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. The frenzy is growing!

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Comments

  1. says

    Trump claims he doesn’t know Prince Andrew, but once called him “a lot of fun.”

    […] Trump has claimed that he does not know Prince Andrew, but a recently resurfaced interview with People from 2000 says otherwise, showing Trump describing Andrew as “a lot of fun to be with.”

    “He’s not pretentious. He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Trump told People in 2000, speaking of Andrew. The article also states that Trump and Andrew, as well as Trump’s then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, had “chatted” at a Halloween costume party hosted by Heidi Klum in New York City in 2000.

    The republished article from People contradicts Trump’s claims from just a day earlier that he does not know Andrew.

    “I don’t know Prince Andrew, but it’s a tough story,” Trump said on Tuesday while attending the annual NATO meeting in London. “I don’t know him, no.”

    NBC News link

  2. tomh says

    WaPo Opinion:
    Democrats are debating a dangerous false choice on impeachment
    By Laurence H. Tribe
    Dec. 5, 2019

    As the House of Representatives moves toward formulating articles of impeachment, it is vital that the options on the table not be misframed. It’s a dangerously false choice to think that the House Judiciary Committee must either adopt a broad, kitchen-sink approach or take a narrow, laser-focused perspective.

    Yes, narrow is better than broad for the purposes of focus and public understanding. But narrow mustn’t mean myopic. What makes President Trump uniquely dangerous is not that he has committed a single terrible act that meets the Constitution’s definition of an impeachable offense. Neither Russia-gate nor Ukraine-gate was a one-night stand, and the obstruction of justice that enabled Trump to get away with asking for and benefiting from Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election is of a piece with his defiance of congressional investigations that might enable him to get away with demanding Ukraine’s intervention in 2020.

    The impeachment and removal of this president is necessary because Trump has been revealed as a serial abuser of power, whose pattern of behavior — and “pattern” is the key word, as Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) emphasized during Wednesday’s hearing — makes clear he will repeat the same sequence again and again.

    Today, it’s soliciting the help of Ukraine (and China and, yet again, Russia), both behind the scenes and out in the open, to attack the integrity of the next presidential election. Tomorrow, it could be seeking the help of foreign hackers to wage cyberwar on election machinery.

    Nobody who truly cares about the right to vote or who believes we should remain a self-governing constitutional republic free from the whims of a foreign power can afford to ignore the pattern this man has established or gamble that he will suddenly find religion and “go straight,” rather than do whatever it takes to hold onto his office.

    To be clear, I am by no means advocating charging Trump with all of his many impeachable offenses. Nor is that in the cards. The House leadership has clearly been parsimonious in leaving behind a boatload of potential impeachable offenses, including blatant violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, the Constitution’s main anti-corruption clauses; violating election laws as unindicted co-conspirator “Individual 1” in the Stormy Daniels affair; endangering the First Amendment by labeling the press the “enemy of the people”; fomenting racial violence and attacks on critics who include patriotic witnesses; and any number of other things that many have pressed the Judiciary Committee to include in a comprehensive set of impeachment articles. The committee will likely resist those pleas for breadth, and I will applaud it for doing so.

    Rather, I am advocating that there be two or, at most, three articles of impeachment together describing a single, continuous course of conduct in which the president placed his personal and political interests above those of the nation. That narrative should include Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign just as the books appeared to close on the investigation into his invitation for illegal help from Russia to become president in the first place. And it should extend to his obstruction of justice to conceal his campaign’s role in taking advantage of that help — a demonstrated pattern of obstruction he has escalated in his unprecedented directive that the entire executive branch refuse to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas.

    A president whose Justice Department says he cannot be indicted, whose White House counsel says he cannot even be investigated and whose lawyers say he can block the executive branch from participating in the impeachment process is a president who has become a dictator. None of us can feel safe in such a regime.

    Unless the articles of impeachment identify and highlight the pattern the evidence has thus clearly demonstrated, the House will have failed its constitutional responsibility to present the Senate with the strongest possible basis for removing a scofflaw president. To do what some have proposed and, for example, charge the president with one act of soliciting or offering a bribe and be done with it, is to trifle with the awesome responsibility of all who take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

  3. says

    From Rudy Giuliani:

    The conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden, in 2016, that has not been resolved and until it is will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine with its anti-corruption reforms.

    Translation: Yes, when Trump and his cronies use the word “corruption” in reference to Ukraine they mean “Biden.” And yes, any failure to investigate the Bidens “will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine,” (will be a major obstacle to the release of funds for military assistance). Got it? And, if I say “compelling evidence,” I mean a totally bonkers conspiracy theory that Russian intelligence operatives pulled out of my ass.

    From Jon Chait:

    Giuliani is saying out loud that corruption (1) specifically means Joe Biden, and (2) Ukraine must satisfy Giuliani and Trump by investigating it in order to get “assistance” from the United States. He is literally tweeting out the quid pro quo.

    And lest there be any ambiguity as to whether Giuliani is speaking on Trump’s behalf, he has dispelled it. Giuliani called his trip “work being done by a lawyer defending his client” to the Daily Beast, and tells the right-wing news network OANN: “The president of the United States, I can tell you this, is asking for this.”

  4. says

    Trump used unsecured telephones to talk to Rudy Giuliani while Giuliani was abroad. From the Washington Post:

    […] The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said. […]

    The disclosures provide fresh evidence suggesting that the president continues to defy the security guidance urged by his aides and followed by previous incumbents — a stance that is particularly remarkable given Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. […]

    Commentary:

    […] By willfully ignoring security guidance, Trump has created a vulnerability that Russia could exploit to advance its interests over ours.

    The Post spoke to John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, who said the Republican president and his lawyer have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information.” He added that it’s so likely that Russia tracked these calls that the Kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators.

    […] the Post reported that after White House officials made “a concerted attempt” in 2017 to have Trump use secure White House lines, the president came to realize this meant officials such as then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would know to whom Trump was speaking.

    The president considered this unacceptable and “reverted to using his cellphone.”

    And with that in mind, this seems like a good time to update my entirely subjective rundown of the most egregious examples of Trump mishandling sensitive information and creating security risks.

    10. In May 2017, Trump had a chat with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in which the Republican shared information about dispatching two nuclear submarines off the coast of the Korean peninsula. […]

    9. In September 2019, during a photo-op at an event along the U.S./Mexico border, the president seemed eager to boast to reporters about detailed technological advancements in border security. It fell to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the acting head of the Army Corps, to interject, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.”

    8. In July 2019, Trump had an unsecured conversation with U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, while the ambassador was in a Ukrainian restaurant within earshot of others […]

    6. In February 2018, Trump ignored the pleas of many U.S. officials and recklessly declassified information from the so-called “Nunes Memo” in the hopes of advancing a partisan scheme.

    5. In February 2017, Trump discussed sensitive details about North Korea’s ballistic missile tests with the prime minister of Japan at a Mar-a-Lago dining area, in view of wealthy civilians/customers. […]

    3. In August 2019, Trump published a tweet about a failed Iranian launch, which included a detailed photo. […]

    2. In October 2019, Trump needlessly blurted out all kinds of tactical and operational details about the al-Baghdadi mission.

    1. Just four months into Trump’s presidency, he welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak into the Oval Office – at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin – for a visit that was never fully explained.

    It was in this meeting that Trump revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests for no apparent reason. The Washington Post reported at the time, “The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.”

    The Wall Street Journal added, “According to one U.S. official, the information shared was highly sensitive and difficult to acquire and was considered extraordinarily valuable.”

    This list, incidentally, is not comprehensive.

    Link

  5. says

    Mark Sumner comments on Rudi Giuliani:

    […] Again and again Giuliani has been Trump’s criminal icebreaker, out in front, making claims that seem incredibly over the top … until they turn out to be just exactly what Trump has been doing all along.

    So it seems only right that, in the midst of impeachment proceedings in which the main concern is Donald Trump’s attempt to solicit false information about political opponents from Ukrainian officials, Giuliani is … in Ukraine, soliciting false information about Trump’s political opponents. And no one should be surprised to learn that he’s bragging about it.

    Giuliani is meeting with corrupt officials who lost their posts in past anticorruption efforts and pro-Russian legislators who oppose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to create a “documentary” that openly supports the conspiracy theories that Trump was demanding of Zelensky. But he’s not waiting for that documentary to mount his attacks.

    In a series of tweets on Thursday night and Friday morning, Giuliani unspooled a series of attacks on Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and President Barack Obama. Giuliani claimed that Yovanovitch disbursed billions of dollars in aid to her “favored NGOs” and that she “directed the police not to investigate.” That claim—that Yovanovitch was somehow providing “do not prosecute” lists—was part of the original smear that Giuliani brought against Yovanovitch in his successful campaign to get her removed from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

    But Giuliani didn’t stop there. He leveled the same charges against Obama and Biden. In his latest series of tweets, Giuliani claims that over $5 billion was “wasted” in Ukraine, with Biden acting as the “point man” in the disbursal and Obama ordering Ukrainian police not to investigate.

    Giuliani’s claims are beyond ridiculous, his witnesses are on the far side of disreputable […]

    With Giuliani’s actions, Trump has moved beyond backroom demands for claims against his political opponents. This is Trump’s personal attorney, in the open, on the air, in front of the public, conspiring with foreign officials—and foreign criminals—for the express purpose of generating claims meant to hurt Trump’s political opponents.

    There’s no doubt that Trump will claim Giuliani is doing this on his own. There’s no doubt that Giuliani will claim his actions are protected. And there’s no doubt that the media will fail to refute either of those claims.

    With Russia, Trump learned he could get away with foreign collusion. With Ukraine, Trump confirmed that Republicans would back him no matter what. This is what comes next.

    Link

  6. says

    Guardian – “‘If you saw her body, you will never sleep again’: despair as India rape crisis grows”:

    Her family called her Twinkle. In the dry desert brush of Rajasthan where her body was found, blood spattering her tiny legs and brown school uniform and a belt fastened around her neck, she lay among scattered toffee wrappers.

    Her family could barely utter the words to describe what happened to the six-year-old. “If you saw her body, you will never sleep again,” said her grandfather Mahvir Meena.

    Over the past week, a wave of anger and repulsion has enveloped India in response to the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in Hyderabad as she made her way home from work last Wednesday. The four men who allegedly carried out the attack deliberately deflated her scooter tyres, then waited. After offering her help, they allegedly dragged her to isolated scrubland by the side of the road, raped her, asphyxiated her and then dumped her body in a motorway underpass, before dousing it with kerosene and setting it alight. The four suspects were controversially shot dead by police on Friday.

    Yet while the horrific crime has prompted hundreds to take to the streets, and calls for lynching and hanging in parliament, it was far from an isolated incident. According to statistics, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes.

    India is the most dangerous place to be a woman, according to a survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year, and the stark reality of this was brought to the fore this week. As well as the Hyderabad case, there was the abduction, gang rape and murder of a young lawyer in Jharkhand; the rape and murder of a 55-year-old cloth seller in Delhi’s Gulabi Bagh neighbourhood; and a teenager in the state of Bihar was gang raped and killed, before her body was set on fire on Tuesday.

    And last Saturday, in the small rural Rajasthan village of Kherli, Twinkle became one of the youngest recent victims of India’s sexual violence pandemic.

    Her alleged attacker was a neighbour who she would often visit on the way home from school….

    Remnants of Twinkle’s possessions were still scattered all over the village where she lived with her grandparents when her family spoke about the crime. A small pair of pink trousers hung from a nail. One of her jelly sandals lay on the roof where she had flung them. Her mother, Bintosh Meena, sat on the floor, her face wrapped in blankets, rocking back and forth in grief and howling out her daughter’s name. “Wherever you are my little quail, come back to me, come back to me,” she repeated.

    She was called Twinkle because she was like a tiny little star, said her grandmother, Kiskinda Meena, wiping away tears….

    It was seven years ago, after the brutal gang rape of Jyoti Singh, a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, that India’s systemic problem with sexual violence was first pushed into the spotlight. Thousands took to the streets to demand action in the name of Singh, – who was christened Nirbhaya, meaning fearless, by the media. New legislation doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years.

    But seven years on, the consensus among activists and women is that the problem is getting worse. The key social issues behind the crisis remain unaddressed and the culture of impunity for sexual crimes remains firmly embedded.

    In the courts there are 133,000 pending rape cases. In May, a panel of judges dismissed allegations of sexual harassment against the chief justice of India, made by a former court employee, as being of “no substance”, in a ruling that triggered anger and protests. He denied the claims.

    “Unless this becomes a problem of nationalism and national pride, I don’t see anything changing,” said Deepa Narayan, a social activist and the author of Chup: Breaking the Silence About India’s Women. “Society here devalues women systematically and makes them subhuman, and rape is the worst symptom of that. It does feel like the levels of depravity and cruelty in these crimes are increasing.”

    State governments have not even touched the Nirbhaya fund, for which the government put aside 10bn rupees for initiatives to help women’s safety. As of today, 91% of the fund remains unspent. Delhi, which bears the unwelcome title of “rape capital of the world”, has spent 5% of its allocation.

    In the Indian parliament this week, the response by several politicians to the Hyderabad rape case was simply to call for the accused to be lynched and hanged. But Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said this was only making the problem worse.

    “The cry for the death penalty is nothing but a red herring,” she said. “It’s the easy option because it avoids any institutional accountability and doesn’t cost a thing, it’s just lawmakers reassuring themselves that all it will take to solve this problem is to eliminate one or two of these devils. We are still not having the conversation which needs to happen, so nothing changes.”

    She added: “All the talk of the death penalty for rape just means we may be seeing more women murdered so they can’t remain alive as a witness.”

    Krishnan said that far from things improving since 2012, under Narendra Modi “we’ve gone several steps back. We have a government which is actively invested in rape culture, in protecting powerful rape-accused persons and communalising every incident of rape.”

    Ranjana Kumari, the director of India’s Centre for Social Research, said she ultimately held the government responsible for the problem. “They are failing in law enforcement, they are failing in dispensation of justice, they are failing in implementing safe environments for women,” said Kumari. “There is no political will to address this problem, so how is it ever going to get better?”

  7. says

    Bloomberg Claims “Nobody Asked” Him About Stop and Frisk Until He Ran for President. That’s a Lie.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/12/bloomberg-lie-stop-and-frisk/

    […] The billionaire was regularly called to defend the program as mayor, and has been asked about the program many times since leaving office in 2013. In each instance, even as recently as January of this year, Bloomberg staunchly defended the program. “We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system,” Bloomberg said while taking questions at the United States Naval Academy’s annual leadership conference in January. “The result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year.”

    Bloomberg’s defenses as mayor were even more full-throated. After a federal court found the program was unconstitutional in 2013, he assailed the ruling at a press conference: “This is a dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works.”[…]

  8. says

    Beware those fake social media accounts:

    Social media companies from Facebook to YouTube are failing to stop people from setting up fake accounts, buying false online followers and promoting inauthentic digital content, according to a report published Friday by a NATO-accredited group.

    The findings — based on analysts purchasing social media manipulation tools and then testing how the companies responded — stand in stark contrast to public statements from Facebook, Twitter and Google that claim they have all significantly clamped down on such activities since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Despite those reassurances, researchers at NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, a military organization based in Latvia’s capital whose mandate includes identifying potential foreign online interference, were able to purchase roughly 54,000 inauthentic social media interactions — either fake followers, likes, comments or views of online content — with little, if any, pushback from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

    “We assess that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are still failing to adequately counter inauthentic behaviour on their platforms,” said Sebastian Bay and Rolf Fredheim, the report’s authors, in the publication.

    “Self-regulation is not working. The manipulation industry is growing year by year,” they continued. “We see no sign that it is becoming substantially more expensive or more difficult to conduct widespread social media manipulation.”

    While roughly 10 percent of the paid-for inauthentic activity bought by the NATO-affiliated group had ties to online political campaigns, the lion’s share of online manipulation tools, including the creation and purchase of fake accounts, was tied to commercial purposes. […]

    Link

  9. says

    Nancy Pelosi was right to push back hard when a reporter insinuated that she and other Democrats were investigating Trump only because they “hate Trump.”

    Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Friday that impeachment efforts by Democrats are driven by “pure, raw hatred” of President Trump during an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday.

    The comments from Limbaugh come one day after Sinclair Broadcasting investigative reporter James Rosen asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she “hated” Trump, which prompted a fiery response from the California congresswoman.

    “Democrats are wandering aimlessly and being propelled by one thing. You’re watching it. You watched it with the three so-called expert witnesses,” Limbaugh said Friday morning of three of the four constitutional scholars who testified Wednesday and called for impeachment of the president. “We are watching pure, raw hatred. They hate the man and they hate the people who elected him. They hate him because he beat them.” […]

    Yes, that’s the propaganda that rightwing media is pushing.

    Link

  10. says

    The extraordinary danger of being pregnant and uninsured in Texas

    The state’s system for helping the uninsured thwarts women at every turn and encourages subpar care.

    The article tells the story of Rosa Diaz, who died. See the link for details.

    […] From 2012 through 2015, at least 382 pregnant women and new mothers died in Texas from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to the most recent data available from the Department of State Health Services; since then, hundreds more have likely perished. While their cases reflect the problems that contribute to maternal mortality across the United States — gross medical errors, deeply entrenched racism, structural deficiencies in how care is delivered — another Texas-size factor often plays a significant role: the state’s vast, and growing, problem with health insurance access.

    About one in six Texans — just over 5 million people — had no health insurance last year. That’s almost a sixth of all uninsured Americans, more than the entire population of neighboring Louisiana. After trending lower for several years, the Texas rate has been rising again — to 17.7 percent in 2018, or about twice the national average. […]

  11. says

    From Maddow last night – “Russian transgressions met with increasingly weak US response”: “Rachel Maddow looks at examples of Russia wildly overstepping its bounds in the past five[] years and how the U.S.-led international response to those violations have [sic] grown weaker under Donald Trump.”

    She also said during an interview that a Senate Intel report debunking the Ukraine election interference story has been with the DNI for classification for months and that he’s been sitting on it. Later, I believe she said reports are that it will be released soon.

  12. says

    About Trump’s “orange” skin:

    […] Jason Kelly, a makeup artist who touched up Trump’s makeup during the Republican convention in 2016, thinks it is makeup on top of tanning. He told the paper, “When I see him, I see a line of oxidized bronzer around his hairline. The application is like a kindergartner did it.”

    More on this important and earth-shaking mystery:

    This week, The Washington Post published a story about the experience of undocumented workers employed by the Trump Organization, both before and during his run for the presidency. It’s full of anecdotes of hypocrisy and raises important questions about immigration and underpaid labor.

    But buried many paragraphs into the narrative is a section detailing Trump’s unusually specific habits and requests, like requiring exactly 2.5 boxes of Tic Tacs in his bedroom at all times. Then came this sentence: “The same rule applied to the Bronx Colors-brand face makeup from Switzerland that Trump slathered on — two full containers, one half full — even if it meant the housekeepers had to regularly bring new shirts from the pro shop because of the rust-colored stains on the collars.” […]

    There is evidence from as early as 2012 that Trump was using orange-y makeup. One of the same workers featured in this week’s Post story, Sandra Diaz, was interviewed in a 2018 New York Times article: “That same year, she said, Mr. Trump had an outburst over some orange stains on the collar of his white golf shirt, which Ms. Diaz described as stubborn remnants of his makeup, which she had difficulty removing.” […]

    Nicole Bryl has been Melania Trump’s makeup artist since well before she became First Lady. Bryl has done makeup for celebs like Kathie Lee Gifford and Maria Menounos. She also kept a blog.

    In a 2016 post she wrote, “Life these days can be exhilarating when words such as Trump. Makeup & Skincare are mentioned, especially during this 2016 campaign period…I have been asked this so many times through the years and I can honestly report that I know nothing about Mr. T’s hair and DO NOT and NEVER HAVE DONE HIS MAKEUP!” (Sic)

    As a professional makeup artist, it’s not surprising she’d want to distance herself from his much-ridiculed aesthetic, but she has talked to him about products, as she chronicled in a 2013 post: “At dinner Mr. Trump was engaging in conversation. He asked me what my favorite makeup products were and why? Which brands did I think were cutting edge? He then …thanked me for my work which I thought was extremely generous of him to express out loud.” Again, this is pre-Bronx Colors […]

    We know a little more about Trump’s grooming habits, but not enough, in my opinion. I’m hoping Fahrenthold has more details to reveal. I reached out to him, too, just in case some important makeup tidbit got cut from the story. […]

    Link

    The reference to Fahrenthold is funny. He’s the reporter who dug into many of Trump’s financial shenanigans. Arguably more important than makeup.

  13. says

    From Wonkette, “Trump Was Holding Up California’s OWN MONEY For The Homeless So Gavin Newsom Told Him To Get Bent.”

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he’s taking action to release half a billion dollars in funding to address homelessness. The money is part of a $650 million package of emergency funding already approved by state legislators, but held up because the Trump administration has dragged its feet on releasing data that would allow the money to be spent. Cities and counties can begin applying for funding immediately.

    While more federal money to help with California’s homelessness crisis would help, this delay has nothing to do with Trump demanding Newsom investigate Joe Biden. The San Jose Mercury News explains how the federal government managed to prevent California from spending its own damn money:

    The governor accused the Trump administration of trying to politicize the issue and preventing the funding from getting to local officials who can put it to use. State law says that funding allocations ultimately must be based off homeless counts approved by the federal government. But Newsom’s office says Trump’s team has been sitting on the data for months.

    So instead, California will use preliminary homeless estimates to distribute $500 million and wait for the final numbers to allocate the remainder of the funds.

    What? The feds are holding up routine government data at a time when Donald Trump is routinely attacking California for supposedly not doing enough about homelessness? Pardon us while we locate our shocked faces. Also not surprising: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is responsible for the data on homelessness, didn’t return the Mercury News’s request for comment. Ben Carson was probably shopping for furniture.

    […] Please do go read the linked story on that San Jose program, now being replicated by other cities — like Oakland, which offers small grants to keep people in their homes before they end up on the streets. Talk about a radical notion: Give families assistance while they still have a roof over their heads, instead of the far higher costs of helping them back into housing afterwards. […]

  14. says

    “Chilean anti-rape anthem becomes international feminist phenomenon”:

    A Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming has become a viral anthem for feminists around the world.

    Un Violador en Tu Camino – A Rapist in Your Path – was first performed in late November as Chile’s nationwide uprising against social inequality pushed into its second month.

    Videos of the song – and its accompanying dance moves – quickly went viral, spreading across Latin America and the world, with performances taking place in Mexico, Colombia, France, Spain and the UK.

    The song was written by Lastesis, a feminist theatre group based in the city of Valparaíso, who credited Chile’s women protesters for helping spread the work around the world.

    A Rapist in Your Path is based on the work of the Argentinian theorist Rita Segato, who argues that sexual violence is a political problem, not a moral one.

    The lyrics describe how institutions – the police, the judiciary and political power structures – uphold systematic violations of women’s rights: “The rapist is you/ It’s the cops/ The judges/ The state/ The president.”

    Another section repudiates the many ways that women are blamed for falling victim to sexual violence (“And it’s not my fault / nor where I was / nor what I wore”) before concluding: “The rapist is you.”

    According to statistics compiled by the Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women, 42 cases of sexual abuse are reported each day to the police (approximately two every hour). In 2018, only 25.7% of sexual abuse cases resulted in judicial rulings.

    “In the Chilean judicial system, stereotypes and biases harm women victims of sexual violence,” said Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, spokeswoman for the feminist lawyer group Abofem. “In many trials, the life and sexual behavior of the victim is exposed as if it were a justification for the aggression they suffered.”

    Although the song was written before the wave of unrest and repression erupted in October, Cometa said that the choreography reflects the crisis in which security forces have faced widespread allegations of rape, torture and shooting to kill.

    In one part of the song, performers squat down in an echo of a position which female protesters are forced to assume on arrest. “It’s a simple form of torture and punishment carried out by the Chilean police,” Cometa said.

    Chile’s largest performance of the song took place on Thursday night outside Santiago’s National Stadium – which became notorious as a prison camp and torture centre after the 1973 military coup which brought Augusto Pinochet to power. An official report on human rights during the dictatorship found that almost every one of the female victims interviewed had suffered some form of sexual violence.

    Thursday’s performance brought together thousands of women, including older chilenas who lived through the dictatorship and their younger counterparts protesting today.

    “They held prisoners here, women who were harassed and sexually tortured,” said Victoria Gallardo, 71, who was participating in the event. “I cried the first time I heard Un Violador en Tu Camino. I’m so proud of the young women of today – and this performance represents us all.”

    The original performance is linked in the article. This is the incredible Santiago one.

  15. says

    BREAKING: A member of the Saudi military training at US Naval Air Station in Pensacola is the suspected shooter in Friday’s incident, according to five US defense officials and another person familiar with the investigation.”

    Three of the victims have died, and several more have been injured. The FBI has taken over the investigation.

  16. says

    19 House Republicans have announced that they will not run for re-election to Congress. Three additional Republican House members are leaving Congress to run for a state office.

    In other news, here is an excerpt from the report of Dr. Beverly Woo, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who examined Elizabeth Warren:

    There are no medical conditions or health problems that would keep her from fulfilling the duties of the President of the United States.

    Washington Post link

    Warren takes medication for hypothyroidism, a common condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive, according to the letter. Her blood pressure is 115/57, and she has had a flu shot this year.

    Warren is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 129 pounds. “She exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet despite her very busy schedule,” Woo wrote.

    In addition to the letter from her physician, which is similar to what most recent presidential candidates have offered, Warren also provided a hematology report including information on everything from her platelet count to the size of her red blood cells. […]

  17. tomh says

    WaPo:
    50 members of Congress have visited a Trump property since impeachment inquiry launched, watchdog group says

    Fifty members of Congress have visited a Trump property since the beginning of the House impeachment inquiry, according to a new report by a watchdog group.

    “While Congress is charged with providing unbiased checks and balances on the president, including President Trump’s conflicts of interest related to his businesses, many members have chosen to forgo these responsibilities while enjoying the political benefits that visiting and spending money at Trump properties provides,” says the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “That’s especially problematic now, as members of Congress are tasked with considering how to perform their constitutional duty as the impeachment process moves forward.”

    According to the group, more than 100 members of Congress have visited a Trump property since he took office. Of those, five are Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel tasked with drafting articles of impeachment.

    They include Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The campaign committees of Biggs, Gohmert and Jordan have also spent money at a Trump property, according to the group.

    By John Wagner

  18. says

    House Democrats passed a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court’s Republican majority decision gutted it in 2013.

    […] Under the new setup, any state where officials have committed at least 15 voting rights violations over a 25-year period would be required to obtain preclearance for 10 years. If the state itself, rather than localities within the state, is responsible for the violations, it would take only 10 violations to place it under preclearance. In addition, any particular locality could individually be subjected to preclearance if it commits at least three violations.

    Based on this formula, the VRAA would put 11 states back under preclearance: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. While most of these states are still in the South (and also under Republican control), the list also includes the two largest Democratic-leaning states in the country, California and New York.

    Of course, with Republicans in control of the presidency and Senate, this bill won’t become law. […]

    Link

  19. says

    Wow – CNN – “Senior British diplomat in US quits with tirade over Brexit ‘half-truths'”:

    A senior British diplomat in the US has quit with a blast at the UK government over Brexit, saying she could no longer “peddle half-truths” on behalf of political leaders she did not “trust.”

    In a searing resignation letter delivered just over a week before the UK general election, Alexandra Hall Hall, the lead envoy for Brexit in the British Embassy in Washington, said that she had become increasingly dismayed by the demands placed on the British civil service to deliver messages on Brexit which were not “fully honest.”

    The reluctance of Britain’s leaders to play straight with the public on Brexit, Hall Hall said, had undermined the credibility of UK diplomats abroad. Her position had become “unbearable personally” and “untenable professionally,” she wrote in the letter, which has been obtained by CNN.

    Hall Hall’s decision to quit, and her no-holds-barred resignation letter, comes at a moment of deep political sensitivity for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is seeking re-election on the promise that he can “get Brexit done.” Johnson has been ahead in opinion polls, but, as his lead has narrowed in recent days, officials are nervous about anything that could undermine his chances of winning a parliamentary majority for his Conservative party in the election next Thursday.

    An official at the Foreign Office, who was not authorized to brief the press, confirmed that Hall Hall had resigned but had not seen her letter. A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We won’t comment on the detail of an individual’s resignation.” Downing Street referred CNN to the Foreign Office.

    In her resignation letter, addressed to deputy ambassador Michael Tatham and which Hall Hall shared widely with colleagues in the diplomatic service, she said that her departure had nothing to do with being “for or against Brexit, per se,” but instead was an expression of frustration about how the policy was being carried out.

    Hall Hall, a 33-year veteran of the UK foreign service, and a former ambassador to Georgia, said UK institutions had been undermined and the reputation of British democracy abroad had been imperiled.

    “I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves; the use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options before us; and some behaviour towards our institutions, which, were it happening in another country, we would almost certainly as diplomats have received instructions to register our concern,” she wrote in her letter, dated December 3.

    “It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home.”

    Hall Hall said she could no longer reconcile her commitment to the job with the demands made of her. “I am also at a stage in life where I would prefer to do something more rewarding with my time, than peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she wrote in the letter.

    Though Hall Hall did not refer to Johnson or any other UK leader by name in her letter, she expressed concern about the divisive rhetoric that has characterized British politics since the Brexit referendum. Johnson’s comments have hardened in recent months….

    But Hall Hall made clear in her letter that she was not motivated to step down by any personal convictions over the outcome of Brexit, and that she had enthusiastically accepted the position as Brexit Counsellor at the Washington embassy in 2018. “I took this position with a sincere commitment, indeed passion, to do my part, to the very best of my abilities, to help achieve a successful outcome on Brexit,” she wrote in her resignation letter.

    As UK Brexit Counsellor, Hall Hall was tasked with explaining Britain’s approach to leaving the European Union to US lawmakers and policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the White House. She suggested that her diplomatic role — intended to be politically neutral — was co-opted to deliver messages that were “neither fully honest nor politically impartial.” Hall Hall said that she had filed a formal complaint about being asked to convey overtly partisan language on Brexit in Washington.

    Hall Hall said she was resigning now, rather than after the election, so that her decision could not be portrayed as a reaction to the result. She is expected to leave the embassy next week, and is quitting the diplomatic service completely….

    (Sorry, it’s tangential, but how is her name Hall Hall?)

  20. says

    A followup, of sorts, to comment 23.

    Republicans have embraced a strategy of trying to gaslight the nation instead of legislating.

    Republicans are trying out the old idea that if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes conventional wisdom. From Donald Trump down to Moscow Mitch McConnell, the story they’re running with is the “do nothing” House.

    As The Washington Post notes, Trump has used the phrase six times on Twitter since Monday. McConnell has played along, complaining that in her “rushed & partisan impeachment process,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said “Not one word on the outstanding legislation the American people actually need. Nothing on the USMCA, or the NDAA, or funding for our armed forces.” That’s blatantly not true, as Pelosi has been involved in negotiations with the White House for weeks on the USMCA trade proposal. And the House appropriators—who have already completed 10 of 12 appropriations bills—have been working for weeks with Senate appropriators to complete the spending bills that will keep government running past the next deadline of Dec. 20.

    Not to mention the literally hundreds of bills the House has passed that McConnell has refused to bring to the Senate floor. That includes gun safety legislation. It includes legislation to protect the next election from malign foreign interference. It includes legislation to protect insurance coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. It includes legislation to try to stem the acceleration of climate change. The House has been passing literally life-and-death issue bills. The Post counted up: The House has passed 542 total measures, 389 of which are bills as opposed to resolutions (such as naming post offices). The Senate in total has only passed […] just 91 bills. […]

    Link

  21. says

    MMFA – “Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have vanished from Fox”:

    Republican attorneys Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have been fixtures on Fox News and Fox Business for years, serving as critical figures in the networks’ pro-Trump conspiracy theories. But in recent weeks, the pair has quietly vanished from the right-wing networks.

    They have appeared on the networks, individually or together, for a total of 66 interviews* this year, and the couple made more appearances in September than they had in any prior month of 2019 as they rallied to President Donald Trump’s defense after news broke of a whistleblower complaint into his abuse of power in Ukraine. But neither has been interviewed on Fox News since diGenova’s October 8 appearance on The Ingraham Angle, and they last appeared on Fox Business for a November 13 joint appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight, according to a Media Matters review of transcripts and our internal guest database.

    The couple’s apparent sidelining has come just when one might expect Fox shows to be most interested in hearing from them: Their absence from Fox Business has overlapped with the impeachment inquiry’s public hearings, and they have been off Fox News during both the public hearings and the release of witness depositions.

    It’s unclear exactly why diGenova and Toensing suddenly stopped going on Fox or when they might return. But the timing of their disappearance and the network’s past practices suggests that they may have been quietly banned for an indeterminate period.

    DiGenova’s last Fox News interview came just the day before the arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and amid the revelation that the Soviet-born con men had been working alongside diGenova, Toensing, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and conservative columnist John Solomon in a sprawling disinformation plot in Ukraine — a massive ethical breach for the Fox regulars. And during his most recent Fox Business appearance, diGenova issued a widely criticized rant against progressive billionaire George Soros that was steeped in disgusting anti-Semitic tropes.

    Fox has declined to comment on diGenova’s screed, even as the Anti-Defamation League and Soros’ Open Society Foundation called for the network to remove him from its airwaves.

    Toensing has maintained an active Twitter presence since she has stopped appearing on Fox News and Fox Business, regularly lashing out at journalists and media outlets over their coverage of the Ukraine scandal. On November 14, she praised the far-right One America News Network for purportedly identifying the whistleblower, asking, “Can the rest of MSM be as brave?” (Such behavior is officially banned at Fox, though multiple network figures have breached that restriction.) On December 2, she attacked Fox host Steve Hilton over his criticism of her “toxic” crew’s Ukraine plot.

    Fox’s lack of transparency and its total lack of firm standards often make it difficult to say for sure whether it has issued punishments….

  22. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Three GOP chairmen seek information on unfounded Ukrainian effort to undermine Trump

    Three Republican Senate committee chairmen announced Friday that they are seeking records and transcribed interviews from two people who, they claim, could bolster a notion advanced by Trump that “elements of the Ukrainian government were actively working to undermine” his prospects against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    “Contrary to the popular narrative in the ‘main stream media’ that Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election has been debunked, or ‘no evidence exists,’ there are many unanswered questions that have festered for years,” Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement.

    Also involved in the effort are Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

    In a statement, Graham said that the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers in advance of the 2016 election was done “by the Russians and no one else.” But, he added, “[w]hether there’s a connection between Democratic operatives and Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election has yet to be determined. It will only be found by looking. We intend to look.”

    Grassley agreed that “the American public also has a right to know if no wrongdoing occurred.”

    The senators are seeking to interview Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC consultant at that time, and Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer within the Ukrainian embassy at that time, among others.
    By John Wagner

    Maybe they can re-do Benghazi at the same time.

  23. says

    So I think this is in about 20 minutes – BBC – “General election 2019: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in TV debate”:

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will go head-to-head later for the final time during the election campaign when they take part in a live BBC One debate.

    The hour-long programme, hosted by Today presenter Nick Robinson, starts at 20:30.

    It will be the last time the Tory and Labour leaders share a stage before polling day on 12 December.

    The BBC’s Iain Watson said the two men were likely to focus on core messages to try and win over undecided voters.

    Their policies on Brexit, the NHS and the economy are likely to come under scrutiny, as are issues of trust and character.

    Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn will face questions from about 100 members of the public in Maidstone, Kent, and from those who have submitted them via the BBC News website….

    I assume it will be liveblogged at the Guardian.

  24. says

    From the G liveblog (linked @ #31):

    Jeremy Corbyn gives his opening statement.

    Labour is ambitious for the country, and for you. He wants a society where everyone is supported, and looked after in old age.

    Millions of people are struggling. They need an ambitious government on their side.

    A vote for Labour is a vote for real change.

    Boris Johnson says next Thursday is a turning point.

    We can spread opportunity, and improve our services.

    But that will only happen with a Conservative govenrment. If Labour gets in there will be chaos and two referendums.

    “If Labour gets in there will be chaos.”

  25. says

    Dahlia Lithwick in Slate – “The Women Who Still Speak Up”:

    Speak “truth to power”—this is how most people standing up to the constant disinformation and bullying of the Trump administration may have once reasonably described their task. Increasingly, though, that work is being honed and refined into something a bit more complicated: speaking truth to nonsense. It’s not so much holding up a mirror so that power can see what it’s become; it’s simply the job of creating a record, for history if nothing else, of what is actually happening.

    It’s not, by any means, that the power imbalance is irrelevant anymore. If anything, the power differential between President Donald Trump and those seeking to hold him to account is more chilling than ever: Trump has pressed the entire Justice Department (including new threats of abusing its policing powers) into service to protect his interests above those of the nation, the White House counsel currently serves as his personal lawyer, the foreign service and the military are being purged of experts and patriots, and Senate Republicans have debased themselves to the point that they are openly peddling debunked Russian propaganda in his service. Congress cannot stop him, and the courts will likely be timed out in constraining him. The lopsidedness of his power is now axiomatic.

    Also axiomatic is the fact that, frequently, it is women who have come forward, in droves, to speak truth to that power, or to nonsense, or, perhaps most accurately, to the nonsense that feeds his power. From Sally Yates to E. Jean Carroll to April Ryan to Greta Thunberg to Fiona Hill to the undocumented housekeepers who used to work at his properties, it is often women who have stood up to say “No” to this president. As Sandra Diaz, one of those two undocumented cleaners, explained her decision to finally speak up even though everyone around her warned her not to: “How can you know something so big, how someone—who goes on national television and says something—and you know it’s not true … whether it’s the president or not, you have the responsibility to say no. To pass through this barrier of fear and say no.” Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch described, in real time, at a public Intelligence Committee hearing last month, what it feels like to pass through that same barrier of fear: As Trump tweeted threats at her midhearing, she was asked how she was experiencing it. “It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch quietly confessed to the members of the Intelligence Committee. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.” Lisa Page similarly passed through the barrier of fear this past week, when she told the truth about Trump’s relentless attacks on her and defended her record in the face of his lies.

    On Wednesday, professor Pamela Karlan was the only woman testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s panel on the constitutional framework for impeachment. (Disclosure: Karlan is a friend.) Her presentation was so effective and so crystal clear that House Republicans, of whom all but two were men, were too afraid to question her on history or doctrine, opting for personal threats and shouting instead….

    But everyone really agreed to melt down when Karlan referenced the name of the president’s youngest son, Barron, to make a point about the difference between monarchs and presidents. Yes, she used it in a bit of wordplay, and yes, people laughed, but, no, it was not a targeted attack on a child—it was a targeted attack on claims of monarchic powers. But let’s be honest. Whether Karlan had done a joke about the British nobility, or Ninja Turtles, or diet soda, the rage machine at the White House would have singled her out for vivisection, just as it did with Hill, who didn’t make a joke, or Yovanovitch, who also didn’t make a joke. (The hate machine largely left the male law professors alone, by the way.)… The rage machine, in coordination with the White House spokeswoman (who does not do press conferences) and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, finds their rabid talking point and repeats it and tweets it until there’s nothing left, until absolutely no fact, or statistic, or idea, can cut through the dry-ice fog it creates. (Tucker Carlson started Wednesday night’s news show with “This lady needs a shrink” and “What a moron.”) In the end, Karlan apologized for her pun, because Republicans, who put children in freezing cages at the border and leave them to die, told her she was the one being mean to children.

    It is worth recalling that Karlan—like Fiona Hill before her, and Yovanovitch before her, and Thunberg, and Carroll, and Karen McDougal, and Christine Blasey Ford, and Debbie Ramirez, and Sandra Diaz, and Lisa Page, and all the other women who have subjected themselves to the raging Trump campaign of abuse—was simply speaking the truth. In the face of lies, imaginary conspiracies, smear campaigns, and disinformation, each was simply relating the facts as she knew them.

    The truth does not really have a place in this administration….

    Michelle Goldberg, in response to Collins’ repeated claim that “there are no set facts here,” described all this as “epistemological nihilism.” Which is why it’s all the more important to understand what these women are doing when they stride into these hearings, and into their press conferences, and into their lawsuits, to tell the truth in the face of disingenuous Republican tears about incivility and partisanship. These women all know they’re being catapulted into the epistemological wood chipper, and that, if they’re lucky, the death threats and the violence directed at them and their families will eventually subside. But this is about much more than speaking truth to power—in its own way, speaking truth to nonsense is even more important. Power is immune to truth-tellers these days, but history may not be. And women have had centuries of experience in what happens when you let the gaslighters win.

    For one last example, take a look, if you have a moment, at the utterly extraordinary amicus brief filed by 366 women in June Medical, the abortion case that will be heard at the Supreme Court in March….

    This, too, wasn’t a matter of speaking truth to power. Everyone knows there are now five votes at the Supreme Court to deny them the reproductive freedom they have enjoyed in the past, and no amount of science, doctors, or data will dislodge the power. This is, sadly but faithfully, about women telling truth to nonsense, at a time when their ability to do anything about it is slipping away. For ever increasing numbers of women, that is becoming the only power they have.

  26. says

    Kip Williams @ #38, I’m so flummoxed by the name that I honestly don’t know if you’re joking. I was about to type “LOL,” but I haven’t been able to come up with anything much more plausible.

  27. says

    Andrew Desiderio, Politico:

    MORE FRIDAY NEWS: House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff just sent this letter to VP Pence asking the admin to declassify Jennifer Williams’ supplemental testimony to impeachment investigators.

    A House Intel officials says “declassification of this supplemental testimony will allow the Congress to see further corroborative evidence as it considers articles of impeachment, and provide the public further understanding of the events in question.”

    In his letter to Pence, Schiff says Williams’ supplemental testimony is about the VP’s Sept. 18 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    Schiff says there’s “no legitimate basis” for this info to be classified.

  28. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… @ # 24: …how is her name Hall Hall?

    I dunno, and a quick search showed only that it’s not a marriage-to-one-of-same-name fluke (her husband’s name is Daniel Twining).

    We can only hope a university campus or other facility will name a major hall after her.

  29. says

    Karen Attiah:

    Jamal Khashoggi is trending on Twitter in the United States.

    Saudi Arabia’s regime wants us to forget Jamal, and move on. They have failed.

    I am still amazed and inspired by how the world really has not let his name and legacy fade away, a year after his murder.

    Grateful.

  30. says

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has issued a temporary (or ‘administrative’) stay of the congressional subpoenas to Deutsche Bank & Capital One for long enough to allow the full #SCOTUS to consider whether to freeze the subpoenas pending consideration of @realDonaldTrump’s appeal:

    [order atl]

    This is a pretty routine procedural move in a case like this, and comes from Ginsburg because she’s the ‘Circuit Justice’ for the Second Circuit (where this case came from). Folks should not read anything substantive into this order.”

    Through next Friday.

  31. Kip Williams says

    If I was right about the origin of the double surname, it was by sheer coincidence. I’m as flummoxed as anyone, just in a phlegmatic way that passes for calmness.

  32. says

    Stephanie Hofeller:

    Once you give it up (Dad said of discovery) don’t expect to get it back. Of course I made fucking copies before I FedEx’d #thehofellerfiles to Arnold Porter.
    Barring the unexpected (or a petulant malaise) my copies will be uploaded to [thehofellerfiles.com] by Monday…

  33. says

    NEW: Top Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov to visit Washington next week in first visit since 2017 Oval Office controversy, officials say. Pompeo meeting expected. White House mum on a possible Trump meeting.”

    The visit is scheduled for Tuesday (the 10th).

  34. says

    From Maddow last night – “Report Suggests Possible Intimidation Of IRS Whistleblower”: “Rachel Maddow points out a new CNN report that the IRS whistleblower who flagged potential inappropriate efforts to influence the mandatory audit program of a president’s tax returns was informed by an official that providing taxpayer information to the Senate Finance Committee could be a violation. This is not true, according to whistleblower law, raising questions about who misinformed the whistleblower and why.”

    I recently read the new book by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation. McConnell and Graham tend to get more attention, but Chuck Grassley is a straight-up villain.

  35. Pierce R. Butler says

    AP Exclusive: 629 Pakistani girls sold as brides to China

    … 629 girls and women from across Pakistan … were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by The Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable.

    … investigators’ aggressive drive against the networks has largely ground to a halt. … because of pressure from government officials fearful of hurting Pakistan’s lucrative ties to Beijing.

    … “No one is doing anything to help these girls,” one of the officials said. “The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now.”

    … Pakistan’s Christian minority has become a new target of brokers who pay impoverished parents to marry off their daughters, some of them teenagers, to Chinese husbands who return with them to their homeland. Many of the brides are then isolated and abused or forced into prostitution in China, often contacting home and pleading to be brought back.

    … “The Chinese and Pakistani brokers make between 4 million and 10 million rupees ($25,000 and $65,000) from the groom, but only about 200,000 rupees ($1,500), is given to the family,” …

    … police discovered two illegal marriage bureaus in Lahore, including one operated from an Islamic center and madrassa — the first known report of poor Muslims also being targeted by brokers. The Muslim cleric involved fled police. …

  36. says

    Guardian – “India rape victim dies after being set alight on her way to court”:

    A 23-year-old rape victim who was set on fire by a gang of men, which included her alleged rapist, has died in a New Delhi hospital, the doctor treating her said.

    The woman was on her way to board a train in Unnao district of northern Uttar Pradesh state to attend a court hearing on Thursday over her rape when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, according to police.

    The attack, the second major case of violence against women in the past two weeks, has sparked public outrage in India.

    The woman died on Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest, said Dr Shalabh Kumar, head of the burns and plastic department at New Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital. “She was having 95% burns,” he said, adding that “toxic and hot fumes” had filled her lungs.

    The woman had filed a complaint with Unnao police in March alleging she had been raped at gunpoint on 12 December 2018, police documents showed.

    Having been subsequently jailed, the alleged rapist was released last week after securing bail, police officer SK Bhagat said in Lucknow.

    Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and has become notorious for its poor record regarding crimes against women, with more than 4,200 cases of rape reported there in 2017 – the highest in the country.

    On Friday, Indian police shot dead four men who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian near Hyderabad city. The shooting – which police claimed happened because they tried to escape – drew applause from some quarters but many were also concerned that the lack of clarity around the incident was indicative of an extrajudicial police killing.

  37. says

    Marina Hyde in the Guardian – “The Tories want to keep Johnson – and their scary manifesto – away from scrutiny”:

    …So we know we have a prime minister who needs to be kept away from the public. The Tories would really like us to view Johnson in a sort of political safari park, through which paying punters – and we’re all going to end up paying – would be encouraged to drive through at some pace. It’s best not to stop, or he’ll climb on your car and pull off your windscreen wipers, or attempt to mate with your exhaust.

    But even more worrying are those of his policies that need to be kept away from the public. Why does the Tory manifesto only go up to the end of their first notional year of a five-year term? What happens next? What if we WANT spoilers?

    This entire document rather reminds me of the 2015 Tory manifesto, which used the word “plan” 121 times, devoting a mere seven words to what would turn out to be the most significant aspect of this plan for millions of voters. Specifically: “We will find £12bn from welfare savings.” Anyway, fast forward to the present day, and page 48 of the Tory manifesto is where all the scary shit is. Voter ID, or voter suppression as it is known everywhere that has it. Which is not currently us, but Johnson wishes to import that democratic poison. Other lowlights? “We also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution, the relationship between the government, parliament and the courts; the functioning of the royal prerogative, the role of the House of Lords.” Oh. Oh dear. The Tories also promise to do something about the irksome business of judicial oversight of the government.

    Thanks to a lot of looking the wrong way (I certainly include myself in this), the best work on this has been done roots-up on social media, ably taken up by Newsnight this week. Though naturally no cabinet minister – let alone the prime minister himself, or even his dad – seems to have cared to come on the BBC programme and discuss it.

    So where does this all leave us, at election minus six days? The “senior Conservative source” suggests Johnson is focusing on priorities such as NHS investment. Is this when he goes round hospitals and nurses are dragooned into having a cup of tea with him to serve as backdrop?

    Then perhaps it’s literally going to have to fall to a nurse to ask the prime minister the things people have a right to know, because no one else is going to get a sit-down….

  38. says

    LA Times – “Editorial: We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached.”:

    The House of Representatives’ inquiry into President Trump’s actions on Ukraine is not yet complete, but the evidence produced over the last two months is more than sufficient to persuade us that he should be impeached. Witness after witness testified that the president held up desperately needed, congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to extort a personal political favor for himself. In so doing, Trump flagrantly abused the power of his office.

    The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration.

    But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.

    Holding the president accountable for gross abuse of power is the business of Congress. The House should get on with that business by writing articles of impeachment that make it clear to the Senate — and the American people — why the extraordinary remedy of impeachment is necessary. And Republicans who complain that the process is partisan could easily rectify that situation by abandoning their lockstep loyalty to Trump and looking at the facts.

  39. says

    Guardian – “Evo Morales heads to Cuba amid talk of an eventual comeback”:

    Bolivia’s recently toppled president, Evo Morales, has left Mexico for Cuba as part of what some observers suspect is the first step in a bid to stage a dramatic political comeback.

    On Friday night, less than a month after being forced into exile in Mexico, Morales flew out of the country on a plane bound for Havana.

    Mexico’s foreign relations ministry confirmed that Morales had left for Cuba on Friday, on what it called a temporary visit.

    The Mexican newspaper El Universal said official sources had confirmed Morales’ departure for the communist-run Caribbean island.

    Last month a commentator from the same newspaper, Salvador García Soto, had predicted Bolivia’s first indigenous president would relocate to another Latin American country “where he would be able to organise his resistance plan and strategy to attempt to return to Bolivia to recover power in the near future”.

    On Friday, Spain’s El País reported that Morales was also unlikely to spend much time in Cuba and instead planned to relocate to Argentina once that country’s new leftist leader, Alberto Fernández, took office next week.

    The Mexican newspaper Reforma said Morales had travelled to Cuba with his former vice president, Álvaro García Linera, and his former health minister, Gabriela Montaño. “President Evo Morales is in Cuba for a medical appointment with the Cuban medical team that treated him in Bolivia,” Montano told Reuters.

    In a recent interview with the Guardian in Mexico City, Morales hinted that his political aspirations had not ended with exile.

    “Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, that is where I come from,” he said.

    For now, a return to Bolivia looks highly unlikely. Morales has ruled out taking part in a fresh round of presidential elections, called as a result of suspicions of vote rigging in his favour.

    Last month the interior minister of Bolivia’s rightwing interim government vowed to jail Morales for the rest of his life for allegedly inciting anti-government protests that he claimed amounted to terrorism….

  40. says

    The 2020 census is facing cost overruns—and potentially dire security concerns

    Reuters has published a look at the problems the Census Bureau is facing in its attempt to hastily finish software and patch problems ahead of next year’s mammoth official national census. As usual, the government’s projected costs for the new systems, which will make the 2020 census the first truly digitized version, have “doubled,” to $167 million. As usual, those cost overruns come from a leadership insistence on hiring outside contracting firms rather than building the software the census needs using government workers—an especially odd move given the census’ status as a unique undertaking that cannot reasonably be approximated using off-the-shelf commercial products.

    But the most dire concerns are that the nation’s first mainly online census might not work at all. […] a large-scale system test in 2018 was both successfully hacked by unknown Russian attackers and subjected to a denial-of-service attack that the system’s primary outside security contractor was unable to properly prevent or even satisfactorily diagnose. […]

    […] the Census Bureau has tasked its own original programming team with finishing out the internal software it originally developed just in case the contracted version isn’t ready in time or goes belly-up when census time actually arrives. […]

    It is the security concerns that are most significant. Critics are raising several issues: one, that foreign attacks may render the system overloaded or nonoperational for the public or for census employees themselves. Two, that the data could be stolen. Three, and the one suggested by the successful Russian incursion into the test system: that the data could be altered, perhaps in ways that sabotage the very intent of the census. […]

    It is not unusual for megascale technology projects to have steep cost overruns. […] And it isn’t unusual to have both outside consultants and inside employees giving dire warnings about a project’s flaws to those willing to listen […]

    It’s just another thing to worry about as 2020 shapes up to be one of the more monumental years in modern American history. And yes, by monumental I mean potentially very very bad.

    From the readers comments:

    I’m certain that the Trump administration will provide us with an accurate census, and the results will no doubt describe America as it really is:

    Everyone is white.

    Everyone is straight.

    Everyone is a Christian.

    Everyone is a Republican.

    Everyone lives in red states.

    Seats in the House will be distributed appropriately, with Utah, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming getting 10-15 electoral votes each while California and New York get none, since the Census shows that no one lives there…

  41. says

    Jerry Nadler:

    Today, @HouseJudiciary released our majority staff report entitled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.”

    You can read the full report here: [link atl]

    The Framers worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment.

  42. says

    Catherine Rampell:

    signs you may not be hiring the best attorneys
    1) they send formal legal letters in Comic Sans
    2) they sign formal legal letters with a Sharpie
    3) you aren’t paying them, but a company called “Fraud Guarantee” is
    4) they’re in prison

  43. lumipuna says

    Re self-described “country lawyer” Rudy Giuliani,

    You just know someone is a scheming big money lawyer when they assume everyone knows the difference between scheming big money lawyers and ordinary wholesome “country lawyers”.

  44. says

    Guardian – “Tories investigate three candidates over alleged antisemitism”:

    The Conservatives are investigating three parliamentary candidates over antisemitism and are facing calls to suspend them before the election.

    Sally-Ann Hart, standing in the Tory marginal seat of Hastings, shared a video with an image implying that the billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, controls the EU, and she also liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook.

    Lee Anderson, standing for the Conservatives in Labour-held Ashfield, is an active member of Ashfield Backs Boris, a Facebook group where Soros conspiracy theories have been promoted and which includes supporters of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

    Richard Short, the candidate for St Helens South and Whiston, is being investigated for asking whether a Jewish journalist was more loyal to Israel than to Britain.

    Labour has called for all three candidates to be suspended and is also demanding that Boris Johnson account for his 2004 novel Seventy-Two Virgins, which it claims contains antisemitic descriptions of a Jewish character.

    Labour’s election coordinator, Andrew Gwynne, said: “As well as his own antisemitic comments, Johnson must answer for the antisemitism being promoted in his name. Boris Johnson said members who make racist comments are ‘out first bounce’. So why is he refusing to suspend these candidates?

    “Johnson has never called out and condemned antisemitic Soros narratives among his supporters. Antisemitism is clearly rife in the Conservative party from top to bottom.”

    A Conservative party spokesperson said the cases of the three candidates were being investigated.

    A statement from the party said: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation. We are committed to stamping out the scourge of antisemitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.

    “Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis.”…

  45. says

    AP – “Official: Base shooter watched shooting videos before attack”:

    The Saudi student who fatally shot three people at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday.

    One of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped outside the building while the shooting was taking place at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.

    The official said 10 Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday while several others were unaccounted for.

    U.S. officials had previously told the AP they were investigating possible links to terrorism.

    The student opened fire in a classroom at the base Friday morning, killing three people.

    A U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Friday identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official also said the FBI was examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.

    The assault, which prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown, ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the attacker. Eight people were hurt in the attack, including the deputy and a second deputy who was with him.

    Earlier Friday, two U.S. officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, and said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related. They spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.

    The shooting is the second at a U.S. naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life.

    There are reports that Alshamrani was angry about US policy re Israel.

  46. says

    Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel speech will not be broadcast on Polish state television because she might say something that will irritate the nationalist-populist government.”

    From the article linked at the link:

    Olga Tokarczuk has launched a foundation to support the work of writers and translators. The recently named winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who will collect the award in Stockholm next week, will use part of her winnings to fund the institution.

    At a press conference launching the foundation, Tokarczuk said that it will also aim to promote Polish culture, to fight discrimination, and to support civil liberties and animal rights, reports Gazeta Wyborcza.

    The foundation will be based in Wrocław, a city with which the writer has long been associated and which made her an honorary citizen earlier this year….

  47. tomh says

    Let’s go to the circus!

    WaPo:
    Trump: Giuliani will report to Justice Department, Congress on his investigations in Ukraine

    President Trump said his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani planned to issue a report to the Justice Department and Congress detailing what he’d learned from his investigations in Ukraine.

    Trump claimed not to know what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine this week or what he found out while there, but he asserted that Giuliani says “he has a lot of good information.”

    “He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress,” Trump told reporters Saturday outside the White House. “He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet.”

    “I hear he has found plenty,” Trump added.

    Here come the clowns!

  48. says

    “Calls grow to stop Boris Johnson with tactical voting as race tightens”:

    A cross-party alliance of opposition politicians has launched an 11th-hour appeal to anti-Tory voters to consider switching allegiance in Thursday’s general election, amid signs that a late surge of tactical voting in a few swing seats could deprive Boris Johnson of a majority in parliament.

    The calls from senior Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP figures come as a major poll suggests Johnson’s likely majority has been cut in half in the last two weeks – from 82 a fortnight ago to just 40 with four days to polling day.

    The analysis of almost 30,000 voters, for the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, also finds that tactical votes by as few as 40,700 people in 36 key seats could prevent Johnson from forming a majority government.

    Without a majority, Johnson is unlikely to be able to deliver the central promise of the Tory campaign – “to get Brexit done” – as he will struggle to get enough MPs’ votes. The DUP, which agreed to prop up the Tories after the 2017 general election, is now fiercely opposed to Johnson’s Brexit deal.

    The special polling analysis concludes that if tactical voting keeps the Tories out in the three dozen seats, the Conservatives would have 309 MPs, Labour 255, the SNP 49, the Lib Dems 14, Plaid Cymru three and the Greens one. To guarantee a majority, a governing party needs 325 MPs.

    Naomi Smith, Best for Britain’s chief executive, said: “This election is on a knife-edge, and, if enough Remainers hold their nose and vote for the candidate with the best chance of stopping the Tories, we’re heading for a hung Parliament and a final-say referendum.”…

    Vote tactically (and donate to the Guardian)!

  49. says

    From Senator Kamala Harris:

    Although I am no longer running for President, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.

    In other news:

    According to Sam Greisman, a movie writer and the youngest son of Sally Field, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was having a major sad at the State Department dinner for Kennedy Center honorees.

    Pompeo asked when he would be “loved”. That’s when Linda Ronstadt replied to his question and she pulled no punches.

    From Sam Greisman:

    At the State Dept. dinner for the Kennedy Center honorees Mike Pompeo wondered aloud when he would be “loved”. Then Linda Ronstadt got up to get laurels, looked the fucker right in the eye and said “maybe when you stop enabling Donald Trump”. Icon.

    Link

  50. says

    Trump brought some killers he had pardoned to a fundraiser/Republican rally.

    […] Trump took part in a Saturday night rally in South Florida, bringing two accused war criminals on to the stage as honored guests.

    According to the Miami Herald, during his speech at Florida Republicans’ annual Statesman’s Dinner, Trump brought Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Matt Golsteyn in front of the crowd. Trump controversially pardoned the two—along with former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher—last month against the recommendations of senior military leaders. Lorance was serving a 19-year prison sentence for murder after ordering soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012, killing two. Golsteyn had been charged with premeditated murder after admitting to shooting a detained, unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn killed the prisoner off-base and buried his body, only to dig it up later, bring it back to the base, and burn it in a pit used to dispose of trash, according to the Washington Post.

    The men’s appearance at a party rally and fundraiser confirm that Trump sees political value in his interventions on behalf of soldiers who were charged by uniformed military prosecutors with the most serious crimes. After the pardons, the Daily Beast cited two sources who said they heard the president talk about how he would use the pardoned soldiers as political props in his 2020 reelection bid, with one saying they heard the president discuss “making it a big deal at the convention.”

    Trump’s full pardon of the men came after a years-long push by the men’s supporters, including Fox News personality Peter Hegseth, a former Army officer, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine who announced he would resign from Congress after pleading guilty to improperly using campaign donations to fund a series of affairs and for a variety of personal expenses. One embarrassing transaction unearthed by prosecutors recorded Hunter buying an item of clothing at a golf pro shop while representing the spending as buying golf balls for wounded veterans. […]

    Link

    Skeevy doofuses all in the same place … members of the same scam/cult gathered to raise money from the gullible and/or the ill-informed.

  51. says

    From Wonkette:

    Meet Pete D’Abrosca! Pete D’Abrosca is a Republican running for a Congressional seat in North Carolina’s 7th district. He is also a big proponent of the white nationalist “Great Replacement” theory and an advocate of banning immigration entirely, on account of how he is sick and tired of seeing white people replaced with “peasants.” […]

    D’Abrosca has a long history of saying a lot of gross racist, anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic things, is beloved by the white nationalist site VDARE and by Ann Coulter, and in any normal timeline would be a weird fringe candidate that people cringe-laugh about for two seconds and then forget about forever. […]

    Via Angry White Men:

    On one occasion he shared an article from the racist website Breitbart about refugee resettlement. “Move refugees into upper middle class, predominantly white towns and see what happens,” he wrote. “They need to experience ‘diversity’ first hand.”

    On October 5th, D’Abrosca tweeted a short video clip depicting what appeared to be black students assaulting a white person. He captioned it with “Teaching or zoo keeping?”:[…]

    He has on several occasions mocked the LGBTQ community as “Alphabet People,” and once wrote that the “conservative movement does not belong to atheists, sodomites, or pedophiles.” In another tweet he wrote, “You didn’t take your government-mandated gender transition hormones? During Asexuality Awareness Week? Are you crazy!?”

    But now, thanks to a shift in the Overton Window brought upon us by Donald Trump and his supporters, he’s popping up on Fox News with Tucker Carlson calling his plan for a ten-year moratorium on immigration a “sane immigration policy.” […]

    As Nikki McCann Ramirez of Media Matters points out, the interview is filled with several dogwhistles to the Groyper movement. Groyper, if you do not know, is like another Pepe The Frog type thing, and there are a bunch of creepy white nationalists who call themselves Groypers as some kind of homage to said cartoon. They are also fervent followers of YouTube idiot Nick Fuentes. […]

    Like D’Abrosca, the Groypers are not only against illegal immigration, they are also against legal immigration. They also constantly talk about “demographics” and whine about how mainstream conservatives won’t let them talk about “demographics” even though they really, really want to talk about “demographics.” In case it is not clear, what they want to do is say things that are racist without consequences.

    In the interview, Carlson talks about how Conservatives are supposedly “afraid” to come out against legal immigration, and D’Abrosca explains that while older Conservatives may be afraid, young hepcats like him are not afraid to let their immigrant-hating freak flags fly, whether “Conservative, Inc.” wants them to or not. “Conservative, Inc.” is a popular term among Groypers who believe that mainstream conservatives don’t say super horrible things all the time because doing so would result in them losing money. Which is weird, given that they do say horrible things literally all of the time.

    Everything Carlson and D’Abrosca talk about in this interview is indistinguishable from the rhetoric seen on white supremacist sites like the Daily Stormer and, as Ramirez later pointed out, some notable white supremacists were pretty thrilled by the segment. […]

  52. says

    From Jennifer Rubin: “It has come to this: Ted Cruz is Putin’s stooge.”

    Sen. Ted Cruz [a Republican from Texas] has spent his entire adult life touting the West’s defeat of communism in the Cold War. In July 2014, he declared to a young conservative group, “‘Mr. Putin, give back Crimea.’ Why is it so unimaginable for President Obama to utter those words?” He continued, “We need to stand up and speak out for freedom. The words that come from the president of the United States matter. President Reagan demonstrated that. One of the saddest things is President Obama doesn’t do that.”

    In fact, in March 2014, CNN reported:

    President Barack Obama and other world leaders have decided to end Russia’s role in the group of leading industrialized nations. . . . The move to suspend Russia’s membership in the G8 is the latest direct response from major countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
    “International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force,” the statement said. “To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

    In August of that year, Obama said, “[…] The separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see.”

    So Cruz and other Republicans, in particular […] Trump, have been lying about Obama’s stance on Ukraine for a long time. One can argue, as I did at the time, that Obama’s response should have been stronger, but he was no apologist for Russia. In that regard, Obama cannot hold a candle to Trump, who in the 2016
    regurgitated Russian talking points that “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

    […] Of course it is unimaginable that Trump should demand anything of Putin or demand it cease its illegal invasion and annexation of Ukraine. Trump is the one who was willing to suspend aid to Ukraine, something Putin has been trying to accomplish for years. Worse, Trump now advances the blatant lie that Ukraine meddled in our 2016 election, something our intelligence community has repeatedly repudiated.

    And as for Cruz, […] he now declares there is evidence of Ukraine interference in our election because an op-ed was written criticizing Trump’s campaign rhetoric about Ukraine. This is what Cruz is reduced to — making excuses for a president willing to stab Ukraine in the back to the utter delight of Putin.

    […] Raising doubt that others’ were responsible, as well is straight out of the Kremlin propaganda playbook. And Ted Cruz is willing to help Trump and Putin do just that. […]

    Why is it unimaginable that Cruz would stand up to Trump, to denounce cutting off financial aid to an ally fighting off Russia, to excoriate him for repeatedly inviting foreign meddling in our elections, to condemn him for suggesting Russia be let back into the Group of Seven? Because Cruz, like virtually every other Republican in Congress is a coward, is afraid of a tweet or of the Trump mob. The formerly tough-on-defense Republican Party would rather contribute to the Kremlin propaganda machine and enable Trump (Putin’s best friend) than incur the wrath of the right wing.

    The words of a U.S. president and a U.S. senator matter, and one of the saddest things is that both are willing to enable an enemy of the United States. […]

    Washington Post link

  53. gijoel says

    I don’t know where to put this, but boy-howdy someone is making a Jesus and priest simulator games.

  54. says

    Today is the House Judiciary impeachment hearing where the staff counsels will present the evidence to the committee. Begins at 9 ET (in about a half hour). Will be televised.

  55. says

    CNBC – “Amazon blames Trump for losing $10 billion JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft”:

    Amazon says President Donald Trump launched “behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company, which led to it losing out on a major contract for cloud services.

    In a heavily redacted, 103-page document made public on Monday, Amazon Web Services lays out why it’s protesting the Department of Defense’s decision to award Microsoft the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract. AWS claims it didn’t win the JEDI contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion, as a result of repeated public and private attacks against Amazon and, specifically, its CEO Jeff Bezos.

    “The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the filing states. “DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon.’ Basic justice requires re-evaluation of proposals and a new award decision.”

    AWS argues President Trump’s intervention was a “fundamental defect” in the procurement process that made it impossible for the agency to judge a winner “reasonably, consistently, and in a fair and equal manner.” The company cites President Trump’s track record of taking Bezos to task publicly as evidence that Trump “has made no secret of his personal dislike” for Bezos and his ownership of the Washington Post.

    Amazon and the Department of Defense were not immediately available for comment. The White House declined to comment….

  56. says

    Thanks to @RepDougCollins for the shoutout! You can listen to ‘The Report’—@lawfareblog’s podcast on the Mueller report—here: [link atl]”

    I recommend this podcast series. It was much more engrossing than I’d expected. It and several of the books I’ve read about these events (including the one by Simpson and Fritsch @ #57 above) all point to two key aspects: First, Trump has a distinct pattern and toolkit of behaviors he uses in his schemes and cover-ups. These behaviors occur again and again. Second, read removed from their immediate context and with the distance of time, Trump’s tweets and other statements are thoroughly insane.

  57. says

    CNN – “Christopher Steele told additional information about him will be made public with DOJ IG report”:

    Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump, has been told information on him that had originally been redacted has now been declassified and will be included in the Justice Department inspector general’s report Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Steele was informed before midnight in the UK on Sunday that the additional material would be contained in the report’s final draft, according to a source close to his corporate intelligence company Orbis. Steele was not told what the new information would be and was not given an opportunity to respond before the report’s publication, the source added and a second source confirmed.

    Attorney General William Barr made the unusual decision to declassify additional information on Steele, The New York Times first reported.

    Steele spent two days meeting with representatives of the Justice Department in London to voluntarily cooperate with their probe in June this year and followed up with further conversations via Skype. Orbis also provided the inspector general with access to its internal documents and memoranda of its meetings with the FBI since the firm’s relationship with the bureau began in 2013.

    Orbis had a chance to review 50 pages of the report pertaining to Steele and his firm last week and highlighted numerous mistakes and inaccuracies, in particular with Steele’s characterization in some parts of the report as a “confidential human source” rather than as a contractor, according to material prepared by Orbis and seen by CNN.

    A person close to Orbis told CNN the decision to publish extra material in full showed a “lack of integrity” and was an “affront to natural justice.”

    “The fact that so many mistakes were identified previously gives us no confidence that this new material will be any more reliable,” the person said.

    Among the submissions to the probe by Steele is an undated letter, which the source close to the company said was drafted in August 2013, to the British government seeking permission to sign a contract with the FBI upon the bureau’s instigation for providing intelligence services….

  58. tomh says

    This is a preview of what to expect from this court on abortion cases.

    Supreme Court rejects challenge to Kentucky abortion ultrasound law
    By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
    Updated 10:46 AM ET, Mon December 9, 2019

    CNN

    The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a Kentucky law requiring doctors to describe ultrasound images and play fetal heartbeat sound to abortion seekers.

    Kentucky argued the law is “simple and straightforward,” calling it part of an” informed-consent process.” The law, Kentucky said, “does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion.”

    The court rejected the case without comment or noted dissent by any of the justices.

    Challengers, including an abortion clinic, argued that the law forced patients to see the images even if she didn’t want to, and that it violated doctors’ First Amendment rights.

    The law had been upheld by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but that ruling was on hold pending the Supreme Court appeal.

    “As a First Amendment matter, there is nothing suspect with a State’s requiring a doctor, before performing an abortion, to make truthful, non-misleading factual disclosures, relevant to informed consent, even if those disclosures relate to unborn life and have the effect of persuading the patient not to have an abortion,” the appeals court held in its ruling.

    Civil rights groups blasted the court’s decision not to take up the challenge.

    “By refusing to review the 6th Circuit’s ruling, the Supreme Court has rubber-stamped extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law is not only unconstitutional, but as leading medical experts and ethicists explained, deeply unethical.”

    The Kentucky denial comes as the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US is facing multiple challenges in lower courts.
    […]

    Later this term, the justices are set to consider a separate Louisiana law that requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a nearby hospital. The justices in 2016 struck down a similar law from Texas, which had led to clinic closures. The court majority said the law put an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion.

  59. Akira MacKenzie says

    Business Insider – Protester from the conspiracy site InfoWars interrupted the latest impeachment as soon as it began, shouting ‘Trump is innocent!’

    Owen Shroyer abruptly began shouting in the House Judiciary Committee hearing room, accusing the Democrats of committing treason and defending the president.

    “Jerry Nadler and the Democrat Party on this committee are committing treason against this country,” Shroyer yelled as he was escorted out of the room by security. “We voted for Donald Trump and they’re simply removing him because they don’t like him.”

    Oh, this guy looks like the picture of sanity.

  60. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 93

    One thing that continues to aggravate me is the reluctance to use Congress’ inherent contempt powers to have these people dragged into testify or jailed if they refuse.

    From Wikipedia:

    Under this process, the procedure for holding a person in contempt involves only the chamber concerned. Following a contempt citation, the person cited is arrested by the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House or Senate, brought to the floor of the chamber, held to answer charges by the presiding officer, and then subjected to punishment as the chamber may dictate (usually imprisonment for punishment, imprisonment for coercion, or release from the contempt citation).

    Come on, guys! They aren’t going to come in willfully no matter often you ask nicely.Take the kid gloves off already!

  61. says

    Dean Obeidallah at CNN – “Trump is trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. It must stop.”:

    On Saturday night, President Donald Trump served up a buffet of anti-Semitic tropes during his speech before the Israeli American Council advocacy group in Florida. He played on the dangerous anti-Semitic theme of Jews having dual loyalty to the United States and another country, when he said, “They don’t love Israel enough.”

    He then invoked the slur that Jews are hyper-focused on money, telling the crowd that to protect their money they will vote for him — falsely claiming that 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposed “wealth tax” will take “100% of your wealth away.” He added, “You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax… you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes.”

    And he went one step further, saying that Jewish people in the real estate business he knows “very well, you’re brutal killers. You’re not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me.”

    The condemnation of Trump’s words was swift. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, “It’s not even coded antisemitism. It’s not a dog whistle. He’s saying this. Out loud. To a room full of Jews.”

    Journalist Emily Tamkin tweeted that Trump’s view that, “Jews won’t vote for the candidate who wants a wealth tax because Jews are all about wealth” is “an old trope often used to justify violent discrimination.”

    And Aaron Keyak, a former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, called Trump’s words “dangerous,” adding, “Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans.”

    But where are the Republicans denouncing Trump’s use of these anti-Semitic tropes?…

    The GOP’s silence thus far is even more concerning given the documented spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year….

    It’s true that Trump has trafficked in similar anti-Semitic stereotypes in the past — but failing to call them out each and every time is how these dangerous tropes became mainstream….

    Of course, Jews are not the only minority faith that Trump has targeted with his dangerous rhetoric. Trump made stoking hate of Muslims, my community, a visible part of his 2016 campaign — from stating irresponsibly that “Islam hates us” to calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. And even as President, Trump continued inflaming tensions by sharing in November 2017 anti-Muslim videos made by a UK-based hate group with his millions of Twitter followers.

    The words of American Presidents can inspire the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s why in the case of Trump, his inflammatory and irresponsible words about Jews — as well as Muslims and other minorities — must be challenged every time, making clear that we as a society will not allow them to become the new normal.

    And leading that charge should be members of Trump’s own political party since they have the greatest potential to sway his base. Yet as of the writing of this article, there has been no full-throated condemnation by the Republican National Committee, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or other prominent Republicans in Congress. And the longer the GOP remains silent, the more they are enabling Trump’s bigotry.

  62. says

    Update to #56 – TPM – “Trump And Pompeo Will Meet With Russia’s Foreign Minister”:

    President Donald Trump will hold a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, the Kremlin said on Monday.

    Trump and Lavrov will meet in Washington, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told CNN.

    TPM could not independently confirm the meeting with the White House.

    Additionally, the State Department announced on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Lavrov on Tuesday “to discuss a broad range of regional and bilateral issues.”…

    Seems possible that the WH can’t confirm because Trump is getting his instructions that the meeting will take place from TV.

  63. says

    Brad Heath:

    RTRS – U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS OPENING OF FBI PROBE INTO TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISERS WAS LEGITIMATE, PROPERLY AUTHORIZED -CONGRESSIONAL SOURCE

    RTRS – INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS POLITICAL BIAS ON THE PART OF FBI EMPLOYEES DID NOT INFLUENCE DECISION TO OPEN FBI INVESTIGATION -SOURCE

    RTRS – FBI OVERSTATED ITS CONFIDENCE IN STEELE’S RELIABILITY, STEELE’S PAST CONTRIBUTIONS TO FBI INVESTIGATIONS, INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS -SOURCE

  64. says

    SC @103, OMFG. I mean, I expected Barr to do that, but actually seeing that he did just gaslight the American people AGAIN … well, it shocks me. What the hell can be done with a man so manifestly lacking in ethics? The biggest, and perhaps the most powerful, Trump Toady is William Barr.

  65. says

    At long last:

    The DOJ IG also uncovered a number of messages from pro-Trump FBI employees (in addition to issues with the FISA process): [screenshot from a footnote(!) atl]

    One FBI supervisory special agent IMed that they were “so elated with the election” and compared the election coverage to “watching a Superbowl comeback.”

    “it was just energizing to me to see …. [because] I didn’t want a criminal to be in the White House.”

    “if you hear talk of a special prosecutor… I will volunteer to work [on] the Clinton Foundation.”

    “Come January I’m going to just get a big bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch.”

  66. says

    Wild:

    BREAKING: ABC News can confirm that the Trump “family member” referenced in the Inspector General report who had a friendship with dossier author Chris Steele, was Ivanka. She met him in 2007 at a dinner in London when he was still working for MI6.

    Ivanka Trump invited dossier author Chris Steele to Trump Tower in New York in 2010 to discuss the possibility of the former British intelligence officer working for the Trump Organization in doing due diligence on their business interests abroad as part of his work at Orbis.

    ABC News first learned of the contacts between Ivanka Trump and Steele a year ago, but has only recently been able to view some of their communications.

    ABC News sought comment from Ivanka Trump through her attorney, but has not received a reply. Both Steele’s attorney and a representative for Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence have not given us a comment.

  67. says

    NEW: John Durham says they ‘do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened’.”

    That statement sure doesn’t sound pressured at all.

    In related news, “NEW: Sen. Judiciary Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC holding 4p news conference on DOJ IG report.”

  68. says

    Details concerning another addition to Trump’s swamp, and another instance of “all the best people” being dangerous.

    Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, a wide variety of fringe figures with dubious qualifications and strange ideas have landed important jobs in the federal bureaucracy. But Frank Wuco tends to stand out.

    A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post reported on Wuco’s role as a senior adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

    A former conservative talk radio host and naval intelligence officer who suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks now works on arms control issues at the State Department, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. […]

    Wuco works at the State Department, though some arms control advocates have questioned his suitability for the area of arms control given his past remarks.

    Wuco […] first gained notoriety as a Trump administration official two years ago, while serving as a White House senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. […] he had an unfortunate habit of peddling bizarre conspiracy theories, including “claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghostwritten by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, that former CIA director John Brennan had converted to Islam and that Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, none of these theories is even remotely true.

    […] He also argued that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance.

    […] Wuco also said he thought Barack Obama was a Kenyan, called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “Nazi,” and argued that it’d be difficult for a “solid, practicing” Muslim to be a good American. […]

    in a normal administration, these kinds of revelations would prompt an inevitable resignation, but in 2019, it’s plausible that Wuco will maintain his State Department job.

    Link

  69. says

    This hurts my head … so not right:

    According to a FiveThirtyEight tally, Tom Steyer’s Democratic presidential campaign has spent $47 million on advertising, Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has spent $39 million (in just a few weeks), and the rest of the party’s 2020 field combined has spent $15 million.

  70. says

    An exclusive report from Talking Points Memo:

    Hidden behind a retinue of fixers, intermediaries and opportunists lurks another figure in […] Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

    […] it wasn’t until Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Kyiv last week that observers of Ukrainian politics began buzzing about what now seems obvious: there’s another billionaire oligarch interested for his own reasons in cozying up to President Trump.

    His name is Ihor Kolomoisky, and he was once seen as the power behind the throne of President Volodymyr Zelensky. He has a lot to gain from any favor he can curry with the Trump administration: An FBI probe into his finances threatens to deprive Kolomoisky of his earnings and his freedom.

    […] There’s some indication that he began dishing the kind of bogus political dirt that Giuliani and Trump are seeking as far back as 2018. But in the murky world where Ukraine business and politics overlap, Kolomoisky has largely managed to remain on the periphery of the coverage of the Trump scandal.

    That is, at least, until Rudy waltzed back into town.

    Giuliani’s Kyiv trip last week gave away the game, according to Ukraine observers. He took a series of meetings with figures known for their close association with Kolomoisky. According to these Kolomoisky associates’ own accounts and Ukraine news reports, they fed more dirt to Giuliani, who was an eager recipient. […]

    Kolomoisky retained Bud Cummins, an American criminal defense attorney, to represent him in federal criminal investigations in the United States.

    Around the same time last year, as TPM previously reported, Cummins tried to set up a meeting between American law enforcement and a Ukrainian prosecutor who was offering information about the Bidens and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. That information later became the basis of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. […]

    It’s not clear if Kolomoisky himself has directed any information to Giuliani. Giuliani’s appearance in Kyiv and meetings with associates of the oligarch’s, however, confirmed for many in Ukraine that Kolomoisky may be trying to use the former New York mayor for his own interests.

    Kolomoisky’s actions mirror those of Dmytro Firtash, another Ukrainian oligarch, currently fighting extradition to the U.S. from Vienna. Firtash hired two Trumpworld lawyers to help him defend himself. Those lawyers later met with Attorney General Bill Barr to discuss Firtash, and documents from Firtash’s case, including allegations against the Bidens, were shared by Giuliani on Fox News.

    In the case of Kolomoisky, Cummins forwarded a message containing the same topics to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Later, associates of the oligarch met with Giuliani in Kyiv about similar topics. […]

    For Kolomoisky, the prospect of pleasing the White House comes with two possible benefits: shutting down the American criminal investigation of him, and getting a favorable resolution to a massive embezzlement case involving a bank he previously owned.

    Kolomoisky had a high-profile run-in with America’s mayor in May, after Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two recently indicted Giuliani associates — met with Kolomoisky in Israel asking for access to Zelensky. Kolomoisky says that he kicked the pair out, but it led to a public spat in which Giuliani called for Kolomoisky’s prosecution. […]

    But since then, the relationship appears to have veered back into friendly territory.

    Vadim Shulman, a former business partner of Kolomoisky’s now embroiled in a nasty, multimillion dollar legal battle against him in London and Delaware, told TPM that he believed Kolomoisky had tried to “solve the issue with the FBI by giving documents on Biden.” […]

    More at the link.

  71. says

    The protestor who yelled, “Trump is innocent,” at the Congressional impeachment hearing is the same guy who called for Barack Obama to be lynched.

    If you’re wondering who the man was shouting before House Judiciary Committee members during Monday’s presidential impeachment hearing, here you go: It was InfoWars host Owen Shroyer, the same man who called for former President Barack Obama to be lynched earlier this year.

    Shroyer started his latest rant addressing House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler directly. “You’re the one committing treason. America’s done with this. America’s sick of the treason,” Shroyer shouted. “I’m not going to sit here and watch you run an impeachment scam and remove our vote. We voted for Donald Trump.”

    Wait a minute. Who voted for Trump? Last time I checked, the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but I digress. Shroyer went on to shout that Democrats are trying to remove Trump because they don’t like him. “Americans are sick of your impeachment scam! They’re sick of the Democratic treason,” he said. Shroyer finished his speech with a final, “Trump is innocent.”

    But wait, there’s more. The frequent ranter in June had made even more violent remarks in discussing the far-right news site Breitbart’s article “Emails Show Obama’s State Department’s Role in Anti-Trump Coup Cabal,” according to Newsweek. Shroyer suggested during his anti-Obama rant that the former president was “treasonous” and should be killed. […]

    Link

  72. says

    Warren discloses pay for decades of legal work and the media’s double standard goes into overdrive.

    Women Can’t Have Nice Things, the media wants us to know. It would be simply illegitimate for an accomplished woman to make the kind of money her male peers take for granted—and if she runs for president, expect the media to make sure we all know how badly that accomplished woman screwed up by attaching value to her labor. That’s the message from The Washington Post’s article on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s decades of legal consulting while she was a law professor.

    “Sen. Elizabeth Warren earned nearly $2 million consulting for corporations and financial firms, records show,” the headline reads. Not mentioned in that headline or until the sixth paragraph of the article is the fact that this nearly $2 million came over three decades. Even if you accept the Post’s angry qualification that “nearly all of the money was made from cases filed after she got her job at Harvard in 1995,” the attempt here to create a scandal is ridiculous if you consider the kind of money top law professors can and do make as consultants. Or the kind of money that graduates of Harvard Law School are very often paid in their first year out of school, for that matter. (It’s $190,000 a year, plus bonus. For someone who just graduated. In 1999, it was $100,000, plus bonus.)

    ”Every lawyer who looks at the Warren disclosures understands that she made a small fraction of the money she could have made if money were her priority, given her standing in the law. Any story that doesn’t include that is misleading readers as to what’s going on,” tweeted civil rights lawyer Sasha Samberg-Champion.

    Warren was of course getting a salary from Harvard, but it’s a guarantee that many of her colleagues were making at least as much on outside consulting. So basically we’re to be outraged by a woman at the very top of her profession making somewhat less money than her male peers. How f’ing dare she? So uppity.

    Warren released the compensation data herself as she calls for Mayor Pete Buttigieg to release even just the names of the companies he consulted for during his time at McKinsey and to open his high-dollar fundraisers to the press.

  73. says

    From Jeremy Schulman, “The Republican Impeachment Counsel Just Made a Blatantly False Claim.”

    In his presentation during Monday’s House impeachment hearing, Republican counsel Steve Castor deployed a thoroughly debunked talking point to argue that Donald Trump did nothing wrong when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political enemies. Several weeks before the two leaders’ infamous phone call, Trump had put a hold on vital military aid to Ukraine. But according to Castor, Trump’s requests for investigations did not constitute a quid pro quo because top Ukrainian officials were completely unaware that the aid had been stopped.

    “At the time of the July 25 call, senior officials in Kyiv did not know that the security assistance was paused,” Castor claimed. “They did not learn it was paused until the pause was reported publicly in the US media on August 28.” This matters, according to Castor, because if the Ukrainians didn’t know that the aid was in jeopardy, then Trump could not have coerced them into announcing politically motivated investigations.

    To support his claim, Castor cited Kurt Volker—Trump’s former emissary for peace talks in Ukraine—who told Congress last month, “I believe that the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29, not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold.” Republicans, including Trump, have been making this argument since the scandal burst into public view. But as we now know, Trump, Volker, and Castor are simply wrong.

    One day after Volker made that statement, Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that on July 25—that is, the very same day as the Trump-Zelensky call—her staff was informed by the State Department that the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, DC, was aware of the “situation” surrounding the aid. […]

    Congressional Republicans have since sought to downplay that revelation. In a report issued last week, they cited a November interview that Bloomberg conducted with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenksy. According to Bloomberg, Yermak and another source claimed that officials at the Ukrainian embassy “did not inform Zelenskiy right away that the aid was threatened” and that “the Ukrainian president and his key advisers learned of it only in a Politico report in late August.”

    But Yermak’s claims have been flatly contradicted by another Ukrainian official. Olena Zerkal, who until recently was Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, told the New York Times that she and other key officials in Kyiv were informed of the aid freeze within days of the July 25 call:

    Ms. Zerkal says she became aware of the hold by July 30, a few days after Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky.

    She said she read a diplomatic cable from Ukrainian officials in Washington about the hold and asked for a meeting with a senior aide to Mr. Zelensky to discuss it on July 30. The cable had been sent the previous week, she said, but she could not confirm the precise date it had been transmitted.

    The Ukrainian presidential administration was copied as a recipient of the cable from the embassy in Washington, she said, adding: “We received it simultaneously.”

    Whether senior Ukrainian officials knew of the aid freeze before the July 25 phone call or not, the accounts of Ms. Zerkal and Ms. Cooper show that the Ukrainian government was aware of the hold on aid through several critical weeks in August as United States diplomats pressed Mr. Zelensky to make a public statement on the investigations.

    Zerkal recently left Zelensky’s administration, telling the Times that she had resigned in protest. She alleged that Zelensky’s team had tried to prevent her from disclosing facts that might further involve Ukraine in the impeachment controversy.

  74. says

    EU gets another female leader with 34-year-old Finnish PM

    Now all of the leaders of parties in Finland’s ruling coalition are women.

    […] Little more than a week after Ursula von der Leyen took the reins of the European Commission, the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU will pass into the hands of 34-year-old Sanna Marin, who is set to become Finland’s next prime minister.

    Finland’s governing Social Democrats nominated Marin, the current transport and communications minister, for the premiership on Sunday. The Finnish parliament will give her its official seal of approval on Tuesday, making her the world’s youngest sitting prime minister — and one of only five female national leaders in the EU. […]

  75. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 93 and 95.

    From Daniel Goldman:

    First, that President Trump directed a scheme to pressure Ukraine into opening two investigations that would benefit his 2020 reelection campaign, and not US national interests.

    Second, President Trump used his official office and the official tools of US foreign policy, the withholding of an Oval Office meeting, and $391 million in security assistance, to pressure Ukraine into meeting his demands.

    Third, everyone was in the loop. His chief of staff, the secretary of state, and vice president.

    And fourth, despite the public discovery of this scheme which prompted the president to release the aid, he has not given up. He and his agents continue to solicit Ukrainian interference in our election, causing an imminent threat to our elections and our national security.

  76. says

    Susan Hennessey: “Thus far I’d say FBI officials are 95% vindicated by this, Carter Page is ~30% vindicated, and Trump is not vindicated one iota. And Papadopoulos is vindicated negative 10%. (Applying obviously highly scientific vindication metrics). In short, no wonder Bill Barr is so bummed.”

  77. says

    Followup to comment 117.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Annie Linskey at the Washington Post claimed that Warren’s compensation “doesn’t fit neatly with her current presidential campaign brand as a crusader against corporate interests.” […]

    The Post article doesn’t mention until the sixth paragraph that Warren earned the $1.9 million over almost 30 years, or an average of sixtyish-thousand dollars a year. Michael Bloomberg makes $2 million every 30 minutes.

    While the cases released by Warren’s campaign stretch over more than three decades, the figures disclosed Sunday show that nearly all of the money was made from cases filed after she got her job at Harvard in 1995. (Warren was elected to the Senate in 2012.)

    It shouldn’t strain credulity that Warren commanded a higher rate as a Harvard law professor. Putting this in context, Warren’s total compensation at Harvard was $291,876 (yes, she took a pay cut to serve in the Senate). It’s reasonable that her private legal work was competitive with her salary as a professor. She also offered some companies her services pro bono.

    Although it’s not possible for an attorney to specialize in “good guy law,” Warren did her best. She made about $80,000 representing the creditors in Enron’s bankruptcy case. Here’s how the Post put that:

    Her work for some of the companies doesn’t fit neatly with her current presidential campaign brand as a crusader against corporate interests.

    For instance, the documents released Sunday show that Warren made about $80,000 from work she did for creditors in the energy company Enron’s bankruptcy[.]

    Really? Enron isn’t an orphanage or rescue shelter for puppies. You’d want to be on the side of Enron’s creditors. […]

    Warren’s opponents from both parties like to paint her as not just an “elitist” but a fraud. She’s a radical anti-capitalist who is also secretly a Republican. […]. How can we trust anyone who advocates for working people if they don’t spend their nights rummaging through garbage with raccoons. Yet liberals can’t try to solve actual problems as if they possess any working knowledge of the world if they never had what conservatives consider a “real” job. […], real jobs usually pay real American dollars, and it’s not like Warren got rich. It’s unclear what Buttigieg hoped to prove with his push for “transparency.”

    “In order to credibly call out the president’s corruption, you’ve got to be prepared to lead by example on transparency, and that does mean disclosing your tax returns from both public and private-sector work,” Buttigieg said at a recent campaign stop.

    Donald Trump is a loathsome scumbag. You don’t need to produce your long form 1040s to credibly “call him out.” The current White House squatter has several outstanding charges of sexual assault against him. […]

    We’ll just end here: “Highly qualified, professional women should work for much less than the going rate for everyone else lest someone think they are greedy hypocrites. In fact, they should, if at all possible, be poor.” […]

  78. says

    News: House Ethics Committee finds that Rep. Duncan Hunter improperly spent thousands of campaign dollars on personal expenses including ~$9,200 for a trip to Italy and $625 to fly a pet rabbit (you read that right).”

  79. says

    Trump himself is now saying that the IG report shows that what happened to him was “far worse than I ever would have imagined.”

    Pam Bondi is spinning the IG report to pretend that the FBI went after Trump without proper predication. The report says the opposite.

  80. says

    @JeffreyToobin: ‘Let’s be clear about what happened today. For years and years, Donald Trump has said the FBI and the deep state was involved in an illegal conspiracy … and now after years of investigation, the inspector general said, ‘Not true. Didn’t happen’.”

    Chris Wallace on Fox News on the DOJ IG report: ‘The headline is that they didn’t find the things that Bill Barr and Donald Trump alleged’.”

    Videos at both links.

  81. says

    Once again. In line with Horowitz’s other work. All of the accusations and conspiracy theories are debunked. But Horowitz finds every opportunity to tsk tsk in President Trump’s favor. Entirely predictable. Don’t lie about the big facts but pleasure Trump as much as possible. [Ew.]”

  82. says

    Guardian – “Russia banned from Tokyo Olympics and football World Cup”:

    Russia has been handed a four-year ban from international sporting competition for a doping cover-up that means the country will not feature at the Tokyo Olympics next summer or the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar.

    An emergency meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday unanimously voted to exclude Russia and also prevent it from hosting or bidding to host any global tournaments. The ban was imposed by Wada’s executive committee after Russia was found to have tampered with laboratory data handed over to Wada as a condition for ending a previous three-year ban for state-sponsored doping.

    While the decision was hailed by Wada as the “strongest possible” response, it was criticised by some campaigners for failing to go far enough. The Russian national anthem and flag will be absent from both Tokyo and Qatar, but under the terms of the sanction Russian athletes can still compete at international events under a ‘neutral banner’ if they are able to prove themselves to be clean.

    This includes the possibility that a team which does not actually represent a nation competes at the football World Cup for the first time. Russia now has 21 days to appeal the verdict.

    Announcing the sanction, the chief executive of Wada, Sir Craig Reedie, said: “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial. As a result, the Wada ExCo has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.”

    The specific terms of Wada’s new sanction include a provision against Russia hosting or applying to host international sporting events. St Petersburg’s role as host city in next summer’s European football championships is not included in the ban as Uefa is not considered a ‘major event organisation’. A planned bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup, however, would likely be scrapped. As for the football World Cup, Fifa said it was in discussions with Wada “to clarify the extent of the decision”.

    It’s rarely noted how much damage years of this stuff can do to athletes’ bodies.

  83. says

    Jim Comey: “FYI: I offered to go on Fox & Friends to answer all questions. I can’t change their viewers on Donald Trump but hoped to give them some actual facts about the FBI. They booked me for tomorrow at 8 am. They just cancelled. Must have read the report.”

  84. says

    Gross:

    The defining moment of this election.

    ITV reporter @joepike shows @BorisJohnson a picture of the sick 4 year old forced to lie on coats on the floor of a desperately underfunded, understaffed A&E.

    Johnson refuses to look & pockets the phone.

    For shame

    Our Prime Minister: a bully, a liar, a blusterer and a con merchant who cares more about pursuit of power than young children lying on floors in our hospitals. Truly and utterly wretched.

    Video atl.

  85. says

    Hahaha – MSNBC had gone back to the impeachment hearing, but just zipped back out of it when it was Gaetz’s turn for questioning. Nicolle Wallace is interviewing Comey.

  86. says

    FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Response to Inspector General Report:

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) appreciates the OIG’s crucial independent oversight role and the thoroughness and professionalism your office brought to this work. The Report’s findings and recommendations represent constructive criticism that will make us stronger as an organization. We also appreciate the Report’s recognition that the FBI cooperated fully with this review and provided broad and timely access to all information requested by the OIG, including highly classified and sensitive material involving national security.

    The Report concludes that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and related investigations of certain individuals were opened in 2016 for an authorized purpose and with adequate factual predication. The Report also details instances in which certain FBI personnel, at times during the 2016-2017 period reviewed by the OIG, did not comply with existing policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or otherwise failed to meet the standard of conduct that the FBI expects of its employees — and that our country expects of the FBI. We are vested with significant authorities, and it is our obligation as public servants to ensure that these authorities are exercised with objectivity and integrity. Anything less falls short of the FBI’s duty to the American people.

    Accordingly, the FBI accepts the Report’s findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action. I have ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations. Because our credibility and brand are central to fulfilling our mission, we are also making improvements beyond those recommended by the OIG. And where certain individuals have been referred by the OIG for review of their conduct, the FBI will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action if warranted at the completion of the required procedures for disciplinary review….

  87. says

    HuffPo – “Kamala Harris Leads Senators In Demanding ‘Immediate Removal’ Of Stephen Miller”:

    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and a large group of Democratic senators have signed a letter that will be sent to the White House on Monday calling on President Donald Trump to fire senior adviser Stephen Miller in light of leaked emails showing the extent of his white nationalist beliefs.

    “We write to demand the immediate removal of Stephen Miller as your advisor,” states the letter, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost by Harris’ office.

    The leaked emails, the letter says, show that “what is driving Mr. Miller” is “not national security, it’s white supremacy—something that has no place in our country, federal government, and especially not the White House.”

    “Simply put,” the letter continues, “Mr. Miller is unfit to serve in any capacity at the White House, let alone as a senior policy adviser.”

    Harris, the second Black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate (who ended her presidential campaign last week), is the lead signatory of the letter. Twenty-six other senators signed, including five presidential candidates: Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

    The letter adds to growing and prolonged pressure on the White House to get rid of Miller, the aide credited with developing the Trump administration’s brutal anti-immigrant policies.

    The Trump administration has continued to defend Miller over the past month. Although never denying the authenticity of the emails published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the White House has attempted to discredit the civil rights organization, calling it a “long-debunked far-left smear organization.”

    But the senators’ letter on Monday shows that outrage over Miller’s emails is unlikely to ebb.

    All told, nearly 40 U.S. senators, all members of the Democratic caucus, have now called for Miller to either resign or be fired. Over 100 members of the House of Representatives, also all Democrats, wrote their own letter to the White House last month demanding Miller’s ouster. More than 50 prominent civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, wrote to the White House with the same demand.

    A coalition of Jewish groups organizing under the banner Jews Against White Nationalism have called on Miller, who is Jewish, to quit. “As your fellow American Jews,” they wrote in a petition, “we will not rest until you resign.”

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) started an online petition targeting Miller that now has over 130,000 signatures.

    And according to a report Saturday from NBC News, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) — whose district includes the El Paso Walmart where a reputed white nationalist allegedly massacred 23 Hispanics earlier this year — has called on the Department of Homeland Security to audit its policies to figure out which were developed by Miller in order “to show the motivations of the administration’s immigration policies and shed light on the people that help craft them.”

    List of signers atl.

  88. says

    Daily Beast – “A Perennial Congressional Candidate Beloved by Trump World Was Just Arrested on Stalking Charges”:

    A perennial Republican House candidate whose doomed bids against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) have become a cause celebre on the right was arrested Saturday on three felony charges.

    Businessman Omar Navarro has leveraged his frequent campaigns against Waters to become a prominent voice on the far-right, earning more than $1 million in campaign contributions and the backing of Trumpworld figures like controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn.

    Despite that support, Navarro lost both his 2016 and 2018 runs against Waters by more than 50 percentage points each. Faced with unanimous voter rejection, Navarro has chosen to run again in 2020. But now, he faces significant legal troubles related to alleged stalking of his ex-girlfriend.

    San Francisco police arrested Navarro on Saturday night, after he was allegedly seen near ex-girlfriend DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero’s apartment.

    Tesoriero, a self-styled MAGA relationship expert who is running a quixotic congressional run of her own against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), told The Daily Beast that she saw Navarro skulking outside her home late at night. Tesoriero said she then received a text from an unknown number with the message, “Bitch, I came to see you.”

    “Clearly, he has a lot of screws loose,” Tesoriero told The Daily Beast. “I think a lot of this power has gotten into his head. He has a lot of money now from campaign donations.”

    Tesoriero called the police, who arrested Navarro on three felony charges: felony stalking, criminal threats, and attempted extortion. Navarro is also facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly violating a five-year restraining order Tesoriero received against him earlier this year after months of harassing text messages from Navarro.

    In an interview, Tesoriero claimed that Navarro offered her money to marry him, threatened to leak her relatives’ addresses to left-wing antifascist “antifa” activists, and even threatened her pets.

    “He would have stolen my cats,” Tesoriero said.

    Navarro denied Tesoriero’s allegations and the charges against him, although he acknowledged to The Daily Beast that he was near Tesoriero’s apartment on Saturday night.

    Navarro’s arrest is already reverberating on the right. On Sunday, the far-right blog The Gateway Pundit urged conservatives to distance themselves from Navarro.

    This isn’t Navarro’s first run-in with the law. In 2017, he was put on probation for putting a tracking device on his then-wife’s car.

    More at the link.

  89. says

    Daily Beast – “A Perennial Congressional Candidate Beloved by Trump World Was Just Arrested on Stalking Charges”:

    A perennial Republican House candidate whose doomed bids against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) have become a cause celebre on the right was arrested Saturday on three felony charges.

    Businessman Omar Navarro has leveraged his frequent campaigns against Waters to become a prominent voice on the far-right, earning more than $1 million in campaign contributions and the backing of Trumpworld figures like controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn.

    Despite that support, Navarro lost both his 2016 and 2018 runs against Waters by more than 50 percentage points each. Faced with unanimous voter rejection, Navarro has chosen to run again in 2020. But now, he faces significant legal troubles related to alleged stalking of his ex-girlfriend.

    San Francisco police arrested Navarro on Saturday night, after he was allegedly seen near ex-girlfriend DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero’s apartment.

    Tesoriero, a self-styled MAGA relationship expert who is running a quixotic congressional run of her own against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), told The Daily Beast that she saw Navarro skulking outside her home late at night. Tesoriero said she then received a text from an unknown number with the message, “[B****], I came to see you.”

    “Clearly, he has a lot of screws loose,” Tesoriero told The Daily Beast. “I think a lot of this power has gotten into his head. He has a lot of money now from campaign donations.”

    Tesoriero called the police, who arrested Navarro on three felony charges: felony stalking, criminal threats, and attempted extortion. Navarro is also facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly violating a five-year restraining order Tesoriero received against him earlier this year after months of harassing text messages from Navarro.

    In an interview, Tesoriero claimed that Navarro offered her money to marry him, threatened to leak her relatives’ addresses to left-wing antifascist “antifa” activists, and even threatened her pets.

    “He would have stolen my cats,” Tesoriero said.

    Navarro denied Tesoriero’s allegations and the charges against him, although he acknowledged to The Daily Beast that he was near Tesoriero’s apartment on Saturday night.

    Navarro’s arrest is already reverberating on the right. On Sunday, the far-right blog The Gateway Pundit urged conservatives to distance themselves from Navarro.

    This isn’t Navarro’s first run-in with the law. In 2017, he was put on probation for putting a tracking device on his then-wife’s car.

    More at the link.

  90. says

    JUST IN: Feds seek one more day to propose sentence for Rick Gates. Will move for a departure from sentencing range, but how low will they go?

    There’ll also be a secret filing about his continuing cooperation in ongoing investigations.”

    Document atl.

  91. tomh says

    @ #151
    According to WaPo there will be 2 articles. One on abuse of power, the other on obstruction of Congress.

  92. Saad says

    Akira, #96

    One thing that continues to aggravate me is the reluctance to use Congress’ inherent contempt powers to have these people dragged into testify or jailed if they refuse.

    Because Democrats.

    I mean they also sent a letter to Trump asking him to fire Stephen Miller, lol.

  93. says

    Andrew Lawrence, MMFA:

    Fox News has spent the last 3 hours telling their viewers that the Horowitz report says the exact opposite of what it actually says

    I mean what can you even do about that? There’s no shame. Just telling their viewers that Trump was spied on, there was a spy ring, the Steele Dossier was the basis of investigation. Just complete and total lies and no one will ever push them to correct. It’s been breathtaking

    I think this is almost a failure of the more mainstream media as well. Until other outlets start treating Fox the way Fox treats other outlets they will just continue to spread lies with no repercussions

  94. says

    Daniel Trilling in the Guardian re #s 63 and 64 above – “Why did the Sun publish a far-right conspiracy theory?”:

    On Saturday, the Sun published an exclusive story by its political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, which announced that a group of former British intelligence officers had uncovered a “hard-left extremist network” at the heart of the Labour party. “HIJACKED LABOUR” declared the piece, which went on to claim that Jeremy Corbyn sits at the centre of a “spider’s web of extensive contacts” that stretch “from Marxist intellectuals to militant groups and illegal terror organisations”.

    The piece directed readers towards a website featuring a network map that it said had been compiled by ex-military veterans “in their spare time” to reveal “what they insist is now a party firmly in the grip of a hardline cabal”. Each of the 490 organisations or individuals listed was presented as a node on a network, with an attached fact file and further reading links.

    But when readers began to inspect the map more closely, we found that several entries on the chart included extreme rightwing material among their sources. One fact file recommended a “critique” of anti-fascism posted on the antisemitic conspiracy website the Millennium Report – which also features articles on such topics as “the Jewish hand in the world wars” and “exposing Jewish Zionism”. Another fact file pointed readers towards the website Aryan Unity – once the mouthpiece of the British People’s party, a defunct neo-Nazi group. These were presented without caveats, as apparently trustworthy sources.

    Before the end of the day, the story had been removed from the paper’s website – without acknowledgement or explanation from Newton Dunn or his bosses. (The Sun declined to comment, and Newton Dunn has not responded to my questions.)

    This was more than a case of sloppy sourcing: the map itself is drenched in conspiratorial thinking….

    The argument here is that this “hard-left extremist network” shares an insidious and unpatriotic ideology: “postmodern neo-Marxism”. As one of the researchers told the Sun, this is “an ideology which specifically encourages its supporters to tell lies, because it denies the existence of any absolute truth”. Various independent media outlets were featured on the map, including openDemocracy – George Soros was listed among its funders – as well as a number of high-profile journalists, including Guardian contributors.

    So how did the Sun, one of the UK’s most widely read newspapers, come to publish it? The answer reveals how easily far-right conspiracy theories now circulate between fringe outlets and the mainstream media. The map linked to by the Sun closely resembles an earlier graphic that first appeared online in August, under the name the Traitor’s Chart. The earliest mention of it that I can find is on an obscure website called Country Squire Magazine, which said it had received a press release about the map. That article, since deleted, had a publication date of 21 August….

    The Traitors’ Chart, which was larger than its successor and included the names of even more high-profile journalists, was then picked up by the international far-right media network, Breitbart, whose UK editor, James Delingpole, wrote about it on 27 August. For Delingpole, the map revealed the extent of “cultural Marxism”, which has led to “the takeover by the hard left of every institution so that even when there’s a supposedly ‘conservative’ government in power, it’s the values of the left which continue to dominate everyday life”.

    Since then, the Traitors’ Chart has been revised and rebranded as Hijacked Labour: the website that hosted the original was closed down and a new one registered on 3 December, a few days before the Sun’s “exclusive” appeared, this time with a new frontman for the project – a former SAS officer and author named Mark Bles. (Since the Sun took down its story, the map has been revised once more, removing the links to neo-Nazi and antisemitic websites.)

    Conspiracy theories offer a simple way to explain complex power relationships and patterns of cause and effect. Individuals are more likely to turn to them when they feel powerless or when they lack the tools to analyse the world in other ways. They can flourish within any political tradition… But conspiracy theories become a lot more dangerous when they are cultivated and amplified by prominent media platforms – and this is overwhelmingly taking place on the right.

    As the story of the Traitors’ Chart indicates, a global online ecosystem has grown up in the last few years that bridges the gap between the far right and the mainstream – and, in the case of outlets such as Breitbart, there is significant financial backing involved. In the UK, there has been a concerted effort from mainstream conservatives to depict Corbyn, and by extension the whole Labour party, as a deadly threat to the nation….

    The election has raised this to a fever pitch – and it comes after three years in which the pro-Brexit right has portrayed anyone who appears to stand in its way as an enemy of the people, to borrow the Daily Mail’s pungent phrase. Today, Boris Johnson launched his last week of election campaigning by trailing a speech in which he accuses Corbyn of a “great betrayal” over Brexit.

    The broad impact of this stab-in-the-back rhetoric has been to toxify political debate, but it has more acute effects too. Since 2016, we have seen the murder of one Labour MP by a far-right conspiracy theorist who proclaimed “death to traitors”, and a neo-Nazi plot to murder another MP. A far-right social media activist has been convicted of harassing a former Conservative MP who opposes Brexit; he also called her a “traitor”. In recent weeks, three Labour canvassers have been attacked in the street: among them, a woman in her 70s in Herefordshire whose assailant ranted about Marxists, and a man of similar age in Rotherham who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw.

    Abusive language has flown in many directions as the UK’s politics has become more turbulent, but what’s coming from the right is of a different order altogether – not least because it is being boosted by several mainstream newspapers. What is particularly worrying about the Sun’s publication of a toxic conspiracy theory is that the story was written by its political editor – a veteran journalist with years of experience as a defence correspondent who appears frequently on the BBC. It’s not good enough for the Sun to simply remove it – the paper needs to apologise, and to explain what it got wrong and why.

  95. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian general election liveblog.

    Also, Marina Hyde – “Boy on the floor photo prompts Boris to add larceny to mendacity”:

    …[E]ven by his own standards of thermonuclear disingenuity, Johnson’s turn on ITV news on Monday morning reached new depths. In a fish market in Grimsby, ITV News reporter Joe Pike asked Johnson about newspaper reports featuring Jack Williment-Barr, a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia, who was pictured being forced to sleep on a concrete floor in an overcrowded NHS hospital this weekend. “I haven’t had a chance to look at the photo,” Johnson said. Look at it now, said Pike, who had it up on his phone. At which point Johnson simply took the reporter’s phone and stuffed it in his pocket. [link to the video @ #141 above – SC]

    What has happened to reality? What can you say? Other than: may all would-be statesmen disport themselves with the casual larceny of a guy who knows if you don’t let the legal papers physically touch you, then they haven’t been served on you. For my money, the inclusion of the auto-satirical words “prime minister” at the end of Pike’s next sentence mark it out as a contender for quote of the campaign. Let’s see them in action: “You refuse to look at the photo, you’ve taken my phone, and put it in your pocket, prime minister.” YOU’VE ROBBED HIS PHONE LIVE ON AIR. Sorry – you’ve robbed his phone live on air, prime minister.

    A pause. “Sorry,” said the prime minister of the United Kingdom, eventually, fumbling around in his pocket for another man’s phone and some more lies. “I’m sorry to have taken your phone, but there you go,” blustered Johnson. “I was just …” But he couldn’t finish the sentence. How on earth could he have finished the sentence? He simply tailed off. Later, at a Q&A in a Sunderland factory, Johnson appeared to float scrapping the BBC licence fee simply to distract from this story – a move that vaguely reminded me of Bill Clinton bombing the Sudanese aspirin factory to distract from his blowjob hearings….

    …[T]he PM’s breakfast interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC on Monday gave us a little insight into his process – kind of like an episode of Inside the Liar’s Studio. The prime minister allowed lucky listeners a real-time chance to see how he turns in some of his more memorable mendacious performances….

    …“It might be technically difficult to achieve,” Johnson continued, ostensibly talking about the bulldozers, but subconsciously surely weighing up the technical challenges of the lie. This would be a 4 ½ reverse ferret, in the pike position, with 2 ½ twists. Technically difficult to achieve – near-impossible to guarantee a perfect 10 from the Russian judge – yet somehow entirely doable for this most tireless of all competitors.

    Even when not actively advancing one of his own lies, Johnson has developed a new tic of lying that he doesn’t understand his interviewer’s questions….

    His other stylistic trait has been linking two things that have precisely no bearing on the other. Asked by Ferrari about Jack Williment-Barr, Johnson appeared to suggest that the real illness is Britain’s political constipation. Not having Brexit is “blocking things”, he explained. “Once we’ve got things motoring,” he suggested, situations like a small child being treated on a floor would no longer occur, “but that can only happen when we’ve got Brexit done.” Hang on, what? Why? What in the name of logic, never mind empathy, are you talking about? We expect sociopathy, but at least lace it with basic coherence.

    Then again, we have reached the stage of the campaign where Johnson’s words feel terminally unmoored from reality….

  96. says

    CNN – “Former top FBI lawyer: I want Trump ‘to apologize to me'”:

    The former top FBI lawyer when the Russia investigation began said Monday that President Donald Trump should apologize to him and the rest of the FBI for propagating conspiracy theories about the probe’s origins after the Justice Department inspector general’s report debunked them.

    “I think the President should apologize to us,” James Baker, the former FBI general counsel, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I respectfully ask him, I would ask him to apologize to me, to my colleagues, because the things he said are just wrong. And I think he should step up and do that at a minimum.”

    Baker continued: “The conclusions are quite clear that the President’s statements over these past several years were all wrong — that there was no hoax, there was no conspiracy to overthrow anybody, there was no sedition, there was no treason, there was no evidence of any of that.”

    He added that Trump’s statements have had a negative effect on his family and former colleagues….

  97. says

    Ari Melber:

    Under federal law, the DOJ Inspector General has formal authority to evaluate the work of US Attorneys

    So US Atty John Durham’s new statement that he does “not agree” with the IG Report cuts against the oversight rules – the IG *audits* the US Attorneys, not the other way around

  98. KG says

    Just two days to go before the UK election, and although there has been a slight fall in the Tory poll lead, they are still shown as around 10 points ahead. This is enough for a secure majority even if there’s considerabl tactical voting, although of course on a minority of the vote – even adding in the Farageists, now down to around 3%, just about all the polls indicate a majority will vote for parties opposed to Brexit without a fresh referendum. The dire prospect of five years of our very own Trump Mini-Me in power looms. He will continue to follow Trump’s example of corruption, lies, appeals to bigotry, vote suppression, and undermining the rule of law, and any institution which fails to lick his feet. And just as in the USA, most of the media allows him to get away with blatant lies, and will become still more toadying if he’s in for five years.

    In Scotland the SNP will do well, although probably more at the expense of Labour and perhaps the LibDems than that of the Tories. Sturgeon will ask for permission to hold a new independence referendum next year, which will be refused. It’s not clear she has any plan for what to do after that, aside from making the refusal the central issue in the 2021 elections to the Scottish Parliament – always provided the latter has not been abolished, as the UK Parliament has the power to do. But in the early part of next year, the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, will be tried on charges including two of attempted rape (what reports I’ve seen indicate that there’s strong evidence against him in a pattern of sexually harrassing and abusive behaviour – I’ve seen nothing to back claims made by some in the independence movement that the trial is a political stitch-up). At best this is going to be bad for the SNP, but I think they’ll weather it unless evidence comes out that the current leader, Nicola Sturgeon, failed to keep a proper distance from the investigation – I’ve seen suggestions this will happen. Sturgeon was Salmond’s protege, although they have apparently fallen out. If she has to go, her loss would be a great blow to the SNP and the wider independence movement – although it might give more space for voices outwith the SNP, including the radical left of the movement.

  99. says

    Update to #143 – Keith Urbahn: “Hi Ben [Domenech]. I know this is isn’t a lie because I booked the @foxandfriends interview for 8 am tomorrow, and it was abruptly pulled while we were awaiting car and final hit time. Will you correct? Or apologize yourself?”

  100. says

    Everyone on @Morning_Joe really getting into hating on Warren, when Steve Schmidt gives this warning speech about how Warren’s ‘serial dishonesty’ makes her essentially the left’s Trump. That was finally a bit much for some of them who went into, ‘well, she’s not THAT bad’ mode.”

    I caught a few minutes of this – changed the channel in a rage before Schmidt really got going, but saw enough of Heilemann claiming that people were starting to ask questions about Warren – “Is she who she says she is? Is she a fraud? Is she a phony?” He wasn’t saying she was any of those things, even after listing dishonest claims purporting to establish her phoniness, but, you know, people were wondering about it, and her campaign totally knows it’s a vulnerability for her. (This is not remotely a pre-existing widespread narrative about Warren – they’re trying to make it one.) It’s sickeningly reminiscent of what they did to Hillary Clinton, and it’s shameful that Claire McCaskill participated in it. They should prepare for a backlash this time.

  101. says

    !!! – Independent – “Boris Johnson book depicts Jews as controlling the media”:

    Boris Johnson depicted Jews as controlling the media and being able to “fiddle” elections in a little-known 2004 novel written while he was a Tory MP, it has emerged.

    The Conservative leader was branded “unfit to be prime minister” over passages from Seventy Two Virgins, which also includes numerous other questionable portrayals of ethnic minorities.

    While telling the story of a fictional terror attack on Westminster Mr Johnson deploys descriptions of Kosovan Muslims as having “hook noses” and describes a mixed-race character as “half-caste”.

    The now prime minister also repeatedly uses racial slurs in authorial voice, introducing a group of characters as “pikeys”, an ethnic slur for travellers, and another as a “Chinaman”.

    The context of the passage regarding Jews is a part of the story in which all the countries of the world are made to vote country-by-country on whether the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay should be released.

    Describing the situation, Mr Johnson wrote: “And the news from the voting was still bad for America, though not as bad as it had seemed at first. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia were reporting almost 100 per cent insistence that the prisoners be sent home. But there were odd pockets of support for the President. He might have thought that Russia, after her humiliation in the Cold War, would take the chance to put her boot on the neck of the old adversary. But no, the Russians had their problems with Islamic terror. Maybe there was some kind of fiddling of the figures by the oligarchs who ran the TV stations (and who were mainly, as some lost no time in pointing out, of Jewish origin), but it seemed that Russia, one of the most populous countries in the world, was voting heavily for America.”

    The passage is just one of dozens of racially-charged and questionable parts of the novel. In a separate part introducing one of the terrorists, named Jones, Mr Johnson also appears to suggest that having “brown skin” is not compatible with being Welsh.

    Mr Johnson wrote: “‘Quickly,’ said the one called Jones, coming back from the toilets. ‘The traffic wardens will be here.’ There was certainly something lilting and eastern about his accent; but if you shut your eyes and ignored his brown skin, there were tonic effects – birdlike variations in pitch – that were positively Welsh.” Notably, Jones’s ethnicity is referred to as an “Arab-type thing” by another character, a vague description that is largely unclarified by the end of the novel.

    In 2016 Boris Johnson suggested that “part-Kenyan” US president Barack Obama had an “ancestral dislike” of Britain because of his ethnicity. His novel also makes repeated use of this line of thinking when discussing its ethnic minority characters.

    Near the beginning of the book Mr Johnson uses an extended metaphor to depict a traffic warden working in Westminster as a “hunter-gatherer” because he is an African immigrant.

    …One of the main characters in the book is Roger Barlow, a bicycle-riding tussle-haired Tory MP who saves the day and who reviewers have interpreted as being a transparent cipher for Mr Johnson himself. In one bizarre racialised description of a phone call between the fictional MP and a journalist “with an Asian name”, Mr Johnson wrote:

    “The reporter was a woman with an Asian name, and from the minute she introduced herself, Barlow feared her. He feared her as British soldiers on the Northwest Frontier once feared the Afghan daughters, and their knives, and their traditional knowledge of how to cut a live human being.”

    One of the heroes of Mr Johnson’s book is a former Serbian paramilitary who Johnson introduces as having been a member of “Arkan’s Tigers”, a real-life group whose commander was indicted for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing against Muslims. The character is one of the first in the book to realise the terror attack is taking place because of his instinctive distrust of Muslims, who he describes as “sneaky bastards”.

    In a scene with the character, Mr Johnson wrote: “As soon as he had gasped ‘Where is the police?’ he saw their burning eyes, hook noses and hairy black eyebrows that joined in the middle. He knew who they were. They were Skiptars. They were Muslims, almost certainly from Pristina. And they knew who he was. He was a Serb.”

    One recurring theme of the novel is that the terrorists carrying out the attack repeatedly get away with their attack because of political correctness and a refusal to racially profile them.

    Approached for comment on this story, Downing Street said the issue was for the Conservative party to address. The Conservative party has been contacted for comment but has not issued a response.

  102. says

    TPM – “Trump Lashes Out At Own FBI Chief For Not Drinking ‘Deep State’ Kool-Aid”:

    President Trump criticized FBI Director Christopher Wray in no uncertain terms on Tuesday morning, slamming the bureau chief for his acceptance of the findings laid out in the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the origins of the Russia probe.

    In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump hinted at a possible Wray downfall, referring to him as the “current” FBI [director] who will “never be able to fix the FBI” with “that kind of attitude.”…

    From Trump’s tweet: “I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me….” Which once again leads me to wonder if they’re showing him faked documents. He’s meeting with Lavrov this afternoon, too, which is extra special.

  103. says

    Jake Tapper:

    “Current” FBI Director Wray’s adherence to facts is getting him in trouble with the boss.

    Wray told ABC news it was “important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.”

    ABC: “Asked whether he thought the FBI unfairly targeted the Trump campaign, Wray offered a blunt assessment: ‘I do not.’”

    Wray also said re “deep state” is “the kind of label that’s a disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage.”

    Wray also said “We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election.”

    Those who adhere to facts and not the president’s conspiracy theories inevitably find themselves on the outs with not just the president but his party.

  104. says

    Nadler is describing the articles of impeachment. As expected: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

    Schiff now will explain the evidence underlying the two articles.

  105. says

    Schiff says the argument that they should wait for repeated obstruction attempts to make their way through the courts amounts to asking them to let Trump cheat in one more election.

  106. says

    Peter Jukes at Byline Times – “TROLLS, SOCK PUPPETS &
    USEFUL IDIOTS: An Anatomy of an Election Disinformation Campaign”
    :

    First, some facts, as they are in precious short supply. Around noon on Sunday 8 December, Daniel Sheridan of the Yorkshire Evening Post published a story about Jack Williment-Barr, a four-year-old boy who was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary with suspected pneumonia. His mother Sarah had contacted the newspaper with a picture of her son lying on a pile of coats and claimed he had been left in the clinical treatment room for four hours.

    Like any responsible journalist, Daniel Sheridan double-checked the story with the hospital and its chief medical officer, Dr Yvette Oade, who explained how busy the hospital was and apologised to the family. “We are extremely sorry that there were only chairs available in the treatment room, and no bed,” she said. “This falls below our usual high standards and for this we would like to sincerely apologise to Jack and his family.”

    The next day, Joe Pike, a young journalist who had just joined Sky News as a political correspondent, was in Grimsby, following the Conservative Party leader as he posed for photos holding a large cod (not for the first time) in the fishing town which has often become an emblem of ‘taking back control’ of our waters by leaving the European Union.

    [story recounted @ #159 follows]

    Child psychiatrists would have a field day on this. The failure to realise that hiding your face does not make you invisible, or that stealing a reporter’s phone does not make the report go away, suggests that – under pressure – the leader of the Conservative Party has the social cognitive abilities of a four-year-old.

    Apart from Johnson’s kleptomanic evasion, the film of this strange encounter had the additional problem of focusing on the NHS at a key point in the last few days of the General Election campaign. Conservative campaigners know that the NHS is not their strong point, so the Health and Social Care Minister, Matt Hancock, was dispatched to Leeds General Infirmary to firefight.

    As Hancock rushed to Leeds, a host of media figures sympathetic to Johnson rushed into action. Guido Fawkes (which registered the site Boris2020 seven years ago) was first off the mark, with a fake story that 100 Labour activists were being paid to go to Leeds to protest. This was followed up by his former colleague at the Sun, Tom Newton Dunn, who described a “flash mob descending”.

    Soon, the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, was describing to her 1.1 million followers how “Labour activists scrambled to go and protest” and then “it turned nasty” when “one of them punched Hancock’s adviser”. The information had no attribution, or “I’ve heard” or “sources say”.

    Not to be left out, Robert Peston, the political editor of the second largest broadcaster, ITV, identified the person punched to his 1 million followers, and named the special adviser to Matt Hancock, adding that the police had been called.

    The only problem with this breaking story – which quickly and conveniently replaced the story of Johnson pocketing the reporter’s phone in all the major news feeds – was that it was completely bogus.

    There were about four noisy demonstrators outside Leeds General Infirmary as Hancock departed in his ministerial car, not 100. No punch was ever landed. Hancock’s SpAd walked into a cyclist’s hand as he pointed to the ministerial car rushing away.

    It took several hours of persistent correction from other Twitter users before both Peston and Kuenssberg corrected the damaging allegation of assault. But their apologies revealed even more…

    Peston explained that he had been told the story by two Tory party sources. According to good journalistic practice, that would be the minimum to run an allegation of assault – but only if the sources were independent. They clearly weren’t. What would have been a rookie mistake for a young journalist was a catastrophic failure of judgement by the political editors of both major broadcasters, made even more so because it came in the crucial last few days of a landmark General Election.

    …[T]he real culprits here are the sources who lied to them both, consistently. They have no protection for deceiving the public and both Peston and Kuenssberg have a public duty to tell us who they are. Nothing short of that can begin to repair the damage caused.

    Soon after the punch story was discredited, a new story about the whole hospital photo being staged – borrowed from Facebook – began doing the rounds on Twitter.

    All the Twitter accounts repeating it had the same information – “a good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister” – and claimed that the mother of Jack Williment-Barr had faked the photo for publicity as a Labour activist.

    This frankly defamatory and unpleasant smear was boosted, with no fact-checking, by Allison Pearson of the Telegraph and Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox….

    No sooner was this story being debunked (after all, the head of the Leeds hospital trust had apologised two days previously) when a new disinformation theme was being boosted on social media, especially to the gullible Allison Pearson, who declared she was going to write a story in the Telegraph about the shocking propaganda around the four-year-old.

    Whether these are semi-automated bots, or one malicious user deploying sock puppet accounts, or just bad faith actors in the public realm, they are very effective at targeting journalists and commentators who then spread the false narrative to a wider audience.

    In fact, journalists and politicians are the main targets of such information operations, whether organised centrally or not, as trusted but duped sources are the quickest way to amplify a misleading story.

    Britain is currently undergoing a perfect storm of electoral interference. With lax or unenforceable legislation about ‘non-party campaigners’ spending millions on Facebook posts, and with Twitter easily gamed by trolls, bots and sock puppets, the online sphere requires extreme caution.

    But, by far, the most worrying thing is our two main broadcasters – the BBC and ITV. One of the protections against our feral press was that we had a mixed commercial and public service broadcast system which could be relatively immune to political and commercial pressure.

    Kuenssberg and Peston have shown the other hidden danger: the danger of client journalism, of editors in hoc to their sources thanks to the clubbish cliqueness of the lobby system of unattributed briefings. I personally think that there is some cultural capture here, because you’re only two north London dinner parties away from another senior journalist or politician these days, thanks to rank inaccessibility of media jobs for most ordinary people. But, more important than any professional criticism of the two political editors, is the laxity and complicity of their management.

    Byline Times approached the BBC last night for a response to Laura Kuenssberg’s misinformation. We asked the broadcaster how its political editor happened to circulate a false rumour as a fact and how this reflected on the corporation’s editorial standards and the public service broadcaster’s reputation. The press office replied with a curt message directing us to her apology – an apology that raises more questions than it answers – and does nothing to allay the growing concern of licence fee payers.

    Byline Times is still waiting for a response from ITV.

    Carole Cadwalladr, responding to Kuenssberg’s “apology”:

    They’re not ‘sources’. They’re senior politicians/aides spreading misinformation. That is now the story. Who are they? You have the facts. It is literally your job to report them.

    Lobby rules are a busted flush. UK political journalists need to take urgent collective action. Bin them now. At least for last 2 days of campaign. This is not accidental. It’s targeted disinformation. Nobody needs or wants to hear from ‘senior sources’ ever again….

  107. says

    Guardian – “Pro-choice activists launch abortion initiative in Poland”:

    An international group of pro-choice campaigners will launch an initiative in Poland this week to provide advice and funding for women to travel abroad to have abortions.

    Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, and proposals backed by the rightwing government to introduce a total ban on abortions in 2016 were scrapped only after large-scale protests.

    Abortion Without Borders, which launches on Wednesday, will ensure that any Polish woman who wants to receive an abortion will be able to do so safely, the organisers told the Guardian.

    “We are going to emphasise that it doesn’t really matter how much money you have and how far in your pregnancy you are, even if you don’t have money and are past the 12th week. ‘I cannot fund an abortion’ cannot be a reason for someone to become a parent,” said Karolina Więckiewicz, from Abortion Dream Team, a pro-choice advocacy and campaigning group.

    Mara Clarke, of the Abortion Support Network, which is providing funding for the project, said five groups in four countries were coming together to launch the initiative.

    For a decade, her network has helped Irish women travel abroad for abortions. After last year’s landslide referendum vote in the Republic of Ireland to legalise abortion, the network has expanded to other parts of Europe with restrictive abortion laws, including Malta, Gibraltar and Poland, which is by far the biggest European country where most abortion remains illegal.

    “We know that making abortion against the law doesn’t stop it. It just drives stigma around abortion,” said Clarke.

    Abortion Without Borders will launch a helpline that women can call for advice and information about how best to access safe abortions. If necessary, the group will help with travel, hotel and medical costs in Germany, the Netherlands or Britain for those who cannot afford it.

    “The only person with the right to decide to continue or end a pregnancy is the person who is pregnant – not governments or churches or bad laws or policies,” said Justyna Wydrzyńska, from Kobiety w Sieci, a group that has been providing abortion advice to Polish women for more than a decade and is one of the partners of the new project.

    Views on abortion among people in Poland, which is strongly Catholic, are slowly becoming more liberal, and the 2016 protests showed that almost all Poles back abortion rights in cases of rape or where the woman’s life is in danger. But a survey that year also found that only 14% thought a woman not wanting to have a child was an acceptable reason to have an abortion.

    In the longer term, the trajectory of Ireland over the past decades is what worries Polish conservatives and religious figures, and gives hope to activists.

    “There has been a big change, a big step towards the pro-choice side. We are moving in the right direction, but we need at least 10 years to get to the stage of Ireland,” said Wydrzyńska.

  108. says

    Neal Katyal: “Very glad to hear the obstruction Article will focus on White House Counsel Cippillone’s letter. As I say in IMPEACH, the letter is an absolute constitutional disgrace, and Congress absolutely must make clear no President from either party can act this way.”

  109. says

    From the Guardian GE liveblog (linked @ #159):

    Jeremy Corbyn is speaking at a Labour event in Carlisle.

    He talks about the report about the UK from the UN special rapporteur on poverty. That is shaming, he says.

    He says he is glad the press highlighted the problems with the NHS yesterday. And he says it is extraordinary that, when Boris Johnson was asked about this, he chose to put the phone showing the picture in his pocket.

    The dossier from the UK-US trade talks showed that the NHS is on the table in those negotiations, he says. He says people have a right to know what was going on, he says, and that is why Labour published it.

    He says people accuse him of politicising the NHS. But setting up the NHS was a political choice, he says. And he says Aneurin Bevan said it would last as long as there were folk around to fight for it. Well, we are folk, and we will fight for it, he says.

    Jo Swinson has accused Boris Johnson of showing “an empathy bypass” in his attitude to other people, as the Liberal Democrats made a final push to persuade traditional Labour supporters to vote tactically and deny the Conservatives a majority.

    The Lib Dem leader said the task of denying Johnson a majority was all the more urgent following his much-criticised ITV interview in which the prime minister repeatedly refused to look at a photograph of Jack Williment-Barr, the four-year-old boy pictured sleeping on the floor of an overstretched A&E unit in Leeds.

    Calling Johnson’s approach astonishing, Swinson said it fitted a wider pattern of behaviour, such as over the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran, and his dismissal as “humbug” female MPs’ concerns over inflammatory political language. She went on:

    It’s tone deaf. It’s like he doesn’t respond to people as human beings.

    It’s like he has had an empathy bypass. Does he care about anyone? I can only conclude that he just doesn’t really care. It’s a pretty damning conclusion, but that’s the situation …

    He’s a danger to the future of this country. That’s why he’s prepared to say anything he thinks will work on Brexit, regardless of whether he can do it, regardless of what the consequences will be.

  110. johnson catman says

    re SC @190: from that thread:

    Steve Scalise was given a second chance at life and he has utterly wasted it.

    True Dat!!

  111. tomh says

    From WaPo Opinion:
    Democrats ditch ‘bribery’ and Mueller in Trump impeachment articles. But is that the smart play?
    By Aaron Blake

    Not according to this writer.

    […]

    In the end, though, they have decided to go narrow and nebulous. In two impeachment articles they just announced, there is no mention of bribery or obstruction of justice.
    […]

    The problem Democrats have with their current argument is that, in part thanks to the Trump administration withholding documents and witnesses, they haven’t gotten someone to say Trump explicitly directed a quid pro quo with regard to Ukraine. Many Democrats believe Trump merely asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival is bad enough, and they’ll apparently make that case. But they’ve also expended significant energy trying to connect the quid pro quo to Trump, and for all the overcooked GOP arguments about “hearsay,” right now it is indeed a matter of at least some inference that Trump ordered the withholding of military aid and a White House meeting for that express purpose.

    Trump has routinely exploited such plausible deniability throughout his time in office, and his base has almost always found a way to excuse his actions. Democrats are now attempting to impeach him without connecting him directly to the quid pro quo. Instead, they are asking people to believe that asking Ukraine for blatantly political investigations and his aides using leverage to obtain them is a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

    It’s not clear that case would necessarily be easier to make if they called it bribery, but at least bribery is a concept that people understand. The argument would be that Trump bribed Ukraine with a White House meeting and military aid in exchange for those investigations.

    The more puzzling decision, though, might be in scrapping the Mueller stuff. Democrats will apparently argue that Trump’s stonewall against the impeachment inquiry is blatant and obvious obstruction of Congress. But in Mueller’s report, they have extensive evidence all laid out for people to decide. When the Mueller report came out, I found five events for which Mueller seemed to indicate there was significant evidence to satisfy the three criteria for obstruction of justice.

    In the end, Democrats have decided they would rather not debate specific crimes in such detail and will instead make a broader case about abuse of power and of a coverup.
    […]

    You have to wonder whether a more focused impeachment argument that relied upon more specific offenses and more extensive public evidence might have been more compelling.

    What he left out is that the leadership caved in to moderate Dems in Trump-leaning districts who feared that wider charges would hurt them in the next election. This shouldn’t have been the deciding factor. IMO, much broader charges, showing the real pattern of corruption, would be more effective. The outcome in the Senate won’t change anyway.

  112. johnson catman says

    re tomh @193:

    The outcome in the Senate won’t change anyway.

    And THAT is the biggest crime of them all.

  113. tomh says

    @ 194
    That’s just reality. Just as nothing will affect Trump’s base is reality. The purpose of impeachment, as far as I can tell, is to convince everyone else, so that Trump is left with nothing but his base. That won’t win him the election.

  114. says

    MSNBC is airing a Pete Williams interview with Bill Barr and it’s just one lie after another, and Williams is just letting them pass right by. I’m speechless.

    And he’s doing this propaganda preview about how Durham can talk to all of these people and agencies and “private individuals,” which is starting to have a very Giuliani ring to it. Despicable. More people need to stand up to his bullshit claims about the investigations, including Mueller’s, being based on a “totally bogus narrative.” He’s driving the covert propaganda campaign Trump tried to get Zelenskyy to participate in, doing the Kremlin’s bidding.

  115. says

    Last week, DOJ said that Horowitz had done ‘excellent work’ and that his “investigation was a credit to the Department of Justice.”

    Now, suddenly, Barr isn’t so glowing about the IG’s conclusions.”

    Wow. AG Barr says ‘greatest danger to our free system’ is the Obama admin used ‘the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents, but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election’.”

    Just utterly shocking bad faith by the Attorney General. Once upon a time, this was the kind of thing that would spark high-level resignations in protest at the Department and Bureau.”

  116. tomh says

    Albany Times Union:
    Court rules New York school vaccination rule is constitutional

    An Albany judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of New York’s controversial new school vaccination requirements.

    More than 50 families had filed the lawsuit in July, arguing that a newly enacted law eliminating religious exemptions to school vaccination rules was driven by religious hostility and violated their religious freedom rights under the U.S. Constitution.

    The families, through attorneys Michael Sussman and prominent vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr., had argued that an array of comments by individual legislators revealed a motive of hostility toward religion…

    Albany County Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman said events leading up to the law’s passage “all lead to the inexorable conclusion” that the repeal was driven by public health concerns, not religious animus.

  117. johnson catman says

    re tomh @195: I only hope that he drags down a bunch of the republicans that have tied themselves to him as well. Q: What’s a democratic-majority House and Senate as well as the presidency? A: An optimistic wish and a good start.

  118. says

    NEW: Attorney General Barr says that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the Russia investigation will likely be concluded in the late spring or early summer. He says he hasn’t decided if there will be a report, in interview with @PeteWilliamsNBC”

    You can be sure Barr will be there with the “principal conclusions” at a moment coordinated with the Trump campaign. Terrible, devious man.

  119. says

    Press release from the New York AG – “Donald J. Trump Pays Court-Ordered $2 Million For Illegally Using Trump Foundation Funds”:

    New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement after Donald J. Trump was forced to pay more than $2 million in court-ordered damages to eight different charities for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Trump Foundation for political purposes:

    “Not only has the Trump Foundation shut down for its misconduct, but the president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain. Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president’s abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law. Funds have finally gone where they deserve — to eight credible charities. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States.”

    As part of a resolution of the lawsuit announced on November 7th, Trump was ordered to pay $2 million, or $250,000, a piece to eight different charities. Those charities are Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Additionally, Trump was forced to reimburse his namesake foundation $11,525 for sports paraphernalia and champagne purchased at a charity gala, which was added to $1,797,598.30 already in the foundation’s bank account. The combined $1,809,123.30 was split evenly and recently transferred to the eight agreed upon charities. Each charity ended up receiving a total of $476,140.41.

    Additionally, as part of the settlement, Trump was required to agree to 19 admissions, acknowledging his personal misuse of funds at the Trump Foundation, and agreed to restrictions on future charitable service and ongoing reporting to the Office of the Attorney General, in the event he creates a new charity. The settlement also included mandatory training requirements for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, which the three children have already undergone. Finally, the settlement required the Trump Foundation to shutter its doors last December and dissolve under court supervision.

  120. says

    Remember, the IG audit is the legally authorized review of DOJ actions. Under law. And it’s done.

    Barr is adding his own process, saying he appointed a prosecutor to separately investigate the investigation, but a US Atty probe would typically be for crimes, not a DOJ audit.”

    One of the MSNBC shows yesterday had a nice montage of Trump and his sycophants at Fox and elsewhere endlessly hyping the IG report, which was predicted to bring down Comey and the rest. Now, they don’t like its findings and it only took them a minute to shift to hyping this Durham thing.

  121. tomh says

    WaPo 10:30 a.m.
    Centrist Democrats skittish on impeachment consider voting down obstruction article

    A band of centrist House Democrats are skittish about backing a move to oust the president, privately floating the idea of a less severe punishment and the prospects of even voting against an impeachment charge against Trump.

    A group of 10 moderate Democrats from Trump-carried districts discussed their desire to vote to censure rather than impeach Trump during a Monday night huddle, according to a person familiar with the conversation who requested anonymity to share private conversations. The idea had been batted around by moderates worried about political blowback since the Thanksgiving break.

    Other moderate Democrats, eager to show independence from the party, have discussed voting down one article of impeachment pertaining to obstruction of Congress. These Democrats worry that there’s not enough evidence to suggest Trump tried to flout the legislature’s authority since ultimately these matters will be decided in the courts.

    The concerns come despite Pelosi’s move Tuesday to keep articles of impeachment narrowly focused on the Ukraine controversy as well as obstruction of Congress. Many lawmakers, including those on the House Judiciary Committee, also wanted a third charge of obstruction of justice, citing former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. But Pelosi and her leadership team, knowing the fears of the moderates, ultimately chose a narrower scope.

    The idea of a censure has been raised multiple times before, including over the Thanksgiving recess by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). However, Democrats in leadership argue that censuring Trump after all this work and investigation would be, essentially, acquitting him of wrongdoing — or at least suggesting his actions weren’t that bad.

    By Rachael Bade

  122. says

    John Harwood:

    in interview w/@PeteWilliamsNBC, Attorney General Barr suggests the Obama administration and its FBI posed greater threat to American democracy than the Russians

    he continues to question the opening of the FBI investigation that the Justice Dept inspector general said was justified

    he’s talking about Hillary’s “secret server”

    all-out defense of Trump

    he continues to say Mueller found there was no collusion

    that is false

    Mueller found that he could not establish a conspiracy to collude – not that there was no evidence of it

    to the contrary, Mueller found that Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference and exploited it

    Putin could not serve Trump’s purposes any better than Barr in this interview

  123. tomh says

    @ 209
    Exactly. Another reason they shouldn’t have been catered to when drawing up the articles.

  124. says

    Weirdness from Tulsi Gabbard:

    Gabbard is close to qualifying for next week’s Democratic presidential primary debate, but the congresswoman announced yesterday she won’t attend, even if she meets the necessary thresholds. Gabbard cited “a number of reasons” behind her decision, though she didn’t identify any of those reasons.

    More madness and weirdness to come: Trump is holding a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania tonight.

    And here is an “oh, for fuck’s sake” moment from Trump:

    I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!

    So, Trump is describing Wray as the “current Director,” which is probably a threat.

    And Trump wants us to believe he read the 434-page report from the Justice Department inspector general’s office. Laughable.

  125. says

    Guardian editorial – “The Guardian view on general election 2019: A fleeting chance to stop Boris Johnson in his tracks”:

    …In his brief time in office Mr Johnson has behaved outrageously. He has lied to the Queen, lied about Brexit and runs scared of serious interrogation. He is a divisive figure with a record of deliberately offensive comments. He bullies institutions such as the BBC and the judiciary for daring to hold him to account. His party’s manifesto dog-whistles with slogans hinting at a hardline approach to immigration. Hate and division have flourished under him. The claim that he can bring Britain together is risible. Mr Johnson promises no end to austerity; spending outside of health will be 14% lower in 2023 than in 2010. A promised tax cut for workers amounts to a saving of 23p a day – as services crumble. On climate his proposals are shamefully inadequate.

    If the Conservatives win a majority, Britain will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020. In Tory eyes this would honour the referendum result of 2016. Any form of Brexit would be a tragedy for this country, but Mr Johnson’s would be disastrous. He aims to strike a future trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020; this is only possible if he agrees to the EU’s terms. Yet a significant part of the Tory party craves a small-state, deregulated Britain to compete with the EU. The more regulatory divergence the government wants, the harder it will be to negotiate an ambitious deal and the longer it will take to do so. If Britain follows Mr Johnson, it will leave without a deal, which would be considerably worse for the economy than a Corbyn-led government.

    There is an understandable temptation, given the flawed choices on offer, to treat Thursday’s moment of decision with something close to despair. But there is a necessary and vital job to be done. This election is critical because the country is in the last-chance saloon on Brexit. If the Conservatives win, there will be no return. Brexit will sunder our links with Europe and pitch us into the arms of a reactionary US government. It threatens the breakup of Britain and to destroy the fragile peace in Ireland.

    It is not enough to tackle Brexit. The next prime minister must tackle the causes of Brexit too – reaching out to the left-behind with plans for jobs and public services which show that the government will make a difference to their lives. Despite our misgivings, we believe that a vote for the Labour party offers the best hope for the country. A Labour-led government seems only possible with the support of parties that back its policy on a second referendum on Europe. It is likely also to have to meet the demand for a second independence poll in Scotland. That means backing candidates who can defeat the Tories in constituencies where Labour is an also-ran – from the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru to pro-European independents. Think of the electrifying impact of relieving Mr Johnson of high office and stopping the pro-Brexit Tory party in its tracks. Thursday is a fleeting opportunity to stop an unwanted national calamity – and address the reasons behind it. Voters must seize the day.

    I certainly don’t agree with all of it, but share their broad view.

  126. says

    What Trump actually said about the report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the origins of the investigation into the Russia scandal:

    The IG report just came out, and I was just briefed on it, and it’s a disgrace what’s happened with respect to the things that were done to our country. It should never again happen to another President. It is incredible. Far worse than I would have ever thought possible. And it’s — it’s an embarrassment to our country. It’s dishonest. It’s everything that a lot of people thought it would be, except far worse. […]

    The report, actually — and especially when you look into it, and the details of the report — are far worse than anything I would have even imagined…. This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow. And a lot of people who were in on it, and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.

    In other words, black is white and up is down. And, as noted earlier, the people who brief Trump may be lying to him.

    Horowitz’s report debunks in a very literal way Trump’s conspiracy theories.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on Fox News, for example, and said the Horowitz report pointed to “a government trying to overthrow a president,” which is the opposite of what the Horowitz report actually said. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel argued that the inspector general’s findings proved that the FBI “spied on” the Trump campaign, which again, is the opposite of what the Horowitz report actually said.

    Similarly, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said his takeaway from the inspector general’s findings was that partisans in the Justice Department “spied on a political opponent,” which is the opposite of what the Horowitz report actually said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who happens to be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went so far as to describe the FBI’s investigation into the Russia scandal as a “criminal enterprise,” which in no way reflects what the Horowitz report actually said.

    We’re left with a dynamic in which Republican leaders, en masse, have examined our reality, found it politically inconvenient, and replaced it with an alternate reality they find more satisfying.

    The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein noted this morning that Trump’s GOP is trying to “shape reality for an audience enveloped in the conservative Information ecosystem,” indifferent to the truth. Brownstein added, “This is a level of systemic distortion U.S. politics hasn’t faced.”

    I think that’s entirely right, though I’d add that it’s also a level of systemic distortion that our political system is ill-equipped to handle.

    Update: Adding to the record, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters this morning that the IG report proved that “a law-enforcement agency spied on a presidential campaign.” That’s the opposite of the truth. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), meanwhile, argued that the Horowitz report showed that Carter Page was “falsely accused of being a Russian agent.” Again, that’s just not what the report said.

  127. says

    WaPo editorial – “The case for impeachment”:

    The House of Representatives is moving toward a momentous decision about whether to impeach a president for only the third time in U.S. history. The charges brought against President Trump by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday are clear: that he abused his office in an attempt to induce Ukraine’s new president to launch politicized investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign, and that he willfully obstructed the subsequent congressional investigation.

    Because of that unprecedented stonewalling, and because House Democrats have chosen to rush the impeachment process, the inquiry has failed to collect important testimony and documentary evidence that might strengthen the case against the president. Nevertheless, it is our view that more than enough proof exists for the House to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based on his own actions and the testimony of the 17 present and former administration officials who courageously appeared before the House Intelligence Committee.

    We believe Mr. Trump should receive a full trial in the Senate, and it is our hope that more senior officials will decide or be required to testify during that proceeding, so that senators, and the country, can make a fair and considered judgment about whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office. We have reserved judgment on that question. What is important, for now, is that the House determine whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted an abuse of power meriting his impeachment and trial.

    What follows is a summary of the evidence that we believe justifies charges against the president….

  128. says

    An essay from Paul Waldman, (writing for the Washington Post), about lying, and about Republicans’ addiction to lying:

    There are moments when the Republican commitment to lying in defense of President Trump becomes so pure and absolute that one almost expects it to warp the very fabric of space and time, as though it were sucking us into an epistemological black hole from which no truth can escape.

    This is one such moment. […]

    The modern GOP had always found utility in lies of various degrees of brazenness. But Trump has brought Republicans — with, it must be noted, their enthusiastic cooperation — to a place that they will not easily return from, where lying is not only permitted but mandatory.

    […] let’s look at a sampling of the things Republicans were saying about the report on Monday:

    “The IG report proves Obama officials abused their FISA power to trigger an investigation into @realDonaldTrump’s campaign,” tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). This is false: The FISA warrant didn’t “trigger” the investigation because it was issued months after the investigation began.

    “The real interpretation is these were hardcore political partisans that hated Donald Trump and they were willing and complicit to abuse the power of law enforcement and intelligence and spy on a political opponent,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). That is the exact opposite of the truth; the report emphasizes again and again that they found no political bias at work.

    “Everything we said, everything we reported, everything we told you was dead-on center accurate,” said Sean Hannity, when in fact the report debunked the conspiracy theories Hannity has spread for years. […]

    Let us be clear: It’s not as though Republicans were hesitant to lie before Trump came along. Tax cuts for the rich pay for themselves; Saddam Hussein is going to attack us with his weapons of mass destruction; we’ll protect Medicare; voter fraud is rampant; etc.

    But they put some effort into their lies, building them off pieces of reality and providing ballast for them with (frequently bogus) supporting evidence. Though they were willing to deceive the public, they hadn’t completely given up on the idea that it’s better to pay lip service to honesty, to retain a reputation as a reasonable participant in public debate even when you’re not being reasonable. They still had some glimmer of shame.

    But Trump taught them that shamelessness can be a kind of superpower. […]

    Every Trump lie comes with its own warning to Republicans: Back this up, or else. They know his lie will quickly be echoed by conservative news outlets. If you’re a Republican member of Congress, you turn on Fox every day and say, “This is what my constituents are hearing.” You know that if you contradict the Trump/Fox narrative, you’ll be attacked as a traitor and your political survival will be at risk.

    Even if Trump loses reelection, that media system and the voters Republican officeholders represent will remain. The patterns of behavior that have been built up over the years will be difficult to undo, as they keep insisting every Republican defeat is a victory and everything a Democratic president does is a horrific crime.

    They will keep lying and keep insisting that to question their lies is to betray their cause.

    They will be Trumpists without Trump, knowing that their audience and constituents expect nothing less. And their poison will continue to infect our democracy.

  129. says

    About the revised trade deal the U.S. negotiated with Canada and Mexico:

    […] Less than an hour after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders from her party unveiled articles of impeachment against the president, they announced their support for the revised trade deal with the United States’ neighbors. The changes, among other things, are intended to lower prescription drug costs, while boosting environmental and labor safeguards.

    “There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA, but in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” Pelosi said. “It’s a victory for America’s workers, it’s one that we take great pride in advancing.” […]

    Democrats sought to highlight their contributions to the deal — such as removing carveouts for pharmaceutical companies, among others, and barriers to generic medications — and how hard they’d worked on the deal to improve it from the White House’s first draft.

    Acknowledging the political circumstances, the House Speaker added, in reference to the president, “There’s some people who say, ‘Why make it look like he has a victory?’ Well, we’re declaring victory for the American worker.” […]

    For eight years, GOP leaders tended to reflexively oppose any measures endorsed by the Obama administration – even when Republicans agreed with the Democratic White House’s position – just as a matter of course. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was quite candid on his strategy, acknowledging that he believed one of the keys to undermining Barack Obama’s public support was keeping GOP “fingerprints” off major legislation in order to deny Obama any bipartisan victories.

    Pelosi, in contrast, seemed to approach the USMCA debate in a fundamentally different way. She evaluated the proposal on the merits, sought changes, ignored presidential taunts, negotiated with stakeholders, and put aside electoral considerations. […]

    Link

  130. says

    From Lisa Page’s lawsuit (see #214 above), which is well worth reading:

    “Disclosure of the text messages before Rosensein’s hearing would serve multiple goals: it would protect the Deputy Attorney General from criticism during his testimony; it would show that the Department was addressing matters of concern to the President; and it would dominate coverage of the hearing, which otherwise could be unfavorable for the Department. And the Department could achieve all of this at the relatively low cost (in the Department’s view) of the privacy of two FBI employees: Ms. Page, a longtime DOJ and FBI attorney, and Mr. Strzok, a career FBI agent.”

    (It would also provide Trump, however briefly, with another target for his vengeful and destructive impulses.)

    “On information and belief, the Department provided the messages to reporters to influence the public reception of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s December 13 testimony and to ingratiate Attorney General Sessions and DOJ with the President, among other improper and impermissible purposes.”

    “On information and belief, the officials gave this instruction [not to identify the DOJ as the source of the messages] so that the Department could pretend that the reporters had obtained the messages from Congress and plausibly deny having invited reporters to the Department to view them. This explicit directive to reporters to suppress the facts of the disclosure demonstrates the determination of senior DOJ officials to violate not only agency policy but core values of honesty and candor in order to achieve their political goals. The instruction also shows that senior DOJ officials attempted to conceal their conduct because they knew the disclosure of the messages to reporters was wrong.”

  131. says

    BBC – “Citizenship Amendment Bill: India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law causes uproar”:

    India’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries.

    The controversial bill seeks to provide citizenship to religious minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

    The government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), says this will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution.

    Critics say the bill is part of a BJP agenda to marginalise Muslims.

    The passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will be a test for the BJP in the upper house of parliament because it lacks majority there. A bill needs to be ratified by both houses to become a law.

    The CAB amends the 64-year-old Indian Citizenship law, which currently prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens.

    It defines illegal immigrants as foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel documents, or stay beyond the permitted time. Illegal immigrants can be deported or jailed.

    The new bill also amends a provision which says a person must have lived in India or worked for the federal government for at least 11 years before they can apply for citizenship.

    Now, there will be an exception for members of six religious minority communities – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian – if they can prove that they are from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will only have to live or work in India for six years to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation, the process by which a non-citizen acquires the citizenship or nationality of that country.

    Opponents of the bill say it is exclusionary and violates the secular principles enshrined in the constitution. They say faith cannot be made a condition of citizenship.

    The constitution prohibits religious discrimination against its citizens, and guarantees all persons equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

    Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Bhatia says that by dividing alleged migrants into Muslims and non-Muslims, the bill “explicitly and blatantly, seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law, contrary to our long-standing, secular constitutional ethos”.

    Historian Mukul Kesavan says the bill is “couched in the language of refuge and seemingly directed at foreigners, but its main purpose is the delegitimisation of Muslims citizenship”.

    Critics say that if it is genuinely aimed at protecting minorities, the bill should have have included Muslim religious minorities who have faced persecution in their own countries – Ahmadis in Pakistan and Rohingyas in Myanmar, for example. (The government has gone to the Supreme Court seeking deportation of Rohingya refugees from India.)

    The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to [Assam] state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh became an independent country.

    How is the citizens register linked to the bill?

    The two are closely linked, because the Citizenship Amendment Bill will help protect non-Muslims who are excluded from the register and face the threat of deportation or internment.

    This means tens of thousands of Bengali Hindu migrants who were not included in the NRC can still get citizenship to stay on in Assam state.

    Later, Home Minister Amit Shah proposed a nationwide register of citizens to ensure that “each and every infiltrator is identified and expelled from India” by 2024.

    “If the government goes ahead with its plan of implementing the nationwide NRC, then those who find themselves excluded from it will be divided into two categories: (predominantly) Muslims, who will now be deemed illegal migrants, and all others, who would have been deemed illegal migrants, but are now immunised by the Citizenship Amendment Bill, if they can show that their country of origin is Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan,” Mr Bhatia said.

    Taken together, the NRC and CAB have the “potential of transforming India into a majoritarian polity with gradations of citizenship rights,” said sociologist Niraja Gopal Jaya.

  132. says

    AP – “World trade without rules? US shuts down WTO appeals court”:

    Global commerce will lose its ultimate umpire Tuesday, leaving countries unable to reach a final resolution of disputes at the World Trade Organization and instead facing what critics call “the law of the jungle.’’

    The United States, under a president who favors a go-it-alone approach to economics and diplomacy, appears to prefer it that way.

    The terms of two of the last three judges on the WTO’s appellate body end Tuesday. Their departure will deprive the de facto Supreme Court of world trade of its ability to issue rulings.

    Among the disputes left in limbo are seven cases that have been brought against Trump’s decision last year to declare foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security and to hit them with import taxes.

    The WTO’s lower court – its dispute settlement body – can hear cases. But its decisions will go nowhere if the loser appeals to a higher court that is no longer functioning.

    Without having to worry about rebukes from the WTO, countries could use tariffs and other sanctions to limit imports. Such rising protectionism could create uncertainty and discourage trade.

    “We are in a crisis moment for our global trading system,’’ said U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla, who sits on the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. “As of tomorrow, the court will cease to exist.’’

    The loss of a global trade court of final appeals, Murphy said, is “really dangerous for American businesses.’’

    The panel is supposed to have seven judges. But their ranks have dwindled because the United States – under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump – has blocked new appointments to protest the way the WTO does business.

    Trump and his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, are especially vociferous critics of the WTO. They argue that the trade organization constrains America’s ability to counter unfair trading practices by China and other countries.

    Even other countries have complained about the WTO’s system for settling trade disputes. Critics say that cases take too long to resolve, that the panel often overreaches in its rulings and that the Geneva-based agency is ill-equipped to deal with the challenge posed by the Chinese economy’s unconventional blend of capitalism and state control.

    Getting the WTO to reform is difficult because it requires consensus from its 164 member countries. Trump is willing to use America’s economic and political clout to shake things up in a way that smaller countries couldn’t.

    “Where the United States is completely alone is the approach they’ve taken, (which) is to say: ‘We’re just going to blow this thing up,’ ” said Bernard Hoekman, an economist at the European University Institute.

    The impending shutdown was met with dismay by several WTO member countries….

  133. says

    White House says ‘President Trump warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections’.
    In meeting with Lavrov. Lavrov just now: ‘No, we haven’t even discussed elections’.”

    And of course even if he did bring it up they would have no reason to treat it as anything other than a mutual joke.

  134. says

    Here’s the full report from #225 – CNN – “McConnell says Senate to take up trade deal after impeachment trial”:

    The Senate will take up Trump’s renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement only after an impeachment trial concludes in the chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

    “We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate between now and next week,” the Republican from Kentucky said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “That will happen, in all likelihood, right after the trial is finished in the Senate.”

    McConnell also said the renegotiated trade pact is “not as good as I’d hoped,” differing with White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who said in a statement around the same time that the final version of USMCA is the “biggest and best trade agreement in the history of the world.”

    His comments came after House Democrats announced they had struck a deal with the White House to advance the trade agreement after months of negotiations over key issues, including enforcement mechanisms and standards for labor and environmental protections. A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on McConnell’s timeline, noting that in 2011 both the House and Senate voted to approve three trade agreements on the same day.

    “Senator McConnell has no excuse not to bring up the USMCA,” Pelosi’s spokesperson said.
    Democratic leaders plan to hold a vote on the USMCA in the House next week, according to House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal, and the agreement is expected to pass with bipartisan support.

    Members of both parties largely celebrated completion of the new USMCA on Tuesday, although it received a lukewarm response from several congressional Republicans who were unhappy that patent protections for biologic drugs, a key priority for the GOP, were removed entirely from the deal. Yet Republican lawmakers on the whole are unlikely to side against Trump on what could become his primary legislative accomplishment since Democrats took the House of Representatives last November.

    “This is long overdue but very welcome news. I’m glad a deal has finally been reached,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “Passage of USMCA will be a significant win for farmers, workers and all Americans.”

    Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota told CNN there were some changes “that obviously were made to accommodate concerns that House Democrats had that are not going to be met with overwhelming favor from our members. But I think on the main, it still has all the components our members want to see.”

    He predicted USMCA is “something that will be approved in the end.”

    Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, an ardent free-trader who has been one of the only Republican lawmakers to vocally oppose the deal since it was first negotiated, again slammed the underlying agreement and bemoaned the changes secured by House Democrats.

    “There’s no question it’s moved way to the left,” Toomey said on Tuesday….

    Much of Twitter (and the media) spent the morning attacking Pelosi for allegedly handing Trump a “victory” in the midst of impeachment. Then she gives a press conference, after which it was revealed that she’d privately told her caucus that they’d eaten the Republicans’ lunch in negotiations and the AFL-CIO came out endorsing the negotiated agreement. Now Republicans are openly expressing their disappointment, undercutting Trump’s propaganda, and Moscow Mitch is postponing taking it up until after the impeachment trial.

  135. says

    WTF: “President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, thus bolstering the Education Department’s efforts to stamp out ‘Boycott Israel’ movements on college campuses.”

    NYT link atl.

  136. says

    Reid: “So to review, Republicans’ core talking point is that Democrats are ignoring the job of governing for the people in order to impeach Trump, and yet while Speaker Pelosi can manage to get a trade bill done during impeachment, Mitch McConnell can’t. Got it.”

  137. tomh says

    Once Trump sees the pushback on the trade deal from people like Toomey, what are the chances he says he never agreed to it in the first place. Pretty good, I’d say.

  138. says

    tomh @ #231:

    Once Trump sees the pushback on the trade deal from people like Toomey, what are the chances he says he never agreed to it in the first place. Pretty good, I’d say.

    Well, the WH is already trumpeting it and everyone is responding to the thing as it stands. And he’s doing a rally tonight in which he’ll be at a loss to find anything else to try to brag about. And if he tries to back out now, Pelosi can point to the agreement, and if he denies it, the evidence that he’s a liar will be clear. Whatever eventually happens with the deal, he got played.

  139. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Federal judge blocks Trump plan to spend $3.6 billion in military funds on border wall
    By Nick Miroff
    Dec. 10, 2019 at 4:53 p.m. PST

    A federal judge in El Paso on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to pay for border barrier construction with $3.6 billion in military funds, ruling that the administration does not have the authority to divert money appropriated by Congress for a different purpose.

    The Trump administration was planning to use those funds to build 175 miles of steel barriers, and the court’s permanent injunction is a setback for Trump’s pledge to erect 450 linear miles of fencing by the end of next year.

    District Court Judge David Briones, a Bill Clinton appointee, said in his ruling that the administration’s attempt to reprogram military construction funds by emergency proclamation was unlawful and that the plaintiffs in the case were entitled to a permanent injunction halting the government.

    A ruling Briones issued in October placed a temporary hold on Trump’s plan to use the funds, but that decision did not have a nationwide scope.

    The Trump administration has budgeted nearly $10 billion for barrier construction to date, so the ruling affects roughly one-third of the money the president plans to spend on his signature project. Briones’s decision does not apply to other money available to the administration, including reprogrammed military counternarcotics funds.

    The ruling marked the first instance of a local jurisdiction successfully suing to block construction of Trump’s border barrier.

    El Paso County, one of the two plaintiffs in the suit, had argued that the new barrier was unwanted by the community and would inflict permanent harm on its reputation as a welcoming, cross-border place.

    Kristy Parker, an attorney with the nonprofit group Protect Democracy who represented the plaintiffs, said the decision means the president cannot spend money on the project that wasn’t authorized by Congress.

    “The president can’t use the National Emergencies Act to override a congressional appropriations decision,” Parker said. “That specifically means he cannot use funds appropriated for military construction and divert it for use to build border barriers.”

  140. says

    In a few minutes, DoJ IG Horowitz will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Tonight at 7 PM ET, markup on the articles of impeachment will begin in the House.

    Both are public.

  141. says

    At his rally last night, Trump claimed he’d “heard” that Lisa Page had to take out a restraining order on Peter Strzok.

    Page just tweeted:

    This is a lie. Nothing like this ever happened.

    I wish we had a president who knew how to act like one. SAD!

    This is the guy the Republicans are praising, lying for, destroying careers and institutions to protect. Trump promised his followers everything on the campaign trail, and now the entirety of the Republican Party has been enlisted to enrich and defend this guy and his family.

    Lindsey Graham is making his opening statement at the Horowitz hearing. He’s reading from the Page-Strzok text messages about Trump, and keeps repeating how “a lot of people believe(d?) that.” I don’t think it’s having the effect he wants, especially given that he said similar things publicly at the time – he believed that!

  142. says

    SC @237, thanks for that link.

    Here are some excerpts:

    “Law enforcement is so great. That particular guy wanted to be so politically correct. Ahhh! Ahhh! We don’t want to be political correct” — Trump laments that arena security wasn’t rougher with a female protester

    Trump, slurring, trashes Christopher Wray. “You have great people in the FBI, but not in leadership. You have not good people in leadership.”

    Trump refers to FBI agents as “scum.” He then refers to John Durham as “Bull Durham.” He then refers to Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama.”

    Trump spreads unsourced rumors about Lisa Page taking out a restraining order on Peter Strzok: “Did I hear he needed a restraining order after this whole thing, from Lisa? That’s what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true.” #BeBest

    Trump is slurring heavily

    Trump repeatedly insists the whistleblower’s complaint about his Ukraine dealings is incorrect when in fact every key allegation in it has since been confirmed

    Trump’s slurring is more noticeable than normal

    Trump refers to Maxine Waters as “low IQ” and in the next breath demeans Rep. Al Green

    “Darling I want to watch television tonight and there’s no damn wind, what do I do?” — Trump still thinks that wind energy means people won’t be able to watch TV reliably

    Get a load of this slurry Trump rant about how he’s saving marriages

    Trump claims (falsely) that Beto O’Rourke “wanted to get rid of religion — the Bible.”

    On the same day that a federal judge blocked Trump’s plan to spend billions of military dollars on his wall, he claims, “we’re building it and it’s fine and we have the military money coming in from the military. Believe me … we started winning in court.”

    “At stake in our present battle is the survival of the American nation itself. We will destroy our country if these people get in” — Trump threatens the apocalypse if he doesn’t win next year.

  143. says

    SC @234, thanks for posting that. I’ll repeat it for emphasis.

    Josh Marshall: “Reading through that interview transcript, Bill Barr is one dark, malicious downright evil lying dude. Hard to imagine a more dangerous figure to have running the Justice Department.”

    Furthermore, as you already noted, Pete Williams interviewed Barr and gave him a platform from which Barr lied repeatedly without being called on the lies!

  144. says

    ProPublica/WNYC – “Donald Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the Government and Killed an Endangered Sheep”:

    The rocky highlands of Central Asia, in a remote region of Western Mongolia, are home to a plummeting population of the largest sheep in the world, the argali. The endangered species is beloved for its giant curving horns, which can run over 6 feet in length.

    On a hunting trip this August, Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed one.

    His adventure was supported by government resources from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each sent security services to accompany the president’s eldest son and grandson on the multiday trip. It also thrust Trump Jr. directly into the controversial world of Mongolian trophy hunting — a polarizing practice in a country that views the big-horned rams as a national treasure. The right to kill an argali is controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics.

    Trump Jr. received special treatment during his summer trip, according to records obtained by ProPublica as well as interviews with people involved in the hunt.

    The Mongolian government granted Trump Jr. a coveted and rare permit to slay the animal retroactively on Sept. 2, after he’d left the region following his trip. It’s unusual for permits to be issued after a hunter’s stay. It was one of only three permits to be issued in that hunting region, local records show.

    Afterward, Trump Jr. met privately with the country’s president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, before departing the capital of Ulaanbaatar back to the U.S., according to Khuantai Khafezyn, a local government official in the region where Trump Jr. hunted the argali and a former government official with knowledge of the meeting. It isn’t clear what was discussed. Trump Jr. wouldn’t answer questions about the meeting. Representatives for Battulga haven’t responded to requests for comment.

    “What are the chances the Mongolian government would’ve done any of that to someone who wasn’t the son of the United States’ president?” asked Kathleen Clark, a professor specializing in legal ethics at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She said that though Trump Jr. is not a government employee, he’s nonetheless politically influential, incentivizing foreign officials such as the Mongolian leader to treat him favorably out of a “desire on the part of a foreign government to curry favor with the president’s family.”

    Mongolia is a resource-rich, young democracy that considers the U.S. an important ally as it faces pressure from its powerful neighbors, particularly the Chinese. Legislation introduced this year in Congress would give duty-free treatment to Mongolian cashmere and other products in an effort to increase trade between the two countries — and lessen its reliance on China.

    The hunt came just weeks after high-level government discussions — including a White House meeting — between officials from the U.S. and Mongolia, a landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China. Mongolia refers to the U.S. as its “third neighbor,” relying on America for economic and security support….

    Trump Jr. appears to have been joined in his hunting trip by a Republican donor, according to Instagram posts from late August posted by a Turkish hunting guide, Kaan Karakaya….

    Karakaya posted photos and videos on Instagram featuring an American oil and gas company CEO named Kevin Small killing an argali in August, around the time of Trump Jr.’s trip to the country. In one of the photos of Small posing with the carcass of the sheep, Trump Jr. comments: “Amazing sheep and amazing guy.” The link to the post is no longer working.

    Campaign finance records show Small increased his political donations to Republicans in the months ahead of the trip. In March, he gave $50,000 to the Take Back the House 2020 joint fundraising committee, an additional $35,5000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and $10,600 to a super PAC supporting House Republican candidates and the campaign fund for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader. The amount far exceeds his contributions in previous years, federal campaign contribution records show.

    Trump Jr.’s spokesman didn’t answer questions about Small. Small hasn’t responded to phone messages seeking comment. Karakaya didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

    It’s unclear what happened to the argali trophy after Trump Jr. killed it. To import the fur and horns of the argali he killed, Trump Jr. would have had to apply for and be granted permission by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Trump Jr. didn’t respond to questions about this. A spokeswoman for the service wouldn’t say whether Trump Jr. had applied for such a license.

  145. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 243

    Crude, rambling, and demonstrably false… but effective. Sadly, Trump knows how to appeal to his audience, a skill that the Democrats have yet to learn.

  146. says

    Follow-up to quotetheunquote’s #236 and Lynna’s #245 – also from Time – “Guardians of the Year: The Public Servants”. Long article about all of the government employees who spoke up and testified in the Ukraine scandal (the whistleblower, Yovanovitch, Taylor, Vindman, Hill, Sandy, Williams, and others).

    In shouldering the 241-year principle of speaking truth before the American people, each performed a duty. The first day on the job, every federal employee takes an oath, swearing to the same promise the President-elect pledges on the West Front of the Capitol-: to defend the Constitution. The courage they summoned was not to break the law, but to follow it.

  147. says

    Trump is considering another corporate tax cut, or at least the promise of yet another corporate tax cut as part of his plan to win a second term as president Tyrant Toddler.

    From MarketWatch:

    […] Trump wants to go beyond the corporate tax cuts put in place by the 2017 law, his acting chief of staff said Tuesday when asked about plans if Trump gets re-elected. Mick Mulvaney made the comments at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting in Washington.

    The tax bill Trump signed lowered the corporate rate to 21% from 35%, but said Mulvaney, the president has been “disappointed” it wasn’t cut farther.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Mulvaney, who’s kept a relatively low profile since acknowledging serious White House misdeeds at a disastrous press conference two months ago, said the president has long believed the Republican tax breaks didn’t go far enough to lower corporate rates.

    Mulvaney suggested Trump’s push for more tax cuts will be easier “now that we’ve proven they can work.” [LOL, plus eye-rolling]

    In reality, we know that the Republicans’ tax plan didn’t work at all, Mulvaney’s boasts notwithstanding. In fact, it’s failed in practically every measurable way.

    But putting that aside, if Mulvaney sees this as a winning electoral message, he and his boss are likely to be disappointed. There was no public appetite for massive corporate tax breaks when Trump signed them into law two years ago – polls showed Americans actually wanted the opposite – and there’s no evidence of public support for even more corporate tax breaks now.

    But Team Trump has nevertheless positioned tax cuts as a top priority. In fact, it’s unnerving how frequently this comes up.

    Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, the president announced that he and congressional Republicans were working “around the clock” on a new, “very major” tax cut, which did not exist outside of his imagination.

    Several months later, Trump again emphasized his interest in additional tax cuts. In September, administration officials started referencing “Tax Cuts 2.0.” In October, the White House and its congressional allies raised the prospect of pushing for more tax cuts before the 2020 election.

    It’s against this backdrop that Trump’s chief of staff looks forward to even more corporate tax breaks. […]

  148. says

    What Trump said last week:

    Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.

    What happened? Nothing.

    From Bloomberg News:

    Reinstating such tariffs has been discussed but there’s no decision yet, Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in Washington.

    The Brazilian government has yet to be notified by the U.S. about the intention to impose more duties on the country’s steel, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Brazil plans to wait until it has official communication from the U.S. to make any decisions, the person said, asking not to be identified because discussions aren’t public.

    Commentary:

    […] In other words, when Trump said his policy would take effect “immediately,” he actually meant his new policy may not take effect at all.

    It’s possible the president was lying. It’s equally possible Trump genuinely believed he was unveiling a new policy, but simply didn’t know what was going on around him. There are plenty of examples of both dynamics from recent years […]

    Trump should be seen as an unreliable narrator of his own presidency. […]

    Vice President Mike Pence once said, “President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says.” Imagine how much more effective this administration would be if Pence weren’t so hilariously wrong.

  149. says

    Lindsey Graham opens Judiciary Committee hearing with what could be the worst defense of Trump ever

    Sen. Lindsey Graham opened the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz about his report on the FBI investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia by first tossing out a few general paragraphs—mostly about how he never makes long opening statements. That was the precursor for Graham to break into an opening statement that rambled on, and on, and on, rehashing every aspect of the Russia investigation, including things that had absolutely nothing to do with anything Horowitz was investigating.

    In the course of his 45-minute-plus statement, punctuated by shuffling through papers and frequent references to “smelly people,” Graham went through not just the Russia investigation but tangential events, false claims, and, of course, dozens of text messages. Naturally, that included reading through a whole series of texts between (say it with me) Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Because nothing satisfies a Republican audience more than hearing texts between two people having an affair. For the ten-thousandth time.

    Notably. Graham read through a whole series of comments made months before the election of Donald Trump and complained that Strzok and Page didn’t respect their “commander in chief.” It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider that, in the exact same period in which the texts were sent, Graham described Trump as “a kook” who was “unfit for office.” In fact, Graham directly said that Trump is “not qualified to be commander in chief.” Graham also offered the advice, “You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”

    Those past comments somehow did not make it into Graham’s opening. What did make it, delightfully enough, was Lindsey Graham discussing that the opening document from the research provided by Christopher Steele included Trump being involved in “a golden shower,” and making it clear that this was an incident involving prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. Graham also explained that he was shown this material not by Democrats but by John McCain, and that on seeing the document, his first thought was, “They have something on Donald Trump.” During the opening, Graham also complained that “my goddamned name is all over the legal documents investigating Trump’s staff.” Which might be because he constantly referred to Trump as a “threat,” as “completely unhinged,” a “racist,” a “liar,” and an “opportunist” who would do anything to win.

    For 45 minutes, Graham seemed to be half-interested in pointing out that everyone hated Donald Trump, when he wasn’t demeaning Christopher Steele. And then Sen. Dianne Feinstein talked for three minutes, and slaughtered everything he said. […]

  150. says

    OMG.

    […] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a joint press conference at the US State Department, where, with a straight face, Lavrov doubled down on Russia’s denials of involvement in the last presidential election—a storyline embraced by Trump and some Congressional Republicans.

    “Our joint work was hindered and continues to be hindered by the wave of suspicion that has overcome Washington,” Lavrov said, standing to Pompeo’s right. “We have highlighted once again that all speculation about our alleged interference in domestic processes in the United States are baseless [and] there are no facts that would support that. We have not seen these facts. No one has given us this proof because it simply does not exist.” […]

    A Washington Post reporter asked Lavrov why, if the Russian government wanted details on the US government’s findings on Russian hacking, they didn’t just read the Mueller Report, which led to the indictments of 12 Russians responsible for the meddling operation.

    “We read it,” Lavrov said. “There is no proof of any collusion.”

    Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and an expert on disinformation who has extensively studied Russia’s 2016 operations, told Mother Jones that Lavrov’s statements, made from a podium alongside Pompeo, are par for the course.

    “There is a century-long history of senior Russian officials denying well-planned active measures or disinformation campaigns,” Rid said. “You know what you’re going to get when you invite them to speak next to you.” […]

    Link

  151. says

    Details regarding one of the latests gun battles:

    JERSEY CITY — Two people armed with long rifles “targeted” a kosher deli that was at the center of a massive shootout Tuesday, opening fire as soon as they walked inside the store, authorities said Wednesday morning.

    The attack, which left three civilians dead inside the store, would have likely continued if two police officers hadn’t been blocks away and responded immediately when they heard the gunshots, officials said. […]

    Mayor Steve Fulop said it became clear the deli was actually a target after after investigators reviewed security camera footage that showed the shooting began before officers arrived.

    “We do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli,” Fulop said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “We could see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly, the perpetrator stopped in front of there, calmly opened the door with two long rifles — him and the other perpetrator — and began firing from the street into the facility.” […]

    Link

  152. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #254:

    For 45 minutes, Graham seemed to be half-interested in pointing out that everyone hated Donald Trump, when he wasn’t demeaning Christopher Steele.

    He did. I’m not sure if he realized how many times he referred to a lot of other people sharing Page’s and Strzok’s sentiments, if it was unconscious, or what, but it was noticeable.

  153. says

    From Jeremy Stahl:

    It’s becoming hard to find new ways to describe the depths to which Attorney General William Barr will sink to […] to advance Trump’s interests. Barr distorted the findings of the Mueller probe before he would release it, gave a press conference defending Trump’s actions upon releasing Mueller’s damning actual findings, used his DOJ to block the release of evidence and testimony related to Trump’s wrongdoing with no legitimate justification, and refused to comply with congressional subpoenas in contempt of Congress. This week, Barr outright lied about the months-long investigation that produced a 434-page report into the opening of the FBI’s probe of links between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government.

    […] the Justice Department’s inspector general announced in no uncertain terms that there was no conspiracy to derail Trump’s campaign in the opening of the “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign links to Russia. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions,” […] Those investigations ultimately resulted in guilty pleas by three of those figures for a series of crimes related to their interactions with Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians.

    In an interview with NBC News published on Tuesday, Barr claimed that Inspector General Michael Horowitz had not reached the conclusion Horowitz said he reached.

    “All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn’t find anything to contradict it. … He hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive,” Barr said. “I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done.” [Aiyiyiyi!]

    Barr went further, claiming again—this time in direct contradiction to the evidence—that the previous administration might have unlawfully spied on President Barack Obama’s political rival, Trump. “From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government used the apparatus of the state, principally the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents, but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election,” he told NBC News.

    Again, Horowitz’s report reached the opposite conclusion […]

    Barr has been going beyond damage control for Trump, though, by actively trying to produce false narratives out of thin air. The “full investigation” he referenced is a separate probe currently being conducted by a hand-picked investigator, John Durham, who on Monday said that he also didn’t agree with Horowitz’s findings.

    “Last month, we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said.

    Last week, though, the Washington Post reported that Horowitz had given Durham the opportunity to back up some of the president’s more outlandish claims that the FBI had improperly spied on his campaign, which have been repeated by the attorney general. According to the Post, Durham could not provide evidence to back up this theory.

    […] Barr’s DOJ refused to investigate the initial whistleblower allegations against Trump, which may have produced evidence of campaign finance violations or outright bribery. He has also backed the president in Trump’s campaign to outright obstruct the impeachment inquiry as the White House has refused to comply with a single subpoena for documents or testimony. It’s no surprise he would now lie about the Horowitz report, but it is still a new low.

    The inspector general’s investigation did not by any means find that the FBI had performed flawlessly in the Russia inquiry. Horowitz found 17 errors in the application process for FISA surveillance […]

    Horowitz’s investigation, meanwhile, was comprehensive […] All of the witnesses told roughly the same story. As the report describes the actions of the FBI’s top counterintelligence official, Bill Priestap, who made the decision to open the investigation: “Priestap said that he did not recall any disagreement about the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane, and told us that he was not pressured to open the case.”

    In the entirety of Horowitz’s more than 170 interviews and review of “more than one million documents that were in the Department’s and FBI’s possession,” he found nothing to contradict the claim of Priestap and every other witness. […]

    Link

  154. tomh says

    In the end, with obviously the biggest fraud/criminal to ever occupy the WH, the Democrats end up with the smallest impeachment ever. The “moderates” run the show.

    NYT:
    Seeking Unity on Impeachment, Democrats Decided Against Mueller Charges
    By Nicholas Fandos

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants huddled in her office last week as Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who oversees the Judiciary Committee, made the case that the House should take up three articles of impeachment against President Trump. Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, countered that there should only be two.

    A vigorous debate unfolded, and in the end Ms. Pelosi made the call: There would be only two articles of impeachment, on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, narrowly focused on the investigation into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. A third, on obstruction of justice tied to the president’s attempts to thwart the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, was too much of a reach.
    […]

    Now, Democrats will see whether their decision has its intended effect of keeping the party united behind impeaching Mr. Trump, protecting moderate lawmakers who face steep re-election challenges in conservative-leaning districts, and persuading the public — and the Senate, where a trial will play out — of the seriousness of their case.

    Many of the moderates had resisted impeaching Mr. Trump for months, convinced that Mr. Mueller’s report was not sufficient grounds to proceed, as public polling showed that voters did not see a clear case.
    […]

    Mr. Nadler, who had spent months trying to build an impeachment case from Mr. Mueller’s findings, argued that it was not enough just to charge Mr. Trump with abusing his power and obstructing Congress. We should go broader, he asserted, laying out a pattern of behavior by Mr. Trump. What message would it send if the House gave Mr. Trump a pass for such egregious misconduct?

    Three of Mr. Nadler’s fellow committee leaders in the room concurred: Eliot L. Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Maxine Waters of the Financial Services Committee.
    […]

    People close to her said Ms. Pelosi always remained reluctant to move based on obstruction of justice. The case dealt with events in the past, failed to excite public opinion, and far from uniting her caucus, it made moderate freshman lawmakers who had delivered Democrats the majority deeply uncomfortable.
    […]

    So to avoid making moderates uncomfortable, they sign off on obvious crimes by Trump.

  155. says

    Very intersting exchanges during Leahy’s questioning. He asks Horowitz about leaks (including to Giuliani) from the FBI New York field office. Horowitz says they’re still investigating it. He says what’s complicated is determining the content of the communications with reporters or individuals like Giuliani, but do have evidence of communications, which are illegal when not authorized.

  156. says

    Details regarding Tucker Carlson’s attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    Tucker Carlson and his garbage guest, wingnut editor of City Journal Seth Barron, tossed out the dog whistles Tuesday night in favor of a bullhorn, attacking both Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her constituents, saying that her district is “dirty” because it is “one of the least American districts in the country.”

    “We’re connoisseurs of irony on this show,” Carlson said, “but if you claim to care about the environment, you’d think that the little piece of America you’re responsible for, that you represent in the Congress, would be clean, but hers isn’t. Why?” While the two talked, video of trash on streets—presumably in Queens, but it could have been anywhere in New York—played.

    “Well, part of the reason is because her district is actually one of the least American districts in the country,” Barron piped up. “And by that, I don’t mean that it’s not part of America, but it’s occupied by relatively few American citizens. A very high percentage of her district is, in fact, illegal aliens.” Fact check: The Census Bureau shows that in 2018, just over 45% of residents of New York’s 14th Congressional District were foreign-born, most coming from Latin America and Asia, according to the website Census Reporter. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that the residents of the district are undocumented, but if they’re brown, they must be “illegal,” right?

    Barron went on and on, spewing nonsense like, “The way they inhabit housing there is such that they live in a lot of illegal spaces like basements, and many people live there, so they wind up producing a lot of garbage that the landlords don’t want thrown out normally.” So “you wind up with a lot of garbage on the streets, you have illegal food vendors pouring their pig grease into the gutters.” It would be an insult to pigs to say it takes one to know one.

    Link

    Smug, racist dunderheads.

  157. says

    From David Corn: “William Barr’s War on Reality, Truth, and the Law”:

    This is how it works. The big lie. The endless spin. The outright denial of facts. Again and again and again. The complete destruction and devaluation of truth for political gain. Overwhelm reality with fiction, concoctions, and false narratives. Embrace deceit and duplicity.

    […] Abuse of power cannot exist alongside accountability. Malefactors cannot survive within an atmosphere of truth. […]

    Attorney General William Barr went into full Oceania war-is-peace mode to erase truth in order to protect and soothe his dear leader, Donald Trump. Moments after the report appeared […] Barr challenged the findings. He declared that he knew better than the IG and that the FBI had launched the probe “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.” […] the next day, Barr continued his brazen campaign of disinformation. In an interview with NBC News, he called the FBI investigation “completely baseless.” Barr depicted the probe as a “danger” to civil liberties and the American political system. He was twisting up into down.

    The IG report does detail numerous errors FBI officials and agents committed regarding one surveillance warrant used in the investigation. But the 476-page report repeatedly shows that the FBI engaged in careful deliberation to determine there was cause for the probe. […]

    Barr should be posed this query: as the United States was undergoing a Russian attack designed to undermine the election and boost Trump, should the FBI have done nothing about the possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia or its cut-outs? […]

    With his NBC interview, Barr demonstrated how far he will go to cast the FBI and its investigation in a nefarious light—and to dismiss the Russia scandal. He claimed that “in today’s world, presidential campaigns are frequently in contact with foreign persons.” Not really. Not at all. And not in the way that the Trump campaign was. Most presidential campaigns are not led by money launderers who are in contact with Putin-friendly oligarchs and who are meeting secretly with former business partners suspected of working with Russian intelligence. Most campaigns do not seek to set up private communications with foreign adversaries while these countries are attacking the United States. Barr also claimed “in most campaigns there are signs of illegal foreign money coming in.” No, that’s not true, either. But if it were, why is Barr’s Justice Department not on a crusade to root out this criminal activity?

    Barr is a sophisticated player. He knows what he is doing. He’s telling whoppers to make it seem the FBI over-reacted, perhaps even criminally, and did so out of politically fueled malice. He’s flinging falsehoods to cover for Trump. And Barr has unleashed this other investigation led by Durham—who in a highly unusual move on Monday released a statement challenging the IG’s findings—to get the answers (or untruths) he wants. Two plus two must equal five. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  158. says

    Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom commented on Trump’s executive order defining Judaism as a nationality.

    Donald Trump is reportedly all set to sign an executive order that’s ostensibly aimed at cracking down on anti-Semitism on college campuses, or at least allowing the Education Department to punish schools that take part in or tolerate boycotts of Israel. But the particular mechanism Trump’s using to shoehorn protections against anti-Semitism into civil-rights laws has plenty of people on the internets worried, because what the fuck is this fuckery?

    The New York Times ‘splainers the order’s ostensible rationale:

    Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.

    Well isn’t that nice? Nothing bad could possibly come of an official declaration that American Jews are a whole ‘nother nationality, could it? Sure, maybe Donald Trump already talks about Jews as if they’re not really Americans, but there’s no way this could have any untoward implications, apart from perhaps inflaming that old anti-Semitic slander that Jews are always a people apart, foreigners in their own land. Gosh, wonder if anyone’s ever written a book on the matter?

    The Times takes some pains to explain that the order Trump plans to sign is based on prior legislation proposed by Nice Good People like an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and that it’s merely aimed at getting around the inability of authorities to crack down on anti-Semitism because “religion” isn’t listed in the civil rights laws. Mind you, whatever the origins of the language, Donald Trump has a real knack for turning seemingly innocuous mechanisms of government to evil ends — that’s Stephen Miller’s entire modus operandi, twisting immigration law to end immigration.

    It’s no surprise that people on Twitter found the idea of defining American Jews as a “nationality” a tad unsettling in the current political climate. […]

    From Rabbi Emily Cohen:

    It is really, *really* frightening for us to be defined as a nationality. The trope of “dual loyalism” is classic antisemitism. It encourages people to view American Jews as professing greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States– thereby making us untrustworthy.

    From Peter Gleick:

    Do we get new passports or just a yellow star?

    More from Wonkette:

    […] There’s simply not much reason to trust Donald Trump with defining what or who is a Jew. […]

    There’s plenty of reason to distrust Donald Trump, Friend of the Jews, since just last week he spewed a bunch of anti-Semitic tropes at the national summit of the Israeli American Council, a pro-Israel group. Trump explained that all the rich Jews — is there any other kind? — will have to vote for him, or Elizabeth Warren will raise their taxes, and Jews hate to lose money, don’t you see? […]

    While he was at it, he also accused some American Jews of not loving Israel enough, which really puzzles him because he thinks it’s their home country.

    Even if it’s only used by the Education Department to push schools to “fight anti-Semitism,” the redefinition seems mostly aimed at going after the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to push Israel to change its policies toward Palestinians. The rightwing government of Israel and US opponents of BDS insist the movement is inherently anti-Semitic, a view that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shares. […]

    You know what DOES worry Jews? Shit like the murders of six people in and outside a kosher market in Jersey City yesterday, which police say was explicitly motivated by anti-Semitism.

    Quick, someone explain how saying “Jewish” is a “nationality” will prevent that shit? […]

  159. Akira MacKenzie says

    It encourages people to view American Jews as professing greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States– thereby making us untrustworthy.

    It’s fascinating how Trump and the American Right walk a fine line between their historical anti-Semitic bigotry and their rabid support for Israel.

  160. Chris J says

    Akira MacKenzie@266

    I think there isn’t actually much of a contradiction here. They’re rabidly in support of another country, waaayyyy over there, where all the Jews can be nice and separate from the rest of us. It’s like how white nationalists in general repeat the phrase “Africa for the Africans, Asia for the Asians, Europe for everyone” (or whatever it is). The existence of an explicitly Jewish state actually benefits them as a place to put all the people they don’t want in their own neighborhood.

  161. lumipuna says

    Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.

    Huh? If criticism of Israel can be construed as “discrimination”, wouldn’t it be already targeting a national origin, namely people from Israel, without ludicrously stretching the definition of who originates from Israel? I guess what’s happening here is one or both of the following:

    a) You need someone to sue the institutions for discrimination, and US Zionist groups haven’t been able recruit Israeli exchange students for that purpose, so they want their own members to be able to sue.

    b) While this is ostensibly a bone thrown for said Zionist groups, it also seeks to validate the common rightwing idea of Jews as foreign aliens who only belong in Israel, if anywhere.

  162. Akira MacKenzie says

    Chris J @ 267

    That, and there is the whole Evangelical Christian Israel-must-exist-for-Jesus-to-return angle.

  163. says

    You have to love how the Republicans have been reduced to repeating arguments like

    “Is the absence of evidence necessarily evidence of absence?”
    “Whatever evidence you’ve seen, can you say unequivocally, with absolute certainty, that no one involved had improper motives?”
    “Isn’t the lack of evidence of improper motives really itself evidence of improper motives?”

  164. says

    CNN – “Whistleblower’s team preparing for possibility of Senate testimony”:

    The legal team for the whistleblower whose account kicked off the impeachment inquiry is preparing for the possibility that lawmakers will call their client to testify in the Senate, two people familiar told CNN.

    The White House counsel’s office remains in discussion with Republican senators about the length and scope of President Donald Trump’s likely Senate impeachment trial. But the whistleblower’s lawyers are preparing for all possibilities, including receiving a subpoena for testimony as allies of the President continue their demands to hear from the anonymous person who ignited the Ukraine controversy.

    A subpoena would put the whistleblower in uncharted territory, and raise the risk that his or her identity could come out in the course of the trial in the Senate — where, unlike in the Democrat-led House, some Republicans have expressed a desire to hear from the whistleblower.

    Trump, too, has repeatedly demanded he or she come forward during the impeachment proceedings.

    Depending on how senators structure their likely trial, a subpoena could compel the whistleblower to cooperate with anything from written questions to a closed-door interview in a secure location to a public hearing that would expose the whistleblower’s identity.

    The whistleblower’s legal team is looking at historical precedent and conducting research to see what kind of case it could mount to block the whistleblower from testifying, if it came to that. One source said the legal team is closely monitoring lawmakers’ public statements about their client and is taking note of recent reporting that some Republicans have pushed back on White House demands for testimony.

    The offer for the whistleblower to answer written questions from senators still stands for the upcoming trial, the people familiar said.

    A senior GOP aide said this is a possibility if 51 senators supported it, but like all other ideas for conducting the trial, it remains under discussion among lawmakers and White House officials.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are expected to meet in the days ahead to negotiate a the scope of the trial, including its length and whether witnesses will testify.

    White House officials have been engaging Senate Republicans to feel out how they might influence the process and keep it from getting dragged out, even as Trump himself itches for a theatrical fight to clear his name.

    Still, Senate lawmakers have already begun investigating some issues that relate to the impeachment process. The Senate Intelligence Committee has quietly interviewed witnesses involved in the handling of the whistleblower complaint, which detailed Trump’s conduct on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, CNN has learned.

    Senate lawmakers are examining how key events in the months before intelligence watchdog Michael Atkinson’s transmitted the complaint to Congress — including the departure of former intelligence director Dan Coats in August, failed nomination of his potential replacement, Rep. John Ratcliffe, and naming of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire — may have affected the disclosure process, a committee source said.

    The committee has interviewed witnesses about that issue and indicated it may want to hear more from officials who played a part of the disclosure process, including Atkinson, Maguire and officials at both Office of the Director of National Intelligence and CIA, several sources told CNN. The panel’s chairman, Republican Sen. Richard Burr, has publicly stated that the committee’s focus is on “process” and not the content of the complaint itself, and sources have reaffirmed that those questions remain “at the core” of their inquiry.

    Top Republican senators, meanwhile, are signaling they may call no witnesses at all when the trial begins next month. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he did not want to “turn the Senate into a circus” by calling Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, as President Trump has demanded, and McConnell said Tuesday he envisions one scenario in which no trial ever occurs.

    “The House managers would come over and make their argument. The President’s lawyers would then respond. And at that point, the Senate has two choices: It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial. Or it could decide — and again, 51 senators could make that decision — that they’ve heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us from the House,” McConnell told reporters before noting that no decision has been made.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr has consistently said he wants to hear from the whistleblower for his panel’s investigation. The whistleblower’s attorneys have ruled out an in-person interview in any context. Trump has also said he wants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Bidens to testify — a nonstarter with most lawmakers, even Republicans — but one Democratic source said it was clear from McConnell’s Monday press conference that the majority leader “is worried about witnesses.”

    Democrats are likely to resist thrusting the whistleblower back into the spotlight, however, given that House Democrats plan to present evidence independent of what the whistleblower brought to light.

    “These calls to identify the whistleblower and have them be a witness, I find outrageous and irresponsible. There is no earthly reason that the whistleblower needs to participate at this time because all he/she did was report wrongdoing. If there’s an investigation as a result of this complaint, the investigation itself reveals whether or not the complaint was valid,” Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN in November….

  165. says

    Al-Monitor – “White House persuades Congress to ease up on Saudi Arabia”:

    The White House successfully pushed Congress to remove language in the annual defense bill that would have imposed concrete penalties on Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    The House amended the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 240-185 in July to block US funding for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels. At the same time, the House passed another NDAA amendment 405-7 in a veto-proof vote to sanction Saudi officials complicit in Khashoggi’s murder.

    While both amendments had some degree of bipartisan support, Democrats agreed to remove the substantive impact of each Saudi provision from the final version of the bill during negotiations with the Republican-held Senate. Al-Monitor has learned that Republican negotiators successfully fought to keep the Saudi provisions out of the final defense bill after the White House marked it as a red line.

    “I have been dismayed by how much defense Congress has given the White House to help draft the NDAA,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spearheaded the dead Yemen amendment. “It’s another example of Congress outsourcing our own power, our own responsibilities, to the executive branch. This has largely proven to be negotiations with the White House, and we capitulated to every White House and Pentagon demand.”

    “On some level it’s clear that Democratic leadership didn’t fight hard enough on this,” said Stephen Miles, the director of Win Without War, a coalition of anti-war activist groups. “We’re going to have to find new levers to pull.”

    Still, Democratic lawmakers are largely placing the blame on the White House, including Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., who sponsored the overwhelmingly bipartisan Saudi sanctions language.

    “The White House made absolutely clear that this was a red line,” Malinowski told Al-Monitor. “This is a president who has a Saudi Arabia-first foreign policy. This is all on the White House, and Republicans at the end of the day would not fight their own president on this issue.”

    Malinowski’s amendment would have banned Saudi officials complicit in Khashoggi’s murder from entering the United States. He had refrained from more biting sanctions in order to secure the support from his Republican colleagues that made his amendment veto-proof.

    “The extent to which so many senators spoke for so many months about the need to hold Khashoggi’s killers accountable, only to fold at crunch time, is truly pathetic,” said Rob Berschinski, the senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First.

    However, the compromise language still requires the intelligence community to report the names of everyone complicit in Khashoggi’s murder — even if it doesn’t explicitly mandate sanctions.

    “If they are honest, they will give us a list that has [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] on it,” Malinowski told Al-Monitor. “If they do, there are other authorities in US law that provide for denial of visas to people who are gross violators of human rights.”

    Although Khanna intends to vote against the final bill, Malinowski said he would vote yes, noting that he wants to “support the [Department of Defense] and military.” Like Democratic leadership, he also pointed to the fact that the final bill secured a key domestic priority for Democrats by guaranteeing three months of paid parental leave for federal workers.

    But paid parental leave is likely not enough to get many left-wing Democrats on board the final bill, which authorizes a $131 billion increase in annual defense spending while removing virtually all other progressive national security priorities that Democrats initially had in their version of the legislation.

    These provisions include language that would have blocked President Donald Trump from transferring arms to Saudi Arabia; a provision clarifying that he cannot take offensive military action against Iran without congressional authorization; and a repeal of the 2002 military authorization to invade Iraq.

    “What if we had the war in Iraq tied to [giving] you three months of paid parental leave,” said Khanna. “You can attach a domestic policy priority to almost any foreign policy to try to get people to vote for it, but in the past, we’ve always said you can’t link the two.”

    Khanna and anti-war activist groups that he’s worked closely with on Yemen are currently regrouping to chart a new path forward after a major defeat this week. One avenue may be the appropriations process as Congress faces a deadline to fund the government by the end of next week.

    A bipartisan group of senators attached an amendment to the State Department funding bill in September that would end US funding for the Saudi-led coalition unless Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates cease transferring US weapons to their Yemeni proxies.

    House appropriators have taken a more abstract approach, adding a war powers provision to their State Department funding bill that would require the Trump administration to end “hostilities” in Yemen.

  166. says

    Guardian – “First men go on trial under Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality laws”:

    Forty-seven men went on trial in Nigeria on Wednesday for public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offence that carries a 10-year jail term in the country.

    The men were among 57 arrested in a police raid on a hotel in the impoverished Egbeda district of the commercial capital, Lagos, in 2018. They pleaded innocent at a hearing last month.

    Campaigners say the case is an important test of a law banning gay marriage and same-sex “amorous relationships”, which came into force five years ago.

    Xeenarh Mohammed, the executive director of the Lagos-based Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), said the law had historically been used to harass and blackmail gay people but there had not been any convictions.

    “People have been detained, men and women, at different gatherings but no cases had ever gone before a judge. We have to establish that people have a right to meet that shouldn’t be a crime under any law in any country,” said Mohammed.

    Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries. In several, gay people face life imprisonment or the death penalty. Some religious groups brand it a corrupting western import.

    Police said the Nigerian men were being initiated into a gay club. The accused say they were attending a birthday party.

    The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which banned gay relationships and entrenched intolerance of sexual minorities in Nigerian society, was signed by Goodluck Jonathan, then president, in January 2014.

    The law caused an international outcry, with condemnation from global human rights organisation and western governments. Human Rights Watch called it a “sweeping and dangerous piece of legislation”.

    “Police officers will stop you and then get you arrested, extort money from you and begin to call you names,” Smart Joel, 25, one of the defendants, said before last month’s hearing. “I just wish the case will be quickly dismissed as soon as possible.”

    Two days of hearings have been scheduled this week to allow the prosecution to make its case. The trial is likely to last for several months.

    Surveys have historically shown high levels of homophobia in Nigeria, but some have pointed to what campaigners say is a tentative, growing acceptance of gay men and women.

    In June, high court judges in Botswana ruled that laws criminalising same-sex relations were unconstitutional and should be struck down, in a major victory for gay rights campaigners in Africa.

    Jubilant activists in the packed courtroom cheered the unanimous decision, which came a month after a setback in Kenya when a court rejected an attempt to repeal similar colonial-era laws.

    Botswana is regarded as one of Africa’s most stable and democratic nations, but homosexuality was outlawed under the country’s penal code of 1965.

    Angola, Mozambique and the Seychelles have scrapped anti-gay laws in recent years….

  167. says

    Ian Dunt at Politics.co.uk – “The last days of hope”:

    It’s never just been about Brexit. From the first moment that result arrived in 2016, it was perfectly obvious that this wasn’t restricted to our relationship with the EU. It was about the whole way we do business – the manner in which we conduct debate, the type of country we are, the way we treat people.

    The Brexit referendum was won on the basis of lies and prejudice. Let’s not bother pretending otherwise. The lies are too numerous to count, from the NHS on the side of a bus, to the idea the EU was holding back British trading capacity, to the notion, cast over everything, that this would all be simple.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t an urgent moral need to address the failures of a country in which so many people were unhappy with the status quo. If Remain does not care about that – if it pretends to itself that this was all about Putin’s meddling or a few broken electoral spending rules – then it is not up to the historic moment which it faces. But it does target the anger at those who deserve it: the snake oil salesmen in Vote Leave and Leave.EU.

    The prejudice was there was from the word go. There is a great unsayable fact in British politics and it is this: Immigration is a gift. It offers this country vast cultural wealth, a significant economic contribution, a workforce which can care for our elderly population, real bonds of friendship in the lives of countless millions of us, and that intangible value and worth which comes from living in a diverse society, where people with different ideas and different experiences join together to provide new ways of looking at things.

    But instead they treated it like an assault, an incoming wave of hostile forces. They acted as if Britain was not a bustling jumble of cultures, but an absolute indigenous block, in which any newcomer diluted the fundamental character of the country. They were nativists, in the most basic possible sense.

    We had to show that this kind of politics would not work. We had to show that it would not triumph.

    It’s been a long, brutal three years. Nearly every claim of those who opposed Brexit has been vindicated. We are now poorer than we would have been. We are more divided. People who once called this country home no longer feel that way. Countries who once admired us no longer do so. Britain is weaker and more impoverished, in every sense.

    So now it all comes down to this. Tomorrow, we find out which way the country’s future faces.

    Boris Johnson’s election campaign, like his style of government, is an exact replication of the Brexit campaign. It seeks division instead of commonality. It ignores concrete national problems in favour of the culture war. It lies incessantly. It encourages the hatred and resentment of immigrants. It doesn’t give a damn about the people it claims to represent. It aims to undermine and subvert the constitutional arrangements which have made this country stable and good-fortuned over centuries. It is terrified of scrutiny, in case it’ll get found out. It treats us like fools.

    Every day of this campaign, another salvo against European immigrants. We’re told they’re a strain on our schools and hospitals. We’re told what they cost in benefits, but not what they pay in taxes. This week Johnson said they had treated the UK like “their own” country for too long, a grotesque inversion of the usual anti-migrant rhetoric which demands they integrate. Bile and hate, delivered ceaselessly from a prime minister with no basic decency to him whatsoever.

    The lies come even faster. Chief among them is the election mantra: Get Brexit Done. Nothing Johnson has proposed will do so. Years of torturous negotiation and national humiliation lie before us, a country picking off its own limbs and then discarding them in a fit of inane lunacy.

    Somewhere along the line, even the overall Brexit message switched. No longer was it some grand liberating moment. Now it was a pain, a faff, and we had to believe in the Brexiters a little harder, a little longer, in order for it to finally stop, like trusting your attacker to conduct your surgery.

    It wouldn’t only be the EU they undermined. All the other institutions which might have the power to check the executive would be attacked. The Tory manifesto made threatening noises to the Human Rights Act and judicial review, two key liberal developments which give the individual powers over the executive. It talked troublingly of a broader constitutional alignment – plainly code for a populist assault on the fundamental political operating systems of the country.

    The media was also attacked, for the same reasons….

    Johnson behaviour in this campaign has been more akin to a frightened little child than a national leader. He refused to do an interview with Andrew Neil. He refused to do an interview with Julie Etchingham. This morning he ran away and hid in a fridge when approached by a journalist from Good Morning Britain.

    And you can see why. Because when the light is on him, and you can see the reality of the man, something profoundly ugly is revealed. It goes beyond the obvious self-interest. There is something hateful melching around in there, a sense that he doesn’t even really like or value the people he wishes to govern.

    There were two really central moments to this campaign. The first came after the terror attack in London Bridge….

    The second moment came this week, when he was shown a photo of a young child on the floor of a hospital because of lack of beds. His reaction was telling in a way that a thousand in-depth interviews could not have provided….

    The Tory response to that story was to make up more lies, this time about Labour campaigners punching people. And then the lies started on social media too,…

    …There a sense of the abyss opening up beneath us, of a world where truth was starting to properly vanish altogether, where nothing could be verified without someone working to discredit it.

    A cesspit of lies and division. A complete lack of interest in the actual lives of the people whose votes they ask for. That’s what we have three years after the referendum result. That’s the culture which Remain has been fighting.

    Now we sit and wait and hope. Hope that tactical voting by anti-Tory forces is effective. Hope that Labour voters in the so-called ‘red wall’ do not prove as seduced by Johnson’s lies as they appeared to be. Hope that most of these unique individual constituency battles go the right way. Hope the margin of error extends our way rather than the other.

    At the moment, it looks grim. A victory for this campaign will be a mandate for the most poisonous form of politics we’ve seen in this country in our lifetime. But there are flickers of optimism too, little hints of a chance that we might still be able to prevent the advance.

    So we wait, fingers crossed, to find out our fate.

    This could be written about the US with only the details changed.

  168. says

    NEW: Schiff has sent Jennifer Williams’ supplemental testimony — which remains classified — to Nadler for Judiciary’s consideration.

    Schiff asked VP Pence last week to declassify it, but Schiff hasn’t received a response.”

    See #41 above for background.

  169. says

    NEW: U.S. prosecutors asked a judge to return Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate indicted on campaign finance charges, to jail for lying about his income and concealing a $1 million payment he got from Russia in September, a month before he was charged.”

  170. says

    SCOOP: The Trump administration DELETED a section in its own annual report on #regulation showing the benefits of public protections outweigh the costs by up to 11 times.

    Screenshot of the deleted text from the draft report:…”

  171. says

    Kurdistan 24 – “Syrian Kurdish leader calls on US, Russia to prevent ethnic cleansing by Turkey”:

    Commander-in-Chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), General Mazloum Abdi, on Tuesday called on the United States and Russia to prevent Ankara’s program of forced demographic change in northern Syria.

    During an interview on the previous day with the government-affiliated TRT news outlet, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey aims to resettle up to one million Syrian refugees in the so-called “safe zone” now under its control, many of them from other parts of the country.

    General Abdi said that the remarks by the Turkish president were alarming and proof of an attempt by Turkey to ethnically cleanse the area, located along the Turkish-Syrian border between the cities of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye), of much of its Kurdish population.

    “We call on the US and Russia, who bear the responsibility of preventing this, to work on a mechanism to facilitate [the] return of the true owners of the land.”

    Although Turkish officials deny such plans, many international observers are convinced Turkey has plans to forcibly change the area’s demography, including US government officials.

    Amb. William V. Roebuck, in an official State Department memo from Oct. 31 leaked to the New York Times, wrote that “Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intention-laced effort at ethnic cleansing.

    Amb. James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, also stated in November that he had warned Turkey against such plans.

    Jeffrey added that the issue had been addressed in the joint communique of the ministerial conference of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, which said, “We urge all actors operating in northeast Syria to refrain from any action that could lead to change in the demographic structures in northeast Syria.”

    Luqman Ahmi, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led self-administration for northeast Syria, told Kurdistan 24 previously that Turkey’s plan for its “safe zone” between Tal Abyad and Serekaniye is similar to the demographic change that Turkish and Turkish-backed forces have already caused in the northwestern city of Afrin.

    “We have seen Turkey do the same in the Afrin region where over 250,000 people were displaced, and have been forced to leave their homes and properties,” Ahmi said.

    According to a June report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), there have been strong indications of an intentional campaign of forced demographic change since Turkey took over Afrin from Kurdish forces in March 2018.

    “Many civilians seeking to return to their homes have found them occupied by these fighters and their families, who have refused to vacate them and return them to their rightful owners,” the report said.

    “OHCHR is concerned that permitting ethnic Arabs to occupy houses of Kurds who have fled effectively prevents the Kurds from returning to their homes and may be an attempt to change the ethnic composition of the area permanently.”

  172. says

    Meet @medwar93. He worked for Jaguar Land Rover for 30 years so is an expert why Brexit won’t harm the car industry.

    He’s also an A&E nurse so is an expert on why Brexit won’t harm the NHS & how that pic was fake.

    Amazing guy.”

    Tweets atl.

  173. says

    Most recent post on the G liveblog:

    Waits of more than half an hour were reported at various locations across England on Thursday morning.

    Queuing appeared particularly widespread in London, with long lines reported in a number of constituencies.

    Chris Schofield said more than 70 voters were waiting in the Bermondsey and Old Southwark constituency – some of whom gave up and left during his 20-minute wait, “presumably to go to work”.

    “It’s about 20 times busier than it was in 2017, and for the locals and Euro elections,” the 27-year-old consultant said. “Atmosphere is very London: orderly queueing and no-one is talking to each other!”

    Several voters claimed they had never seen queues like it in years.

    Asked why he thought there were so many queuing, Schofield said: “I think it’s the election of a lifetime for many of us.” Alixe Bovey reported queueing for 35 minutes in the Streatham constituency.

    “In 20 years of voting in Streatham Hill, always at about this time of day, I have never encountered a queue of more than six or seven people,” she tweeted.

    Waits were also reported in English cities such as Cambridge, where John Walsh tweeted to say it was the “first time ever” that he had to queue to exercise his democratic right.

    Many members of the public said they were encouraged by the queues, suggesting it could mean a greater turnout than in the last general election. In the 2017 poll, there a turnout of 66.4%.

    Voters unable to vote for whatever reason can return to their polling stations at any time before 10pm on Thursday evening.

    The Electoral Commission advises polling stations “can get very busy, particularly towards the end of the day”, but says voters in a queue before 10pm will be entitled to apply for a ballot paper.

    Voters in England, Scotland and Wales do not need to take anything with them to vote, while those in Northern Ireland must have photo ID.

  174. says

    Maddow last night – “Impeachment Raises Questions About Secret Stash Of Trump Records”: “Rachel Maddow looks at the collection of reports of records of Donald Trump’s interactions with foreign leaders being made accessible to only a very limited number of people, a practice exposed by the I.C. whistleblower whose report ultimately led to the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry.”

    I’m not sure why the clip doesn’t start at the beginning, but this is the Guardian report about Trump suggesting moving Seoul – “Trump called for Seoul evacuation at height of North Korea tensions, new book says”: “Donald Trump called for the population of Seoul to be moved during an Oval Office meeting when tensions between the US and North Korea were at their height, according to a new book about the president’s relations with the US military….”

    Also, Colbert’s monologue last night:
    Part 1
    Part 2

  175. says

    NBC – “Pentagon watchdog plans to review award of $400M border wall contract to firm touted by Trump”:

    The Defense Department’s internal watchdog plans to review a recent Army Corps of Engineers decision to award a $400 million contract for border wall construction to a North Dakota company that has been publicly and privately endorsed by members of the Trump administration, including the president himself.

    The review of the award to Fisher Sand & Gravel is an audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general and comes in response to a request by Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson said the decision to award the contract should be reviewed because Fisher’s “proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and because of “concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence” on the Army Corps of Engineers.

    “This is in response to your December 4, 2019, letter requesting that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General conduct a review of the $400 million contract the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. to design and build border infrastructure in Yuma County, Arizona,” wrote Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, according to a copy of the inspector general’s response to Thompson obtained by NBC News. “In your letter, you raised concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision, and questioned whether the bid submitted by Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. met solicitation standards. You also questioned whether USACE made the award in accordance with federal procurement law and regulations.”

    “In response to your request, we have decided to initiate an audit of the solicitation and award of this contract,” wrote Fine. “We are assessing the methodology of that audit and will formally announce the audit soon.”

    Thompson said Thursday he was pleased the inspector general “recognized the urgency of our request. … The company had never been awarded a construction contract before and their wall prototype was late and over budget.”

    “Given the president’s multiple endorsements of this company and the amount of taxpayer money at stake, I remain concerned about the possibility of inappropriate influence,” said Thompson….

  176. says

    NBC – “House Republicans’ Trump impeachment strategy was simple: Distract, deceive and yell”:

    If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.

    The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump have been drafted and the process is now moving steadily towards a vote in the House. But GOP lawmakers, especially GOP men, aren’t going down quietly. Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

    That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.

    Thus, the outrage that’s been on display these past few weeks hasn’t been spontaneous. This isn’t an indication of passion or righteous anger. It is the manifestation of a decadelong marketing strategy that has kept them in the driving seat of Congress for the better part of the Obama and the Trump administrations.

    Ironically, this tactic of outrage was often utilized by Republicans to defend the widespread use of their congressional oversight authority. Just go back and watch the 2012 House Oversight Committee hearing where Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress. You’ll see Trump defenders like Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, yelling about the need to “get the facts.”

    Revisit the 11-hour grilling that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was subjected to by Republicans during the Benghazi hearing and you’ll see the now familiar sight of Republicans yelling and badgering their witness. As Rep. Adam Smith, R-Wash., observed that day, the Republicans’ strategy was to try and “wear you down.”

    Monday’s impeachment hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee continues this pattern.

    Republicans engaged in a parade of outbursts, mostly refusing to engage with the substance of the evidence presented by the House Intelligence Committee previously, instead trying to discredit the process. Often, this meant members used their time to deliver loud, rambling monologues that contained few if any questions for the witnesses.

    Republicans have observed that Democrats aren’t really willing to confront them directly, and the process of congressional hearings makes such confrontation difficult anyway. And so they will continue to yell. They will continue to scream. They will continue to lie. They will not stop. The only question is, what are Democrats prepared to do about it? Clearly, banging the gavel repeatedly isn’t enough.

    I recommend mocking them gently – “Do you need to lie down, maybe?” “I’m just concerned about your blood pressure” – or calling it out as performative. It’s white-male fragility on display – manipulation through loud shows of rage.

  177. says

    GAH. Will ONE of the Democrats bring up that the claim that Trump released the aid because he was satisfied that Zelenskyy wasn’t corrupt is ludicrous in light of the fact that he’s never cared about corruption anywhere that claims of corruption don’t serve him politically, #203 above which happened the other fucking day, the emoluments suits, his refusal to release his tax returns, the $25 million fraud settlement during the transition, the ongoing fraud suit, the multiple instances of fraud in his administration?! Enter the NY AG press release into the record, FFS!

  178. says

    From the G liveblog:

    In the EU’s eastern half, the election campaign has been viewed with bemusement, with the main focus on what will happen to the rights of the millions of EU nationals living in Britain after Brexit.

    The right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland have appreciated the Tories staying quiet on rule of law issues and not adding to the chorus of EU complaints over backsliding in the country.

    Aware that Poland and Hungary may be two of Britain’s closer friends in a post-Brexit EU, British diplomats have sought to cosy up to the governments rather than criticise them, and the ruling parties in both countries will be hoping for a Johnson win.

    In the opinion section of Hungary’s pro-government Magyar Hirlap newspaper, author Daniel Deme writes that these are the most important British elections since World War Two, claiming that Boris Johnson wants to “preserve national sovereignty and identity” against Corbyn, whom the author calls a radical Marxist in favour of mass migration.

    Poland’s Lewica left-wing coalition, which made it into parliament in recent elections, gave a ringing endorsement of Labour’s manifesto and called on all Poles eligible to vote to vote for Corbyn.

    But the predominant reaction is confusion at the mess of British politics and what effect the election will have on Brexit. According to independent Hungarian outlet HVG, the only thing at stake in this election is “’who will be the ringmaster in the long running Brexit-circus”.

    The irony of the Polish and Hungarian right wing is that the British right wing wants to “preserve national sovereignty and identity” in part against immigrants from Poland and Hungary.

  179. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 295

    No, of course they won’t. That would make them look too “partisan” and “divisive” and the moderate Democrats want this to be a nice and friendly impeachment proceeding the whole family can enjoy.

  180. tomh says

    WaPo:
    House Democrats brace for some defections among moderates on impeachment of Trump
    By Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis

    […]
    Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.
    […]

    The quiet hand-wringing comes despite Pelosi’s catering to moderates throughout the impeachment process. When the inquiry began, centrists implored the speaker to keep proceedings dignified, solely focused on Ukraine and national security — and to sideline the House Judiciary panel known for its more liberal impeachment proponents. She did that.

    Appeasement never works. If they’re going to defect anyway, why not bring the full slate of charges.
    Old-style politics doesn’t work either.

    Pelosi has also tried to give moderates political cover with a series of legislative victories they can tout back home…
    Some moderates are getting even more. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democratic centrist who is agonizing about how to vote, secured a major win in the defense bill that the House passed Wednesday– a provision designed to boost a local manufacturing plant in his district that Trump carried by more than 15 points.

    Be prepared for Trump crowing about ‘bipartisan opposition’ to the hoax.

  181. Saad says

    Akira, #298

    Also, are they going to give a reason for why they didn’t enforce those subpoenas?*
    I’m sure Republicans would have done so in the blink of an eye if this were an Obama impeachment.

    I’m joking because of course we know the real reason

  182. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #298, but they did! Almost everything I had on my list. (They could have also talked about Trump’s emoluments hotels, including the recent attempt to have the G7 at his Florida property, Bill Barr’s party scheduled at the DC hotel, and the amounts of money flowing to these properties from foreign governments; or about Trump’s daughter and son-in-law working in the WH despite their business interests and failure to get security clearances….)

    They should be doing better at responding to the lies, since it’s a standard playbook of lies they’ve been using over and over. There’s a ton of evidence that the Ukrainians knew about the aid hold, including on the day of the call, for example. They could use as much time as the Republicans to go back through the actual evidence, helped by staff counsel.

  183. says

    My problem with the moderates is that their decision to vote against these two articles of impeachment can only be based on cynical and selfish considerations. I’ve been so annoyed with the pundits recommending that the Republicans move away from their current tactics and arguments and say that what Trump did was wrong and improper but doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment which would allegedly be a reasonable and respectable position.

    It absolutely would not. These are very plainly impeachable offenses, as anyone who looks at this honestly will recognize. As some of the public testimony and Katyal’s book have pointed out, behavior like this is exactly the reason impeachment exists. It’s just off the charts abuse of power and obstruction – I still haven’t quite absorbed the extent of the crimes, and it’s been several months. It’s trite what people have said, but true: if this isn’t impeachable, what is? And to vote not to impeach on these charges is to condone the behavior. I respect people truly voting their conscience, but no genuine conscience-based position could lead someone to vote no on these two articles. And if these Democrats can’t explain it to their constituents, or stand their ground when they’re attacked for doing the right thing, then they’re moral cowards who don’t deserve to lead.

  184. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The Rethugs have painted themselves into a corner. Anyone who understands the law understands that Darth Cheeto committed bribery–and bribery is actually called out in the Constitution as something that might get one impeached.

    More to the point, anyone in Congress has to see DJT’s actions as a serious challenge of and encroachment on the prerogatives of Congress as a co-equal branch of government. They should be outraged, and they should be attacking the Executive with all the fury they can muster in their spineless, weak little bodies. However, they know that after 3 years DJT is their creature. They are wed. And if they do anything but deny, scream and challenge the validity of the entire process, then they will have to at some point engage on the facts. They know that they cannot do this, because the facts are against them. No reasonable person can defend DJT’s actions, so they will refuse to engage based on the facts and instead engage with the Straw-Man rationale of their own–and Russia’s–creation.

    What we have to do is use that dereliction of duty against them. They have shown that they fail to govern in the nation’s interest. How can we ever trust them with government again?

  185. says

    Politico – “Watchdog report a ‘roadmap’ for Russian spooks, intel vets say”:

    One thing jumps out in scrolling through the Justice Department inspector general’s highly anticipated report on the FBI’s conduct in 2016: the lack of blacked-out text.

    The scarcity of redactions in the 476-page report, coupled with the sweeping declassification authority President Donald Trump gave to Attorney General Bill Barr earlier this year, has left intelligence veterans grappling with a novel instance of the Justice Department perhaps revealing too much—in stark contrast to the precautionary overclassification the intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracy tends to prefer.

    “Typically DOJ pushes back against efforts to declassify sensitive information,” said David Laufman, a former top Justice Department official who oversaw parts of Crossfire Hurricane and is mentioned in the report.

    The Office of the Inspector General has no authority to redact information, and the Justice Department has final say on classification levels and markings, according to OIG rules.

    Laufman, who specializes in inspector general investigations and sensitive national security matters as part of his private law practice, suggested there could have been political reasons for the aggressive declassification.

    “It would be unusual for the attorney general in particular to push to declassify more than the IG thought appropriate,” Laufman added, “particularly if there were any resistance to doing that by the agencies that originated that information. Those are facts that would reasonably raise suspicions about motivations for declassifying that material.”

    Barr decided to declassify portions of the IG’s report just before it was released, according to the New York Times, including sections dealing with British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s sources, Steele’s lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The inspector general gave Steele’s firm, Orbis, “highly redacted portions of the draft report for review and comment” before its release, the statement said. “At the twelfth hour late Sunday evening, Orbis was informed by the OIG that previously redacted material had been unredacted and that it contained negative information about Christopher Steele. Orbis was given no opportunity to review, much less comment, on this material.”

    A spokesperson for the inspector general’s office declined to comment. A footnote in the report’s “methodology” section notes that “consistent with our standard practice, we provided a draft copy of this report to the Department and the FBI, and as appropriate, other government agencies, for the purpose of conducting a classification review and providing final classification markings.”

    The chief issue with the newly declassified information, national security experts and former officials say, is that it offers identifying details about sources—specifically, how the report describes Steele’s sources, who ostensibly provided the bulk of the information Steele included in a dossier of Trump’s alleged Russia ties, and how the FBI vetted them.

    “I would LOVE a roadmap like this from the Russians or Chinese,” said one former intelligence official, referring to the report’s extensive description of how the Crossfire Hurricane team—named after the codeword given to the FBI’s Russia probe—determined the authenticity of certain intelligence.

    The report includes FBI interview notes summarizing conversations with sources, revealing identifying details—one sub-source was described as being the subject of a YouTube video and several press reports, for example, while another was said to have “direct access to a particular former senior Russian government official”—and a description from another intelligence service of one of its former employees.

    Experts said the depiction of sources and vetting in the report could pose problems for the U.S.’ information sharing relationships, and undermine the FBI’s recruitment efforts.

    “Who wants to be a source if you can’t keep a secret?” said another former intelligence official. “It has a chilling effect and makes existing sources anxious about whether their identities will be maintained confidentially.”

    One paragraph in the report, for example, seems to confirm previous reporting about the identity of a Steele sub-source.

    A properly classified report would make it far more difficult to home in on an alleged source’s identity, said the second former intelligence official.

    “If a journalist or a foreign intelligence service can identify a human being that way, then too much has been revealed,” this person said.

    “How we handle sources — some of that is already public,” the second ex-official added. “But the identity of sources and the specific procedures for vetting them are usually among the most carefully guarded information we have.”

    Additionally, the report revealed the assessment of a friendly foreign intelligence service, Britain’s MI6, about one of its former employees, Steele, who worked on the service’s Russia desk for nearly two decades. The revelation risks creating a chilling effect on future intelligence sharing between allies, argued the first former official.

    While not naming MI6 directly, the report noted that the counterintelligence officials in charge of Crossfire Hurricane, Peter Strzok and Bill Priestap, traveled “abroad” in 2016 to meet with Steele’s former “professional contacts,” and quoted those associates’ use of intelligence jargon.

    “Judgment: pursuing people with political risk but no intel value;” Strzok and Priestap wrote in their feedback notes, obtained by the IG. “[R]eporting in good faith, but not clear what he would have done to validate,” read another.

    Questions about the Trump administration’s willingness to declassify typically sensitive material predated Barr and the IG report….

    It seems to me that Steele and his sources have been mistreated by a number of people and organizations.

  186. says

    USA Today – “Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government”:

    In a stinging rebuke to Turkey, the Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide – marking a shift in U.S. policy despite repeated objections from the Trump administration.

    The Senate’s action is historic, and it will almost certainly exacerbate U.S.-Turkey tensions. The genocide measure officially recognizes the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.

    For decades, Turkey had deployed an army of lobbyists to stop the measure. But that effort fell short on Thursday, when Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., pressed for its adoption and no senator objected.

    Menendez broke down in tears after the measure sailed through, as he began recounting the horrors of the genocide.

    “The killing was done with axes, cleavers, shovels and pitchforks. It was like a slaughterhouse,” Menendez said, quoting a priest who documented the atrocities at time. “Infants were dashed on rocks before the eyes of their mothers.”

    It was clear, he added, that Turkey’s “ultimate goal was to eliminate the Armenian people.”

    The House passed the genocide measure in October. But until Wednesday, it seemed destined to stall in the Senate. Menendez had previously tried three times to bring it up in the Senate. But each time, a Republican senator objected, saying they were acting at the behest of the White House.

    On Dec. 5, for example, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., blocked the measure – even though he said he supported it – after the White House expressed concerns about the timing of such a vote.

    “I support the spirit of this resolution,″ Cramer said then. “However, I do not think this is the right time.″

    Turkish officials have repeatedly argued that passing such a resolution would severely damage U.S.-Turkey relations, already deeply frayed in the wake of Turkey’s twin decisions to purchase a Russian missile system and to invade Syria. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took those steps in the face of fierce objections from Washington.

    Turkey had deployed “a phalanx of their lobbyists” to pressure lawmakers to oppose the genocide bill, Menendez told USA TODAY on Thursday. He said lobbyists on Turkey’s payroll were devoting more energy to blocking the genocide resolution than to opposing punitive sanctions legislation that is also gaining steam in the Senate.

    In an Oct. 25 missive, Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S. warned lawmakers that passing the genocide measure could jeopardize future economic cooperation and create a lasting hostility between the two NATO allies.

    “I call upon you not to play a part in creating a permanent negative resentment in our historically close and friendly relations,” the diplomat, Serdar Kilic, wrote in the letter.

  187. Akira MacKenzie says

    a_ray @ 304

    What we have to do is use that dereliction of duty against them. They have shown that they fail to govern in the nation’s interest. How can we ever trust them with government again?

    It’s not people like me you’re going to have to convince. You’ve got to reach the anti-government rank-and-file Rethuglicans who cheer the prospect of a government shutdown. To them, dereliction of duty when the “duty” is governing is supposed to be a good thing,

  188. says

    Alex Wickham, BuzzFeed:

    Tories do think Labour turnout is high but they are also worried about tactical voting / GOTV apps created by Labour and anti-Brexit campaigners

    300,000 people have used [GetVoting.org] today (you put your postcode in and it tells you who to vote for to beat the Tories)

    Best For Britain say adverts for [GetVoting.org] have reached 3.5 million people in target seats today

    They reckon 20,000 tactical votes can change election result…

    4,440 people have used it in Kensington
    2,700 in Cities of London and Westminster
    2,400 in Wimbledon

  189. says

    From the G:

    Exit polls suggests Tories on course for majority of 86

    Huw Edwards is reading out the exit poll results. Here are the main ones.

    Conservatives: 368

    Labour: 191

    Conservative majority: 86

  190. says

    Guardian: “This result, should the exit polls prove accurate, would represent a ‘phenomenal victory’ for the Tories and would leave Boris Johnson feeling vindicated, the former Speaker of the Commons John Bercow has said.

    He told Sky News it would be an ‘absolutely dramatic victory’ that would allow Johnson to get ‘phase one’ of the Brexit process through by the end of January.”

  191. says

    Josh Marshall: “It’s hard. But it’s really important for Democrats to annoyingly, methodologically, constantly repeat the sworn testimony because Republicans keep claiming things that the sworn witnesses said over and over were not true.”

  192. says

    “…Every day, relentlessly, with commitment. No going gently. No defeatism.

    The people who are most vulnerable to this assault can’t afford to have their allies give up. We fight this shit all the way. And eventually, we will reverse it.”

  193. tomh says

    For anyone who thought they knew how low Republicans could go, I give you ex-gov Bevin of Kentucky.

    WaPo:
    Defeated GOP governor pardoned violent criminals in a spree lawyers are calling an ‘atrocity of justice’

    […]
    Bevin issued 428 pardons since his defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear in a close election in November, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. His list includes a man convicted of reckless homicide, a convicted child rapist, a man who murdered his parents at age 16 and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash after giving birth in a flea market outhouse.

    He also pardoned Dayton Jones, who was convicted in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy at a party, Kentucky New Era reported.
    […]

    “What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice,” said Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele, a prosecutor for Knox and Laurel counties. “He’s put victims, he’s put others in our community in danger.”

    Steele said he was particularly disturbed by the pardon of Patrick Brian Baker, whose brother hosted a fundraiser for Bevin and donated to him over the years, the Courier Journal reported.

    [He also pardoned] Brett Whittaker — a man who was convicted on two counts of murder for killing a pastor and his wife while driving under the influence in 2011. At the time, Whittaker was on probation for a separate assault offense.

  194. johnson catman says

    I only hope that the citizens of the US look at what happened in the UK and realize that we damn well better get the vote out for the democratic candidate in November 2020 or we will be facing the same fate.
    .
    re Saad @331: Yes. We are the baddies.

  195. johnson catman says

    ‘Hazardous Material’ That Cleared School Bus Turns Out To Be Axe Body Spray: Thirty students were evacuated from a Florida school bus this week in what the driver reported as a possible “hazardous materials” incident. Half of the evacuated students from Buffalo Creek Middle School in Palmetto were treated on the scene for mild respiratory irritation after smelling a “strong odor.” All were transported to a nearby high school to be picked up by their families.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/axe-body-spray-school-bus-evacuation-florida_n_5df31be0e4b04bcba18214c7?ncid=%20edlinkusaolp00000029
    .
    I have always considered that stuff toxic. Seems this nearly proves that.

  196. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 323

    Or, maybe those of us who prefer democracy, secularism, racial-sexual equality, and sane government really are in the minority.

  197. says

    (Somehow it brings me joy that the most viewed article this morning at the Guardian is “Eagle v octopus: Canadians rescue bird locked in battle with giant mollusc” and the most shared is “Thousands of ‘penis fish’ appear on California beach.”)

    Guardian – “Sardines squeeze into Italian cities for biggest anti-Salvini protests yet”:

    Clutching rosaries, prayer books and a large crucifix, a group of around 20 people gathered outside a court in Turin on Tuesday morning to pray for Matteo Salvini. The leader of the far-right League and Italy’s former deputy prime minister is on trial in the northern city for allegedly defaming the judiciary, but he didn’t show up for the first hearing.

    The fan club, called I Cinque Sassi (The Five Rocks), emerged in response to the “Sardines”, a rapidly proliferating movement against the politics of Salvini and his far-right allies. “The only fish that interests us is the symbol of the first Christians,” Angela Ciconte, the group’s founder, told reporters outside the court.

    But they might need more than prayer to effectively compete with the Sardines, who in the last month have packed themselves tightly in ever-increasing numbers into piazzas in city after Italian city.

    Hours after the vigil, 35,000 people crammed together like sardines in Turin’s Piazza Castello for the latest demonstration by a movement that sprung up in Bologna in mid-November in reaction to Salvini’s pledge to “liberate” the Emilia-Romagna region from the left in elections in late January.

    “We are here to say we have had enough of this boorish, vulgar politics cultivated by selfies and fake news,” said Paolo Ranzani, one of the Turin organisers. “But the left and other political forces are not exempt; politicians need to set an example, right now they’re not doing that.”
    Sardine signs are held in the air at the Turin protest.

    The Sardines movement began in November after Mattia Santori, 32, from Bologna, sent an urgent message to three friends late at night telling them to meet the next day. It was a couple of days before Salvini and his coalition partners, the smaller far-right party Brothers of Italy, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, were due to launch their campaign for the Emilia-Romagna regional election at an indoor sports arena in Bologna. Over lunch, the four friends hatched a riposte to Salvini’s boasts about filling Italy’s squares with supporters. The sports arena had a capacity for 5,700 people, and so, via an announcement on Santori’s private Facebook page, the group invited people to a counter-rally at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, with the aim of attracting 6,000 people.

    “Salvini and Giorgia Meloni [leader of Brothers of Italy] were announcing themselves as liberators of the region and we wanted to peacefully express our dissent,” said Andrea Garreffa, one of the four friends.

    What happened next confounded their expectations: 15,000 people filled the Bologna square. As Salvini’s far-right electoral alliance pursued its campaign, the Sardines converged in other Emilia-Romagna cities before spreading across Italy and beyond. Over 120,000 people are expected to join a national rally in Rome on Saturday.

    Holding signs depicting sardines and singing Bella Ciao, the Italian resistance song, the crowd in Turin was made up of a mix of people – young, old, Italian, foreign, politically engaged or those who have not participated in an election for some time. Their shared aim was to give a strong message against the hate which they say is being cultivated by the far right.

    A combination of the threat of the far right returning to power nationally and growing disillusionment with a coalition concocted between M5S and the centre-left Democratic party is spurring people to join the Sardines rallies.

    Salvini has mocked the movement, writing on Twitter that he prefers kittens as “they eat sardines when hungry”. But one thing is for sure – they have managed to erode his dominance of the squares, with 40% of Italians saying in a poll in November that the movement now represents Salvini’s “most dangerous enemy”.

    “The movement has demonstrated that Italy does not want to be identified by the barbarism [sic] brought about by populism [sic],” said Marco Revelli, a politics professor and president of the Piero Gobetti Centre of Studies in Turin. “It also reflects what used to be the democratic left of this country – they are filling a void, one youngster told me, ‘we are a product of what was missing’.”

    The big question now is how the movement will develop.

    “We keep getting asked this question and maybe we’ll find an answer in Rome,” said Garraffa. “It will not be us who answers it, it will be the square and participation of the people. After Rome, things will change one way or another.”

  198. says

    “Jamal Khashoggi: US spy chief given deadline to name Saudi writer’s killers”:

    US intelligence agencies will be given a month to make a formal declaration on whether the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for the murder of the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

    The annual military spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is expected to be approved by the Senate next week before being signed into law by Donald Trump.

    In negotiations before the NDAA’s passage, sections stipulating that Khashoggi’s murderers be subject to punitive measures were stripped from the bill, on the insistence of the White House – as were clauses that would have cut US support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

    According to the New York Times, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, took a leading role in negotiations on behalf of the White House, and was insistent that the punitive clauses on Saudi Arabia should be removed.

    But the final version of the bill retained language requiring the director of national intelligence (DNI) to present a formal determination within 30 days on who was responsible for the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.

    In April, the US barred entry to 16 Saudis for their role in the murder plot, including one of the crown prince’s closest aides, Saud al-Qahtani. This week, the state department added the former Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Mohammed al-Otaibi.

    In a closed-door briefing in December 2018, the CIA director, Gina Haspel, told senators that the agency was convinced the murder had been ordered by the crown prince (colloquially known by his initials MBS).

    “We know that the intelligence community has assessed with high confidence that MBS bears at least some responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder and the cover-up that has followed,” Tom Malinowski, the Democratic congressman from New Jersey who drafted the Saudi human rights accountability legislation, told the Guardian. “So if they answer the question, honestly, MBS will be on the list.”

    The congressional demand for a formal declaration, will be a test of the independence of the office of the DNI, since the ousting of Dan Coats from the post in the summer. His former deputy, Joseph Maguire, has been acting in the position since August.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if the White House put some pressure on the director of national intelligence to come to a different conclusion,” Malinowski said. “So we’ll be watching this with great interest. We do have the advantage of knowing in advance what the intelligence community thinks because they’ve already told us in a classified setting. So it will be quite striking if they tell us something that is different in response to this.”

    Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA officer and Saudi expert, said that Haspel is likely to have given the agency’s assessment of Prince Mohammed’s role in the Khashoggi murder in verbal form to the Senate, leaving the intelligence community enough wiggle room to hand over a list of the names of suspects the US has already named, excluding the crown prince.

    “The acting DNI is a fine person, but he’s not going to fall on his sword, nor is the director of central intelligence,” Riedel said.

    If the bill contains “language requiring the director of national intelligence (DNI) to present a formal determination within 30 days on who was responsible” and they’ve determined MBS was responsible and Maguire doesn’t include this in the formal determination, he’s not walking a fine line. He’s lying to the public, and Riedel shouldn’t be making excuses for it.

  199. johnson catman says

    re SC @341: Well, we knew that the fix was in from the start, but why the fuck would the White House have any say in how the trial is conducted since the WH is on trial? That is not how fair trials are conducted. Oh, that’s right. Moscow Mitch has no intention for even the illusion of a fair trial.

  200. says

    Brett McGurk:

    Quick thread / update on the still unfolding consequences of Trump’s appeasing Erdogan while asking for absolutely nothing in return. Two weeks ago, recall, Trump feted Erdogan at the WH for no apparent reason. Since then, what’s happened?

    1. Erdogan again threatened to repopulate the border region in NE Syria with over one million Syrians not native to the area (a process that has reportedly already begun).

    2. Erdogan called on Muslims to “unite against the west” at the very moment Turkey is hosting US-designated-terrorist Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Istanbul.

    3. Turkey concluded a Mediterranean “sea grab” with the beleaguered GNA of Libya absent any consultation and in direct conflict with NATO ally Greece and U.S. allies Israel and Egypt.

    4. Erdogan provided an immediate briefing on NATO meetings to Vladimir Putin. (Kremlin readout: “The Turkish president briefed Vladimir Putin on his meetings at the recent NATO summit in London.”)

    5. After which, Turkey denied it had approved NATO defensive plans for eastern Europe, plans Turkey has held hostage until NATO’s 28 other allies declare the Kurdish YPG a terrorist organization (which NATO won’t do).

    6. Erdogan announced the Turkstream gas pipeline will be inaugurated with Putin on January 8 in Turkey. (Congress in the NDAA just voted to sanction this project.)

    7. Turkey together with Iran and Russia through its “Astana process” condemned Israel’s defensive measures in Syria and what it called “illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenue” by US-backed forces. (Trump has unforutnately invited the latter point.)

    8. And … Turkey once again threatened to kick the U.S. out of Incirlik airbase in the event Washington chooses to push back on Turkey’s purchase of Russian missiles and longstanding pattern of conduct SECDEF rightly calls “spinning out of NATO’s orbit.”

    This is what happens when the United States abandons principled diplomacy. Trump’s relationship with Erdogan has undercut any serious effort to nudge Turkey in a more constructive direction. As in most other areas of foreign policy at the moment, it’s only getting worse.

  201. Saad says

    It’s because he knows he’s not accountable to anyone and the response from the public can be ignored.

  202. Saad says

    ^ that was about McConnell, but you may choose to apply it to any number of current trending politicians

  203. says

    Politico – “Democrats face post-impeachment dilemma: What if Trump offends again?”:

    Democrats describe President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine as a “crime in progress” and a smoking gun that is “already reloaded.”

    In fact, Democrats say, the need to remove Trump from office is so urgent precisely because he’s certain to continue threatening the integrity of the 2020 election and stonewalling Congress’ ability to prevent it.

    Yet Democrats are only just beginning to confront the paradox that their imminent impeachment vote creates: What happens when a remorseless president commits the same behavior that got him impeached in the first place — only this time after the House has already deployed the most potent weapon in its arsenal?

    …[F]ar from being deterred by impeachment, Trump appears emboldened — suggesting impeachment may not be the kind of bulwark against misconduct envisioned in the Constitution .

    Even on Thursday, as the Judiciary Committee finalized the House’s articles of impeachment, Trump retweeted smears of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whose unceremonious ouster by Trump in May formed an important chapter of Democrats’ impeachment case.

    In other words, Democrats are facing the prospect of impeaching a president as he dismisses their allegations in real-time. But that’s no reason to hesitate, they say, even if Trump appears certain to win an acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate.

    …[S]ome lawmakers say the impeachment drive has already been successful in halting Trump’s malign ambitions.

    “There’s absolutely no question that had we not launched this investigation he would have successfully extorted Ukraine and right now, you guys would be writing about the Ukrainian investigation of allegations of corruption against Joe Biden’s family,” said freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), a former State Department hand who hails from a district Trump won in 2016.

    “I do believe that the process and the likely outcome will serve as a deterrent,” he added. “We would be in a much, much worse situation if Congress of the United States threw up its hands.”

    Other influential Democrats say they’re still placing their hope in Senate Republicans even though many have all but declared their intent to acquit Trump of the charges against him.

    “The only way we’re going to stop him from continuing this is to convict him in the Senate and remove him from office,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a member of House leadership.

    “If this president is not held accountable and my Republican colleagues in the Senate don’t honor their oath of office and convict him based on overwhelming evidence,” said Cicilline, “we will no longer have a democracy.”

  204. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 346:

    …[S]ome lawmakers say the impeachment drive has already been successful in halting Trump’s malign ambitions.

    I definitely disagree. Trump has no shame, no moral compass, and a very limited capacity to learn. He will continue to be a repeat offender, or walking crime spree.

  205. says

    Marshall Cohen, CNN:

    House Democrats go after McConnell, after he touted his WH coordination:

    @RepValDemings: “I think he should recuse himself.”

    @RepJayapal: “It is outrageous for the chief juror who is organizing the trial to be coordinating with the defendant.”

    h/t @Phil_Mattingly @jeremyherb

    Here’s one more from @RepRaskin. He said McConnell is orchestrating “a complete surrender of the constitutional duties and prerogatives of the Senate, essentially turning them over to the White House.“ (h/t @alizaslav)

  206. says

    Ken Vogel (which, ugh, but whatever): “NEW: TRUMP allies pushed for Ukraine to name as ambassador to DC [Andrii Telizhenko], who worked with @RudyGiuliani to push claims re: the BIDENS & Ukrainians helping @HillaryClinton in 2016.

    Zelensky named someone else, but the WH delayed agr[ee]ment for 2 mos.”

  207. says

    From Steve Benen:

    In Wisconsin, one of the nation’s key 2020 battlegrounds, the latest Marquette Law School poll found Donald Trump with a 47% approval rate, well above the national average. The same poll showed the president narrowly leading each of the top Democratic candidates in hypothetical match-ups, through Trump narrowly trails Joe Biden in the Marquette results.

    In other news, Trump took credit for a Democratic Party initiative:

    […] Trump spotlighted a “historic” deal Thursday that offers paid family leave to federal workers, seizing credit for another item that was on Democrats’ wish list for years.

    The government “will now give 12 weeks of paid family leave to all federal employees — something that nobody expected,” Mr. Trump said at a White House summit on child care. [text from the conservative paper Washington Times]

    A day earlier, on Twitter, the president identified the “paid parental leave” provisions in the NDAA as one of “our priorities.”

    […] Pro-family policies tend to be quite popular, so it stands to reason Trump would want to be associated with the Democratic goal that Democrats successfully fought for.

    But that doesn’t turn fiction into fact.

    Nevertheless, pointing to the Dems’ family-leave policy, Ivanka Trump claimed at a White House event yesterday, “In every action he takes, the president is putting American families first.”

    This prompted the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell to explain that pretending Trump’s agenda is “pro-family” is quite ridiculous: more families are losing their health insurance, more people are losing access to safety-net programs they’re legally entitled to, and more Americans are losing access to food stamps and nutrition assistance. Rampell’s column added:

    There’s a long list of other Trump actions egregiously unfriendly to families – including, of course, the family separation policy that ripped some 5,400 children away from their parents, many of them for months. Today, we’re merely sending asylum-seeking families to tent cities in Mexico, where children and their parents can remain together as long as they’re willing to tolerate epidemics, frostbite, kidnapping and sexual assault.

    Given this record, how can this administration claim with a straight face that it’s pro-family?

    Perhaps by claiming credit for the other party’s ideas?

    Link

  208. says

    Trump lied about Nancy Pelosi:

    Last night, as Donald Trump wrapped up a long day of borderline-hysterical tweeting, the president came up with a new line of attack against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. […] Trump claimed [Pelosi], “just got duped in an interview to admitting that she has been working on impeaching me for ‘two and a half years.’ In other words, she lied. This was the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats plan all along, long before the Ukraine phone call.”

    As is usually the case, the president wasn’t telling the truth.

    [At Politico’s “Women Rule” summit], Anna Palmer asked Pelosi to react to the criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry of the president.

    “It’s been going on for 22 months, two-and-a-half years actually,” Pelosi said initially.

    Then immediately made clear she was referring to the Mueller investigation.

    “I think we are not moving with speed. Was it two and a half years ago they initiated the Mueller investigation? It’s not about speed. It’s about urgency. One of the charges against the president of the United States is that he was violating his oath of office by asking for government to interfere in our election undermining the integrity of our elections,” she said.

    Nevertheless, Trump repeated his lie this morning. If recent history is any guide, forever more, the president will pretend his falsehood is fact, telling anyone who’ll listen that Pelosi “admitted” that she began the impeachment push two-and-a-half years ago, facts be damned.

    […] Trump has reality backwards.

    Nancy Pelosi did not want to impeach this president. She really made every effort to avoid it. The more some House Democrats pushed for an impeachment inquiry in the spring, the more the Speaker pushed back, insisting Trump wasn’t “worth it.” […]

    And then Trump tried to extort a vulnerable U.S. ally as part of a scheme to cheat in the 2020 elections – at which point Pelosi wasn’t given much of a choice.

    In the president’s mind, it’s easier to believe Pelosi has harbored impeachment ambitions for nearly three years, simply waiting for an excuse to execute the plan she had in mind all along. The exact opposite is true.

    Link

  209. says

    From Joan McCarter:

    Moscow Mitch McConnell didn’t just casually toss the Constitution into the trash on Sean Hannity’s show Thursday when he promised Donald Trump would be in control of his own impeachment hearing. He gloated over his wanton destruction of the federal judiciary, laughing at Hannity for saying that he was shocked President Obama left judicial vacancies.

    “I’ll tell you why,” he answered. “I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.” Then he laughed.

    He laughed over the fact that he single-handedly refused to let the Senate advise and consent on President Obama’s judicial nominees. He’s laughing over the fact that he left all those vacancies open for Donald Trump. For Trump. Including a Supreme Court seat.

    He’s now reached an obscene milestone—50 circuit court judges confirmed. Fifty. These are the judges that will send every anti-abortion, anti-civil rights, anti-environment case from the states up to the Supreme Court. For decades to come, because many of them are very young and these are lifetime appointments. He’s reached his goal on the circuits, he told POLITICO, and is moving on. “Whatever’s on the calendar, I’m going to make every effort I can to clear them all,” McConnell said. “We’ve already […] finished up the circuits. So I’m going to make my best effort to clear the calendar of district judges by the end of the year.”

    He has been completely undaunted by the fact that a record number of those judges have been deemed “unqualified” by the American Bar Association. They’re now up to seven unqualified judges confirmed, including two just confirmed: the “arrogant, lazy ideologue” Lawrence VanDyke, who cried crocodile tears over his ABA rating, and anti-abortion zealot Sarah Pitlyk, who “has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal [and] has never examined a witness.”

    Moscow Mitch is infesting the federal judiciary with unqualified, bigoted judges and he’s proud of it. He thinks it’s funny. And he’s doing it for Trump, a bigoted, unqualified president. Because it wasn’t enough to destroy the Senate. He has to destroy the judiciary, too.

    Link

  210. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] As one Trump official told The Daily Beast, “ … having Zelensky or people close to him come and do a photo opportunity would be so key given everything going on with impeachment.” After all, what better ammo can Republicans wave around going into the Senate trial than chummy Christmas time shots of Zelensky smiling in the company of everyone who has given him such great instruction on how corruption is done in America? Maybe they’ll even show the Ukrainian president strolling among Melania’s latest collection of cheery dead Christmas trees.

    Just ignore the gun to his head.

    Link

  211. says

    A federal judge is taking the Trump administration to task over the handling of document requests and other procedural matters related to the case concerning adding about a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

    […] The dispute led to Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross being held in contempt of Congress in July. The House Oversight Committee filed suit last month to try to force the administration to turn over the subpoenaed records.

    Holding his first hearing on the suit Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss said he was taken aback by two aspects of the administration’s position: that it cut off negotiations with the Congress after the contempt vote and that it has still not conducted a thorough review of the documents in dispute.

    During the session, Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Shapiro said the administration tried to engage with the House when it first demanded the census-related documents earlier this year and after it subpoenaed them in April, but stepped back after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege and the House voted for contempt.

    “At that point, there was no negotiating,” Shapiro said, describing the situation as having “a gun to our head.”

    “I disagree entirely,” replied Moss, who said there was no reason to shut down that process for that reason.

    When Shapiro said the filing of briefs in the case might take a longer time if the Justice Department has to review all the documents and explain why they were withheld, Moss seemed surprised.

    “That should occur before documents are withheld from Congress,” said the judge […] “I’m not sure it’s appropriate almost a year after the subpoenas were served to say we haven’t reviewed the documents yet…I think they need to.” […]

    Link</>

  212. says

    Trump dreams about Buttigieg?

    Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Friday that he found it a little unsettling that […] Trump is dreaming about him.

    “It did bother me when he said he dreams about me,” the South Bend, Ind., mayor quipped during a Washington Post Live Event. “I don’t know exactly what goes on in this president’s dreams, but I’m certain that I want nothing to do with them.” […]

    “I mean, you have Alfred E. Neuman who’s running, who’s like this guy? This guy Buttigieg,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Hershey, Pa. “Can you believe he’s doing well? He’s like the leading fundraiser. I dream about him. It’s true.”

    Buttigieg said he’s not concerned about further attacks from Trump should he become the Democratic nominee.

    “I’m not that worried for it — I’m gay and I grew up in Indiana,” Buttigieg said. “That kind of schoolyard talk doesn’t bother me. I’ve also seen a lot worse incoming than a tweet full of typos.” […]

    Link

  213. says

    Megan Rapinoe announces endorsement of Warren with video on Instagram

    U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president through an Instagram post Friday.

    Rapinoe’s caption of the post — a video of Rapinoe and Warren talking on the phone — reads: “I truly believe the best things in life are a result of being bold and being real. This extends to every part of my life and nothing feels more relevant and real than this election.”

    “I’m proud to endorse @elizabethwarren today, for being bold, for being real, for listening to ALL of us, and for being prepared to navigate the unique challenges we face today as a country.” […]

  214. says

    Amid impeachment, Trump and Giuliani are still coordinating on anti-Biden dirt

    Giuliani actually admitted it on a phone call.

    […] Trump’s entire impeachment mess began over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s family and Democrats with the help of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. […]

    Giuliani recently returned from a trip to Kyiv […]

    After landing in New York last Saturday, according to the Wall Street Journal, the president called his attorney while the plane was still taxiing. “What did you get?” Trump asked, according to the Journal’s Friday interview with Giuliani. “More than you can imagine,” the former New York City mayor replied, noting he would be putting his findings in a 20-page report.

    One almost has to respect (while remaining appalled at) how brazen Giuliani’s admission is here. He’s openly telling the Wall Street Journal that his anti-Biden investigation in Ukraine continues, and that Trump is still interested in knowing about it. […]

    what this entire episode highlights is a president and lawyer tag-team unwavering in their anti-Biden crusade, even as Trump’s political future hangs in the balance. […]

    Trump’s likely acquittal in the Senate would allow him to proceed working with Giuliani to dig up dirt on the Bidens that could help with his 2020 reelection campaign — indicating he learned absolutely nothing from this experience.

  215. says

    From Wonkette:

    There will come a day when we will not be forced to write about that lunatic Rudy Giuiani every seven hours. We can go back to blessed ignorance on the vagaries of Ukrainian transliteration. Two Ys? An I and a Y? Won’t be our problem! We’ll forget the name of that One America News hostess who looked straight into the camera and claimed that she and Rudy Giuliani were being menaced by George Soros himself, […] One day Rudy and the hairball lawyers will go to jail, or to hell, or to Moscow, never to be thought of again.

    Sadly that day is not today. Because today, like every other day for the past three years, is CRIME TIME. […]

    At the very moment when Donald Trump is getting impeached for seeking Ukrainian electoral interference, his personal lawyer has arrived at the White House to update him on his progress getting Ukraine to interfere in our elections. And in case Rudy’s latest idiotic scheme fell out of your brain, it involves American investment behemoth Franklin Templeton taking $7 billion of stolen money from the former Ukrainian president, using it to buy an equivalent quantity of Ukrainian government bonds, somethingsomething Hunter Biden $16 million, the Ukraine bonds getting cashed out in 2017, and now Adam Schiff has Franklin Templeton Mutual Funds […]

    Sadly, Rudy is without his chucklefuck “translators” on this trip, since Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman got arrested and can’t leave the country.

    In pressing ahead on Ukraine, Mr. Giuliani has replaced the translation skills of Messrs. Parnas and Fruman with an app he downloaded that allows him to read Russian documents by holding his phone over them. But on his recent trip, he said, “despite whatever else you can say, I missed them.”

    But don’t worry, Rudy’s been checking in regularly with the chucklefucks’ lawyers and “said he has spoken to one of the men with a lawyer present, but declined to identify which.” […]

    Rudy is too busy to worry about that now that he’s shooting a documentary on Burisma and “the Bidens” with OANN, starring the shadiest cast of lowlifes he could scare up in Ukraine.

    “Just having fun while Dems and friends try to destroy my brilliant career,” Mr. Giuliani wrote in a text message during his trip, which he described as a “secret assignment.”

    Mr. Giuliani said he also has expanded his search for information about Burisma beyond Ukraine to Latvia, where the gas company had bank accounts, and Cyprus, where it is registered.

    […] In Kyiv, Mr. Giuliani met with a member of Ukraine’s parliament to discuss the creation of a group called “Friends of Ukraine STOP Corruption.”

    Awesome! Hey, want to throw in some raging corruption on this side of the Atlantic? Maybe a little influence peddling by the president’s free lawyer?

    During the heat of the Mueller investigation, Mr. Giuliani frequently visited the White House, usually meeting with the president weekly, sometimes alone, and often in the evenings in the residence without other White House officials present, former administration officials said.

    Meetings would start out discussing the Mueller probe and then veer into other subjects, like Ukraine, one of the former officials said. Mr. Giuliani often brought lists of requests for the president, according to the former official, and sought out meetings at the State Department and other agencies on behalf of clients. […]

  216. says

    Trump may refuse to debate his 2020 opponent:

    Donald Trump has a totally legitimate reason for maybe deciding to act even more like a criminal authoritarian king during the election next year, by refusing to debate his eventual Democratic opponent.

    No, it’s not because Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg or, we dunno, a hologram of Marianne Williamson beamed in from outer space, would make him look very stupid, because of how he is the stupidest person in the entire United States of the World, STOP SAYING IT’S BECAUSE HE’S STUPID.

    And no, it’s not because he’s a total chickenshit who’s BAWK BAWK BAWK about having to go head-to-head in a battle of wits against literally anybody. […]

    And no, it’s not because they won’t let him bring big Sharpie-written notes that say “BIDEN IS THE REAL YOUKRAINE” or “SAY POCOHOMTAS MORE” or “PETE IS THE GAY KIND.”

    And no, it’s not because he’s bad at talking and did we mention stupid?

    Just kidding, it actually is because he’s stupid, but not in the most obvious way. You see, THEY made it RIGGED, and he is STILL MAD:

    Mr. Trump has told advisers that he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit entity that sponsors the debates, […]

    Less of a concern for Mr. Trump than who will emerge as the Democratic nominee is which media personality will be chosen as the debate moderator […]
    Also he’s stupid:

    In the 2016 general election debates, Mr. Trump repeatedly complained about being at a disadvantage to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

    […] After his performance in one of the debates was panned, Mr. Trump blamed a “defective mic” and questioned whether it was done “on purpose” to put him at a disadvantage.

    Who can forget the debates of 2016, when the only reason Trump looked stupid is because of a quiet mic. Hell, that might have even helped him, because it was the one debate where he was less of a big loudstupid than usual.

    Of course, he also stalked Hillary Clinton like … well, like a sexual predator … and loomed over her and got up in her space, […]

    Trump is reportedly also still upset because he made a big show of bringing women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to that one debate, and he wanted them to have to sit in his box where Hillary Clinton could see them, but the debate commission wouldn’t let him, GRRRRR RIGGED!

    In conclusion, Donald Trump is scared of debates, and also he is very stupid.

    Link

  217. says

    Republicans in denial:

    […] This morning CNN’s Manu Raju spoke to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) about a foundational element of the overall scandal. […] the exchange didn’t go especially well.

    Q: Why is it ever ok for an American president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival? Why do you think that’s ok?

    Lesko: “He didn’t. He didn’t do that”

    Manu: He did ask Zelensky

    Lesko: “He did not do that.” […]

    [Trump] was quoted saying, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.” […]

    [Trump] added soon after, “I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens.” […]

  218. says

    Followup to comment 359.

    Trump is so anxious to receive fresh smears of the Bidens from Rudy Giuliani, he called Rudy while the plane was on the runway. The plane was still taxiing after landing.

  219. says

    More Ukraine-related fuckery from Trump and Giuliani: they want Ukraine to swap out their current ambassador for Andrei Telizhenko, “a 29-year-old former Ukrainian diplomat who popped up in 2017 to claim that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. colluded with the Democratic Party to undermine Trump’s campaign.” Yep. The two dotard dunderheads are still pursuing “proof” for a debunked conspiracy theory.

    Rudy Giuliani openly declared that he was going to Ukraine to “interfere in an investigation,” but he was underselling it. The conspiracy theories that Giuliani has been pushing for Donald Trump’s benefit go beyond simply smearing Joe Biden and his family, to attacking Hillary Clinton, exonerating Vladimir Putin, and convicting the Ukrainian government of involvement in a broad international conspiracy.

    Not surprisingly, to support this “theory,” Giuliani has been prowling the debris of the former pro-Russian government that was ousted for its allegiance to Moscow and unending corruption. […]

    As the Kyiv Post reports, Andrii Telizhenko is a 29-year-old former Ukrainian diplomat who popped up in 2017 to claim that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. colluded with the Democratic Party to undermine Trump’s campaign — a statement that repeatedly appeared in statements from Republicans during the impeachment proceedings.

    None of the claims voiced by Telizhenko […] have held up to even casual scrutiny. That hasn’t stopped Giuliani from making them a centerpiece of his “documentary” in support of Trump’s conspiracy theories, and it hasn’t stopped Republicans from using those claims to suggest that the ludicrous ideas championed by Trump and Giuliani deserve serious study. In fact, Republicans repeatedly put forward disproven statements by Telizhenko as if they are facts.

    […] Telizhenko seems to be a serial liar whose background consists of constantly shedding his “beliefs” to adopt those of whoever happens to be winning at the moment. […] Not only is he being squired around Ukraine by Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani and Trump are now pushing to make Telizhenko the actual Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States.

    Telizhenko‘s own personal story is riddled with claims about his education and actions that also don’t hold up to scrutiny. He’s also been accused of seeking bribes. […] Telizhenko claims that Shokin was investigating Burisma when he was fired, which is a claim not even Shokin makes—because it’s provably not true.

    […] Trump and Guiliani want to reward their one man wrecking crew. As The New York Times reports, Telizhenko has been “embraced by Mr. Trump’s allies” and is being pushed as a candidate for ambassador despite a lack of experience, a history of soliciting bribes, and an overall reputation as a schemer. Because really … that makes him a perfect fit for Trump.

    Link

    Telizhenko only worked in D.C. for a few weeks.

  220. says

    From Paul Krugman:

    […] The truth is that even now I don’t fully understand how things got this bad. But the reality is clear: Modern Republicans are irredeemable, devoid of principle or shame. And there is, as I said, no reason to believe that this will change even if Trump is defeated next year.

    The only way that either American democracy or a livable planet can survive is if the Republican Party as it now exists is effectively dismantled and replaced with something better — maybe with a party that has the same name, but completely different values. This may sound like an impossible dream. But it’s the only hope we have.

    NY Times link

    Another excerpt from the article:

    The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isn’t the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention.

    No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

    However, the scariest reporting I’ve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that Arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

    Catastrophic sea-level rise, heat waves that make major population centers uninhabitable, and more are now looking more likely than not, and sooner rather than later.

    But the terrifying political news and the terrifying climate news are closely related.

    Why, after all, has the world failed to take action on climate, and why is it still failing to act even as the danger gets ever more obvious? There are, of course, many culprits; action was never going to be easy.

    But one factor stands out above all others: the fanatical opposition of America’s Republicans, who are the world’s only major climate-denialist party. Because of this opposition, the United States hasn’t just failed to provide the kind of leadership that would have been essential to global action, it has become a force against action. […]

  221. says

    Voter suppression in Wisconsin:

    A state judge on Friday ordered more than 200,000 voters to be kicked off of voter roles in Wisconsin ahead of the 2020 elections […]

    The voters were initially listed in an October letter from the Wisconsin Elections Commission as having potentially changed addresses. They would have been purged in 2021, but a lawsuit from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty argued the date should be pushed up to before the 2020 election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

    Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy ordered the government to do so, and rejected calls from the commission and the League of Women Voters to stay his order pending an appeal, according to the Sentinel.

    Malloy was appointed by Republican Gov. Scott McCallum in 2002 and has been elected to the post three times since.

    “This would create chaos to do this now,” assistant attorney general Karla Keckhaver, representing the commission, argued in court.

    Purged voters have a chance to re-register, but only a few thousand have so far.

    “There’s no basis for saying 12 to 24 months is a good time frame. It’s not that difficult to do it sooner,” Malloy said in court, per the Sentinel. “If you don’t like (it), you have to go back to the Legislature.”

    Democrats protested the ruling, which the Sentinel reported applied to more voters in municipalities that supported Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump in 2016.

    Trump won the state that year with a margin of fewer than 23,000 votes. […]

    Link

    From Tony Evers:

    I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes. This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process.

    https://twitter.com/Tony4WI/status/1205629927804022785

    From Eric Holder:

    Here they go. Voter purge in Wisconsin that disproportionately targets Democrats, people of color and those who voted for Hillary in 2016. The expected unfairness. Fight this Wisconsin! Fight for a fair election.

    https://twitter.com/EricHolder/status/1205689155998683136

  222. says

    Methane ‘super emitters’ releasing massive plumes after Trump rolled back environmental regulations

    Methane is many times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. It’s not mentioned as often when considering the greenhouse effect behind the climate crisis because it’s released in comparatively low volumes and will gradually degrade over time. But methane’s potency means that even at low volumes it definitely makes a significant contribution to global warming. That was a big part of the reason that, under President Obama, regulations were set in place to limit the amount of methane that oil and gas companies were allowed to emit, especially by venting wells in areas where capturing all the methane doesn’t happen to be convenient.

    But those regulations were some of the first to be rolled back under Donald Trump. Trump proudly took all caps off the ability of fossil fuel producers to vent methane into the atmosphere. […]

    In just a few hours of flying over Texas sites with a small plane, the Times identified hundreds of sites whose level of methane production puts them in the category of “super emitters.” The leaks came not just from wells, but from storage facilities, pipelines, and every stage of natural gas production. Since fracking generated a surprise boom in natural gas production two decades ago, the level of methane in the atmosphere has been increasing. Even though that change corresponded almost exactly with increased production, oil and gas companies have pretended to ignorance over the source of the methane. But it’s clear that methane is leaking in massive amounts.

    In fact, so much methane is being leaked at such rates that it could be argued that the move from coal to natural gas as the largest source of electricity in the United States has actually created more damage to the climate. But it’s hard to be sure, because so little of this loss is actually measured. And if Trump gets his way, companies will not longer be required to even monitor for methane loss. […]

  223. says

    Trump has succeeded in lobbying some of the members of the jury (Congress critters) who will vote on his impeachment:

    Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) will switch political parties after voicing opposition to impeachment, sources told The Hill.

    Van Drew has begun informing his staff and fellow New Jersey delegation members that he will leave the Democratic Party, Democratic aides said. His decision comes after a lengthy Friday meeting with President Trump.

    Van Drew is one of just two Democratic lawmakers who voted against launching an impeachment inquiry into Trump. He is a member of the centrist Blue Dog caucus. […]

    Link

  224. says

    UN climate talks in Madrid have stalled. Countries are blaming the US.

    Negotiations over the Paris climate agreement are now in overtime.

    […] A tense round of international negotiations over the future of global action on climate change proceeded Saturday, as some countries continued to resist language in an agreement that calls for more aggressive actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

    The United Nations meeting known as COP25 is now in overtime as the future of the 2015 Paris climate agreement hangs in the balance. But meeting organizers say a final agreement may be imminent. […]

    The negotiations over the past two weeks are meant to finalize the Paris rulebook, a series of regulations that countries would use to meet their targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris agreement. The talks were also aimed at getting more countries to agree to higher goals.

    But the same key issues that were left unresolved during the last round of negotiations in Katowice, Poland, in 2018 remain under debate in the current bargaining session. And it’s unclear whether countries will stay at the table until they reach an accord, or if they will walk away without an agreement.

    “The overall assessment is, this is not a good situation,” Seyni Nafo, the former chair of the African Group of Negotiators on climate change, told reporters on Friday. “Not having a decision on some of those issues might be better than having a bad decision.”

    One big hurdle is the set of rules around creating an international carbon market under Article 6 of the Paris agreement. Most countries agreed on the guidelines, and negotiators have been reluctant to name the holdouts. But on Friday, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica’s minister for energy and environment, called out the United States, Brazil, and Australia as the parties thwarting closure on the issue. […]

  225. says

    From Wonkette: “New York Times Drops Another Load Of ‘Both Sides’ BS About Impeachment”

    Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. It was a party-line vote, and that’s Republicans’ primary strategy for protecting their corrupt president. They want Americans to think this is all just a partisan food fight. The plan requires the willing assistance of a clueless media. Don’t worry. They’re already on the job.

    Check out this headline from the New York Times. “The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment.”

    […] Trump’s cronies want impeachment seen as something Democrats are inflicting on a Republican president they loathe for no better reason than he’s a criminal, despite the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff have gone to great pains to present impeachment as regrettable but necessary. Congress as a whole is constitutionally obligated to hold the executive branch accountable. They’ve quoted the founders. They’ve used the words “checks and balances.” It was all for naught. […]

    The phrase “disputes over basic facts” would make George Orwell retch. The Times article describes how House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler begged his Republican colleagues to actually consider the basic facts.

    NADLER: I hope that we are able to work together to hold this president — or any president — accountable for breaking his most basic obligations to the country and to its citizens. […]

    SENSENBRENNER [Republican]: Put aside your partisan politics because the future of our country and the viability of our Constitution as the framers decided it, are at stake.

    The exchange reminded me of an amusing scene from the series “Angel.” The good guys confronted a TV executive whose morning puppet show was stealing children’s souls. They listed all his heinous crimes, but the villain just smiled and politely responded, “I disagree.”

    Republicans are disagreeing with witnesses, evidence, and reality itself. Yet the Times just lamented that “the appeals to rise above the tribalism of the moment” failed. Republicans want to spin impeachment as a partisan spectacle, and the Times is more than willing to help. Democrats want to present impeachment as a sober exercise of their oaths of office, and the Times just reports how they’ve failed.

    This was the very divisive impeachment debate that Democrats had always hoped to avoid. […]

    The president extorting a foreign country for his personal political gain should qualify as “compelling, overwhelming, and even bipartisan.” Yes, Pelosi probably failed to appreciate that Republicans would ignore Trump’s crimes even if he was literally caught on tape shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, but the Times doesn’t even give Pelosi credit for two out of three. It claims the nation is on the “brink of an intensely partisan impeachment with deep consequences for both parties and the country.” […]

    Link

    From Jay Rosen:

    This is it, people. This is all they got. All phrasing from a single story in the New York Times today. Asymmetrical polarization is just too much for the institution as currently led. So they changed it to 50/50 polarization and put it on page one.

    https://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu/status/1205865866291810309
    See the Twitter link above for the list of the offensive both-sides phrasing the New York Times used, including “both sides engaged in a kind of mutually assured destruction.”

    More from Wonkette:

    New York University professor Jay Rosen listed every example of mealy mouthed “both sides-ism” from the Times’ latest insult to journalism. If part time White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham ever showed up to work, you’d think she’d contributed to the reporting. At the very least, she’ll probably pin a copy of it on the front of Trump’s refrigerator. […]

    no one at the New York Times is on Trump or the GOP’s payroll, but that almost makes it worse. When the media prioritizes supposed “fairness” over facts, they allow lies to spread like mold. They’re on Trump’s side whether they believe it or not, and he doesn’t have to pay them a cent.

  226. says

    Elizabeth Warren Gets Off the Mat

    Warren delivered her most direct response yet to skeptics, and to Buttigieg.

    On Thursday, Elizabeth Warren gave the kind of speech that becomes a Big Speech […]

    The Warren campaign’s need for such a narrative-resetting event has been getting steadily more urgent since the October debate, when moderators and rival candidates got all over her case for not explaining how she’d fund single-payer health care. Pete Buttigieg has eaten into her support among […] white-collar voters, especially in Iowa, while Michael Bloomberg got into the race and spent four hundred trillion dollars on TV ads more or less because he’s worried that Warren (or Bernie Sanders) will win and raise his taxes.

    Warren’s rivals are (discreetly, at this point) accusing her of being an angry ideologue more interested in imposing her disruptive leftist theories than in Listening to Ordinary Americans, and in that characteristically murky presidential-campaign meta style, her poll numbers are suffering while voters and pundits speculate back-and-forth to each other as to whether the charges are true in a way that would damage her electability.

    So she’s changed some things. […] Warren’s stump speech now emphasizes that she would like to expand access to Medicare before addressing the tricky question of private insurance. She’s taking more audience questions at her appearances […] She’s benefited from, and encouraged the press in its pursuit of, news cycles about Buttigieg’s high-dollar donors and tenure as a corporate consultant at McKinsey.

    […] on Thursday, she delivered remarks on the campus of New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College […] Warren made the case that the purpose of her vaunted proposals for “structural change” is not to personally humiliate CNBC billionaires but to improve day-to-day economic life for non-billionaires. […]

    Warren also presented her candidacy in such a way as to make clear that, in theory, it should have broad appeal—not just to democratic socialists, and not even just to the white working-class voters who tend to favor “populist” economic ideas like taxing the rich, but to the kinds of people who care about GDP growth, business investment, entrepreneurship, and the other concepts that the Republican Party used to occasionally celebrate […]

    Note, for instance, the reference to “new factories and new product lines” in this section introducing Warren’s ideas for changing the structure of corporations in a way that would make wage growth and long-term stability more attractive than short-term profitability and shareholder payouts:

    At the beginning of the 1980s, large American corporations sent less than 50 percent of their total earnings to investors. Within 30 years, they sent 93 percent of their earnings to investors.

    Trillions of dollars that could have gone to workers and to long-term development—to new factories and new product lines—instead went to short-term payoffs to investors. Trillions that could have gone to workers, instead went to investors. Wages and productivity used to grow together. As workers produced more, they got paid more. But that ended by 1980, when productivity continued to rise but wages flattened out.

    Warren concluded this section of the speech by arguing that her reforms “don’t cost taxpayers a dime” and claiming that they will “produce more jobs, more growth, more investment, higher wages, and stronger American companies that can compete and win.” Another riff noted that low wages and high costs for housing, health care, and child care are not just stressful to those who have to deal with them but preclusive of the kind of consumer-goods spending that gets the economy juiced up and ready to party. “Low demand drags down productivity and longer-term growth,” Warren said, sounding suspiciously like a non-socialist. […]

  227. says

    From William Saletan:

    […] Barr’s propaganda is completely false. Mueller, the FBI, and the press found considerable evidence that Trump and his campaign sought to collaborate with Russia to win the election. They also found that Trump obstructed the investigation. The only reason Trump remains unindicted is that Barr declared the evidence insufficient. Now Barr is saying the evidence never existed. If he’s not delusional, he’s a liar.

    Link

  228. tomh says

    Appeals court blocks Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban

    Dec. 14 (UPI) — A federal appeals court ruled against Mississippi’s law banning abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy more than a year after the governor signed it into law.

    The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower judge’s ruling in November 2018, which called the abortion ban unconstitutional.
    […]

    Earlier this year, Mississippi passed an even stricter abortion law, banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It effectively bans abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy.

    A federal judge blocked that ban in May.

  229. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    This evening I turned on MSNBC and watched Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland express deep concern about whether his Republican colleagues were going to keep an open mind as jurors in the Senate trial of the President. At one point he went as far as to say that Mitch McConnell had “raise[d] serious questions whether he will be objective in carrying out the responsibilities of the Senate or whether he’s going to try to stack the deck in favor of the president.”

    My point here is not to pick on Ben Cardin. This is one example of rhetoric you can hear from many Democrats and most Senate Democrats. It’s just the example that is ready at hand. But it is terrible and completely pathetic.

    It is grievously irresponsible to be expressing “concerns” that Republicans may not do their job and uphold their responsibility as Senators. Republicans have made crystal clear that they understand the nature of the President’s abuses of power and that they will not only protect him from the consequences of his actions but, in an effort to do so, bend reality to pretend that it is in fact fine and even admirable for a President to use extortion to force a foreign power to intervene in a US election. To see Republicans do this in the open and not state that fact clearly is a total abdication of responsibility. […]

    Republicans have made their intentions crystal clear. It is an abdication of responsibility not to state this clearly. […] They’ve betrayed the constitution and their oaths. This is a point to make consistently over and over and over again. Because it is true. If some Republican Senator decides to change his mind and the right thing they are welcome to do so.

    Perhaps Cardin and others are too squeamish for that language or too wedded to Senate collegiality. I’m sure many Republican colleagues are amiable enough people when you meet them at the congressional gym. But language does not need to be hot to state clearly where the facts of the matter stand. There’s nothing to be “concerned” about. Senate Republicans have made very clear there is no level of lawless behavior from this President that they will not defend. The public needs to know that. It needs to be said over and over. To say anything else, to express hopes this or that doesn’t happen when it already has happened only signals a damaging, demoralizing and shameful weakness.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/terrible-terrible-terrible

  230. says

    From former FBI chief Jim Comey:

    The inspector general found significant mistakes and that is not something to sneeze at. That’s really important.

    But the American people, especially your viewers, need to realize they were given false information about the FB. It’s honest, it is not political, it is flawed.

  231. says

    Trump whines:

    Hard to believe that @FoxNews will be interviewing sleazebag & totally discredited former FBI Director James Comey, & also corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff. Fox is trying sooo hard to be politically correct, and yet they were totally shut out from the failed Dem debates!

    Both Commiecast MSNBC & Fake News CNN are watching their Ratings TANK. Fredo on CNN [Trump is referring to chris Cuomo] is dying. Don’t know why @FoxNews wants to be more like them? They’ll all die together as other outlets take their place. Only pro Trump Fox shows do well. Rest are nothing. How’s Shep doing?

    Tiny violins for the Orange Toddler who is throwing a fit.

    “Commiecast” is a new insult from Trump. It is weird that he sometimes sounds like my aging grandmother, who has a brain tumor and who reverts frequently to being obsessed with “commies” taking over the USA.

    From the readers comments:

    Despite 95%+ of all Fox coverage being pro-trump… he is all pissy when they aren’t. Just a longer version of his whines about Sessions – but this time it’s “Where’s My Pravda!”
    ——————–
    “Commiecast” coming from a jackass whose two best friends are ex Commie Vladimir Putin and godlike Commie Kim Jung Un.

  232. says

    Here’s a Fox News Poll Trump Definitely Won’t Be Tweeting About Today

    […] This morning, Fox News released a fresh batch of numbers. Among them: Trump’s job approval numbers ticked up slightly, from 42 percent in late October to 45 percent now. Then we get to impeachment.

    From Fox:

    The poll, conducted Sunday through Wednesday, also finds 50 percent want Trump impeached and removed from office, 4 percent say impeached but not removed, and 41 percent oppose impeaching him altogether…

    A new high of 45 percent of independents favor impeachment, up from 38 in late October.

    Overall, 53 percent of voters believe Trump abused the power of his office, 48 percent think he obstructed Congress, and 45 percent say he committed bribery.

    […]

    Link

  233. says

    The Growing List of Damning Newspaper Editorials Demanding Trump’s Impeachment

    On Saturday, the New York Times Editorial Board came to a concise conclusion: “Impeach.” It joined a growing chorus of leading newspapers calling for the president’s impeachment, with tones ranging from restrained (the Los Angeles Times calls itself a “a reluctant convert”) to resolute (USA Today: “The current board has made no secret of our low regard for Trump’s character and conduct…”) And some editorial boards aren’t on board at all: The Wall Street Journal began its anti-impeachment opinion last week with, “So that’s it? That’s all there is?” It concluded, “Honey, we shrunk the impeachment.” […]

    On Saturday, the New York Times Editorial Board came to a concise conclusion: “Impeach.” It joined a growing chorus of leading newspapers calling for the president’s impeachment, with tones ranging from restrained (the Los Angeles Times calls itself a “a reluctant convert”) to resolute (USA Today: “The current board has made no secret of our low regard for Trump’s character and conduct…”) And some editorial boards aren’t on board at all: The Wall Street Journal began its anti-impeachment opinion last week with, “So that’s it? That’s all there is?” It concluded, “Honey, we shrunk the impeachment.” […]

    The New York Times: “Impeach.”

    To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.

    The Washington Post: “The case for impeachment“

    We believe Mr. Trump should receive a full trial in the Senate, and it is our hope that more senior officials will decide or be required to testify during that proceeding, so that senators, and the country, can make a fair and considered judgment about whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office. We have reserved judgment on that question. What is important, for now, is that the House determine whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted an abuse of power meriting his impeachment and trial.

    USA Today: Impeach Donald Trump

    The current board has made no secret of our low regard for Trump’s character and conduct. Yet, as fellow passengers on the ship of state, we had hoped the captain would succeed. And, until recently, we believed that impeachment proceedings would be unhealthier for an already polarized nation than simply leaving Trump’s fate up to voters next November.

    Los Angeles Times: “We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached.”

    The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be—will be—acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration.

    But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.

    The Boston Globe: “Impeach the president“

    Impeachment does not require a crime. The Constitution entrusts Congress with the impeachment power in order to protect Americans from a president who is betraying their interests. And it is very much in Americans’ interests to maintain checks and balances in the federal government; to have a foreign policy that the world can trust is based on our national interest instead of the president’s personal needs; to control federal spending through their elected representatives; to vote in fair elections untainted by foreign interference. For generations, Americans have enjoyed those privileges. What’s at stake now is whether we will keep them. The facts show that the president has threatened this country’s core values and the integrity of our democracy. Congress now has a duty to future generations to impeach him.

    More at the link.

  234. says

    Link to an article discussing Saturday Night Live’s cold open, featuring fictional American families discussing Trump’s impeachment.

    Video at the link.

    Kate McKinnon, playing Greta Thunberg, also makes an appearance: “So Merry maybe-our-last-Christmas to all. And Donald Trump — step to me and I’ll come at you like a plastic straw comes at a turtle.”

  235. says

    From NBC News:

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed calling former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as witnesses at an impeachment trial for President Donald Trump in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday.

    The offer is intended as a signal that Democrats are seeking an evidentiary trial, not intending to simply rely on the House investigation.

    Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed that the Senate subpoena four people who are close to the president or are expected to know about the delay of about $400 million in military aid to Ukraine: Mulvaney; Bolton; Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget.

    Link to PDF of Schumer’s complete letter.

  236. says

    Excerpt from an interview conducted by CNN’s Jake Tapper:

    RAND PAUL: The president … didn’t call up the president of Ukraine and say, “Investigate my rival.”

    TAPPER: He said, “Investigate Joe Biden.”

    PAUL: He said, “Investigate a certain person.” … He does not call up and say, “Investigate my rival.” He says, “Investigate a person.” […]

    TAPPER: And Joe Biden is his rival.

  237. says

    Yes, Trump did commit crimes—actual crimes according to federal statutes.

    The House Judiciary Committee alleges President Trump committed multiple federal crimes, including bribery and wire fraud, in its report on impeachment, filed early Monday. […]

    TPM link

    More details, plus the full “Impeachment of Donald J. Trump President of the United States” report, are available at the link.

  238. says

    From Barack Obama:

    I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything… living standards and outcomes. […]

    If you look at the world and look at the problems it’s usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way.

  239. says

    From Wonkette: “Obamacare Website Crashes On Final Enrollment Day, Total Coincidence, Nothing To See”

    Yesterday was the open enrollment deadline for people to sign up for plans on the Obamacare exchanges for 2020. You might think the Department of Health and Human Services would take all the steps necessary to make sure Healthcare.gov, the signup site, could handle all the extra traffic expected on the final day of open enrollment — and if not, to make damn sure anyone having problems could get signed up. Hahaha, if you expect that, you have not been paying attention! […]

    A spokesperson for HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is in charge of running the website and helping Donald Trump dismantle Obamacare with plausible deniability, told The Hill that the site “remains open for business.” Just not actually signing anyone up while it was all glitchy, you see. Besides, said the spokesperson, anyone who left a message at the phone number shown on the error screen would hear back from CMS and get their insurance. The spokesperson also said the site has a friendly “waiting room” function that handles heavy traffic, although they also said it would only affect a “portion of customers.” […]

    Joshua Peck, who ran CMS during part of the Obama administration and later co-founded the nonprofit Get America Covered to counter the Trump administration’s efforts to gut the ACA, said this crap couldn’t possibly be happening at a worse time:

    This error is neither a “system down” or “waiting room” message — leaving people trying to login bewildered that this is even a login page. When you call the listed number, the message states “due to high call volume” leave your name and number.

    The http://HealthCare.gov website problem is ongoing. Sometimes the login page loads, sometimes it doesn’t. For context, right now a baseball stadium of people SHOULD be enrolling every hour. These kind of technical issues could not be happening at a worse time [more on the Twitter thread https://twitter.com/JoshuaFAPeck/status/1206355508774494208 ]

    […]

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    The Trump administration must extend the deadline to enroll for health care coverage. Any delay or attempt to keep Americans from enrolling is completely unacceptable.

    If you are trying to enroll and http://HealthCare.gov is down, call (800) 318-2596.

    More from Wonkette:

    As of this morning, CMS hasn’t said anything on its website, which conveniently doesn’t even mention that embarrassing Obamacare or ACA at all.

    Nothing in the “newsroom,” either, and no mention of the outages in the Twitter feeds for HHS Secretary Alex Azar, or CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Maybe it never actually happened. It’s the holiday season and there’s a lot of impeachment news — maybe this story, like the ACA website, will just go away.

    https://www.wonkette.com/obamacare-deadline-website-glitch

  240. says

    Projection episode from Trump:

    […] “Because Nancy’s teeth were falling out of her mouth, and she didn’t have time to think!” [Trump said.]

    The video shows that just before answering the reporter’s question, Pelosi moved her mouth slightly and took a sip of water, but her teeth did not appear out of place and her speech was not interrupted. […]

    From Representative David Cicilline, a democrat from Rhode Island:

    [I am praying for Trump because] “these are serious times & he’s spent the last week attacking strong women.”

  241. says

    Corporations paid, on average, an 11.3 percent tax rate last year. That is a steep drop in the percent rate of taxes paid by corporations, and that drop occurred under Trump’s tax law.

    Washington Post link

    About 400 of America’s largest corporations paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate established under President Trump’s 2017 tax law, according to a report released Monday.

    The 2017 tax law lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, but in practice large companies often pay far less than that due to deductions, tax breaks and other loopholes.

    In the first year of the law, the actual amount corporations paid in federal taxes on their incomes — their so-called “effective rate” — was 11.3 percent on average, possibly its lowest level in more than three decades, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank.

    From 2008 to 2015, under the previous tax code, the corporations’ effective rate was about 21 percent, according to ITEP’s prior research.

    The report also found that 91 corporations in the Fortune 500, many worth billions of dollars, paid no federal taxes last year.

    The findings come amid an explosion in the federal deficit, which this year rose to close to $1 trillion. In October, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the deficit had grown $205 billion, or 26 percent, in the past year, an unusual occurrence during a period of strong economic growth.

    Corporate tax revenue fell markedly during the first year of the tax law, from about $300 billion in 2017 to $204 billion in 2018, according to federal data, although it increased slightly from 2018 to 2019.

    “When drafting the tax law, lawmakers could have eliminated special breaks and loopholes in the corporate tax to offset the cost of reducing the statutory rate,” the report says. “Instead, the new law introduced many new breaks and loopholes, though it eliminated some old ones.” […]

  242. says

    Celebrated former FBI, CIA chief sees ‘dire threat’ from Team Trump.

    In August 2018, when Donald Trump began using security clearances as a political tool, William Webster joined other former CIA directors in speaking up and condemning the president’s tactics. […]

    Webster, the only person to ever lead both the CIA and the FBI, wrote a new op-ed for the New York Times, published today, in which he describes a “dire threat to the rule of law” in the country he loves and expresses concern that “the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order are, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them.”

    […] The aspersions cast upon [F.B.I. officials] by the president and my longtime friend, Attorney General William P. Barr, are troubling in the extreme. Calling F.B.I. professionals “scum,” as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the F.B.I., made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution.

    The country can ill afford to have a chief law enforcement officer dispute the Justice Department’s own independent inspector general’s report and claim that an F.B.I. investigation was based on “a completely bogus narrative.” In fact, the report conclusively found that the evidence to initiate the Russia investigation was unassailable. There were more than 100 contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents during the 2016 campaign, and Russian efforts to undermine our democracy continue to this day. I’m glad the F.B.I. took the threat seriously. It is important, Mr. Wray said last week, that the inspector general found that “the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.”

    Webster went on to reflect on his “profound” disappointment in Rudy Giuliani, whose “activities of late concerning Ukraine have, at a minimum, failed the smell test of propriety.”

    The op-ed added, “The rule of law is the bedrock of American democracy, the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. Every American should demand that our leaders put the rule of law above politics.” […]

    I can appreciate why William Webster may not be a household name, but to appreciate the significance of his op-ed, consider his c.v.

    Webster, a lifelong Republican, was a judge named to the federal bench by Richard Nixon. He was chosen by Jimmy Carter to lead the FBI, and chosen by Ronald Reagan to lead the CIA. Webster remains the chair of the DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, after having been appointed by each of the last three presidents.

    As NBC News’ Ken Dilanian put it, “It’s hard to overstate how much Webster is respected, even revered, in the national security community.”

    It’s against this backdrop that this celebrated figure is – in a very public way – taking aim at Trump, Bill Barr, and Rudy Giuliani, each of whom he sees undermining our system. […]

    Link

  243. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] I want to flag one particular quote from Rudy Giuliani, apparently from an interview in November: “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.” This isn’t terribly surprising. We know Giuliani was the key player driving this. Admitting to so openly remains jarring. He won’t quit his criminal activity, even after getting caught. He also won’t stop confessing to his crimes.

    All of these high crimes and in quite a few cases statute crimes, he claims, are fine as part of his zealous defense of his client, Donald Trump.

  244. says

    Will Moscow Mitch do the right thing on drug prices? No, because it does not benefit him.

    […] This week: Will Mitch McConnell allow the Senate to do anything, asks Politico, about prescription drug prices?

    […] the piece thoroughly explains that Mitch does not intend to do a damn thing about reining in prescription drug prices because, and this is explicit, he sees no political advantage for his party in doing so. House Democrats just passed an expansive prescription drug bill, which McConnell intends to block all action on to prevent Democrats from succeeding in any legislation on any front, but Republican senators are expressing alarm that the general public is genuinely furious at the problem and that it could be dangerous while some face 2020 reelection battles to truly tell the public to pound sand on this one.

    […] No, the man now referred to as the Grim Reaper of the Senate, Moscow Mitch, is not going to give even a passing glance at the notion of helping his Kentucky constituents or anyone else […] Oh, and it’s socialism now, so stop asking.

    A somewhat odd detail in this particular version of the “Will Mitch McConnell at some point do his damn job” story is that Donald Trump himself has gotten the prescription drug bee in his bonnet, almost certainly because he was watching his TV, and has decided he wants his administration to be the one that grants the public this particular popular demand. Will Trump lean on McConnell to allow a bill to pass, then?

    This sounds like a reasonable question, until we remember the fundamental rule of the Donald White House: Donald Don’t Really Give A Damn.

    Trump wants to be able to brag on the campaign trail that he “solved” escalating prescription drug prices, but he does not actually care what “solved” means. He is unfamiliar with any of the particulars of any of the proposals, and will at no point read any of them. […]

    The only governance that the Republican-controlled Senate has done under McConnell has been partisan sabotage. From the courts to tax policy, there has been no act to come from McConnell that has not been tailored, specifically, to allowing Republicanism to cling to power slightly longer than its demographics suggest it can.

    Like Trump, McConnell will allow his branch of government to act only if there is something in it for McConnell. He will never do otherwise. So stop asking.

    Link

    I could really benefit from legislation that lowers prescription drug prices. If I lived in Kentucky, I vote Mitch McConnell out of office.

  245. says

    Some Republicans think Trump doesn’t have a leg to stand on when he ignores House subpoenas.

    Twenty former Republican lawmakers, officials and legal experts are urging a federal appeals court to reject President Donald Trump’s claim that his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, can ignore a House subpoena.

    The slate of prominent GOP figures is arguing that the country’s founders did not intend for presidents and their advisers to enjoy such untrammeled authority to reject congressional oversight. House Democrats are pushing for McGahn to testify about episodes that special counsel Robert Mueller investigated as potential obstruction of justice.

    […] the new friend-of-the-court brief argues that a truly “originalist” view of the showdown calls for the courts to force McGahn to appear, especially given the ongoing impeachment fight.

    “The idea that a president and his current and former advisors enjoy absolute immunity from subpoena — particularly during impeachment proceedings — finds no support in early American practice,” the GOP ex-officials contend. “During the early republic, Congresses and presidents recognized that Congress had nearly untrammeled authority to request documents and testimony to support impeachment proceedings.”

    Signed on to the brief are several prominent former lawmakers, including former Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.), and ex-Reps. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa). Former Justice Department official Stuart Gerson and prominent conservative lawyer George Conway are also among those asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to endorse Congress’s right to question senior executive branch officials about potential misconduct.

    “Placing the president and his aides above the law would be truly un-American. Early U.S. Congresses and courts subpoenaed presidents, and the presidents complied with those subpoenas. That should remain the case today,” said another signer, former Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.).

    With many originalist judges and legal scholars fond of approaching the Constitution with their best approximation of an 18th-century eye, the brief cites various examples from the late 1700s and early 1800s that the ex-officials contend show the founders favored Congress enjoying robust access to executive branch secrets. […]

    Link

    Those twenty former Republican lawmakers disagree with William Barr, and with Trump.

  246. says

    From Wonkette:

    For people who spend all their time criming, these guys are so, so bad at it. Chucklefuck Lev Parnas just filed his response to the government’s motion to revoke his bail and throw him in the pokey pending trial, and it’s … interesting!

    Prosecutors charged last week that Parnas told a whole passel of lies about his assets back in October, including a little oopsie about his wife Svetlana’s personal account. Among those accidental omissions was a $1 million wire transfer from a bank in Russia in September, which somehow slipped Lev Parnas’s mind. A guy who had no discernible income just plain forgot that he was living off a seven-figure Russian remittance to his wife, and that they had parked $200,000 of it in an escrow account in Florida as earnest money toward the purchase of a $4.5 million home. Happens to the best of us!

    And why was that Russian account sending the lovely Svetlana all that money? Well, there’s a perfectly good explanation for that one!

    The funds received represented a loan taken by Mrs. Parnas, for a term of sixty months, at a 5% annual rate of interest.

    UH HUH. Because who wouldn’t give a woman with zero personal income and five kids a low-interest personal loan which obligates her to $19,000 in payments every month? In September, right before Lev Parnas refused to testify and told Congress to stuff its subpoena, someone in Russia decided that “a stay-at-home mother with assets of approximately $210,000 in cash and jewelry” was an ideal credit risk. You bet!

    […] Lev Parnas was ducking multiple court judgments, so when Johnny Law says that the $1 million loan and the $200,000 payment from hairball lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova for Parnas’s excellent “translation” services wound up in Svetlana’s account “in what appears to be an attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana’s, rather than Lev’s […]

    Particularly since we’ve danced this particular dance before with Paul Manafort, who’s sitting in jail right now because of his unfortunate habit of describing offshore wire transfers as “loans,” conveniently exempting him from paying income tax on them. These “loans” magically disappeared from his balance sheet when he went to borrow money from actual banks […]

    Neither party has mentioned whether Mrs. P forked over $40,000 for the November and December payments on this very serious IRL Russian loan. […] On the plus side, Parnas’s lawyer reminded the court about five times that his client is complying with House Democrats’ request for documents. And if anyone has the goods on Rudy and his Ukraine fuckery, it’s this idiot. […]

    Link

  247. says

    From Wonkette:

    There is trolling, and there is Russian state-run TV trolling Donald Trump after his most recent meeting with one of his Russian handlers (ALLEGEDLY) in the Oval Office on the very same day the House Judiciary Committee voted out articles of impeachment.

    We still don’t know what the hell Trump really discussed last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but we can’t imagine it’s anything good. The White House swears Trump was like “LOL don’t meddle in our elections WINK WINK,” but Lavrov says nah, that didn’t even happen. […]

    Julia Davis reports at the Daily Beast on Russian TV’s reaction to the meeting, and surprise, they are doing boner-giggling cartwheels over every aspect of it. The network Rossiya 1 reportedly just loved the visuals of the pic you see above, and did a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.” Very subtle!

    Davis has more:

    Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of a power behind the throne.

    Some people say behind every great man is an even greater woman. And behind every authoritarian shitheel wannabe American “president” is … oh, it’s another goddamned Russian, we guess.

    […] Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director general of ITAR-TASS, Russia’s oldest and largest news agency, predicted: “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power. The next term or the term after that, it doesn’t matter… I have an even more unpleasant forecast for Trump. After the White House, he will face a very unhappy period.”

    The host, Vladimir Soloviev, smugly asked: “Should we get another apartment in Rostov ready?” Soloviev’s allusion was to the situation of Viktor Yanukovych, former president of Ukraine, who was forced to flee to Russia in 2014 and settled in the city of Rostov-on-Don.[…]

    Азаза! ололо! ржунимагу! пацталом!

    (Those are all ways of saying “LOL!” in Russian, because that’s the kind of research Wonkette is willing to do for you.)

    Look, it’s a very funny joke if you are a Russian. Because Yanukovych is up Moscow’s ass and Donald Trump is up Moscow’s ass, and maybe Trump will just have to run away to Russia like a common Yanukovych once he no longer has the protections from the American criminal justice system afforded him by the presidency. HA HA!

    […] Russian TV is reportedly just full of shitting on Ukraine and gloating right now, especially after Trump’s little snuggle meeting with Lavrov.

    Hey, guess who still hasn’t been invited to the White House? That’s right, the president of Ukraine!

    Meanwhile, remember that batshit “documentary” Rudy Giuliani has been filming in Ukraine, about the REAL story of how Joe Biden has been doing corruption in Ukraine by (we think?) poisoning its corrupt former prosecutor to death repeatedly, but don’t worry, he got better? Davis reports that those clips are just running all over Russian TV, oh how shocking. […]

    Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections and pin the blame on Kyiv. […]

    Rossiya-1 reporter Valentin Bogdanov surmised that by now the majority of American Republicans believe that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. elections, with the show airing various clips from Fox News. […]

    One day America will have a normal president who isn’t viewed as a tool of the Kremlin by the Kremlin and its various media organs. Maybe. […]

  248. says

    A few newsy updates from Steve Benen:

    * Flynn case: “A federal judge on Monday sharply rejected Michael Flynn’s argument that he was targeted by politically motivated federal agents – and set a sentencing date of next month for President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.”

    * It’s a breezy read: “The House Judiciary Committee released its full report on the impeachment of President Donald Trump early Monday, ahead of consideration by the full House as early as Wednesday.”

    * NAFTA 2.0: “Mexico’s top trade negotiator plans to return to Washington on Sunday to express his outrage over language in the U.S. bill to implement the new North American trade agreement, potentially complicating the House’s plans to pass the USMCA this week.”

    * Remember when Trump said this wasn’t happening? “North Korea conducted a test at a missile launch site on Friday, the regime said, in a bid to pressure Washington to offer substantial concessions in stalled denuclearization talks.”

    * For consumers who missed yesterday’s ACA enrollment deadline, it’s not too late: “The open enrollment period for Obamacare has been extended until December 18 for those who couldn’t sign up on Sunday, the original deadline, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.”

    * Afghanistan: “The Trump administration intends to announce the drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as early next week, according to three current and former U.S. officials. The withdrawal will leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the officials said.”

    * Occasionally, we see the effects when U.S. leadership disappears: “Global climate talks lurched to an end here Sunday with finger-pointing, accusations of failure and fresh doubts about the world’s collective resolve to slow the warming of the planet — at a moment when scientists say time is running out for people to avert steadily worsening climate disasters.” […]

    * A notable observation from the Columbia Journalism Review: “Democrats, for the most part, are engaging with the factual record; Republicans, for the most part, are not. These positions are manifestly not equivalent. Treating them as such does not serve any useful concept of fairness; instead, it rebounds clearly to the advantage of the one side (Republicans) for whom nonsense being taken seriously is a victory in itself.”* Flynn case: “A federal judge on Monday sharply rejected Michael Flynn’s argument that he was targeted by politically motivated federal agents — and set a sentencing date of next month for President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.”

  249. says

    That labor dispute that was threatening to block the next Democratic presidential primary debate has been resolved. The Democratic candidates all said that they would not cross a picket line. Now, the debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles will be held on schedule, (Thursday).

    In other news, Trump will like this bogus poll result:

    The good news for Republicans in the new Suffolk/USA Today poll is that it shows Donald Trump leading each of the top Democratic contenders in hypothetical general election match-ups. The bad news for Republicans is that in order to arrive at these results, the Suffolk/USA Today poll found “an unnamed third-party candidate” receiving double-digit support, which seems difficult to take seriously, given that no such candidate exists.

    I think the Russians are trying to turn Tulsi Gabbard into a third party candidate.

  250. says

    A group of more than 700 historians, legal scholars and others published an open letter Monday urging the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump, denouncing his conduct as “a clear and present danger to the Constitution.” […]

    “President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government,” the scholars write in the letter, which was published online by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy.

    “So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law,” they add. […]

    In the letter, the scholars criticize Trump’s “numerous and flagrant abuses of power” and state that his actions “urgently and justly require his impeachment.”

    Washington Post link

    Another excerpt from the letter:

    As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, impeachment was designed to deal with “the misconduct of public men” which involves “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Collectively, the President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the Framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, “the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption.” […]

    Hamilton understood, as he wrote in 1792, that the republic remained vulnerable to the rise of an unscrupulous demagogue, “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents … despotic in his ordinary demeanour.” That demagogue, Hamilton said, could easily enough manage “to mount the hobby horse of popularity – to join in the cry of danger to liberty – to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion – to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day.” Such a figure, Hamilton wrote, would “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”

    President Trump’s actions committed both before and during the House investigations fit Hamilton’s description and manifest utter and deliberate scorn for the rule of law and “repeated injuries” to constitutional democracy. That disregard continues and it constitutes a clear and present danger to the Constitution. We therefore strongly urge the House of Representatives to impeach the President.

  251. says

    $12.5 million for research funds may not sound like much, but this is still a victory for Democrats.

    From the Washington Post:

    Congressional leaders reached a deal to fund research on gun violence for the first time in more than 20 years, a major legislative victory for Democrats, researchers and anti-gun-violence activists.

    The deal — still pending final approval as congressional negotiations continue over a must-pass, end-of-year spending bill — would send $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to study gun violence, with each agency receiving $12.5 million, according to congressional aides.

  252. says

    Followup to comment 382.

    McConnell shot down Schumer’s requests.

    […] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threw cold water on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) request to subpoena crucial witnesses for the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

    “The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire fact-finding investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. […]

    “If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, we will only incentivize an endless strain of dubious partisan impeachments in the future,” McConnell said. “And we will invite future Houses to paralyze future Senates with frivolous impeachments at will.”

    Schumer had sent McConnell a letter on Sunday asking him to subpoena acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and his top assistant, Robert Blair, along with former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffy. All four men were central figures in Trump’s Ukraine scheme who refused to show up for their House impeachment hearings.

    The Democratic leader made the request in response to McConnell’s unabashed declaration that he was coordinating with White House lawyers to navigate the impeachment trial in Trump’s favor.

    Schumer slammed McConnell’s rejection shortly after the Republican lawmaker’s speech on Tuesday.

    “I still expect we’ll sit down and discuss trial parameters despite his public appearances on Fox News,” the Democrat said. “But let me say this: I listened to the leader’s speech. I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument, as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony.” […]

    TPM link

  253. says

    House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff was interviewed by Set Meyers:

    […] During an appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” Monday night, Schiff tore into Giuliani by calling the President’s personal lawyer “perhaps the worst lawyer that anyone could have” after Meyers asked him if he thought “Trump is a worse client, or Rudy Giuliani is a worse lawyer.”

    Schiff then said that Giuliani “continues to make the case” for impeachment amid his admission in a New Yorker report that he wanted to oust U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch because he believed she was standing in the way of “the investigations.”

    “It was just another full-throated confession,” Schiff told Meyers. “I don’t know what kind of malpractice that is, but nonetheless, on a serious note… [Giuliani] continues to make the case for his own removal.”

    Despite Meyers pointing out that Trump’s ouster is “very unlikely,” Schiff insisted that the impeachment proceedings were still worthwhile even as he was initially “reluctant to go down this road,” citing the President’s now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that was an effort to dig up dirt against his political rivals.

    “That said to me, this President believes he’s above the law, accountable to no one, can’t be indicted,” Schiff said. “He is utterly beyond accountability. That is too dangerous a situation to go unchallenged.” […]

    Link

  254. says

    Rick Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation.

    Paul Manafort associate Rick Gates was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation and 45 days in jail, which he will be allowed to serve on weekends. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

    U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted that, in weighing the sentence, she also had to consider the signal it would send to others who committed similar crimes. “This is what I’ve been struggling with in anticipation of this sentencing for a long time,” she said, according to Politico. […]

    Link

    Gates is obligated to continue to cooperate with prosecutors. In a sentencing memo, prosecutors noted that Gates “worked assiduously” to cooperate and provided “substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of others.”

    From the readers comments:

    What Gates got has to be a floor to what Flynn will get in sentencing – no way Flynn’s judge will give him less.
    —————-
    It pays to cooperate. Wouldn’t want to be Roger Stone right now.
    ——————
    Everybody else staring down the barrel of an indictment now knows that Gates gave up everything–that’s why he got the absolute minimum.

    Lotta West Wing denizens frantically calling trial-lawyers on secure phones, right about now.

  255. says

    The House Rules Committee met to consider rules for the final House vote on articles of impeachment.

    […] Democratic Rep. Jaime Raskin did a sterling job of dismissing the claim that charges against Trump were “different” because there were “no legal charges,” a position that’s being pushed not just by Collins and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, but also by Mitch McConnell in the Senate. Raskin pointed out that the Department of Justice has made clear its position that Trump can’t be indicted, and that it can’t even consider an indictment against Trump. So there can never be any charges directed at him other than those raised by the House—just as Richard Nixon wasn’t charged with burglary. As Raskin pointed out, this demand is an attempt to give Republicans a “Heads I win, tails you lose” position that can be used to ignore the evidence of Trump’s actions. […]

    this would have been Doug Collins and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, but Nadler is not there because of a family emergency. So Raskin is stepping into his role.

    This is particularly clear because Republican ranking member Tom Cole is directing a series of questions toward Raskin that ask him about personal statements by Nadler, resulting in some rather awkward exchanges. […]

    Link

    More to come on this story. The meeting continues.

  256. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    Nothing, not even Donald Trump’s regular habit of showing up to scream in front of a helicopter, provides a better example of America’s genuine plight than the media appearances of Rudy Giuliani.

    Trump’s personal attorney has now spent months openly telling the nation that he’s engaged in disrupting foreign policy purely for the purpose of reshaping that policy into a smear machine for Trump. He just keeps talking, apparently secure in the confidence that no one, anywhere, will ever do a damn thing about it. And, astoundingly, he seems to be right—not right about any of his claims, but fully justified in his belief that he can lie his ass off, attack U.S. and foreign officials with disdain, and receive nothing but plaudits and requests for more interviews.

    […] He forced out U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch because, he said, “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.” […]

    But he wasn’t done with his attempts either to explain his actions or to disparage Yovanovitch. In a Fox News interview on Monday evening, Giuliani openly took responsibility for the ambassador’s removal. He claimed that he “forced her out, because she was corrupt.” In that interview and in a Tuesday morning tweet, Giuliani described that “corruption” as Yovanovitch refusing to give visas to Ukrainians he wanted to bring to the U.S. so they could repeat the smears Giuliani and Trump were promoting against Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. [OMFG]

    […] Donald Trump’s personal attorney made it clear that he forced a sitting ambassador from office because she stood in the way of bringing pro-Russian officials who had been removed from office for corruption to America so that they could more effectively interfere in the 2020 election. This isn’t conjecture. This doesn’t require any leaps of deduction. This is what he’s bragging about. […]

    She [Marie Yovanovitch] wasn’t in Ukraine to defend Joe Biden. She wasn’t in Ukraine to fight Donald Trump. She was in Ukraine doing America’s business, defending national security, and acting as an exemplar of America’s stand against corruption. Giuliani couldn’t stand for that. […]

    on Monday afternoon Trump repeatedly praised both Giuliani and Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine. Actions, says Trump, that Giuliani takes “out of love.”

    Link

  257. says

    A CT scan costs $1,100 in the US — and $140 in Holland

    It’s one thing to understand in the abstract that America has the highest health care prices in the world. It’s quite another thing to see the price of services, from C-sections to MRIs, compared to other health care systems.

    The Health Care Cost Institute put out a new report Tuesday showing how the prices paid for medical services by private insurance in the United States stack up against prices in other countries. As expected, American prices are collectively higher than the rest.

    But four charts, based on the report, show just how thoroughly the United States is outspending other countries for almost every medical service or prescription drug. […]

    Charts are available at the link.

    A summary of some of the factors contributing to high prices in the USA:

    […] The US is still the wealthiest country in the world. It’s home to the world’s leading biopharmaceutical industry. It tends to have the most cutting-edge treatments. All this contributes to higher prices here than elsewhere. But one big and unavoidable culprit is the lack of price regulation.

    Private insurers, which cover more than half of Americans, negotiate with private providers and drug companies to set their prices. They do have some leverage (by denying a provider or drugmaker access to their patients) but it is more limited than in other countries. There is certainly significant price variation within