardoned if they did not fully cooperate with investigators.

    Manafort ultimately breached an agreement to cooperate with investigators, and Cohen offered false testimony to Congress, including denying that the Trump Tower Moscow project had extended to June 2016 and that he and Trump had discussed traveling to Russia during the campaign.

    Both men have been convicted for offering false information, and Manafort’s lack of cooperation left open some significant questions, such as why exactly he provided an associate in Ukraine with campaign polling data, which he expected to be shared with a Russian oligarch.

    Some of the president’s actions were inherently corrupt. Other actions were corrupt—and therefore impeachable—because the president took them to serve his own interests.

    The president has authority to fire federal officials, direct his subordinates, and grant pardons, but he cannot do so for corrupt purposes; otherwise, he would always be allowed to shut down any investigation into himself or his associates, which would put him above the law.

  93. says

    Natasha Bertrand updates her article @ #123 above: “Update on this: An SDNY spokesman originally said it would be inaccurate to describe the Calk indictment as stemming from the 14 criminal referrals Mueller made to the Justice Department, but later said he could not confirm whether that was the case.”

  94. says

    Sorry Mr. President, facts prove the House Democrats are doing way more than the GOP Senate

    The House has passed 248 things since January. And many of them are a big deal.

    The Trump administration has spent much of the past 24 hours blaming the president’s refusal to act on infrastructure on House Democrats, claiming they are too busy investigating him to pass any legislation.

    But unlike the Republican-controlled Senate, the House of Representatives has actually passed hundreds of things in just a few months, including major legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans, restore American democracy, reduce gun violence, protect the climate, ensure equal pay for women, and expand health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions. […]

    From Trump’s false claims:

    The Democrats have become known as THE DO NOTHING PARTY!

    The Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress. All of their effort is about a Re-Do of the Mueller Report, which didn’t turn out the way they wanted. It is not possible for them to investigate and legislate at the same time. Their heart is not into Infrastructure, […]

    More details on Democratic legislation:

    […] the House has also passed several other landmark pieces of legislation that have simply not been considered in the GOP-run upper chamber of Congress, where McConnell has spent the past two months focused almost exclusively on ramming through confirmations of Trump appointees.

    For the People Act
    This anti-corruption legislation includes provisions to eliminate political gerrymandering, makes it easier for citizens to register and vote, requires disclosure for political spending by outside interests, toughens ethics requirements for public officials, and restores key provisions the Voting Rights Act. […]

    Equality Act
    The sweeping anti-discrimination bill, if enacted, will ensure explicit employment, housing, public accommodations, and other protections for millions of LGBTQ Americans. […]

    Paycheck Fairness Act
    The Paycheck Fairness Act aims to close the gender wage gap and protect female workers, and includes important provisions to bar employers from seeking job applicants’ salary histories. It prohibits retaliation against workers for disclosing their wages to colleagues […]

    Bipartisan Background Checks Act and Enhanced Background Checks Act
    Two bills designed to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals were passed on back to back days. […]

    Climate Action Now Act
    This bill directs the executive branch to “meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement” to try to stop catastrophic climate change. […].

  95. says

    Followup to comment 103.

    A photograph showing a three-year-old girl giving a high-five to a mural of Harriet Tubman, the African American abolitionist who led hundreds of people out of slavery, is making the rounds on social media.

    In the photo, the young girl, named Lovie, can be seen high-fiving Tubman’s extended hand in the painting. […]

    “Lovie is only 3. She loves to walk around town with us on pretty days to look and explore,” Kilgore Lynndee told a local NBC station in an interview this week. “When she saw the mural it startled her for a moment because she wasn’t expecting it.”

    “Then she quickly asked if she could give her a high-five,” she continued. “She reached out and placed her hand on the hand. The response has been tremendous.”

    Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was one of hundreds on Twitter who celebrated the photo.

    “Such a powerful photo of 3-year-old Lovie Hope Duncan at the Harriet Tubman mural in Cambridge. Can’t wait to visit and see Maryland artist, Michael Rosato’s artwork,” he wrote.

    “Now, let’s make sure we also honor this great American hero by putting Tubman’s image on the $20 bill,” Van Hollen added. The senator’s last comments follow a recent announcement from the Trump administration stating that designs for an updated $20 bill featuring Tubman would be delayed by eight years.


  96. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of yet another migrant child dying while in U.S. custody:

    The US Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the nation’s immigration baby jails, acknowledged last night that the true number of kids who’ve died in custody in the last year isn’t five, as we all thought after the latest death Monday. No, it’s six — that we know of.

    It turns out that on September 29, 2018, a 10-year-old Salvadoran girl also died, in a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, after being treated in several other hospitals as well. That makes the unnamed girl the first in the string of deaths of migrant children — and the first child to die in immigration custody since 2010. […]

    CBS News broke the story yesterday evening.

    Mark Weber, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a statement to CBS News that the girl had a history of congenital heart defects. Weber said when she entered the care of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facility in San Antonio, Texas, on March 4, 2018, she was in a “medically fragile” state.

    “Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital,” Weber said. “On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children’s Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress.”

    […] Please just settle down, nothing could have been done, and it’s perfectly normal that we’re only learning about it nearly eight months after the fact. […]

    In addition to this new information on the beginning of this horrible string of deaths, we also learned this week that the Border Patrol temporarily froze admissions of detainees at its huge warehouse facility in McAllen, Texas, Tuesday, following an outbreak of a “flu-related illness” that sickened 32 detainees. That’s the same facility where 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vazquez was held — for longer than the maximum legal 72 hours — before he died Monday at another facility where he’d been placed in isolation. […]

    Further, the Intercept yesterday released a major investigative report, in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, on the abuse of solitary confinement of migrants in US detention facilities. It’s worth noting, if anyone cares (no one in power does), that these detainees aren’t being held for crimes — they’re being held under civil immigration and deportation statutes. The report finds that immigrants are regularly placed in isolation for minor infractions, or after they’ve been attacked by others, or even because they were inconveniently disabled, gay, or mentally ill — a particularly bad practice since isolation often makes their condition worse, leading to suicides and attempted suicides. But fuck their human rights, because America is Great Again. […]


  97. says

    Followup to comment 136.

    That’s right, Trump can’t spell “accomplishments.”

    When Donald Trump held an odd press conference at the White House yesterday, photographers were able to get a few shots of the president’s handwritten notes. Among the talking points the Republican was eager to emphasize: “Dems have no achomlishments.”

    It is, to be sure, curious than a 72-year-old president with an Ivy League education — a man who spends an inordinate amount of time talking about how impressed he is with his intellect — isn’t sure how to spell “accomplishments.” […]

    when Trump whines that “zero is getting done” on Capitol Hill, he’s inadvertently condemning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell […]

    Trump is in a poor position to complain about inactivity, not only because of his own lack of accomplishments, but also because he just announced that he’ll no longer work with Congress. […]

  98. says

    Update to comment 128.

    Well! That’s good news. Good news for Puerto Rico too. But the good news in danger … in danger from Republicans.

    The allure of 10 days away from Washington, D.C., for Memorial Day recess has worked again. That, and an implacable Democratic House of Representatives. Donald Trump has agreed to a disaster relief bill without money for his border wall and with $900 million for Puerto Rico. It also provides funding for areas hit by Midwest floods, Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and California wildfires.

    […] the agreement includes nearly $6.5 billion for repairing and rebuilding infrastructure and military and Coast Guard facilities; over $3 billion to farmers and ranchers for crop and livestock loss recovery; $1.65 billion dedicated just to damaged highways; roughly $3 billion in community block grants and economic development assistance to affected communities; $720 million for wildland fire activities; and $128 million for national parks.

    Critically, it also includes $909 million in new funding to Puerto Rico and a provision requiring that the Trump administration release the $8.9 billion in already appropriated funds that it’s refused to make available. It also requires that another $4 billion that has already been appropriated for Texas be released. That means that the Democratic House and Senate Democrats won, even though Republican Sen. Richard Shelby pathetically gives all the credit to his dear leader, Trump.

    The Senate is slated to pass it Thursday afternoon, with an agreement that the House (which is recessing) will pass it unanimously in a pro forma session Friday.

    Update to update:

    And House Republicans work furiously to rebuild that logjam.

    House GOP sources say their side unlikely to agree to UC on disaster-aid bill. Which means roll call vote in June after House returms from the Memorial Day recess

    They know that they will lose that roll call vote. They know that it means many of their own constituents will have to wait another two weeks for assistance. They also know it gives Trump two weeks to change his mind. Which is probably what’s at work here.

    From the readers comments:

    That’s good news—unless Cheeto changes his mind and McTurtle refuses to bring it to a vote or it passes the Senate and then Cheeto changes his mind and vetoes it.

    Until PR and other disaster areas actually get the money, I will remain skeptical.
    The orange sociopath is on the TVs now, crowing about giving a new $16 billion to farmers. Ain’t that socialism nice! Likely most going to corporations.

    Now he’s saying sociopath kudlow was misquoted and china is paying for the tariffs.
    This is still good news, but as others have stated, it still needs to be signed by the malignant sociopathic narcissist before they get anything. I guess we’ll see what happens. He is just the type of asshole to pull out and not sign it at the last minute […]
    Fucking House GOP. Didn’t a shiteton of tornadoes just blow through the red states last night? They aren’t even included yet. Assholes.

  99. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 131.

    From OZY:

    […] his [Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s] fervent nationalism and populism have coincided with a rise in hate crimes against Muslims and lower-caste Hindus, as well as attacks on churches. […]


  100. says

    Chris Hayes on “a 7+ minute video [at the link – SC], from ABC, of Trump calling on multiple senior aides to defend him and vouch for his ‘calm’ demeanor in the infrastructure meeting with Democrats after Nancy Pelosi said that he’d had a temper tantrum”:

    There’s an inescapable plummeting, almost annihilating sadness to these that I can’t quite escape. The depth of need and brokenness.

    This is also the future Republicans can look forward to. In the last few weeks, they’ve turned on anyone who spoke against or proved threatening to Trump in any way: Burr, McGahn, Amash,… They’re not even just expected to be passively subservient, but can be called at any moment to defend indefensible acts or words; lie about what they’ve seen or think; attack and disown their own colleagues; weaken their branch of government, democracy, institutions, and the rule of law; pretend what’s real isn’t real,…

    And it’s never reciprocated – they can and will be ejected and attacked at any time. They worked for years to ascend to the highest levels of political power, and abasing themselves with ever greater energy for this corrupt imbecile is their future.

  101. says

    NYT (Haberman and Schmidt, so, you know,…) – “Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry”:

    President Trump took extraordinary steps on Thursday to give Attorney General William P. Barr sweeping new authorities to conduct a review into how the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia were investigated, significantly escalating the administration’s efforts to place those who investigated the campaign under scrutiny.

    In a directive, Mr. Trump ordered the C.I.A. and the country’s 15 other intelligence agencies to cooperate with the review and granted Mr. Barr the authority to unilaterally declassify their documents. The move — which occurred just hours after the president again declared that those who led the investigation committed treason — gave Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation.

    The order is a change for Mr. Trump, who last year dropped a plan to release documents related to the Russia investigation amid concerns from Justice Department officials who said making them public could damage national security. At the time, the president was being encouraged by a group of Republican Congress members to declassify the information.

    Mr. Barr, who has used the word “spying” to describe how the Trump campaign was investigated, has been deeply involved in the department’s review of how intelligence was collected on the campaign. Mr. Barr has told Congress that he personally authorized the review. While he has asked John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, to spearhead it, a Justice Department official said that Mr. Barr has personally met with the heads of the intelligence agencies to discuss the review and that the project was a top priority after the release last month of the special counsel’s report.

    One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said previously that Mr. Barr wanted to know more about what foreign assets the C.I.A. had in Russia in 2016 and what those informants were telling the agency about how President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 election.

    …The C.I.A. considers confidential sources its most highly classified and most protected assets, and any investigation that could possibly force it to reveal those identities is likely to create a standoff. Last year, the agency lost trust in the Justice Department’s ability to keep the names of informants and sources secret after the identity of the F.B.I.’s source in the Trump campaign, Stefan Halper, was revealed as part of congressional investigations, according to former intelligence officials.

    Late Thursday, Jeremy Bash, a chief of staff at the C.I.A. under President Barack Obama, said that the president’s move was “a very significant delegation of power to an attorney general who has shown he’s willing to do Donald Trump’s political bidding.”

    “It’s dangerous,” he continued, “because the power to declassify is also the power to selectively declassify, and selective declassification is one of the ways the Trump White House can spin a narrative about the origins of the Russia investigation to their point of view.”

    He added that confidential sources around the globe might be fearful of talking now.

    “It sends a signal that their identity may be exposed for purely political purposes,” Mr. Bash said. “If I were in charge of intelligence operations, I would be worried about sources clamming up tonight.”

    Despite the significant step, there are indications there may be little criminality to uncover. Mr. Durham is conducting only a limited review, not a criminal investigation, which suggests Mr. Barr may not have identified enough wrongdoing to open such an inquiry….

  102. says

    Correct. This is looking like a coordinated WH/campaign/Fox/possibly foreign effort to smear Pelosi with lies.

    “Watch This Very Carefully”:

    As Kate Riga reported earlier, someone has created a series of highly realistic and yet provably doctored videos running on Facebook which appear to show Nancy Pelosi slurring her speech or drunk. The Post was first on this, showing conclusively how the doctoring had happened and the real video it was based on.

    This is a growing issue, the increasing ability to created phony videos which look very real and are very difficult to show are not real. They are referred to as “deepfakes” and they’re getting talked about more and more in media and intelligence circles.

    …I suspect this isn’t just some random hoaxster. I suspect there are bigger players behind it.

    But note this. I happened to flip on Lou Dobbs show a short while ago – just randomly turned it on. And there was Corey Lewandowski, one time Trump campaign manager and now outside advisor to the President clearly referencing this faked videos as real and discrediting. The news conclusively showing they were phonies came out in the afternoon. This is a few hours later….

    Video at the link.

  103. says

    Charlie Pierce – “Elizabeth Warren Has Clouds and Shadows Around Her Campaign. We’ve Seen This Movie Before.”:

    …While another storeroom at Manafort House of Felonies was being pried open, the Post also revealed that Senator Professor Warren was so good at her job, and knew so much about the kind of law she teaches, that people hired her as an expert to help them in actual legal cases. I, for one, am puzzled as to why this is news, especially since it comes from SPW’s own disclosure forms. But I have a suspicion that shadows soon will be following this story, and clouds will begin to obscure it. Questions will arise. I know how this stuff works by now.

    Here’s a pro tip: a lot of people, especially women people, watched what happened with the coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton and her campaign in 2016 and they’ve grown wise in the ways of clouds and shadows. This kind of thing is going to get called out from now on, and the people writing it should get used to that fact. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on…you don’t get fooled again. A president said that once.

    Much more at the link.

  104. says

    Brian Beutler:

    More institutional guardrails are failing harder and simultaneously right now than at any time since November 2016.

    DOJ, Mueller, Congress, intelligence agencies, social platforms, media. It’s like the lowest moments of the first campaign all over again, except he has all the powers of the presidency now.

    And once again everyone who has a nagging sense that they should be taking things more seriously than they are is taking false solace in the polls.

  105. says

    Sam Stein:

    Nadler making some Mueller news on MSNBC. Says Mueller “wants to testify in private.” Asked why, “I don’t know why.” Says Mueller “is willing to make an opening statement and there would be “a transcript.” Suggest Mueller is worried about it being a “political spectacle.”

    This was on Maddow. While I fully understand and appreciate Mueller’s position, he has to testify publicly. This isn’t a moment in which anyone can stand apart from or above the political fray. His reputation wasn’t earned through staying aloof, but through engaging with dignity and principles intact. He needs to do that here.

  106. says

    May Day

    —Espionage indictment of Assange imperils freedom of press

    —Executive order gives Attorney General Barr unprecedented power to go after perceived enemies in intel community

    —POTUS names specific people in answer to question who has committed treason punishable by death

    The President and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani use their social media accounts to carry out disinformation, this time disseminating doctored videos of the Speaker of the House”

  107. says

    JUST IN: New NASA executive named to lead the initiative for returning astronauts to the moon by 2024 quits six weeks after being hired – statement”

    I honestly don’t understand this return-to-the-moon hing at all.

  108. says

    Politico – “‘We’re getting back on track’: Dems ready Mueller strategy shift”:

    Democrats admit it: They need to shift their post-Mueller strategy.

    They’ve been so busy fighting technical battles over access to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that they’ve barely had time to speak directly to Americans about its damning public findings of President Donald Trump’s conduct.

    Trump and Attorney General William Barr, they say, drew them into process-focused skirmishes — battles over redactions, access to evidence and even a multi-day fight over the format of a hearing with Barr which the attorney general later refused to attend.

    Lost in it all was the vivid evidence Mueller uncovered about Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation of his campaign’s links to Russia. Now, Democrats say, it’s time to start telling that story, too.

    “Attorney General Barr did a very effective number on the country,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “He did everything in his power to create a thick fog of propaganda around the country and then to force us into these fights over process. But we’re getting back on track.”

    After returning from a weeklong Memorial Day recess, Democrats envision a wave of hearings on the substance of Mueller’s report.

    The Intelligence Committee is exploring potential hearings on parts of Mueller’s report that chronicled a complex Russian plot to help elect Trump. The committee may soon revisit testimony from one Mueller witness — longtime Trump associate Felix Sater — who had been slated to appear in March. Sater was the chief negotiator of the Trump Tower Moscow project, which the committee is investigating.

    The Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, anticipates a renewed focus on the dozen examples of potential obstruction of justice that Mueller described in his report.

    That phase would involve hearings in June and July featuring former prosecutors who can walk Americans through the allegations of obstruction of justice, witness intimidation and the dangling of pardons. The committee may also focus on Trump’s business entanglements and whether he’s received any unauthorized payments from foreign governments — known as emoluments.

    Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said he anticipates calling a bipartisan panel of prosecutors who recently signed a letter arguing that Mueller’s evidence proves Trump obstructed justice — and that Trump would have been charged if he weren’t the president.

    “At some point you’re going to see a panel of federal prosecutors come in about the letter that they signed,” said Lieu, also a Judiciary Committee member. “We’ll also hold hearings on witness intimidation. We’ll hold hearings on abuse of power. Just because Mueller doesn’t come in doesn’t mean we don’t continue with these.”

    It’s all part of a strategy, Democrats say, to bring the allegations off the pages of the 448-page Mueller report — which they worry few Americans will actually read — and onto Americans’ television screens….

  109. says

    “‘What they did to me was so horrific’: brutal silencing of a Saudi feminist”:

    Loujain al-Hathloul always likes to ask questions, her brother Walid says. “Growing up, she always pointed out the hypocrisy around driving in Saudi Arabia, trying to understand why women were banned from driving. She kept questioning.”

    But when Hathloul, now 29, was pulled over while driving in neighbouring United Arab Emirates last April before being deported back to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s rulers began the latest in a series of increasingly brutal efforts to silence her.

    Hathloul says she was detained for three days, freed and then seized again from her family home in Riyadh. She says she was blindfolded, thrown into the boot of a car and taken to a detention centre she has called a “palace of terror” and has been tortured, and threatened with rape and death. Hathloul has now been held for more than a year.

    Hathloul was arrested with 10 other women in a sweep targeting outspoken women who had campaigned for the right to drive. The arrests included veteran campaigners like Aziza al-Yousef and blogger Eman al-Nafjan. It marked a crescendo in what human rights groups have branded Saudi’s “year of shame”. Clerics, activists, journalists and writers have been targeted.

    Eleven women were put on trial for “coordinated activity to undermine the security, stability and social peace of the kingdom” amid accusations of contact with foreign diplomats and journalists. Seven were bailed earlier this year, but Hathloul’s brother says the family do not expect the same for her. Observers say Hathloul has received particularly poor treatment in prison because of her role as a leading feminist campaigner, her activism seen as a slap in the face to the kingdom’s narrative that change for women should come from the top. As the trial drags on, no one is clear just how long her imprisonment could be.

    Dr Hala al-Dosari, a prominent Saudi human rights activist and scholar at the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University, said the women are on trial “as a deterrent. They’re being treated as an example for other women who might think of doing the same thing.”

    Hathloul remains more concerned about the fate of women outside the prison walls than herself, said her brother.

    “Even when she was in jail, although she didn’t witness women being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, she kept asking me how women there were feeling, whether they were enjoying their right to drive,” Walid said. “She was thinking about them even though she was in jail, and it wasn’t a time to think about others.

    “She never gives up. She believes in fundamental rights. She’s there to think about other people. That’s who she is as a person, she cares about others more than she cares about herself.”

    The Hathloul family now await Loujain’s regular phone call every Sunday to know that she is surviving what has become solitary confinement, after her cellmates were bailed. Her supporters fear that she may have been subject to torture once more, but that she won’t worry her family.

    “Because she’s been traumatised and isn’t thinking properly, she said: ‘Because they damaged my reputation, it’s better for me to stay in jail as what they did to me was so horrific,’” said Walid.

    But his sister’s reputation is anything but damaged. Along with Eman al-Nafjan and Nouf Abdulaziz, she was awarded the PEN America/Barbey freedom to write award in March this year. In April, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential figures of 2019….

    More at the link.

  110. says

    Update to Lynna’s #140 above: “Pelosi: ‘House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism. Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need’.”

  111. says

    What happened in the House:

    Can’t take a picture, but Rep Chip Roy R-TX is on the House floor, ready to object to passage of the $19.1 billion disaster bill

    An aggravated Rep Jim McGovern D-MA on Roy: “This is a rotten thing to do,” notes it blocks money for Roy’s home state

    Roy says there should be a vote, and criticizes compromise accepted by President Trump for no border money

    The objection of Rep Roy R-TX means no disaster aid vote in the House until the week of June 3.

    What a douche.

  112. says

    From SC’s link in comment 159:

    Trump: calls for a half-dozen Americans to be tried for treason punishable by death. Ignores lawful subpoenas.

    Pelosi: draws attention to Trump’s erratic and possibly illegal behavior.

    And yet the headlines keep presenting a bothsides-ism that is inaccurate and highly annoying.

    “Feuding” or “questioning each other’s fitness” and so forth are phrases used to equate Pelosi and Trump. This is not responsible or even good journalism.

  113. says

    From SC’s comment 147, an analysis that bears repeating:

    […] Jeremy Bash, a chief of staff at the C.I.A. under President Barack Obama, said that the president’s [Trump’s] move was “a very significant delegation of power to an attorney general who has shown he’s willing to do Donald Trump’s political bidding.”

    “It’s dangerous,” he continued, “because the power to declassify is also the power to selectively declassify, and selective declassification is one of the ways the Trump White House can spin a narrative about the origins of the Russia investigation to their point of view.”

    He added that confidential sources around the globe might be fearful of talking now.

    “It sends a signal that their identity may be exposed for purely political purposes,” Mr. Bash said. “If I were in charge of intelligence operations, I would be worried about sources clamming up tonight.” […]

    William Barr is now swimming in power. From what we’ve already seen Barr do, we can predict that he will use his power to mislead the public, and to punish Trump’s enemies.

    This is another big step for the slimeballs pushing the U.S. toward authoritarianism. Putin must be so pleased.

    I’m not just worried about sources clamming up. I’m worried about civil servants who were just doing their jobs being arrested and tried for treason … while Trump crows that he is “a very stable genius.”

  114. says

    Followup to 159 and 166.

    Trump in on TV right now, shouting over the sound of Marine One getting ready to take him to Andrews Airforce Bace.

    Trump says that his ratings as president would be 70% approval if only the media would be fair to him and report the news correctly. Trump tied that opinion to his hopes that William Barr, having “all the declassified documents he needs,” will provide the media and the American people with the truth. [gag]

  115. says

    Trump adds corrupt contract-awarding practices to his wall construction mania.

    […] Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, according to four administration officials.

    In phone calls, White House meetings and conversations aboard Air Force One during the past several months, Trump has aggressively pushed Dickinson, N.D.-based Fisher Industries to Department of Homeland Security leaders and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commanding general of the Army Corps, according to the administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal discussions. The push for a specific company has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials. […]

    Washington Post link to “‘He always brings them up’: Trump tries to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm.”

  116. says

    Followup to comment 171.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] I’m just touching on some of the highlights from the Washington Post’s article, which you should read in its entirety. There are some related details about Fisher suing the government, building privately-funded border barriers, and having extensive political contacts, including with prominent figures such as Steve Bannon. Erik Prince, Tom Tancredo, and Kris Kobach.

    The North Dakota construction firm is part of the web of “all the best people.” Plus, the CEO, Tommy Fisher, appears frequently on Fox News.

  117. says

    SC @172, Malcolm Nance is right. And it’s not just the end of the 5-EYES relationship, this yet another development that will weaken NATO.

  118. says

    Foreign Policy – “The Balkan Wars Created a Generation of Christian Terrorists”:

    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent civil war were a powerful seedbed for Islamist radicalism. So were other wars, from Chechnya to Iraq. But one critical conflict that has shaped the course of global extremism and terrorism has been overlooked. Much of the current global far-right extremism was cooked in the furnace of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, especially the Bosnian War.

    The Muslim side of this story is well known. Bosnian Muslim militias were joined by thousands of foreign volunteers. Some were fresh recruits from Western Europe. Others were veterans of the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion in the ’80s. The fighting skills developed by the foreign volunteers in the war, the contacts forged with others from across the world, and the radicalization of the fire of battle laid the foundations of entire networks of Islamist extremist violence with which the world contends to this day.

    These developments, however, were not unique to the Muslim side in the conflict. Thousands of volunteers from across Europe also joined the Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serb Army and the Catholic Bosnian Croat army. The Croat side in particular attracted many neo-Nazis from across the continent during this period. That was thanks in no small part to the decision by the national government in Zagreb to reprise as national markers the World War II-era symbols of the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist puppet regime of the Third Reich.

    Just as with the Muslim volunteers, the Christian veterans returned to their home countries after the war, radicalized and ready for new action. At least some of these veterans became the core of new right-wing militias that would over time morph into potent political forces. One of the more notable examples of this is the Golden Dawn in Greece. Key Golden Dawn members were known to have participated in the Srebrenica massacre of over 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks in 1995, during the war.

    Just as with the Muslim volunteers, European governments were very slow to recognize the threat these radicalized veterans posed to their own societies upon their return. Many in Greece at the time, including people in government, lionized the Greek participants in the massacres, especially along religious and ideological lines. The same held true in many countries in Eastern Europe, notably Ukraine, Romania, and Russia, and in certain circles in Western Europe as well.

    And of course, no European government undertook any known programs to deradicalize and reintegrate returning fighters into mainstream society. The idea wasn’t even on the agenda. Nor was there any legal accountability for crimes committed by these people while they were away. If anything, some of the fighters were rewarded with notoriety and a political platform for the future.

    This failure produced the same kinds of figures and networks of radical extremism on the European right as happened with Islamist terrorism….

    …A recurrent theme in their thinking is the notion of an eternal war between European and Islamic civilizations, most acutely fought through the proliferation of populations, with what they term the “white European race” representing the Christian or Enlightenment Western culture—internal contradictions between Christianity and indigenous Europeanness, and between conservative Christianity and the outlook of the Enlightenment, notwithstanding—and the Middle Eastern, brown races representing what they see as Medieval, backward, repressive Islam.

    The notion of an ongoing war between Christendom and Islam has a long-standing history in the Balkans and beyond. But the notion that this conflict is waged at this moment in time by demographic competition between races has a distinctive Serbian pedigree….

    It was this kind of thinking that entrenched the general tendency toward genocidal attitudes among especially the Serbians throughout the Balkan wars, and which later evolved in today’s ubiquitous notion among the European (and indeed American) far-right of the so-called great replacement: the idea that white European culture, civilization, and race are being displaced in Europe by Muslim migration, which in turn justifies violent retaliation.

    The war marked a pivotal point in European history. Murderers and fascists were not only let off the hook but also glorified—live on television. With that precedent burned into the collective memory of a generation, the resurgence of European fascism writ large was only a matter of time.

  119. says

    Ari Melber just did a segment on this: “Sacramento Police Face Criticism For Arresting, Putting Sack Over Head Of 12-Year-Old Black Boy.”

    One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. They put a plastic bag over a kid’s head!

    “The Sacramento police told HuffPost they are not conducting an investigation into the officers involved.

    ‘Our officers involved in this incident appropriately used a spit mask to protect themselves and defuse the situation’, police chief Daniel Hahn said in the release. ‘I am grateful that our officers were willing to proactively intervene when they observed suspicious activity, and that nobody was injured during this encounter’.”

  120. says

    Yesterday: “Mark Warner: ‘People risk their lives to gather the intelligence material that Pres. Trump and A.G. Barr are so eager to politicize. Selectively declassifying sources and methods in order to serve a political agenda will make it harder for the intel community to do their jobs’.”

    Trump and his (and Putin’s) attack squads are now going after Warner.

  121. says

    “Trump just dismantled one of the last major protections keeping transgender people safe”:

    The Trump administration announced Friday morning sweeping changes to the rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in health care. Combined with an announcement earlier this week ending gender identity protections in homeless shelters, the administration has now taken steps to exclude transgender people from almost every aspect of public life, including employment, housing, health care, education, prisons, and the military.

    The Trump administration has been forecasting these changes for some time. The changes to the health care rules proposed Friday, however, are perhaps the most damning evidence that it completely disregards transgender people’s humanity, and in fact views them as a threat to the safety of society.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to revise what’s known as “Section 1557,” the nondiscrimination protections found in the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration had interpreted the protections on the basis of “sex” to include gender identity, and the Trump administration seeks to reverse that interpretation. In fact, HHS even goes further and argues that sex stereotyping should no longer be protected, ignoring a Supreme Court precedent recognizing such stereotyping as a form of illegal discrimination. The scope of the proposed regulation mirrors a leaked memo from last year proposing to erase transgender people from recognition throughout the federal government.

    The change incorporates exemptions found in Title IX allowing religious universities to discriminate on the basis of sex; under the new rule, religious hospitals will be completely free to do the same. This reinforces the separate “conscience” rule the administration introduced earlier this month, which would allow health care providers to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs.

    A footnote in the new regulation speaks to how the administration is actively demonizing the transgender community. According to the footnote, states and localities can still enforce their own nondiscrimination protections, as can hospitals that set those policies for themselves. If, however, people have to share a dressing room or shower with a transgender person, the administration warns that allowing that accommodation could still be a violation.

    The claim that transgender people are inherently a threat to others’ privacy is the same rationale inherent in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) plan to revoke transgender protections for homeless shelters. A day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson said under oath that he wouldn’t be changing the rule put in place by the Obama administration, HUD announced that it was doing just that. If the rule change is implemented, homeless shelters would be free to force transgender and gender nonconforming people to be housed according to their “biological sex” — or they could deny such individuals access altogether.

    These recent changes impacting transgender people’s access to health care and shelter follow a litany of other protections the administration has revoked.

    It’s no coincidence that the administration has been particularly cozy with anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The rhetoric in all of these attacks on the transgender community is pulled directly from the hate these groups spew. ADF, in particular, has been at the forefront of opposing transgender equality in the courts, defending schools and workplaces alike that wish to discriminate….

  122. says

    A federal judge has temporarily blocked Trump’s transfer of military funds to the border wall project.

    A federal judge on Friday temporarily stopped […] Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to spend money on border wall construction that Congress did not allocate for that purpose, writing at one point in his order that “the Court has serious concerns with Defendants’ theory of appropriations law.”

    The temporary block does not affect all of the money Trump wants to divert for a border wall, but rather just the first $1 billion; the rest of the funds — currently allocated for “military construction” — aren’t projected to be used for wall construction immediately, and therefore weren’t required to be enjoined immediately […]

    “The Court finds that the language and purpose of Section 8005 and Section 2214(b) likely preclude Defendants’ attempt to transfer $1 billion from funds Congress previously appropriated for military personnel costs to the drug interdiction fund for the construction of a border barrier,” Gilliam [Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California] wrote […]

    A staff attorney for the ACLU, whose lawyers worked on the case, called the injunction “a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities.”

    Trump’s declaration of emergency to shift money for a border wall was novel: Not only had Congress not allocated the wall money, it had actively refused to pass legislation fulfilling the White House’s request for $5.7 billion in wall funds. […]

    Gilliam also took issue with the Trump administration’s assertion that the use of Defense Department funds to build a border wall was “unforeseen,” in the same way diverting funds for, say, a natural disaster response would be unforeseen.

    “Nothing presented by the Defendants suggests that its interpretation is what Congress had in mind when it imposed the “unforeseen” limitation, especially where, as here, multiple agencies are openly coordinating in an effort to build a project that Congress declined to fund,” he added separately. “The Court thus finds it likely that Plaintiffs will succeed on this claim.”

    Congress’s “absolute” control over the government’s purse strings, the judge wrote in conclusion “is not a bug in our constitutional system. It is a feature of that system, and an essential one.”


  123. says

    Followup to SC @176.

    Of course it is not just Seb Gorka who is posturing about “releasing the Kraken” now that William Barr has been given carte blanche to declassify intelligence reports in order to go after Trump’s enemies.

    Corey Lewandowski appeared on Fox Business Network:

    In March or April of next year, James Comey, Andy McCabe, Strzok and Page will be on trial for the crimes they committed against the Fourth Amendment and against this President, and we can’t wait.

    From conservative doofus/pundit Todd Starnes:

    There is great fear and trembling within the Deep State swamp tonight. “JUDGMENT DAY: Trump Gives Okay To Declassify Russia Probe Documents.”

    From Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

    The coup-plotters will be upset. Biggest corruption scandal of all time, we need transparency now.

    From Donald Trump Junior:

    The Democrats and their media lackeys right now all of a sudden magically not interested in finding out how their hoax started… The worst hypocrisy I’ve ever seen!

  124. says

    Followup to comment 186.

    From readers comments:

    A foreign adversary tries subverting our election process in favor of their chosen candidate — EVERYONE ADMITS THIS IS TRUE! — and the FBI investigates the candidate because OF COURSE, and these creeps think THAT is the problem. Now a big chunk of the country agrees.
    This is going to get very ugly. Barr will cherry pick the hell out of the intel and the media will knowingly go alomg for the ride
    I really fear that Barr will indict Hillary, Bill, Biden and others.
    The Kraken? More like the crackpot has been released
    I could’ve sworn I heard tRump yell ‘coup’ a week or so ago and ‘treason’ this week, followed by Barr being given authority to take over all agency declassifications to make tRump’s case for him. Nah. I must be hearing things. This can’t be happening in America, right?
    It’s amazing that all of em are in love with the Kraken, while falling to realise that Perseus was the hero.
    Given AG Barr’s (recent) history of staging selective releases to be more favorable to his only client, Prez. Extreme Tanty Genius, some immediate and ferocious oversight is in order. Courts should back up compulsory subpoenas.

  125. says

    Yikes! and Yuck!

    Citing Iranian ‘Threat,’ Trump Admin Skips Congressional Review On Saudi Arms Sales

    The Trump administration announced Friday that the “fundamental threat” posed by Iranian “malign activity” was justification enough to move forward with billions in emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries without Congressional review.

    Arms sales “totaling $8.1 billion” will move forward without congressional review to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press release, citing section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act. […]

    In a rare move earlier this year, both chambers of Congress voted to cut off U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. President Trump vetoed the effort.

    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement following Pompeo’s announcement that “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia.”

    Warning ahead of time of the Trump administration’s plans, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted Wednesday: “To state the obvious, there is no new emergency reason to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia to drop in Yemen. The Saudis been dropping the bombs on civilians, so if there is an emergency, it’s a humanitarian emergency caused by the bombs we sell the Saudis.”


    More from Chris Murphy:

    Totally misleading. Congress doesn’t approve sales so we didn’t “fail to act”. All we can do is disapprove, but that can’t happen until an arms sale is noticed. The Administration never noticed this sale – until Friday night when they used emergency powers to avoid our review.

  126. says

    Followup to comment 188.

    From the readers comments:

    What is Jared’s cut? the usual 5% ?
    C’mon, it’s the Saudi’s. They’re just lovable scamps. What could possibly go wrong with this?
    Nothing says peace and stability in the Middle East like arming them all to the teeth. What happens when radical elements in Saudi Arabia (more rogue than MBS) get a hold of some of those weapons?
    It’s a long-standing business of ours to ensure future military endeavors by arming and training our future enemies.
    I’m starting to wonder if the attacks on those tankers were actually staged to ratchet up tensions in order to claim justification for the pending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The intelligence on the attacks was pretty sketchy.

  127. says

    The quote from Chris Murphy (see comment 188) was in reference to this stupid statement from Mike Pompeo:

    We presented some of these sales almost 18 months ago to Congress, but it has failed to act. The U.S. is, and must remain, a reliable security partner in the Gulf and to our allies around the world. It’s fundamental to our national security.

  128. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    For everyone who’s been worried about Attorney General Bill Barr’s lawless reign at the Department of Justice last night was the big moment. […] Trump gave Barr blanket authority to access and declassify any and all classified information from the country’s dozen and a half intelligence agencies in his quest to “investigate the investigators” of the Russia scandal.There’s hardly any way to overstate just how big a deal this is or how dangerous it is in the hands of a corrupt official like Bill Barr.

    […] The President is the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not classified. There are processes in place and guidance he’s supposed to listen to to exercise that authority. But he doesn’t have to. Barr is free to disregard those rules, overrule the heads of the intelligence agencies […] or not even tell them what he’s doing.

    […] Barr has an agenda to help the President and punish his perceived enemies. Giving someone like that this kind of power is a recipe for disaster.

    Barr has a proven record of selectively disclosing information with the aim of deceiving the public. […] It goes without saying that if you can choose only the facts you want and sheer them of their context you can create almost any story you want. And that’s what Barr is about to do. […]

    There’s a secondary part of this which doesn’t touch directly on propaganda creation. But it may be more important. This level of power basically gives Barr a whip hand over the entire Intelligence Community. And he seems to want to get his hands on the Russia desks especially. As the Times notes, “Mr. Barr wanted to know more about what foreign assets the C.I.A. had in Russia in 2016 and what those informants were telling the agency about how President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 election.”

    These are likely among the most closely held secrets the US government has. They will all but certainly be communicated directly to the President.


    And Trump will communicate those closely held secrets directly to Putin.

  129. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    Donald Trump has authorized Attorney General William Barr to sift through the classified documents of every U.S. intelligence agency looking for material he can use against anyone he [Trump] perceives as an opponent. This action represents a weaponizing of the entire intelligence network, in essence turning all of the FBI, CIA, NSA and more into an opposition research organization.

    […] Trump places in danger both the processes and the assets of the agencies involved. From techniques, to technologies, to sources, to the most sacred item of any intelligence agency—the names and locations of agents in the field—there is no aspect of national security unchallenged by the action Trump has taken.

    […] Republicans greased the path that Trump has now taken, voting repeatedly to allow the release of material that the agencies believed a hazard to existing and future operations.

    […] From the Nunes fiasco, to watching Trump hand over classified information to the Russian ambassador, to Jared Kushner’s multiple trips to Saudi Arabia to gift Mohammed bin Salman with a list of those people he most needed to murder, agencies around the world have been given reason after reason to restrict the flow of information from their agencies to the United States. […] This is the end of the “five-eyes” agreement. The end of open, active cooperation. The end of multi-national operations. […]

    Multiple authorities have pointed out that Trump cannot legally devolve the executive’s authority to declassify documents onto the attorney general. Says who? In normal times, a rank violation of security protocol might have been forward to … the attorney general. […]

    And, since Barr has already demonstrated that he can take just fractions of a sentence to weave any narrative he wants, only to have that narrative taken up by both Republicans in Congress and the splashed on the front page of the Times, it’s not as if he needs to find anything. He only needs to behave as though he has. […]

    This is not a step toward authoritarian rule, it’s the definition. With this order, Donald Trump has converted the existing intelligence agencies into the Secret Police as certainly as if he ordered up Stasi signs for every building at Langley.

  130. says

    From Jon Cooper:

    I was at a deli when Trump’s Rose Garden press conference aired on TV today. When Trump said “I think most of you would agree to this — I’m the most transparent president in the history of this country,” every person waiting at the counter laughed out loud. Every single one.

    From Representative Veronica Escobar:

    Dear @POTUS

    Since you stated emphatically that you “don’t do cover ups.” Can you confirm that no more unreported migrant deaths have occurred?


    Veronica, Lou, Sylvia, and Debbie.#TrumpCoverUp

    From Aldous J. Pennyfarthing:

    I’d also like to know why he lied about his business connections with Russia during the campaign, when he was still pursuing Trump Tower Moscow. And for good measure, maybe he can tell us all about the “unbelievable” things his Hawaii investigators found out about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Because we’ve been waiting on that bombshell for quite a while now.

    I mean, this guy is basically a bad comb-over masquerading as a human being. He doesn’t do coverups? That’s all he does, FFS.

  131. says

    More than 70 retired military leaders urge Trump not to go to war with Iran.

    Any conflict would come at “immense financial, human and geopolitical cost.”

    […] The letter, which was first published on the website War on the Rocks and was coordinated by the American College of National Security Leaders, said that the accelerated deployment of troops and weapons to the region raised the potential of a deadly confrontation, either done on purpose or by accident.

    “A war with Iran, either by choice or miscalculation, would produce dramatic repercussions in an already destabilized Middle East,” the letter read. “[It would] drag the United States into another armed conflict at immense financial, human, and geopolitical cost.”

    “Crisis de-escalation measures should be established with the Iranian leadership at the senior levels of government,” the letter continued. “The protection of U.S. national interests in the Middle East and the safety of our friends and allies requires thoughtful statesmanship and aggressive diplomacy rather than unnecessary armed conflict.” […]


  132. says

    In another episode of “all the best people,” Trump ousts a semi-reasonable (or not evil enough) civil servant and replaces him with … Ken Cuccinelli.

    The Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services resigned from his post Friday at […] Trump’s request, according to his resignation letter.

    Francis Cissna will be replaced by former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli […]

    “We are the government servants charged with lawfully, efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits, while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our nation’s values,” Cissna wrote. “I have always been and will remain keenly aware of these charges and your diligence in fulfilling our mission.”

    Cissna’s ouster has been in the works for weeks as Trump has sought to shake up his immigration officials. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Ronald Vitiello […] also left their posts last month. Republican lawmakers had urged the president to keep Cissna on board, but White House adviser Stephen Miller had sought to boot him weeks ago.

    Rumors of Cuccinelli’s selection to a top immigration post raised eyebrows earlier this week. […]

    USCIS oversees legal immigration and has traditionally defended it. But under the Trump administration and Cissna’s leadership, the agency has been a key element in the hardline crackdown on immigration. Cissna has overseen the dramatic shrinking of the country’s refugee program, the creation of a “denaturalization task force” charged with stripping citizenship from those who committed fraud and a change in policy to make it easier for visas to be denied. […]


    Trouble in the Republican ranks?

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block Cuccinelli from getting confirmed for any position, blaming him for leading a 2014 effort defying McConnell that promoted insurgent candidates running against sitting Republican incumbents. And Cuccinelli signed a letter drafted by conservative activists two years ago calling on McConnell to step aside. […]

    Cuccinelli, known more recently for combative television appearances and enthusiasm for the president’s immigration proposals, is even more disliked by Democrats.

    Ah, so that’s why Trump likes him, and why Stephen Miller likes him.

    Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has been agitating for Cissna’s removal for months, and he has repeatedly railed about Cissna to the president, saying he is not in favor of the administration’s agenda and has delayed some of its biggest initiatives — while not writing enough regulations.

    Miller also faulted Cissna for moving too slowly in implementing new rules that would penalize immigrants who use public benefits, expanding the agency’s ability to deny visas on the grounds that an applicant could be considered a “public charge.” The proposed changes triggered more than 200,000 public comments, all requiring a response from the agency. […]

    Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, is leading a White House effort to reorient the agency toward a “merit-based” immigration system that will prioritize job skills over the current family reunification model, which the president denounces as “chain migration.”

    Cissna, the son of an immigrant mother from Peru, is a bespectacled career bureaucrat who quotes classics and is fluent in Spanish. He fits in well with academics and policy wonks […]


  133. says

    Oh, dear. This is painful to watch.

    Baby Geniuses star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and “acknowledge the truth” that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln. […]

    People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he’s battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I’ve said this once and I’ll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I’m here today to acknowledge the truth, and I’m here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don’t be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

    Does Jon Voight not know there have been… other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called “very fine people?” Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan? […]


  134. says

    From Ben Mathis-Lilley, The President Implied the Former Director of the FBI Should Be Executed for Treason and Everyone Was Like, “Ha Ha, Classic”:

    Donald Trump believes the investigation into his campaign’s connections to Russia, the one that was launched by the FBI and later carried out by Robert Mueller’s special counsel’s office, was illegitimate […]

    there were all sorts of suspicious interactions between Russians and Trump campaign figures happening at the same time that Russia was carrying out an intelligence operation against his opponent […]

    On Thursday in the Oval Office, an NBC reporter noted to Trump that treason is punishable by death and then asked him who he felt, specifically, had committed treason in the course of the Russia investigation. The president responded by naming four FBI officials—former director James Comey, former deputy director Andrew McCabe, and former agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page—who’d been involved in the case.

    And that was it! Twitter was briefly incredulous, a few articles were posted, but for the most part it was not considered really newsworthy that the POTUS had casually tossed out the idea of executing the FBI’s previous leadership team.

    Democratic leaders in the House and Senate didn’t comment on it; it’s not even mentioned right now on the New York Times homepage; you have to scroll way down to the bottom of CNN.com to find it.

    The other players in government, and the public at large, have become accustomed to the idea that the president is just going to suggest things that are clearly inappropriate or illegal, all the time, which get written off as hyperbole, except he often follows through on them, just as he’s reportedly about to follow through on his frequent rhetorical celebration of war crimes by pardoning a group of convicted and accused war criminals. […]

    Have a great Memorial Day!

  135. says

    From Masha Gessen, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Assange [WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange] is a fundamentally unappealing protagonist. He keeps terrible political company. He is, apparently, terrible company himself. In his writing and interviews, he comes across as power-crazed and manipulative. Most important, when he published leaked classified documents, he shared information that exposed people to danger. He is the perfect target precisely because he is unsympathetic. One has to hold one’s nose while defending Assange—and yet one must defend Assange.

    The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange is an attack on the First Amendment. Carrie DeCell, an attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute, summed up the threat in a Twitter thread on Thursday. “The government argues that Assange violated the Espionage Act by soliciting, obtaining, and then publishing classified information,” she wrote. “That’s exactly what good national security and investigative journalists do every day.”

    The government has argued that Assange is not a journalist. Most journalists would probably agree: the indiscriminate publication of classified information (or any other information, for that matter), with neither a narrative nor regard for people’s safety, is not journalism in any conventional understanding of the word.

    But journalism—unlike, say, medicine, law, or architecture—is a profession that any person can practice. There are no licensing or education requirements, and we journalists generally think that this is a good thing: the public can decide which journalists are worth reading or watching, and the law can intervene in those rare cases when journalism causes harm.

    The last thing we want the U.S. government, or any government, to do is to start deciding who is and who is not a journalist. “For the most part, the charges against him broadly address the solicitation, receipt, and publication of classified information,” DeCell tweeted. “These charges could be brought against national security and investigative journalists simply for doing their jobs, and doing them well.” […]


  136. says

    The Trump administration’s blatant anti-abortion rhetoric, along with anti-abortion legislation from Republicans, seems to be causing an increase in attacks against abortion clinics.

    A new report from the National Abortion Federation shows a steep rise in various incidents at U.S. abortion clinics. In 2018, trespassing had risen to its highest annual level since the federation started gathering information on these incidents in 1999.

    NAF has been keeping track of incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers for more than four decades. Since 1977, by its count, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 188 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at abortion providers.

    In its latest annual tally released this week, instances of trespassing at clinics hit 1,135, a 78% rise from 2017 to 2018. There were 125 vandalism incidents, the highest number since 1990. In 2017, there were 1,704 instances of obstruction of a clinic; in 2018, NAF recorded 3,038 incidents. There were also 57 threats of death or harm at clinics last year, including one in which a forced-birther with a bullhorn yelled to staff entering a clinic, “I have a bullet with your name on it.” […]

    Violence has been a part of the forced-birther movement from early on. […]


  137. says

    Followup to comment 200.

    Here’s an excerpt from the NAF report:

    “Anti-choice individuals and groups have been emboldened by the rhetoric of President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other elected officials and we are seeing this play out in more instances of activities meant to intimidate abortion providers and disrupt patient services,” said The Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, Interim President and CEO of NAF.

    “Demonizing health care providers and women who rely on them for abortion care has become one of the go-to tactics for anti-choice politicians. Those lies have consequences and it is not the anti-choice politicians who are facing those consequences; it is those who are denied abortion care and the providers targeted by threats, harassment, and violence who are. It is time for the demonizing of abortion providers and their patients to end.”

    “Given the political climate and the increase in hate incidents throughout the country, it is more important than ever that law enforcement and prosecutors appropriately respond to anti-abortion criminal activity.”

  138. says

    From David Mack:

    Trump — who banned trans troops, is against LGBT employment protections, wants ppl to be able to turn away LGBT customers, & is denying citizenship to kids of US gay couples born out of wedlock — is selling LGBTQ for Trump shirts for Pride

    The T-shirts are on sale for $24.00. You can see the screen grab on David Mack’s Twitter feed.


  139. says

    Trump is in Japan, a nation directly threatened by the missiles recently test-fired by North Korea, and this is what Trump tweeted yesterday:

    North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?


    In the first iteration of that tweet, Trump misspelled Biden’s name, “Bidan”. He later corrected the error.

    From readers comments:

    This is getting beyond ridiculous. He’s openly praising a dictator while claiming missile tests were some “small weapons.” Not to mention, the irony of misspelling a man’s name while simultaneously calling him “low IQ” is just too much for words.
    Great way to honor our war dead on Memorial Day weekend: praise the North Korean leader while on Japanese soil.
    The incoherence of that Tweet is amazing. It wasn’t enough to simply claim that black was white and that up was down. Instead, he had to find a way to insult a rival instead. Kim, who called Trump a “dotard,” called Biden “a low IQ individual”? It seems to me that Kim has a more creative vocabulary than our Dotard, and would have, if he cared to, come up with a much better insult (and made it public).
    language no longer seems capable of capturing Trumpian horseshit. It always seems to come down to the fact that in all matters Trumps ego trumps everything.
    That explains why DPRK announced just recently that it will never denuclearize. Kim keeps his promises just like Toadglans der Hamberdlar.

    Yes, Kim did recently say that North Korea would never denuclearize.

  140. says

    Mike Pence spoke to West Point graduates. Here is an excerpt:

    It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.

    Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.

    Other, recent war-like pronouncements from team Trump:

    […] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the executive branch was citing a loophole in federal law to sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates without congressional review. Iran’s “malign activity,” he wrote in a memo to the legislature, presents a “fundamental threat.”

    In addition, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced Friday that the United States would send another 900 troops to the Middle East — and extend the service of 600 — as part of a deployment that includes jets, drones and a missile battalion. […]


  141. says

    Oh, FFS.

    […] During an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Attorney General William Barr will decide whether former FBI director James Comey could face criminal charges from Trump’s Justice Department.

    “We’re going to let the attorney general make that determination as he gets to the conclusion of this investigation,” said Sanders of the president’s decision to give Barr broad new powers to investigate the investigation of Trump’s campaign.

    “We certainly expect the people that were responsible and that were part of this unprecedented obstruction and corruption at the FBI, those people should certainly be held responsible and be held accountable,” added Sanders. “And the president expects that to take place.” […]

    Think Progress link

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders looked very happy while threatening/hoping that Trump’s enemies are charged with criminal acts. She was all smiles and almost-giddy anticipation.

  142. says

    Want to help struggling college students? Support the low-paid staff who teach them.

    Why untenured faculty are a 2020 campaign issue.

    […] With a husband on disability and $100,000 in college loans, Edwards-Luckett [College lecturer Angela Edwards-Luckett ] says her bills always seem to outstrip her income. Friends and acquaintances in her non-tenured faculty circle are in similarly dire straits, piecing together a bare-bones existence by working at various campuses across Florida.

    “Some of my colleagues are teaching four classes at this college, two classes at that college,” the 51-year-old college lecturer told ThinkProgress. “And even when they add all of that up together, they still make less than $25,000 a year.”

    Edwards-Luckett said life on a college adjunct’s income amounts to poverty, plain and simple. “A lot of us are depending on food banks and things like that, even during the semester,” she told ThinkProgress.

    College education is very much in the spotlight as a 2020 campaign issue, and the Democratic presidential candidates have a raft of proposals to reduce student debt and lower the costs of tuition. Their plans cover everything from providing free community college to reining in for-profit colleges, from extending loan forgiveness to refinancing student loans.

    But education advocates and labor activists say the focus on higher education reform shouldn’t only be about the kids: The 2020 candidates should also pay attention to the often deplorable conditions endured by legions of underpaid faculty members who teach them. […]

  143. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Dominic Raab defends calling feminists obnoxious bigots:

    The potential future PM says he does not want double standards in equality debate

    [Nasty party MP –blf] Dominic Raab has defended his claim that feminists are some of the most obnoxious bigots and that men are getting a raw deal, saying he does not want double standards in the debate on equality.

    The former Brexit secretary, a leading candidate to be the next prime minister, was challenged on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show about his comments from 2011, when he said: From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.

    He stood by the position by saying it was really important that in the debate on equality we have a consistency and not double standards and hypocrisy.

    [… obviously false claims by the misogynist nazi of support for women…]

    Previously, Raab has described the Government Equalities Office, which leads work on policy relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality, as pointless and suggested it should be abolished.

  144. says

    blf @208, rightwing, Nazi-leaning misogynists … sigh. The same the world over. And, of course Raab wants to defund government agencies that address equality issues.

    On another subject, immigration to the USA, Margaret Talbot wrote a thoughtful piece for The New Yorker.

    Early last week, when a sixteen-year-old boy from Guatemala became the third migrant child in six months to die in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the sixth child to die after being detained by the agency, it was an acute reminder that the humanitarian challenge at the border shows no signs of abating. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died at a border station in Weslaco, Texas, after being given a diagnosis of influenza. It’s not clear that medical negligence played a role in his death—a nurse-practitioner examined him and prescribed Tamiflu, though he was not taken to a hospital—but it is clear that he died in a system where the quality of mercy is under extreme strain.

    The border-patrol system is chiefly designed to handle the people who in previous decades made up most of the migrants on the border: men crossing from Mexico alone, drawn by the prospect of employment in this country, which they tried to enter undetected. Today, the majority of migrants are women and children fleeing endemic violence in Central America, and often reporting at border stations to request asylum. By law, they can’t be deported until their claims are given a hearing. They end up being detained for days or weeks, often in what are intended to be temporary holding cells; now even these are overwhelmed. News photos from the past few months have shown migrants pressed behind razor wire under the Paso del Norte International Bridge, in El Paso. And their numbers have been climbing […]

    What you want in such a situation is an Administration capable of generating immigration policies grounded in an understanding of why asylum matters, and what impels people to leave their homes and risk their lives on arduous treks to an increasingly unwelcoming country. Last month, in Las Vegas, the President told members of the Republican Jewish Coalition, of all people, that “the asylum program is a scam.” In his view, the asylum seekers are not women and children in crisis but “some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen […]

    The Administration has pursued a slew of immigration policies—building a giant wall, making asylum seekers wait in Mexico, revoking birthright citizenship—that have proved impractical, or unconstitutional, or both […] Most notorious is the zero-tolerance family-separation policy that it announced a year ago, and was forced to revoke in the face of public outcry. […] Dana Sabraw, a district-court judge […] wrote, “The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance—responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making.” […] “The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property.” […]

    Earlier this month, the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, began briefing members of Congress on a plan that he had come up with […] allowing immigration on the basis of “merit,” keeping out low-skilled labor, and limiting family migration […]

    The Kushner proposal apparently does not address key issues such as the daca program, the overburdened asylum system, or aid to Central American countries that could help stem the current flow of migrants. In fact, at the end of March, Trump ordered the State Department to cut four hundred and fifty million dollars in aid […]

    It was a remarkably shortsighted move. Aid is not a cure-all, but it has more practical promise than anything else that the Administration has tried. A 2017 study by the Center for Global Development documents a clear relationship between increases in the violence that such aid is intended to reduce, in part, and in migration from Central America […]

    More at the link.

  145. says

    From Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in relation to media coverage of the subpoenas requiring Hope Hicks to testify before congressional committees:

    What gets me is news breaks that this woman is weighing committing a crime before Congress & it’s getting framed by the NYT as some Lifetime drama called “Hope’s Choice.”

    This is a fmr admin official considering participating in a coverup led by the President.

    Treat her equally. […] when Hope Hicks considers not complying w a subpoena, it’s glamour shot time.

    From Soledad O’Brien:

    This is a good example of bias in the @nytimes: a picture of a person who is considering not complying with a subpoena is basically a glam shot, and it’s framed as a thoughtful, perfectly equal choice.

    From Jamil Smith:

    There is nothing for Hope Hicks to “decide.” She got a subpoena from Congress. Were she not white, wealthy, and connected, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. She would appear, or she would face the threat of prison like the rest of us. As she should.

    From Imani Gandy:

    I totally get Hope Hicks’ dilemma. Right now I’m facing the existential question “should I rob a bank?”

    I’m ready for my glam shot now if I could just get this fake eyelash glue right dagnabbit

  146. blf says

    Ireland votes to liberalise divorce laws after referendum:

    Ireland has voted to ease restrictions on divorce by an overwhelming majority, continuing the country’s social liberalisation.

    Voters approved a constitutional referendum by 1,384,192 yes votes (82.1%) to 302,319 no votes (17.9%), one of the largest referendum margins in the country’s history, it was announced on Sunday.

    All 31 constituencies endorsed the change in a turnout of 50.89% in Friday’s poll, which also included local and European elections.

    Green party candidates surged in early local election results, which surprised the party and its rivals. The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said the public had sent a “clear message” to the government to act faster on climate change.


  147. says

    Good news. (It’s not good news that a KKK rally was held in Dayton, Ohio, but it is good news that only 9 Klan members showed up … and 600 anti-racists showed up to protest.)

    A branch of the Ku Klux Klan—the Honorable Sacred Knights of Madison, Indiana—planned a rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday. But when the time came to march, only nine supporters of the group showed up downtown, and they were met by 500 to 600 counterprotesters rallying against racism.

    City leaders feared a rerun of the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. But this time the anti-racists massively outnumbered the racists in the city of 140,000 in western Ohio. Opponents of the Klan held signs that read: “You Are Not Welcome Here” and “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.” […]

    According to Time, one popular sign among local businesses read, “Get your hatin’ out of Dayton” […]


  148. says

    Afghanistan vet and current Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg came right out and said that Trump “falsified” his physical report in order to get out of military service.

    Buttigieg served as a Naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan. Now he’s saying that the man he wants to replace as president faked an injury to get out of military service—a bit of Memorial Day yellow ribbon tied around his criticism of Donald Trump for considering pardons for servicemen accused of war crimes.

    “There is no question, I think to any reasonable observer, that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving,” Buttigieg told Martha Raddatz on Sunday on ABC News’ This Week. “You have somebody who thinks it’s alright to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war, and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country.” […]

    During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump told The New York Times, “I had a doctor that gave me a letter—a very strong letter on the heels,” but he never provided a copy to the paper.

    “Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery,” Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress in February.

    Buttigieg made similar comments to the Washington Post earlier in the week.

    “You believe he faked a disability?” asked reporter Robert Costa.

    “Do you believe he has a disability?” Buttigieg responded. “Yeah. Yeah. At least not that one,” he said jokingly. […]


  149. blf says

    US cosmetics are full of chemicals banned by Europe — why? (my emboldening):

    A brief but telling piece of legislation was put forward in Connecticut in January. Just three lines in length, the bill calls for any cosmetics in the state to “meet the chemical safety standards established by the European Union”.

    The move, unlikely to be made law, is the latest signal of mounting anguish over the enfeebled regulation of everyday products in the US compared with European countries. Across a span of cosmetics, including makeup, toothpaste and shampoo, to items ranging from household cleaners to fruit juice to cheese, hundreds of potentially harmful ingredients banned in the EU are legally allowed in the US.

    “Many Americans are unaware that they are absorbing untested and unsafe chemicals in their products,” said Alex Bergstein, a state senator who put forward the Connecticut legislation. Bergstein was previously the chair of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental health center.

    “Generally, the EU has got it right. In the US we have a strong favouritism towards companies and manufacturers, to the extent that public health and the environment is being harmed. The pendulum has swung in an extreme way and it’s really going to take a general awakening by the public.”

    The disparity in standards between the EU and US has grown to the extent it touches almost every element of most Americans’ lives. In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.

    It’s possible to find formaldehyde, a known carcinogen banned in EU-sold cosmetics, in US hair-straightening treatments and nail polish. Parabens, linked to reproductive problems, are ruled out in the EU but not the US, where they lurk in skin and hair products. Coal tar dyes can be found in Americans’ eyeshadow, years after they were banned in the EU and Canada.

    “In the US it’s really a buyer beware situation,” said Janet Nudelman, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Cosmetics companies can use any raw material that they like and there’s no way to know if they are safe before they reach the shelves. The contrast with the EU is stark and troubling.”


    The clout of powerful industry interests, combined with a regulatory system that demands a high level of proof of harm before any action is taken, has led to the American public being routinely exposed to chemicals that have been rubbed out of the lives of people in countries such as the UK, Germany and France.

    “When the asbestos ban got overturned the EPA got nervous about banning anything,” said Molly Jacobs, a senior researcher at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. “That was the last time the EPA sought very strict restrictions on industrial chemicals. The EU definitely has stronger policies.”

    Of the more than 40,000 chemicals on the market in the US, the EPA has only banned six […]

    Under a 1976 law called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) the EPA has the power to limit chemicals, but critics say it is severely flawed. The act largely focuses on new potential toxins and even then gives the EPA just 90 days to work out if new products pose a risk before they hit the market.

    A 2016 amendment known as the Lautenberg Act required the EPA to evaluate all potentially risky chemicals, but progress on this backlog has often appeared painfully slow. “The EPA is playing catchup, and under this administration things aren’t moving very fast at all,” said Jacobs.

    [… W]hile the process has lagged, deaths have mounted. More than 50 deaths in the US since the 1980s have been linked to methylene chloride, a lethal ingredient of paint stripper that has been banned in the EU. The EPA recently got around to banning the chemical from consumer use after a group of retailers voluntarily removed it from shelves.

    It will still be allowed for commercial use, however. […]


    “[… T]here are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” [departing FDA commissioner Scott] Gottlieb said. “This means that ultimately a cosmetic manufacturer can decide if they’d like to test their product for safety and register it with the FDA.”


    “I’m hoping for dramatic changes in our politics but there’s little chance of that,” said Bergstein. “The federal government is barely functioning, so consumers have to realize they have the power to become more vocal and demand change. The awareness is still not there, though.”

    There’s also (perhaps) a bit of a related story here. In the States, chickens are routinely “chlorine washed”, a process banned in the EU. (I am not familiar with the details.) However, as a result of brexit, there are concerns chlorine washed chickens (which are apparently very cheap) could be imported into the NKofE, and ultimately smuggled into the EU.

  150. says

    From Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke:

    President Trump is escalating tensions, is provoking yet another war in the Middle East where we find ourselves already engaged in war in so many countries: In Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen, not too far from there in Libya and in Afghanistan. So, we don’t need another war. […]

    I have a really hard time believing this administration and believing a president who has so wantonly lied and misconstrued the facts at every single turn to his own gain.

    You have someone in Bolton, who has publicly said that he wants regime change in Iran. The body count — in that kind of war — on both sides will not be measured in the hundreds or the thousands, but the tens or hundreds of thousands.

  151. says

    Marissa Higgins took a closer look at Elizabeth Warren:

    Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential hopeful, isn’t holding back when it comes to policy proposals. For just about every promise she makes on the campaign trail, a proposal soon follows.

    Refreshingly, the senator has also shown up with a lot of humor. One example? Promising to help a woman with her love life, which unsurprisingly went viral on Twitter. She also knows how to connect with a certain generation, given her Game of Thrones recap with rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. […]

    1. She has big plans for student debt relief

    […] Here’s the short version of how her plan works out. For households where you earn less than $100,000 per year, up to $50,000 of your student debt would be cut. For those above $100,000, it’s basically a sliding scale. As your income level increases, the relief gets a little lower. And if your household income is at $250,000 or above, you aren’t eligible.

    If you’re curious about how your specific numbers would work out, she has a handy calculator right on her website.

    2. She wants to support HBCUs in a huge way

    HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) need—and deserve—support to continue providing the incredible resources, community, and educational opportunities they are known for. […]

    3. She’s been a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community

    […] she’s called for Trump’s transphobic ban on transgender people serving in the military to be reversed. She’s also called for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, an inhumane “therapy” that tries to turn queer (or questioning) youth straight and cisgender […]

    4. Warren wants to make housing more affordable […]

    5. She wants to legalize cannabis on nationwide […]

    Much more at the link, including a YouTube video of Warren describing her family’s financial struggles when she was young (touching and real).

  152. blf says

    ‘We can’t give in’: the Birmingham school on the frontline of anti-LGBT protests:

    Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson is crying. The headteacher at Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham has suffered eight weeks of protests outside her school gates over her decision to teach LGBT-inclusive content to her young pupils, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. After repeatedly putting on a brave face when I ask her how she is feeling, she finally admits: “I am in despair”, and then breaks down. She is struggling for control as she continues: “I know one of the phrases that’s associated with domestic abuse is the crushing of the spirit of a woman. And that’s what I feel is happening. We can’t give in.”

    Her voice trembles with emotion. She has been having sleepless nights, she says, worrying about the impact of the protests on her staff and pupils, and has received threatening messages telling her to watch her back.

    “I am quite resilient to these things but other people, who are more concerned for my safety, are worried I may come to harm.”

    She had a particularly difficult week last week. Police were called last Sunday after LGBT-inclusivity campaigners and their children were pelted with eggs for tying supportive messages and rainbow ribbons on to her school gates. The following day, Hewitt-Clarkson estimates, about half the children at the school were withdrawn from lessons by parents. She believes many were intimidated by protesters who stood guard on the roads that led to the school, and says they were telling parents: If you take your kids to school today, you’re not a Muslim and you’ll burn in hell. On Friday, the school closed at noon so that the children would not have to put up with a highly publicised national protest taking place outside their classrooms. Our children, our choice, a video shows around 200 protesters shouting. Let kids be kids! Listen to parents!


    About half the school’s staff are Muslim. Some have been intimidated by the protesters and none wants to give their names. Two teachers tell me that the Muslim children of the protesters have been “targeted” by other Muslim children who are sticking up for the headteacher they love. “We’ve tried to explain to the children it’s not their fault. These are young children. They don’t understand why they’re at the protest,” says one teacher, who is Muslim. “The children are in the middle,” says another. “They are the innocent victims in all this.”

    [… numerous additional details…]

  153. blf says

    In her desperate attempt to turn teh NKofE into a soviet / Putin vassal, dear lino (for not too much longer, if you believe her), is confusing all the eejits in Westminster the issue is her successor, rather then global heating. And also not brexit. So, in a recent part of this grand deception, What makes the Tories think that anyone must be better than Mrs May?:

    I don’t know about you, but I am surprised that Chris Grayling has not yet announced that he is a candidate for the Tory leadership. You might object that his cabinet career has been distinguished by the opposite of success

    We interrupt this Grauniad excerpt to point out “Failing Grayling” is how this particular eejit is usually referred to. For examples, Failing Grayling is a method loser worthy of an Oscar, and Failing Grayling invaluably diverts attention from cabinet incompetence (“The transport secretary has become a world leader in a hotly contested field of political uselessness”). We now return you to the interrupted excerpt:

    but the lack of any demonstrable qualification to be prime minister isn’t holding back many others. Even his most adoring admirers wouldn’t claim that Boris Johnson added lustre to his own reputation or Britain’s global standing during his embarrassment-encrusted interlude as foreign secretary, but the contest begins with him as the pollsters’ and bookies’ favourite.

    More than a dozen other Tories think they have what it takes to lead the country during one of the most dangerous periods for Britain and their party since 1945. The quantity of the candidates is not an indication of the quality of the leadership pool. It is a symptom of rampant factionalism and unrestrained narcissism.


    The choice of next leader will be heavily influenced by reaction to the failures of Theresa May. When one experiment has gone horribly wrong, it is often a human response to try the exact opposite. Many Tories will think the best way to move on from her miserable premiership is to choose a successor who is as different as can be and you can’t get much more opposite to the vicar’s daughter than the priapic former mayor of London. She was dutiful, hard-working, church-going, self-contained, controlled and possessed some principles. She was also introverted, anti-charismatic, wooden, a constipated communicator, unimaginative and rigid. All those traits, good and bad, are reversed in him. One senior Conservative remarks: The Tory party is tired of a leader so dull that the worst sin she ever committed as a child was to run through a field of wheat. They now want some entertainment and wickedness. So they will probably take a punt on Boris. It will be a wild ride on the tiger. Boris will be a hoot. The question is whether the country wants a hoot. If you are shocked that this is the level of thinking that will determine who becomes Britain’s next prime minister, then you are not very well acquainted with the Conservatives.

    Whoever acquires the battered crown will face all the challenges that defeated Mrs May and some extra ones of their own. One issue that will immediately confront the new Tory prime minister will be democratic legitimacy. He or she will be the product of the calculations of about 300 MPs and the predilections of the 100,000 or so members of the Conservative party. This shrunken and fairly elderly tribe will not be at all representative of the British people. That will give extra bite to Labour’s demands for a general election. […]


    A Tory prime minister installed in this fashion […] will be swiftly confronted with some hideous choices. They will have to try to resolve Brexit without any personal contract with the electorate or gamble on changing the parliamentary maths by triggering an early election that could turn them into the briefest prime minister of modern times. Even if he or she can engineer some kind of renegotiation with the EU — a huge if — they will not return with anything palpably superior to that achieved by Mrs May. This will betray the expectations of their members. Tories horrified by a crash-out Brexit will threaten to vote with the opposition to collapse the government if the new leader attempts to force through a no-deal outcome without a popular mandate and against the will of parliament.

    After three years of escalating chaos and national humiliation under Theresa May, a lot of Tories seem to have convinced themselves that anyone else has to be an improvement. This is but the latest of their delusions.

  154. KG says

    So, despite what the headlines will almost certainly say, it’s actually been a rather disappointing European election for the far right – in the EU as a whole, and in the UK. although it has made gains notably in Italy and the UK, these have not been on the scale many predicted, and if there’s any general trend, it’s to fragmentation, with “liberals” (In the European sense – i.e. generally centrists) making the biggest gains, at the expense of the social democratic and conventional-right blocs, which no longer command a majority between them – but the liberal gains are largely because of Macron’s fan club and the UK LibDems. Greens have also done well, particularly in Germany but also in the UK and elsewhere.

    To focus on the UK, where of course Brexit has dominated the election, while the BUF (British Union of Farageists aka “Brexit Party”) came first with just under 32% of total votes, and both Labour (coming in third behind the LibDems) and the Tories (5th behind the Greens) had a well-deserved disastrous night, with almost all votes counted, the combined votes of parties completely opposed to Brexit and calling for a new referendum (LibDems, Greens, Tingies (“ChangeUK”), SNP and Plaid Cymru) amounted to just over 40%, while those for the BUF plus Farage’s old party, UKIP barely topped 35%. Parties rejecting the idea of a no-deal Brexit (i.e., adding Labour to the unequivocally anti-Brexit parties) got almost 55%. So if the Brexiteers want to regard this as a referendum on that outcome, they’re welcome. And despite Farage’s boasts that a BUF triumph would end calls for a new (real) referendum, the actual outcome simply reinforces the case for one.

    The Tories’ 9.1% is their worst in any national poll since the First Reform Act of 1832, which began the long process of moving toard universal adult suffrage. They are likely to swing hard to the right in an effort to retrieve votes from the BUF, but could well shed some MPs as a result – and since they now have an overall majority of just 4 even with “Democratic” Unionist backing, we could well see a general election if as expected they choose Boris Johnson, or some other numpty prepared to go through with a no-deal Brexit. The key question is what happens to Labour. If Corbyn still refuses to back a new referendum without qualifications and quibbles, a new challenge to his leadership must be a possibility. Being beaten into third is an eloquent condemnation of his Brexit strategy, and surely wipes out the last of the prestige he gained by losing by much less than expected in the 2017 general election.

    In Scotland, the SNP got 3 of the 6 seats, up from 2, and the BUF, LibDems and Tories 1 each. Unfortunately by own party, the Scottish Greens, failed to win a seat – as I had thought would happen (others were more optimistic), our vote was squeezed by the anti-Brexit SNP and LibDems, although it registed a small increase. Unequivocally anti-Brexit parties got 62% of the vote – the same percentage as in the 2016 referendum.

    More tomorrow – I’m off to bed!

  155. KG says

    As expected, a fine misleading headline from the BBC: “Brexit Party Dominates in EU Elections”. The story is much more balanced, but BBC editors are not so stupid they don’t know that the headline “dominates” the nuances of the story.

    One particularly pleasing result from the North-West England region: the humiliation of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”), who got 2.2% of the vote. In the linked Grauniad story, a UKIP spox blames their disastrous showing (3.3% UK-wide) on Carl Benjamin’s rape threats. I doubt she’s right: the real reason is that UKIP is nothing without Farage, who is now the undisputed führer of the UK’s far right. UKIP (and the Tingies, who got 3.4%) might as well pack up and go home.

  156. KG says

    Sorry, forgot to close the first link @222. For the Yaxley-Lennon story, click on “humiliation”.

  157. says

    KG @222:

    As expected, a fine misleading headline from the BBC: “Brexit Party Dominates in EU Elections”. The story is much more balanced, but BBC editors are not so stupid they don’t know that the headline “dominates” the nuances of the story.

    The statistical information you provided in comment 220 belies that headline. You should write the BBC headlines. They need some correction.

  158. says

    Josh Marshall has some thoughts about the European elections:

    For those of you who’ve been trying to make sense of the EU elections and especially the EU elections in the UK, I wanted to add a few thoughts.

    First, the results are a bit muddled and contradictory. But they’re also mired in a fair amount of misunderstandings and misleading spin and gloss.

    Correct. That’s part of what KG and blf were pointing out in comments above.

    Rightwing parties did do well in a lot of EU countries. But in most they either underperformed expectations or fell from previous highs in the 2014 EU election. The big story overall is the decline or in some cases near collapse of the traditional parties of government – center-right and center-left – in lots of countries, particularly heartland EU countries like Germany, France, the UK, et al.

    Let’s focus in on the UK.

    The wild, eye-popping result is that the “Brexit Party”, founded only months ago and now led by rightist provocateur Nigel Farage, got the most votes almost everywhere in England outside of London and the most seats overall – 29 seats and 31.6% of the vote, far more than the Tories and Labour combined.

    But the picture looks very different if you step back a bit. There were five parties running as Remain parties – i.e., pro-EU, anti-Brexit. If you add up the Remain parties they got just over 40% of the vote compared to just under 35% for the hard Brexit parties (Farage’s new party and UKIP, his old party). The remaining 23% or so went to the Labour (14.1%) and Tories (9.1%), both of which are divided on Brexit, though Labour leans more Remain and the Tories more Leave. (The big party winners on the Remain side were the Liberal Democrats and the the Greens.)

    One very reasonable way to look at these numbers is that the election was about Brexit and neither of the two traditional parties of government took a clear stand on the issue. Both saw their support fall precipitously. Parties with clear Remain or Leave positions took the overwhelming majority of the votes (about 75%) and a clear majority of those went to Remain parties.

    An analogue to Trumpism is that Brexit support seems to be clearly a minority position in the UK (albeit a very large majority). […] Yet they make up a large enough percentage of the electorate and are unified and coherent enough that they can drive the political agenda, even if they can’t necessarily carry their core policy to fruition.

  159. says

    Followup to comment 213.

    South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg doubled down on his assertion that Trump faked a bone spurs diagnosis to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

    There is no question, I think to any reasonable observer, that the President found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status, in order to avoid serving […] an assault on the honor of this country.

    Trump received five draft deferments: Four for education and one for bone spurs.

    From the readers comments:

    I wish that whenever people mention extremely stable genius Cadet Bone Spurs’ bone spurs — which, curiously enough, didn’t effect his ability to play football, baseball, squash, tennis or, yes, golf — they would also point out that the podiatrist who orchestrated the scam was a tenant of Fred Trump and was rumored to have received a postponement of his lease increase for his troubles, among other favors. (Elysa Braunstein said her father diagnosed Donald Trump with bones spurs at the height of the Vietnam War as a favor to his landlord, Fred Trump.)
    And to top it off, Trump now makes fun of and mocks people with real disabilities, and picks fights with Gold Star families whose loved ones died in service to the country, on the campaign trail and from his position as illegitimate President and Commander in Chief. And now is trying to figure out a way to send kids to a war someplace, anyplace, that he can provoke.
    Mayor Pete is in the perfect place to take this fight to Trump. Rare among modern politicians he served and served honorably.

    Mayor Pete is good at honing in on hypocrisy and exposing it, as he did in comments about Mike Pence’s anti-gay statements.

  160. says

    Good news on voting rights in the state of Nevada:

    Voting rights activists secured a big win in Nevada, where the legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would automatically restore the voting rights of ex-felons. It is expected to be signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak and would go into effect on July 1. The bill, which is retroactive, is expected to restore the franchise for some 77,000 Nevadans.

    Nevada legislators also passed a bill that would have the state join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, where states pledge to award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, rather than the popular vote of the state itself. Sisolak has not signaled whether he will sign the bill, but if he does, Nevada will be the 15th state to join the compact and it will have 195 electoral votes total among members. Once the compact has 270 electoral votes, it kicks in, and will in effect end the Electoral College. […]


  161. says

    Trump runs the government (or fails to properly run the government) like he is the only one who matters, the only guy who makes decisions, and the only dictator-in-training who can deal with North Korea.

    […] Trump has successfully sidelined the U.S. State Department and the military intelligence of his own government by siding with North Korea’s dictator after the country’s recent missile tests.

    That’s just one recent and particularly radical example of the president’s favored style of government: l’etat c’est moi.

    “Let me tell you, the one that matters is me,” Trump said in 2017. He was describing to Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham why it didn’t matter that critical State Department jobs languished vacant. “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that. You’ve seen it strongly.”

    […] The country continues to see the damage done by a government operated at the whims of a single man.

    National Security Adviser John Bolton, for example, said North Korea’s recent missile tests violated U.N. resolutions — and whatever informal agreement the U.S. had entered into with North Korea after their last round of talk.

    “U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from firing any ballistic missiles,” Bolton said. “In terms of violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, there is no doubt about that.”

    But Trump rejected his own national security advisor’s view, saying in an interview that he didn’t personally consider these missile tests a violation. “They’re short-range, and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all,” the president said. “And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no.”

    In other words, it doesn’t matter what the experts, the law, or the U.N. say. It only matter how Trump personally feels — “at this point” — about these missile tests and whether they violate his trust.

    In response, North Korea called Bolton a “war monger” and “defective human product.” […]


  162. says

    2020 Candidates Aren’t Sure What To Do About Misinformation

    Democratic leaders increased aid to campaigns, but the campaigns are largely on their own.

    On April 25, NRATV, the media arm of the National Rifle Association, aired a segment in which host Grant Stinchfield alleged that Sen. Bernie Sanders supports giving terrorists the right to vote. The evidence he presented was a Twitter reply to pop star Cher, supposedly written by the 2020 presidential candidate, which was clearly a fake. The message had been sent by an unverified user, @Ryan35186711, who had simply changed his display name to “President Bernie Sanders.”

    While Twitter deleted the faux Sanders account after Mother Jones flagged it in a set of questions directed to the company, the low-level hoax incident speaks to a larger dilemma faced by the crowded field of 2020 Democrats: how to combat misinformation and disinformation concocted by unknown adversaries, spread on social media and potentially picked up by media outlets with more reach or credibility. While the candidates have been given multiple briefings on cybersecurity from party leaders, and been advised on how to avoid foreign spies, when it comes to fortifying their campaigns against misinformation and disinformation, most thinking predates the invention of botnets and fake internet viral news.

    […] attacks can go viral in mere hours, after little or no ad spending. Media outlets take their cues from social media platforms that, in 2016, were used for misinformation and foreign interference. Candidates are forced to make a lightning-fast decision of whether or not to respond to a political smear.

    “Bottom line, the prevalence of social media puts candidates into a position where they have to respond and be more proactive,” says Simon Maloy, a senior writer at Media Matters who got his start covering the media reaction to the Swift Boat veterans. “It forces them into a position of having to respond because there’s a direct path from the crazy Reddit forum, to Gateway Pundit, to Drudge, to Fox, and then the mainstream.” […]

  163. says

    Coverage from Wonkette of Trump’s trip to Japan:

    Today is Memorial Day, the day on which Americans reflect on the sacrifices made by those who died in defense of our great country or at least its international/corporate interests at the time, depending on the conflict. To mark the solemn occasion, Donald Trump traveled to Japan so he could be the greatest guest of honor for the new emperor, Naruhito, because he (Donald Trump) is literally America.

    Before leaving, Trump explained to reporters why this is such an enormous honor for him, Donald Trump, the biggest guest of honor at Japan’s biggest event, bigly:

    “It’s a very big thing going on with the emperor,” Trump said. “It’s something that hasn’t happened in over 200 years. I am the guest, meaning the United States is the guest, but Prime Minister Abe said to me very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor. There’s only one guest of honor. You are the guest of honor.’

    “With all the countries of the world I am the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Trump said. “So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the prime minister so we’re going to be spending two days over there.”

    Now, it’s true that Trump is the first head of state to visit Japan since the enthronement of Naruhito, who became emperor after his father, Akihito, abdicated at the beginning of this month, the first time a Japanese emperor has stepped down in 200 years. Why, yes, that’s why it’s such a big deal, not because Trump happens to fill the office at the moment. Having the US “president” visit first, said Takehiro Shimada, minister of public affairs for the Japanese Embassy in Washington, is meant to emphasize the importance of the US-Japan relationship. Really, Japan would be doing this even if Hillary Clinton were president.

    During the big event, Mr. Trump is expected to demand Emperor Naruhito tell him how calm and non-tantrum-y he is, and then to regale the direct descendant of the sun-goddess Amaterasu with a detailed anecdote about how nobody thought he could get enough electoral votes on election night 2016, but he showed them. […]

    Trump’s Memorial Day message:

    I would like to wish everyone, including all haters and losers (of which, sadly, there are many) a truly happy and enjoyable Memorial Day!

  164. says


    […] hundreds of powerful tornadoes carved a path of destruction through parts of Missouri and Oklahoma Wednesday night, and left at least three dead. […] massive flooding, following record amounts of rain brought by the severe weather system and with more expected […] And it’s coming on the heels of the wettest 12 months the US has seen since record-keeping began in 1895.

    That’s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which earlier this year predicted that two-thirds of the states in the lower 48 would risk major or moderate flooding between March and May. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center said in the agency’s spring outlook report. […]

    Scientists say it’s too early to tell to what degree this particularly relentless spring storm season is the result of human-induced climate change. But they agree that rising temperatures allow the atmosphere to hold more moisture—about 7 percent more for every 1 degree rise in Celsius—which produces more precipitation and has been fueling a pattern of more extreme weather events across the US. And perhaps more than any other part of the country, the Midwest has had its capacity to store excess water crippled by human enterprise.

    We tend to focus on how coastal cities, with their sprawling miles of pavement and rain-grabbing skylines, turn hurricanes and atmospheric rivers into deadly urban flash floods. Or how they’ll get swamped first by sea-level rise. Scientists too have focused their efforts on understanding how western watersheds, with their cycles of moisture whiplash, will respond to a warmer world. But climate change will bring more moisture to the middle parts of the country too, and after decades of draining wetlands and clearing forests for agricultural use, those changes to the timing, type, and amount of precipitation will fall on a system already profoundly altered in ways that make flooding much more likely. […]

    floods aren’t just getting more frequent—they’ll also get more powerful in the future. Using a statistical method to blend data from global climate models with local information, the researchers predicted that the severity of extreme hydrologic events, so-called 100-year floods, hitting 20 watersheds in the Midwest and Great Lakes region will increase by as much as 30 percent by the end of the century. […] “What we’re seeing is that the past really is not a good predictor of the future,” says the study’s lead author, Kyuhyun Byun. “Especially when it comes to extreme weather events.” […]

  165. says

    “Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz ousted in no-confidence vote”:

    Austria’s chancellor has been ousted in a no-confidence vote just a day after his centre-right party enjoyed a triumphant night in the European elections, after opposition politicians lost faith in his handling of a corruption scandal that has engulfed his former far-right coalition partner.

    Austria will be governed by a technocratic administration of experts and senior civil servants until fresh elections scheduled for early September.

    During a debate in which the delegates of the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ) resolutely refused to lend Sebastian Kurz the customary applause, rightwing populist politicians accused the centre-right chancellor of trying to use the so-called Ibiza scandal to consolidate his power at the top of government.

    Opposition delegates said that Kurz, the leader of the Austrian People’s party (ÖVP), had not shown enough willingness to enter into a dialogue with parliament during his time as chancellor. “You only showed contempt for parliament and Austrian democracy”, said the SPÖ’s Jörg Leichtfried.

    The vote makes Austria’s youthful chancellor the final figure to be swept away by a political avalanche unleashed by the Ibiza scandal.

    For all the drama and cloak-and-dagger intrigue of the last week, Sunday evening’s European elections made it look as if the tremors of the Ibiza scandal had done less damage to Austria’s political landscape than many had expected.

    Kurz’s conservatives emerged as the strongest party on the night on 34.5% of the vote, up 7.5 percentage points on the previous elections. The FPÖ only took a minor hit, losing 2.2 percentage points to come third with 17.5%.

    Strache received enough preferential votes across the country that he could be headed to the European parliament if he were to accept the mandate.

    The SPÖ came second on 23.5% but performed slightly less well than in 2014….

    The article has some new details about the sting operation.

  166. says

    From Canada:

    “Mark Zuckerberg will defy parliamentary subpoena from International Grand Committee into citizen rights in the age of big data.
    The first hearing begins at 8:30 EST.
    The questioning of Facebook, Google, Twitter begins at 10:30.”

    Link to livestream at the link.

  167. says

    “Impossible Whopper boosted Burger King traffic by 18%, report says”:

    While McDonald’s is waiting to jump into plant-based meat substitutes, Burger King is reaping the rewards for taking the plunge.

    On April 1, the Restaurant Brands International chain announced it was testing a vegetarian friendly version of its Whopper, made with the bleeding plant-based Impossible Burger. Before the month ended, Burger King said it would launch the product nationwide later this year. It has since brought the Impossible Whopper to three more cities.

    Locations in Burger King’s test market St. Louis outperformed the chain’s national foot traffic average by 18.5% in April, according to a report from inMarket inSights released Thursday. The firm analyzed location data from mobile apps for March — before the Impossible Whopper started testing — and April….

  168. says

    “Israel lurches toward unprecedented political crisis, Netanyahu faces possible 2nd election”:

    Israel’s parliament on Monday passed a preliminary motion to dissolve itself. The move further pushed the country toward an unprecedented political impasse, less than two months after elections seemed to promise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a new mandate.

    If the bill receives final passage in a vote scheduled Wednesday, Israel would be forced to hold new elections — sending the political system into disarray.

    Netanyahu appeared to have a clear path to victory, and a fourth consecutive term, after the April 9 elections. His Likud party emerged tied as the largest party in the 120-seat parliament, and with his traditional allies, he appeared to control a solid 65-55 majority.

    But he has struggled to form a government ahead of a looming deadline to do so. His prospective coalition has been thrown into crisis in recent days by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ally and sometimes rival of Netanyahu’s.

    Lieberman has insisted on passing a new law mandating that young ultra-Orthodox men be drafted into the military, like most other Jewish males. Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies demand that the draft exemptions remain in place.

    Without the five seats of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, Netanyahu cannot muster a majority.

    “The draft law has become a symbol and we will not capitulate on our symbols,” Lieberman defiantly said, vowing to press for new elections if his demands are not met.

    Netanyahu and Lieberman met Monday evening in a last-ditch effort to find a compromise. Israeli media said the meeting ended without any progress, and quoted Likud officials as saying Netanyahu would soon order new elections.

    Netanyahu’s ruling Likud has traditionally had an alliance with ultra-Orthodox and nationalist parties. But Lieberman, a former top Netanyahu aide, is a wild card. Though stanchly nationalist, he also champions a secular agenda aimed toward his political base of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

    Likud insists Lieberman is motivated by his personal spite for Netanyahu and has launched a vicious campaign against him in recent days. But Lieberman says he is driven by ideology and will not be a hand to religious coercion.

    “I will not be a partner to a Halachic state,” he said, using the word for Jewish law….

  169. says

    “Sicily’s ‘doctor of migrants’ bucks far-right trend to win seat in EU elections”:

    An Italian man known as the “doctor of migrants” on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa has won a seat in Sunday’s European parliament elections, bucking a trend towards the extreme right across the south of the country.

    Pietro Bartolo, who has dedicated years of his life to addressing the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, stood in Sicily for the centre-left Democratic party (PD), which presented him on the campaign trail as the last defence against the anti-immigration rhetoric of the extreme right. He finished second, behind the candidate for Matteo Salvini’s far-right League.

    Bartolo was born and raised on Lampedusa, a tiny island of around 6,000 people, and the closest point in Italy to the Libyan coast, from where many migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe set off. It was once seen as a haven for migrants and refugees, but patience among many of its residents has worn thin in recent years.

    Bartolo refuses to refer to Salvini by name, but refers to the rise of the League in Italy as a “tsunami”.

    “We are in the midst of a freak wave of fascist forces,” the 63-year-old said. “I am grateful towards those who supported me. At the same time, I am very worried about the results reached by that other man, that guy who closes ports to rescue ships, that guy who wants to fine anyone who saves migrants.”

    It has been four years since Salvini set foot in Sicily and issued a public apology on behalf of what was then the Northern League for years of abuse directed toward southern Italians by his once separatist party, which had long dismissed them as “parasites” dragging down the country.

    It took riot police to protect him from the crowds in Palermo, who greeted him by throwing eggs and tomatoes on that visit in 2015.

    But when Italians headed to the polls in European elections on Sunday, Salvini’s efforts to make amends in the south seemed to have paid off.

    Bartolo said he would take his fight for justice for migrants and refugees to the corridors of European power in Brussels and Strasbourg.

    “I’ve heard that they [European politicians] no longer want NGOs to save migrants at sea. I want the same thing,” he said.

    “I want to fight for a world in which there is no need to have NGOs at sea, in which migrants won’t have to risk their lives to reach Europe. I want a world in which migrants can reach our countries through humanitarian channels, on an aeroplane. I will fight in Europe for a world in which there is no need for physicians like me, who treat victims of war and rape that Europe no longer wants to accept.”

  170. says

    “California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter admits he’s taken photo with dead enemy”:

    Rep. Duncan Hunter of California acknowledged taking a photo with a dead combatant during his time as a Marine as he defended a Navy SEAL charged with multiple war crimes, including killing a teenage fighter.

    The Republican congressman, who was re-elected last November as he faces corruption charges, made the comments during a town hall Saturday in his San Diego-area district, the Union-Tribune reported.

    Hunter has advocated for a pardon for Edward Gallagher, who’s charged with stabbing to death a teenage Islamic State fighter under his care in Iraq in 2017 and then holding his reenlistment ceremony with the body.

    Prosecutors said the Navy SEAL chief texted a photograph of himself next to the dead fighter and wrote he “got him with my hunting knife.” He’s also accused of shooting two civilians in Iraq and opening fire on crowds.

    Hunter said he also posed for a photo next to a dead combatant but said he did not text it or post it to social media. The congressman said “a lot of us have done the exact same thing,” referring to fellow service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Hunter called the military justice system “corrupt,” saying it is run by lawyers and bureaucrats intent on pursuing “war fighters.” His offices didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment Monday.

    At the town hall, Hunter declined to comment on his own pending court case.

    Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in 2017 on federal charges of illegally converting more than $250,000 in campaign contributions for personal living expenses. Both have pleaded not guilty and have their next court hearing scheduled for July 29. Trial is set for later this year.

  171. Akira MacKenzie says

    240 @ SC

    I don’t know why they get so little media attention.

    For the same reason the media never covers the corruption of organized religion to any significant degree: our cultural bias that privileges and encourages religious institutions, even when they’re caught doing something immoral.

    That, and fear of losing advertisers due to theists offended that anyone would speak ill of these “Men of God.”

  172. tomh says

    From NYT:
    A Dark Milestone for Women’s Rights: A State With No Abortion Clinics
    By The Editorial Board
    The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
    May 28, 2019

    In this threatening time for reproductive rights in America, a dark milestone is looming: Planned Parenthood announced on Tuesday that it would most likely be forced to stop providing abortions at its clinic in St. Louis, the last abortion clinic in Missouri, making it the only state in the country with zero abortion clinics.

    The ending of abortion care in St. Louis would make clear that while Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, continues to protect the right to abortion in all 50 states, that is becoming a right in name only in many places. What good is a legal right to abortion if a woman can’t get one?

    Missouri had been one of six states with just one abortion clinic, after lawmakers and officials approved a tsunami of regulations that shut down the other facilities or forced them to stop providing abortions. The Supreme Court opened the door to such hurdles with its 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which both reaffirmed and modified the core of Roe, announcing that states may not impose an “undue burden” on a woman seeking an abortion. Opponents of the procedure have tested the court’s definition of “undue burden” ever since.

    Anti-abortion measures in Missouri include strict limits on the use of private and public insurance to cover abortion, a ban on the use of telemedicine to administer abortions by medication, a parental consent requirement for minors, a mandate that doctors counsel patients in a way that’s meant to dissuade them from getting an abortion, and a mandatory 72-hour waiting period. And, as of last year, the state requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 15 minutes of their clinic — a burden that reproductive health experts agree is medically unnecessary.

    Missouri’s governor, Mike Parson, also recently signed a measure banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest. The legislation is part of a rash of near-total abortion bans being passed around the country this year — nearly all of which are being held up in the court system and will not go into effect unless Roe v. Wade is overturned.

    Despite all efforts against it, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood has managed to hold on, while four other clinics in the state stopped providing abortions over the past decade. What seems likely to finally do in the clinic’s ability to perform abortions is a dispute with the state health department over the renewal of its license, which expires on Saturday. Planned Parenthood says that to make it more onerous to provide abortions, the health department has created new rules and started enforcing others that have long been understood to be outdated. One rule would require that doctors perform two separate pelvic exams on surgical abortion patients, despite protests from doctors that such a requirement is medically unnecessary and could be traumatic for patients. Planned Parenthood says that the clinic will not agree to comply with all of the rules, and the group plans to sue the state over the matter.

    If the St. Louis clinic closes, Missouri will show America what abortion access would look like in much of the country if Roe were overturned, as some experts fear it will be in the years ahead. The coasts and parts of the Midwest would still have a decent number of clinics, while the entire Southeastern portion of the country and the region from Texas up through Missouri would likely not.

    Abortion would become, even more than it is today, a procedure for the upper classes: Women with the financial means to travel, to pay for child care or to take time off from work would be able to get one in a clinic, while those who are poor would not.

    For now, many Missouri women looking to have an abortion would most likely travel to clinics in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa — in fact, many women in the state are already doing exactly that. But many of those states are facing their own attacks on abortion rights, and if anti-abortion lawmakers keep racking up political wins, the options for women will continue to dwindle.

    It’s been remarkable to see the surge of alarm for the state of reproductive rights in recent weeks, as Americans tuned in to the ban on nearly all abortions in Alabama and the so-called fetal heartbeat laws in Georgia and other states.

    But the situation in Missouri is a reminder that anti-abortion forces have already so worn away the right to abortion in America that it’s now being held together by threads. For too many women, the nightmare of a post-Roe America is already here.

  173. says

    New thread from Amash:

    Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller’s report and decisions in the investigation, which has helped further the president’s false narrative about the investigation.

    After receiving Mueller’s report, Barr wrote and released a letter on March 24 describing Barr’s own decision not to indict the president for obstruction of justice. That letter selectively quotes and summarizes points in Mueller’s report in misleading ways.

    Mueller’s report says he chose not to decide whether Trump broke the law because there’s an official DoJ opinion that indicting a sitting president is unconstitutional, and because of concerns about impacting the president’s ability to govern and pre-empting possible impeachment.

    Barr’s letter doesn’t mention those issues when explaining why Mueller chose not to make a prosecutorial decision. He instead selectively quotes Mueller in a way that makes it sound—falsely—as if Mueller’s decision stemmed from legal/factual issues specific to Trump’s actions.

    But, in fact, Mueller finds considerable evidence that several of Trump’s actions detailed in the report meet the elements of obstruction, and Mueller’s constitutional and prudential issues with indicting a sitting president would preclude indictment regardless of what he found.

    In noting why Barr thought the president’s intent in impeding the investigation was insufficient to establish obstruction, Barr selectively quotes Mueller to make it sound as if his analysis was much closer to Barr’s analysis than it actually was:

    Barr quotes Mueller saying the evidence didn’t establish that Trump was personally involved in crimes related to Russian election interference, and Barr then claims that Mueller found that fact relevant to whether the president had the intent to obstruct justice.

    But Mueller’s quote is taken from a section in which he describes other improper motives Trump could have had and notes: “The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong.” None of that is in Barr’s letter.

    As a result of Barr’s March 24 letter, the public and Congress were misled. Mueller himself notes this in a March 27 letter to Barr, saying that Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

    Mueller: “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

    To “alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen,” Mueller urged the release of the report’s introductions and executive summaries, which he had told Barr “accurately summarize [Mueller’s] Office’s work and conclusions.”

    Barr declined; he allowed the confusion to fester and only released the materials three weeks later with the full redacted report. In the interim, Barr testified before a House committee and was misleading about his knowledge of Mueller’s concerns:

    Barr was asked about reports “that members of [Mueller’s] team are frustrated…with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”

    Barr absurdly replied: “No, I don’t…I suspect that they probably wanted more put out.” Yet Mueller had directly raised those concerns to Barr, and Barr says he “suspect[s]” they “probably” wanted more materials put out, as if Mueller hadn’t directly told him that.

    In subsequent statements and testimony, Barr used further misrepresentations to help build the president’s false narrative that the investigation was unjustified.

    Barr notes that Mueller did not “find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign.” He then declares that Mueller found “no collusion” and implies falsely that the investigation was baseless.

    But whether there’s enough evidence for a conviction of a specific crime which Mueller thought was appropriate to charge is a different and much higher standard than whether the people whom Mueller investigated had done anything worthy of investigation.

    In truth, Mueller’s report describes concerning contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and people in or connected to the Russian government.

    For instance, Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner took a meeting with a Russian lawyer whom Trump Jr. had been told worked for the Russian government and would provide documents to “incriminate Hillary,” as part of the Russian government’s “support for Mr. Trump.”

    It’s wrong to suggest that the fact that Mueller did not choose to indict anyone for this means there wasn’t a basis to investigate whether it amounted to a crime or “collusion,” or whether it was in fact part of Russia’s efforts to help Trump’s candidacy.

    Barr says the White House “fully cooperated” with the investigation and that Mueller “never sought” or “pushed” to get more from the president, but the report says Mueller unsuccessfully sought an interview with the president for over a year.

    The report says the president’s counsel was told that interviewing him was “vital” to Mueller’s investigation and that it would be in the interest of the public and the presidency. Still Trump refused.

    The president instead gave written answers to questions submitted by the special counsel. Those answers are often incomplete or unresponsive. Mueller found them “inadequate” and again sought to interview the president.

    Ultimately, the special counsel “recogniz[ed] that the President would not be interviewed voluntarily” and chose not to subpoena him because of concerns that the resulting “potentially lengthy constitutional litigation” would delay completion of the investigation.

    Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people. This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth.

  174. says

    Followup to comment 204.

    Even some Republicans were not happy with Trump choosing, while he was in Japan, to criticize/insult Joe Biden.

    From Representative Steve King:

    Wrong for @POTUS Trump to criticize @JoeBiden in Japan and to agree with Kim Jong-un. Politics stops at water’s edge. Never right to side with murderous dictator vs. fellow American.

    From Lindsey Graham:

    Yes, I don’t think it is very helpful to agree with Kim Jong-un when he makes political observations inside of America, but the visit was very successful and the Japanese really admire President Trump for being strong.

    Careful, Lindsey! Walk that tightrope.

    From Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois congressman:

    It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong.

    From members of a Fox News Panel:

    You don’t attack political opponents from foreign soil, you’re supposed to be out there as America’s chief diplomat. And two, you don’t cite the murderous dictator of North Korea as evidence of why Biden is a bad candidate.

    It is a sign of the enormous place that Joe Biden is occupying in the President’s worldview at the moment.

    Trump has to be corrected like a stubborn toddler by his Republican friends.

    From the readers comments:

    Agreeing with a North Korean dictator over the Memorial Day weekend is a slap at our remaining Korean War veterans. Did they freeze and bleed for this ?
    Note to Lindsay Graham, who’s on-record history apparently only begins in 2016.
    The Japanese respect Trump as a “strong leader” the same way they pinch their nostrils when passing a factory that renders animal by-products.

    If Trump’s infantile jabs at Biden from Japan are the “Bridge too Far” for these few GOP members, one must ask where they were for all of his preceding crimes, atrocities and idiocies and why they’ll continue to hide when confronted with all the subsequent sick things this foaming psychopath will do between now and 2020.

  175. says

    Justice Clarence Thomas is usually silent. He does sometimes write startling opinions, as he has done now when he wrote a 20-page rant that equated abortion rights to eugenics. WTF?

    […] Thomas said the court would have to at some point “confront” the type of abortion ban passed by Indiana in 2016 that was struck down by an appellate court last year. The Indiana law banned abortions in cases where the doctor knows that woman’s sole reason for seeking the procedure was due to the fetus’ race, sex or a disability.

    The Supreme Court on Monday issued a per curium order (meaning it was not signed by the individual justices) letting the appellate decision stand. The order said that it expressed “no view on the merits” of Indiana’s ban, while noting that no other appellate court has weighed the question yet. The court, additionally, used a narrow legal argument to justify upholding another aspect of the Indiana law that required abortion providers to cremate or bury fetal remains.

    Thomas took the extra step of writing a concurrence to explain his view that bans like the Indiana law “promote a State’s compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.”

    “The use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical,” Thomas said. His concurrence went through many of the favorite talking points of the anti-abortion movement in this regard, pointing to the abortion rights advocates of the 20th century who “endorsed the use of abortion for eugenic reasons.”

    Notably, Thomas at times also implied that he viewed birth control as similarly tied to eugenics.

    “This case highlights the fact that abortion is an act rife with the potential for eugenic manipulation,” he wrote. “From the beginning, birth control and abortion were promoted as means of effectuating eugenics. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was particularly open about the fact that birth control could be used for eugenic purposes.”

    Thomas then claimed that “a growing body of evidence suggests that eugenic goals are already being realized through abortion.”

    He pointed specifically to the relatively higher abortion rates among African American communities. […]

    Thomas’ concurrence, for all of its anti-abortion fire, acknowledged that he agreed with the court’s decision to not, for now, take up a case on an Indiana-style ban […]

    “[…] it is easy to understand why the District Court and the Seventh Circuit looked to Casey to resolve a question it did not address. Where else could they turn? The Constitution itself is silent on abortion,” Thomas wrote.


  176. says

    Followup to comment 245.

    From the readers comments:

    “The Constitution itself is silent on abortion”

    Oh, bullshit. The Constitution is very clear on what does and doesn’t count as a person, or as 3/5ths of a person.

    As there’s no mention of counting zygotes and fetuses, clearly they were not considered to be persons.
    I don’t think we ever fully appreciated the degree to which Scalia kept Thomas’s crazy in check. Or at least out of written documentation.
    Someone remind this jackass that the court rules on constitutionality not ignorant opinion. So “black” people are duped into abortions. Damn this clown is stupid. 20 bucks says he did not write one word. Lackeys do his work. Dementia is apparent in this Sillius Soddus.
    Thomas including traditional birth control aka “the pill.” There is no such thing as family planning or planned pregnancies for Thomas. Be glad when he retires – in fact I will rejoice.
    I’ve sat through a number of anti-abortion pitches. To black audiences they make the pitch Thomas is parroting. To white audiences they say that the lower birth rate of white women coupled with access to.abortion will lead to disappearance of the white race. Usually not that bluntly stated but the point is clear.———————
    “He pointed specifically to the relatively higher abortion rates among African American communities.

    “Whatever the reasons for these disparities, they suggest that, insofar as abortion is viewed as a method of ‘family planning,’ black people do indeed ‘tak[e] the brunt of the “planning,”‘ he wrote.”

    This is a rightwing talking point (I’ve actually heard before) that White Rethugs trot out to call White Liberals “racist.”

    It’s particularly stupid and insidious coming from Uncle Clarence. After all, on the one hand, Black women are pumping out babies by untold numbers of men so they can become “Welfare Queens” but on the other hand, the Black race is being decimated because of abortion.

  177. says

    Good news. Texas Democrats force resignation of voter-suppressing Texas secretary of state

    One corrupt, vote-suppressing Republican state official gone, way too many to go.

    Texas Secretary of State David Whitley resigned Monday following the success of the state’s Senate Democrats blocking his confirmation, which required a two-thirds majority. The legislative session ended on Monday, and just before the closing gavel came down, Whitely submitted his letter of resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott, “effective immediately.”

    Whitley is only out because his voter-suppression technique was so “ham-handed,” as noted by the federal judge who blocked the effort. Whitely had identified and purged nearly 100,000 voter registrations from a list compiled by various state agencies of people who had at some time identified themselves as noncitizens, the vast majority of whom had been naturalized before they registered. The state was sued by numerous voting rights groups, was forced to settle, and has scrapped the flawed list entirely. As part of the settlement, it is also coordinating with Latino voting and civil rights rights groups to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    […] He also has the trust of Donald Trump, who didn’t just tout Whitley’s claims, but exaggerated them. “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” he tweeted in January, saying that was just “the tip of the iceberg” in “rampant” voter fraud.

  178. says

    Oh, FFS. Say, what now?

    Over the weekend, the head of Trump’s planned climate review panel had this to say about the climate crisis: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” It’s the sort of remark that would instantly result in dismissal in more reasonable times. Under Trump … it’s exactly where policy is going.

    William Happer and his comparison of Jews to a polluting gas are just one aspect of a policy that’s focused not only on denying the climate crisis, but also on attacking science and scientific reasoning. As a physicist, Happer might be expected to have some deference toward his scientific colleagues […] there are more important factors that shape Happer’s reasoning. Millions of them. As in the millions that have come from the fossil-fuel billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer to fund Happer and his anti-science pogrom.

    […] the Mercers funded both Happer’s one-man “advocacy group” and a super PAC controlled by John Bolton. Then, when Trump brought Bolton into the Cabinet, it was Bolton who pulled in Happer to head up efforts to destroy the planet’s future. […]

    As a first step in destroying the nation’s faith in science and tamping down concerns about the already unfolding disasters brought on by global warming, the Trump regime has a simple answer: Don’t look. To that end, the new head of the United States Geological Survey has forbidden any analysis that looks beyond 2040. And the EPA, which produces a new climate assessment every four years, will simply drop the best, most accurate models from the next assessment in favor of only looking at the most favorable possible outcomes.

    […] Even though some White House staffers are concerned that opening up a “holy war” on science might be not such a good thing, Trump is determined to charge ahead for the simple reason that allowing people to respect any other voice, on any subject, is a threat to Trump’s authority. […]


  179. says

    Trump invents nonexistent sources all the time. And it’s one way in which he is “transparent,” (as he claims to be the most transparent president of all): he is transparently lying.

    Trump warns against other people quoting anonymous sources:

    They put out false – you know, they say, “confidential sources.” Do you ever notice they never write the names of people anymore? Everything is “a source says…” There is no source. The person doesn’t exist. The person is not alive. It’s bullishit. Okay? It’s bullshit.”

    Nine days later, Trump tweeting this while he was still in Japan:

    Great fun and meeting with Prime Minister [Abe Shinzo]. Numerous Japanese officials told me that the Democrats would rather see the United States fail than see me or the Republican Party succeed – Death Wish!

    Transparent lying.

    From Steve Benen:

    […]One of two things is possible. The first scenario is that Donald Trump really did have private conversations with Japanese officials who expressed their dismay over Democratic officials’ indifference toward patriotism.

    The other scenario is that the American president, who has an unsettling habit of describing the details of conversations that only occurred in his mind, traveled to the other side of the planet and implicated his Japanese hosts in an attack against his domestic political rivals.

    In this same scenario, Trump also relied on anonymous foreign sources — people who do not exist and are not alive — and dragged Tokyo into his latest partisan fantasy. […]


    Response from Joe Biden’s campaign:

    The president’s comments are beneath the dignity of the office. To be on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President speaks for itself. And it’s part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions – whether taking Putin’s word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging “love letters” with Kim Jong Un.

  180. says

    Representative Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, became the second Republican to prevent the disaster relief bill from passing.

    From Kate Riga:

    Massie is following on the heels of Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), another Freedom Caucus member, who derailed the bill last Friday. Per CBS News, Roy cited the growing deficit and lack of border funding as reasons for his objection.

    House leadership is currently trying to get the bill passed as a unanimous vote, which is why one member has the power to stall the process.

    Per an NBC News reporter, they’ll try once more to usher the bill through this way before switching to a roll call vote.

    Hoyer says they will try to pass the disaster relief bill unanimously again in the House during Thursday’s pro forma session, and if it’s objected to by another republican the full House will pass it first thing next week when they return from the Memorial Day recess.

    People who need disaster relief now must be really fed up with this ridiculous show.

    From the readers comments:

    that disaster relief package contains a bunch of money to help S GA farmers that were wiped out by Hurricane Michael…some are at the point of bankruptcy and losing farms that have been in families for generations. This is republican country and he can ill afford to lose these people or have them stay home in 2020. He is one of Trumps biggest toadies in the Senate and Trump has been happy to keep this tied up over PR.

  181. says

    Kamala Harris reveals plan to have states receive DOJ approval before passing anti-abortion laws

    Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California and 2020 presidential hopeful, is announcing a major plan to protect abortion rights and access. The plan is a reproductive rights act modeled on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act would require states that have a history of passing laws that violate the protections of the ruling in Roe v. Wade to get approval from the Department of Justice before enacting any new abortion restrictions. Nice.

    Basically, this would allow the DOJ to block extreme abortion restrictions (such as the ones in Georgia or Alabama, for example) from going into effect. What makes Harris’s plan unique is the involvement of the DOJ. While many Democrats want to take measures to protect Roe, Harris wants to put the DOJ at the forefront.

    Today, this would put states including Iowa, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina on Harris’s hypothetical list for needing DOJ approval. […]

    Might work well if the DOJ is not helmed by a guy like William Barr.

  182. says

    Update on Mitch McConnell’s signature brand of perfidy:

    Mitch McConnell reached a milestone last week. That’s when the Senate majority leader quashed his 100th bill of the year. That’s one hundred pieces of legislation—on infrastructure, on health care, on gun safety, on every single topic that American voters say is important to them in their everyday lives—that haven’t just stalled on McConnell’s desk, but have been forwarded directly to the trash can.

    Because in order to make it appear that Democrats “have done nothing,” Republicans have done something. They’ve returned to the exact policy that McConnell pioneered under President Obama: Don’t cooperate on anything, at any time, no matter how important. […]

    And if all that wasn’t enough, McConnell and the GOP Senate have now pledged that the single tool Congress holds against an out-of-control executive is off the table, before anyone ever sought to use it.

    […] if Trump were to be impeached in the House, that impeachment would be immediately quashed in the Senate. Unlike in the case of those 100 bills that he has cheerfully shit-canned, McConnell would be legally required to bring up articles of impeachment. But that doesn’t mean he and the narrow Republican majority can’t dispose of any charges immediately and get the Senate back to the people’s business … of doing exactly nothing. Less than nothing. Since their total accomplishments are simply making sure that any bill that leaves the House suffers an instant death. […]

    on impeachment, they would at least have to take a vote. No matter how quick McConnell makes the process, or how dismissive his tone, every Republican senator would have to stand up and declare that they were totally okay with Donald Trump breaking the law, blatantly and repeatedly, in ways they had previously declared were an affront to the nation. They would just as soon not do that. Which is why Republicans are so set on telling Democrats how futile it would be impeach Trump.

    Besides, then they’d have to interrupt their perpetual vacations and vote on something.


  183. says

    From James Comey, former director of the FBI (whom Trump fired), and a former deputy attorney general:

    It is tempting for normal people to ignore our president when he starts ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI. I understand the temptation. I’m the object of many of his rants, and even I try to ignore him.

    But we shouldn’t, because millions of good people believe what a president of the United States says. In normal times, that’s healthy. But not now, when the president is a liar who doesn’t care what damage he does to vital institutions. We must call out his lies that the FBI was corrupt and committed treason, that we spied on the Trump campaign, and tried to defeat Donald Trump. We must constantly return to the stubborn facts.

    Russia engaged in a massive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Near as I can tell, there is only one U.S. leader who still denies that fact. The FBI saw the attack starting in mid-June 2016, with the first dumping of stolen emails. In late July, when we were hard at work trying to understand the scope of the effort, we learned that one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers knew about the Russian effort seven weeks before we did.

    In April 2016, that adviser talked to a Russian agent in London, learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, and that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Clinton. Of course, nobody from the Trump campaign told us this (or about later Russian approaches); we had to learn it, months after the fact, from an allied ambassador.

    But when we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were. We didn’t know what was true. Maybe there was nothing to it, or maybe Americans were actively conspiring with the Russians. To find out, the FBI would live up to its name and investigate.

    […] we kept it secret. That’s how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases.

    And there’s the first problem with Trump’s whole “treason” narrative. If we were “deep state” Clinton loyalists bent on stopping him, why would we keep it secret? Why wouldn’t the much-maligned FBI supervisor Peter Strzok — the alleged kingpin of the “treasonous” plot to stop Trump — tell anyone? He was one of the very few people who knew what we were investigating.

    We investigated. We didn’t gather information about the campaign’s strategy. We didn’t “spy” on anyone’s campaign. We investigated to see whether it was true that Americans associated with the campaign had taken the Russians up on any offer of help. By late October, the investigators thought they had probable cause to get a federal court order to conduct electronic surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page. Page was no longer with the campaign, but there was reason to believe he was acting as an agent of the Russian government. We asked a federal judge for permission to surveil him and then we did it, all without revealing our work, despite the fact that it was late October and a leak would have been very harmful to candidate Trump. Worst deep-state conspiracy ever. […]

    And there’s still more to the dumbness of the conspiracy allegation. At the center of the alleged FBI “corruption” we hear so much about was the conclusion that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied to internal investigators about a disclosure to the press in late October 2016. McCabe was fired over it. And what was that disclosure? Some stop-Trump election-eve screed? No. McCabe authorized a disclosure that revealed the FBI was actively investigating the Clinton Foundation, a disclosure that was harmful to Clinton.

    There is a reason the non-fringe media doesn’t spend much time on this “treason” and “corruption” business. The conspiracy theory makes no sense. The FBI wasn’t out to get Donald Trump. It also wasn’t out to get Hillary Clinton. […]

    But go ahead, investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, they will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. Those are lies, and dumb lies at that. […]

    Washington Post link

  184. says

    Now what’s this all about?

    Kushner Cos., the real estate firm owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has received about $800 million in federally backed debt to buy apartments in Maryland and Virginia — the company’s biggest purchase in a decade.

    The loan was issued by Berkadia, a lender co-owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jefferies Financial Group Inc., in a deal that’s backed by government-owned Freddie Mac, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing the private transaction.

    The arrangement increases the government’s exposure to Kushner Cos. at the same time that its former chief executive officer is one of the most powerful people in the White House. […]

    Bloomberg News link

  185. says

    Trump shoots himself in the foot … again.

    The Trump administration announced Friday that it will kill a Forest Service program that trains disadvantaged young people for wildland fire fighting and other jobs in rural communities, laying off 1,100 employees — believed to be the largest number of federal job cuts in a decade.

    The Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers enroll more than 3,000 students a year in rural America. The soon-to-close centers — in Montana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Virginia, Washington state, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon — include hundreds of jobs in some of President Trump’s political strongholds. In Congress, members of both parties objected to the plan.

    The drawdown of the program, starting in September, will result in the largest layoffs of civil servants since the military’s base realignment and closures of 2010 and 2011, federal personnel experts said. Nine of the centers will close and another 16 will be taken over by private companies and possibly states. […]

    Washington Post link

    “Taken over by private companies …” Hmmm. What Trump toadies will receive a financially windfall while disadvantaged young people are cut out of the process and the costs to taxpayers rise astronomically?

  186. says

    Last night on CNN:

    The callousness with which @RepChipRoy just downplayed migrant kids dying at the border is appalling

    CUOMO: “Deal with the kids [who are dying at the border] right now, Chip.”

    @RepChipRoy: “No!”

    CUOMO: “You know they’re dying.”

    REP. ROY: “Fine.”

    Video clips at the link.

  187. says

    Haaretz has live updates.

    With less than 12 hours to deadline, Israeli lawmakers have begun debating a bill to dissolve Knesset, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu races to ensure it passes, effectively sending the country to a new election one month after Israelis went to the ballot.

    These are the three possible scenarios that could unfold today: Netanyahu could achieve a breakthrough in stalled negotiations before midnight and succeed in forming a governing coalition; Netanyahu could fail in talks and the Knesset could vote to dissolve itself, sending Israel to a snap election; the premier can fail to form a coalition but also fail to convince lawmakers to break up the parliament, thus returning the mandate to President Reuven Rivlin. In such a case as the latter, Rivlin would choose a different lawmaker for the task of forming the government.

  188. Akira MacKenzie says



    blockquote>But go ahead, investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, they will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.



    I think there one thing that Comey doesn’t realize: While normal investigations follow the rule of law and proper procedures, Trump and his authoritarian allies seem more than eager to ignore all that. I’m sure the future “traitors” and “conspirators” who will suffer Trump’s wrath will be convicted and imprisoned (or worse) on evidence as flimsy or nonexistent as anything Joe McCarthy claimed to have on Red Scare era “Communists.”

  189. says

    New: DNC to raise qualifying threshold for third presidential primary debate in Sept.

    Now candidates need to hit both thresholds, which have doubled:
    – 2% in 4 major polls
    – 130,000 unique donors, including 400 from 20 states.

    Several sources have told me they view the 3rd debate as a make-or-break winnowing moment for the crowded Dem 2020 field.

    There will still be a maximum of 20 spots on stage, but those can go unfilled if enough candidates don’t meet new higher threshold.”

  190. says

    “Boris Johnson to appear in court over Brexit misconduct claims”:

    Boris Johnson has been summoned to court to face accusations of misconduct in public office over comments made in the run-up to the EU referendum.

    The ruling follows a crowdfunded move to launch a private prosecution of the MP, who is currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest.

    Johnson lied and engaged in criminal conduct when he repeatedly claimed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign that the UK sent £350m a week to Brussels, lawyers for a 29-year-old businessman who launched the prosecution bid told Westminster magistrates court last week.

    A legal team assembled by Marcus Ball, who has accused the former foreign secretary of misconduct in public office and raised more than £400,000 to finance the prosecution, laid out their case in front of the district judge, Margot Coleman.

    Acting for Johnson, Adrian Darbishire QC, told the court last week that the application by Ball had been brought for political purposes and was a “political stunt”.

    “Its true purpose is not that it should succeed, but that it should be made at all. And made with as much public fanfare as the prosecution can engender,” he said. “The application represents an attempt, for the first time in English legal history, to employ the criminal law to regulate the content and quality of political debate. That is self-evidently not the function of the criminal law.”

    However, in her ruling on Wednesday, the judge said she was satisfied that there was a prima facie case for the allegation that there had been an abuse of the public’s trust in a holder of office.

    She referred to statements provide by Ball’s team from members of the public that addressed the impact that “the apparent lie” had on them. She also cited the contention by Power that “there will seldom be a more serious misconduct allegation against a member of parliament or mayor than to lie repeatedly to the voting public on a national and international platform, in order to win your desired outcome”.

    A central plank of the case put forward by Ball’s team is that Johnson, as an MP and Mayor of London, “lied and misled” the public about the cost of EU membership and used the “platforms and opportunities offered to him by virtue of his public office.”

    Coleman’s ruling noted the fact that, as Mayor, Johnson signed off several letters in that capacity when expressing his views on Brexit. His then chief of staff, Ed Lister, was also said to have informed the mayor’s staff that it was “official mayoral policy” to support the case for leaving the EU.

    “A policy being deemed official, and therefore of the office, would make any campaigning thereafter by the proposed defendant official and pursuant to his office,” the ruling stated.

    The offence of misconduct in public office carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the Crown Prosecution Service website.

    Much more at the link.

  191. says

    On Congressional Research Service assessment of Republican tax scam: “Absolutely brutal. The GOP’s latest massive tax cut for the wealthy didn’t pay for itself, didn’t boost growth, didn’t raise wages, didn’t do shit, really — it was garbage policy transparently designed to put a big windfall in oligarch pockets.”

  192. says

    “Lawsuit Over Dehydration Death In David Clarke’s Jail Settles For $6.75M”:

    The family of a man who died of “profound dehydration” inside a jail run by prominent Trump supporter and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has settled with the county and a health care company $6.75 million, one of the largest settlements in connection with a jail death in the United States.

    Terrill Thomas died in April 2016, about six days after guards at a Milwaukee jail cut off his water supply. Other inmates reported hearing him beg for water before his death. Attorneys for the estate declined to specify how much of the settlement would be paid by Milwaukee County and how much would come from Armor Correctional Health Services Inc.

    The lawsuit specifically named Clarke, claiming he “knowingly sanctioned” the decision to cut off inmates’ water supplies. The Thomas estate’s claims against Clarke and the other defendants were dismissed as part of the settlement.

    “The amount of pain and suffering that Terrill Thomas went through is really hard to comprehend, and a ton of this is captured on video,” James End, an attorney with First, Albrecht & Blondis who worked on the Thomas case, told HuffPost. “The amount of suffering that Mr. Thomas went through was just tremendous, and that I think would be recognized by any person who took any time to listen to the facts of this case.”

    “What happened to Terrill Thomas was a form of torture,” said Erik Heipt, one of the attorneys representing the Thomas estate. “He was a mentally ill man who needed help. Instead, he was deprived of life-sustaining nourishment — water. This is the sort of atrocity that should never happen in an American jail. Ever. There’s no excuse for it.”

    Clarke, who spoke at the Republican National Convention weeks after Thomas’ death, said in 2017 that he would be going to work for the Department of Homeland Security, but the position never materialized. A number of inmates, including a baby, died in 2016 while Clarke was busy appearing on Fox News and settling sail on a National Review cruise. Clarke no longer appears on Fox News and left a pro-Trump super PAC, and is now associated with We Build the Wall, an organization that is crowdfunding the construction of sections of wall along the Mexican border.

    Armor Correction Health Services is currently facing criminal charges in connection with the alleged falsification of medical records at Milwaukee County Jail, and three former jail staffers have been convicted in connection with Thomas’ death….

  193. says


    Today, Scott Warren, an Arizona humanitarian aid volunteer, goes to trial to face felony charges for allegedly allowing two undocumented migrants access to food, water and a place to sleep in 2018.

    He faces up to 20 years in prison. My report on his case.

  194. says

    BREAKING: Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe presents independent Boris Nemtsov murder investigation. Report says there was a cover-up by Russian authorities with particular blame falling on Alexander Bastrykin & Victor Grin (Magnitsky culprits).”

    Link at the link.

  195. quotetheunquote says

    @Lynna #248:

    William Happer’s appointment is, without a doubt, an absolute disaster for the U.S., and (given what he’s up to) the world at large as well. However, I think it is worth pointing out that the Daily KOS contains a fundamental error of fact – Happer did not make this insidious comparison “over the weekend”, he made it five years ago on an MSNBC interview. (I first came across the segment in a Daily Show episode in February of this year).

    I suppose he may have repeated the claim “over the weekend”, but I see no evidence that he did; not that it really matters, of course, it’s equally batshit crazy whenever he said it, but this is just the sort of thing that the denialists would use to discredit their opponents.

    “Oh, sure, Mr. Happer may have said something controversial five years ago, but people learn, their positions evolve, he’s totally hip to reality now…”

  196. says

    There’s a lot of skepticism about the Mueller announcement given that it was announced by the DoJ and the WH was apparently given advance notice (of the statement – not necessarily its content).

    No idea.

  197. says

    Marcy Wheeler:

    Folks, it’s possible Mueller is going to go on camera and call AG Barr a big stinky-head.

    It’s also possible he’s just going to go on TV and say he’s done.

    Of significant note, yesterday CADC issued the mandate in the Andrew Miller subpoena.

    And later in they day, there were two sealed documents filed in that docket.

    In other words, it’s possible that Mueller has now obtained the two other things he was waiting on in March (the Mystery Appellant evidence and Stone associate Andrew Miller’s testimony), so now he can go back to being a private citizen.

    No idea.

  198. says

    ‘What Attorney General Barr Should Have Said’, by Robert S. Mueller III.”

    Went through the report’s major points. Doesn’t want to testify before congress. Thanked and supported his team and emphasized the importance of the election attack, the investigation, and obstruction of the investigation. Made clear that he didn’t charge Trump with obstruction because of the OLC memo. The vast majority of this was already in the report, but it needed to be highlighted.

  199. says

    This is very clearly putting the ball in Pelosi’s court, and will energize the representatives pushing for an impeachment inquiry to begin. (I’m not saying that was his intent – although it’s evident he thinks Trump’s behavior has been criminal and dangerous – but he won’t let congress keep deflecting onto him).

  200. tomh says

    Maine ends non-medical vaccine exemptions

    AUGUSTA, Maine — Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Friday signed into law a bill that eliminates religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccinations in Maine.

    Maine has one of the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions in the nation, and health officials say the opt-out rates appear to be rising.

    “As we hear more reports of measles and other preventable diseases in Maine and across the country, it has become clear that we must act to ensure the health of our communities,” said Democratic Rep. Ryan Tipping of Orono, the bill’s sponsor.

    Maine will end non-medical vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for students at public and private schools and universities, including nursery school.

    Health care facility employees are also subject to the law.

    Supporters say unvaccinated children put others at risk, especially those who cannot receive inoculations for medical reasons.

    But opponents of the legislation say it infringes on parental rights and stigmatizes unvaccinated children.

    The Maine Center for Disease Control recently announced the first case of the measles in the state since 2017.

    The state also is dealing with an outbreak of whooping cough, for which there is a vaccine.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that from January 1 to May 17 of this year, there have been 880 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S.

    Several outbreaks in New York still aren’t under control.

    A similar number of mumps cases have been reported nationwide this year, the largest of which is associated with Temple University.

    Maine joins California, Mississippi and West Virginia to become the fourth state without religious exemptions for vaccine requirements.

    Opponents warn that a legal fight is brewing over whether the Maine law goes too far in infringing on religious liberty.

    The Maine Constitution says “no person shall be hurt, molested or retrained” for following God according to his or her “own conscience.”

  201. says

    Here’s the full text of Mueller’s statement.

    Two years ago, the Acting Attorney General asked me to serve as Special Counsel, and he created the Special Counsel’s Office.

    The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

    I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. And we are formally closing the Special Counsel’s Office. As well, I am resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.

    I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself.

    Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.

    The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.

    And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.

    These indictments contain allegations. And we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

    The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. That is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office.

    That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.

    Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate.

    The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

    And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the President.

    The order appointing me Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work.

    As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.

    We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision.

    It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.

    The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.

    The Department’s written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:

    First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.

    And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.

    And beyond Department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.

    So that was the Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. From them we concluded that we would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.

    We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the Attorney General—as required by Department regulations.

    The Attorney General then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and the American people.

    At one point in time I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make the entire report public all at once. We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. I do not question the Attorney General’s good faith in that decision.

    I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter. I am making that decision myself—no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.

    There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.

    The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.

    In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.

    So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.

    It is for that reason that I will not take questions here today.

    Before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, and the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel’s Office, were of the highest integrity.

    I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.

    That allegation deserves the attention of every American.

    Thank you.

  202. says

    Michael Bromwich:

    Mueller doesn’t want to testify — but he absolutely needs to testify. The spoken word, even if it does no more than recite the written word, is simply more powerful. Plus, Mueller exudes honesty and integrity, which makes him harder to caricature and criticize.

    And, yes, it seems pretty clear that Mueller and his staff agree with the 1,000+ former prosecutors who believe Trump committed obstruction. But for the OLC opinion, he would have been charged.

  203. says

    Warren reiterated her impeachment call. Now Booker’s on the same page:

    Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.

    I’ve been asking for Mueller’s testimony—today he made his views clear.

    This Administration has continued to stonewall Congress’s oversight. Beginning impeachment proceedings is the only path forward.

  204. says

    NEW FROM COURT TODAY: Andrew Miller, an associate of Roger Stone, has agreed to testify to a grand jury used by Mueller at 9:30 am this Friday, his attorney and Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said at a hearing today.
    This was minutes after Mueller made his public statement.”

  205. tomh says

    @ #303
    I would predict that if a Dem president is elected in 2020, and Repubs keep control of the Senate, McConnell will do exactly what he did with Garland, starting on day 1 and keeping it up for 4 years. He would have the power to do it and doesn’t seem to care what people or even history think of him.

  206. Akira MacKenzie says

    Heads up: Trump is claiming that Muller’s speech vindicated him.

    Because of course he would.

  207. says

    So Julia Ainsley was just handed a statement from someone in Mueller’s office, which is purportedly what Mueller would have answered when the report was released re Barr’s claims about Mueller’s consideration of the OLC memo. It quotes a reporter’s question, Barr’s public claim referenced in the reporter’s question, and then (Ari Melber and Ainsley aren’t appreciating this yet) from today’s statement – “So that was the Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. From them we concluded that we would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President” – and then the report itself.

  208. says

    When Robert Mueller spoke this morning he looked like a 76 year old man who did not want to speak in public, but he is also a man who does not suffer fools gladly and who does not like the misinterpretations of his report that Trump, Barr, etc. have been bandying about.

    I think Mueller is also disappointed. He wants everyone to read his report, but even some Republican legislators have not read it. Mueller seems to think that a lot of misunderstanding could be eliminated if everyone would read the report. Even if Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders read the report, they would not be swayed, and they would not be able to come to reasonable conclusions. Both Trump and Huckabee-Sanders issued statements that indicate the depth of their ignorance and of their inability to read for comprehension.

    Here are a few highlights from Mueller’s statement, (SC posted the entirety in comment 293), along with some commentary:

    […] Mueller had the option of simply issuing a written statement announcing his departure. He also could’ve delivered perfunctory remarks, thanking his team and professional staff, before walking away.

    But he didn’t. Mueller carefully chose some key areas of interest for the public to better understand. […]

    He began by emphasizing a point that Donald Trump has repeatedly denied.

    “As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers, who were part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system.”

    He added that obstruction of justice is a serious matter.

    “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

    Mueller soon after addressed the investigation into obstruction of justice, highlighting the fact that he and his team did not exonerate the president.

    “As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”

    He then made it abundantly clear that Trump wasn’t charged, not because he’s innocent, but because the special counsel’s office lacked the legal authority to indict him.

    “We did not … make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office…. The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

    He added soon after that, according to the DOJ, “[T]he Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

    It sure did seem as if Mueller was saying Trump could have — and perhaps would have — been charged if he weren’t a sitting president. […]

    Mueller specifically framed the evidence in a way that told us exactly what he considers important.

    And in this case, what Mueller considers important is the fact that Russia attacked our elections; obstruction of justice is a serious crime; Trump hasn’t been cleared; and Trump wasn’t indicted because he can’t be indicted while in office.

    […] “The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

    Whether lawmakers find this satisfactory remains to be seen, though the subtext of his remarks wasn’t altogether subtle: Mueller’s done and he expects Congress to take it from here.


    I really think Mueller has one blind spot: he does not realize how much difference it would make to the American public to hear him talk directly into a camera about the obstruction of justice charges that could be laid against Trump by Congress, (or by prosecutors after Trump is out of office).

    Just as an side, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow also made a statement that misinterprets what Mueller just said. Sekulow is on the same stupid train that Trump and Huckabee-Sanders are riding.

  209. says

    Followup to Akira @306, and to my comment 309.

    Here’s what Trump said:

    Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.

    Here’s what Huckabee-Sanders said:

    The report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy — and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction. Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General [William] Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report. After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.

    Fact check: The report did not say there was no collusion. Barr improperly proclaimed “no obstruction” though the report clearly shows otherswise. Mueller restricted his “good faith” comment about Barr to a single issue, Barr’s release of most of the report in unreacted form. Mueller did not say Barr acted in good faith in any other part of the misinformation campaign Barr supported.

    Jay Sekulow said:

    Mueller’s announcement puts a period on a two year investigation that produced no findings of collusion or obstruction against the President.

    The propaganda campaign continues.

  210. says

    A telling, (and encouraging), detail from the campaigns being run by Democratic party candidates for president: “The majority of senior aides and advisers on the top-tier Democratic presidential campaigns are women, and roughly a quarter identified as women of color.” From the Wall Street Journal.

  211. says

    Oh, yeah. Amash’s primary rival has not read the Mueller report. Of course he hasn’t.

    Two Republicans have filed to run against him [against Representative Justin Amash of Michigan] in the primary; one of them, state Rep. Jim Lower, told The Washington Post that he raised $60,000 since Amash’s impeachment tweets. The wealthy DeVos family, a force in western Michigan and supporters of Amash’s previous campaigns, said through a spokesman last week that they would support another Republican for the 3rd Congressional District seat; Lower said he’d been in touch with the family.

    In an interview, Lower said he had not read Mueller’s report but agreed with the assessment of most Republicans that it ended questions about Trump’s conduct.

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

    Lindsey Graham recently admitted that he hasn’t read the report. Trump hasn’t read the report, and he admitted as much. These guys are not doing their jobs, they are not even doing the most basic parts of their jobs.

    It’s a safe bet that no members of the DeVos family have read the report.

  212. says

    Listen carefully. Josh Marshall highlighted the shift in public remarks coming from team Trump about obstruction of justice.

    […] The shift is minor, but telling.

    No longer are the President’s top mouthpieces asserting that Mueller himself, in his report, found no obstruction. They are now hanging that conclusion on Attorney General Bill Barr — who said in an initial summary of the report that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found Mueller’s evidence of obstruction insufficient […]

    Mueller said on Wednesday that he was unable, per DOJ policy, to accuse a sitting President of a crime, but that, nonetheless, if his team “had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”

    Both points he had previously stated in his report.

    Yet, perhaps because there is now camera footage of him making the statement, many in Trump’s orbit no longer feel comfortable attaching Mueller specifically to the “no obstruction” claim.

    “The report was clear—there was no collusion, no conspiracy—and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement after his remarks.

    Vice President Mike Pence echoed that rhetoric in a statement of his own that said that the “Department of Justice concluded there was no collusion and no obstruction.”

    The President’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow said that Mueller’s probe had produced no “findings” of obstruction against the President, but then stressed that the “Attorney General conclusively determined that there was no obstruction by the President.”

    The initial claims by Trump’s inner circle about Mueller’s findings were not always so hedged.

    Sanders referred to his conclusions as the “no-collusion, no-conspiracy, no-obstruction Mueller Report” in a May 8 statement from the White House.

    “And the Special Counsel’s report is in: no collusion, no obstruction,” Pence said in a gaggle just last week.

    Sekulow, also previously ignored Mueller’s claim in his report that he was not in a position to accuse Trump of a crime.

    “Look, if they had an obstruction case they would have made it,” Sekulow said the day the report came out.

  213. says

    Chris Matthews has repeated several times that Mueller said he would not testify before Congress. Mueller did not say that. Somebody at MSNBC needs to set Chris Matthews straight!

    Mueller said he hoped he would not have to repeat what he said today, and he said that if he did testify he would stick to what is already in his report, but he quite decidedly did not say that he would not testify.

    Chris Matthews is annoying me enough that I’m going to turn him off.

    Accuracy counts and Matthews is not living up to that standard.

  214. says

    Pelosi’s full statement:

    It is with the greatest respect for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the deepest disappointment in the Department of Justice holding the President above the law, that I thank Special Counsel Mueller for the work he and his team did to provide a record for future action both in the Congress and in the courts regarding the Trump Administration involvement in Russian interference and obstruction of the investigation.

    Special Counsel Mueller made clear that he did not exonerate the President when he stated, “If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” He stated that the decision not to indict stemmed directly from the Department of Justice’s policy that a sitting President cannot be indicted. Despite Department of Justice policy to the contrary, no one is above the law – not even the President.

    The Special Counsel’s report revealed that the President’s campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and laid out eleven instances of the President’s obstruction of the investigation. The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power.

    The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy. The American people must have the truth. We call upon the Senate to pass H.R. 1, the For The People Act, to protect our election systems.

    We salute Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team for his patriotic duty to seek the truth.

  215. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    The most consequential part of the statement, however, is likely this line: “And second, the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing.” In other words, the constitutional process for holding the President accountable for his crimes is impeachment.

  216. says

    Oh, FFS! Rudi Giuliani speaks to the Fox News audience:

    That’s the law. A sitting president can’t be charged. So then if that’s the case, then why did he [Mueller] offer all those opinions? Why did he offer all those recommendations and suggestions? Why did he investigate? The reality is that he gave us his opinion on collusion and obstruction. His opinion is you can’t bring a case. Bob, that’s the end of it. That’s what a prosecutor does.

    You don’t prove negatives. It’s almost impossible to do that. What they’ve done here is a perversion, a combination of him and the media and I’m surprised with Bob. He is a better lawyer than that. I don’t know where this notion came that he has to exonerate.

  217. says

    House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s full statement:

    We would like to thank Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his service to our nation over the past two years.

    In his statement this morning, Special Counsel Mueller reaffirmed his report, which found substantial evidence that Russia attacked our political system and that the President sought to obstruct Mueller’s investigation over and over again.

    He also confirmed three central points: he did not exonerate the President of the United States of obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice is a serious crime that strikes at the core of our justice system, and the Constitution points to Congress to take action to hold the President accountable.

    Although Department of Justice policy prevented the Special Counsel from bringing criminal charges against the President, the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel’s findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s report, and is lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion.

    Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.

  218. says

    Statements from Democratic presidential candidates:

    Elizabeth Warren: “Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act. They should.”

    Kamala Harris: “What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral. Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable. We need to start impeachment proceedings. It’s our constitutional obligation.”

    Cory Booker: “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”

    Beto O’Rourke: “There must be consequences, accountability, and justice. The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings. As Mueller reiterates there were ‘multiple, systemic efforts to interfere in our election,’ Trump calls it a hoax. He invited these attacks, obstructed the investigation into them & told Putin there will be no consequences for launching a concerted attack on our political system.”

    Seth Moulton : “Mueller did his job. Now it’s time to do ours. Impeachment hearings should begin tomorrow.”

    Eric Swalwell: “#Mueller has spoken & here’s what we know: Every American should be concerned about what Russia did ([that] includes you, too, @realDonaldTrump; Trump is an obstructor who [committed] crimes; We’re not powerless. Our founders gave us a checks & balances system. #Congress.”

    Julián Castro: “Mueller made clear this morning that his investigation now [lies] at the feet of Congress. No one is above the law—Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry.”

  219. says

    From Matthew Miller:

    Bill Barr on April 18: “Well, special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress. I hope that was not his view, since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose.”

    Bob Mueller today: “And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.”

    William Barr is a better, more subtle liar than Trump is, but Barr is still a liar who spouts lies on top of lies.

  220. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] Mueller is saying that hey no shit, Trump committed a bunch of crimes. But it’s not his role to prosecute them.

    Know whose decision it is? Let Mueller make INCREDIBLY FUCKING CLEAR whose decision it is.

    [T]he DoJ opinion on indicting a sitting president says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

    What Robert Mueller is saying here — get this clearly — is that NOBODY at Justice can make that decision. That means BILL BARR cannot make this decision. […]

    In so doing, Mueller called Bill Barr a liar in public. [snipped reference to Matthew Miller’s tweet, see comment 325]

    But what did we just say about how Robert Mueller said explicitly that Bill Barr cannot make that determination, by virtue of the fact that he can’t make the opposite determination? My Fellow Americans, Bill Barr’s only job right now is to SHUT HIS FUCKING GAPING MOUTH HOLE.

    So that is what Robert Mueller said today. We felt like it should be underlined.

    Congress, do your fucking thing.


  221. says

    Anshel Pfeffer:

    With 2 hours to go to the deadline, there’s literally everything to play for. We now have 5 possible scenarios. 1. Somehow a deal is cobbled together which allows both Lieberman and the Haredim to back down and Netanyahu tells Rivlin by midnight he’s got a government. V unlikely

    2. Netanyahu tries to bluff Rivlin and says he has a 60 member coalition which he’ll somehow swear in over the next 7 days (getting 1 opposition MK to disappear from the vote) Highly unlikely as it’ll be a transparent lie and either a coalition member or Rivlin call Bibi’s bluff

    3. Netanyahu has no choice but to move the dissolution bill to its 2nd and 3rd readings before midnight, gets the requisite 61 votes and we’re headed for an election in September

    4. Netanyahu has no choice but to move the dissolution bill to its 2nd and 3rd readings before midnight, but doesn’t have the requisite 61 votes and the deadline passes. Bibi’s hold on power is drastically shaken and another MK gets the chance to form a coalition

    5. Netanyahu dithers, doesn’t get a coalition, doesn’t try and bluff Rivlin, doesn’t manage to pass the dissolution bill before midnight and the deadline passes. Another MK gets a chance to form a coalition and after all we’ve been through, who can rule out that MK succeeding?

    Scenarios 1 & 2 are almost impossible. Lieberman and the Haredim won’t back down now and everyone knows Bibi hasn’t got a majority and though he would try to bluff it if he could, this time he’ll be called out. Scenario 3 still likely (dissolution bill to be voted on at 23.30)

    Scenario 4 becoming likelier by the minute, as Netanyahu flailing, making impossible promises to half the Knesset, pissing off the other half. Could be enough to turn majority against dissolution spelling end of his hold on the coalition. Which is why he’s dithering (scenario 5).

  222. says

    From Pfeffer’s thread, which has been added to: “So the 10 Arab MKs have announced they will support dissolving the Knesset (they reckon they can boost turnout next time around and regain some the seats they lost last month). So if Bibi moves the vote, he’ll probably win. Scenario 4 probably no longer possible. We’ll know soon.”

  223. says

    Heh – “Odeh mocks Netanyahu: Bibi to recognize Nakba if Arabs join coalition”:

    In a speech Wednesday night in the Knesset plenary, MK Ayman Odeh, head of Hadash, mocked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his desperation for parties to join his coalition.

    Netanyahu had reportedly offered four ministries to Labor on condition they would join his coalition.

    [“]My friends and fellow MKs: I have a dramatic announcement.

    I apologize before you, my friends MK Ahmed Tibi And Ayda that I did not tell you. The prime minister spoke to me seven minutes ago.

    He told me he is prepared to withdraw from the occupied territories, and to cancel the Nation State Law, and that he is in favor of not just civil equality for Arabs, but also nationalistic equality. And, he is willing to recognize the Nakba and repair the historic mistreatment [of Arabs].

    I do not know what to respond to him.

    He tells me only [to support] the Immunity Law and the law to bypass the High Court – and I didn’t even have time to consult with you, and I look at the clock, at when I need to respond to him…[“]

  224. says

    More re #300:

    NEW Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller will testify Friday before a grand jury in Mueller Russia probe spin-off after prosecutors said they want to ask him about what work Stone asked him to do *since 2016 election*.

    The disclosure of prosecutors’ ongoing interest in Stone and potentially uncharged others came from Miller attorney Paul Kamenar, who told a court that in a May 22 email, the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. said one question they have is “What work he did for Stone from 2016 on.”

    Miller lost a 10-month legal battle to quash a grand jury subpoena and faced jail for contempt if he continued to refuse to testify. Prosecutors declined to give more details in court, and Kamenar did not say what, if any, work or services Stone has asked Miller to do.

  225. tomh says

    No matter how much chaos surrounds it, the Administration keeps rolling along.

    Government asks justices to expedite new petition on DACA

    Late last year, the federal government asked the Supreme Court to wade into the dispute over the Trump administration’s September 2017 decision to end the program known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to apply for protection from deportation. The government filed three petitions asking the justices to review decisions by lower courts that blocked the government from terminating the DACA program. In each petition, U.S. solicitor general Noel Francisco asked the Supreme Court to consider two related questions: whether the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program is something that courts can review at all, or whether it is instead the kind of decision left to administrative agencies; and whether, even if courts can review the decision to end DACA, that decision violated federal laws governing administrative actions.

    Francisco had urged the Supreme Court to take up the DACA cases quickly, so that they could be resolved during the current term, and the justices considered the petitions at two conferences in mid-January. But the justices did not act on the cases at that time; instead, they apparently put them on hold, without relisting them for a vote at any conferences since then.

    Last week the government filed a fourth DACA petition, presenting the same questions, that it hopes will finally spur the justices to act. This time, the government is asking the justices to review a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which concluded earlier this month that the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program was unlawful. Emphasizing that the 4th Circuit’s decision is wrong, and arguing that the government is being required to keep in place a policy that both the Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General William Barr have concluded “is unlawful and that sanctions the ongoing violation of federal law by more than half a million people,” the government asked the justices to grant the new petition, along with the three that are already pending, before the Supreme Court’s summer recess, and hear the cases together when the new term begins next fall.

    The government filed a separate motion to expedite consideration of the petition. The government suggested that Casa de Maryland, the immigration advocacy group that is leading the challenge to the decision to end DACA in the Maryland case, and the other challengers should be required to file their response to the government’s petition by June 4, which would allow the justices to consider the petition at their conference on June 20. The government indicated that the challengers agreed to respond to the motion to expedite by the end of the day today; the motion itself was distributed to the justices for consideration at their conference tomorrow.

  226. blf says

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned in this series of threads, but teh NKofE’s self-imagined leader of the nasty party ultras, known as “teh MP for the 18th Century”, a loon named Jacob Rees-Mogg, recently published a book, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Victorians has sold 734 copies […]:

    Let’s play a game: is this from a review of Conservative MP and arch Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg’s book The Victorians, or not? “Morally repellent”, “abysmal” and “soul-destroying”, “reads like it was written by a baboon”, “too pompous and too cliche-ridden”, and “a boring tome” full of “little more than commonplace cliches”. Answer: all but the last. That was Benito Mussolini’s zinger about Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Who knew he had it in him?

    After the nation’s historians eviscerated Rees-Mogg’s 500-odd pages of pompous jingoism, it seems that the public were not even curious: The Victorians sold a dismal 734 copies in its opening week to reach the lofty heights of 379th spot on Nielsen’s UK book charts. Half of those were sold in the Midlands (15%) and London (35%), suggesting that whichever bookshop is closest to parliament had a very good week. The south-west, home to Rees-Mogg’s constituency of North East Somerset, could only account for 22 copies. Alas, milord will have to demand a higher tithe from the serfs this year.

    The Grauniad’s snark machine has is too easy with these fruitcakes!

    As the first week tends to set the pace of sales for books that can’t rely on positive word of mouth, it can safely be said that The Victorians has not proved an overwhelming success for its publisher Penguin Random House. It is not bad for Rees-Mogg, who reportedly only spent about 300 hours writing the book in praise of mostly 19th-century male politicians, to the exclusion of the era’s scientists, engineers, artists, writers, feminists, and even women (bar Queen Victoria). He was paid £12,500, putting his hourly rate at roughly £41.60 [$52.50, or almost one dollar per minute –blf …]

    The link embedded in the above excerpt, ‘Staggeringly silly’: critics tear apart Jacob Rees-Mogg’s new book, is worth a read & giggle. One choice excerpt: “On the chapter about Gen Charles Napier’s conquest of Sindh, [historian AN] Wilson wrote: ‘At this point in the book you start to think that the author is worse than a twit. By all means let us celebrate what was great about the Victorians, but there is something morally repellent about a book that can gloss over massacres and pillage on the scale perpetrated by Napier.'”

    The book is apparently so bad one reviewer, Dominic Sandbrook, is quoted as writing “Before I started, the prospect of Rees-Mogg in Downing Street [i.e., as PM –blf] struck me as a ridiculous idea. But if this is what it takes to stop him writing another book, then I think we should seriously consider paying the price.”

  227. blf says

    The French village leading the way in going green (video): “Ungersheim, a village in France’s Alsace region[,] began its transition towards green energy back in 2008. Today, horses take children to school, a solar farm has replaced a mine, and the local authorities support organic farming. The transition has even created jobs.”

  228. blf says

    US boycotts UN arms forum as Venezuela takes chair:

    Venezuelan ambassador slams US move as ‘ridiculous’, calls Trump a ‘war-mongering racist’.

    The United States walked out of the Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday to protest against Venezuela assuming the rotating presidency of the UN-sponsored forum — as it did a year ago when Syria took the chair.


  229. KG says

    There were five parties running as Remain parties – i.e., pro-EU, anti-Brexit. – Josh Marshall quoted by Lynna@225

    He presumably mean LibDem, Green, “ChangeUK” (the Tingies, who did poorly), SNP, Plaid Cymru. A quibble: there were actually more than that: Scotland has a separate Green party (which I belong to and campaigned for – we got our highest vote-share ever in a UK-wide election but narrowly failed to get an MEP, being squeezed by the SNP and LibDems), Northern Ireland has several pro-Remain parties, which won two out of the three seats available under the different electoral system used there for these election – Single Transferable Vote (Sinn Fein got one, Alliance, which is similar to the LibDems and determinedly cross-community, refusing to identify either as Unionist or Nationalist, got the other, replacing the Ulster Unionist Party, which was Remain in the referendum but has switched to Leave).

    These parties got small shares of the UK vote, but emphasise the divergence across the countries of the UK, likely to be very significant for the future and a key part of the ongoing crisis of the British state. In Scotland, unequivocally anti-Brexit parties got 62% of the vote, the British Union of Farageists got 14.8%, UKIP 1.8%, for a total far right vote of 16.6%, compared to 34.9% in the UK as a whole, while Labour collapsed even more precipitously than in England and Wales, the Tories somewhat less so. In Northern Ireland the BUF didn’t stand, UKIP got a derisory number of votes.

  230. KG says


    While the case against Boris Johnson has understandably been welcomed by many of his opponents, and there’s no real doubt Johnson did lie – he’s a serial liar, dismissed in the past both from a journalistic post and from a ministerial job for doing so – there’s a risk it could set a precedent that the rich could use to harass politicians of the left. The prosecution is a private one, made possible by crowdfunding, but of course there are many rich right-wing shits who could fund such a prosecution out of their pocket change. A judge has to allow such a prosecution to proceed, but it’s not clear to me how far we could rely on the judiciary to block vexatious prosecutions.

  231. blf says

    ‘Out of sight’: White House reportedly steers USS John McCain away from Trump: “Officials wanted ship bearing the name of Trump’s nemesis blocked from view during president’s trip to Japan”. Lots of argy-bargy about what wacko house wanted and the extent to which the navy “hid” the McCain from hair furor during his visit… (The headline can be construed as saying the navy physically moved the McCain, but that seems to be the one thing everyone agrees didn’t happen.)

  232. blf says

    EU citizens in UK [NKofE] at risk of Windrush-style catastrophe, say MPs (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The government has been urged by MPs to urgently change its policy on EU citizens in the country if it is to avert a “Windrush-style catastrophe” in the years after Brexit.

    Politicians on the influential home affairs select committee said they had serious concerns about the design of the settlement scheme for EU citizens, launched by the Home Office two months ago.

    They said the design of the scheme meant many EU citizens were at risk of forfeiting their rights to remain after the deadline for registration […].

    “The prospect of a Windrush-style catastrophe happening to over 3 million EU citizens who have made the UK their home in good faith is deeply troubling,” the committee said in a report, EU Settlement Scheme.

    After an investigation […] it has concluded the only way to ensure EU citizens are guaranteed to retain their rights is to legislate.

    “We therefore call on the government to protect in law the rights of EU citizens in the UK. The government should guarantee in law that any EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit are legal residents of the UK and are able to continue to live and work as they have done until now,” says the report.

    [… Stuart McDonald, the SNP member of the committee, said t]he government needed a printed document and not a digital system to enable EU citizens to deal with landlords, employers and officials at airports and ports.

    “People also need hard copy documents, not just an unfamiliar digital system,” he said.

    Echoing the criticisms of campaigners, the committee said EU citizens should not have to apply to remain but just have to declare they are in the country.

    This would bring the approach into line with other EU countries, where people are merely required to notify a town hall of their arrival and their address.

    Eh? I’ve never done that — anywhere — at least not explicitly. The local authorities do clearly know I exist and where I live, which I presume is a side-effect of telling people / organisations who really do need to know. Having said that, here in France, at least in the smaller villages, a common recommendation is for new arrivals / residents to introduce themselves to the local maire.

    “The government has chosen to implement a system which does not grant status to eligible people but requires them to apply for it and the home secretary told us that EU citizens are only entitled to the status which they are able to evidence.

    “We disagree with this. We believe the EU citizens legally resident in the UK {before Brexit} should have their rights protected and their entitlement to remain enshrined in law,” says the report.

    […] Colin Yeo, an immigration barrister, told them: “You just pass a law saying ‘You are lawful. We will sort out the difficulties later, as and when they arise.’”


    A Home Office spokesman said it disagreed with the findings and the settled status scheme was performing well.

    We have taken great care to learn from the experience of the Windrush generation, he said.

    I presume the home office’s statement means they will start expelling EU citizens as soon as brexit takes effect — and not, unlike the Windrush scandal, wait until the people are mostly retired — as the lesson they’ve learned. I.e., it’s never too soon to apply the hostile environment policy put in place by dear lino when she was the home secretary.

  233. blf says

    The child exploitation hadn’t occurred to me, but in retrospect it seems so obvious, Boycott North Korea’s ‘inhumane’ mass gymnastic displays, says ex-diplomat:

    The highest-ranking official to defect from North Korea has called for Europeans to stop being an audience for the “child exploitation” in the country’s famous mass games.

    Thae Yong-ho, the former deputy ambassador to the UK, who defected in 2016, said […] North Korean children already faced appalling rates of malnutrition, brainwashing and forced labour and the displays were yet another act of cruelty.

    Thae had earlier told the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway: “Every year North Korea gives this mass gymnastic display. You should know that it means the children, aged from six to nine, cannot go to school for six months — it’s a forced exercise. And who are the audience for this? Europeans, and there are many European tour companies who organise trips. We should argue this with the European companies — these are inhumane displays.”

    The games, which involve up to 10,000 participants and run nightly for two months in the Pyongyang May Day stadium, resumed last year after a five-year hiatus.


    Talking of having to see his son forced to work 15-hour days in rice fields during school holidays alongside his classmates, he said children were regularly used as “slave labour” […].

    The next mass games is due to be held in the autumn.


    Nothing about how much or where the revenue the N.Korean “government” gets from the displays goes, but it’s very plausible little-to-none of it benefits the children, or indeed much of anyone except the small paranoid clique and their immediate families and supporters.

  234. blf says

    This is from a few days ago (I overlooked it at the time), Woman behind France’s #MeToo movement in court for defamation:

    The woman behind France’s version of the #MeToo movement will appear in court in Paris Wednesday charged with defaming the man she accused of sexually harassing her in a tweet that inspired thousands of other women to do the same.

    Sandra Muller, a New-York based French journalist, sent a tweet with the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc (squeal on your pig) […] in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, in which she accused French TV executive Eric Brion of making sexually explicit remarks to her.


    Soon, social media was flooded with other women sharing similar stories under the hashtag. An English-language equivalent, #MeToo, went viral after American actress Alyssa Milano used it in a tweet two days after Muller made her online declaration.

    Brion, who at the time he made the alleged comment to Muller was head of the Équidia television channel, had initially appeared contrite, admitting in an op-ed for France’s Le Monde newspaper he had made “inappropriate remarks to Sandra Muller” at a cocktail party.


    But just weeks later, Muller revealed that Brion had “changed tack” and decided to launch legal action against her.

    Brion is seeking [65000€] and demanding that Muller delete the tweet in which his name is mentioned.

    “This is someone who acknowledged initially unacceptable conduct, who said sorry, and then suddenly decided to go to court,” one of Muller’s lawyers, Francis Spinzer, told AFP before the start of the trial at Paris’s High Court.

    Muller’s tweet and the viral hashtag it inspired was seen as a pivotal moment in the outpouring of accusations and demands for action on sexual harassment that followed the Weinstein scandal and propelled Muller to unexpected celebrity in her native France.

    She was one of a group of women named as Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ in 2017 for their role in establishing the #MeToo movement — alongside Milano, actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift and others who had come forward to help shed light on sexual harassment and abuse cases.

    One year after Muller’s tweet, #BalanceTonPorc had appeared on close to one million tweets, according to the social media tracking site Visibrain.com.


    Brion received insults over the incident and found it “nearly impossible” to find work as a result of Muller’s accusations, he said in the Le Monde op-ed.

    It is denunciation. At no time did he have the chance to defend himself, his lawyer Nicolas Benoit told AFP on Wednesday.

    Uh-huh. Ever hear of J’Accuse…! Mr so-called lawyer? The writer, Émile Zola, was found guilty of libel, despite their claims about the kangaroo trial of Alfred Dreyfus being true. (Dreyfus was eventually cleared and awarded the Légion d’honneur.) Similar-ish here, Mr so-called lawyer. “Dreyfus” (Ms Muller) made an accusation the establishment admitted was true, yet there is now an attempt to railroad her for speaking out and causing the actual & self-admitted guilty party inconvenience.

    Muller though has remained defiant in the face of legal action, vowing to “see this fight through to the end”.

    “#balancetonporc has allowed victims to make their voices heard and shed light on a real societal problem that remains taboo,” she said in a Facebook post in January 2018 in response to Brion’s defamation suit.

    “I hope the trial will provide an opportunity to have a real debate about how to combat sexual harassment,” she said.

    France has already seen the effects of the movement it helped trigger, with the government unveiling a number of new laws designed to combat sexual violence, including on-the-spot fines for sexual harassment in public places.

    Meanwhile, a new hashtag — #BalanceTonMetro — inspired by Muller’s original — has emerged as a means for women to denounce sexual harassment and assault experienced on Paris’s metro system and other public transport.

  235. blf says

    Hair furor’s attempts to infuriate parts of his base continue, China puts US soy purchases on hold as tariff war escalates:

    State-grain buyers haven’t received any further orders to continue with the so-called goodwill buying and don’t expect that to happen given the lack of agreement in trade negotiations, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private. […]

    Government data indicates China bought about 13 million metric tons of American soybeans after the countries agreed to a truce in December, in a move that showed goodwill toward getting the trade dispute resolved. While US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in February that China had pledged to buy an additional 10 million tons of American soy, purchases have now stopped.


    Not much else in the story, other than China hasn’t — yet — cancelled the existing orders. However, if they do do so, it could be very devastating, since much(? most?) of the purchased material has yet to be shipped.

  236. blf says

    Historian speaks of ‘constant trolling’ over Jack the Ripper book:

    A historian who has told the true story of Jack the Ripper’s victims has spoken of the “offensive”, “stupid” and almost “laughable” trolling she has received from Ripperologists.

    Hallie Rubenhold said she had even been compared to Holocaust denier David Irving for her book, in which she challenges the traditional narrative that the murdered women were all sex workers.


    Rubenhold argues three of the five women were not sex workers and paints a more rounded picture of their lives.

    This has led to accusations of Rubenhold having a cynical, feminist agenda and that she was trying to make Jack the Ripper work for the #MeToo age. “Well, #MeToo hadn’t actually happened when I started writing the book,” she said.

    “It is absolutely absurd, it’s offensive and it’s laughable. The amount of trolling … and it’s constant.”


    The five victims were Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. Each had their throats cut and four had their entrails removed.

    Rubenhold said the best-known and most popular of the victims was Kelly and there was an element of it being titillating because she was beautiful and young.

    The truth about the victims was far less glamorous: “They were sick, starving, brutally treated women who died a terrible, terrible death … I cannot see what is sexy about that.”

    Rubenhold said she was shocked no one had written a full-length book about the victims. “What an unbelievable omission,” she said. “We have literally libraries filled with information about Jack the Ripper. The same material over and over and over again, and nobody has actually thought to sit down and do a full book about this?”

  237. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, [… W]omen’s fertility app is funded by anti-abortion campaigners:

    A popular women’s health and fertility app sows doubt about birth control, features claims from medical advisers who are not licensed to practice in the US, and is funded and led by anti-abortion, anti-gay Catholic campaigners, a Guardian investigation has found.

    The Femm app, which collects personal information about sex and menstruation from users, has been downloaded more than 400,000 times since its launch in 2015, according to developers. It has users in the US, the EU, Africa and Latin America, its operating company claims.

    Two of the app’s medical advisers are not licensed to practice in the US and are also closely tied to a Catholic university in Santiago, Chile, where access to abortion remains severely restricted.

    Femm receives much of its income from private donors including the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a charity backed almost exclusively by Sean Fieler, a wealthy Catholic hedge-funder based in New York.

    A charity back by one living individual is quite probably a tax dodge.


    Fieler’s foundation has long supported organizations — and politicians such as the vice-president, Mike Pence — that oppose birth control and abortion. Fieler has criticized Republicans for failing to outlaw abortion, calling their reticence the tyranny of moderation in a recent editorial.


    The Femm app does not readily disclose the philosophy of its funders or leaders, and markets itself as a way to avoid or achieve pregnancy.

    That last bit put in eejit quotes because, although the investigation (as reported) doesn’t go into whether or not the app does even part of what it claims to do, there are hints of quackery afoot (see below). And also because apparently the only “avoid” method the app(?) suggests is widely-discredited, failing c.25% of the time, so it’s clearly not much use for avoiding… broadly in-line with the beliefs of the financing loon.

    Other fertility apps have been criticized for monetizing intimate data, sharing data with third parties and lack of privacy protections. Femm has not been accused of such behaviour, but appears to be the first ideologically aligned fertility app.


    Part of the Femm app encourages women to visit its own network of physicians for hormone tests, which it claims can diagnose underlying medical disorders. […]

    Quackery as well, perhaps?

    Anna Halpine, CEO of the Femm Foundation, said the ideology of the group and its funders is irrelevant because the Femm app is not dealing with the question of abortion in the work and the research and training we offer.

    Possibly technically true, but…:

    The Reproductive Health Research Institute (RHRI) provides Femm’s medical assertions, research and training. […] The institute is registered at the same New York City address as the Femm Foundation and another anti-abortion organization called World Youth Alliance. When the Guardian tried to call RHRI, a receptionist answered the phone as the World Youth Alliance.

    Halpine founded World Youth Alliance and was listed as CEO on the group’s most recent tax filings. World Youth Alliance gave Femm $446,042 between 2016 and 2017. World Youth Alliance also received funding from Chiaroscuro Foundation.

    Oops. You aren’t a very good liar, Ms Halpine.

    The Guardian contacted a co-author of one peer-reviewed paper promoted by Femm Foundation’s 2017 annual report. The co-author is listed as Santiago Molina, a Tallahassee, Florida, community college anatomy professor.

    Molina said his main contributions were “pondering questions” and translation. A physician who reviewed the paper at the Guardian’s request said it “doesn’t really align with any standard of care we practice in the US”.

    More hints of quackery?

    According to the Femm Foundation’s annual reports, it received $618,653 in donations in 2017. The same year, Chiaroscuro gave Femm $445,500, the majority of its budget. Chiaroscuro gave an additional $350,000 in 2016, and $1m in 2015.

  238. blf says

    Jeremy Corbyn is as much in la-la-land as dear lino, at least in brexit, according to the Grauniad’s live NKofE blog:

    Corbyn still backs soft Brexit and rejects in-out referendum

    Jeremy Corbyn has made insisted that a Labour government would try to negotiate a soft Brexit rather remaining in the EU.

    In pooled TV interview in Dublin, Corbyn was asked what he would do differently on Brexit if he was elected as prime minister.

    He said:

    I would go back to the EU, explain that we had fought an election campaign in order to make sure there was a good relationship with Europe in the future, that we weren’t afraid of public opinion on this, and ask them to seriously consider what we are suggesting, which is a customs union with a British say and trade relationship with Europe, and a dynamic relationship on rights would not be undermining Europe on workers rights, on consumer rights, on environmental protections.


    Planet Earth to Corbyn, Plant Earth to Corbyn, a customs union with a British say but without free movement of people ain’t gonna happen (even if you could somehow convince the EU to restart negotiations). The two — common customs (or, broadly, free trade) and free movement (of people) — are linked together; even Switzerland and the EEA must allow free movement to have more-or-less free trade — but they don’t have a say as they aren’t EU members. (Switzerland, in fact, is part of the Schengen Area.) Free movement of people is one of the EU’s four core founding principles (the other three are free movement of of goods, services, and capital). And free movement of people is (one of) the critical promises of the Good Friday Agreement on the island of Ireland.

  239. blf says

    Also in teh NKofE, Tory party donations down by millions of pounds, figures reveal:

    [Nasty] Party accepted £3.68m in first three months of 2019, down from £7.4m in previous quarter

    Data shows the major UK parties accepted a total £6.8m in the first quarter of 2019. This was more than £3.7m less than the amount accepted in the previous quarter.

    The fall in Tory donations was largely responsible for the drop. Between 1 January and 31 March, Labour accepted more than £3.5m from 102 donors, compared with more than £3.7m from 90 donors in the final quarter of 2018.

    [… more stats…]

    No word on the amounts or trend in bribes (both monetary and the historical NKofE style, gongs / awards / titles, high-paid low-work jobs / directorships, a suspicious lack of investigations / prosecutions, and other intangibles…).

  240. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live States blog:

    Immediately after Mueller spoke, the White House declared total vindication. But Trump was back on the defensive on Twitter Thursday morning.


    Then amid a rant about this witch hunt hoax, Trump appeared to admit that Russia helped elect him president [sic]: Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,…..


    No, Russia did not help me get elected, Trump [later] told reporters, in contradiction of the Mueller investigation’s finding that Moscow ran a yearslong hacking and social media campaign to boost Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton.


    To paraphrase:

    Mueller: “We can’t indict the sitting president. But if we could clear the president of criminal charges we would. (Significant Silence.)

    Trump: If I did anything wrong Mueller would have charged me, which he has not meaning I did nothing wrong.


    And there’s still a lot of furious arguing about the USS John McCain (see @352), which the live blog summarises as “[hair furor] running a White House that covers the name of a warship with a tarp to protect his eyes”.

  241. blf says

    More from the Grauniad’s live States blog, hair furor is still lying and smearing furiously:

    Trump’s typical tactic after someone criticizes him […] is to say that offstage that person had been begging him, Trump, for some favor, implying that the criticism stems from some personal sour grapes.

    Here he tries out the tactic on Robert Mueller, claiming that Mueller wanted to replace James Comey as FBI director, but Trump wouldn’t let him, so Mueller, you know, became special counsel, investigated prosecuted an elaborate Russian election-tampering campaign and then repeatedly explicitly declined to exculpate the president on suspicions that Trump had committed a criminal obstruction of justice.


    Robert Mueller came to the Oval Office (along with other potential candidates) seeking to be named the Director of the FBI. He had already been in that position for 12 years, I told him NO. The next day he was named Special Counsel — A total Conflict of Interest. NICE!

    Yes, Muller was Director of the FBI for c.12 years, 2001–2013. Interestingly, Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge confirms Mueller did interview with hair furor the day before being named special consul:

    On May 16, 2017, Mueller interviewed with Trump to again serve as the Director of the FBI but was not hired.[70] The next day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel for the United States Department of Justice. […]

    [70] Merica, Dan. “Trump interviewed Mueller for FBI job day before named Special Counsel”. CNN. […]

    Despite getting the easily-checked facts adequately correct, the overall spin should nonetheless be assumed to be the usual hair furor shoddy & dubious — conflict of interest? Perhaps, in the sense of the Watergate source Deep Throat, now known to be Mark Felt, who also wanted to be Director of the FBI.

  242. says

    Earlier this spring Trump said:

    [The Mueller report] didn’t lay a glove on me. If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court has nothing to do with impeachment proceedings in Congress. Surely someone must have explained this to Trump by now. Maybe they tried?

    Today, this exchange took place on the South Lawn of the White House:

    Q: Do you think they’re going to impeach you? Do you think they’re …

    TRUMP: I don’t see how. They can, because they’re possibly allowed, although I can’t imagine the courts allowing it. I’ve never gotten into it. I never thought that would even be possible to be using that word. To me, it’s a dirty word, the word “impeach.” It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word and it had nothing to do with me.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump’s assertions are a civics failure. […] Congress is responsible for initiating, overseeing, and executing the impeachment process. Lawmakers, and no one else, determine whether a president has committed impeachable acts.

    It’s not up to the judiciary to allow or forbid the legislative branch from exercising its legal authority.

    When Trump is in a jam, he looks for a fixer. Indeed, he’s spent much of his presidency assuming that everyone from his attorney general to his congressional allies to his White House counsel can simply make his problems go away for him. Now, evidently, he’s making similar assumptions about the courts.

    I’m curious as to why. Is the amateur president simply confused again? Is there someone at the White House giving him strange advice? Did Trump hear something along these lines from conservative media?


  243. blf says

    And also from the Grauniad’s live States blog (my emboldening):

    […] Politico reports that Trump is weighing a further move against asylum-seekers from Central America:

    A draft proposal circulating among Trump’s Homeland Security advisers would prohibit migrants from seeking asylum if they have resided in a country other than their own before coming to the US, according to a DHS official and an outside advocate familiar with the plan. If executed, it would deny asylum to thousands of migrants waiting just south of the border, many of whom have trekked a perilous journey through Mexico.

    US law explicitly grants “any alien” physically present in the United States the right to apply for asylum. […]

  244. says

    blf @365, It was team Trump that decided earlier to force many asylum seekers to wait in Mexico. So they set up that “resided in a country other than their own” loophole to inflict more cruelty. As the part you emboldened shows, another court battle is probably on the horizon.

    In other news: Census Bombshell: New Evidence Shows Citizenship Question Added To Boost GOP

    The move by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census can be traced back directly to the work of a Republican redistricting expert who studied how to create maps that “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” according to new evidence revealed in court documents filed Thursday.

    How the evidence even fell into the challengers’ laps is in itself an incredible turn of luck, involving an estranged daughter, a chance phone call and a casual conversation about how the files of the GOP’s gerrymandering mastermind might be useful […]

    The documents — filed by the challengers in the case in New York seeking to block the question — offer the most concrete evidence yet that the Trump administration added the question in order to boost the GOP, rather than to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — its official rationale.

    The challengers already won their case at the trial court level, but it has been appealed and was heard by the Supreme Court last month. A final decision on whether the question will stay on the 2020 census is expected in June.

    The new evidence backs the case made by the challengers that the administration lied about its reasons for adding the question, and, over the course of the litigation, further concealed the citizenship question’s true origins. It supports other evidence that adding the question was part of a long-held goal by conservative advocates to overhaul redistricting in a way that shifts political power away from urban and diverse communities. […]

    The evidence was found in a hard drive provided by Hofeller’s estranged daughter, who first shared it with the challengers in a partisan gerrymandering case in North Carolina. She had reached out to the challengers, the voting rights group Common Cause, to find a lawyer to help her settle her father’s estate, the New York Times reported. She mentioned to a member of the group, only in passing and after several conversations, the hard drives of Hofeller’s personal laptop that she had found while going through his personal belongings. The staffer then brought up that Common Cause had brought the lawsuit in North Carolina, and the daughter thought “Wow — this might be of use,” as she told the Times […]

    What they found is that Hofeller conducted an analysis in 2015 on how excluding noncitizens in redistricting “would clearly be a disadvantage for the Democrats,” using the Texas legislature as a case study. […]

    The study was commissioned by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer […]

    Hofeller went on to advise the Trump transition on the census, and was the “first person” to suggest that a citizenship question be added, according to the deposition of another transition advisor, Mark Neuman. […]

  245. says

    More blatant racism from one of the usual suspects, Representative Steve King from Iowa:

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA) earlier this week claimed that treating all cultures as “equal” would be “devaluing the contributions” of America’s Founding Fathers.

    King held a town hall Tuesday in Fort Dodge, Iowa, during which he was asked about his racist rhetoric around white nationalism. A constituent identified by the Des Moines Register as Christina Russell told the congressman that she took it personally when he “criminalized Mexican culture.”

    “Dehumanizing someone’s culture is not a joke,” Russell told King. “I just want to clarify that for you. Dehumanizing the Mexican culture is not a joke.”

    In response, King insisted that he “doesn’t deal in race,” only “culture.”

    “If we presume that every culture is equal and has an equal amount to contribute to our civilization, then we’re devaluing the contributions of the people that laid the foundation for America and that’s our Founding Fathers,” King said.

    The congressman claimed that “If there are new ideas coming in from other cultures, we can welcome them but we should debate them as to whether they are a plus and enhance contribute to the civilization that we are.”

    “It’s not about race, it’s never been about race,” King said. “It is about culture.”

    Some background information:

    This incident adds to King’s many racist outbursts and flirtations with white nationalism. He questioned the offensiveness of “white nationalism” during a New York Times interview in January, claimed that “you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies” and has retweeted neo-Nazis several times.

    At one point during the town hall on Tuesday, King defended his “white nationalism” remark to the New York Times (for which House GOP leadership stripped him of his committee assignments) and claimed that the left has “weaponized” that term.

    King lamented that losing his committee spots was one of the “significant injustices that’s ever taken place in Congress.” […]


  246. says

    Followup to blf’s comment 352.

    More embarrassing details:

    The Trump administration can’t seem to get its story straight on what happened with the White House asking the Navy to hide the USS Sen. John McCain from Donald Trump’s view during his visit to Japan.

    Trump himself denies knowledge of the request, and Navy officials claim it wasn’t carried out anyway—that pictures of the McCain covered with a tarp were taken on a different day and that the tarp was there for legitimate preservation purposes. But Trump’s plausible lack of knowledge may make the whole situation even more embarrassing.

    Whatever happened with the tarp or a barge that may or may not have been positioned to hide the name of the McCain, the Navy and the White House have not yet had an answer for reports that sailors from the McCain were excluded from Trump’s speech. The New York Times reports that every other U.S. ship in the area was allowed to send dozens of sailors to the speech, while the McCain sailors not only didn’t get invitations but were turned away when some tried to attend. […]

    Anonymous White House aides now admit that the request was made, but insist Trump didn’t know about it. Trump says that “They thought they were doing me a favor because they know I am not a fan of John McCain,” but he “couldn’t care less” about the ship.

    The big question is which would be worse—if Trump had personally requested to have the ship hidden, at least we’d know that he was capable of planning and forethought and wanted to remove a temptation to say something embarrassing. But the more likely situation is that his aides worried that if Trump saw the name McCain, he would attack the late senator in a way that would yield days of bad press, and so they were trying to plan around his poor impulse control. And when your aides are going behind your back to prevent you from attacking a dead man simply because you see his name on a boat … that’s not a good sign.


  247. says

    From David Corn:

    Much of the immediate commentary following special counsel Robert Mueller’s surprise press conference on Wednesday focused on his damning statements about […] Trump’s actions that potentially could be charged as obstruction of justice—if Justice Department policy did not prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.

    […] Mueller’s remarks were also a reminder of the core elements of the Trump-Russia scandal: Moscow attacked the 2016 election to help Trump, and Trump assisted Vladimir Putin’s assault by claiming at the time (and afterward) that it wasn’t real. That is, whether or not Trump had criminally colluded with Russian operatives, he did side with a foreign adversary that attacked American democracy—and that’s treachery. […]

    Even after the intelligence community briefed Trump in mid-August of that year and informed him that Moscow indeed was behind the hack-and-dump operation, he continued to say in public that there was no reason to blame the Russians for this intervention. At the first presidential debate, Trump huffed, “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC…It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke into DNC.” He kept this up after the Obama administration a few weeks later officially declared Russia was culpable.

    Comments like these must have signaled to Russia—a foreign adversary trying to subvert an American election—that the Trump campaign was just fine with its underhanded efforts. […]

    Trump put his own interests ahead of the security of the nation. And by insisting there was no Russian attack, he helped Putin pull off this caper and made it more difficult for President Barack Obama to enlist Republicans in a united front against Moscow’s attack. With Russia falsely claiming it had nothing to do with the hacks and dumps, Trump and his team were repeating and amplifying Putin’s disinformation. They were aiding and abetting the Kremlin.

    And after Trump won the election, he continued this pattern, failing to acknowledge the Russian attack and notoriously saying he accepted Putin’s denials. (One result of this was that Trump has done nothing to prioritize actions to prevent future attacks on US elections.) […]

  248. says

    Birds of a feather flocking together:

    Trump on Thursday said he might meet with Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage — pro-Brexit politicians, one of whom is vying to replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May — when he visits the U.K. next week. […]


  249. says

    Mueller remarks put Barr back into harsh spotlight

    Democrats and some Republicans saw a statement that contradicts and even rebukes Trump’s attorney general.

    Moments after Robert Mueller gave brief concluding remarks about his Russia probe on Wednesday, the former Republican New Jersey governor and sometime Trump adviser Chris Christie declared that the special counsel’s statement “definitely contradicts what the attorney general said when he summarized Mueller’s report.”

    Christie wasn’t alone. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff called Mueller’s statement a “direct rebuke of Attorney General William Barr,” arguing that Barr had “deliberately and repeatedly misled the American people.” And while she didn’t mention Barr by name, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “greatly disappointed with the Department of Justice for their misrepresentation of the Mueller report.” […]

    if Mueller was not engaging directly in a food fight, cable news networks did the job for him, playing side-by-side reels of Mueller and Barr’s seemingly conflicting statements nearly all of Wednesday afternoon.

    […] While Barr stated in his April news conference that there was “no evidence of collusion,” Mueller said Wednesday he found “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” And while Mueller gave a nod to Congress when he said that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Barr said he hoped Mueller hadn’t intended to leave the decision to Congress “since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose.” […]

    In Mueller’s telling, a Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted guided his investigation and informed his decision not to reach a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice. Charging the president with a crime was “not an option,” Mueller said […]

    Barr, however, seemed to leave a different impression in his own public statements. Speaking to reporters before the release of Mueller’s report in April, and again to lawmakers earlier this month, Barr said Mueller had told him the DOJ policy was not the chief reason he did not charge the president with a crime. “Special counsel Mueller stated three times to us … that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction,” Barr told a Senate panel in early May. […]

  250. blf says

    Possibly because whatever happened with the USS John McCain (see @352 and Lynna@370) reminded hair furor of the late Senator, he’s off and insulting him again (from the Gruaniad’s live States blog):

    Trump uses Cochran’s death to take dig at McCain

    The president [sic] has found a way to use the death announced today of seven-term Mississippi senator Thad Cochran to take another dig at the late senator John McCain […]: Very sad to hear the news on the passing of my friend, Senator Thad Cochran. He was a real Senator with incredible values – even flew back to Senate from Mississippi for important Healthcare Vote when he was desperately ill. Thad never let our Country (or me) down!

    Also note the sickening implied equivalence of “our country” and hair furor himself.

  251. says

    Trump is now escalating his attacks on Mueller. And that’s after just nine minutes of Mueller summarizing his report in person, in front of reporters. Think what might happen if Mueller actually testified for hours in front of congressional committees?

    […] Trump’s outburst, which came in a series of tweets and 17 minutes of remarks to reporters at the White House, revealed the depth of his frustration with the special counsel’s first public comments on the probe, in which Mueller said he did not clear Trump on obstruction of justice.

    “I think Mueller is a true never-Trumper,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Colorado Springs, Colo., to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “He’s somebody that dislikes Donald Trump.”

    Trump also downplayed the possibility that the Democratic-controlled House would impeach him.

    “I never thought that would even be possible to be using that word. To me it’s a dirty word, the word ‘impeach,’ ” he said. “It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, and it had nothing to do with me.”

    Mueller’s surprise public remarks on Wednesday increased pressure on the House leaders, who are facing calls from dozens of rank-and-file members to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has thus far resisted those calls, saying the House will continue with its own investigations into Trump. […]

    Trump proclaimed shortly after Mueller concluded his public remarks on Wednesday that “the case is closed.” But on Thursday he remained fixated on the special counsel, whose comments dominated cable-news coverage, questioning Mueller’s credibility while venting anger at the possibility of being impeached.

    “I’m innocent of all charges,” Trump declared to reporters, before stating that he has “presidential powers that you wouldn’t believe” that shield him from an obstruction charge.

    “I don’t even have to rely on Article II,” he continued, referring to the section of the Constitution that defines the president’s powers. “There was no crime. There was no obstruction. There was no collusion. There was no nothing.” […]

    While Mueller did not specifically mention impeachment as an avenue for punishing Trump, he said “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

    Trump responded by attacking Mueller’s integrity, arguing that he should never have been appointed special counsel because of a past business dispute between the two men, an apparent reference to Mueller’s decision to leave Trump’s Northern Virginia golf club years before he was named special counsel.

    The president further suggested Mueller should have been taken out of consideration for the role of special counsel after he interviewed to replace James Comey as FBI director and was not chosen for the job.

    See blf’s comment 363 concerning that last bit.

    “Despite that, and despite $40 million, 18 Trump haters, including people who worked for Hillary Clinton and some of the worst human beings on earth, they got nothing,” he continued. “It’s pretty amazing.”

    Mueller’s 448-page report denies Trump’s assertion that he was “highly conflicted.” Former top White House adviser Stephen Bannon told federal investigators that Mueller did not go to the White House seeking to become FBI director for a second time, and was instead invited to offer “a perspective on the institution” to the president.

    “Bannon recalled telling the president that the purported conflicts were ‘ridiculous’ and that none of them was real or could come close to justifying precluding Mueller from serving as special counsel,” the report reads. […]

    I see that Trump has now inflated the cost of Mueller’s investigation to $40 million. He used to claim $35 million. The actual cost was about $25 million that has been accounted for; and more expenses have been estimated. Much of that was recouped when Paul Manafort’s properties and bank accounts were seized.

    Mueller’s office has not yet filed an expense report for the last six months of his investigation, but including the DOJ’s contributions, the total reported cost so far is $25.2 million.

    Given that the last three expense reports have covered about six-month timespans, and the last report was approximately six months ago, it is likely that the office will file its fourth and final one soon. The first three reports totaled approximately $6.8 million, $10 million and $8.5 million, respectively. So the last one, if comparable to the others, would make the final dollar amount of Mueller’s probe between $32 million and $35 million.

    Though that is a lot of money, the investigation may have actually paid for itself by uncovering tax evasion and fraud.

    Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was sentenced for obstruction of justice and conspiracy in September. Manafort, as part of his plea deal, agreed to forfeit assets valued around $42 million, including about $22 million in real estate property, according to CNBC […]


  252. blf says

    New Hampshire abolishes death penalty after state senate overrides governor:

    Vote came a week after the 400-member house voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill to repeal capital punishment


    The state hasn’t executed anyone since 1939, and the repeal bill would not apply retroactively to Michael Addison, who killed Manchester officer Michael Briggs and is the state’s only inmate on death row. But death penalty supporters argued that courts will interpret it differently, giving Addison a chance at life in prison.

    “If you think you’re passing this today and Mr Addison is still going to remain on death row, you are confused,” said the state senator Sharon Carson. “Mr Addison’s sentence will be converted to life in prison.”


    The senate vote, 16–8, was exactly the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto. Twelve Democrats and four Republicans supported ending the death penalty, while six Republicans and two Democrats voted to keep it. The latter included Lou D’Allesandro, who represents the district in which Briggs was killed. He urged his colleagues to remember law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.


    Sununu, who vetoed the repeal bill surrounded by officers at a community center named for Briggs, said Thursday he was incredibly disappointed in the vote.


    But state senator Bob Giuda, a former FBI agent, said while he greatly respects law enforcement, the death penalty is at odds with his pro-life principles. He called execution a “ghastly” process and urged his colleagues to “move our civilization” past it.

    “I think we’re better than that,” he said. “I choose to move our state forward to remove the death penalty.”


  253. blf says

    Terry Pratchett predicted rise of fake news in 1995, says biographer:

    In 1995 […] according to his biographer, Terry Pratchett had already “accurately predicted how the internet would propagate and legitimise fake news”.

    Marc Burrows was digging through old cuttings about the late Discworld author for his forthcoming biography when he came across an interview Pratchett had done with Microsoft founder Bill Gates in July 1995, for GQ. “Let’s say I call myself the Institute for Something-or-other and I decide to promote a spurious treatise saying the Jews were entirely responsible for the second world war and the Holocaust didn’t happen,” said Pratchett, almost 25 years ago. “And it goes out there on the internet and is available on the same terms as any piece of historical research which has undergone peer review and so on. There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the net. It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone has just made it up.”


    Burrows’ original tweet about the GQ interview went viral this week. He told the Guardian that, ironically, “hardly anyone has asked if a quote about the dangers of spreading fake news on the internet is actually real”.

    “It’s literally just a photo from an article in an old magazine, I could easily have faked it,” he said. “Everyone’s taken my word for it. It is real, but I thought that was really interesting. Here’s Terry saying ‘don’t take everything online at face value’, and literally thousands of people respond by going ‘Terry is so clever’ and hitting RT. I think he’d appreciate that.”

    Indeed, this excerpt is taking the Grauniad’s word it isn’t faked — largely because they have a reputation as a very reliable source… of Tpyos offerings.

  254. blf says

    From Lynna@375’s excerpt, “Former top White House adviser Stephen Bannon told federal investigators that Mueller did not go to the White House seeking to become FBI director for a second time, and was instead invited to offer ‘a perspective on the institution’ to the president.” That makes more sense than the (summary of the) report cited in the last excerpt in @363, since Mr Mueller has already been FBI director. Wanting the job again after already serving an extended term (the usual term is 10 years (legally limited, as I recall, to avoid another J Edgar Hoover disaster)) seems a bit strange. That hair furor would lie about the purpose / contents of the meeting is not at all strange, what is strange is he got at least some of the easily-verifiable facts adequately correct.

  255. blf says

    Austria appoints Brigitte Bierlein as its first female chancellor:

    Brigitte Bierlein, the head of the constitutional court, will now be tasked with forming a cabinet after the previous government collapsed over the “Ibizagate” corruption scandal.

    In a televised statement, and standing alongside Alexander Van der Bellen, the president, she said: “I will seek to win Austrians’ trust.”

    Bierlein said she would hold talks with political parties and civil society organisations in the coming days. Referring to her appointment, she told gathered journalists: “If this is surprising for you, it is for me as well.”

    Van der Bellen called Bierlein a “prudent, far-sighted and highly competent personality”.


    [Sebastian] Kurz’s centre-right People’s party won 34.6% of the vote in Sunday’s European parliament elections, and at the moment looks on course to re-emerge as Austria’s largest party at the national elections.

  256. blf says

    A bit more on the Mueller–hair furor meeting, FactCheck.org also casts strong doubt on hair furor’s claim it was about Mueller wanting to be FBI director again, Debunking Mueller’s Conflicts.

    So, in quite typical hair furor style, whilst he did manage to get the date right, everything else is a lie.

    Or confusion. The debunking does mention one source who claims it was hair furor who wanted Mueller to take the job again, and Mueller turning the idea down. However, that source is Bannon, so apply considerable caution and mountains of salt. (Bannon’s other claims about the meeting all seem to be backed-up by other sources / evidence, and contradict hair furor.)

  257. blf says

    And now for something completely expected, Children were abused at homes run by nuns, Scottish inquiry finds — this has a TRIGGER WARNING for child abuse and torture:




    An official inquiry has found that Sisters of Nazareth nuns subjected children to vicious abuse, humiliation and at times sexual assault of “utmost depravity”.

    The judge-led Scottish child abuse inquiry has found thousands of children put in four homes run by the Catholic order in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Lasswade and Kilmarnock endured systematic violence and degrading emotional abuse for more than 50 years.

    In a detailed account of the evidence she heard covering the years from 1933 to 1984, Lady Smith, the inquiry chair, said the children were deprived of the dignity, compassion and care they were entitled to.

    She found the order had a culture based on obedience, intolerance and abuse. “The Nazareth houses in Scotland were, for many children, places of fear, hostility and confusion, places where children were physically abused and emotionally degraded with impunity,” Smith said.


    Smith said the order’s rule book, its Directory and Book of Customs, published in 1921, […] enforced extremely strict rules, including requiring children to sleep on their backs with their arms crossed over their chests, and it allowed “severe corporal punishment”, including whipping and caning. [… other tortures…]

    She said the culture of violence was perpetuated by the order’s heavy emphasis on the strict obedience expected from its members, who were often moved at short notice between different establishments. She said the nuns learned abusive practices from their older peers, were discouraged from questioning orders and no effort was made to review their disciplinary culture.


    That 1921 rulebook “said its core values were patience, hospitality, love, respect, compassion and justice,” and other fine-sounding words, all notably ignored. At least one nun helped a priest rape a girl.



  258. says

    Followup to comments 352, 370, 374.


    […] “As a fellow Arizonan and in the long tradition of U.S. Marines serving with sailors, I am furious that the Navy would allow the service of the McCains to be diminished in this way,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) wrote in a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson on Thursday.

    “And as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am concerned about how prioritizing the emotional instability of the president over the morale of the USS John S. McCain’s crew will affect readiness,” Gallego added.

    Gallego asked Richardson to explain how the order was received and executed, whether any funding was used to carry it out and how he will “ensure that the Navy protects its greatest heroes against petty White House whims in the future.”

    “I expect the Navy to give me and all Arizonans every detail on how this happened and how it won’t happen again,” Gallego added in a tweet in which he attached the letter. […]


    The USS John S. McCain is also named after McCain’s father and grandfather, both of whom served in the Navy.

  259. says

    As explained by one of Republican Representative Justin Amash’s constituents, this is how many conservatives have so far gotten away with not holding Trump accountable:

    […] The success of this Republican campaign, reflected in conservative media coverage, to protect Trump was best captured by Amash’s own constituent Cathy Garnaat, a Republican, who NBC reported was “surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump.”

    “I hadn’t heard that before,” she told NBC after the Tuesday town hall. “I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated.”

    That comment alone cements that Amash, in becoming the first and only Republican to call for impeachment, is fighting against an entire machine — from the elected leaders to sympathetic media outlets.

    Outlets like Fox News have played a central role in the Trump presidency. Trump has repeatedly endorsed the network’s coverage, congratulating Fox’s high ratings while calling other outlets “Fake News.”

    Meanwhile, Trump and Fox News, which has always had a strong read of the conservative base, have had a symbiotic relationship, sharing talking points and a political agenda, so much so that the president has a direct line to the outlets’ pundits and several of the outlet’s contributors now work for his administration. Bill Shine, a veteran Fox News executive, was Trump’s deputy chief of staff until March, when he stepped down to join the Trump campaign. […]


  260. says

    From Wonkette:

    We knew Fox News would be lit last night after that Robert Mueller press conference, but holy shit boy howdy. Let’s look at some highlights!

    First, we must sadly report that Eric Trump is experiencing some confusion, because Robert Mueller clearly spent his time at the podium speaking “in code.” […] And why? Because Deep State, we are guessing!

    He explained this to Lou Dobbs, who was also, as usual, experiencing confusion.

    “He said today ‘I stand by everything in the report.’ Albeit he just didn’t come out and say, ‘Guys, after two and a half years, there was no collusion and there was no obstruction,'” he continued. “He was talking in code.” […]

    Do you see what Eric Trump is saying? Mueller said, “I stand by everything in the report” instead of saying NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, and that is what Daddy says the report says, so it must be true!

    Perhaps young Eric has not read the Mueller Report (likely, the Trumps aren’t really the type of family that reads), or perhaps he is just lying (likely, because the Trump’s aren’t really the type of family who open their mouths and say something true).

    Still, we hate to be the ones to break the news to [Eric] that the Mueller Report doesn’t say “NO COLLUSION.” In fact, it spends a lot of time talking about how “no collusion” is a bullshit construction, spends almost 200 pages detailing creepy and possibly illegal contacts between the Trump family, the Trump campaign, and the Russians, and finally explains that due to a number of factors — including witnesses who lied and deleted their communications — Mueller had insufficient evidence of a full-blown conspiracy, specifically applied to the two primary Russian active measures campaigns against the election he investigated.

    As for “NO OBSTRUCTION,” the Mueller Report did not say that either! Mueller said yesterday, as he did in the report, that if he was able to determine that Trump definitely did not commit a crime, he’d have been just goshdarn DELIGHTED to say it. And the report — again for almost 200 pages — details a metric shitload of actions Trump took, along with evidence and analysis of those incidents, squared with obstruction of justice law. Since we read the report, we can confidently say Mueller laid out lots of crimes committed by young Eric’s daddy, as daddy obstructed an investigation into a LITERAL ATTACK ON OUR ELECTORAL SYSTEM BY ONE OF OUR MOST HOSTILE ENEMIES. […]

    The rest of Fox was equally stupid and weird and bad last night. […]

    Tucker Carlson told the same lies Eric Trump told, saying the Mueller Report says NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, because Fox News hosts are well aware that their average viewer is functionally illiterate and will never look up the Mueller Report for themselves on the internet. […]

  261. says

    White Campground Manager Pulls Gun on Black Mississippi Couple Trying to Have a Picnic

    […] “This lady just literally pulled a gun because we’re out here and didn’t have reservations for a lake we didn’t even know we needed reservations for,” Richardson says in the video, as a woman in shorts and a campground T-shirt approaches them with a handgun, telling them they should have checked in with the campground’s office. “We didn’t know. All you had to do was tell us,” Richardson says to the campground manager, as the woman points away from the campground with her free hand.

    “We didn’t know,” Richardson repeats. “The only thing you had to do was tell us to leave, and we would have left. You did not have to pull a gun.”

    The woman then tucks her gun into her pocket. Richardson told WCBI on Tuesday that she had told them during the encounter, “Get, get, you don’t belong here.”

    She wrote in her Facebook post that her husband, Franklin, stopped by the office after the encounter and that the woman’s husband, also a property manager, told him that they didn’t need a reservation for the lake after all. (It remains unclear if the Richardsons were accidentally trespassing or not, as the lake itself is public but the picnic area might have been on private land.)

    Lynna asks: were there sign saying “reservations required”? Even if reservations were required, pulling a gun on a black family was not required.

    But then, Franklin Richardson told WCBI, the woman returned: “[S]he pulls up flying, hops out of the car, then proceeded to yell at my wife: ‘Get in the car, you need to get back in the car.’ Just cussing her out, and she’s not even saying anything.”

    Franklin Richardson, an Army National Guard Sergeant, had recently returned from a nine-month deployment overseas. “It’s kind of crazy,” he told WCBI. “You go over there and don’t have a gun pointed at you, and you come back home and the first thing that happens is you have a gun pointed at you.”

    To Jessica Richardson, the racism behind the interaction was clear. “You can feel the intent behind it,” she told WCBI. “I felt it. I felt the heat from it. I felt it in her eyes. I knew exactly what it was.”

    A spokesperson for Kampgrounds of America, the chain that oversees commercial campgrounds, including the one in Starkville, told WCBI that the woman had been fired.

  262. says

    A black person encounters law enforcement and almost gets shot:

    With his weapon cocked to the side, the Arkansas police officer repeatedly gives Ed Truitt a simple command: “shut your car off.”

    An apprehensive Truitt, using his left hand to live-stream the early Sunday encounter on Facebook, begins to move his right arm.

    “He’s got a gun!” the officer yells before repeating the last word. “Gun!”

    “Where? My hand’s in the air!” Truitt replies, panning the camera to his empty hand. “Come shut the car off, I ain’t moving my hands. He’s trying to shoot me.”

    Video of the incident, which took place outside a convenience store in the eastern Arkansas city of Helena-West Helena, has garnered thousands of views online and raised questions about the officer’s intentions. For some, Truitt’s experience illustrated the painstaking steps people of color feel they must take to survive run-ins with law enforcement. […]

    Truitt argues he survived by ignoring the officer’s instructions, telling WREG that he “played it safe” by keeping his hands visible and refusing to move.

    “[The officer] was like, ‘That’s a failure to comply,’” Truitt told the Memphis-based CBS affiliate. “But if I would have complied, I would have got killed.” […]

    According to Truitt, several police officers arrived Sunday morning and ordered everyone to clear out, causing another car to block him in. In the video, the officer claims Truitt didn’t leave the premises when asked. In an apparent change of course, he then alleges Truitt had “come back.”

    “I’m not going to shoot you, but you’re not going to move those hands,” the officer says.

    “My hands in the air,” Truitt replies. “You’re telling me to shut my car off so you can shoot me. C’mon now.” […]

    officers found a rifle inside the vehicle. Truitt appears to say in the video the weapon is registered in his name. Under Arkansas law, rifles do not require registration.

    Body camera footage published by the network Wednesday shows police holding a rifle after placing Truitt in handcuffs. Truitt has indicated the gun was not easily accessible from where he sat in the vehicle. […]

    In the video’s waning moments the officer is seen forcibly removing Truitt from the car, sending the phone he recorded with tumbling to the ground. Grateful to be alive, Truitt said he has no regrets about how he handled the interaction.

    “What I did saved my life,” he told WREG. “That’s why I’m here talking to y’all. If not, y’all would be covering a story about how I got shot.”

    Washington Post link

  263. blf says

    And in Ozland, ‘System is broken’: all children in NT detention are Aboriginal, officials say (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}). First, a helpful decoder:

    NT: Northern Territory, a big chunk in the middle of Ozland, the least-populated region of Ozland, with a confirmed Aboriginal history going backing 40000 years (at least). Ozlanders can confirm, but I believe the region also has a long history of bigotry towards Aboriginals.

    Don Dale: A maximum security prison for male and female juvenile offenders with a long history of abuse; also a shorthand for a investigating commission, its report, and the recommendations made in the report.

    Territory Families: An NT governmental agency charged with child guardianship, child protection, and so on.

    Almost three years on from the royal commission into Don Dale, every single child in detention in the Northern Territory is Aboriginal, the NT social policy scrutiny committee has been told.

    But as one committee member said the system was “broken”, Territory Families said it was still not ready to implement some of the royal commission’s key recommendations, including raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, and the age of detention to 14.

    Department officials told the committee, which held public hearings into proposed changes to youth justice laws on Thursday, there are 24 children — 22 boys and two girls — in detention in the NT and they are all Aboriginal.

    Eleven of them are in Don Dale — the centre that the Royal Commission said was not fit to house juveniles and should be closed immediately — and 13 are in Alice Springs youth detention. […]


    Earlier, the president of the NT criminal lawyers association, Marty Aust, expressed deep frustration with the pace of reform.

    “I’m tired. I’m exhausted,” Aust said. “All of my colleagues, on both sides of the bar table, we’re tired. Sick of 70-hour weeks, sick of youth crime, and we’re sick of victims of crime.

    “I don’t want this committee to see years of failed policy reinforced and continued.”

    Aust told the committee part of the reason so many young people are committing offences is they “have gone through an unsuitable, inefficient and ineffective youth justice system”.

    “We had a royal commission with over 200 recommendations, evidence for weeks on end, a final report based upon expert opinion yet nobody is prepared to just trust experts and implement legislation,” he said.


    A majority of submissions to the committee strongly urged the NT government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years old. It is currently 10, which legal experts said was far too young.

    “{Raising the age} would stop children being funnelled through the quicksand of youth criminal justice system,” Shahleena Musk, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, told the committee.

    “Children grow out of criminal offending. All efforts should be made to keep them out in the first place.”

    The NT legal aid commission said the maximum time for children to be held in detention should only be four hours. The NT is the only Australian jurusdiction not to have a time limit.

    Territory Families has proposed a time limit for children of 24 hours.


    The committee also heard a series of new proposals from the department that have alarmed legal, social and health organisations, including removing the current provision for arrest as a last resort.

    The NT legal aid commission’s Russell Goldflam described the plans as a “bombshell”.

    “The royal commission heard evidence of children being held in watchhouses for 30 hours,” Goldflam said. “It recommended caps on the length of time children could be held in police watch houses in response to this happening to children in Alice Springs and elsewhere.

    “The legislation as it stands is completely out of step with other jurisdictions. It’s a potentially traumatic and harmful environment.”


    Hair furor, teh dalekocrazy, and teh raping children cult would all approve of NT’s Territory Families ! Lock teh brown kids up young and throw away the key !! Procrastinate, ignore, and lie… !!!

  264. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live States blog: “The Trump administration can’t resume work on border wall projects in Texas and Arizona using Pentagon funds, pending the resolution of a court appeal, a federal judge in California has ruled […]”. (The appeal is about the recent ruling hair furor cannot ignore Congress by using an emergency decree to spendsteal monies appropriated for other purposes.)

  265. blf says

    In the Grauniad’s live States blog, hair furor is reported as having had an idea, so what little remnants of sanity still exist in wacko house are trying to talk him into putting the pen down and slowly backing away:

    […] The Washington Post reports president [sic] Trump is threatening Mexico with new tariffs over the ongoing surge of migrants from the country seeking asylum in the US. […]

    Trump is planning to make the announcement Friday, but some White House aides are trying to talk him out of it, arguing that such a threat would rattle financial markets and potentially imperil passage of the USMCA trade agreement […].

  266. blf says

    Meanwhile, in Israel’s concentration camps, Israel to auction prefab classrooms donated by EU to Palestinians (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Israel’s defence ministry plans to hold an auction next week to sell two prefabricated classrooms that were donated to Palestinian schoolchildren by the EU.

    The Civil Administration, the body tasked with running the occupation, tore down and confiscated the classrooms last October. They had been intended for 49 students, in grades one to six, in Ibziq, in the northern occupied West Bank.

    An advertisement published in the Israeli newspaper Maariv said the sale would take place at Civil Administration offices in the West Bank.

    After the classrooms were dismantled, the EU mission to Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned Israeli authorities and called on them to rebuild the structures in the same place “without delay”.

    “Every child has the right to access education and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” it said at the time.

    “{T}he EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.”

    […] Israel maintains full control of most of the territory and demolishes homes and buildings it says were built without permission. […]

    There is a heartbreaking — but also inspiring — picture at the link of children studying in a “classroom” which consists of nothing more than desks on a concrete slab (a building foundation?) out in the open desert. (Actually, to be more correct, they are posing as-if they could be studying under such conditions…)

  267. blf says

    Sudan bans Al-Jazeera[] as pro-democracy demonstrations continue:

    Sudan has closed the Khartoum office of Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, the station has said, adding that its staff members’ work permits have also been withdrawn.


    The Transitional Military Council took power after the army ousted Omar al-Bashir, a close ally of Qatar, from the presidency. Nearly two months later, the council and protesters have been in a standoff over demands to hand power to civilians. […]

    The council’s head, Abdelfattah al-Burhan, travelled to Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a summit. He had already visited Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. […]

    Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt are three of the countries which want Al Jazeera closed, and have been boycotting Qatar for several years now to force that, using an increasingly-obviously spurious claim of supporting terrorism as a reason. All three ruling regimes are also scared silly of democratic reforms, as also seems to be the council in Sudan. (Then there is Israel lurking in the background, whose own authoritarian “government” broadly agrees with Saudi Arabia about Al Jazeera.)

      † Whilst I’ll not edit the Grauniad’s spelling Al-Jazeera, the Al Jazeera English site / station itself uses the spelling Al Jazeera.

  268. blf says

    As a result of what might be loosely termed Brazil’s variation of @391, Students protest across Brazil over Jair Bolsonaro’s sweeping cuts to education:

    Tens of thousands of students, academics and teachers have taken to the streets of Brazil for their latest mass protest against what they call far-right president Jair Bolsonaro’s assault on education.

    Up and down the country — from Amazon cities to small towns in Brazil’s deep south — demonstrators turned out to condemn Bolsonaro’s highly controversial moves to slash funding for public education and science.

    In the capital, Brasília, student protesters were filmed burning an effigy of the Brazilian president while chanting the increasingly common refrain of his opponents: “Hey, Bolsonaro go and get fucked”.

    Add in a milkshake and the picture becomes… well, ah, let’s not go there. Besides, to put it there, you’d have to pull Bolsonaro’s head out of it first.

    In the northeastern city of Salvador, where a reported 70,000 people marched, one dissenter carried a diabolic caricature of Bolsonaro stamped with the phrase: “Not today Satan”.

    Thousands of students marched through downtown Rio with placards reading: “Education isn’t an expense, it is an investment”.

    “This isn’t just an attack on universities. It is going to affect all levels of education,” said Rodrigo Iacovini, an urban planner who joined a march in Brazil’s economic capital, São Paulo.

    “We knew it would be bad — but not this bad,” Iacovini […] said of Bolsonaro’s six-month-old administration. “Unfortunately, they have shown themselves to be not just a conservative government, but a completely incompetent conservative government that is utterly detached from the Brazilian reality.”

    [… S]ix months into the radical populist’s four-year term, opposition is growing with polls showing that about 36% of voters now consider his administration bad or awful, compared to 17% in February.

    Moves to dramatically reduce funding for federal universities […] have caused particular outrage, prompting what observers call the largest protests against a newly installed Brazilian president in decades.

    On 15 May tens of thousands of demonstrators staged nationwide protests against the cuts only to be belittled by Bolsonaro as useful idiots and imbeciles.

    Brazil’s firebrand leader attempted to row back from those characteristically incendiary remarks this week in an interview with Record, a sympathetic Brazilian broadcaster that has emerged as his answer to Trump’s Fox News.

    Actually, that should be “Fox New’s Trump”. Whether or not Bolsonaro is owned by Record (or Putin), I have no idea.

    Bolsonaro admitted he had gone too far but again disparaged the protesting students as naive kids who were being manipulated by their teachers and didn’t even know what they were doing.


  269. KG says

    Immediately following the European election results, Corbyn made a statement that was interpreted as finally coming down in favour of a new referendum with Remain as an option. It was, in fact, still highly ambiguous and qualified. He’s now confirmed that he’s still chasing his unicorn. Today, the latest Yougov poll on general election voting intentions shows Labour in joint third with the Tories, with the LibDems first and the BUF second – although all four are close together. The Greens and “Others” (which will be mainly SNP and Plaid Cymru) are also significantly higher than usual in such polls. Of course, a general election isn’t about to happen – but if this and the continued fence-sitting don’t persuade some senior Labour figure to launch a leadership challengs (which AFAIK can happen any time a prospective challenger can get 20% of the party’s MPs and MEPs to back them), it’s hard to see what will – short of disaster when a general election does come. Now woud be the time to do it, when the Tories and LibDems are both in the throes of choosing new leaders. I’d bet that whispered negotiations on who puts their head above the parapet are indeed going on: my hunch is that the first to do so would get that head shot off (metaphorically speaking, of course), but might open the way for a challenger with more chance of winning – who, given the composition of the parlioamentary party and the membership, would have to be a Remainer from the left of the party, but not as hated by the right as Corbyn, to stand any chance. Whether such a person exists, I don’t know: Keir Starmer, often mentioned as a potential leader, is probably too far to the right, even though he’s a shadow cabinet member; Emily Thornberry, also often mentioned, might struggle to get the necessary MP/MEP endorsements.

  270. blf says

    This seems like a clever move, as N.Ireland is a very nice location for filming yet has the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, Northern Ireland abortion campaigners urge Disney and Netflix boycott:

    Netflix and Disney are threatening to pull film production in Georgia over the US state’s new abortion law — but neither company will comment on whether they will continue to make shows in Northern Ireland, where women face even more restrictions on their reproductive rights.

    Georgia’s proposed law, which has prompted a growing boycott from the entertainment industry and leading actors, will ban women from seeking an abortion after six weeks. By comparison, Northern Ireland’s longstanding ban on abortion is absolute from the moment of conception, with anyone obtaining an abortion theoretically facing life imprisonment.

    From memory, the threat of lifetime imprisonment also applies to medics (doctors and nurses) involved with the abortion.

    “It shouldn’t be one rule for Georgia and one rule for Northern Ireland,” said Emma Campbell, co-chair of the Northern Irish campaign group Alliance for Choice.


    This week [Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said] he would consider pulling his company out of the state — where it makes shows such as Stranger Things — if the proposed abortion law comes into effect, while also saying Netflix would join in legal efforts to fight the new legislation. […] Netflix declined to comment on whether it would take a similar approach to Northern Ireland, where it has filmed the gameshow Flinch and is co-producing the drama Marcella with ITV.

    [… similar inconsistency at Disney…]

    Abortions are not provided by the “N”HS in N.Ireland. Woman had to travel to others parts of teh NKofE. It used to be they also had to pay for an abortion, but that cruelty was abandoned as part of the fallout over the nasty party’s pro-brexit alliance with the rabidly anti-abortion N.Irish “D”UP nazis. They still, however, have to pay for the trip.

    (It is also now possible, as far as I know, to go Ireland, albeit the details are not known to me.)

  271. blf says

    All Germans urged to wear kippah in protest against antisemitism:

    Germans of all faiths and none are being urged to wear kippah skullcaps on Saturday as a symbol of solidarity with the Jewish community, after a steep rise in antisemitic attacks.

    Protests across the country have been called by the government’s antisemitism tsar after he triggered a heated debate when he warned Jews last week not to wear the kippah because of the increasing likelihood of being attacked.

    The German tabloid newspaper Bild has been one of the most vocal supporters of the protests, even publishing a cut-out kippah for readers to download and print.

    [… Antisemitism ombudsman Felix Klein] cited a 20% rise in attacks on Jewish citizens since 2018. Last year 1,800 antisemitic attacks were reported, involving verbal and physical abuse and death threats. But the real figure is thought to be much higher.


    In the run-up to the European parliamentary elections earlier this month, campaigners for the far-right Die Rechte party drove past a synagogue in the city of Pforzheim shouting Leave Germany and Go back to Israel from the open windows of their bus, which displayed a prominent picture of a convicted Holocaust denier.


    The kippah protest has been called to coincide with al-Quds day, on which protesters gather to remember the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. The demonstration is typically a magnet in central Berlin for anti-Israel demonstrators, and attracts Hezbollah and Hamas sympathisers as well as neo-Nazis sporting antisemitic slogans and symbols.

    The demonstration — dubbed Deutschland trägt Kippa (Germany wears the kippah) — has been welcomed by Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, who said it was a sign of solidarity and “helpful but insufficient”.


    Earlier this week Angela Merkel said in an interview that antisemitism continued to be a problem in Germany more than seven decades after the end of the Holocaust […].

    “We have always had a certain amount of antisemites among us,” the chancellor said in an interview with CNN. “Unfortunately there is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single day-care centre for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”


  272. blf says

    Follow-up to @390, hair furor couldn’t be talked into putting the pen down, Trump announces tariffs on Mexico until immigration remedied:

    Donald Trump has announced that he is placing a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports to pressure the country to do more to curb immigration into the US, in a surprise move that has rattled markets.

    The US president said the tariff would gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied. […]

    With investors afraid that increasing trade friction could hurt the global economy, the Mexican peso, US stock index futures and Asian stock markets tumbled, including the shares of Japanese carmakers who export cars from Mexico to the US.

    It raised the risk of devastating economic relations with the biggest US trade partner for goods. Mexico, which relies heavily on cross-border trade, rose to that ranking as a result of Trump’s trade war with China. Rufus Yerxa, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents the largest US exporters, told the New York Times the move was “a colossal blunder”.

    Mexico’s leftwing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador [Amlo –blf], responded to Trump with a two-page letter in which he wrote: “The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol … With all due respect, even though you have the right to say it, make America great again is a fallacy because, until the end of times, and beyond national borders, universal justice and fraternity should prevail.”


    Amlo […] was blunt about the crisis: “President Trump, social problems aren’t resolved with taxes or coercive measures.” […]

    Thousands of people remain stranded in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, unable to obtain immigration documents, while asylum seekers must wait in northern Mexican border cities as their cases are heard in US courts.

    Trumps said the US would impose the 5% tariff from 10 June, and it would rise steadily to 25% until illegal immigration across the southern border was stopped. If implemented, the measures are bound to trigger retaliation that would hit Trump-supporting farming and industrial states.


    Trump’s announcement comes as the administration pushes for the passage of the US–Mexico–Canada Agreement, which would update the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    The White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, insisted on Thursday that imposing tariffs on Mexican imports would not interfere with the continuing negotiations over a trade deal.

    The two are absolutely not linked, he told reporters.

    Asked about the impact of the tariffs on the economy, Mulvaney said illegal immigration was already impacting the economy negatively.


    Al Jazeera, in Trump: US to impose five percent tariff on all Mexican goods, quotes hair furor as bellowing: If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the tariffs will be removed. Ummmm… in our sole discretion… sounds like an open invitation for more, and larger bribes, to be paid to hair furor, his cronies, and teh dalekocrazy, presumably some of which is then tithed to Putin.

  273. blf says

    More on @390/@398, from the Grauniad’s live business blog:

    An interesting perspective on how China — the true target of Trump’s trade ire — will react to Trump’s fickleness, from Simon Baptist, chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. He said:

    Trump’s tariff threats to Mexico are going to make it more difficult to reach a trade deal with China, as they damage the credibility of the US as a negotiating partner. Chinese academics and media have already been pushing the narrative that Trump cannot be trusted […].

    This move against Mexico will just reinforce China’s view that Trump cannot be trusted and that any deal will just be a prelude to more demands. So they will see even less point in trying to reach a deal, and will certainly be less willing to make meaningful concessions as it is hard to see a credible mechanism to bind Trump to any deal.


  274. says

    Trump only understands and uses bullying tactics. He has no head for diplomacy.

    Trump keeps trying to bully Mexico into solving what he sees as an immigration problem when the problem has economic, gang-related, social, and cultural components than cannot be solved by simply putting people in giant cattle-like pens in Mexico.

    Trump is a bully looking for a weapon he can wield. He likes tariffs because he can impose them on a whim. No one can tell him “no.”

    It’s typical of Trump that his staff didn’t know that a new tariff threat against Mexico was coming.

    It’s also typical of Trump to grab a new, or renewed, controversy and throw it in front of the cameras whenever he is threatened by more reports of his unethical actions (as in the recent Mueller statement).

    Trump’s stupidity is followed by the sickening spectacle of his toadies lining up to support him. From Lindsey Graham:

    I support President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Mexico until they up their game to help us with our border disaster.

    In January 2017, Graham said something more reasonable:

    “Border security yes, tariffs no,” Graham wrote on Twitter on Jan. 26, 2017. The senator added that Mexico is one of the United States’ largest trading partners and new tariffs could create a “huge barrier” to economic growth.

    In a follow-up tweet, the South Carolinian said that tariffs on Mexico would increase the costs for consumers on products imported into the United States, which he said would be “a big-time bad idea.” In an apparent attempt at humor, the GOP senator added at the time, “Mucho Sad.”

    Now Graham is playing the part of obedient cult follower who has lost his mind.

    For Graham, this ploy works, politically speaking.

    […] his approval rating among Republicans has continued to rise, it now stands at 74% in the Winthrop Poll. Only 25% of Democrats polled support Graham.

    “Graham’s approval has benefited from his defense of, and alignment with, President Trump. While Graham’s numbers used to lag those of other Republicans among GOP identifiers, since he has taken up the President’s banner on most every issue, his approval among Republicans in South Carolina has steadily risen,” […]

  275. says

    blf @388, by locking up children as young as 10 years old, they are guaranteeing that they keep the pipeline full of kids who will grow up to be criminals, and perhaps more violent. Surely that cannot be the goal.

    I wonder what percentage of 10 year olds who are imprisoned will be given a chance to “grow out of criminal offending.” As the more reasonable official said, “All efforts should be made to keep them out in the first place.”

    Also, it sounds like children are being so mistreated that it amounts almost to torture.

  276. says

    Mitch McConnell, the man with no shame:

    Three years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell imposed an unprecedented high-court blockade, announcing that he and his Republican colleagues would block any Supreme Court nominee from a Democratic president. The GOP leader insisted at the time it was a matter of principle: the Senate could not consider filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. Period. No exceptions.

    This week McConnell rejected his principle, boasting that if there’s a high-court vacancy in 2020, he and his Republican majority would fill it with a nominee from Donald Trump.

    Or put another way, everything the GOP leader said in 2016 was a lie.

    And now he wants a reward for being unprincipled and brazenly dishonest.

    McConnell followed up his remarks by issuing a fundraising appeal Wednesday, saying he was “proud” to have blocked Garland’s confirmation in 2016.

    “If there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2020, I will proudly confirm President Trump’s nominee,” McConnell wrote. “Sure, the Left and their allies in the media will go crazy. The Democrats will raise MILLIONS to defeat me. That won’t stop us from putting another conservative Justice on the Supreme Court.”

    The letter, sent out over McConnell’s signature, concluded, “Can you chip-in right now?”

    […] he’s a man without shame. […]

    It apparently didn’t occur to the GOP leader that it might look ridiculous to ask to be rewarded for getting caught lying.

    Occasionally, Democratic presidential candidates suggest they’ll simply sit down with McConnell in 2021, negotiate in good faith, and persuade him to work in a bipartisan fashion. [Joe Biden, I’m looking at you.] I can only hope those same candidates are taking a good look at McConnell’s antics this week.


  277. says

    Team Trump has come up with a new and sneaky way to reduce America’s support for human rights, and for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

    […] the U.S. State Department already has a bureau that focuses on human rights. […] This system has been in place since 1977 […]

    The Trump administration plans to launch a new panel to offer “fresh thinking” on international human rights and “natural law,” a move some activists fear is aimed at narrowing protections for women and members of the LGBT community.

    The new body, to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, will advise Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a notice the State Department quietly published Thursday on the Federal Register.

    According to the State Department’s notice, this new commission “will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

    I suspect that part of this “fresh thinking” will excuse Putin for punishing gay and transgender people; and it will find some excuse for Saudia Arabia’s leaders killing and cutting up journalists, as well as imprisoning activists for women’s rights; and, no doubt, Kim Jung Un’s many human rights abuses will be seen as no impediment to sitting down at the same table with Trump.

    […] there’s been no meaningful explanation of why the State Department needs two bureaus to work on the same issue. David Kramer, who served as the assistant secretary of State for human rights in the Bush/Cheney administration, told Politico he’s glad to see Team Trump take an interest in the issue, but he’s “not sure what this commission is supposed to do that the human rights bureau doesn’t already do.”

    For another, there’s even less clarity on the direction the new Commission on Unalienable Rights is supposed to take. The administration apparently believes the current “discourse” on human rights has “departed from our nation’s founding principles.”

    Such as?

    And then, of course, there was the reference to “natural law,” which is a phrase the far-right has been known to use to dismiss the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

    Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who led the State Department’s human rights bureau through much of Barack Obama’s second term, added, “I don’t think this is the advisory committee for expanding rights.” […]


    Take note of that “natural law” phrase!

  278. says

    The last abortion clinic in Missouri has won a court battle to get a temporary restraining order against state legislators who want to close the clinic.

    A federal ruled that the sole abortion provider in the state can stay open until at least June 4.

    […] The Missouri health department is maintaining that the license will not be renewed unless all the doctors who practice at the clinic submit to questioning. Planned Parenthood has countered that some of those doctors only provide services there and are not in its employ, so they can’t be forced to comply.

    Republican Gov. Mike Parson jumped aboard the band wagon after signing an eight-week abortion ban into law last week, insisting that the clinic had committed many “violations,” though he declined to elaborate.

    The next hearing in the case is set for Tuesday. In the meantime, the clinic can continue operating.


    Sarcasm from the readers comments:

    I’m not worried, I know the generous and abundant welfare of Missouri will take care of all of those extra babies and their mothers and their siblings as long as is needed.
    Bill Barr says the clinic owners have told him all along they want to close the facility.
    Millions upon millions of women will surely flock to the polls in 2020 and vote Republican, giving a ringing endorsement to the continued misogyny they’ve come to hold so dear.

  279. says

    Taking another look at what William Barr said when he was interviewed shortly after Mueller gave his statement:

    […] Barr’s hour-long interview with CBS News covered substantially more ground that Mueller’s 10-minute press conference, in which the special counsel measuredly discussed his findings, veering only slightly from his matter-of-fact tone to state, “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

    Barr […] painted an impression that he’s just here to defend the President. Throughout the course of the discussion, Barr bear hugged some of President Trump’s most divisive rhetoric on everything from the “deep state,” to campaign “spying,” to Mueller-chiding. […]

    Here’s a look at some of Barr’s most blatant Trump shielding:

    Counter-intelligence review was “not done in the normal course”
    Throughout the interview, Barr was questioned by CBS’ Jan Crawford about his interest in taking on the “investigate the investigators” response to the Russia probe. Barr criticized the way the investigation was launched — “Surely the response should have been more than just, you know, dangling a confidential informant in front of a peripheral player in the Trump Campaign” — and discussed his decision to dig in deeper. […]

    “People have to understand, you know, one of the things here is that these efforts in 2016, these counter-intelligence activities that were directed at the Trump campaign, were not done in the normal course and not through the normal procedures as a far as I can tell,” he added later. “And a lot of the people who were involved are no longer there.”

    A “small group at the top” may have acted questionably
    Barr also flirted with a conservative talking point regarding an ominous “deep state” presence at the FBI that was out to get Trump in 2016. […]

    “I think the activities were undertaken by a small group at the top which is one of the — probably one of the mistakes that has been made instead of running this as a normal bureau investigation or counterintelligence investigation. It was done by the executives at the senior level. Out of head quarters.” […]

    Those “damning” texts
    Barr co-opted concerns from conservative members of Congress about the text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strozk and Lisa Page.

    “Those were appalling. And on their face they were very damning […]

    Some Mueller bashing
    While Trump unleashed his most aggressive stance yet about Mueller on Thursday, Barr made room in his interview to share some criticism.

    Barr said he “personally felt” that Mueller “could’ve reached a decision” on whether Trump obstructed justice.

    He also said that the Justice Department did not agree with Mueller’s “legal analysis” regarding obstruction, so he and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “applied what we thought was the right law” instead.

    And this full-throated defense of Trump’s norm-busting antics
    This one speaks for itself.

    “I’d rather, in many ways, I’d rather be back to my old life but I think that I love the Department of Justice,” he said when asked if he regretted coming back to the DOJ under Trump. “I love the FBI, I think it’s important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions.”

    “I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that, it is hard, and I really haven’t seen bill of particulars as to how that’s being done,” he added. “From my perspective the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”



  280. says

    Followup to comment 405.

    From the readers comments:

    Barr is emblematic of everything that has been going on with Republicans since the 80s. At some point, they decided that power is all that matters, and if you have to cheat, lie, act unethically and fuck up the constitution along the way it is all for a good cause – Republican power and dominance. Barr has seen Trump up close by now and knows he is a lying, unstable piece of shit and he obviously does not care at all. He is one of many who are willing to chuck everything good out the window in furtherance of some weird twisted vision of capitalism, corruption and freedom that I do not pretend to understand. When people are willing to ignore everything including science, knowledge, facts and common decency in order to prop up a corrupt ideology, we are no longer a two-party system. […]

    The great majority of Americans have no idea of how big a threat this is to their future and the future of the country.
    “I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that.”

    How about we start with how YOU, Mr. Barr and our so-called “president” are shredding and neutering the Department of Justice to a point where it has devolved into the White House’s private protection agency?
    He wants a particular? Ok, I’ll start with: the pardon of Joe Arpaio. It was completely outside the constitution. And then I”ll go straight to: putting children in cages and losing their parents. From there how about we talk about issuing EOs that are self-empowering attempts to give the purse strings to the Executive.

    Want more Billy? I have them all ready to go.
    The problem with lying is a person needs to keep the lies consistent and in Barr’s case he cannot. So did he lie to Congress or did he lie to the interviewer? Time for another trip to Congress maybe to clear-up his previous written statements?
    He keeps repeating how “things weren’t done in a normal way’ in relation to the FBI investigating the Trump Campaign. Was there anyone at the FBI that had previously investigated a Presidential candidate/President that was playing footsie with a country that was attacking our electoral process at the same time?

  281. says

    Former Republican prosecutors release damning video calling for Trump’s prosecution for obstruction

    […] A group of former Republican federal prosectors has combined efforts to push for the further investigation and possible prosecution of Trump for obstruction of justice.

    Calling itself Republicans for the Rule of Law, the group has released a video highlighting the case against Trump as set out in the Mueller report. The former deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, Donald Ayer; the former deputy assistant secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, Paul Rosenzweig; and the former deputy associate attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, Jeffrey Harris, are all featured in the video, explaining in the most simple of terms how insanely corrupt a picture the Mueller report paints of the current administration.

    Some highlighted quotes:

    “Obstruction of justice and perjury are far more important than most normal crimes. They go to the absolute core of how the rule of law functio