Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative July 2019 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. 

July 17

Trump Impeachment Vote

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to kill impeachment resolution against Trump, avoiding a direct vote on whether to oust the president, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, July 17, 2019. House has voted to scuttle the impeachment resolution. The vote is likely to rankle the Democratic Party’s left wing, which has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment. The House vote today, spurred by Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), is likely to fail. Democratic leaders are expected to use a procedural vote to effectively kill the resolution.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason House Democrats tabled Donald Trump’s impeachment today, Bill Palmer, July 17, 2019. Yesterday, House Democrats passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump for being a racist. Today, they formally held Trump’s co-conspirators William Barr and Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt. It’s clear that momentum is picking up. Yet when Democratic Congressman Al Green tried to initiate impeachment against Trump today, House Democrats voted to table it – and the vote wasn’t even close. There’s a reason for this, and it has nothing to do with what the alarmists on television and social media are yelling.

bill palmer report logo headerThis is not a sign that impeachment will never happen. It’s not a sign that House Democrats aren’t doing anything. It’s not even a sign that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is fundamentally opposed to impeachment (and for the record, she never said as much, no matter how many times the media misquotes her). What actually happened today is that Al Green jumped the gun – and if his motion had succeeded, it would have actually reduced the odds of Trump’s ouster.

There’s a reason Democratic House leaders keep punting on impeachment. Once they formally start the process, they’ll be on the hook to lay out the criminal case against Donald Trump for all to see. There’s a good amount to go on right now, including the unredacted versions of the Mueller report. But as we speak, House Democrats are in court fighting battles to force the witnesses to Trump’s obstruction to publicly testify against him. The Democrats are also in court fighting to obtain Trump’s tax returns and other records from various banks.

This is the kind of evidence that House Democrats need in order to make the kind of impeachment case that can actually finish Donald Trump off, as opposed to an impeachment case right now that would get them nowhere and would only end up emboldening Trump going forward. This is why the Democrats tabled Al Green’s impeachment motion today. Even many of the House Democrats who are in favor of impeachment are aware that jumping the gun right now would make Trump stronger, not weaker. The time for impeachment, if it’s going to happen, is after the court battles are won. That’s not how the process should work, but it is how the process works.

House v. Trump

ny times logoNew York Times, The House voted to condemn Mr. Trump’s language as racist, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).  The House voted on Tuesday to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color, but only after the debate U.S. House logoover the president’s language devolved into a bitterly partisan brawl that showcased deep rifts over race, ethnicity and political ideology in the age of Trump.

john lewis officialThe measure, the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years, passed nearly along party lines, 240 to 187, after one of the most polarizing exchanges on the floor in recent times. Only four Republicans and the House’s lone independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, voted with all Democrats to condemn the president.

“I know racism when I see it, I know racism when I feel it, and at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” said Representative John Lewis, left, Democrat of Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement.

Some Republicans were just as adamant in their defense of Mr. Trump: “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism,” said Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This ridiculous slander does a disservice to our nation.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are the four Republicans who broke with their party, and other takeaways from the vote, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). The House, in a stunning rebuke of a sitting president, voted on Tuesday to “strongly condemn” President Trump’s suggestion that four freshman Democratic women of color “go home” — a Twitter broadside described in a Democratic resolution as “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans.”

The extraordinary vote came after an afternoon of vitriolic debate that erupted into a floor fight over remarks by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which were “taken down” — ruled out of order by her No. 2 Democrat, Representative Steny H. Hoyer.

will hurd headshotOnly four Republicans — Representatives Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan W. Brooks of Indiana — broke with their party to vote against Mr. Trump. They were joined by Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently abandoned the Republican Party to become an independent. Each had his or her reasons.

Official rebukes of the president by Congress are exceedingly rare — and difficult to track because the language of House and Senate resolutions varies.

Beyond the two presidents who were impeached — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, neither of whom was removed from office — there have been only four congressional votes to approve resolutions aimed at censuring or condemning a president, according to a 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Yep, Donald Trump just went there, Robert Harrington, July 17, 2019.  I cannot recall a time when the hypothetical question, that was phrased in various ways and went something like, “How would you have behaved had you lived in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 40s?”, wasn’t mooted by someone. We have finally reached that point in history where the question has ceased to be hypothetical.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only that, but it is shockingly easy to decide which is which, more than I would have imagined possible back in the days when the question was hypothetical, when I honestly believed it would always remain hypothetical. That perception is aided greatly by continuity: there is an unbroken link, from the death of Hitler to the present day, of a chain of people who insist they continue to carry the torch of Nazism. These days the torches are being carried both metaphorically and literally. Those torch bearers are overwhelmingly for Trump. To follow Trump today is to tell anyone who will listen that you would have followed Hitler had you been alive in the 1930s and 40s. I’m not interested in denials that you wouldn’t, either. You know who you are and your credibility is as dead as Donald Trump’s.

There’s a misleading meme circulating. It shows side by side pictures where, in one, Mike Pence and his entourage are touring a detention facility and in the other Heinrich Himmler and his entourage are touring Auschwitz. It comes with a caption to the effect that both persons are conducting the tour to prove to the press that the conditions in their respective camps are acceptable. The problem is that wasn’t true in Himmler’s case. It’s a photo of Himmler touring Auschwitz in secret. The press was not invited. Very few people knew contemporaneously about the horrors that were committed in the name of the Nazis at Auschwitz and similar places. Trump’s fascism is bolder than Hitler’s, and he’s committing many of his atrocities right out in the open.

Moreover, the Nazi industrial-scale murder of Jews and gypsies and homosexuals and “unsavoury characters” in concentration camps didn’t really enter its phase of full scale production until well after the start of World War II. It occurred as a consequence of one of the most evil meetings in history, the Wannsee Conference in January, 1942, where the “final solution” to the “Jewish question” was finally enunciated by Reinhardt Heydrich to the various branch heads of the Third Reich. From that moment forward, and under the cover of war, Hitler committed his most disturbingly evil crimes against the innocent. America is not at war – yet – but when it is be assured that will be the time when Trump and company commit their greatest evils. Trump’s pirate ship of misfits are all about distraction, and war is the greatest distraction of all.

Last year, when the separation of immigrant families, part of Steven Miller’s despicable “zero tolerance” program, was universally condemned, the Trump administration appeared to climb down from it as an act of appeasement. For a time everyone was fooled. We now know that, not only is the policy still in force, Trump and company have doubled down on the policy. Children are continuing to be held in isolation from the care of their responsible guardians and in conditions that are becoming more and more deplorable by the minute. Conditions in these concentration camps are filthier than ever for everyone in them. So much so that guards have taken to wearing protective and surgical masks to fend off the disgusting smell.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: ‘Trump’s Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He?’ Thomas L. Friedman, July 17, 2019. Voters have reason to worry. I’m struck at how many people have come up to me recently and said, “Trump’s going to get re-elected, isn’t he?” And in each case, when I drilled down to ask why, I bumped into the Democratic presidential debates in June. I think a lot of Americans were shocked by some of the things they heard there. I was.

I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.

I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sets the 2020 Tone: Like 2016, Only This Time ‘the Squad’ Is Here, Jeremy W. Peters, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).With three days of attacks on four liberal, minority freshman congresswomen, President Trump and the Republicans have sent the clearest signal yet that their approach to 2020 will be a racially divisive reprise of the strategy that helped Mr. Trump narrowly capture the White House in 2016.

It is the kind of fight that the president relishes. He has told aides, in fact, that he is pleased with the Democratic reaction to his attacks, boasting that he is “marrying” the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, and the Democratic Party to the four congresswomen known as “the Squad.”

His efforts to stoke similar cultural and racial resentments during the 2018 midterm elections with fears of marauding immigrant caravans backfired as his party lost control of the House. But he is undeterred heading into his re-election campaign, betting that he can cast the entire Democratic Party as radical and un-American.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nancy Pelosi was rebuked for calling Trump’s tweets racist. She can thank Thomas Jefferson and the Brits, Meagan Flynn, nancy pelosi oJuly 17, 2019. For more than an hour Tuesday, as the House debated whether to condemn President Trump’s racist tweets telling four minority congresswomen to “go back” to their “crime-infested” countries, the debate had to be put on pause. The problem: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used the word “racist.”

“Every member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us to condemn the president’s racist tweets,” she said. With that, her words triggered a long-standing precedent that you can’t call the president, or even his words, “racist” on the House floor. And from there a frenzy ensued.

Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) asked Pelosi whether she wanted to “rephrase that comment,” but she refused. So Collins asked that her words be “taken down” — struck from the record. Soon, the House rule-keepers were reviewing her remarks like NFL officials looking at a potentially game-changing moment on replay. The chairman presiding, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), grew so frustrated by the disagreement that he dropped the gavel and said, “I abandon the chair.” Finally, about an hour later, the verdict was in: Pelosi was out of order, and her “words should not be used in debate,” ruled House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

And for that, Pelosi might as well have the King of England to thank.

In deciding that Pelosi’s language was out of line, Hoyer wasn’t merely pointing to a House rule book. The principle used to chastise Pelosi — that lawmakers can’t insult the president’s character — is rooted in the British Parliament’s rules of decorum that shaped the Founding Fathers’ understanding of how Congress should work, congressional scholars said.

Mediaite, WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib Blame Speaker Pelosi for Attacks and Death Threats, Tommy Christopher, July 17, 2019. Progressive Democratic “Squad” members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) laid varying degrees of blame for attacks and death threats at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s feet during the group’s first interview since Trump’s racist tweets.

On Wednesday morning, CBS aired Gayle King’s extensive interview with Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — KAK “The Squad” — that was the congresswomen’s first four-on-one since Trump’s attacks on the group.

Toward the end of the interview, King asked the group if there existed a “fracture” between the Squad and Speaker Pelosi.

“I don’t feel a fracture,” Rep. Omar said, and AOC agreed, saying “I don’t, I don’t, I think that just as there are members of Congress that did not vote for the speaker on the house floor on the day of our swearing-in, just as there are members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her, so do we from time to time.”

U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, John Paul Stevens: 1920-2019, A Liberal Champion of the Supreme Court Dies at 99, Linda Greenhouse, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). In 35 years on the Supreme Court, John Paul Stevens transformed from a Republican antitrust lawyer into the ardent leader of the court’s liberal wing. His notable opinions included the 2006 decision that repudiated the plan to put Guantánamo Bay detainees on trial by military commissions.

john paul stevens scotus photo portraitJohn Paul Stevens, whose 35 years on the United States Supreme Court transformed him, improbably, from a Republican antitrust lawyer into the outspoken leader of the court’s liberal wing, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 99.

The cause was complications of a stroke he suffered the day before, the Supreme Court announced in a statement.

When he retired in 2010 at the age of 90, Justice Stevens was the second-oldest and second-longest-serving justice ever to sit on the court. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was about eight months older when he retired in 1932, and William O. Douglas had served 36 years (1939-75).

Justice Stevens spent much of his service on the court in the shadow of more readily definable colleagues when he emerged as a central figure during a crucial period of the court’s history: the last phase of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s tenure and the early years under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Stevens was chosen for his legal skills and not for how he was likely to vote, as is common today, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).


washington post logoWashington Post, The Opioid Files: An epidemic unmasked, 76 billion pain pills saturated the country, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). Newly released federal data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which resulted in more than 100,000 deaths in a seven-year span.

America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.

The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through 2012.

Just six companies distributed 75 percent of the pills during this period: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart, according to an analysis of the database by The Washington Post. Three companies manufactured 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt; ­Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court strikes down Virginia law for ‘criminalizing an illness’ in targeting homeless alcoholics, Ann E. Marimow, July 17, 2019. At issue is a state law, dating to the 1870s, that allows for the prosecution of people designated in court as “habitual” drunks for consuming or having alcohol.

A divided federal appeals court this week struck down a Virginia law for “effectively criminalizing an illness” by targeting homeless alcoholics for buying, consuming or having alcohol.

The narrowly decided case reversed an earlier ruling from a three-judge panel of the same court, provoked lengthy, passionate dissent and indicated deep divisions on a court known for its civility and genteel traditions.

In its 8-7 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit invalidated the law as “unconstitutionally vague” because it does not provide fair warning to would-be offenders and singles out homeless alcoholics based on their addiction to alcohol.

“Without question, the many homeless citizens of Virginia who struggle with the effects of alcohol on their mental and physical health are entitled to guidance and fair notice under the law. They have not been given such direction,” Judge Diana Motz wrote for the majority.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hogan joins small group of Republicans condemning Trump’s ‘go back’ remarks, Rachel Chason, July 17, 2019.  Maryland governor Larry Hogan considered challenging President Trump.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has dropped the idea of challenging President Trump in the 2020 primary, but he made clear this week that he will continue to speak out against the leader of his party when he thinks it is warranted.

At the Pickles Pub in Baltimore Tuesday evening, before the Baltimore Orioles played the Washington Nationals, Hogan strongly condemned Trump’s call for four Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives — all women of color — to “go back” to the “places from which they came.”

“I thought the comments were terrible and very unbecoming of a president,” Hogan told WJZ, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore. “Totally inappropriate.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr and Ross Held in Contempt Over Census Dispute, Nicholas Fandos, July 17, 2019. Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross were rebuked for their refusal to turn over key documents. The House voted Wednesday evening to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over key documents related to the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The citations for two cabinet officials, approved 230 to 198, will breathe new life into a dispute that has touched all three branches of government over why Trump administration officials pushed to ask census respondents if they were American citizens and what that question’s effect would be.

Democrats investigating the issue believe that the documents and testimony being shielded would confirm that the administration’s long-stated rationale for collecting the data — to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — was merely a cover for a politically motivated attempt to eliminate noncitizens from population statistics used to allocate political representation, diminishing Democratic power.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Repeal Obamacare Tax Once Seen as Key to Health Law, Abby Goodnough, July 17, 2019. In the heat of the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration officials argued that including a steep tax on high-cost health insurance plans would hold down soaring health care costs by prompting employers to rein in such plans and force employees to spend more of their own money on their care. On Wednesday, that feature, once considered central to Obamacare, was dealt a blow by an unlikely foe: Democrats.

El Chapo Narcotics Sentence

ny times logoNew York Times, Drug Lord El Chapo’s ‘Overwhelming Evil’ Gets Him Life in Prison, Alan Feuer, July 17, 2019. He sent hundreds of tons of drugs to the United States from Mexico and caused the brutal deaths of dozens of people.

He was one of the most notorious outlaws of the last 100 years: a brutal Mexican cartel leader, a wily trafficker who smuggled more than $12 billion worth of drugs and plunged his country into a long-running tragedy of bloodshed and corruption.

But on Wednesday morning, the 30-year criminal career of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known to the world as El Chapo, reached its final chapter as a federal judge in New York City sentenced him to life in prison.

The life term, mandated by law as a result of the severity of Mr. Guzmán’s crimes, was handed down in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where the kingpin was convicted last winter of drug, murder and money laundering charges after a sprawling three-month trial.

As some of the federal agents who had chased him for years looked on from the gallery, Judge Brian M. Cogan issued the sentence and Mr. Guzmán, 62, was hauled away to prepare himself — pending an appeal — for spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Transitions: Notre Dame Fire

notre dame parisny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Notre-Dame Came Far Closer to Collapsing Than Anybody Knew, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). A baffling alert, a race to the wrong building: The cathedral still stands only because firefighters decided to risk everything. This is the story of how it was saved.

New York Times, It was a foretold tragedy. Here are five things our Notre-Dame investigation revealed, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).

Migrant Center Profiteers?

washington post logoWashington Post, Six officials at nonprofit running migrant child shelters earned more than $1 million in 2017, Mark Berman, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). Southwest Key's former CEO made $3.6 million that year. The company shelters a little more than a third of the minors held by Health and Human Services.

• ‘Go back’?: German hometown of Trump's grandfather has a different message for U.S. president

Epstein Scandal

Mediaite, Unearthed Epstein Party Video Reveals Trump Grabbing Woman and Patting Her on the Behind, Joe DePaolo, July 17, 2019. NBC News dug up archival footage that shows President Donald Trump and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein enjoying time together at a Mar A Lago party featuring the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders shot in 1992.

Host Mika Brzezinksi introduced the segment, presented as damning evidence of Trump’s lying, that the clip was “shot in November of 1992 before Trump opened the resort as a club,” further explaining that the footage “shows the future president surrounded by cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, capturing Trump’s fun-loving bachelor lifestyle for an appearance on Faith Daniels NBC talk show.”

What follows is then private citizen Trump enthusiastically gesticulating with a denim shirt clad Epstein, as the two laugh together, point, and comment on what they see before them. It’s not clear what exactly they are discussing, but it appears that they are assessing the women dancing before them.

Trump has publically claimed that he knew Epstein, who plead guilty in 2008 to two sex crimes, including one with an underage girl, in a sweetheart plea deal that ultimately led to the resignation of Trump administration Alex Acosta. The soon to be former Labor Secretary served as US Attorney in Florida in 2008 and oversaw the federal prosecution of Epstein.

Trump said that he was “not a fan” of Epstein’s, knew him because they both were figures in the Palm Beach social scene, but had a falling out roughly 15 years ago, which would have been about 12 years after this footage was shot.

Host Joe Scarborough summed it up “the and Epstein there very much enjoying that party, and Donald Trump saying he never liked Jeffrey Epstein. Once again, proven to be a lie.”

Trump Labor Nominee

ny times logopatrick pizzella oNew York Times, Trump’s New Top Labor Official Expected to Advance an Anti-Labor Agenda, Staff report, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella, right, confirmed in 2017 on a 50-48 Senate vote and scheduled to become acting secretary on July 19, has been described as a “movement conservative” more likely to agree with the White House on cutting labor rules.

U.S. Courts, Police, Civil Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, No Federal Charges for Officer Who Put Garner in Chokehold, Katie Benner and William K. Rashbaum, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). The Justice Department will not bring charges against the officer in the death of Eric Garner, ending a yearslong inquiry. The decision came five years after Mr. Garner’s dying words — “I can’t breathe” — became a nationwide rallying cry.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, ending a yearslong inquiry into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests over excessive force by the police, according to two people briefed on the decision.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn intend to announce the decision not to bring civil rights or criminal charges on Tuesday morning, just one day before the fifth anniversary of Mr. Garner’s death. That is the deadline by which they would have to file some of the possible charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo.

U.S.-Iran Tensions

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: A US Led Naval Coalition In The Persian Gulf Will Raise The Threat Of War, Seyed Mohammad Marandi, July 17, 2019. While Bolton and Pompeo push the region towards maximum tension and Trump makes despicable threats to obliterate Iran, the US military has announced its intention to create and lead an anti-Iranian naval coalition in the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, by Trump's own admission, the United States is engaged in economic war against Iranians, as its armed forces have aggressively violated Iranian airspace and territorial waters, resulting in the humiliating downing of its most sophisticated drone by an Iranian surface to air missile.

iran flag mapA few naval ships from far off nations will not change the balance of power, but they will increase confusion and the chances for major regional conflict. Iranians will also view such an entity as an extension of a belligerent American naval presence.

Since the illegal and tragic US occupation of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been constructing a vast network of underground missile defense facilities alongside the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Oman in anticipation of possible US attacks. Iran and its powerful allies have also developed formidable asymmetrical capabilities across the region. It has both the will and means to decisively engage with a belligerent power.

In order to prevent any appetite for all-out war, Iran will respond to a limited military strike with a massive and disproportionate counterstrike targeting both the aggressor and its enablers. Regional regimes such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia that facilitate aggression in any way or form should expect the swift destruction of their oil assets and critical infrastructure. On the other hand, all-out war would mean the obliteration of all oil and gas installations as well as ships on both sides of the Strait of Hormuz. Under such circumstances, the closure of the Strait would be the least of Bolton's problems.

The Emirati and Saudi regimes would most probably swiftly collapse. Millions of indentured servants would overrun Abu Dhabi and Dubai while Yemeni forces and their regional allies would overwhelm Saudi Arabia as western occupation forces would be expelled from the region. Millions of people would stream towards Europe, even as the EU and the rest of the world would be facing an economic catastrophe.

Iran does not welcome confrontation nor does it desire war and its massive and extensive military deterrence is designed to prevent such circumstances. Instead of pushing the world closer to tragedy, potential US partners should push the US back to the nuclear deal and the negotiating table.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi is professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran.

July 16

Trump Goes Racist

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out ahead of House vote to condemn his racist tweets, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis​,July 16, 2019. ​The president insisted his tweets were not racist and urged fellow Republicans not to fall into a “trap” by voting on the Democratic-backed resolution.

U.S. House logoAs the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a resolution condemning President Trump’s racist tweets about four minority lawmakers, he lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.

In a string of tweets throughout the morning, Trump also insisted his tweets were not racist — “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” he wrote — and urged fellow Republicans not to fall into a “trap” by voting Tuesday night on the Democratic-backed resolution.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

Trump has not spelled out what specific comments from the congresswomen that he finds objectionable, and the White House has declined to provide more details.

Four Democratic congresswomen of color responded July 15 to President Trump's tweets saying they should "go back" to the countries they came from. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

Trump has been accused of racially inflammatory rhetoric both before and after assuming the presidency, including his questioning of former president Barack Obama’s birthplace, his assessment that there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly confrontation in Charlottesville and his musing that a federal judge could be biased against him given his Mexican heritage.

The resolution scheduled for a vote Tuesday night “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

With his tweets Tuesday, Trump made clear that he doesn’t want Republicans to support the resolution. Doing so, he said, would “show ‘weakness.’”

At a news conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he would vote against the resolution and encourage other Republicans to vote against it as well. McCarthy said he did not consider Trump’s tweets to be racist.

“I believe this is about ideology,” he said. “It’s about socialism versus freedom.”

The complete list of GOP lawmakers reacting to Trump’s “go back” tweet View Graphic 

Tuesday’s vote will be a rare occasion when members of a Republican caucus that is overwhelming white and male will be forced to go on the record regarding Trump’s controversial rhetoric. During Trump’s first two and a half years in office, many lawmakers in his party have gone to great lengths to avoid criticizing him.

Meanwhile, the rebuke of Trump presents an opportunity for the Democratic caucus to unite around a common aim at a time when there has been infighting between Pelosi and the four liberal lawmakers informally known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill.

“We’ve got to say something,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.). “I think we would be complicit as a Congress if we didn’t speak out on this. All of us, people of color in my generation, we’ve heard the ‘go back to Africa’ stuff since I was a little boy growing up down in Texas. So we have to say something.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump digs into attack on minority lawmakers, demands apology, John Wagner​, July 16, 2019 (print ed.). The president called on a group of minority congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and to him a day after he tweeted that they should “go back” to their countries.

President Trump on Monday called on a group of minority, liberal congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and him and accused them of “racist hatred” a day after he said in inflammatory tweets that they Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)should “go back” to their countries.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump said in new tweets Monday. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

He later criticized Democrats for coming to defense of the congresswomen, who he claimed had shown “racist hatred” in their speech and are “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”

alexandria ocasio cortez officialWith his latest tweets. Trump dug in further on a line of attack that was widely condemned by Democrats as racist and employed a tactic he has used before: accusing his opponents of the same transgressions for which they have criticized ayanna pressley twitterhim.

Trump’s tweets appeared to target four outspoken freshmen lawmakers who have been feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass., right), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y., shown at left) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.).

Only one of them — Omar — was born outside the United States.

Commentary On GOP Racism As Tool

Palmer Report, Commentary: The real reason George Conway is so devastating to Donald Trump, Ron Leshnower, July 16, 2019. George Conway’s op-ed published last night by the Washington Post may seem like just another example of an outspoken Trump critic preaching to the choir. But the piece, written by the conservative lawyer and husband of White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway, is significant because it is a candid admission of his changed thinking when it comes to Trump and racism. Many people who have shared Conway’s hesitation to label Trump a racist may now be inspired to follow Conway’s about-face on the subject.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Trump slobbered his way to the top of the GOP ticket, Democrats and many prominent Republicans tried to warn Americans that Trump was a divisive, bigoted thug. Most notably, in an August 2016 speech in Reno, Hillary Clinton called out Trump’s housing discrimination accusations, birtherism claims, and more as examples of his racist behavior, arguing that Trump “has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.” Clinton warned that Trump was “taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties,” describing Trump’s “disregard” for our nation’s values as “profoundly dangerous.” Clinton summed it up with a quotation from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

These warnings, of course, went largely unheeded, and Trump has continued padding his resume of racism since taking office. Conway admits that he considered Trump to be “boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive” and so he “gave him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist.” He explains that “[n]o matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot.” What changed the equation for Conway was Trump’s statement on Sunday telling nonwhite Congresswomen who are all American citizens — all but one of whom was born in the United States—to “go back” to the george conway twitter“countries” where “they originally came from.”

Conway, shown above in his Twitter photo, remembers hearing such a phrase shouted at his Philippines-born mother in the mid-1970s, and he calls Trump’s latest rant “racist to the core” and “beyond the bounds of human decency.”

Conway’s new perception of Trump as a racist is late, but his admission may speak to many who have been similarly hesitant to ascribe racist motives to Trump’s abhorrent behavior. Like Conway, they may now realize that Trump’s bigoted actions, from his Muslim ban to his family separation policy, are not simply some dirty political strategy but also the vile delight of a proud racist. Republican lawmakers should heed Conway’s words and stand up to Trump if they care about how our country, let alone their party, is being defined. Trump-leaning and independent voters should also read Conway’s op-ed carefully. They might now understand that a reelection win for Trump would mean awarding an unabashed bigot four more years in office. When someone shows us who they are the hundredth time, perhaps it’s time we all finally believe him.

lee atwater graphic

paul krugmanny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Racism Comes Out of the Closet, Paul Krugman, right, July 16, 2019. The dog whistle days are apparently over.

In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

This should be a moment of truth for anyone who describes Trump as a “populist” or asserts that his support is based on “economic anxiety.” He’s not a populist, he’s a white supremacist. His support rests not on economic anxiety, but on racism.

And since we’re having this moment of clarity, there are several other points we should address. First, this isn’t just about Trump; it’s about his whole party.

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandal

Palmer Report, Analysis: Jeffrey Epstein claims additional Trump people were in on his plea deal, Bill Palmer, July 16, 2019.
Ten days after his arrest on charges of sex trafficking of minors, Jeffrey Epstein is already mounting his defense in court. His argument thus far centers around the notion that the charges should be thrown out because they’re a “do-over” of the criminal case that was brought against him a decade ago, which resulted in an absurdly lenient plea deal. In the process of this argument, he’s making some disturbing accusations.

bill palmer report logo headerBy now everyone is aware that Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who resigned over the weekend, was the U.S. Attorney who spearheaded Jeffrey Epstein’s lenient plea deal, which merely landed him in a work-release “prison” for a short time. What’s still far from clear is who else in the federal government might have been involved in the decision to let Epstein off the hook – but now Epstein and his legal team are naming names.

According to the Washington Post, Epstein’s legal team is claiming that Sigal Mandelker is one of the people at the DOJ who signed off on the lenient plea deal. This is eye popping, because Donald Trump ended up appointing Mandelker as Under Secretary of the Treasury. Epstein is also claiming that Alice Fisher signed off on the deal, which is also eye popping when you consider that according to Politico, Donald Trump interviewed Fisher to be FBI Director. Again, this is on top of Trump having appointed Alexander Acosta as his Secretary of Labor.

Fisher is telling the Washington Post that she did not approve the Epstein deal. There’s obviously a paper trail for this kind of plea deal showing who was and was not involved, and it’ll surface. If Epstein is falsely accusing these people, it’ll only make his legal troubles even worse. What stands out is that Epstein and Trump clearly have conflicting goals here

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Did Epstein benefit from Mossad's passport factory? Wayne Madsen, July 16, 2019 (subscription required). Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Alex Rossmiller dropped a mini-bombshell during the bail hearing for accused sex trafficking kingpin Jeffrey Epstein....

[Nearly 2,800 more words here reporting on major instances of forged Israeli passports, including facilitation of fugitives from the United State to Israeli, which has no extradition treaty with the United States requiring return of suspects and convicts.]

To intelligence experts, the Epstein bail hearing revelations about Epstein’s bogus passport raised as many eyebrows as it did among Judge Berman and the courtroom’s audience.

Impeachment Charges Loom: Report

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Al Green to file articles of impeachment against Trump tonight, Rachael Bade​, July 16, 2019. The move will force House Democrats to confront the issue in the near term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted calls to launch an impeachment inquiry from more than 80 members of the House.

Rep. Al Green will file articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday night, triggering a contentious vote in the coming days to confront an issue that has bitterly divided the Democratic Party.

The Texas congressman, who notified Democratic leaders of his decision on Tuesday, said the House must impeach Trump for racist remarks suggesting four minority congresswoman “go back” to their ancestral countries as well as other comments he has made in the past.

“I think that we should not have this level of bigotry emanating from the president of the United States of America,” Green said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He is clearly making racist comments… The question becomes: what do we do about it?”

Green added: “To tolerate bigotry — racism in this case — is to perpetuate it. We should not perpetuate this kind of behavior coming from the president, and if we don’t check him, he will continue.”

Impeachment proponents seemed divided on the idea of forcing a vote on impeachment now. Some, including House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said they would support an immediate move to impeach the president. Others, like Rep. Jamie Raskin, a strong impeachment backer, hesitated.

“We're trying to keep the caucus together as we respond to the most lawless administration of our lifetimes,” Raskin said. “I'm enough of a political pragmatist to believe that you call votes when you think you can win them, not when you think you can lose them.”

Leadership officials said Pelosi may move to refer the articles of impeachment to the Judiciary panel, though her office has not weighed in on the matter.

Some leadership officials, however, worry Pelosi could struggle to find the votes to refer the articles to the committee. It would take a majority of her caucus, but Republicans may not help deliver those votes.

DC Media / White House

Palmer Report, Commentary: Kellyanne Conway has total meltdown on White House lawn, Bill Palmer, July 16, 2019. Kellyanne Conway is kellyanne conway talkingcurrently facing a couple big problems, beyond the fact that she’s Kellyanne Conway. First, her boss Donald Trump is in the midst of a racist tantrum that’s so unhinged and so far over the top, it seems to finally be at risk of hurting him. Second, her husband George Conway has emerged as one of Trump’s top critics, and last night George flat out stated that Trump is a racist.

This all added up to Kellyanne Conway addressing a group of reporters on the White House lawn today, and let’s just say that it didn’t go well for her. Donald Trump insisted that four freshman Democratic Congresswomen should “go back” to bill palmer report logo headerwhere they came from, which is both racist and bizarre, considering that three out of the four of them were born in the United States to begin with.

When a reporter [broadcast correspondent Andrew Feinberg] asked Kellyanne which countries they were supposed to “go back” to, according to NBC News, Kellyanne fired back at the reporter with “What’s your ethnicity?”

That’s right, she took the horrible thing that Trump said, and she managed to somehow make it even worse. As her exchange with the reporter went on, it became clear that Kellyanne was suggesting that the Congresswomen should go to whatever country their ancestors came from, or that they should go to a country where the population predominantly matches their ethnicity. Instead of acknowledging that Trump incorrectly assumed the four Congresswomen were all immigrants, Kellyanne took Trump’s racist words to an even more over-the-top place.

Kellyanne Conway’s lone skill in politics has always been to respond to every question with so many wall-to-wall lies that no one could get a word in edgewise, and no one could remember what the question was to begin with, leaving the waters fully muddied. But she didn’t do that today. Instead she staked Donald Trump to a more racist position than even he appeared to have been aiming for.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration to move over 80 percent of key Interior Dept. agency employees out of Washington, Juliet Eilperin and Lisa Rein, July 16, 2019. The administration argues the move will bring roughly 300 federal staffers closer to the places they oversee, while critics contend it will dismantle the Bureau of Land Management.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House presses for fallback plan on debt ceiling if budget talks fall through, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, July 16, 2019 (print ed.). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that time was running out to ensure that the government had enough money to pay all its bills.

U.S. Crime, Politics

Political Wire, Jesse Jackson Calls for Blagojevich Pardon, Taegan Goddard, July 16, 2019. “The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his oldest son, rod blagojevich 2017former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), have urged President Trump to pardon Rod Blagojevich [shown in 2017 prison photo], the former Illinois governor whose arrest on charges of trying to sell a Senate seat ensnared the younger Mr. Jackson,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Mr. Jackson Jr. was among those considered to fill his Senate seat….Federal investigators turned their attention to Mr. Jackson Jr. after the Blagojevich trial, and in 2013 he pleaded guilty to one count of felony fraud for converting campaign funds to personal use.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone barred by U.S. judge from posting on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook through trial, Spencer S. Hsu,  July 16, 2019. A federal judge on Tuesday barred Roger Stone from communicating through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook until after his trial after months of social media postings that the judge said violated a gag order she had imposed to prevent prejudicing potential jurors.

The new order says Stone cannot post anything to the social media sites, expanding on the previous gag order that banned his discussing his case or its participants in the media or public settings.

Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, was previously rebuked by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington for public statements attacking his indictment, the conduct of the FBI, intelligence agencies and government officials including former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Jackson did not say how she would enforce the tighter order, but said she could hold a hearing to find Stone in contempt of court later, possibly after his trial. She said holding such a hearing now would waste both sides’ resources and the court’s, and might spread the prejudicial pretrial publicity she is trying to prevent.

 Trump Goes Racist (Continued)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump spars with Democrats over visions of America, Ashley Parker, Rachael Bade and John Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoWagner, July 16, 2019. The president expressed no regret about his racist “go back” remarks toward four minority congresswomen, who said the country “belongs to everyone.”

• Trump lashes out again as House prepares to condemn his racist tweets

washington post logornc logoWashington Post, Trump’s rhetoric is met with fading resistance from Republicans and corporate leaders, Toluse Olorunnipa, July 16, 2019. A few GOP lawmakers called the president’s tweet racist, but most stayed quiet or tried to soften their admonishment by mixing it with criticism of the women he attacked.

July 15

Epstein Bond Hearing

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein’s Safe Had ‘Piles of Cash’ and a Fake Passport, Prosecutors Say, Benjamin Weiser and Ali Watkins, July 15, 2019. Prosecutors revealed the safe’s contents as they argued in court that Jeffrey Epstein should be denied bail before his sex-trafficking and conspiracy trial. The judge said he would not rule until Thursday about whether Mr. Epstein should be granted bail.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Investigators discovered a safe in Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan mansion that held “piles of cash,” diamonds and an expired passport from a foreign country which had what appeared to be Mr. Epstein’s photo, but was registered to a fake name and listed his residence as Saudi Arabia.

Prosecutors revealed the safe’s contents as they argued in Federal District Court in Manhattan that Mr. Epstein, right, should be denied bail before his sex-trafficking and conspiracy trial because he was a flight risk and a danger to the community. He is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls at his residences in New York City and Palm Beach, Fla.

Two women who say they were sexually abused by Mr. Epstein also spoke at the hearing, urging Judge Richard M. Berman to deny him bail.

“He’s a scary person to have walking the streets,” said Courtney Wild, one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, who said she was assaulted at age 14. Excerpt continued below.

Judge Berman said he would not rule until Thursday about whether Mr. Epstein should be granted bail while he awaits trial.

Mr. Epstein had proposed in court papers that he be allowed to remain under house arrest in his $56 million mansion on the Upper East Side, and pay for 24-hour security guards who would ensure he did not flee. His attorneys say Mr. Epstein has been law-abiding for more than a decade. “He didn’t re-engage in this activity,” one of his lawyers, Martin Weinberg, told the judge on Monday, adding, “It’s not like he’s an out-of-control rapist.”

But prosecutors, citing what they called Mr. Epstein’s “yearslong scheme to sexually abuse underage girls” and his fortune of at least $500 million, have argued that Mr. Epstein would pose a danger to the community and might flee the country if granted bond.

The government had also said Mr. Epstein might try to obstruct justice if he were given bail. Prosecutors said that last year he wired $350,000 to two people who were potential witnesses against him at a trial.

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers said on Monday that the payment could have been “an act of generosity” to Mr. Epstein’s associates, and that government lawyers were unable to prove otherwise.

Mr. Epstein, 66, who faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted on the charges, has been held since his July 6 arrest in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, a highly secure jail that has housed accused terrorists, mobsters and, recently, the Mexican drug lord El Chapo.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges in Florida as part of a secret deal with federal prosecutors to satisfy a potential indictment on similar charges. He ended up serving a 13-month sentence in a local jail and avoided federal prosecution.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Most Migrants Would Be Denied Asylum Under New Trump Rule, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Elisabeth Malkin, July 15, 2019.The rule, which goes into effect on Tuesday, denies protections to migrants who failed to apply for asylum in the first country they passed through on their way to the U.S. border. Most migrants who travel by land to enter the djt economist cover aug 19 2017United States from the Mexican border will be denied asylum protections according to plans the Trump administration announced Monday. The new rule was expected to be immediately challenged in court.

us dhs big eagle logo4The rule goes into effect on Tuesday. It is one of the broadest attempts by the Trump administration to restrict asylum, and was announced after the president of Guatemala backed out of a meeting at the White House that had been set for Monday to discuss a similar policy.

Under the plan, migrants who failed to apply for asylum in the first country they passed through on their way to the southwest border of the United States would not be protected. It would significantly affect a majority of asylum-seeking Central American families who are fleeing persecution and poverty who have tried to enter the United States at its southwest border in record-high numbers this year.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are gearing up to drop the hammer on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 15, 2019. This morning Palmer Report explained that, while House Democrats aren’t going to impeach Donald Trump right now, they haven’t ruled it out, no matter how many times the media misquotes Nancy Pelosi. In fact, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler just said over the weekend that impeachment is still on the table. Now the House Democrats are gearing up to drop the first of what should prove to be a series of hammers leading up to impeachment.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Democrats are introducing a resolution condemning Donald Trump for his racist remarks about four non-white freshmen House Democrats, telling them to “go back” to where they came from. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her membership today, urging them to vote in favor of it. This means the resolution will pass easily. It’s nonbinding, in the sense that it doesn’t cause a trap door to magically open up under Trump’s desk. But it does a few important things.

First, the resolution – which will explicitly call Donald Trump a racist – makes clear to the average nonpolitical American that Trump’s words really are racist. This matters, because the people in the middle generally sit back and wait for one side or the other to spell these kinds of things out for them.

democratic donkey logoSecond, this resolution forces House Republicans to vote “yes” or “no” on whether Donald Trump is a racist. Most will vote that Trump is not a racist, and that can then be used against them when they run for reelection in 2020. A few House Republicans might vote that Trump is a racist, in an attempt at protecting their reelection prospects, but that’ll prompt Trump to begin attacking them. Either way, this forces the GOP to reckon with Trump’s racism.

Third, this is a tangible step forward on the road to Donald Trump’s impeachment. It’s an actual vote condemning a sitting President, which is a big deal when it comes to these kinds of processes. While it’s not the impeachment vote that a lot of people want, it gets us that much closer to impeachment.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal just got even worse, Bill Palmer, right, July 15, 2019. Donald Trump has forced the past few days’ biggest headlines to be about his psychotic racist attacks on certain Democratic Congresswomen, because he just keeps pushing the issue in increasingly deranged fashion. It’s not difficult to figure out what set Trump off to begin with and prompted him to lash out, and it has nothing to do with the people he’s attacking.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump’s friend Jeffrey Epstein, ight, was arrested nine days ago on charges of sex trafficking of minors. Since that time we’ve seen various major news outlets begin reporting on the wild parties that Trump and Epstein allegedly threw together back in the day. We’ve also seen Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta forced to resign because he’s the one who let Epstein off the hook a decade ago to begin with – raising questions about why Trump then rewarded Acosta with the cabinet position.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019It’s clear that one way or the other, the Epstein scandal is going to land back on Donald Trump’s doorstep. Even if Trump didn’t participate in Epstein’s crimes, Trump is clearly involved in the attempted coverup. Trump may have begun his racist attacks on the Congresswomen as a calculated attempt at creating a distraction, but he’s since taken it so far beyond the pale, and he’s so out of control, it’s clear that he’s acting out because he’s exasperated and scared – and he should be.

Last week Palmer Report told you about how Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes weren’t limited to just New York and Florida, as they also involved his ranch in New Mexico. Sure enough, Epstein’s ranch is now part of the investigation. The expansion of the Epstein probe comes even as more victims continue to come forward in light of his arrest. Again, we don’t know what Trump’s role in this scandal is. But Trump knows, and his behavior tells us that he’s very worried about how the Epstein scandal is expanding.

daily beast logoe jean carroll headshotDaily Beast, E. Jean Carroll Is ‘Exploring’ Legal Action Against Trump, Alaina Demopoulos and Tasia Jensen, July 15, 2019. The advice columnist and writer, right, who accused Trump of sexual assault last month, wants to “hire a really smart attorney” to find a way to “get around” the statute of limitations.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Reporting on Trump as an aberration, Wayne Maden, July 15, 2019 (subscription required). To normalize Trump is to act as an instrument of his propaganda machinery.

Trump Forbids Aide's Testimony

washington post logoWashington Post,Trump tells Kellyanne Conway to ignore congressional subpoena, White House says, Rachael Bade​, July 15, 2019. Conway had been asked to testify before House Oversight Committee about a government watchdog’s findings that she violated the Hatch Act dozens of times.

kellyanne conway djtWhite House counselor Kellyanne Conway,  right, will ignore a congressional subpoena at the request of President Trump, refusing to testify about a government watchdog’s findings that she broke the law dozens of times, the White House said Monday.

Last month, the House Oversight Committee authorized a subpoena for Conway after special counsel Henry Kerner said she blatantly violated the Hatch Act, a law that bars federal employees from engaging in politics during work.

“We’re not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the president or about the White House policy decisions. . . . We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the committee, said at a session Monday. “This is bigger than just the Hatch Act. . . . This is about holding our government to the highest standard and not allowing [Trump officials to have] special treatment when they flagrantly violate the law.”

Inside DC

Intrepid Report, Accusing Adam Schiff of ‘criminalizing routine reporting,’ groups call for stripping CIA-backed provision from intelligence legislation, Eoin Higgins, July 15, 2019. ‘Schiff is clearly the resistance to the resistance, and he should drop this provision from his bill.’ A adam schiff officialCIA-backed provision for a bill that could have dire effects on the freedom of the press is quietly making its way through Congress, despite the protestations of civil rights groups to Rep. Adam Schiff, right, the powerful California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, to strip the rule.

“Adam Schiff is once again putting the interests of the intelligence agencies in concealing their misdeeds ahead of protecting the rights of ordinary Americans,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, in a statement Thursday.

In the statement, Schuman also accused Schiff of “criminalizing routine reporting by the press on national security issues and undermining congressional oversight in his Intelligence Authorization bill.” Demand Progress was one of 30 groups that signed an open letter (pdf) on July 8 to congressional leaders of both parties calling for the provision to be stripped from the bill.

“This provision is an extremely broad expansion of felony criminal penalties, and delegates authority as to when those penalties apply to the executive branch,” reads the letter. “It would be significantly damaging to transparency, oversight, and accountability, and should be removed from the Intelligence Authorization Act.”

cia logoSection 305 of the Intelligence Authorization Act (pdf), which prohibits disclosure of the identity of agents currently in the field or who have been in the field in the last five years, would be tweaked under the new law to encompass the identities of a far larger number of agents, contractors, and sources—many of whom live and work domestically.

The effect of the law could be massive, Emily Manna, a policy analyst for Open the Government, told Yahoo News in an email.

“This language is almost unbelievably broad, drastically expanding felony criminal penalties for the disclosure of [many categories] of information about the intelligence agencies, even if those disclosures might be in the best interest of the government and the country,” wrote Manna. “There would likely be a significant chilling effect on journalists and government whistleblowers.”

Supporters of the law’s expansion cite WikiLeaks, the online clearinghouse for secure information, as the reason for needing further protections. It’s an argument that’s likely to have an effect on Schiff, who has spent much of the past two years railing against the site for its perceived involvement in the election of President Donald Trump.

Schiff, one of the favorite guests of MSNBC‘s “Rachel Maddow Show,” has cultivated an image of a hero to the so-called liberal “resistance” to Trump since 2017, something that Demand Progress’ Schuman took aim at in his statement.

More On Epstein Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein’s Safe Had ‘Piles of Cash’ and a Fake Passport, Prosecutors Say, Benjamin Weiser and Ali Watkins, July 15, jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 20192019. Prosecutors revealed the safe’s contents as they argued in court that Jeffrey Epstein should be denied bail before his sex-trafficking and conspiracy trial. The judge said he would not rule until Thursday about whether Mr. Epstein should be granted bail.

Excerpt continued from above:

Mr. Epstein had proposed in court papers that he be allowed to remain under house arrest in his $56 million mansion on the Upper East Side, and pay for 24-hour security guards who would ensure he did not flee. His attorneys say Mr. Epstein has been law-abiding for more than a decade. “He didn’t re-engage in this activity,” one of his lawyers, Martin Weinberg, told the judge on Monday, adding, “It’s not like he’s an out-of-control rapist.”

But prosecutors, citing what they called Mr. Epstein’s “yearslong scheme to sexually abuse underage girls” and his fortune of at least $500 million, have argued that Mr. Epstein would pose a danger to the community and might flee the country if granted bond.

The government had also said Mr. Epstein might try to obstruct justice if he were given bail. Prosecutors said that last year he wired $350,000 to two people who were potential witnesses against him at a trial.

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers said on Monday that the payment could have been “an act of generosity” to Mr. Epstein’s associates, and that government lawyers were unable to prove otherwise.

Mr. Epstein, 66, who faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted on the charges, has been held since his July 6 arrest in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, a highly secure jail that has housed accused terrorists, mobsters and, recently, the Mexican drug lord El Chapo.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges in Florida as part of a secret deal with federal prosecutors to satisfy a potential indictment on similar charges. He ended up serving a 13-month sentence in a local jail and avoided federal prosecution.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rape accusation against Donald Trump comes roaring back into focus, Robert Harrington, July 15, 2019. Let’s get a couple of things straight right off the bat. First, when an adult male has sex with a child it’s not abuse, it’s not molestation, it sure as hell is not prostituiton, it’s rape. Child rape. If we’re going to discuss one of the world’s ugliest crimes, we’re going to define it with one of the world’s ugliest words. Second, a child is not a prostitute by definition. Prostituiton is a victimless crime, an economic exchange for sex between adults. When a child is involved it’s rape. Period. This is my article, them’s my rules.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen federal agents raided the home of serial rapist, pedophile, predatory monster and punk Jeffrey Epstein, they found a stomach-churning landmine of photographs and videos. Every room in Epstein’s house of abomination contains CCTV. Epstein is known for stockpiling videos of famous people in compromised positions with young women, so somewhere in there may be a 1994 video of Donald Trump raping a 13 year old girl.

In the run up to the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was sued by his victim, identified in court documents as Jane Doe to protect her identity. Her lawsuit includes depositions by two contemporaneous witnesses, one, an employee of Epstein’s and the other a personal friend of the plaintiff. Both acknowledge that the plaintiff informed them in 1994 that Trump raped her. Contemporaneous witnesses make a case against a plaintiff much stronger, because it proves that the allegation is not newly-minted, but has a history that goes back to the incident.

This lawsuit against Trump was dropped in December of 2016 because of the death threats the victim received, death threats that managed to penetrate the elaborate legal web of secrecy surrounding the victim. Clearly, someone very powerful wanted that suit dropped.

Trump has distanced himself from Jeffrey Epstein, of course, as he has done with every scumbag he’s ever known who faces a long stretch in prison, by itself a shockingly large and ever-growing number. But Trump’s biographer tells a different story.

tim obrien twitterTim O’Brien, left, author of TrumpNation, said, “When I worked on my book about Trump, Trump regularly talked to me about Jeff Epstein, and he felt they had lifestyles that were in synch.”

O’Brien thinks there’s a good chance the FBI may find a tape of Trump raping the 13 year old girl. He said, “She withdrew her claim because she got death threats, so the White House says her claims were baseless,” but, “That can be tested very quickly.”

katie johnson jane doe la CustomToday Trump’s victim is in her 30s {shown in a pixelated photo]. She came forward in 2016 as an act of enormous courage, because she did not want to see this monster become president. The courage she displayed is of exactly the same caliber as the young men in Boston who came forward and identified the Catholic priests who raped them. She deserves to enjoy the same credit for bravery, the same credulity, and, above all, the same freedom from demands of why she didn’t come forward sooner, that they did.

Items 10 and 11 of the original court complaint against Epstein and Trump are reproduced below. I warn the reader that the contents may be quite upsetting. If you do read it nevertheless, then, while you’re reading it I want you to remind yourself of two things: first, that the probability that the incident as described is overwhelmingly likely to be true, and second, that the man committing this abomination is now the president of the United States.

10. Defendant Trump initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted. Exhs. A and B.

11. Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed. Exhs. A and B.

Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.

ap logoAssociated Press via Houston Chronicle, Inside Epstein network, layer upon layer to protect the boss, Jim Mustian, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, July 15, 2019. A few cells away from drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman at a New York City jail, jet-setting financier Jeffrey Epstein sits accused of running a different kind of criminal network. There was the team of recruiters and enablers bringing Epstein dozens of underage girls to sexually abuse, federal prosecutors allege.

There was the assistant who scheduled those encounters, and the butler who cleaned up afterward and doled out cash and gifts to the girls, authorities contend in court records.

There were the mansions in New York and Florida, the sprawling ranch in New Mexico and the private island in the Caribbean that kept prying eyes at a distance, and the forms his employees had to sign swearing they wouldn't speak about him publicly.

All of it served to insulate Epstein with layer upon layer of secretiveness, investigators say, like a kingpin. And, as eventually happened to Guzman, all of it could be on the verge of collapsing inward on him.

The linchpin of the operation described in the federal indictment against Epstein were the recruiters — some of them victims themselves — who targeted girls as young as 13. Epstein deemed his team so essential that he attempted to shield several of them from federal charges under the same nonprosecution agreement that allowed him to avoid a lengthy federal prison sentence and plead guilty in 2008 to lesser state charges in Florida.

That unusual deal , initially filed in secret, went as far as to bar the federal government from charging "any potential co-conspirators of Epstein."

That agreement could be upended by the indictment unsealed in New York federal court this month that charges Epstein with conspiracy and sex trafficking, which could see the 66-year-old sentenced to up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the Epstein fortune may be up for grabs, Peter Whoriskey and Abha Bhattarai​, July 15, 2019. While early legal sparring in the sex trafficking case has focused mainly on Jeffrey Epstein’s freedom, a secondary struggle may determine how much money the financier has — and what he will owe and to whom when it’s all over.

Daily Beast, Epstein’s Coney Island Days: From Nerd to ‘Arrogant’ Prick, Michael Daly, July 15, 2019. “There was absolutely no indication at that time of the vile, disturbed man that he was to become.”

Related story: Daily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Accusers in Court to Demand He Stay Jailed, Tracy Connor, Kate Briquelet and Pervaiz Shallwani, July 15, 2019.

Bloomberg Markets and Finance, The Wexner and Epstein Connection, Staff report, July 15, 2019 (2:41 min. video). ex trafficking charges against fund manager Jeffrey Epstein have raised questions about how he built his fortune and the people associated with his wealth. Bloomberg's Sonali Basak reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas."

ap logoAssociated Press, Accusers urge judge to hold Epstein until trial, Staff report, July 15, 2019 (2:07 mins.). Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein accusers urged a judge Monday to keep the wealthy financier behind bars until he goes on trial on federal charges that he sexually abused underage girls.

More On U.S. Migrant Battles

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The administration should fight graft in Guatemala. It’s doing the opposite, Editorial Board, July 15, 2019. In the recent crush of Central American asylum seekers pouring over the United States’ southern border, no country has been the source of more migrants than Guatemala, where poverty and misrule are aggravated by stunningly pervasive corruption. That would suggest us dhs big eagle logo4the Trump administration, in its crusade to deter migration, would intensify efforts to fight graft and impunity there. In fact, it is doing the opposite.

For a decade before President Trump entered office, the United States provided critical diplomatic and financial backing to an extraordinarily effective anticorruption commission that prosecuted hundreds of Guatemalan lawmakers, officials and others involved in dozens of criminal schemes and networks.

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, supervised by the United Nations, had a key strategic ally in Thelma Aldana, an anticorruption crusader who, as the nation’s attorney general from 2014 to 2018, launched a devastating frontal assault against entrenched elites who had enriched themselves for decades without consequence; she sent some 250 to jail.

Among those she accused were a former president, Otto Pérez Molina, who resigned in disgrace, and the current president, Jimmy Morales, who has denied wrongdoing.

washington post logoICE logoWashington Post, Immigrant families waited in dread, but large-scale raids didn’t appear to materialize, Abigail Hauslohner and Nick Miroff, July 15, 2019 (print ed.). Immigration enforcement authorities said their plans to track down migrants with deportation orders would continue, but arrests appeared more akin to routine actions rather than the mass roundups that President Trump promised.

Mueller Probe / Michael Flynn

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Michael Flynn Plays a ‘Dangerous’ New Game in Court, Adam Rawnsley, July 15, 2019. Trump’s ex-national security Michael Flynn Harvard 2014adviser has turned combative, prosecutors are playing hardball, and things could come to a head at his former business partner’s trial this week.

Federal prosecutors this week begin the trial of Bijan Kian, Michael Flynn’s former business partner, on charges that he illegally lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government.

But President Trump’s former national security adviser, right, and the Russia investigation have overshadowed the trial, as the lobbying case turns into a proxy battle over whether Flynn will conclude his role in the Russia investigation as the government’s penitent cooperator with a probation sentence or a defiant MAGA martyr risking jail time.

U.S. Politics

washington post logomick mulvaney omb SmallWashington Post, ‘His own fiefdom’: Trump’s chief of staff builds ‘empire for the right wing,’ Seung Min Kim, Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner, July 15, 2019 (print ed.). Mick Mulvaney, right, has focused his efforts on pushing conservative policies — while mostly steering clear of the Trump-related pitfalls that tripped up his predecessors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden unveils health plan, sharpening fight among Democrats, Sean Sullivan​, ​July 15, 2019 (print ed.). The former vice president’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act clashes with rivals pushing Medicare-for-all.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Interior to move one-fifth of Bureau of Land Management’s D.C. staff out West in push to shift power out of Washington, Juliet Eilperin and Lisa Rein, ​July 15, 2019. The Trump administration’s proposal to move nearly 80 employees from an agency managing more than 10 percent of the nation’s land comes as officials are forcibly reassigning career officials and upending operations across the federal government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Avowed neo-Nazi gets additional life prison term in Charlottesville car attack, Laurel Demkovich and Paul Duggan, July 15, 2019. James A. Fields Jr. killed a woman and injured dozens at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally.

Mother Jones, How Matt Gaetz Used Daddy’s Money to Become Trump’s Favorite Congressman, Stephanie Mencimer, July 15, 2019. (September/October 2019 Issue). Like the president, the Florida Republican rode family connections, unorthodox real estate deals, and trolling to political fame.

matt gaetz o CustomWhat’s the benefit of being the president’s most sycophantic fanboy in Congress? If you ask the office of Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from the Florida Panhandle, what the congressman’s unquestioning defense of Donald Trump has brought his district, you will receive a list titled “President Trump Wins for FL-01.”

Flattery in Trumpworld is a two-way street, and Gaetz, 37, right, has earned a reputation for becoming one of the party’s highest-profile members by cheerleading for the president and emulating his public bullying and trolling. Gaetz seems to spend more time on Fox News than in congressional committee rooms, and when he does legislate, it’s sometimes for show.

After Trump mocked the House Intelligence Committee chair, one of his chief antagonists, as “little pencil-­neck Adam Schiff,” Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson’s show to announce a resolution to boot the California Democrat off the committee. Gaetz called it the Preventing Extreme Negli­gence with Classified Information Licenses Act, or PENCIL Act.

The suck-up beat comes with risks for Gaetz: covering for Trump’s lies, contradicting himself, looking bad in history books, getting ratioed on Twitter. In June, a constituent pelted him with an unidentified red beverage. But there are upsides: free rides on Air Force One. Compliments from Melania. Invaluable campaign endorsements in Florida’s most Republican district. And, most important, TV appearances.

“Matt Gaetz is living proof that Veep was less parody and more prophecy,” says Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican political strategist and a Trump critic. “To some degree, he’s a character in the grandest reality show of all. He exists at the hinge of reality and alternate reality.”

Transition: Computer Pioneer Dies

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) News, Professor Emeritus Fernando Corbató, MIT computing pioneer, dies at 93, Adam Conner-Simons and Rachel Gordon, July 15, 2019. Longtime MIT professor developed early “time-sharing” operating systems and is widely credited as the creator of the world’s first computer password.

fernando corby corbato mitFernando “Corby” Corbató, right, an MIT professor emeritus whose work in the 1960s on time-sharing systems broke important ground in democratizing the use of computers, died on Friday, July 12, at his home in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He was 93.

Decades before the existence of concepts like cybersecurity and the cloud, Corbató led the development of one of the world’s first operating systems. His “Compatible Time-Sharing System” (CTSS) allowed multiple people to use a computer at the same time, greatly increasing the speed at which programmers could work. It’s also widely credited as the first computer system to use passwords.

After CTSS Corbató led a time-sharing effort called Multics, which directly inspired operating systems like Linux and laid the foundation for many aspects of modern computing. Multics doubled as a fertile training ground for an emerging generation of programmers that included C programming language creator Dennis Ritchie, Unix developer Ken Thompson, and spreadsheet inventors Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston.

Before time-sharing, using a computer was tedious and required detailed knowledge. Users would create programs on cards and submit them in batches to an operator, who would enter them to be run one at a time over a series of hours. Minor errors would require repeating this sequence, often more than once.

But with CTSS, which was first demonstrated in 1961, answers came back in mere seconds, forever changing the model of program development. Decades before the PC revolution, Corbató and his colleagues also opened up communication between users with early versions of email, instant messaging, and word processing.

Media News / Press Freedom

washington post logoWashington Post, Glenn Greenwald has faced pushback for his reporting before. But not like this, Terrence McCoy, July 15, 2019 (print ed.). For weeks, from a house transformed into a bunker, Greenwald, right, had published allegations casting doubt on the impartiality of the glenn greenwaldcorruption investigation that led to the imprisonment of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and contributed to the rise of President Jair Bolsonaro, below left.

In two days, he [Greenwald] would publish another story alleging that the judge who’d overseen Lula’s case, Sérgio jair bolsonaro brazilMoro, a national hero in Brazil for his role taking on corruption, had colluded with prosecutors to convict him.Greenwald, the polarizing American journalist who came to prominence reporting on the U.S. government surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden, had promised months of stories — a steady drip of leaks that could imperil the Bolsonaro agenda. Some members of Brazil's National Congress had called for his deportation. Others accused him of committing a crime. Death threats were rolling in.

Most recently, the federal police, commanded by Moro, now Bolsonaro’s justice minister, reportedly began investigating Greenwald’s finances in a probe that press advocates here see as an attempt to silence him. The public threats against Greenwald represent an early test for Brazil under Bolsonaro, the right-wing former military officer who won the presidency last year with appeals to nationalism, homophobia and nostalgia for the country’s two-decade military dictatorship.

Global News: Sudan

ny times logoNew York Times, One Dictator Has Fallen in Sudan. Will Another Rise to Take His Place? revolution succeed? Declan Walsh, July 15, 2019. After Sudan’s ruler was ousted, protesters wanted civilians in charge. But the military refused to cede power, and the ensuing standoff turned violent. On June 30, protesters flooded the streets and days later, military and civilian leaders agreed to share power until elections in three years.

July 14

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump has completely unhinged psychotic racist meltdown, Bill Palmer, July 14, 2019. This past week Donald Trump lost his census battle and lost his Secretary of Labor, even as his Jeffrey Epstein scandal and his concentration camp scandal grew worse for him. So naturally, Trump did what he always does in these situations: he woke up today and tried to create a distraction. But this time around, Trump took things deep into the gutter even by his low standards.

donald trump twitterHere’s what Donald Trump tweeted:

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

bill palmer report logo headerTo be clear, Trump is referring to the four freshman House Democrats who have been garnering a number of headlines this week. None of them are white. For that reason alone, Trump is telling them to “go back” to where they came from, even though three out of the four of them were born in the United States. This means Trump is being equal parts racist and clueless. In Trump’s xenophobic mind, based on ethnicity alone, these four women must be foreigners.

U.S. House logoAlso, the four of them are talking about how the “government is to be run” because they were elected to Congress, and their job is literally to help determine how the government is to be run. Trump doesn’t appear to understand that when nonwhite people get elected to office, they have the same say as white people elected to office.

Because Donald Trump went so far beyond the pale with his latest hideous racist meltdown, it’ll receive a lot of negative attention, as it should. But then that’s his goal: Trump wants us to focus on his horrid words, so we’ll focus less on his horrid actions, horrid scandals, horrid crimes, and horrid illegitimate presidency.

Epstein Scandal

  Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Prince Andrew with Virginia Roberts, then 17, in 2001. He denies they had sex. Roberts claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family and French modeling scout Jean Luc Brunel. The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001.

The Sunday Times (UK), US judge unseals files in case of girl, 17, ‘forced to have sex with Prince Andrew,’ Tom Harper and Michael Bilton, July 14, 2019. Documents from a 2015 libel suit linked to the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince, are to be made public. Prince Andrew faces further embarrassment from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal after a judge ordered thousands of secret documents relating to an alleged “sex slave” of the tycoon to be released.

About 2,000 files from a defamation case involving Virginia Roberts, an alleged trafficking victim, are due to be unsealed following a ruling by the US court of appeal this month. Roberts claims she was forced by Epstein to have sex with the Duke of York in London, New York and the Caribbean. Prince Andrew has strongly denied the claims.

The Murdoch-owned Sunday Times is the largest selling UK non-tabloid newspaper and operates under joint ownership with The Times, which is published during the week. .

U.S. Migrant Detentions

washington post logoWashington Post, Some border centers nearly empty while conditions in others remain dire, Nick Miroff, July 14, 2019 (print ed.).  In the ICE logoweeks since Mexico started an immigration crackdown, the migration wave has been disrupted. But the decline has been uneven.

• Millions paid to former head of nonprofit that ran migrant child shelters, records show
• Planned ICE raids put restaurant industry on edge

washington post logomike pence oWashington Post, At detention facility, Pence sees hundreds of migrants crammed with no beds, Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). During a tour of a Texas center by Pence (right), there were no mats or pillows for those who found the space to rest. A stench from body odor hung stale in the air.

• U.S. plans 2,500-bed migrant center at site of controversial child shelter

ny times logoNew York Times, Pence Defends Conditions at Migrant Detention Centers in Texas, Neil Vigdor, July 13, 2019. Vice President Mike Pence toured two Border Patrol facilities on Friday, later saying they were “providing care that every American would be proud of.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence is in trouble, Bill Palmer, July 14, 2019. Mike Pence had one job: go to the least horrid of Donald Trump’s immigrant concentration camps, stand amid the subhuman conditions, declare that the conditions are just fine and that it’s the fault of the Democrats anyway, and convince the media to repeat that lie. Unfortunately for Pence, those lies didn’t stick – at all – and now he’s got a problem.

bill palmer report logo headerPence’s visit to the concentration camps went so poorly from a public relations angle, he ended up having to accuse CNN of being fake news, after CNN aired footage of him turning a blind eye to desperate refugees stuffed in overcrowded cages without basic amenities such as access to showers. That left Trump in the same situation this morning that he’d been in all week: having to try to sell the lie himself.

Trump woke up this morning and posted this rant about Pence’s visit: “Friday’s tour showed vividly, to politicians and the media, how well run and clean the children’s detention centers are. Great reviews! Failing @nytimes story was FAKE! The adult single men areas were clean but crowded – also loaded up with a big percentage of criminals. Sorry, can’t let them into our Country. If too crowded, tell them not to come to USA, and tell the Dems to fix the Loopholes – Problem Solved!”

Donald Trump’s rant very much had the feeling of a criminal boss who sent his top lieutenant to clean up a mess, but the lieutenant only made it worse, so now he’s back to trying to clean it up himself. It’s not that Mike Pence’s visit had any real chance of working. But now Pence is stuck with the reality that the concentration camps are seen partly as his scandal instead of Trump’s scandal, and that Trump is clearly unhappy with him for not having been able to make the whole thing magically go away.

 U.S. Politics

nbc news logoNBC News, Sanders skips Netroots as Warren strengthens her hold on progressives, Alex Seitz-Wald, July 13, 2019. The nearly 4,000 liberal activists and operatives gathered in Philadelphia heard from only one of the Democratic frontrunners. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this week found Warren had pulled into second place with 19 percent, leaving Sanders tied for third at 13 percent.

If there were a summer camp for the "vast left-wing conspiracy," as Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway has dubbed it, it'd be the annual Netroots Nation Conference here this weekend. And among those campers — the 3,700 liberal activists and operatives — two candidates in the upcoming Democratic presidential primary are clear favorites: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Bernie SandersBut only one of the two showed up to address the faithful. Warren received a rockstar welcome at a candidate forum Saturday, while Sanders, left, skipped the conference and sent his campaign co-chair instead. The Sanders campaign told organizers last week that he could not attend due to a scheduling conflict. Other candidates also in the hunt for progressive endorsements, such as Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., missed the gathering as well.

"A movement candidate comes to Netroots and engages with the people who are doing the work not just to speak, but to listen to the experts," said Jennifer Epps-Addison, the president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a network of local progressive groups.

Still, with Warren and Sanders standing above the rest, his absence and her presence appear indicative of their larger approach to the progressive movement — and, some say, help explain why she's been climbing in recent polls while his support has remained flat.

OpEdNews, Commentary: Netroots Nation 2019 Panel on Election Security, the Single Most Important Issue in Our Elections Today, Marta marta steeleSteele, right,  July 14, 2019. "What is the ultimate form of voter suppression? Not having your vote count."

Moderated by award-winning journalist and EI (election integrity) expert Lulu Friesdat, the well-known panelists included Rob Richie, president and CEO of Fair Vote; Ronnie Martin, Internal Communications Chair for the Atlanta Chapter of the ARCS Foundation; Bennie Smith, Shelby County [TN] Election Commissioner; Virginia Martin, Democratic Election Commissioner, Columbia County, New York; and Stephanie Singer, independent consultant for Verified Voting.

Richie, first to speak, said that all varieties of electronic voting machines currently in use are connected to the Internet-not only via predictable devices like modems but also because their assembly prior to use involves the Internet. So all are permeable and corruptible from the inside or outside.

The two varieties of machinery in use are DREs (direct-recording electronic systems), and optical scanners, consisting of lower technology but still, as computers, almost as permeable. Their advantage is the paper ballot filled in with pencil or pen that serves as a permanent record that can be hand-counted in the event of disputed totals-when they aren't destroyed or inaccessible because of government priorities, most likely corruption via suppressing recounts.

New on the scene to replace the infinitely hackable DREs is a system previously reserved for special-needs voters, ballot marking devices (BMDs), which consist of two or three components. They can cost up to three times the price that optical scanners command, $3,000 to $4,000. The latest and worst incarnation of these detestable devices is hybrid, in that it combines three devices in its $14,000 model. First you cast your vote on a touchscreen interface. The machine spits out a printed ballot recording your choices. A large majority of voters don't proofread (read: verify) their choices, so this constitutes a large gray area where the true choice of the voter may not be counted.

And so you insert your ballot into the next component of the machine, which prints up the ballot and assigns it a barcode supposedly recording your choices, but this is another area that can be hacked, the area that the machine actually counts. The machine may substitute its own preferences for yours. (for further information, visit SMARTelections.us ) The third component, a scanner, sucks in your ballot and then deposits it into a receptacle.

The simpler version of this hybrid consists of the same touchscreen interface and a printer, two separate components. The hybrids are the worst variety of BMDs, the ones that can vote for you, said Richie.

Both devices allow one user at a time. Compare this with the optical scanners, which allow any number of voters, at private stations, to write in their choices and then have them scanned into a receptacle, preventing the long lines that plague the system, especially in impoverished neighborhoods.

The Es&S ExpressVote ballot markers that will be used in Pennsylvania and Georgia operate on a Windows 7 platform, which Microsoft will stop servicing next January (2020). DREs operated on a Windows 100 basis often. Why? Certainly not toward a perfect system.

The hybrid ballot markers will be used in six swing states in 2020, with Florida buying the largest number of them.

A further fundamental flaw in this machinery is that if a voter does discover a flawed ballot, he/she cannot report the problem to a poll worker without revealing the candidates chosen, thus doing away with the secret ballot principle.

Moreover, the votes produced by this system cannot be audited,

washington post logoWashington Post, For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it’s all about the ‘dark money,’ Michelle Ye Hee Lee, July 14, 2019.  Money in politics is the signature campaign issue for Bullock, the 22nd to join the 25-candidate race for the Democratic presidential nomination. To Bullock, the most urgent issues on voters’ minds — income inequality, climate change, taxes, collective bargaining rights and more — stem from the lasting influence of moneyed interests.

democratic donkey logoBullock has been promoting this message across Iowa since joining the race in mid-May, making his case even as he failed to clear a single digit in enough polls to qualify for the first round of Democratic debates last month. In the past week, Bullock made his sixth campaign trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. And he is poised to take his message to a national audience at the upcoming debate in late July, having garnered the necessary support to qualify for the stage this time.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats’ racially charged infighting escalates, Colby Itkowitz, David Weigel and Mike DeBonis, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Rep. Ayanna Pressley told a liberal conference that the party doesn’t need “any more black voices that don’t want to be a black voice.”

ayanna pressley twitterAn all-out racially charged fight within the House Democratic Caucus escalated Saturday when an African American freshman lawmaker said the party doesn’t need “any more black voices that don’t want to be a black voice.”

U.S. House logoRep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) made those comments during a speech at the liberal Netroots Nation conference where she, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) appeared after a week-long clash with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies.

nancy pelosi oThe feud started last month, when the three freshman women of color and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) criticized Democrats who supported an emergency funding bill to send more money to the border. The measure passed, but liberal House Democrats said the bill didn’t do enough to protect migrant children held in federal detention centers amid reports of poor conditions. Omar said a vote for it amounted to a vote “to keep kids in cages.”

In response, Pelosi tried to downplay their influence in an interview with the New York Times. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told columnist Maureen Dowd. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez accused the speaker of “singling out” the four women of color, calling it “outright disrespectful.”

saikat chakrabarti twitterThings escalated further on Friday night when the official Twitter account for the House Democratic Caucus highlighted a tweet Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, right, wrote on June 27 criticizing Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), below left, one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress, for supporting the border bill.

“I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system,” Chakrabarti wrote. “And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her voters are sharice davidsshowing her to enable a racist system.”

The House Democratic Caucus shared that two-week-old tweet Friday night and offered its own commentary.

“Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color? Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice. She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue. Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth,” the @HouseDemocrats account tweeted. Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, retweeted it.

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, After signing ‘never Trump’ letters in 2016, some Republicans have second thoughts, David Nakamura, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). National security establishment figures who tried to block him are wrestling with whether to maintain opposition or find a way to support him.

Axios, Sneak Peak: 1 big thing: How Donald Trump conquered the Republican Party, Jonathan Swan, July 14, 2019. Republican members of Congress said nothing when President Trump told minority congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from. Between the lines: Trump knows he can say whatever he likes and face no consequences from the party he has conquered.

What's new: Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, has a book out this week that documents Trump's conquest of the Republican Party — the domination evidenced above. Axios obtained an advance copy of the book, "American Carnage," which is deeply reported and engrossing. The book reveals Trump's delight in tormenting Republicans who he views as weak or disloyal, and it helps explain the partywide silence on days like today.

democratic donkey logoAlso, Top 2020 Dems wouldn't reverse Trump's Jerusalem decision. The 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunners have accepted President Trump's Jerusalem move, Axios' Alayna Treene reports. Over the last week, Alayna reached out to all the top-tier candidates, and not one of them — including Biden — said they would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv.

Why it matters: Many prominent Democrats, including most of the presidential contenders, chastised Trump for moving the embassy to Jerusalem in 2017, claiming it would escalate tensions in the region and destroy any chance for a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis. But now, none say they would reverse Trump's decision.

State of play: In addition to Biden, Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said they would not reverse Trump's decision.

U.S. Legislatures / Gerrymandering

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s One List Where Kirsten Gillibrand Is Winning and Kamala Harris Is Tied With Marianne Williamson, Matt Stevens, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Amid the relentless focus on Washington and presidential politics, a liberal political action committee has ranked the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on something much lower on the political food chain — what they are doing to help Democrats win state legislative seats.

kirsten gillibrand headshotA ranking released Thursday shows that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, right, Senator Elizabeth Warren of democratic donkey logoMassachusetts and former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas are currently the most engaged with candidates for state office. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are also ranked in the top 10.

“State legislatures are not where the glamour is — they’re just where the power is,” said Daniel Squadron, the co-founder and executive director of Future Now Fund, a PAC focused on state legislative elections. He cited continuing controversies over gerrymandering and abortion as examples of just how much power state legislatures have.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If the Supreme Court Won’t Prevent Gerrymandering, Who Will? Sam Wang (neuroscientist and the director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project), July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Progressives have long looked to federal courts to guard the rights of racial minorities and dissenters. But that protection is weakening. Faced with the enormous injustice of partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court last month permitted politicians drawing election district maps to discriminate by party and even potentially mask their racial “packing” and “cracking” as mere partisanship. To fill this growing gap, reformers should take an unexpected route: states’ rights.

Putting all federalist routes together — courts, voter initiatives, laws and elections — I estimate that reform is actually possible in the vast majority of states, even without the Supreme Court’s help.

Elites Bedazzled By Epstein

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein Was a Sex Offender. The Rich and Powerful Still Welcomed Him, Jodi Kantor, Mike McIntire and Vanessa Friedman, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Jeffrey Epstein, who now faces sex-trafficking charges, served time a decade ago for a sex crime involving a minor. When he returned to New York as a sex offender, he staged a comeback campaign among the elite that largely worked.

A strange thing happened when Jeffrey Epstein came back to New York City after being branded a sex offender: His reputation appeared to rise.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida prison, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Mr. Epstein, right, was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. A page popped up on Harvard University’s website lauding his accomplishments, and superlative-filled news releases described his lofty ambitions as he dedicated $10 million to charitable causes.

Powerful female friends served as social guarantors: Peggy Siegal, a gatekeeper for A-list events, included him in movie screenings, and Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin, a champion of women’s health, maintained a friendship that some felt gave him credibility. Mr. Epstein put up a website showing Stephen Hawking and other luminaries at a science gathering he had organized.

“If you looked up Jeffrey Epstein online in 2012, you would see what we all saw,” Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, said in an interview. He seemed “like an ex-con who had done well on Wall Street,” who was close to the Clintons and gave money to academic pursuits, Dr. Botstein said. That was why, he noted, Bard accepted an unsolicited $50,000 in 2011 for its high schools, followed later that djt epstein headshot Customyear and in 2012 by another $75,000 in donations.

Over a decade ago, when Mr. Epstein (shown with future President Trump) was very publicly accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, he minimized the legal consequences with high-powered lawyers, monetary settlements that silenced complaints, and a plea deal that short-circuited an F.B.I. investigation and led to the resignation announcement on Friday of a Trump cabinet official who had overseen the case as a prosecutor. Socially, Mr. Epstein carried out a parallel effort, trying to preserve his reputation as a financier, philanthropist and thinker.

Some of the respect Mr. Epstein, 66, drew on was manufactured, the accomplishments recycled.

BuzzFeed, The State Department Once Rented A Townhouse Seized From Iran To Jeffrey Epstein — Then Sued Him For Subletting It, Rosie Gray, July 14, 2019. A weird and forgotten case from the 1990s shows how connected Jeffrey Epstein was to power.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion has become notorious for its reportedly macabre interior decor, immense size and monetary value, and as the site of some of his lurid alleged crimes. But Epstein, the financier who has been charged with sex trafficking and accused of sexually abusing young girls, used to live in a different Upper East Side mansion only a few blocks away, a mansion which embroiled him in a dispute which also involved a lawyer for French Connection heroin ring suspects, the State Department, and transitively the government of Iran.

state dept map logo SmallThe now-forgotten case — laid out in newspaper clips from the time and extensive court documents — offers a glimpse into a strange facet of Epstein’s life at the time, and constitutes an early example of Epstein popping up in the media as a rich and connected but mysterious New York figure.

Beginning in February 1992, Epstein rented a former Iranian government building that had been taken over by the State Department during the Iranian revolution, at 34 East 69th Street in one of Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhoods, and at a rate of $15,000 a month. But things went sour when the government sued Epstein in the Southern District of New York, alleging that he had at one point failed to pay the rent on time and had violated the lease by moving out in early 1996 and subletting the place without the State Department’s permission. His subtenant was Ivan Fisher, a New York City criminal defense lawyer who had famously defended members of the French Connection and Pizza Connection drug rings. The government also sued Fisher.

What was Epstein up to? Why had he abandoned the decadent mansion so abruptly and moved out without getting permission to sublet?

Fisher, who reportedly once counseled law students to look into a mirror and practice telling potential clients their retainer was $100,000, was banned from practicing in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2013 after a court grievance committee ruled that he had stolen money from a client.

July 13

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Acosta Resigns as Labor Secretary Over Epstein Plea Deal, Annie Karni, July 13, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said Friday alexander acosta labor omorning that R. Alexander Acosta, right, his embattled secretary of labor, will resign following controversy over a lenient plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein when he was a prosecutor in Florida.

Mr. Trump made the announcement as he left the White House for travel to Milwaukee and Cleveland. Mr. Trump said Mr. Acosta called him this morning and that it was Mr. Acosta’s decision to resign. Acosta was plagued by controversy over a plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors say Epstein paid suspected co-conspirators, Matt Zaplosky, July 13, 2019 (print ed.). Soon after The Miami Herald began reporting on his favorable treatment by law enforcement in an early 2000s sex crimes investigation, jet-setting financier Jeffrey Epstein paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to people investigators had identified as possible co-conspirators — payments which federal prosecutors alleged Friday might have been meant to influence them.

The allegation came in a court filing by federal prosecutors in New York, who recently arrested and charged Epstein with sexually abusing dozens of young girls from 2002 to 2005. The arrest set off a chain of events that led to the resignation Friday of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the U.S. attorney in Miami during the earlier investigation of Epstein.

In seeking to keep the multimillionaire jailed pending trial, New York prosecutors argued Epstein had a history of trying to obstruct inquiries into his misdeeds, including those from journalists.

Prosecutors wrote they had obtained financial records showing in November 2018, two days after the Herald reported on a favorable plea arrangement Epstein received years prior, Epstein wired $100,000 to someone identified as a possible co-conspirator in the case. Three days after that, he wired $250,000 to another person identified as a possible co-conspirator, prosecutors wrote.

Jeffrey Epstein in the 1975 yearbook of the Dalton School, right.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed, Mike Baker and Amy Julia Harris, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Some students at the esteemed Manhattan prep school recall that Mr. Epstein, now charged with sex trafficking, was willing to violate norms in his encounters with girls.

jeffrey epstein dalton yearbook 1975In the mid-1970s, students at one of New York’s most esteemed prep schools were surprised to encounter a new teacher who pushed the limits on the school’s strict dress code, wandering the halls in a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest.

The teacher, Jeffrey Epstein, left, would decades later face allegations that he coerced and trafficked teenagers for sex. At the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, some students saw Mr. Epstein as an unusual and unsettling figure, willing to violate the norms in his encounters with girls.

Eight former students who attended the prestigious school during Mr. Epstein’s short tenure there said that his conduct with teenage girls had left an impression that had lingered for decades. One former student recalled him showing up at a party where students were drinking, while most remembered his persistent attention on the girls in hallways and classrooms.

“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘This is wrong,’” said Scott Spizer, who graduated from Dalton in 1976.

None of the female students who spoke to The New York Times in recent days remembered Mr. Epstein making unwanted physical contact with them, and he has not been accused of any crimes related to his time at the school.

But a few students said they had been discomfited by a close relationship he had with one of their female peers, a concern that had escalated so much that one of them had raised the issue then to a school administrator.

Dalton has long been known for its rigorous academics, repeatedly ranking among the nation’s best private schools while drawing the sons and daughters of New York titans of finance, media and art. Among the alumni are the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, the actress Claire Danes and the comedian Chevy Chase.

Mr. Epstein’s time at Dalton was brief, and an administrator said it ended in a dismissal. While Mr. Epstein later developed a reputation in the world of finance as a man of brilliance — “He was a Brooklyn guy with a motor for a brain,” New York magazine wrote in a 2002 profile — the administrator told The Times that he had dismissed Mr. Epstein for poor performance.

But the accounts offer a window into Mr. Epstein’s early adulthood, before he developed extensive private wealth that allowed him to acquire a $56 million mansion just a mile south of the Dalton School. It was there, prosecutors said this week, that Mr. Epstein and his employees paid “numerous” underage girls to engage in sex acts with him.

OPUS 167, Opinion: Mossad Epstein Connection, Steve Pieczenik (an American writer, former United States Department of State official, psychiatrist, and publisher.), July 13, 2019 (7:18 mins). Israel's intelligence agency, The Mossad, is behind Jeffrey Epstein's crimes.

"Israel not our greatest ally, they're our greatest enemy....The heroes of this picture are not only Trump and the White House [but others exposing corrupt U.S. intelligence agencies].... Israel has been placed on notice....As a Jew, I am not proud of what Jews have done."

mossad seal CustomMore from Pieczenik Wikipedia bio: Dr. Pieczenik was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance and James Baker.[2] His expertise includes foreign policy, international crisis management and psychological warfare.[6] He served the presidential administrations of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the capacity of deputy assistant secretary.[7]

In 1974, Pieczenik joined the United States Department of State as a consultant to help in the restructuring of its Office for the Prevention of Terrorism. In 1976, Pieczenik was made Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for management. At the Department of State, he served as a "specialist on hostage taking". He has been credited with devising successful negotiating strategies and tactics used in several high-profile hostage situations, including the 1976 TWA Flight 355 hostage situation and the 1977 kidnapping of the son of Cyprus' president.

As a renowned psychiatrist, he was utilized as a press source for early information on the mental state of the hostages involved in the Iran hostage crisis after they were freed. In 1977, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mary McGrory described Stephen Pieczenik as "one of the most 'brilliantly competent' men in the field of terrorism."

Washington Press, Trump’s biographer just dropped an Epstein bombshell that should terrify Trump, Natalie Dickinson, July 13, 2019. he arrest and investigation of notorious billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is making a lot of powerful people very uncomfortable — and someone who has to be quaking in his boots is the President, Donald Trump.

Trump biographer Tim O’Brien dropped a bombshell this morning on MSNBC host Joy Reid’s show that could have huge consequences for the President.

“When I worked on my book about Trump, Trump regularly talked to me about Jeff Epstein and he felt they had lifestyles that were in synch. But what is happening now with this investigation in the Southern District and they’re going to get access to Jeffrey Epstein’s videos,” said O’Brien.

“They’re investigating what occurred in Jeffrey Epstein’s townhouse…They should interview every woman who came in and out of that townhouse, including the woman that made this claim against the president right before the election… The other thing is, there is an outstanding claim a Jane Doe claim filed right before the election by a woman in her 30’s who said in the ’90s when she was 13, Donald Trump raped her in Jeffrey Epstein’s townhouse in the Upper East Side. The veracity of that claim can be tested now by the Southern District.”

If Jeffrey Epstein wired his house for video in order to produce blackmail material, as many believe he did, there could potentially be a video of Donald Trump in the act of raping thirteen-year-old Jane Doe, as a serious lawsuit against the president alleged.

We know for sure that Epstein had a treasure trove of categorized CDs and images that featured his unknown partners-in-crime with young women:

The Jane Doe lawsuit was hastily withdrawn under mysterious circumstances and rumors of death threats, but if investigators discover evidence of the allegations — or even evidence that just putting Donald Trump in the same room as an underage girl at Epstein’s house — it’s hard to see how his Republican backers brush that under the rug.

The Guardian, Jeffrey Epstein: how US media – with one star exception – whitewashed the story, Ed Pilkington, Miami Herald exposed a vast criminal network and a government cover-up – but why the silence elsewhere? Epstein was arrested earlier this week on new sex trafficking charges. But why for so long did police appeals to the media fall on deaf ears?

When Julie K Brown of the Miami Herald approached a former police chief of Palm Beach, Florida, in 2017, hoping to get him to open up about his investigation of the child sex crimes for which the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein had been fleetingly jailed a decade earlier, she was surprised by how unresponsive he was.

Michael Reiter told Brown he had been down this road many times and was sick of it. As Brown recalled in a WNYC interview last month, Reiter said he had talked to many reporters and told them precisely where to find damning evidence against Epstein. But nothing ever came of it.

“He was convinced that a lot of media had squashed the story and he was fed up,” she said.

Reiter warned Brown what would happen were she to continue digging: “Somebody’s going to call your publisher and the next thing you know you are going to be assigned to the obituaries department.”

Brown did not heed his warning. She flung herself at the investigation and eventually persuaded Reiter to go on record. Her resulting, award-winning three-part series last November exposed a vast operation in which 80 potential victims were identified, some as young as 13 and 14 at the time of the alleged abuse. She persuaded eight to tell their stories.

Brown also exposed a government cover-up in which Epstein got away with an exceptionally light sentence that saw him serve only 13 months in jail. She discovered that a “non-prosecution agreement” had been negotiated secretly in 2008 by the then top federal prosecutor in Miami, Alexander Acosta, that gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.

July 12

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals 

virgina roberts dog

Virginia Roberts, above, was working at Mar-a-Lago when she was recruited to be a masseuse to Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein.She was lured into a life of depravity and sexual abuse. By Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown

Miami Herald, New victims come forward as Epstein asks to be released from jail to his Manhattan mansion, Julie K. Brown and David miami herald logoSmiley, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Jeffrey Epstein’s victims At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein even as the multimillionaire money manager tries to convince a federal judge to allow him to await a sex trafficking trial from the comfort of the same $77 million Manhattan mansion where he’s accused of luring teenage girls into unwanted sex acts.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Following Epstein’s arrest Saturday in New Jersey, four women have reached out to New York lawyer David Boies, and at least 10 other women have approached other lawyers who have represented dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims in the past.

Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney, said at least five women, all of whom were minors at the time of their alleged encounters with Epstein, have reached out to either him or Fort Lauderdale lawyer Brad Edwards.

perversion of justice miami herald logo“The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation,’’ Scarola said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein’s New Mexico Oasis: A Refuge From Prosecution, Simon Romero and Nicholas Kulish, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). At Zorro Ranch, a palatial home south of Santa Fe, N.M., Jeffrey Epstein avoided having to register as a sex offender. New Mexico’s law is one of the more lenient, and Mr. Epstein’s multi-jurisdiction case highlights issues of states establishing their own registries.

Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier, managed to evade federal prosecution a decade ago in a Florida sex case involving dozens of teenage girls, in part by agreeing to register as a sex offender. But for a man with many residences, and many high-powered lawyers, registering as a sex offender was not the blanket penalty it might seem.

He did register in Florida, where he pleaded guilty to two state felony charges. But in New York, where he owns one of Manhattan’s most expensive mansions, he managed to avoid check-ins with the authorities by changing his official residence to the Virgin Islands. And in New Mexico, where he owned a palatial residence south of Santa Fe, he was able to avoid inclusion in the state’s registry entirely.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This aspect of Jeffrey Epstein’s plea bargain has been largely overlooked, David Von Drehle, July 12, 2019.  The media firestorm touched off by the financier’s tarmac arrest will only get hotter.

Let’s separate the dramatic from the significant in the arrest and jailing of Jeffrey Epstein, mysterious multimillionaire, erstwhile friend of presidents and princes, registered sex offender.

Dramatic was the image of federal agents greeting Epstein’s private jet at Teterboro Airport, the taxiway of moguls and stars, to bundle the old goat off to the hoosegow. Equally cinematic was the nearly simultaneous scene of lawmen taking a crowbar to the towering wooden doors of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

Significant, on the other hand, was the safe found somewhere behind the splintered doors.

All the millions that Epstein has paid out in settlements offer zero protection against prosecution for subsequent crimes. Locked inside that safe, according to investigators, were “hundreds, and perhaps thousands” of sexually suggestive photographs of young women, and at least some appeared to be minors. With that discovery, Epstein’s defense came crashing down.

Under federal law, it is illegal simply to possess any such pictures of anyone under the age of 18. “Transporting” such pictures “in interstate or foreign commerce” is punishable by up to 20 years in prison for a first offense. And get this: Simply by downloading his photos onto a compact disc manufactured overseas (which prosecutors say was labeled “girl pics nude”), Epstein likely satisfied the “foreign commerce” clause.

You see, while much has been written about the cushy and secretive plea bargain that spared Epstein what might have been a very long stay in prison for the alleged sexual abuse of teenage girls, one aspect of that agreement has been largely overlooked. Epstein agreed not to contest lawsuits filed by his victims. In the ensuing years, he reached untold dozens of settlements with women who were as young as 14 when he drew them into what has been called his sexual Ponzi scheme. In exchange for Epstein’s money, the women agreed to release him from any further responsibility for offenses against them “from the beginning of the world to the day of this release.”

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Donald Trump Jr associated with Epstein sex victim recruiter, Wayne Madsen, July 12, 2019 donald trump jr cropped(subscription required). Another link between Jeffrey Epstein and a Trump is being reported. In this case, the link is not with Donald Trump but with his son, Donald Trump, Jr., right,

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has bizarre meltdown on White House lawn after Alexander Acosta resigns, Bill Palmer, July 12, 2019. After Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta tried and failed to convince the public that he wasn’t at fault in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Trump began leaking things about Acosta in order to force him out. That meant Acosta’s resignation was inevitable, and sure enough, it finally happened today. Trump decided he had to be the star of the show as usual, and it didn’t exactly go well for him.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump announced today on Twitter that “Alex Acosta informed me this morning that he felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in, and he graciously tendered his resignation.” Okay, so we knew where this was headed even before Trump stood next to Alex Acosta today on the White House lawn while speaking to reporters. Actually, even we didn’t think it would go quite this stupidly.

Trump bent over backward to try to praise Acosta, saying “He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard.” Wait, what? This was such a jarringly bizarre remark, “He’s a Hispanic” ended up trending on Twitter as everyone began commenting in disbelief. This is a classic example of a racist man like Trump trying to say something that he thinks will cover up his racism, but only makes it worse. Also, Trump is probably showing his frustration over the fact that he had a token Hispanic man in his racist administration, and now he’s going to need to find another one.

In any case, Alexander Acosta is now gone from the Donald Trump regime. The question going forward is whether Trump’s decision to sacrifice Acosta will be enough for the media and the public to feel satisfied, or if they’ll keep pushing to get to the bottom of the Epstein scandal and expose whatever Trump’s true role might have been.

Trump Caves On Census Citizen Plan

washington post logous census bureauWashington Post, Trump gives up attempt to add citizenship question to census, Seung Min Kim, Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The announcement marked the end of a 19-month push to ask about citizenship status on the survey. Opponents have said the question could undercount Latinos and scare immigrant communities from participating.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We just dodged a constitutional crisis with the census, Harry Litman (right, law professor and former U.S. attorney), July 12, 2019. The executive order that President Trump issued on Thursday was a face-saving attempt to harry litman msnbc screenshotrepackage a political loss. Much more important, however, it reflects the administration’s stepping back from the brink of a truly historic rejection of the principle that the courts decide the law under our constitutional scheme.

The administration for several days had suggested it was busy concocting a workaround to the Supreme Court’s determination in late June that the rationale for placing a citizenship question in the 2020 Census was pretextual and could not stand. It is important to understand just what a radical course of action the administration was flirting with. The attorney general of the United States declared that he had been in regular contact with the president about the question, which the president was determined to see featured on the decennial survey.

If the executive branch disclaims the courts’ authority to resolve disputes, we would be in wholly uncharted territory outside the ability of the Constitution to resolve.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Wake up, Democrats. Trump is on something of a roll, David Ignatius, right, July 12, 2019. The agonizing fact david ignatiusfor Democrats this summer is that President Trump appears to be gaining ground on domestic and foreign policy, while his potential challengers are quarreling and mostly spinning their wheels.

Trump is taunting allies and defying Congress — and seemingly getting away with it. He isn’t just rewriting the political rulebook, he’s tossing it aside. And the painful fact is that the Democrats haven’t figured out a way to stop his forward momentum, even when they believe it’s taking the country over a cliff.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoTrump remains a divisive and unpopular leader who is vulnerable in 2020. But a Post-ABC News poll released last week was the clearest warning yet for Democrats that Trump is gaining strength beyond his core base of support.

Trump’s approval rating has risen 5 points since April, to 44 percent, according to the survey. His disapproval rating is 53 percent, but his support is still the highest he’s had as president. The RealClearPolitics average of major polls shows a similar trend.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: An impeachment inquiry is risky. Not opening one is riskier, Eugene Robinson, right, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). eugene robinson headshot CustomHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s misdeeds would be risky. She needs to realize that not doing so is beginning to look riskier.

Next week, after former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress, the impeachment question will demand an answer. Even if Mueller manages not to stray beyond the boundaries of his report, the evidence of impeachable presidential misconduct that his investigators found is clear and compelling. Hearing from Mueller’s lips what amounts to a criminal indictment of the president will surely have more impact than Mueller’s dry and lengthy tome, which few have actually read.

Meanwhile, Trump’s abuse of presidential power, including his open defiance of the judiciary, becomes ever more brazen and alarming. The Supreme Court has no army to enforce its rulings. Only Congress has the power, and the duty, to check a president run amok.

washington post logoWashington Post, Joe Biden’s Senate records could explain past actions — but they’re under wraps, Matt Viser, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The papers were expected to be released this year. But new terms announced just before he started his 2020 campaign have kept the trove from public view.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi defends handling of 4 House women as Democrats fume about Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide, Mike DeBonis, Paul nancy pelosi oKane, Rachael Bade, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Pelosi refused to respond directly to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s accusation that she is targeting “newly elected women of color.”

Several African American and Latino Democrats rallied around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (below left) accused her of targeting “newly elected women of color” through a series of public remarks dismissing their political influence inside the House.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialThe suggestion from the outspoken liberal freshman, made in a Washington Post article published Wednesday, stunned those Democrats, and it compounded their lingering anger after Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide publicly accused some colleagues last month of racist actions for supporting a compromise border spending bill.

“What a weak argument, because you can’t get your way? And because you are getting pushback, you resort to use the race card? Unbelievable. Unbelievable to me,” Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said of Ocasio-Cortez’s remark.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Analysis: The bad optics of Pelosi vs. the ‘newly elected women of color,’ Eugene Scott, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The freshman lawmakers accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of blatantly disrespecting women of color in Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, AOC’s chief of staff guides a movement, David Montgomery, July 12, 2019. Saikat Chakrabarti, below right, saikat chakrabarti twitterchief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is a behind-the-scenes force in progressive politics.

Ocasio-Cortez’s priorities and approach offer the purest expression of the progressive movement in Congress. And as her gatekeeper and chief of staff — the COS to AOC — Chakrabarti is a new type on Capitol Hill: the movement chief of staff. It’s what you become when your boss is invested with the hopes of millions of Twitter followers and painted with the prejudices of countless haters. Your job involves both scheduling for the next week and planning for the ages.

Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

CNN, Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say, Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, July 12, cnn logo2019. A federal investigation into whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign-finance laws appears to be wrapping up without charges being filed, according to people familiar with the matter. For months, federal prosecutors in New York have examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen for hush-money payments he made to women alleging affairs with his former boss, President Donald Trump.

In recent weeks, however, their investigation has quieted, the people familiar with the inquiry said, and prosecutors now don't appear poised to charge any Trump Organization executives in the probe that stemmed from the case against Cohen.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US Attorney's office declined to comment. An attorney for the Trump Organization declined to comment.

michael cohen ap file croppedIn January, one month after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, prosecutors requested interviews with executives at the company, CNN reported. But prosecutors never followed up on their initial request, people familiar with the matter said, and the interviews never took place.

Meanwhile, there has been no contact between the Manhattan US Attorney's office and officials at the Trump Organization in more than five months, one person familiar with the matter said.
There is no indication that the case has been formally closed, and former federal prosecutors cautioned that it is always possible that new information could revive the inquiry. The Manhattan US Attorney's office continues to have at least one other ongoing Trump-connected investigation, a probe concerning the President's inaugural committee.

The Trump Organization investigation was launched out of the Cohen case, in which he pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign-finance violations for orchestrating or making payments during the 2016 election to two women -- adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who alleged affairs with Trump. (Trump has denied the allegations.)

After Cohen made the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he was reimbursed, prosecutors said in court filings, by the Trump Organization. The company's executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000, in an effort to cover his original payment, tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus, according to prosecutors, and they falsely recorded those payments as legal expenses in their books.

The criminal inquiry centered on whether those payments, like the hush money Cohen gave to Daniels, violated campaign-finance law.

 Media / Trade Wars

facebook logowashington post logoWashington Post, FTC approves a record $5 billion punishment against Facebook, Tony Romm​, ​July 12, 2019.  Facebook’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission could result in unprecedented federal oversight of the company. The commission’s three Republicans voted for the deal, while both Democrats opposed it.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Europe Moves to Tax Tech Companies, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal, Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport, July 12, 2019. Washington is trying to head off efforts by France, Britain and the European Union to impose taxes on companies like Google and Facebook. The digital revenue grab is threatening to set off a cascade of retaliatory measures unless an agreement can be made.

google logo customFor most of the 21st century, wealthy nations have engaged in a race to the bottom on corporate taxes, cutting rates in an effort to poach business activity across borders. Very quickly, that script has flipped.

Developed countries are now moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens’ daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there.

Global Affairs: Turkey-U.S. Rift

washington post logoWashington Post, Turkey, defying U.S. and NATO warnings, takes first shipment of Russian air-defense system, Kareem Fahim and Amie Ferris-Rotman​, July 12, 2019.  The acquisition of the antiaircraft missiles is expected to trigger U.S. sanctions over military purchases from Russia.

Global Affairs: Jared Kushner

madsen 1 1 175x230

strategic culture logoStrategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: ‘Hysterical and Stupid’: Kushner Reveals His Attitude Towards the Palestinians, Wayne Madsen, right, July 12, 2019. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the person Trump appointed to broker a Middle East peace agreement recently called Palestinians “hysterical and stupid.”

That is particularly galling language coming from a notorious New Jersey, New York, and Maryland slumlord and the son of a federally convicted criminal. Kushner’s father and real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, spent fourteen months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud and witness tampering, among other crimes. Jared Kushner believes his father was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But the wunderkind son-in-law of Trump has no problem in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, one that has led to the large-scale incarceration of the people of the Gaza Strip in virtual desert ghetto.

jared kushner head shotMr. Kushner, left, does not have the business acumen to run a New York City sandwich cart, let alone a major foreign policy initiative like a final Middle East peace agreement. Such a concordat has eluded a every US president since the creation of Israel in 1948. Kushner’s real estate bankruptcies are legendary, and they have resulted in him and his father panhandling for loan relief financing from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and China, among other countries.

In the wake of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled at a workshop in Bahrain in June of this year, government officials around the world reacted with an almost-unanimous thumbs down.

New Orleans Flood Warnings

washington post logoWashington Post, New Orleans braces for an inundation of water as storm grows in Gulf of Mexico, Tim Craig and Frances Stead Sellers, July 12, 2019. The city will receive water from three directions on Friday: rain from above, a flooded river from the north and storm surge from the gulf.

More Sex Charges Against R. Kelly

NBC News, R. Kelly Indicted on Federal Kidnapping, Racketeering and Child Sex-Related Charges in NYC; Jonathan Dienst, July 12, 2019. r kelly twitternbc news logoR&B singer R. Kelly has been federally charged with racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and sexual exploitation of a child in a sweeping New York indictment unsealed in Brooklyn Friday, hours after prosecutors filed a 13-count federal indictment charging him with new sex crimes in Chicago.

The five-count superseding indictment (read it below) unsealed in 18 pages of court documents alleges Kelly (shown in his Twitter photo_) and members of his entourage recruited women and girls to "engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer.

It says Kelly and his managers, bodyguards and other assistants picked out women and girls at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. They also set rules the women and girls had to follow, including not leaving their rooms — even to eat or go to the bathroom — without Kelly's permission, calling the singer "Daddy," and not looking at other men, the indictment alleges. Kelly is the only individual named in the indictment.

The indictment alleges that the criminal acts occurred over two decades dating back to 1999, both in the U.S. and overseas. It accuses Kelly of engaging in sexual acts with girls under 18 and without disclosing that he had a sexually transmitted disease. It also accuses him of producing child pornography, including by asking minors to send him photographs.

"Today that comes to an end," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a statement. "This indictment makes clear that neither fame, power nor status will not shield from prosecution predators who victimize members of our communities for their own sexual gratification."

Inside DC

paul krugmanny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The New Plot Against Obamacare, Paul Krugman, right, July 12, 2019. Will specious, bad-faith legal arguments prevail? The Affordable Care Act was an imperfect and incomplete reform. The political compromises needed to get it through Congress created a complex system in which too many people fall through the holes. It was also underfunded, which is why deductibles are often uncomfortably high. And the law has faced sabotage both from G.O.P.-controlled state governments and, since 2017, the Trump administration.

Despite all that, however, the act has vastly improved many Americans’ lives — and in many cases, saved lives that would otherwise have been lost due to inadequate care.

In short, Obamacare is a success story. And the U.S. public really, really disapproves of Republican attempts to destroy it, which was arguably the main reason Democrats did so well in the midterm elections.

Why, then, is this being relitigated? There are, I’d say, two main implications of what we’re seeing here.

The first is that right-wing partisanship has already corrupted much of the judiciary. At this point it’s clear that there are many judges who will rule in favor of whatever the G.O.P. wants, no matter how weak the legal arguments. The second is that even though Obamacare is now part of the fabric of American life, even though many of the beneficiaries are Republican voters — think about those numbers for Kentucky and West Virginia — Trump and his party are as determined as ever to destroy it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump kills key drug price proposal he once embraced, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Amy Goldstein and Ashley Parker, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has withdrawn a key proposal to lower drug prices, which its top health official had touted seven months ago as the most effective way to curb medicine costs for consumers.

The drug rebate rule would have ended a widespread practice in which drugmakers give rebates to insurance middlemen in government programs such as Medicare. The idea was to channel that money to consumers instead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Congress should show Trump that the Saudi crown prince is no ‘friend’ of America, Editorial Board, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Though there has been no accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and women who were tortured for seeking mohammed bin salman al saudgreater rights are still in prison, President Trump has returned to calling Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (shown at right) a “friend” who is doing “a spectacular job.”

Fortunately, there remains a bipartisan majority in Congress that rejects this indefensible judgment and the president’s strings-free steps to supply the kingdom with more weapons and nuclear technology. The question is whether a coalition can come together to pass legislation that will reshape U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and its brutal and reckless ruler over Mr. Trump’s objections.

July 11

Mass U.S. Migrant Arrests Planned

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Prepares to Arrest Thousands of Immigrant Family Members, Caitlin Dickerson and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 11, 2019. The government plans to begin nationwide raids Sunday, moving forward with an operation backed by President Trump, officials said. The threat of deportation rattled immigrant communities, prompted backlash from politicians and stoked divisions in the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE logoNationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.

The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include “collateral” deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.

When possible, family members who are arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But because of space limitations, some might end up staying in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. ICE’s goal is to deport the families as quickly as possible.

Trump Team Subpoenas

ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Subpoena a Who’s Who of Mueller Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, July 11, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee approved a dozen new subpoenas targeting witnesses cited in the Mueller report. The list includes Jared Kushner, right, the jared kushner head shotpresident’s son-in-law, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a dozen new subpoenas targeting a who’s who of witnesses cited in Robert S. Mueller III’s report as Democrats sought to elevate their showdown with President Trump over episodes of possible obstruction of justice documented by the special counsel.

The panel also approved a separate group of subpoenas seeking information about the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families at the border. And House Democratic leaders set Tuesday for a full House vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress over their refusal to relinquish documents related to the administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“The House will not shirk from its oversight of this administration and its malign effort to silence the voices of millions in our democracy,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, referring to fears that a citizenship question would dissuade immigrants from answering the census.

Among the prominent figures to be subpoenaed by the Democrats are Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general; Rod J. Rosenstein, his deputy who appointed Mr. Mueller, the special counsel; John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager. Democrats also authorized a subpoena for David J. Pecker, who as head of American Media helped Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign buy the silence of a pornographic film actress and a former Playboy model, both of whom claimed to have had sexual relationships with him.

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

New York Post, NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins, Elizabeth Rosner, Tina Moore, Larry Celona and Bruce Golding, July 10, 2019. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein never once checked in with city cops in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so every 90 days — and the NYPD says it’s fine with that.

After being labeled a worst-of-the-worst, Level 3 sex offender in 2011, Epstein should have reported in person to verify his address 34 times before he was arrested Saturday on federal child sex-trafficking charges.

Violating requirements of the state’s 1996 Sex Offender Registration Act — including checking in with law enforcement — is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for a first offense.

Subsequent violations carry a sentence of up to seven years each. But the NYPD hasn’t required the billionaire financier — who owns a $77 million Upper East Side townhouse — to check in since he registered as a sex offender in New York over the controversial 2008 plea bargain he struck in Florida amid allegations he sexually abused scores of underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

Several current and former high-ranking NYPD officials were shocked to learn from The Post that the department had given Epstein a pass on his periodic check-ins, with one saying, “It makes no sense.”

New York Magazine, ‘I Think He’s Engaged in Blackmail:’ A Jeffrey Epstein Expert on Where He Made His Money, Benjamin Hart, July 11, 2019, Since the arrest of financier and alleged sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein last weekend, the question of where the well-connected onetime society fixture actually made his money has cropped up repeatedly. Intelligencer spoke with Professor Thomas Volscho, a sociology professor at the College of Staten Island who is working on a book about Epstein.

For years, even before all the sordid details of his personal life were known, it has been a mystery to those reporting on Jeffrey Epstein how, exactly, he earned his prodigious fortune. You’re working on a book that explores this very topic. What’s the thrust of what you’ve found?

It’s very murky. I found a couple things, but it’s a mystery. I caught the Virgin Islands Corporate filing where he listed his company as having $88 million dollars. I found in a Citgroup Court Case that he was on the deed for 14 parcels of land for Elizabeth Ross Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress. I don’t know in what capacity — he’s told people he’s a real estate developer, so he might have helped her to develop Lightning Tree Farm in Duchess County. That property is selling for $28 million. So that’s a client.

nicole junderman johnny vedmore graphic

johnny vedmore twitterThe Swamp, Investigation: The Epstein Associate Nobody's Talking About: The IDF-Linked Bond Girl Infiltrating the UK NHS, Johnny Vedmore (shown in Twitter photo, UK based Singer, Songwriter, Political Investigative Journalist, Legalize Cannabis Advocate and Leader of UWIP -- The United Wales Independence Party), July 11, 2019. FIFA Corruption, the Panama Papers, the Mossad, and Nicole Junkermann.

I have a story to tell you. A story that causes my heart to pound and my blood pressure to rise as I type each and every word. A true story of a woman of great wealth and power, who rode on Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” private jet on several occasions. She appears to be a German-born Israeli state intelligence operative based in London. An ex-model whose name appeared in the Panama Papers from the Mossack Fonseca leaks and who became embroiled in a FIFA corruption scandal with Sepp Blatter and his family.

She is perhaps the closest example that you could possibly find to a real-life “Bond Girl.” Yet, she is almost completely unknown to the majority of us.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Aftershocks from Epstein arrest reach Washington, DC and Shanghai, Wayne Madsen, July 11, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). In the wake of the arrest of the uber-wealthy and convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on July 6, there have been some interesting developments. On July 9, Trump, speaking from the Oval Office, said of his relationship with Epstein, “I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him . . . I had a falling out with him. I haven’t spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”

Trump’s relationship with Epstein did not falter over Epstein’s continued sexual molestation of underage girls but was caused by a dispute over Palm Beach real estate.

Trump’s relationship with Epstein did not falter over Epstein’s continued sexual molestation of underage girls but was caused by a dispute over Palm Beach real estate.

wang zhenhua jail

BBC, Wang Zhenhua: China arrests tycoon linked to child sex allegations, Staff report, July 11, 2019. Chinese billionaire property developer bbc news logo2Wang Zhenhua has been formally arrested in Shanghai, his former firm has said. State media reported last week that Mr Wang had been detained over allegations of child sex offences. Pictures of Mr Wang behind bars have been shown, as above, on state broadcaster CCTV.

In a statement on its official Weibo account on Wednesday, Shanghai police confirmed two people, surnamed Wang and Zhou, had been arrested on charges of child molestation.

wang zhenhua portraitFuture Land Development Holdings removed Mr Wang, 57, as chairman last week when he was first detained. It confirmed Mr Wang's arrest late on Wednesday without giving details of the charges.

The Global Times newspaper reported last week, citing police, that his initial arrest was linked to allegations of child molestation.

It came after a woman filed a report to police alleging Mr Wang, shown right in a portrait, had abused her daughter in a hotel in Shanghai, local police said.

The case has sparked outrage in China. Mr Wang is still the controlling shareholder of Future Land. He is also chairman of the board of real estate developer Seazen.

"According to the notification from Shanghai Putuo District Procuratorate and the public security authorities, the arrest of Mr Wang Zhenhua ... was approved on July 10, 2019 for an alleged crime. The case is being further processed," Future Land said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

New York Daily News, Jeffrey Epstein proposes staying in his Upper East Side mansion to await trial for sexually abusing girls, Stephen Rex jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Brown, July 11, 2019. Multimillionaire perv Jeffrey Epstein (shown in his latest mugshot) proposed locking himself up in the Upper East Side mansion where he is accused of sexually abusing underage girls while he awaits trial.

The plan for Epstein to remain in the seven-story townhouse on E. 71st St. monitored by private security guards was part of a 16-page memo outlining a possible bail package. The government argues that Epstein is a flight risk and that he should remain in federal lockup on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking.

Attorney Reid Weingarten pointed to Epstein’s compliance with the terms of his sex offender status since 2008, when he pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in Florida as a result of a controversial deal with the feds.

“During the years since his release from incarceration in connection with his Florida guilty plea, Mr. Epstein has been a law-abiding citizen without a single allegation of criminal misconduct during that period and has focused his efforts on business and philanthropy,” Weingarten wrote in a memo filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

“Mr. Epstein respectfully submits that his conduct over the past 14 years proves that he poses no risk of flight or threat to the safety of the community.”

The financier is now charged with abusing girls between 2002 and 2005. He’s pleaded not guilty and argues that the new charges are “a re-do” of allegations covered by his guilty plea back in 2008. Manhattan prosecutors say they are not bound by that deal.

“If the government is correct that the (non-prosecution agreement) does not, and never did, preclude a prosecution in this district, then the government will have to explain why it purposefully delayed a prosecution of someone like Mr. Epstein, who registered as a sex offender 10 years ago and was certainly no stranger to law enforcement. There is no legitimate explanation for the delay,” Weingarten wrote.

Judge Richard Berman will hold a hearing on the proposed bail package Monday. Trump did not cut ties with Epstein over Epstein’s sexual consorting with minors but over a real estate deal.

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Acosta Defends Role in Brokering Epstein Plea Deal, Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, July 11, 2019 (print ed.). Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary, said he got the best deal he could against Jeffrey Epstein in a case in Florida in 2008, ensuring some jail time. President Trump has defended Mr. Acosta, who has faced calls to resign from Democrats.

Mr. Acosta said he had faced a tough choice between accepting a plea deal that was not as tough as he wished and going to trial with witnesses who were scared to testify, in what he described as “a roll of the dice” that might not have resulted in a conviction and prison term.

“I wanted to help them,” Mr. Acosta said of the victims during a nationally televised news conference at the Labor Department headquarters. “That is why we intervened. And that’s what the prosecutors of my office did — they insisted that he go to jail and put the world on notice that he was and is a sexual predator.”

Mr. Acosta’s appearance before cameras was seen as a crucial test of whether he will keep his job, with an audience of one as President Trump watched and weighed a decision. Mr. Acosta said he had spoken with Mr. Trump and believed he had his backing.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, British ambassador to the U.S. resigns after Trump criticism, William Booth, Josh Dawsey and Karla Adam​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). Kim Darroch, shown at right with a file photo of the president, become embroiled in controversy after a cache of diplomatic cables were leaked in which he described the Trump administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

djt kim darroch fileAfter several days of intense criticism by President Trump, who called the British ambassador to Washington a “pompous fool” and said his administration would no longer work with him, Kim Darroch on Wednesday resigned his post.

united kingdom flagDarroch provoked the president’s ire when a cache of secret diplomatic cables were leaked to a British tabloid over the weekend. The memos from Darroch described Trump as “insecure” and his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

Prime Minister Theresa May stood by Darroch — and she told Parliament on Wednesday it was “matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court dismisses emoluments lawsuit involving Trump’s D.C. hotel, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, July 11, 2019 (print ed.). The unanimous ruling is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District.

democratic donkey logoA federal appeals court Wednesday sided with President Trump, dismissing a lawsuit claiming the president is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his luxury hotel in downtown Washington.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia involving anti-corruption provisions in the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities for financial records related to the D.C. hotel.

karl racineMaryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, right, both Democrats, have said they would consider appealing for a rehearing by a full panel of the 4th Circuit and would not be surprised to see the case reach the Supreme Court.

The president is facing series of legal challenges related to his private business, including a separate lawsuit from Congressional Democrats. The emoluments clauses at issue in the 4th Circuit case were designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but have never been applied in court to a sitting president.

Trump 'Social Media Summit Today'

Raw Story, Top official explains why some Trump superfans were left out of White House summit: ‘We aren’t that stupid,’ Travis Gettys, July 11, 2019. The White House is hosting a summit for pro-Trump social media personalities, but some of the president’s boosters are wondering why they weren’t invited to the event.

Social media director Dan Scavino, a longtime aide to President Donald Trump, is taking the lead in organizing the summit and forming its agenda, two sources told The Daily Beast.

donald trump twitterBut White House staffers told the website they made the easy choice to exclude some of the president’s more controversial supporters — such as InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes — who have been banned from Twitter and other social media platforms.

“What benefit would it be to anyone if Laura Loomer were in the same room with the president?” one senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast. “Why on earth would we do that? We aren’t that stupid. Come on.”

Loomer and other pro-Trump figures have been ranting about their exclusion on Telegram, a Russian messaging app that is one of the only platforms they have left after getting banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for various infractions.

“It’s just absolutely disgusting how poorly this summit was planned and how blatant the act was to keep banned individuals out,” Loomer blared on Telegram. “I cannot believe that every single banned person was out of the summit.”

However, the invite list also features a number of controversial, sketchy or fringe characters. At least two Trump superfans — online video personality Bill Mitchell and singer Joy Villa — who buy in to the QAnon conspiracy theory say they have been invited to the White House summit.

QAnon believers are fixated on asking Trump to confirm their conspiracy in person, the website reported, but Mitchell insisted he would resist the urge. “Of course not,” Mitchell told The Daily Beast. “This is about social media bias, not Q.”

Trump-loving cartoonist Ben Garrison — whose drawings feature a svelte, pompadoured president vanquishing various enemies — was disinvited to the event after critics pointed out several plainly anti-Semitic comics he’d done in the past.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump posts deranged “stable genius” meltdown involving random people and bad math, deletes it, Bill Palmer, July 11, 2019. As a general rule, if you have to declare yourself a “stable genius,” it means you’re neither one of those things.

Because so many of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters are openly bigoted, and so many of them tend to express their horrid views in bill palmer report logo headerthreatening or slur-filled ways, some of Trump’s more prominent surrogates have been banned from various social networks. Some of the others have simply made up a laugh-out-loud conspiracy theory about how they’re not more popular because the social networks are conspiring to bury their incoherent rants. Trump is playing up this nonsense by inviting this collection of lunatics to the White House for a closed-door meeting today. Accordingly, Trump posted this maniacal meltdown on Twitter:

"A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer. The Fake News Media will also be there, but for a limited period.

The Fake News is not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media. They have lost tremendous credibility since that day in November, 2016, that I came down the escalator with the person who was to become your future First Lady. When I ultimately leave office in six years, or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding), they will quickly go out of business for lack of credibility, or approval, from the public. That’s why they will all be Endorsing me at some point, one way or the other. Could you imagine having Sleepy Joe Biden, or Alfred E. Newman or a very nervous and skinny version of Pocahontas (1/1024th), as your President, rather than what you have now, so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius! Sorry to say that even Social Media would be driven out of business along with, and finally, the Fake News Media!"

YouTube, Dr. Gorka Tells Triggered Reporter At Rose Garden, "You’re A Punk! July 11, 2019 (2 min. video). Former White House aide Dr. Sebastian Gorka tells Playboy Magazine reporter Brian Karem, the same triggered reporter who later had an exchange with Joy Villa at the White House Rose Garden on July 11, 2019. Note: Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe, who identifies himself as an "investigative journalist," also confronts Karem.

Other coverage:

  • Bloomberg, Sebastian Gorka Clashes with Journalist After Trump Refuses Media Questions, July 11, 2019 (1:09 min. video).  Conservative commentator Sebastian Gorka appeared to threaten a journalist from the White House press corps after Trump finished remarks on the 2020 census without taking questions from the media. Earlier, Trump hosted a social media summit at the White House, attended by only conservative news media, including Gorka.
  • WLTX, July 11, 2019. Singer Joy Villa confronted several members of the media over fake news moments after a Rose Garden news conference by President Donald Trump on July 11, 2019. It began when Sebastian Gorka had an exchange of words with one of the reporters, who Gorka said made a threat against him.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump's Social Media Summit Mortifies White House, Enrages Far-Right Allies, Enrages Far-Right Allies, Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng, July 11, 2019. No one who is invited to the summit has actually been banned from social platforms.

Donald Trump has invited personalities from across the right-wing internet to the White House on Thursday for a “Social Media Summit,” but the event is causing his administration headaches even before it begins.

So far, the summit has stirred up resentments among pro-Trump personalities who were never invited to the party, and one invitee has been disinvited over an anti-Semitic cartoon — raising questions for the White House about why he was invited in the first place.

#MeToo Claim By NYC Pastor

ny times logoNew York Times, She Led a Famed Progressive Church. Then She Said She Was Harassed, Rick Rojas, July 11, 2019. When the Rev. Dr. Amy K. Butler was hired to lead Riverside Church in Manhattan in 2014, she was hailed as a rising star, the first woman to join a distinguished line of pastors at one of the pre-eminent progressive Protestant congregations in the United States.

Two years into her tenure, an influential former member of the church’s governing council left a bottle of wine and a T-shirt on her desk, both with labels that read “Sweet Bitch,” according to an internal investigation ordered by the church after Ms. Butler filed a formal complaint.

The former governing council member also sent suggestive emails and text messages to Ms. Butler’s female colleagues, the investigation found.

Ms. Butler, 49, went public about the incidents last year, writing a blog post titled “From #MeToo to #ChurchToo to #NeverAtChurch” that said exchanges between her and the former member of the governing council had left her “feeling deeply uncomfortable.”

This month, the governing council dismissed Ms. Butler by not renewing her contract, shocking the 1,750-member congregation and touching off a wrenching debate about sexism, harassment and hypocrisy in a church where past leaders had marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr.

News Media / #MeToo

washington post logoWashington Post, Jeffrey Epstein’s case was covered in the media. But one Miami reporter made it big news again, Sarah Ellison and Paul Farhi, July 11, 2019 (print ed). An investigation, entitled "Perversion of Justice," began with a simple question: “I wonder what the women think about this?”

As Julie Brown watched the Senate hearings on Alexander Acosta’s nomination to become secretary of labor in 2017, she couldn’t help but talk to the television.

“Why aren’t they asking him this?” she asked. “Why aren’t they asking him that?”

perversion of justice miami herald logoBrown was frustrated by the limited questioning from senators about Acosta’s role in an unusual secret plea deal that, as a U.S. attorney in Florida, he had struck with Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier who had pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor, serving a mere 13-month sentence that allowed him to leave jail for 12 hours a day.

“It seemed like the lawmakers didn’t know the whole story,” Brown said in an interview.

So, after the Senate confirmed Acosta, Brown, an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald, went to her editor with a simple query: “I wonder what the women think about this.”

jeffrey epstein julie brown cnn screenshot CustomBrown (shown with Epstein in a CNN screenshots) then set out to tell the full story — not from Acosta’s or Epstein’s point of view but from the perspective of the scores of women who were girls when they were allegedly raped and trafficked by Epstein. They were identified in court filings as Jane Doe 1 or Jane Doe 2 or, as Brown darkly joked, “Jane Doe 102.”

Her search resulted in a blockbuster three-part investigation, published in November, in which she and video journalist Emily Michot were able to identify about 80 of Epstein’s accusers. The stories were a slow-burning fuse that led to an explosion: On Saturday, Epstein was arrested on new sex-crimes charges, leading to calls from leading Democrats for Acosta’s resignation over his handling of the case 11 years ago.

Though there have been surges of media attention about Epstein over more than a decade, no journalist had interviewed the women — now nurses and real estate agents and mothers and professionals — until Brown dove into the story last year.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Weinstein’s Legal Team Falls Apart Again: ‘He’s Impossible to Work With,’ Lachlan Cartwright, July 11, 2019  Lawyer Jose Baez, who once represented Casey Anthony, was granted permission to withdraw from the disgraced movie mogul’s sexual-assault case.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Bill Clinton Failed to Mention His Intimate 1995 Dinner With Epstein, Pilar Melendez, July 11, 2019 The former president said Monday that he only met ‘briefly’ with the alleged sex-trafficker on two occasions, but a 1995 report shows the pair dined together at a mogul’s home.

Hours after Jeffrey Epstein was arraigned Monday on several sex-trafficking charges, former President Bill Clinton publicly downplayed his relationship with the pedophile financier, saying he knew nothing of his “terrible crimes” since they only met “briefly” on two occasions.

But a 1995 newspaper clipping—first discovered by Snopes—shows Epstein was on the guest list for a “small dinner party” and fundraiser hosted by Revlon beauty mogul Ron Perelman for the Democratic National Committee. The former president’s press shop did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

UK-Iran Tension

ny times logounited kingdom flagNew York Times, Iranian Boats Tried to Block British Tanker in Persian Gulf, U.K. Says, David D. Kirkpatrick, July 11, 2019. A British warship forced Iranian vessels to turn away after they tried to prevent passage through the Strait of Hormuz, the government said. The latest escalation of tensions comes a week after the British played a role in the seizure of an Iranian ship near Gibraltar.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Iran Keeps Calm While U.S. And Britain Continue Their Provocations, B, July 11, 2019. Great Britain has joined the U.S. pressure and provocation campaign against Iran. It is creating incidents to put Iran into a defensive position and to provoke into a violent reaction.

The U.S. officials claimed 5, not 3 boats. They claimed the boats tried to seize the ship, while the Brits just say they probably were getting in the way of the ship. The U.S. officials 'direct knowledge of the incident' seems to be lacking. Iran says that nothing happened at all.

More On Epstein Cover-up


abc news logoABC News Nightline, 2 women talk about alleged abuse after Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking, Staff report, July 10, 2019 (9:58 mins.). "Nightline" looks at the fallout from the indictment of Epstein, who allegedly abused "dozens" of underage girls and recruited a "vast network" of victims.

nbc news logoNBC News, Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Shares Story Of Alleged Rape For 1st Time, Savannah Guthrie, July 10, 2019. In a TODAY exclusive, Jennifer Araoz shares her chilling account of alleged sexual assault by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, which she says happened when she was in high school. Araoz is not part of the Southern District of New York’s case against Epstein, who pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges.

New York Post, NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins, Elizabeth Rosner, Tina Moore, Larry Celona and Bruce Golding, July 10, 2019. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein never once checked in with city cops in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so every 90 days — and the NYPD says it’s fine with that.

After being labeled a worst-of-the-worst, Level 3 sex offender in 2011, Epstein should have reported in person to verify his address 34 times before he was arrested Saturday on federal child sex-trafficking charges.

Violating requirements of the state’s 1996 Sex Offender Registration Act — including checking in with law enforcement — is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for a first offense.

Subsequent violations carry a sentence of up to seven years each. But the NYPD hasn’t required the billionaire financier — who owns a $77 million Upper East Side townhouse — to check in since he registered as a sex offender in New York over the controversial 2008 plea bargain he struck in Florida amid allegations he sexually abused scores of underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

Several current and former high-ranking NYPD officials were shocked to learn from The Post that the department had given Epstein a pass on his periodic check-ins, with one saying, “It makes no sense.”

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Instead of an Apology, Acosta Offers Epstein’s Victims Implicit Blame, David A. Graham, July 10, 2019. The secretary of labor, under fire for his handling of a sex-trafficking case, spoke for 53 minutes without saying he was sorry. Facing calls for his resignation, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta held a press conference today in Washington to address his handling of the 2007 case against Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire sex offender.

alexander acosta labor oIt didn’t go well. Acosta, then a U.S. attorney in Florida, oversaw a sweetheart deal for Epstein, which required him to register as a sex offender and sentenced him to 13 months in prison. Epstein was allowed 12 hours of work release from the prison, six days a week. After a lengthy Miami Herald investigation was published last year, federal prosecutors in New York brought new charges against Epstein this week. That has placed renewed scrutiny on Acosta.

During the nearly hour-long press conference, Acosta declined several opportunities to apologize to Epstein’s alleged victims. Instead, he offered lawyerly, mild answers about his investigation, in essence arguing that while the deal the government cut with Epstein was bad, it was much better than what state prosecutors were requesting, and was better than nothing.

In the most astonishing moment of the press conference, Acosta seemed to shift the blame for Epstein’s light sentence onto the alleged victims for not speaking out. Asked what he’d tell those victims, Acosta said, “The message is you need to come forward. I heard this morning that another victim came forward and made horrendous, horrendous allegations, allegations that should never happen to any woman, much less a young girl. And as victims come forward, these cases can be brought and they can be brought by the federal government, they can be brought by state attorneys, and they will be brought.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump praises Acosta as labor secretary faces growing calls to resign over earlier Epstein case, John Wagner​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). Alexander Acosta, above, who previously served as a U.S. attorney, has come under scrutiny for his handling as a prosecutor of a 2007 sex-crimes case involving billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

alex acosta labor dept building ultraviolet

TheHill.com, 'Acosta Enables Sex Trafficking' projected onto the Labor Department building, Zack Budryk, July 10, 2019. Activists projected condemnations of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on the Department of Labor building Wednesday to protest his role in a controversial non-prosecution agreement with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested again over the weekend.

Progressive advocacy groups, including CREDO Action, MoveOn, UltraViolet (which took the photo above) and the American Federation of Teachers, projected the words “Acosta Enabled Sex Trafficking” and “Acosta Must Go” on the building.

“Secretary Acosta’s actions in not disclosing the plea deal of a politically well-connected predator to the victims of that predator were illegal and unconscionable. By breaking the law and hiding the deal from victims, he’s shown that we cannot trust him,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

“A labor secretary is supposed to protect everyday people – Alex Acosta proposed an 80% cut to his department’s bureau that combats human trafficking, and gave a sweetheart deal to a known predator,” she added.

In 2008, as a U.S. Attorney, Acosta approved a deal that allowed Epstein to serve only 13 months and spend 16 hours a day outside of prison. Epstein was arrested on new federal charges of sex trafficking over the weekend. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a press conference Wednesday, Acosta defended the arrangement. “We believe that we proceeded appropriately,” Acosta told reporters at the Labor Department. “We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. He needed to go to jail.”

ny times logocyrus vance jrNew York Times, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Sought Reduced Sex-Offender Status for Epstein, Jan Ransom, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The arrest of Mr. Epstein has renewed scrutiny of how he was treated by the office of Cyrus Vance, right.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Geoffrey Berman's record is a mixed bag; US Attorney for Manhattan served on Iran-Contra prosecution team, Wayne Madsen (investigative reporter, author and commentator who discussed this story today on The Phil Mikan Show in Connecticut, WLIS/WMRD), July 10, 2019 (subscription required).

Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), who is prosecuting the sex trafficking case against longtime Donald Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein, has a professional record that could pose problems for the Trump administration and those seeking to finally bring Epstein to justice for several decades of molesting and trafficking young girls.

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein’s Fortune May Be More Illusion Than Fact, James B. Stewart, Matthew Goldstein, Kate Kelly and David Enrich, jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019July 10, 2019. When federal prosecutors announced sex-trafficking charges against Jeffrey Epstein (shown in a mug shot), they described him as “a man of nearly infinite means.” But there’s little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire. His wealth may have depended more on his connections to two men than on his math acumen.

#MeToo: Trump

Raw Story, Trump accuser has him on video forcibly kissing her: court documents, Sarah K. Burris, July 10, 2019.  President Donald Trump allegedly sexually harassed a campaign staffer in Florida during 2016, doing exactly what he confessed in the “Access Hollywood” tape.

According to the court filings in Alva Johnson v. Donald J. Trump, there is actually a video showing the incident in question.

“The eight and a half hours of video also appear to include footage of the rally from Fox 10 Phoenix, Channel 90, a Youtube channel called FRN Now, ABC 7 Suncoast News from Tampa, and others,” the documents say on page two. “Buried deep in this compilation, at 07:39:44 (i.e., over seven hours into the compilation) is a brief video, taken on a cell phone, showing Mr. Trump kissing Ms. Johnson inside a Campaign RV on August 24, 2016 — just as Ms. Johnson alleged.

While Ms. Johnson remembered some of the minor details incorrectly (for example, Mr. Trump grabbed her by both shoulders before kissing her, and only took her hand after the kiss) it is now undisputable (sic) that Mr. Trump in fact kissed Ms. Johnson.”

donald trump arianne zucker billy bush access hollywood

Trump bragged on the “Access Hollywood” bus that he could do whatever he wanted to women because he was a celebrity. Trump is shown afterward in a screenshot with his bus companion, Billy Bush, and starlet Arianne Zucker.

 Media / Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, appeals court rules, Ann E. Marimow​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The case has twitter bird Customimplications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.

President Trump cannot block his critics from the Twitter feed he regularly uses to communicate with the public, a federal appeals court donald trump twittersaid Tuesday, in a case with implications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.

The decision from the New York-based appeals court upholds an earlier ruling that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked individual users who were critical of the president or his policies.

Public officials who take to social media for official government business, the court said Tuesday, are prohibited from excluding people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” wrote Judge Barrington D. Parker in the unanimous decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted D.C. security fund, mayor says, Peter Jamison​, July 10, 2019. The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that — combined with police expenses for related protests — has bankrupted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals.Trump Team Obstruction

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Tells Mueller Deputies Not to Testify, Scrambling an Agreement, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III’s deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers’ questions in private next week, according to two government officials familiar with the matter.

Justice Department log circularThe department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees last week that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mr. Mueller’s team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III, according to a senior congressional official familiar with the discussions.

It is unclear what effect the Justice Department’s intervention will have on the men’s eventual appearances, but it raises the prospect that a deal lawmakers thought they had struck last month for testimony from Mr. Mueller, the former special counsel, and the two prosecutors could still unravel.

Both Mr. Zebley and Mr. Quarles have left the Justice Department and are now private citizens, meaning that the department most likely cannot actually block their testimony. But the department’s view — depending on how strongly it is expressed — could have a chilling effect on two longtime employees and give them cover to avoid testifying.

Greg Craig Prosecution

Politico, Judge blocks evidence that Greg Craig sought job for Manafort daughter, Josh Gerstein, July 10, 2019. A federal judge on Wednesday granted a defense motion to keep jurors from hearing about former White House Counsel Greg Craig's efforts to get a job for Paul Manafort's daughter at Craig's law firm while Craig was engaged in a multimillion-dollar assignment for the government of Ukraine.

Gregory CraigCraig, right, is set to go on trial in Washington next month on two felony charges alleging that he made false and misleading statements to the Justice Department in connection with the project to prepare a report for public release on a controversial prosecution in Ukraine that many critics regarded as politically motivated.

U.S. prosecutors wanted to buttress their case against Craig by telling jurors that the veteran Washington lawyer intervened with his Skadden Arps colleagues at Manafort's request, urging them to hire Andrea Manafort, a new law school graduate, as an associate in 2012.

"It shows he is willing to act at Mr. Manafort's request and Mr. Manafort's behest," prosecutor Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez said.

Campoamor-Sanchez said the episode with Andrea Manafort supported the notion that Craig was acting for Paul Manafort when Craig contacted New York Times reporter David Sanger about the Ukraine report in 2012. The prosecutor said Craig is expected to testify at trial that he made that contact to protect his own reputation, not on behalf of Ukraine. "There's quite a similarity between both things," Campoamor-Sanchez insisted.

amy berman jacksonBut U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, left, was unconvinced that the job offer and ultimate hiring of Andrea Manafort needed to be broached in front of the jury to point to Craig's desire to satisfy her father, who played a role in retaining Skadden for the Ukraine report.

"It seems to me you would have other evidence you can rely on that would make the point that he wanted to keep Mr. Manafort happy," said Jackson, who handled one of the two cases that wound up with a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for the former Trump campaign chief.

"Seems to me the whole business with the daughter is a sideshow," the judge said, also calling it "prejudicial" and "a waste of time."

More U.S. Corruption Probes

washington post logoricardo RosselloWashington Post, Arrests in Puerto Rico corruption probe spur calls for governor’s ouster, Jeff Stein​, July 10, 2019. July 10, 2019. The Democratic chair of the House committee that oversees Puerto Rico called for its governor to step down after the arrests of two former senior officials in his administration.

The FBI on Wednesday arrested two former senior officials who served in the administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, leading the chair of the House committee that oversees Puerto Rico to call for the governor to step down.

The arrests also spurred concerns on Capitol Hill about the billions of dollars in aid that Congress has approved for the island.

The federal indictment says the former officials illegally directed federal funding to politically connected contractors. The arrests come about a month after Congress approved a controversial disaster aid bill that earmarked additional funding for Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which were tied up in part because President Trump called island officials “incompetent or corrupt.”

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the Natural Resource Committee that oversees Puerto Rico, called on Rosselló to resign amid the ongoing federal investigation. Rosselló is chairman of the New Progressive Party, which advocates statehood for Puerto Rico..

Six people were charged in the 32-count indictment. They include Julia Keleher, who served as Puerto Rico’s education secretary until April; and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who was the executive director of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration until late June.

“Keleher and Avila-Marrero exploited their government positions and fraudulently awarded contracts funded with federal monies,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez said in a statement. “The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.”

U.S. Migrant Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I hate this mission,’ says operator of new emergency shelter for migrant children, Neena Satija​, July 10, 2019.  The Carrizo Springs shelter in Texas opened last week to help alleviate cramped conditions in Border Patrol processing facilities, where people were recently seen sleeping head to toe on concrete floors, often lacking access to hot meals, showers and proper medical care.

 Global Sanctions China / Iran / U.S.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, China Backs Iran: Trump "Started the Fire," "unilateral bullying" "a tumor," Juan Cole, July 10, 2019. China is openly blaming the Trump administration for the breakdown of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing, "The 'maximum pressure' against Iran imposed by the United States is the root cause of the crisis concerning the Iran nuclear issue." He added that "unilateral bullying has become a tumor."

He added "that the U.S. has not only withdrawn from the deal unilaterally but also created an increasing number of hurdles against Iran and other parties through unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction."

The spokesman also rebuked Iran for tinkering around the edges with the terms of the nuclear deal.

China continues to buy Iranian oil, apparently often on the sly and in ways that do not show up in official Iranian statistics.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Regrets is not what I do’: Pelosi defends her comment seeming to dismiss 4 liberal freshmen, Mike DeBonis and nancy pelosi oRachael Bade, July 10, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also delivered a stern warning to her party’s left, during a closed-door caucus meeting, to keep their criticism of fellow Democrats to themselves.

Pelosi suggested to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in an article published Saturday that the so-called alexandria ocasio cortez official“Squad” — a group of liberal freshmen that include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), left, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) — had a limited following inside the House. Pelosi specifically pointed to the example of the House-passed Democratic border bill in late June, which the group opposed. The four were alone in their protest vote against the Pelosi-backed bill.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said in the New York Times interview. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.” She noted that it was the party’s more moderate members who delivered control of the House to Democrats and asked lawmakers to be respectful of that.

washington post logomohammed bin salman al saudWashington Post, After grisly killing of a journalist, lobbyists and lawyers have reaped millions assisting Saudi Arabia, Beth Reinhard, Jonathan O'Connell and Tom Hamburger, July 10, 2019. After the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a handful of lobbying firms and think tanks made a move rare in Washington: They publicly severed ties with Saudi Arabia. But months later, some have resumed their relationships with the kingdom. Its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, suspected of ordering the tortture murder, is shown at right.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House pushes Congress to strike budget deal amid risk of fiscal pileup, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, July 10, 2019. The Trump administration was jolted by a recent report that found the Treasury Department was running out of cash much faster than expected. Action now awaits as the House speaker tends to a Democratic caucus fractured by a border vote.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin consulted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this week and met Wednesday with GOP leaders, alongside acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, trying to forge a solution. Pelosi has made clear that any increase in the federal debt limit should come as part of a broader, two-year budget deal — an approach also favored by leading Senate Republicans — but it’s far from clear whether lawmakers and the administration will be able to reach such an agreement before Congress leaves town for its annual summer recess in August.

New Trade War?

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Begins Inquiry Into France’s Plan to Tax American Tech Firms, Ana Swanson, July 10, 2019. The Trump french flagadministration said on Wednesday that it would investigate whether a French plan to impose a tax on big American technology companies amounts to an unfair trade practice that could be punished with retaliatory tariffs, escalating its global trade fight.

The investigation, which will be carried out by the United States trade representative, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to shelter American companies by targeting trading partners.

More On Epstein Scandal

djt justice liberty truth metoo 2017 cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

washington post logojeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Washington Post, Epstein surrounded himself with influential network of defenders, Marc Fisher​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). As women were looking to police, prosecutors and courts to hold Jeffrey Epstein, shown in a mug shot at right, to account for his alleged sexual abuses, he was amassing contacts across Hollywood, politics, research, diplomacy, finance and law.

ny times logoNew York Times, How is Mr. Epstein connected to former President Bill Clinton? Michael Gold, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). 
How did Mr. Epstein and Mr. Clinton know each other? Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing girls for more than a decade, has been linked in the past to celebrities, prominent businessmen, politicians and, at one point, Prince Andrew of Britain.

But it is Mr. Epstein’s ties to two United States presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump, that have drawn the most attention in recent days. During his career in finance, both at Bear Stearns and when he struck out on his own, Mr. Epstein had a reputation for being intensely private.

But in 2002, the former president took a trip on Mr. Epstein’s private jet, which brought a flurry of media attention.

At the time, Mr. Clinton had been out of the White House for two years and had started the nonprofit group, the Clinton Foundation. Through his work with the foundation, Mr. Clinton connected with Mr. Epstein.

Mr. Clinton has denied having a close relationship with Mr. Epstein. On Monday, Mr. Clinton’s office said in a statement that Mr. Clinton “knows nothing about the terrible crimes” that Mr. Epstein has been accused of, and that Mr. Clinton had not spoken to Mr. Epstein in more than a decade.

Jerusalem Post, Likud to A-G: Investigate Barak and his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Alex Winston, July 9, 2019. Prime Minister benjamin netanyahu smileBenjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is demanding that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit open a criminal investigation against former prime minister Ehud Barak, demanding that he disclose his personal and business contacts with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, for which he served 13 months, and was arrested again on July 6, 2019 on federal charges for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York.

With regards to the relationship between Barak and Epstein, the Likud complaint stated that, "Mr. Barak was photographed coming out of Mr. Epstein's apartment in 2016. So close were the ties between the two that Mr. Barak's name even appeared in Mr. Epstein's black notebook. In this context, there is a real need to examine whether the 'grants' Barak received from the ehud barakWexner Foundation and/or Mr. Epstein ceased in 2006 or changed form in the years that followed, and continued to be given to him."

The Wexner Foundation focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public leaders in Israel. Between 2004 and 2006, while he was a private citizen, $2.3 million was transferred to Barak, shown at left, for "research" that was never published.

In a complaint filed on behalf of the Likud, attorney Michael Dvorin claimed that Barak, as well as the Wexner Foundation, refuse to reveal the reason for the payment.

The reference to Epstein's "black notebook" refers to an address book of Epstein's containing the names of several prominent personalities, including US President Donald Trump, attorney Alan Dershowitz and Barak. It also allegedly contains the name of several of his alleged victims and accomplices.

"My client believes that it is necessary to examine very carefully the explanation for the receipt of the said funds, and whether these were the only funds given to Mr. Barak over the years in such strange circumstances and from whom," Likud's attorney wrote to Mandelblit.

The arrest of Epstein has caused a minor stir in Israeli politics, with both Netanyahu and Barak releasing videos and statements accusing the other of ties with criminals.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Tensions Ignite Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad,’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). nancy pelosiSpeaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three of her fellow liberal freshmen have set off a new row. The squabble has reinvigorated a debate within the party about how best to stand up to President Trump.

Pelosi, right, said they have no following in Congress. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shot back that she and three of her fellow liberal freshmen, darlings of the left known collectively as “the squad,” are wielding the real power in the party.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialSix months into the new House Democratic majority, long-simmering tensions between the speaker and the squad — Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, left, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — have boiled over in the most public of ways, setting off a flurry of criticism of Ms. Pelosi democratic donkey logoamong liberal activists and reinvigorating a debate within the party about how best to stand up to President Trump.

The squabble is all the more notable because it pits Ms. Pelosi, the liberal San Francisco congresswoman who is the most powerful elected woman in American history, against a group of progressive Democratic women of color who have broken barriers of their own as part of the most diverse class ever to serve in the House.


kamala harris caricature black agenda report dcma

 U.S. Sen. and 2020 Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, as portrayed in a caricature by Black Agenda Report

Black Agenda Report via OpEdNews, Opinion: Opinion: Kamala Harris Has a Distinguished Career of Serving Injustice, Marjorie Cohn, July 10, 2019. Harris favored criminalizing truancy, raising cash bail fees and keeping prisoners locked up for cheap labor. Kamala Harris, shown in the Democratic presidential debate at right, is rising in the polls after dramatically confronting Joe Biden during the Democratic primary debate about his opposition to federally mandated busing for desegregation.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileThe following week, however, Harris backed away from saying that busing should always be federally mandated, calling it just one "tool that is in the toolbox" for school districts to use. When asked to clarify whether she would support federal mandates for busing, she said: "I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district." But Biden's poll numbers are falling as a result of Harris's theatrical attack.

Harris, who served as San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California Attorney General from 2011 to 2017, describes herself as a "progressive prosecutor." Harris's prosecutorial record, however, is far from progressive. Through her apologia for egregious prosecutorial misconduct, her refusal to allow DNA testing for a probably innocent death row inmate, her opposition to legislation requiring the attorney general's office to independently investigate police shootings and more, she has made a significant contribution to the sordid history of injustice she decries.

U.S. Health Care, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Appeals Court Seems Skeptical About Obamacare Mandate, Abby Goodnough, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). A three-judge panel heard 90 minutes of oral arguments in a closely watched case that threatens the health coverage of millions. A panel of federal appeals court judges on Tuesday sounded likely to uphold a lower-court ruling that a central provision of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement that most people have health insurance — is unconstitutional. But it was harder to discern how the court might come down on a much bigger question: whether the rest of the sprawling health law must fall if the insurance mandate does.

In 90 minutes of oral arguments on whether a federal district judge in Texas was correct in striking down the Affordable Care Act in December, two appellate judges appointed by Republican presidents peppered lawyers with blunt questions while the third judge, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, remained silent.

The two Republican appointees, Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, and Kurt Engelhardt, appointed by President Trump in 2018, seemed particularly skeptical of the Democratic defendants’ argument that Congress had fully intended to keep the rest of the law when it eliminated the penalty for going without insurance as part of its 2017 tax overhaul. Earlier story below:

U.S. Migrant Arrests

washington post logoWashington Post, Border arrests drop as Mexico migration crackdown appears to cut crossings, Nick Miroff, July 10, 2019 (print ed.).  Authorities had expected a monthly decline in crossings, but stepped-up Mexican enforcement and the United States' "Remain in Mexico" asylum program appear to have had an early impact on migration numbers, which typically fall during the hot summer months.

ICE logoThe number of people taken into custody along the U.S. southern border fell 28 percent in June, a drop that U.S. authorities say reflects the early impact of Mexico’s crackdown on Central American migration.

Border crossings typically rise in the spring and slump during the scorching summer months, but the drop registered from May to June was significantly larger than in previous years, according to Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday. U.S. authorities detained 104,344 people along the border last month, down from 144,278 in May.

Migrant Trafficking

ny times logoNew York Times, She Was Duped by Traffickers at 16, Then Shipwrecked, Nicholas Casey, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). A boat smuggling dozens of people out of Venezuela, some entrapped by a human trafficking ring, capsized on the way to Trinidad. Only nine survived. The tragedy was shocking even in a country where for millions, survival means leaving.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Joe Biden earned $15.6 million in the two years after leaving the vice presidency, Matt Viser and and Anu Narayanswamy, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). Tax returns and financial disclosure forms show the former vice president's income has exploded since he left office in early 2017, mostly through speeches and book payments.

Mueller Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi questions Barr’s credibility, says she’ll no longer address anything he says, John Wagner, July 10, 2019 (print ed.).  Speaking to reporters, the House speaker once again accused the attorney general of lying to Congress. "He’s lied under oath. I’m not speaking to anything more that he has to say,” she said.

william barr new oRobert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)Her comments came a day after Barr, right, suggested House Democrats were trying “to create some kind of public spectacle” by requiring former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, left, to testify next week about possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

“I don’t even want to address him,” Pelosi said when asked about Barr’s assertion. “He has lied to Congress as the attorney general of the United States. He’s lied under oath. I’m not speaking to anything more that he has to say.”

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Strip club to host golf tournament at Trump resort in South Florida, David A. Fahrenthold, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The event is to take place at Trump Doral, where business has slipped. The Trump name and crest are displayed prominently in the advertising, which touts a “caddy girl of your choice.”

#MeToo At Harvard

ny times logoNew York Times, Harvard Suspends Roland Fryer, Star Economist, After Sexual Harassment Claims, Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley, July 10, 2019. The move sidelines the researcher without pay for two years, and closes his lab, in a case that has roiled the profession. Roland G. Fryer, a onetime rising star in economics who has been accused by several women of sexual harassment, will lose his Harvard University research lab and be suspended for two years, the university said Wednesday.

Harvard’s actions represent a remarkable fall from grace for an economist who until recently was among the profession’s most admired researchers — and one of Harvard’s highest-paid faculty members. He is also one of the most prominent African-Americans in a field that has long struggled with racial diversity.

Mr. Fryer, 42, has been the subject of several concurrent university investigations, which concluded that he had engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” against at least five employees over the course of a decade.

In a letter to the economics department on Wednesday, Claudine Gay, a Harvard dean, said Mr. Fryer would be put on administrative leave for two years, during which he cannot teach or conduct research using university resources. The Education Innovation Laboratory, the off-campus space known as EdLabs where he conducted most of his work, will be permanently closed. A Harvard spokeswoman said he would not be paid during his suspension.

July 9

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein indictment renews questions about ties to Trump Cabinet official, Lisa Rein, Michael Kranish and Josh alexander acosta labor oDawsey, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). As the U.S. attorney in Florida in 2007, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, right, negotiated a minimal sentence for wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The indictment Monday of Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges has reignited questions about the way Alexander Acosta — now President Trump’s labor secretary — handled an earlier case against Epstein that resulted in a minimal sentence.

As U.S. attorney in Florida in 2007, Acosta negotiated a plea deal that led to two felony solicitation charges and 13 months in county jail for Epstein, with the billionaire financier allowed to work from his office six days a week. Epstein had been facing the possibility of life in prison. His alleged victims were not told about the deal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi, other lawmakers call for Acosta to resign, John Wagner, July 9, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday night became the highest-profile lawmaker to call for the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, citing his handling as a U.S. attorney of an earlier case against Jeffrey Epstein that resulted in a minimal sentence.

djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studiosDonald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right0 at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump called Epstein a ‘terrific guy’ who enjoyed ‘younger’ girls. Now he denies their relationship, David A. Fahrenthold, Beth Reinhard and Kimberly Kindy, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). Outside of the president’s own words, there is clear evidence that he previously socialized with Epstein, now charged with sex trafficking.

New York Magazine, Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing, Michelle Celarier, July 9, 2019  For decades, Epstein has been credulously described as a big-time hedge-fund manager and a billionaire, even though there’s not a lot of evidence that he is either. There appears little chance the public is going to get definitive answers anytime soon. In a July 11 letter to the New York federal judge overseeing Epstein’s sex-trafficking case, Epstein’s attorney offered to provide “sealed disclosures” about Epstein’s finances to determine the size of the bond he would need to post to secure his release from jail pending trial. His brother, Mark, and a friend even offered to chip in, if necessary.

Naturally, this air of mystery has especially piqued the interest of real-life, non-pretend hedge-funders. If this guy wasn’t playing their game — and they seem pretty sure he was not — what game was he playing? Intelligencer spoke to several prominent hedge-fund managers to get a read on what their practiced eyes are detecting in all the new information that is coming to light about Epstein in the wake of his indictment by federal prosecutors in New York. Most saw signs of something unsavory at the heart of his business model.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Who Protected Jeffrey Epstein? Editorial Board, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Epstein is not the only one due a reckoning with justice.

Even in the relatively sterile language of the legal system, the accusations against Mr. Epstein are nauseating. From “at least in or about” 2002 through 2005, the defendant “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls,” some as young as 14 and many “particularly vulnerable to exploitation.”

The girls were “enticed and recruited” to visit Mr. Epstein’s various homes “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars.” To “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” he paid some of the girls “to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused,” thus creating “a vast network of underage victims.”

william barr djt swearing in feb 14 2019 wh tia dufour

CNBC, Attorney General Bill Barr will not recuse himself from Jeffrey Epstein child sex prosecution, Dan Mangan and Jim Forkin, July 9, 2019. Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from involvement in the new federal criminal prosecution of accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

william barr new oBut Barr, right, will recuse himself from an internal Justice Department probe of current Labor Secretary’s Alex Acosta involvement in approving a controversial no-prosecution deal with the wealthy financier a decade ago, officials said Tuesday.

Epstein, 66, is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005 after they were brought to his luxurious residences on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and in Palm Beach, Fla.

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr just threw himself to the wolves, and Donald Trump is next, TR Kenneth, July 9, 2019. Right on cue, Bill Barr has now un-recused himself in the Jeffrey Epstein case. No surprise there since he did much the same thing with the Mueller investigation. Only this time, Barr pulled a complete turnaround in less than 24 hours. Whatever could be the motivation? The screams coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has been tweeting about everything under the sun except his friend Epstein’s arrest. His new fixer, Bill Barr, will now actively try to block investigations, committing felony obstruction of justice, but that’s just Barr’s destiny. It’s likely Barr will end up heading to federal prison in the end, along with Alex Acosta and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance if it’s proven they participated in a quid pro quo. But what’s interesting here links to my earlier New Mexico article about Epstein’s ranch. This thing has legs.

If there are girls filing civil suits in New Mexico, you can be sure there are girls in Paris, the US Virgins and any other place Epstein may have crawled around. State charges haven’t been filed yet, as far as we know, but given the savvy nature of the SDNY, you can be sure they’re working closely with the New York Attorney General. The minute Barr intervenes, it will go down like Manafort, with unsealed state charges.

The other thing to watch for is that this was handled by the SDNY Public Corruption Unit, so it’s a given we’re talking about more people in this case than Epstein, and they were/are public officials. Epstein’s operation went far and wide, so buckle yourself up for years of revelations. Keep in mind, however, that this may not be the straw that breaks Trump’s back. Fox is already questioning the new charges, and Republicans are referring to 13-year-olds as “young women” instead of what they are, children.

We have neither a dead woman nor a live boy pinned to Donald Trump, so he’s still kicking. But we do have one thing coming up: Trump Model Management. This will be or surely has been a part of the Epstein investigation. Trump may not have needed Epstein’s services when he could gratify himself with his own under-age models, but now that the dam has broken on Epstein, look for the Trump models to start lawyering up and going to their local prosecutors. The tsunami has rolled ashore with the first wave. Every subsequent wave will be worse.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The real reason William Barr just un-recused himself in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Bill Palmer, July 9, 2019. Yesterday the Department of Justice let it be known that Attorney General William Barr was recusing himself from the underage sex trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein, citing the fact that he’s since worked at the law firm that originally represented Epstein during his previous plea deal. Now the DOJ has announced that Barr has changed his mind already.

bill palmer report logo headerPalmer Report pointed out yesterday that William Barr (shown at his swearing-in ceremony at the White House with Chief Justice John Roberts, Trump and Barr's wife) had already refused to recuse himself from other cases where he had far bigger conflicts of interest, so it’s not that he was recusing from the Epstein case out of any real necessity. Instead, he was clearly doing it because he wanted to. It’s not hard to understand why. Barr has ongoing big plans for doing numerous criminal things before his time as Attorney General runs out, and if he’s widely seen as trying to protect Donald Trump’s pedophile friend, his time could run out much more quickly.

william barr new oWe also pointed out yesterday that Donald Trump was going to be very unhappy with William Barr over this because Barr is the only halfway-functional henchman Trump has left when it comes to these kinds of matters. Now it appears Trump has put his foot down already, as that’s the only plausible reason why Barr would turn around and un-recuse himself from the case, just one day after having publicly staked himself to the notion that he wanted nothing to do with this one. So now what?

Contrary to popular belief, William Barr doesn’t have a magic wand. With this much scrutiny on the Epstein case from the media and the public, Barr can’t simply shut the case down and let Epstein go free, unless Barr wants to put himself and Trump on a quick path to impeachment and ouster.

What Barr can do by un-recusing himself is to meddle in the Epstein case in subtle ways, such as keeping Trump up to date on any aspects of the case that might lead back to Trump. This is all the more reason for Barr to be ousted – but this is the rare case where even he can’t put much of a dent in where it’s headed.

michelle goldberg thumbny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump reacts to Epstein arrest with hubris, Wayne Madsen, July 9, 2019 (Subscription required). The word is that the investigation of Epstein is extending beyond him and three “employees” to several Epstein friends and associates.

On July 6 and 7, FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives seized from Epstein’s midtown Manhattan townhouse mansion a “vast trove” of photographs of nude and partially nude underage girls contained on CDs.

Police also discovered a sophisticated camera system inside the residence, as well as reams of documents, including legal papers dealing with financial settlements reached with Epstein’s victims.

Liberty Blitzkrieg, Bombshell – Alex Acosta Reportedly Claimed Jeffrey Epstein ‘Belonged to Intelligence,’ Michael Krieger, July 9, 2019. To appreciate the significance of what I’m about to share, you really need to go back and read yesterday’s post: The Jeffrey Epstein Rabbit Hole Goes a Lot Deeper Than You Think.

djt epstein headshot CustomIn that piece, I shared many lesser known, but extremely bizarre facts about Jeffrey Epstein [shown in a file photo with Donald Trump] and the people around him. I also noted that it appeared his real job was to run a blackmail operation to ensnare some of the most wealthy and powerful people on earth. I alluded to the possibility that he was collecting this priceless information on behalf of a third party, and then just today we learn the following via the Daily Beast:

“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)…

For almost two decades, for some nebulous reason, whether to do with ties to foreign intelligence, his billions of dollars, or his social connections, Epstein, whose alleged sexual sickness and horrific assaults on women without means or ability to protect themselves is well-known in his circle, remained untouchable.

It should be noted the reason I attach credibility to the above is based on who wrote it, Vicky Ward [shown in a portrait at right below]. She has an extensive history of digging into Epstein, and wrote one of the earliest profiles on him back in 2003. As she notes in today’s article:

vicky ward Custom Custom 2I spent many months on his trail in 2002 for Vanity Fair and discovered not only that he was not who he claimed to be professionally, but also that he had allegedly assaulted two young sisters, one of whom had been underage at the time. Very bravely, they were prepared to go on the record. They were afraid he’d use all his influence to discredit them — and their fear turned out to be legitimate.

As the article was being readied for publication, Epstein made a visit to the office of Vanity Fair’s then-editor, Graydon Carter, and suddenly the women and their allegations were removed from the article. “He’s sensitive about the young women,” Carter told me at the time. (Editor’s Note: Carter has previously denied this allegation.) He also mentioned he’d finagled a photograph of Epstein in a swimsuit out of the encounter. And there was also some feeble excuse about the article “being stronger as a business story.” (Epstein had also leaned heavily on my ex-husband’s uncle, Conrad Black, to try to exert his influence on me, which was particularly unwelcome, given that Black happened to be my ex-husband’s boss at the time.)

Many people had assumed Epstein was untouchable merely because he had so much dirt on so many powerful people, but it increasingly looks far bigger than that. It appears he may have been untouchable because he was systematically collecting this information on behalf of an intelligence agency. If so, we need to find out precisely who he was working for.

This should be the number one story in the country right now. Blackmail at this level is a genuine national security issue.

Artnet News, Jeffrey Epstein’s Latest Accuser Is an Artist Who Claims the Billionaire Sex Offender Lured Her in With Promises to Help Her Career, Rachel Corbett, July 9, 2019. When Maria Farmer met Epstein at her art opening in 1995, he dangled his powerful connections—and asked for a discount.

The fallout from the Saturday arrest of Jeffrey Epstein continues to grow—and the latest allegations touch the art world. Among the latest accusations are those made by 49-year-old Maria Farmer, who, in an affidavit filed in April, claims that Epstein leveraged her dreams of becoming an artist to lure her into his web. She says that Epstein went on to sexually assault both her and her younger sister, who was 15 at the time.

Farmer’s claims appeared as part of another woman’s defamation lawsuit against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has been accused of participating in Epstein’s trafficking operation. Dershowitz has also served as Epstein’s lawyer over the years.

Farmer was a 25-year-old graduate student at the New York Academy of Art when she met Epstein at her art opening in 1995, according to the affidavit. “Epstein said that if I sold him one of my paintings for half price he would help me with my career,” Farmer wrote. She agreed, and sold him a work for $6,000.

Epstein reportedly attended the event with Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who has been accused of soliciting young girls on Epstein’s behalf, including the plaintiff in the Dershowitz lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre. (Giuffre says she was a 16-year-old locker-room attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort when Maxwell recruited her to work as a masseuse for Epstein. She says that Epstein later “lent” her out for sex with his friends, including Dershowitz.)

Trump Team Obstruction

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Michael Flynn is going to prison after all, Bill Palmer, July 9, 2019.  We all knew something was going michael flynn microphonewrong for Michael Flynn when he dumped the lawyers who had helped him land a lenient plea deal, and instead hired an anti-FBI activist as his new lawyer, only for Donald Trump to publicly congratulate Flynn, right, on the move. The only question was whether Flynn was about to stupidly get himself in trouble, or if he’d already gotten himself in trouble. Now we know a big chunk of the answer, and it appears to involve both.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Flynn is looking at zero to six months in prison, unless Judge Emmet Sullivan decides to rip up the deal and throw the book at him. It turns out Flynn has given the judge a really good reason to rip up the deal. As part of his deal, Flynn is required to testify against his former business partner, with regard to how they both acted as unregistered foreign agents. For reasons known only to him, Flynn has decided to change his story – to the point that the New York Times says prosecutors no longer feel safe having Flynn testify.

Suffice it to say that this means Flynn’s plea deal is swiftly on its way down the drain. Now Judge Sullivan is giving Flynn until Thursday to explain what’s going here. There’s just about no way Flynn can explain this to the satisfaction of Sullivan, who has already scolded Flynn severely over the crimes he’s confessed to.

More U.S. Justice Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Merchants of Detention, Paul Krugman, right, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). Every betrayal seems to profit paul krugmanthe president and his friends. Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.

Judge Blocks DOJ Census Switch

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Judge Blocks Justice Department’s Effort to Withdraw Lawyers on Census Citizenship Case, Michael Wines and Katie Benner, July 9, 2019. A federal judge in New York on Tuesday rejected the Justice Department’s request to switch its legal team midway through a case challenging the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

us census bureauThe sharply worded order, by United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman, potentially further hobbles President Trump’s battle on behalf of the citizenship question, which already appeared to be in serious jeopardy.

On Sunday, the Justice Department said it was replacing the legal team defending the citizenship question. It offered no explanation for the change, which came in the middle of a prolonged clash over whether the administration’s arguments for adding the question could be believed.

But on Tuesday, as a new team of lawyers began to notify the court of its appearance in the case, Judge Furman barred the old lawyers from leaving until they met a legal requirement to satisfactorily explain their departure and show that it would not impede the case.

“Defendants provide no reasons, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel,” he wrote, adding that their written assurance that the switch would not disrupt the case “is not good enough.”

Justice Department log circularIf the department wishes to continue with the switch of legal teams, the judge wrote, the lawyers must provide sworn affidavits explaining their departures and remain under the court’s jurisdiction should they be required to return.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs had asked the judge on Monday to block the Justice Department’s reassignment of the case without providing a reason for the withdrawal. On Tuesday the group said it still had questions about the move.

“The Justice Department owes the public and the courts an explanation for its unprecedented substitution of the entire legal team that has been working on this case,” said Dale Ho, the A.C.L.U.’s lead attorney on the case. “The Trump administration is acting like it has something to hide, and we won’t rest until we know the truth.”

On its face, Judge Furman’s order only enforces a court rule governing changes of legal counsel. Practically, however, it presents the department with a difficult choice: Either reverse course and leave its old legal team in place, or produce sworn explanations that could prove both embarrassing and damaging to the administration’s case.

Ross Perot Dies

washington post logoWashington Post, Ross Perot: 1930–2019, Eccentric billionaire who made two independent runs for president dies at 89, Donald P. Baker, July 9, 2019. The Dallas businessman’s campaigns for the White House tapped into voters’ frustration with the major political parties and foreshadowed the rise of the tea party two decades later.

ross perot wH. Ross Perot, right, an eccentric Dallas billionaire whose two independent runs for president in the 1990s tapped into voters’ frustration with the major political parties and foreshadowed the rise of the tea party two decades later, died July 9 at his home in Dallas. He was 89.

The family announced the death in a statement but did not provide a cause.

The son of a politically connected cotton broker, Mr. Perot followed a long tradition of buccaneering Texas entrepreneurs. Following an unhappy stint in the peacetime Navy of the 1950s, he became a top salesman at IBM and was such an exhaustive peddler of computer hardware that he once met an annual sales quota in less than three weeks.

Mr. Perot went into business for himself in 1962 and made a fortune twice over, starting two software companies that each sold for billions of dollars. He received national attention for showering his largesse on efforts to aid or free U.S. hostages in conflict zones from Vietnam to Lebanon.

Gun Control: Virginia

washington post logoWashington Post, Gun debate ends abruptly in Virginia as GOP-controlled legislature adjourns after 90 minutes, Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Antonio Olivo, July 9, 2019. Barely more than an hour after it convened in a special session called by the Democratic governor to debate gun legislation, the GOP-controlled General Assembly abruptly adjourned without taking any action, stunning hundreds of gun control activists and gun rights protesters who packed the Capitol.

nra logo CustomThe Senate gaveled in shortly after noon and then at about 1:30 p.m., voted 18 to 20 on a party line vote to adjourn until November. A few minutes later, the House of Delegates did the same, as Democrats expressed surprise and outrage.

Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) fumed in the marble hallways in the Capitol, saying Republicans “totally abdicated their responsibility” in order to do the bidding of the gun lobby. “The Republicans in this state are totally controlled — I mean 100 percent – controlled by the National Rifle Association,” Saslaw said. “Anybody who doubts that, go take a look where the money is spent and go take a look at their votes – 100 percent of them totally controlled by the National Rifle Association.”

U.S. Politics

john hickenlooper msnbc Custom

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, ‘You are who?’: The lonely run of John Hickenlooper, Holly Bailey, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). He’s a successful businessman and respected two-term governor. John Hickenlooper can’t get anyone to notice his presidential campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Billionaire Tom Steyer says he will run for the Democratic nomination for president, after spurning the race earlier this year, Chelsea Janes​, July 9, 2019. ​The environmental activist decided in January to put his money into efforts to impeach President Trump but now has changed his mind. Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist who considered a run for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year only to decide against it, will enter the race after all.

tom steyer twitter CustomIn a four-minute video released Tuesday morning, Steyer, right, announced that he will run on a platform of reducing corporate influence in politics and addressing climate change.

“The other Democratic candidates for President have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” Steyer said in a statement released Tuesday, alongside the video sent to supporters.

U.S. Health Care, Courts

 ny times logoNew York Times, Obamacare at Stake as Appeals Court Hears Case Backed by Trump, Abby Goodnough, July 9, 2019. A panel will hear arguments today in the appeal of a lower-court ruling striking down the law. Millions could lose coverage if that ruling is upheld. The case could make its way to the Supreme Court ahead of the 2020 elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hospices go unpunished for reported maggots and uncontrolled pain, watchdog finds, Christopher Rowland, July 9, 2019. Medicare must do more to prevent patient harm, the Health and Human Services inspector general said in a report issued Tuesday.

A state inspector in Missouri documented the grim details: a deep, poorly treated pressure wound on the patient’s tailbone, apparent pain that caused grimacing and — in a crisis requiring a trip to the emergency room — a “maggot infestation’’ where the feeding tube entered his abdomen.

The official cited Vitas Healthcare, the nation’s largest hospice chain, for putting the patient in “immediate jeopardy,” the most severe category of violation. The inspector found that Vitas staffers had skipped home visits and failed to assess the amount of pain the patient endured.

The case is among the most severe of a dozen examples of patient suffering cited in a strongly worded inspector-general report on the hospice industry released Tuesday. The report takes Medicare to task for what it describes as weak oversight and enforcement of the growing ranks of hospice providers and recommends stronger safeguards “to protect Medicare hospice beneficiaries from harm.’’

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Blocks Trump Rule on Drug Prices in Ads, Katie Thomas and Katie Rogers, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). The decision deals a blow to one of President Trump’s most visible efforts to pressure drug firms to lower their prices.

DOJ Russia Probe Report

ny times logoNew York Times, Watchdog Is Preparing to Deliver Verdict on the Russia Investigation, Adam Goldman, Charlie Savage and Matthew Justice Department log circularRosenberg, July 9, 2019. Investigators for the Justice Department’s inspector general recently interviewed Christopher Steele, the former British spy. They are trying to determine whether the F.B.I. misstepped in the inquiry.

Inside a London office building in early June, three investigators for the Justice Department’s inspector general took a crucial step toward FBI logoclearing the political fallout from the Russia investigation: They spent two days interviewing Christopher Steele, the former British spy whose now-infamous dossier of purported links between Trump associates and Russia ended up in the hands of the F.B.I. ahead of the 2016 election.

The investigators pored over Mr. Steele’s old memos and his contemporaneous notes from meetings with F.B.I. agents in the fall of 2016, according to a person familiar with the investigation. They asked Mr. Steele to explain in detail how he had validated his sources inside Russia, how he communicated with them, and how he decided which of their claims to include in his reports. They spoke at length about Mr. Steele’s work with the F.B.I. on other Russia-related investigations and his contacts with a senior Justice Department official.

michael horwitz headshotThe interview was a key step in the investigation by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, right, into the facts underlying a bitter partisan feud: Did F.B.I. officials do anything wrong in 2016 when they sought to understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia — including how they used information from Mr. Steele?

That question has hovered over the Russia inquiry for two years as President Trump and his allies repeatedly assailed the investigators who scrutinized him and his advisers. Attorney General William P. Barr, who has accused the F.B.I. of “spying” on the Trump campaign, has begun his own review that will include intelligence agencies as well.

July 8

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

  • Jeffrey Epstein pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges
  • Feds say they have 'devastating evidence' against Jeffrey Epstein
  • Nude photos of underage girls found at Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan home: feds
  • FBI urges Jeffrey Epstein victims to call hotline

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein accuser: I was 14 years old and still in braces when abuse began, Kate Sheehy, July 8, 2019. One of multimillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers described Monday being just 14 and still in braces when he began sexually abusing her. “I remember standing in his kitchen, and he also had a lot of girls there at the time,’’ Courtney Wild, now in her 30s, told ABC News. “I was 14. I had braces on.’’

jeffrey epstein at harvard universityEpstein, right, — who already served time in Florida after Wild and dozens of other then-underage accusers said he sexually assaulted them — now faces new federal charges in Manhattan involving different girls. Michelle Licata — who, like Wild, had previously accused Epstein, 66, of forcing her into sex acts as a teen — told ABC that she’d been recruited by a high school pal to give the perverted financier “massages.’’

During an interview with authorities, part of which was aired by ABC, the victim revealed, “Then he wanted me to rub his back.
And then he kept asking me to go lower and lower. He was kind of talking to me, like trying to get to know me, about my sex life.”

Wild has previously admitted that she eventually helped recruit young girls for Epstein. “By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old,” she told the Los Angeles Times in February.

Daily Beast, Bedraggled Jeffrey Epstein Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Charges and Stays in Jail — for Now, Pervaiz Shallwani, Kate Briquelet, Marianne Dodson and Tracy Connor, July 8, 2019.  His lawyers claim the new charges are an improper ‘do-over’ of a decade-old case that ended with a sweetheart plea deal.

He has two private jets, a Manhattan mansion, a pad in Paris, a sprawling estate in Palm Beach, and an entire island in the Caribbean—jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019not to mention some very famous friends.

But in federal court on Monday afternoon, Jeffrey Epstein [shown in a weekend mug shot] looked like any other alleged perp, with disheveled hair, blue jail-issued garb, and neon orange shoes.

henry pitmanThe billionaire financier — and registered sex offender — entered a plea to charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy that could keep him in prison blues for years to come. “Not guilty, your honor,” he told Judge Henry Pitman, right.

The arraignment was held in a ceremonial courtroom in Lower Manhattan that was so packed that folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowd.

The spectators included two women who have publicly accused Epstein in the past, Michelle Licata and Courtney Wild (shown below left in a photo taken when she was 14), one of whom wiped away tears while waiting for the hearing to begin. Also in the gallery were attorneys representing victims, including Brad Edwards and David Boies.

Epstein, 66, was flanked by three defense attorneys who sparred with prosecutors over whether he should be released on bail pending trial.

courtney wild 14 epstein victimsProsecutors argued for detention, citing his wealth and the amount of evidence that, they say, proves he recruited underage girls for sex and had them lure dozens of more victims to his New York and Florida homes between 2002 and 2005.

“He is a man of nearly infinite means and has tremendous incentive,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said, adding that authorities have been contacted by multiple potential victims who want to tell their stories.

Defense lawyer Reid Weingarten argued the flight risk was exaggerated and noted that the feds had previously investigated Epstein—a 2005 probe that ended in a sweetheart plea on state prostitution charges. “To us, this indictment is essentially a do-over,” Weingarten said, calling the earlier deal a “global solution” in a hint that the defense will seek to get the new indictment tossed on the grounds that it’s improper.

“There was no violence, no coercion, no intimidation, no deception,” Weingarten said, prompting the judge to ask if the girls were under 18, wouldn’t the sexual contact constitute rape.

New York Daily News, Millionaire Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking, kept nude pics of underage girls: prosecutors, Stephen Rex Brown, July 8, 2019. Multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, right, kept nude photos of underage girls in his Upper East Side townhouse of horrors, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor said Monday.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman revealed Epstein kept the perverted stash of pictures during a press conference announcing conspiracy and sex trafficking charges against the wealthy financier.

Epstein is accused of sexually abusing minors, some as young as 14 years old, between 2002 to 2005 at his seven-story mansion on E. 71st St. and his Palm Beach estate. The FBI seized the nude photos on Saturday, as Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman (below left). See indictment here.

“Jeffrey Epstein abused underage girls for years, operating a scheme in which girls he victimized would recruit others for Epstein to exploit and abuse. Epstein exploited girls who were vulnerable to abuse, enticed them with cash payments, and escalated geoffrey berman sdnyhis conduct to include sex acts, often occurring at his residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, the victims — then children and now young women — are no less entitled to their day in court,” Berman said.

The bombshell 14-page indictment in Manhattan Federal Court against the hedge funder comes 11 years after he received a slap on the wrist for similar charges. Berman said his office was not bound by the plea deal with federal prosecutors in southern Florida.

Epstein “enticed and recruited” dozens of minor girls to engage in sex acts with him, “after which he would give the minor girls hundreds of dollars in cash,” the indictment charged. “In order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused.”

djt melania epsteinDonald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein At Mar-A-Lago
Epstein poses for a photo with some powerful friends.
Davidoff Studios PhotographyGetty Images

Esquire, Commentary: Jeffrey Epstein Allegedly Shows There's an Even Darker Side to the Masters-of-the-Universe Mentality, Charles P. Pierce, July 8, 2019. Who else at the top of politics and big business represents the same? It took me a couple of tries to wade through the muck of the indictment that the Southern District of New York dropped on Jeffrey Epstein on Monday. Every time I got sort of rolling, I'd run into a sentence like this: "Epstein typically would also masturbate during these sexualized encounters, ask victims to touch him while he masturbated, and touch victims' genitals with his hands or with sex toys."

It is impossible that Epstein's many influential friends and houseguests didn't know about this. Apparently, Epstein was not shy about his predilections. The current President* of the United States was a frequent running buddy, and he said in New York magazine back in 2002: "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

And before the flying monkeys take wing, let me say that, if any Democratic politician was involved in these late Roman Empire hootenannys, that person should be convicted and buried under the jail as well.

This is not a stick-to-politics moment. This is going to screw up the political moment good and proper, though. Unless Epstein cuts a quick deal at the encouragement of all those people who suddenly don't know him anymore, this is going to be a long and garish public spectacle. It's going to devour news cycle after news cycle.

And if anything emerges connecting the president* directly to Epstein's alleged crimes, there isn't going to be a news cycle anymore. There will be only this story, over and over again.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), "Pedosadism" at heart of new charges against Epstein, Wayne Madsen, July 8, 2019 (subscription required). New details began to emerge about the individual Donald Trump once publicly claimed to be his friend.

Before boarding the helicopter to return to the White House from a weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, Trump replied to a reporter’s question about Epstein’s arrest Saturday evening at Teterboro Airport, located less than an hour’s drive from Trump’s golf club. Trump said, “I don’t know anything about it.”


MSNBC Video of lawyers Cynthia Alksne and Lisa Bloom commenting to Joy Reid on Jefrrey Epstein's arrest (8:24 min. video).

Crooks and Liars, Former Federal Prosecutor: Barr Could Interfere In Epstein Case, Heather, July 7, 2019. But There 'Would Be Hell To Pay.' Former Federal Prosecutor Cynthia Alksne is less worried about William Barr interfering in the Epstein case, and more concerned that he might make bail.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein, Billionaire Long Accused of Molesting Minors, Is Charged, Patricia Mazzei and William K. Rashbaum
July 8, 2019 (print ed.). Jeffrey E. Epstein, a billionaire New York financier long accused of molesting dozens of girls, was arrested on Saturday and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors, an extraordinary turn of events in a long and sordid criminal case. Mr. Epstein, right, who was charged with sex trafficking, had avoided federal criminal charges a decade ago in a widely criticized plea deal.

djt epstein headshot CustomMr. Epstein, 66, had avoided federal criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 in a widely criticized plea deal whose lenient terms continue to roil the Justice Department and are facing new scrutiny in the #MeToo era.

Before the plea deal, Mr. Epstein, a former hedge-fund manager, had been friendly with Donald J. Trump (shown together), former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

He pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution, served 13 months in a county lockup and registered as a sex offender. His jail arrangement allowed him to get out of the Palm Beach County Stockade six days a week to work out of his office.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein’s Sick Story Played Out for Years in Plain Sight, Vicky Ward, July 9, 2019. Vicky Ward, below at right, is an investigative reporter and New York Times best-selling author of "Kuschner, Inc." and "The Liar’s Ball."

vicky ward kushner incHow did the New York financier stay nearly untouchable for decades?

A couple of years ago, I was interviewing a former senior White House official when the name Jeffrey Epstein came up.

Unaware of my personal history with Epstein, this person assured me that the New York financier was no serious harm to anyone. He was a good guy. A charming guy. Useful, too. He knew a lot of rich Arabs, including the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and, further, he had clever ideas about creating bond issues for them. “OK, so he has a girl problem,” this person threw on, almost as an afterthought.

Epstein’s name, I was told, had been raised by the Trump transition team when Alexander Acosta, the former U.S. attorney in Miami who’d infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal back in 2007, was being interviewed for the job of labor secretary. The plea deal put a hard stop to a separate federal investigation of alleged sex crimes with minors and trafficking.

“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta.

Democracy Now! Where did Jeffrey Epstein's money come from? Amy Goodman interviews longtime Epstein biographer Vicky Ward, July 8, 2019 (4:58 mins.).

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Trump White House Is Caught Up in the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal, Vivian Wang, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). In the years since Mr. Epstein was first accused of sexually abusing minors, one of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet officials has been accused of letting him off easy.

Trump Watch: Iran 'Bombing'

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. ‘will no longer deal with’ British ambassador as Britain hunts for leaker of cables, William Booth and djt kim darroch fileJosh Dawsey​, July 8, 2019. President Trump said Monday that the United States would “no longer deal” with the British ambassador who disparaged his administration.

In a cache of diplomatic cables leaked and published over the weekend, Ambassador Kim Darroch (shown in a file photo with Trump's photo) described the Trump White House as “inept,” “dysfunctional” and “unpredictable.”

united kingdom flagTrump tweeted his displeasure on Monday — and more than hinted that he is looking forward to a change: “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him. The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister.”

Ambassador Kim Darroch “is not liked or well thought of within the U.S.,” President Trump tweeted. In leaked cables, Darroch described Trump as “inept.”

Moon of Alabama, Commentary: "Pretty Please" -- Trump Asked Iran To Allow Him To Bomb It, B, July 8, 2019. On June 20 Iran shot down a U.S. spy drone. U.S. President Trump decided not to retaliate. The White House and the media claimed that Trump had ordered a strike on Iran but pulled it back at the last minute. We said that this was likely bullshit.

iran flag mapThe British ambassador to the U.S., whose briefings to London leaked yesterday, agrees with that take: "[Sir Kim Darroch] questioned Trump's recent claim that he aborted a missile strike on Iran because it would have caused a predicted 150 casualties, saying it 'doesn't stand up....It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020' – at the next Presidential election."

Elijah Magnier reported that Trump had asked Iran to allow him to strike back, but was rebuffed: "According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf." An Iranian general yesterday confirmed Magnier's take.

More Political Corruption

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New York Times, New Scandals Rock Government’s Foreign Broadcasting Service, Elizabeth Williamson, July 8, 2019. The United States Agency for Global Media is facing intensified scrutiny after two new cases raised questions about journalistic and financial management. The United States Agency for Global Media, the government’s foreign broadcast service, already struggling to clean house after voice of america logoa series of scandals last year at flagship operations like Voice of America and TV Martí, is now being rocked by two new cases that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management.

In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Mr. Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year.

That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to stealing government property.

A former deputy to the agency’s chief executive, John Lansing, Mr. Ullah admitted to fleecing the government of $37,000 between February and October last year by claiming reimbursements for expensive hotels he did not book, double-billing the government for official travel and forging a doctor’s note to allow him to fly business class. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

The new problems are unrelated to each other; in the case of Mr. Ullah, the agency said its internal controls flagged the expense fraud. But along with many others over the past two years, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Created during World War II to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack, the agency has 3,500 journalists who reach more than 345 million people in 100 countries each week.

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Associated Press, Federal grand jury probing GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, Jim Mustian and Desmond Butler, July 8, 2019. A federal grand ap logojury in New York is investigating top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, examining whether he used his position as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press and people familiar with the matter.

elliott broidyA wide-ranging subpoena the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn recently sent to Trump’s inaugural committee seeks records relating to 20 individuals and businesses. All have connections to Broidy, his investment and defense contracting firms, and foreign officials he pursued deals with — including the current president of Angola and two politicians in Romania.

Prosecutors appear to be investigating whether Broidy, right, a former deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, exploited his access to Trump for personal gain and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to offer foreign officials “anything of value” to gain a business advantage. Things of value in this case could have been an rnc logoinvitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump.

A statement released to the AP by Broidy’s attorneys said that at no point did Broidy or his global security firm Circinus have a contract or exchange of money with “any Romanian government agency, proxy or agent.” It also said that while Circinus did reach an agreement with Angola in 2016 there was no connection whatsoever to the inauguration or Broidy’s role on the inaugural committee.

“Any implication to the contrary is completely false,” the statement said.

The Brooklyn probe appears to be distinct from an inquiry by Manhattan federal prosecutors into the inaugural committee’s record $107 million fundraising and whether foreigners unlawfully contributed.

It followed a request last year by Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut that the Justice Department investigate whether Broidy “used access to President Trump as a valuable enticement to foreign officials who may be in a position to advance Mr. Broidy’s business interests abroad.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. to Replace Lawyers in Census Citizenship Question Case, Michael Wines, Katie Benner and Adam us census bureauLiptak, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). The announcement comes as the department argues in court that it is seeking ways to add the question to the next census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Lawyer swap-out on census case could signal something ugly ahead, Aaron Blake, July 8, 2019. The move suggests that the existing team objected to how the case was being handled or that its credibility had been torched.

washington post logoWashington Post, Plaintiffs seek to block Justice Dept. from changing lawyers in census case, Felicia Sonmez and Matt Zapotosky, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). Those challenging the inclusion of the question said in a court filing that the Trump administration has not given “satisfactory reasons” for the move.

The legal battle over the Trump administration’s efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census further escalated on Monday as the plaintiffs argued that Justice Department attorneys should not be allowed to withdraw from the case because they have not given “satisfactory reasons” for seeking to do so.

us census bureauThe Trump administration has not demonstrated that the withdrawals “will not cause further disruption, particularly in light of the history of this case and the well-documented need for expeditious resolution,” attorneys for those challenging the citizenship question said in a court filing in New York.

The filing comes in response to a request from the Justice Department attorneys on the case to withdraw.

The department had telegraphed the move a day earlier — saying it was replacing the team of career and political employees who had been handling the matter. A person familiar with the matter previously told The Washington Post that at least some of the career attorneys were frustrated with the handling of the case after President Trump ordered the department to explore more options for adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census after the lawyers, seeing no other possibilities, had conceded defeat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Treasury could breach debt ceiling in first half of September, much sooner than previously thought, Damian Paletta irs logoand Erica Werner​, July 8, 2019. The U.S. government could run out of money to pay all of its bills by early September if Congress doesn’t rush to raise the debt ceiling, a think tank said Monday, a time frame that could force lawmakers to act much sooner than planned.

The Bipartisan Policy Center said that the Treasury Department could breach the borrowing limit in two months because the government has brought in far less tax revenue this year than was projected. The BPC uses economic models to forecast the government’s ability to pay its bills, and its estimates are often studied by the White House and congressional leaders.

In May, it had projected that Treasury would have until October or November before it ran into debt ceiling problems.

 ny times logoICE logoNew York Times, ICE Used Facial Recognition to Scan State Driver Databases, Catie Edmondson, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials analyzed millions of motorists’ photos without their knowledge, including legal residents and citizens. Law enforcement use of facial recognition technology is far from new, but this is the first known instance of its use by ICE.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court’s decision on Affordable Care Act could create political havoc for GOP, Amy Goldstein, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). A ruling that the health-care law is unconstitutional would almost certainly catapult the issue back before the Supreme Court — and to the forefront of the 2020 campaign, legal and political analysts say.

washington post logoWashington Post, Admiral set to take over Navy retires amid allegations of inappropriate professional relationship, Dan Lamothe, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). Adm. William Moran maintained a professional relationship with a former staffer accused of acting inappropriately toward female officers.

U.S.-Iran Tensions

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Says It Has Passed Critical Nuclear Enrichment Level, Megan Specia, July 8, 2019 (print ed.). The country said it enriched uranium above a limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal and was prepared to go further. China, another signatory to the deal, accused the United States of “bullying” Tehran with sanctions.

New PM For Greece

ny times logoNew York Times, Underestimated, He’s Now Prime Minister of Greece, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, July 8, 2019. The ascent of Kyriakos greek flag2Mitsotakis is a testament to his tenacity, and to the radical political shifts brought by a decade of financial hardship in Greece.

Underestimating Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been something of a national sport in Greece. “Koulis,” his detractors spit out, using a common diminutive of his first name that is usually reserved for children, as they mock a barely noticeable lisp. But after sweeping to victory in a general election on Sunday, it seems Mr. Mitsotakis, the leader of the center-right New Democracy party, may have the last laugh.

News Media

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Local News Needs Federal Help, Howard Husock (vice president for research and publications at the Manhattan Institute), July 8, 2019. As a conservative, this is not the kind of thing I usually find myself saying, but the situation is dire and the consequences for our democracy are immense.

As a conservative, I’m not quick to invoke the term “market failure” as a justification for government intervention. But that’s exactly what the decline of local journalism requires. Local newspapers, the first line of democratic accountability for local government, are in free fall. The Youngstown Vindicator, the latest victim, just announced that it is closing, after 150 years of continuous operation in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio.

As the Pew Research Center recently reported, the number of newsroom employees at newspapers in the United States plummeted by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017. Closings and forced mergers of smaller newspapers are common (most recently the shotgun marriage between The Times-Picayune and The Advocate in New Orleans). But Pew reports that even the top third have seen newsroom layoffs just since 2017. When a hostile takeover of Gannett (owner of 120 newspapers) loomed, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, expressed concern about their capacity to “create high-quality local journalism in their communities.”

This is a threat to democracy. But it’s an opportunity for public media. The time has come for a successor to the 1964 Carnegie Commission to reimagine the outdated Public Broadcasting Act and the role of government funding in the media. The goal should be not more funding but a major redirection, toward support of local journalism by freeing funds that currently go toward purposes that the private media market now provides.

Media News / Trump

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end after Fox News sells him out, Bill Palmer, July 8, 2019. The marriage between fox news logo SmallDonald Trump and Fox News has always been one of convenience. Fox viewers initially wanted to believe in Trump, so Fox played him up at every turn. Trump then rewarded Fox by giving it special access and influence over his administration. The trouble is that Trump has veered so far into Hell, even a growing number of Fox viewers are on the verge of turning on him – and so Fox has had to begin incrementally turning against him in order to preserve its own base. Suffice it to say that Trump isn’t taking the news well.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump launched into not one but two separate rants about Fox News last night, hours apart, giving away just how much it’s eating at him that Fox has begun selling him out. During his ranting, Trump attacked Shep Smith, the Fox weekend anchors (whose names he still doesn’t seem to know), and new Fox personality Donna Brazile. This comes after Trump’s recent attacks on Chris Wallace, Andrew Napolitano, and other Fox faces.

Of course Trump is still reliably getting loyalty from the most craven and extremist of the Fox News personalities, such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. But even that’s merely based on the fact that their respective audiences are still largely aligned with a pro-Trump agenda. The bottom line is that Trump has lost the support of far too many Fox News pundits when it comes to his fragile grip on the least enthusiastic members of his base.

The Trump-Fox marriage was only ever going to work out for both sides if Donald Trump was popular enough that it was in Fox News’ best interest to support him across the board. Fox continues to incrementally sell Trump out – not because his popularity is dropping off, but because Fox expects his popularity to drop off, and it wants to get ahead of it. Fox can survive without Trump, but Trump may not survive without Fox, which is probably why he’s taking it so poorly that Fox is selling him out.

Trump Watch: Iran 'Bombing'

Moon of Alabama, Commentary: "Pretty Please" -- Trump Asked Iran To Allow Him To Bomb It, B, July 8, 2019. On June 20 Iran shot down a U.S. spy drone. U.S. President Trump decided not to retaliate. The White House and the media claimed that Trump had ordered a strike on Iran but pulled it back at the last minute. We said that this was likely bullshit.

The British ambassador to the U.S., whose briefings to London leaked yesterday, agrees with that take: "[Sir Kim Darroch] questioned Trump's recent claim that he aborted a missile strike on Iran because it would have caused a predicted 150 casualties, saying it 'doesn't stand up....It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020' – at the next Presidential election."

Elijah Magnier reported that Trump had asked Iran to allow him to strike back, but was rebuffed: "According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf." An Iranian general yesterday confirmed Magnier's take.

Trump Watch

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. ‘will no longer deal with’ British ambassador as Britain hunts for leaker of cables, William Booth and djt kim darroch fileJosh Dawsey​, July 8, 2019. President Trump said Monday that the United States would “no longer deal” with the British ambassador who disparaged his administration.

In a cache of diplomatic cables leaked and published over the weekend, Ambassador Kim Darroch (shown in a file photo with Trump's photo) described the Trump White House as “inept,” “dysfunctional” and “unpredictable.”

Trump tweeted his displeasure on Monday — and more than hinted that he is looking forward to a change: “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him. The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister.”

Ambassador Kim Darroch “is not liked or well thought of within the U.S.,” President Trump tweeted. In leaked cables, Darroch described Trump as “inept.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls his Wharton attendance ‘genius stuff,’ Michael Kranish, July 8, 2019. An admissions officer says otherwise, The retired official, James Nolan, says he got a call on Donald Trump’s behalf from his older brother, Fred Trump Jr., who also happened to be Nolan’s best friend.

James Nolan was working in the University of Pennsylvania’s admissions office in 1966 when he got a phone call from one of his closest friends, Fred Trump Jr. It was a plea to help Fred’s younger brother, Donald Trump, get into Penn’s Wharton School.

“He called me and said, ‘You remember my brother Donald?’ Which I didn’t,” Nolan, 81, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He said, ‘He’s at Fordham and he would like to transfer to Wharton. Will you interview him?’ I was happy to do that.”

Soon, Donald Trump arrived at Penn for the interview, accompanied by his father, Fred Trump Sr., who sought to “ingratiate” himself, Nolan said.

Nolan, who said he was the only admissions official to talk to Trump, was required to give Trump a rating, and he recalled, “It must have been decent enough to support his candidacy.”

Trump graduated from Penn in 1968. Before long, a legend was born. A 1973 article in the New York Times said Trump graduated “first in his class” from the Wharton School and then quoted his father as saying, “Donald is the smartest person I know.” In fact, Trump’s name was not among top honorees at commencement. Nor was he on the dean’s list his senior year, meaning he was not among the top 56 students in his graduating class of 366.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gov. Cuomo approves new law allowing release of Trump’s N.Y. state tax returns​, Jeff Stein, July 8, 2019. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed legislation Monday that allows Congress to review President Trump’s state tax returns, giving House Democrats another potential tool for accessing the president’s closely guarded financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has suggested he will not pursue Trump’s state returns, saying he is focused on obtaining documents held by the Internal Revenue Service. Last week, Neal filed a lawsuit against the IRS and Treasury Department over their denial of his request for Trump’s tax returns.

Some New York lawmakers have pushed the new law as a way to grant Congress greater oversight over the president. It gives certain congressional bodies the authority to request the state returns, provided those requesting the returns cite a “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Swalwell drops out of presidential race, will seek reelection to House, John Wagner and David Weigel​, July 8, 2019. eric swalwell o SmallThe California congressman, right, became the first major Democrat to exit the crowded race for the White House. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Monday became the first major Democratic presidential candidate to exit the race, as he announced he would suspend his campaign and focus instead on trying to win reelection to Congress next year.

Swalwell, who made last month’s debate stage but risked not qualifying to participate in the second debate this month, has not registered over 1 percent in national polling. He will face a primary challenge in his bid to return to his House seat for a fifth term.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats, stop embracing losing issues and focus on getting rid of Trump, Richard Cohen, July 8, 2019. The Democratic Party is on a tear. One by one, its candidates have embraced losing issue after losing issue.

First came reparations for slavery, a noble idea lacking only popular support and practicality and possibly amounting to yet another attempt to right a wrong with money. Before that, the various candidates raised their hands in support of Medicare-for-all, which could strip millions of people of their private insurance plans. That is sure to be characterized by Trump as socialized medicine with the sick growing old and dying, covered in cobwebs while waiting to see the doctor. GOP strategists must be hyperventilating over all the goodies arrayed before them. This is a campaign even Trump could win.

The Democratic Party has a possibly fatal inability to prioritize. The urgent challenge is to rid the nation of Trump, not to mollify this or that identity group or wrestle over issues that could not be solved when they were relevant — such as busing

Mueller Probe Follow up

robert mueller testifying flickr

National Law Journal, Judge Warns Prosecutors About Public Statements in Case Against Russian Firm, C. Ryan Barber, July 8, 2019.  US District Judge Dabney Friedrich admonished prosecutors for statements about an indicted Russian company, but she declined to initiate contempt proceedings. "Nothing about the government's conduct to date suggests a flagrant disregard for the court's authority," Friedrich said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller III (shown in a file photo via Flick testifying) violated court rules in public statements about a Russian firm accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, a federal judge in Washington has ruled, while stopping short of disciplining either Justice Department leader.

dabney friedrich nbcIn a July 1 opinion, unsealed Monday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich [a Trump nominee shown at right in an NBC photo] said Barr and Mueller inappropriately linked a defendant, Concord Management and Consulting, to the Russian government, even though prosecutors have not expressly drawn a connection between the firm and the Kremlin. Friedrich, citing language in the Mueller report and Barr’s public comments on the Russia investigation, said the statements violated a court rule that prohibits lawyers in criminal cases from sharing information or opinions that could compromise the fairness of a trial.

Some of the statements could be viewed as ambiguous individually, Friedrich said in her ruling. But taken together, the statements “drew a clear connection between the defendants and a foreign government accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.” Friedrich said in her ruling: “The government’s statements were also prejudicial for another reason: they provided an opinion about the defendants’ guilt and the strength of the evidence.”

The dispute had unfolded largely under seal until Monday. Friedrich referenced a closed-door hearing in May at which she ordered ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.” Friedrich said the lack of any “bad faith” by prosecutors counseled against proceeding with a criminal contempt action.

Concord Management, represented by a defense team from Reed Smith, had argued in April that Barr and Mueller should be held in contempt for releasing “prohibited information and opinions” in the 448-page report on the special counsel investigation and public statements that followed its release.

Describing the report and Barr’s public statements as a “broadside,” Reed Smith partner Eric Dubelier argued that the attorney general and special counsel had effectively proclaimed that Concord Management, along with other Russian companies and individuals charged in the case, participated in an interference campaign led by the Kremlin. “This despite the fact that the indictment contains no such allegation,” Dubelier said.

July 7

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein busted by feds at New Jersey airport, Wayne Madsen, July 7, 2019 (subscription required). Epstein, who, according to a joint report by WMR and the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, allegedly raped a 12-year old girl named Maria and a 13-year old, Katie Johnson, the latter a pseudonym, has been charged by federal prosecutors in New York with one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Secret UK View Of Trump Revealed

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gets slam dunked by UK Ambassador to the United States, Bill Palmer, July 7, 2019. The Daily Mail published secret memos in which UK Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch used words like “inept” and “insecure” and “incompetent” to describe Trump. The Daily Mail is a tabloid, but the UK government has since confirmed to CNN that the leaked memos are in fact the real thing. So now what?

bill palmer report logo headerDarroch is a professional diplomat, so it’s literally his job to pretend in public that an idiot like Donald Trump is not an idiot. He’s the last person who would publicly criticize Trump, no matter how he felt. These memos reveal that he felt compelled to document Trump’s idiocy in private, while discussing with his government how to deal with Trump. Darroch may or may not lose his job over this leak, as it could be difficult for him to continue interfacing with the U.S. government now that it’s been exposed that he thoroughly insulted the President of the United States. But to be clear, Darroch was just doing his job.

This incident serves as the latest reminder that Donald Trump is so uniquely and cartoonishly bad at this, America’s allies have been placed in a no-win situation when it comes to trying to work with him or work around him. On the other hand, America’s enemies have had little problem figuring out how to use Trump’s ineptness and idiocy to gain a leg-up on the United States.

More U.S. Privacy Losses

washington post logoWashington Post, DMV databases become part of unprecedented surveillance infrastructure, Drew Harwell​, July 7, 2009. The FBI and ICE have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through hundreds of millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show.

Trump Migrant Roundup?

washington post logoICE logoWashington Post, Fear of immigration raids builds as agency’s plans move forward, Nick Miroff, Maria Sacchetti, Arelis R. Hernández and Josh Dawsey, July 7, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said his administration will begin the “family operation” soon. His threats have left many immigrants living in the United States illegally fearful of venturing outside.

U.S. Politics

joe biden bernie sanders kamala harris june 28 2019 screengrab Custom

Democrats Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, left to right, during the June 28, 2019 presidential nomination debate in Miami (Screengrab from NBC video)

Axios, Joe Biden's reboot: A "wrap the bow" strategy, Jonathan Swan, July 7, 2009. On Tuesday, Joe Biden told his advisers he wanted to give a speech in South Carolina to address, and preempt, the mounting attacks on his record concerning race and civil rights. Sources close to Biden told me he was still rewriting the draft on Saturday in the car en route to Sumter, South Carolina, where he gave the speech to a mostly black audience.

• "Given the coverage we got coming out of the debate ... we could die by death by a thousand cuts here," said a source familiar with the thinking in Biden’s camp.

• "So it was either you wrap it all up in a bow and you say, 'Look, this is who I am. Barack Obama picked me, so if it was good enough for Barack Obama it's good enough for me' ... or we could have fought each one of these battles individually."

• "This was an attempt to wrap it all up in a bow."
Between the lines: Biden's interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his speech on Saturday signaled a more assertive approach from the Democratic front-runner.

• In Biden's Sumter speech, he emphasized his close relationship with Obama, defended himself against Sen. Kamala Harris' busing attack, expressed regret for his comments about his work with segregationists, and pitched a progressive vision for criminal justice reform — trying to preempt attacks on his support for the 1994 crime bill.

Media News

RT, Trump invites cartoonist who penned ‘anti-Semitic’ Soros sketch to White House, liberals furious, July 7, 2019. Progressives and liberals took to Twitter to vent, after President Donald Trump invited right-wing cartoonist Ben Garrison to an upcoming White House social media summit. Garrison has been accused of anti-Semitism.

The guest list for Trump’s social media summit, due to take place this Thursday, looks tailor-made to trigger and enrage his opponents. Trump cheerleader Bill Mitchell will be in attendance, as will pro-Trump memesmith ‘Carpe Donktum,’ and now self-described “renegade cartoonist” Ben Garrison.

New York Daily News, Crowd at bar breaks into ‘F--k Trump’ chant during live Fox News report about women’s World Cup (WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE), David Matthews, July 7, 2019. A live Fox News broadcast was interrupted by soccer fans scream "F*** Trump." The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Netherlands in the final of the World Cup in France and one cable channel’s attempt to capture fan reactions went a bit sideways. Fox News did a live report from Wallace Bar, a sports bar in Lyon, where the crowd started chanting an obscene phrase that drowned out correspondent Greg Palkot.

#MeToo Book

washington post logoWashington Post, The trailblazers and turning points along the road to #MeToo, Danielle Kurtzleben (politics reporter at NPR), July 7, 2019 (print ed.). Book review: Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment by Linda Hirshman. How did we get here?

In Reckoning, Linda Hirshman tantalizingly offers to answer those questions. She starts in 1968 in Chappaquiddick, Mass., with Ted Kennedy’s infamous car wreck that killed Mary Jo Kopechne, and journeys through a packed half-century of feminist history — the earliest harassment cases, Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the 2008 primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Donald Trump’s election, the #MeToo movement, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh — landing at the 2018 midterm elections.

U.S. Women Win World Cup

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. wins Women’s World Cup title with 2-0 defeat of Netherlands, Steven Goff and Emily Giambalvo, July 7, 2009. The U.S. has won the World Cup four times: in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019. Their performance in France sparked larger conversations about gender, equity and patriotism.

July 6

Epstein Arrested For Trafficking: Report

Daily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Arrested For Sex Trafficking of Minors: Sources, Pervaiz Shallwani, Kate Briquelet, Harry Sieg, July 6, 2019. daily beast logoBillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. The arrest comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

For more than a decade, Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposés in the press. But despite the attention cast on his alleged sex crimes, the hedge-funder has managed to avoid any meaningful jail time, let alone federal charges.

The new indictment, which will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court, will allege that Epstein, right, sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for "massages" and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district's human-trafficking officials and the FBI.

Several employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls for Epstein's abuse, and some victims eventually became recruiters themselves, according to law enforcement. The girls were as young as 14, and Epstein knew they were underage, according to details of the arrest and indictment shared by two officials.

Epstein's attorney Martin Weinberg declined to comment when reached by The Daily Beast on Saturday night.

“It’s been a long time coming—it’s been too long coming,” said attorney David Boies, who represents Epstein accusers Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Sarah Ransome. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.

“We hope that prosecutors will not stop with Mr. Epstein because there were many other people who participated with him and made the sex trafficking possible," he told The Daily Beast.

 Trump Edicts

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawyers affirm government will seek to add census citizenship question, Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner​​, July 6, us census bureau2019 (print ed.). President Trump earlier in the day said he is considering issuing an executive order, among other options, as a way to get the question onto the 2020 Census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump official suggests census question could help with ‘burden’ of illegal immigration, Colby Itkowitz and Maria Sacchetti, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). It wasn't clear what Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, meant. The administration has said the question's goal is to gain information on voters.

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Obama Is Still a Target Two Years Into Trump’s Presidency, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, July 6, 2019 (print ed.).djt obma headshots palmer report file Mr. Trump faults his predecessor on North Korea, Iran, Turkey, NATO and the border. “I call it the ‘Obama-Biden mess,’” Mr. Trump said.

Since 2011, when he explored running for president against Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump has had a singular obsession with the 44th president.

He repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s citizenship as part of the false “birther” conspiracy. As president, Mr. Obama struck back at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2011, when he roasted the reality television star as a lightweight while Mr. Trump sat grim-faced.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris tries to turbocharge her campaign but faces lingering questi, Chelsea Janes, July 6, 2019. Her presidential campaign is making changes in an effort to turn a breakout debate moment into lasting momentum. But the Democratic senator has had to clarify some policy stances, reviving earlier concerns about whether she is providing a clear vision of what she stands for.

Trump, Barr v. CIA?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Donald Trump and William Barr are crossing another line, Michael Morell (shown right ina JIP file photo, deputy director of the CIA michael morell jip may 18 2015 Smallfrom 2010 to 2013 and twice its acting director), July 6, 2019. There’s a reason the Justice Department hasn’t assessed the CIA’s judgment before.

From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. The president and his political aides have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats to our nation even harder.

cia logoBut, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice Department, as reported by several news organizations, the president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing another line.

I see no problem with a Justice Department review of whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies lived up to their legal and regulatory responsibilities as to how they handled any information related to U.S. persons — U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals. There are strict rules in this regard — the most important promulgated by multiple attorneys general over time — and, in our divisive political environment, it would be beneficial to our democracy for the country to know whether the rules were followed or not.

What I am arguing is that the Justice Department has no standing to review the CIA’s analytic judgment. The whole idea is inappropriate and dangerous. It is certainly unprecedented, and there are good reasons it has never been done before

U.S. Natural Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Another Powerful Earthquake Hits Southern California, Thomas Fuller, Neil Vigdor and Derrick Bryson Taylor, July 6, 2019. A second big earthquake hit Southern California, this one stronger than the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck a day before. Seismologists warned that the latest earthquake would most likely be followed by more seismic activity. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rattled Southern California on Friday night, one day after the strongest recorded quake there in 20 years struck — and seismologists warned that further episodes are expected.

The United States Geological Survey reported that the latest earthquake’s epicenter was in the Mojave Desert, 11 miles from Ridgecrest, Calif. — near where a 6.4-magnitude quake had hit about 36 hours earlier. Since Thursday’s earthquake, the area had been jolted by a series of rolling aftershocks, including one of a 5.4-magnitude that roused Californians on Friday morning.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Floods Keep Coming, Cities Pay Residents to Move, John Schwartz, July 6, 2019. The United States spends more on helping people rebuild after disasters than preventing problems. Nashville is leading an effort to change that by helping people move out of flood zones.

Civilians Killed In Libyan War

washington post logoWashington Post, Carnage at migrant center in Libya highlights peril for those blocked from Europe, Sudarsan Raghavan, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). Thousands of African migrants who have endured deprivation and even torture in a bid to reach Europe are now facing even greater peril, trapped in the middle of the renewed warfare that has gripped this capital city for three months.

More than 10,000 migrants who have set out across the Mediterranean over the past year have been returned to Libyan detention centers after stringent European anti-migration policies took effect, aid officials say, while many others have been blocked from even setting sail.

On Tuesday night, an airstrike shattered a detention camp in a Tripoli enclave, killing at least 53 migrants. The strike, which also left more than 130 wounded at the Tajoura detention facility, inflicted the most civilian casualties in a single day since combat erupted between a renegade Libyan commander, Khalifa Hifter, and militias aligned with the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.

Global News: Brexit

ny times logoNew York Times, The 0.3% of U.K. Voters Who Will Pick the Next Prime Minister, Benjamin Mueller, July 6, 2019. Older, whiter and more right-wing than average, Conservatives who will choose their party’s next leader are adamant about one thing: Brexit at any cost.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion:Choosing subcontractors based on their political connections has become acceptable in D.C., Colbert I. King, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). A proposed $215 million contract to oversee sports gambling pending before the D.C. Council will channel up to $116 million over five years to a small circle of politically connected D.C. companies billed as subcontractors. Should it occur, the council’s approval of that contract negotiated between the city’s chief financial officer and the D.C. Lottery operator, Intralot, might well be regarded as an act of legislative malpractice.

Lawmakers, however, may be headed in that direction if they follow the lead of Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and adhere to the strategy devised by Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), the scandal-scarred (but still) chairman of the council’s finance committee.

July 5

Palmer Report, Commentary: Appeals Court to Donald Trump: hit the road Jack! Bill Palmer, July 5, 2019. Even as Donald Trump continues to violate too many federal laws to count, and continues to defy every attempt at constitutional oversight in the process, one of the key cogs in curtailing his authoritarian overreach has been the court system.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter Donald Trump couldn’t get Congress to fund his border wall fantasy, he decided to simply begin redirecting federal funds from other projects. The trouble: that’s illegal unless Congress signs off on it. Accordingly, Congress dragged Trump into court over the matter. The lower court has already blocked Trump’s move. Now the appeals court is doing the same.

The appeals court in San Francisco has voted to stop Trump from misappropriating $2.5 billion dollars in federal funding, according to the New York Times. This is crucial, because Trump isn’t finding support for these kinds of moves at any Judicial Branch level – which means that the odds are against Trump once this inevitably reaches the Supreme Court. There are five conservative Justices on the Supreme Court, but they’ve voted against Trump’s unconstitutional stunts as often as they’ve voted with Trump.

Trump's July Fourth Speech

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The Age of Stupidity, Wayne Madsen, July 5, 2019 (subscription required). For a nation that was founded by some of the most intelligent people who then lived on the planet – Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, to name but a few – the United States has plummeted into a new age, not one of enlightenment, but one of stupidity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blames teleprompter after July 4 flub about airports, Revolutionary War, Gillian Brockell, July 5, 2019.  President Trump broke with decades of tradition Thursday by not only attending the Independence Day celebration on the Mall in Washington but making a speech as part of his ‘Salute to America.’

It wasn’t the usual lock-her-up-no-collusion-fake-news fare though. With the aid of a teleprompter, the president spoke for 45 minutes about U.S. history, especially military history, or as he described it, “the greatest story ever told, the story of America.”

Historians ⁠— at least the ones fact-checking the president on Twitter ⁠— were not impressed. One likened the speech to “an angry grandpa reading a fifth grader’s book report on American military history.”

Others tweeted their reactions in GIFs.

Trump opened with an account of the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

“On this day, 243 years ago, our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to declare independence and defend our God-given rights.”

As most history undergrads could tell you, this isn’t quite true. The Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. On July 4, they approved the final text of the declaration. They signed it with their John Hancocks on Aug. 2.

There were inaccuracies like this peppered throughout the speech ⁠— the president still seems to not know exactly who “Douglass, Frederick Douglass, the great Frederick Douglass” is ⁠— but Trump was especially befuddled when he described the creation of the U.S. Army.

In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief. The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our army manned the [unclear], it [unclear] the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under “the rockets red glare,” it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant.

There is a lot to unpack here.

First, it’s clear the president was having some issues reading the teleprompter, which led to a number of errors. For example, British General Cornwallis was of London; he was defeated at Yorktown. The Continental Army wasn’t named after Washington; it’s possible Trump substituted “named” for a different verb in the text of the speech.

On Friday, Trump confirmed he had problems with the teleprompter, telling journalists: “I guess the rain knocked out the teleprompter, so it’s not that, but I knew the speech very well, so I was able to do it without a teleprompter. But the teleprompter did go out. And it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it.”

But that doesn’t explain the apparent conflation of two wars fought three decades apart. In the first part, Trump mentions Valley Forge, crossing the Delaware and Yorktown, all of which occurred during the Revolutionary War. Then he says, “And at Fort McHenry ...” and describes the battle in which the national anthem was written. This battle was fought in 1814 during the War of 1812.

Then there’s the claim the Army — in either 1775 or 1814 or some time in between? — “took over the airports.” Odd considering that earlier in the speech Trump noted the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP, Justin Amash (member of U.S. Congress, representing Michigan), below right, July 5, 2019 (print ed.). In recent years, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.

justin amash blue shirtMost Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

These same independent-minded Americans, however, tend to be less politically engaged than Red Team and Blue Team activists. Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedBut we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.

Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.

Democratic 2020 Primary

ny times logoNew York Times, A Sprawling Democratic Primary, and No One to Shape It, Reid J. Epstein, July 4, 2019. Twenty-four candidates is too many, some say. And with a leadership vacuum at the top, the party is having trouble sorting it out. John Deeth is the sort of Iowa activist who keeps up with every new twist in the Democratic presidential primary, but there was no way he was going to devote two evenings to watching the first round of debates last week.

Instead Mr. Deeth, a 55-year-old from Iowa City who has volunteered for every Democratic caucus since 1992, spent one debate night watching “Goodfellas” and the other at the grocery store.

“Until this field is narrowed down to serious people, I’m not going to spend four hours watching them,” Mr. Deeth said. “I’m not going to suffer through Andrew Yang.”

Mr. Deeth’s frustration highlights a central challenge the Democratic Party faces as it tries to identify the strongest candidate to take on President Trump: The slate of 24 contenders is too unwieldy for a constructive debate, many activists and strategists say, and too large for most voters to follow. And with a leadership vacuum at the top of the party, there is no one to elevate candidates with an endorsement, or help steer third-tier candidates out of the race when they’ve reached their plausible expiration date.

Of the party’s living former presidential nominees, just Walter Mondale has weighed in on the race, endorsing a fellow Minnesotan, Senator Amy Klobuchar. The rest are keeping their distance from the messy primary, which post-debate polling shows has bifurcated between a top tier of five candidates and everyone else vying just to qualify for the party’s fall debates.

Down With Tyranny, Commentary: Gillibrand Is Better Off Polling Less Than 1%, Howie Klein, July 5, 2019. If someone asked me which presidential candidate has a political father who's in a crazy religionist cult, I would have said "Tulsi Gabbard," and I would have been correct... but not complete.

Did you know that another candidate --also who isn't going anywhere in this race-- has a father connected to a insane cult, an insane cult her step-mother is involved with too? Kirsten Gillibrand has mostly managed to avoid any public discussion of NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"). Unlike Tulsi, who was basically raised inside her father's crazy cult, Gillibrand seems to have succeeded in keeping away from her father's. Don't worry; neither is getting anywhere near the presidency or vice-presidency. Nationally, Tulsi is polling at 1.0% and Gillibrand is polling at 0.5%.

Presumably, if Gillibrand ever got beyond 1% the story of her father's cult-problem would make its way into the media. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen wrote about the cult in terms of Gillibrand's anti-Franken rampage because... well, it's, among other things, a sex slave cult... and the sex slaves are all women.

More On Trump's Fourth of July Rally

lincoln memorial 5 57p.m on july 4 2019 earthcam

washington post logoWashington Post, A divided America gathers as Trump puts stamp on Fourth, Peter Jamison, Samantha Schmidt, Hannah Natanson and Steve Hendrix, July 5, 2019 (print ed.). Crowds were pulled in opposite directions on a polarized Mall, with “Make America Great Again” caps bedecking the throngs near the Lincoln Memorial and protest Baby Trump balloons amid the masses near the Capitol. But the ties that unify the nation were also on display.

Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation, feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp — speaking of “one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny” from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles, with military jets passing overhead — his presence thrilling supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.

On a sweltering, storm-tossed day, crowds were pulled in opposite directions on a polarized Mall, with “Make America Great Again” caps bedecking the throngs near the Lincoln Memorial and Baby Trump balloons bobbing in protest amid the masses gathered near the U.S. Capitol. There were even two separate fireworks shows, along with plenty of rhetorical firecrackers being tossed where the two sides mixed.

U.S. Media News

Associated Press, Storied African-American newspaper becoming digital only, Staff report, July 5, 2019. he publisher of the storied African American newspaper Chicago Defender has announced it will no longer publish a print version.

In announcing the move to digital-only beginning July 11, Real Times Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson said Friday the newspaper has made significant investment in digital media because of changes in the publishing landscape.

Jackson noted the Defender currently prints 16,000 newspapers. He says the newspaper reaches at least ten times more people on its digital platform. Jackson says Real Times’ other newspapers, the Michigan Chronicle and the New Pittsburgh Courier, will continue to offer a print version.

Global Affairs: Bolton Fading?

The Atlantic, Analysis: Trump Couldn’t Ignore the Contradictions of His Foreign Policy Any Longer, Thomas Wright, July 5, 2019. The president moves to straighten out his own foreign policy—and leaves his hawkish national security adviser on the sidelines.

John Bolton was sent to the capital [of Outer Mongolia], Ulaanbaatar, while President Donald Trump stepped into North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un. Trump was accompanied by loyalists—Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, Jared and Ivanka Trump — and a new adviser, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who is credited with talking the president out of striking Iran as his Cabinet had recommended.

Trump invited Kim to the White House, and reports swirled that the United States would settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea instead of denuclearization. In response, Bolton tweeted, “Neither the NSC staff or I have discussed or heard of any desire to ‘settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea.’ This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences.” The words NSC staff or I were doing a lot of work, implying that others in the administration were behind the move. We now know that Stephen Biegun, the State Department’s special envoy to North Korea, briefed reporters on Pompeo’s plane back from Korea that the administration was considering a “complete freeze” to unlock the talks.

U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If the Supreme Court won’t protect our democracy, voters will, Eric H. Holder Jr. (shown at right, U.S. attorney general from eric holder2009 to 2015), July 5, 2019 (print ed.). Over the past decade, the conservative Supreme Court has reshaped the American political system in ways that fundamentally undermine voting rights and equal representation in our nation. In a trio of cases, the court has unwisely removed protections needed for a well-functioning democracy. These deeply flawed rulings — intentionally or naively — shift power away from the people and toward entrenched special interests and the already powerful.

Most recently, five conservative justices determined last week that federal courts have no role reining in partisan gerrymandering. In doing so, the court has torn at the fabric of our democracy and put the interests of politicians ahead of the voters. Map manipulation allows politicians to pick their voters so a party with minority views and support can illegitimately govern with majority power. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her powerful and prescient dissent, the partisan gerrymanders in Maryland and North Carolina “debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

We know from learned experience that the impact of this decision is potentially significant. As a result of the Citizens United decision in 2010, our system is now awash with unregulated money that protects those interests with means. And because of the Shelby County ruling in 2013, the ability to proactively stop discriminatory voting practices from taking effect no longer exists. Within days of the Shelby County decision, conservative state legislatures unleashed a wave of unnecessary and discriminatory voter ID laws, voting roll purges and poll closures targeting minority and poor communities.

My organization, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, will continue to bring racial gerrymandering claims in the federal courts and partisan gerrymandering cases in the state courts. An affiliate of the NDRC is supporting a state-based partisan gerrymandering case in North Carolina that seeks to strike down the maps for both chambers of the General Assembly.

Politics-linked Sex Scandal CLaims

Miami Herald, Dershowitz v. Boies: Jeffrey Epstein case unleashes war between two legal Goliaths, Emily Michot and Julie K. Brown, July 5, 2019. A Miami Herald investigation into Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein's sexual pyramid scheme targeting underage girls – miami herald logoand why he's a free man today (video background by Emily Michot and Julie K. Brown).

It’s a high-stakes war between two of the country’s most powerful lawyers. Their feud, simmering for years, involves accusations of extortion, surreptitious recordings, unethical conduct and underage sex trafficking.

Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz has filed four bar complaints in three states — all of which have been dismissed — in a quest to disqualify lawyer David Boies and one of his partners who represent a woman accusing Dershowitz of sexually abusing her when she was underage, newly filed court records show.

The pugnacious Dershowitz, 80, and the equally zealous Boies, 78, have been sparring for decades. In recent years, both have suffered damage to their storied legacies, making this latest clash between the two legal titans one of the most important of their half-century careers.

perversion of justice miami herald logoDershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard law school and one of the nation’s most iconic civil libertarians, has defended such notorious clients as Claus Von Bulow, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson. But after four decades of legal accolades, he is now facing a sex scandal and is forced to clear his own name at a time when he’s being confronted by a barrage of attacks on social media as one of the most fervent legal defenders of President Donald Trump.

Boies has embraced high-profile liberal causes and made history with landmark court cases: He represented Al Gore in the Florida recount dispute in the 2000 election, which he lost; successfully defended press freedom in a lawsuit involving “60 Minutes;” and in 2013 secured a Supreme Court victory overturning a California ban on same-sex marriage.

But Boies’ image has also been tarnished in recent years by his aggressive, and often ruthless, representation of controversial clients such as Hollywood film mogul and accused sex predator Harvey Weinstein and Elizabeth Holmes, founder of a blood-testing company that allegedly defrauded investors and clients.

Dershowitz’s bar complaints — disclosed here for the first time — provide a window into the behind-the-scenes legal drama between two of the world’s most brilliant lawyers. It also reveals new details about an explosive sex trafficking case involving Dershowitz’s former client, Jeffrey Epstein, a New York multimillionaire who, according to investigators, molested more than three dozen girls in Palm Beach in the years 1999-2006.

Daily Beast, Proud Boys Rally Rocked by Sex, Cocaine Allegations, Will Sommer, July 5, 2019. Top speakers are fleeing and one-time allies are feuding as the gathering of MAGA faithful teeters. A far-right rally scheduled for downtown Washington on Saturday has been thrown into disarray by dramatic allegations centering on cocaine, a love triangle, and the far-right Proud Boys men’s group. “The Proud Boys? More like the Joke Boys,” Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro, a key player in the bizarre feud, told The Daily Beast.

The drama has torn apart one-time allies prominent on the pro-Trump internet and cost the so-called “Demand Free Speech” rally at least one speaker, after other prominent right-wing celebrities already cited other reasons for not appearing. While the rally was meant to protest the banning of conservative figures from social media, the surrounding drama has cast a shadow over the event.

On one side of the fight: Navarro, a perennial challenger to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) whose losing campaigns against the liberal stalwart have become a cause celebre on the right.

On the other: the Proud Boys, the all-male group of self-described “Western chauvinists,” and DeAnna Lorraine, a self-styled MAGA relationship expert and Navarro’s ex-girlfriend.

The clash became public late on Wednesday night, when Navarro tweeted that Lorraine had been using cocaine and “sleeping with the proud boys.” Navarro declared that he would no longer speak at Saturday’s rally, which was organized in part by top Proud Boy leaders.

“I found this girl I dated is doing cocaine and sleeping with the proud boys I cannot agree with the drug lifestyle they follow,” Navarro tweeted.

Navarro’s withdrawal from Saturday’s rally comes after the event has already lost other speakers. Former Pizzagate conspiracy theory promoter Mike Cernovich had also been on the event’s bill, but said earlier this week that he wouldn’t attend. Fellow former Pizzagate advocate Jack Posobiec has also suggested he may not attend, despite being listed as a speaker on the rally’s website.

In his tweets, Navarro made a series of allegations, claiming that Lorraine had, through the Proud Boys, threatened him “because I said I would expose the cocaine use including hers.” (Lorraine has denied using cocaine, while the Proud Boys describe themselves as “pro-drug.”)

In his tweets, Navarro made a series of allegations, claiming that Lorraine had, through the Proud Boys, threatened him “because I said I would expose the cocaine use including hers.” (Lorraine has denied using cocaine, while the Proud Boys describe themselves as “pro-drug.”)

July 4

Trump's Fourth of July Rally In DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by Trump, Michael D. Shear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Fourth of July in the U.S. capital is usually celebrated without political overtones: a parade, a concert and fireworks over the Mall. But President Trump added a speech with military commanders, tanks and thousands of troops to create a made-for-television moment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s July 4 Celebration Unsettles Military, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Eric Schmitt and Maggie Haberman, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s plan to deploy battle tanks in Washington for the July 4 celebration has prompted worries about politicization of the military.

With trouble spots from Iran to North Korea, the military’s role in a Fourth of July celebration in Washington should be the least of the Pentagon’s worries.

Yet some retired and active-duty military officers, and, privately, even some Defense Department personnel said the participation of the military in President Trump’s “Salute to America” appears to politicize the armed forces on a day when the nation traditionally toasts its independence in a nonpartisan environment.

“Put troops out there so we can thank them — leave tanks for Red Square,” said Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general and former head of United States Central Command, who until earlier this year served in the Trump administration as a special envoy to help resolve disputes in the Persian Gulf.

Trump GOP Critic Quits Party

Roll Call, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP, declares independence, Simone Pathé, July 4, 2019. Amash was only Republican to say justin amashTrump committed impeachable offenses.  Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the first GOP lawmaker to say that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, is leaving the Republican Party.

“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote in a Thursday op-ed in The Washington Post that does not mention Trump.

A libertarian who was elected to the House in 2010, Amash has often been at odds with leadership of his own party. On the House floor, he has voted with a majority of Republicans 84 percent of the time he's been in Congress, compared with 94 percent for the average House Republican, according to CQ's Vote Watch. He's supported Trump just 63 percent of the time compared with 95 percent for the party average.

Amash helped found the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus but left the group in June after it condemned his remarks about Trump and impeachment.

That stance also earned him several primary challengers in Michigan’s 3rd solidly Republican District, which backed Trump by 9 points in 2016. Amash won his fifth term representing the district last year with 54 percent of the vote.

The president bid Amash good riddance on Twitter, calling him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress” and “a total loser!”

In his op-ed, Amash describes how his parents were Republicans and he grew up supporting GOP candidates. His father was a Palestinian refugee who came to the U.S. when he was 16.

Trump's Edict On Census

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Will Look to Add Citizenship Question to Census, Alan Rappeport, Maggie Haberman and Michael Wines, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). Justice Department officials reversed course and said they were hunting for a way to restore the citizenship question on orders of President Trump. A day earlier, the officials said that the census forms were being printed without the question. A day after pledging us census bureauthat the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation.

President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and said on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add it despite a Supreme Court decision last week rejecting the move.

It was the second time that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to move forward with the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

U.S. Courts / Official Corruption

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal Could Backfire Prosecurors, Nick Corasaniti, July 4, 2019 (print ed.).  The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by the defendants convicted in the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor. That signals justices are open to weakening the ability of federal prosecutors to go after what they determine to be political malfeasance.

Federal prosecutors have often relied on a powerful criminal statute to bring high-profile corruption cases, including the college admissions scandal that ensnared Hollywood celebrities and a string of bribery investigations that targeted college basketball programs.

But now, a key theory of that statute could be gutted because of a challenge by two defendants in another well-known case — “Bridgegate,” the September 2013 closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan and New Jersey, to punish a mayor for refusing to offer a campaign endorsement.

The United States Supreme Court, in a decision that surprised legal experts, last week agreed to hear an appeal of the defendants’ corruption convictions in a move that could significantly weaken the ability of prosecutors to go after what they determine to be political malfeasance.

The court’s decision to take on the appeal by the defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, suggests that the justices are open to overturning their convictions, legal experts said, and follows other rulings that have chipped away at federal corruption laws. At issue in the case is a fraud theory used to prosecute under the mail and wire fraud statutes known as a “right to control.” It rests on the idea that the owner of an asset is defrauded when somebody uses that asset and lies about what they are using it for. In the college admissions scandal, for example, prosecutors said offers of acceptance to universities were misused.

Allied War Pressures On Iran, Syria

washington post logoWashington Post, British marines seize tanker suspected of carrying Iranian oil bound for Syria, Liz Sly, July 4, 2019. British Royal Marines in fast boats and helicopters on Thursday seized a supertanker suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria near the Mediterranean peninsula of Gibraltar, the first such detention of a ship under the terms of European sanctions targeting supplies to Syria.

This is the first time a European country has sought to impound deliveries of fuel to Syria, which has been subjected to E.U. sanctions since the ongoing conflict there erupted in 2011. Iran has regularly supplied fuel to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime throughout the war, as part of Tehran’s effort to sustain his hold on power.

Gibraltar said the oil was destined for Syria’s Baniyas refinery on the Mediterranean coast. As a government-owned entity, it was added to the E.U. sanctions list in 2014. Some European diplomats questioned, however, whether the sanctions could be legally applied to third countries and not just E.U. member states.

The U.S. sanctions imposed in November went further than the E.U. measures, targeting shipping owners and insurers associated with oil deliveries to Syria as well as the suppliers. They prompted a dramatic curtailment of Iranian supplies earlier this year and acute shortages of fuel, which prompted widespread grumbling among Syrians.The Gibraltar incident could trigger new tensions between Britain and Spain over the peninsula’s status. Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, Spain’s acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said Spanish authorities were “looking into how this [operation] affects our sovereignty.”

Britain has considered Gibraltar, in southern Spain, to be part of its territory since the 1700s. Spain disputes those claims, which have become a major obstacle in negotiations over Britain’s departure from the E.U. Spain and Britain are part of the E.U.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Loves American Coffee and Restaurants. Is He a Credible Negotiator for Iran? Farnaz Fassihi and David D. Kirkpatrick, July 4, 2019. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a resident of the United States on and off for nearly 30 years, is the Iranian most closely associated with the 2015 nuclear deal. Now, with the deal on the brink of collapse, he’s under fire both at home and in Washington, which is weighing sanctions on him.

July 3

U.S. Border Scandalsborder inspector general report june 10 2019 scene in Mcallen

This photo shows caged immigrants at a U.S. detention facility on June 10 in McAllen, Texas (Homeland Security Inspector General's report).

ny times logoNew York Times, Squalid Conditions at Border Centers Detailed in Government Watchdog Report, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Overcrowded conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, a new report said. ICE logo

The disturbing findings include standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.

July Fourth Preparations

Vanity Fair, Commentary: "Surreal”: How the Royal Trumps Are Trying to Conquer July Fourth and Everything Else, Emily Jane Fox, July 3, 2019. President Trump is taking over the National Mall with tanks while Prince Jared and Princess Ivanka, fresh from global star turns, are invading the Hamptons—with not a word about the border.

The Blaze, ABC, CBS, and NBC announce they will snub President Trump's 'Salute to America' celebration, Breck Dumas, July 3, 2019. Major networks opting to run shows like 'Jeopardy!' in lieu of live coverage of the Fourth of July event. Major U.S. media networks ABC, CBS, and NBC announced Wednesday that they are all snubbing President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" celebration on the Fourth of July and plan to stick with regularly scheduled shows rather than provide live television coverage of the event.

The Daily Mail reported that the networks will stick with planned nightly newscasts and shows, such as "Jeopardy!" and "Inside Edition," in lieu of airing the Independence Day event featuring a speech from the president. However, the three networks will offer live footage over its respective online and streaming platforms.

In reporting details of President Trump's planned show honoring America's armed forces, CBS News noted the president was carrying forward with the event "despite widespread criticism over the distracting from the holiday."

U.S. Politics 

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump and the Republican National Committee said they raised $105 million, Outdoing Obama, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee on Tuesday said they had raised $105 million in the second quarter of this year, dwarfing what President Barack Obama raised in the equivalent period during his re-election campaign.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The campaign and the R.N.C. said they had a combined $100 million in cash on hand, and that they had raised more money online in the second quarter than in the first half of 2018. The staggering total figure can be plowed into television and digital advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts and other activities related to the 2020 election.

rnc logoMr. Trump and his committees raised $54 million, they said, and the R.N.C. raised $51 million. The campaign officials did not say how many individual donors had contributed, or how many gave money in increments of $200 or less. The official report, which will include spending, will be filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 15.

In 2011, during the same period, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign raised $47 million, and the Democratic National Committee brought in $38 million, Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s fund-raising haul is a testament to the more professional operation that his campaign has been running, primarily out of Arlington, Va. In 2016, Mr. Trump poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign. But he also raised a considerable amount from small donors online.

Wall Street on Parade, Commentary: Paul Weiss, the Law Firm that Has Represented Citigroup through Serial Fraud Charges, Is the Number One Donor to Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, July 3, 2019. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps meticulous tabs on political campaign flows, as of this morning, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – which has represented Citigroup through more than two decades of serial fraud charges – is the number one campaign donor to the Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris.

As the Center notes, the money isn’t coming from the law firm itself, but from its “PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.”

The campaign ad for Harris reads like this: “Kamala Harris has spent her entire life defending our American values. From fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system to taking on the Wall Street banks for middle class homeowners, Kamala has always worked For The kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePeople.”

But here we are in the early days of the Democratic primary campaign, when the big money has not even yet entered the fray, and Harris (shown during the debate last week) has already collected $140,475 from the folks at Paul Weiss.

Paul Weiss has offices in New York, Wilmington, Washington D.C., London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Toronto, and Tokyo. Harris hails from California. Why are Paul Weiss lawyers so interested in financing her campaign?

As it turns out, they’re not all that interested. Numerous law partners at Paul Weiss are hedging their bets and contributing simultaneously to other Democratic Presidential candidates.

cory booker headDonations from Paul Weiss also rank number one in the Presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (shown at left); number three in the Presidential campaign of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; number six in the Presidential campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; and number 9 in the Presidential campaign of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

deutsche bank logoThe name Paul Weiss has become synonymous with getting serial miscreant mega banks on Wall Street off the hook or bargaining down the charges. In May of this year, we reported that the Chief Judge for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote a decision finding that the U.S. Justice Department had outsourced a criminal investigation to the target of the investigation – Deutsche Bank – and Deutsche Bank’s outside law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Press Crackdown: Brazil

The Guardian, Outcry after reports Brazil plans to investigate Glenn Greenwald, Dom Phillip, July 3, 2019. Federal police reportedly asked glenn greenwald hsmoney laundering unit to investigate the ‘financial activities’ of the US journalist.

Brazil’s Bar Association, journalists and opposition lawmakers have reacted with outrage to reports that the country’s federal police plan to investigate the bank accounts of an American journalist who published leaked conversations between prosecutors and the graft-busting judge who is now Jair Bolsonaro’s justice minister.

The rightwing site the Antagonist (O Antagonista) reported on Tuesday that federal police had asked a money-laundering unit at Brazil’s finance ministry to investigate the “financial activities” of Glenn Greenwald.

brazil flag wavingPolice declined to comment on the allegation but confirmed an investigation had been launched into the hacking of cellphones that led to the leaks.

“This seems to me like an attempt to intimidate the journalist,” said Kennedy Alencar, a leading political commentator on CBN Radio.
Brazil reels at claims judge who jailed Lula collaborated with prosecutors
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“If there is an investigation for doing journalism it is illegal and it is an attempt at intimidation,” said Pierpaolo Bottini, a professor of penal law at the University of São Paulo who heads the press freedom unit at the Brazilian Bar Association.

Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, won a Pulitzer prize for leading the Guardian’s reporting on National Security Agency (NSA) spying revealed by Edward Snowden before co-founding the Intercept website in 2014.

Last month, the publication’s Brazilian edition launched the first in a string of bombshell articles which appeared to show prosecutors in the sweeping Operation Car Wash corruption inquiry colluding with Sérgio Moro, the judge who became a hero in Brazil for jailing powerful businessmen, middlemen and politicians.

The leaked records – which the Intercept said it received from an anonymous source – have had an explosive impact on Brazilian politics and dominated headlines for weeks.

Epstein Sex Scandal Cover-up

jeffrey epstein sex offenderMiami Herald, An appeals court seemed poised to unseal Jeffrey Epstein records. So where are they?, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Three months have passed since a judicial panel in New York heard arguments to unseal documents that could reveal whether federal prosecutors covered up evidence that New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and others were running an underage sex trafficking operation.

miami herald logoIn March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seemed poised to release some documents in the case. The records involve Epstein’s one-time partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of helping him recruit and sexually exploit girls and young women in various locations around the United States and abroad in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The appeals panel gave all parties in the case until March 29 to file additional pleadings. Several challenges were subsequently filed, but the court has yet to make a final ruling.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe Miami Herald — one of the intervenors in the case — has submitted a letter to the court urging the judges to follow through on the case in the wake of a controversial Justice Department decision last week. In a 35-page motion, filed June 24, federal prosecutors in Georgia declared that they would not set aside Epstein’s federal non-prosecution agreement.

The Georgia decision dealt another blow to Epstein’s victims who have been fighting for a decade to have the deal thrown out and to pressure the Justice Department to prosecute the 66-year-old multimillionaire on sex trafficking charges. It also means that the Justice Department has no intention of allowing Epstein’s victims and the public to examine the facts of Epstein’s case and reach their own conclusions, the Herald argues in the letter.

perversion of justice miami herald logoMiami Herald, Epstein Scandal Video Summary, Marta Oliver Craviotto, Emily Michot, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (5 min. miami herald logovideo). The girls who were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and the cops who championed their cause remain angry over what they regard as a gross injustice, while Epstein's employees and those who engineered his non-prosecution agreement have prospered.

U.S. Military Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Navy SEAL Chief Is Found Not Guilty of Murder, Dave Philipps, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). In a war-crimes trial that roiled the elite Navy SEALs and drew the attention of President Trump, a decorated eight-tour SEAL platoon leader was found not guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder of a captive ISIS fighter and attempted murder of civilians in Iraq.

edward gallagherBut the platoon leader, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, was convicted of one charge: posing for photos with the teenage captive’s dead body.

Chief Gallagher, 40, right, who was serving with SEAL Team 7, became a rallying cause of some Republicans in Congress and members of the conservative media. Mr. Trump said on Twitter in March that he would have the chief released from pretrial confinement “in honor of his past service to our country.”

Because the maximum sentence Chief Gallagher could now face is four months, and he has spent more time than that in pretrial confinement, he was expected to go free on Tuesday.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats sue for Trump’s tax returns, Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade​, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied multiple requests for the records, which the president refused to release during the 2016 presidential campaign.

irs logoHouse Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking access to President Trump’s tax returns, accusing the Trump administration of an “extraordinary attack” on Congress in preventing the disclosure of the president’s personal financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed the lawsuit against the steven mnuchin wInternal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department after months of feuding with the administration over the returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who have denied Democrats’ demands for the returns, are named as defendants.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Pick to Lead F.A.A. Faces Scrutiny From Senate Democrats, David Gelles, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s choice to lead the Federal Aviation Administration is facing resistance from Senate Democrats, adding more uncertainty to an agency already under pressure after the deadly crashes of two Boeing jets.

faa logoStephen Dickson, whom Mr. Trump tapped to lead the F.A.A. in March, retired from Delta Air Lines last fall after 27 years at the company. A former pilot who rose to become senior vice president for flight operations, Mr. Dickson was initially seen as a safe pick to head the F.A.A., which has been without a permanent administrator for over a year.

But in recent weeks, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has the power to advance Mr. Dickson’s nomination, have seized on Mr. Dickson’s involvement in a whistle-blower case at Delta. The Democrats are looking into claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating against a pilot who raised safety concerns, with some senators now suggesting he may be unfit for the F.A.A. job.

Republicans on the committee are still publicly supporting Mr. Dickson, and could vote to advance his nomination to the full Senate as early as next week. But the party-line split, a rarity for this agency, raises the prospect that the F.A.A. could become yet another partisan battleground.

Trump's July 4 Display

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen (WMR), Opinion: On the anniversary of U.S. independence, a Nazi shadow is cast across the land, Wayne Madsen, July 3, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). During an ego-fellating interview with Donald Trump in Japan, Fox News opinion show host and unofficial Trump national security adviser Tucker Carlson and Trump discussed America’s homeless population and agreed that it should be called “filth.”

This sort of language goes far beyond the fascist antics of Trump politicizing Washington, DC’s annual Independence Day ceremony and turning into a political rally and military show-of-force for his crackpot and racist supporters.

Calling homeless people “filth” – Trump did add that some homeless are mentally ill, a wink and a nod to them being useless members of society – comes right out of the playbook of Nazi genocide engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Dr. Josef Mengele.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s hijacking of the Fourth of July just got a lot uglier, Greg Sargent, July 3, 2019. New details are emerging about Trump’s plans. The Post reports that the National Park Service will now divert millions of dollars previously earmarked to improve parks across the country to fund Trump’s celebration on the Mall.

Meanwhile, a White House official tells The Post that the plans include a plane from Air Force One’s fleet soaring overhead at precisely the moment that Trump takes the stage. Tanks will take part in the display.

As many critics have pointed out, by politicizing the Fourth of July so nakedly, Trump has inevitably transformed the celebration into a campaign event. It remains to be seen whether he will do so explicitly in his speech, but either way, that conversion has already been implicitly accomplished.

It’s the melding of that fact with the particular display Trump is putting on that makes this so ugly. The showcasing of military might, Trump’s association of himself with it, and the unabashed conversion of a paean to the nation’s founding into a reelection event — what it all amounts to is larger than the sum of its parts.

The naked audacity of the usurpation is itself the point. That Democrats and liberals are getting trolled into expressions of outrage over it only reinforces that point to greater effect.

July 2

Inside DC

ny times logous census bureauNew York Times, Citizenship Question Won’t Be on 2020 Census Forms as U.S. Drops Fight, Michael Wines, July 2, 2019. The Trump administration said that it would be printing forms for the 2020 census without a question asking about citizenship. It is unclear what prompted the decision, which is a remarkable retreat for an administration that typically refuses to give up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Park Service diverts $2.5 million in fees for Trump’s July Fourth extravaganza, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Dan Lamothe, July 2, 2019. The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement.

Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has dubbed the “Salute to America.” The two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed the transfer of the Park Service funds Tuesday.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

For Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who argue that the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

Workers set up for President Trump's “Salute to America” July Fourth event at the Lincoln Memorial. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, said in a phone interview. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Even as some critics questioned the White House’s handling of access to the Lincoln Memorial, officials from the Pentagon and the Interior Department were scrambling to transform Trump’s vision of an elaborate military and pyrotechnics display into reality.

Two Abrams tanks, two Bradley Fighting Vehicles and an M88 recovery vehicle sat on train tracks in Southeast Washington on Tuesday, destined for the Mall. Administration officials were finalizing aspects of Thursday’s schedule, according to a senior White House official, including a plan to have one of the planes in Air Force One’s fleet zoom overhead as Trump takes the stage.

Separately, according to two individuals familiar with the matter, the White House was negotiating with Park Service officials over whether to project an image from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission onto the Washington Monument for the event. Typically the agency does not allow projected images on monuments or historic structures, on the grounds that they should be preserved in their original form.

HuffPost, RNC Giving Out Tickets To Trump’s Hijacked Fourth Of July Celebration, S.V. Date, July 2, 2019. hat had been a nonpolitical, nonpartisan celebration on the National Mall will now likely be a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-financed political rally, critics worry. President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies.

“He’s going to have tanks out there. It’s going to be cool,” joked one RNC fundraiser on condition of anonymity. He said he received an offer for the free tickets on Friday but did not request any. “He wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea.”

Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.

The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”

Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement. “This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

Hate Factions Among U.S. Patrols?

border agents aoc nydaily news july2 2019 Custom 3

The border agent scandal, as portrayed by the New York Daily News front page of July 2, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Racist, sexist posts targeted Ocasio-Cortez, immigrants, Eli Rosenberg, July 2, 2019. Federal officials are investigating whether agents participated in a private Facebook group for Border Patrol employees that hosted racist, sexist and sexually violent memes about immigrants and officials such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after a report by the investigative site ProPublica.

Matthew Klein, an assistant commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, called the Facebook group’s posts “disturbing” and said that the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, of which CBP is a part, began an investigation.

The posts on the private group, which says it is for current and former Border Patrol agents, included caustic remarks about the deaths of migrants, sexually explicit images edited to include Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and xenophobic asides and comments, according to ProPublica. The Washington Post was not able to confirm the existence of the group, called “I’m 10-15,” after the law enforcement code for “aliens in custody.” The private group is not visible to people who aren’t members.

Related story: Washington Post, Lawmakers condemn ‘vulgar’ posts in border agents’ secret Facebook group, Robert Moore, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). The postings sparked special outrage among a delegation of more than a dozen House members who toured two detention centers in Texas.

Global News

washington post logoindia flag mapWashington Post, As a major Indian city runs out of water, 9 million people pray for rain, Niha Masih and Joanna Slater, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). Chennai is struggling with an acute water shortage.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: No, Iran Is Not Rushing To Build A Nuclear Weapon, B, July 2, 2019. John Mearsheimer is a political science scholar who adheres to the realist school of thought. He developed a theory of offensive realism that at times produces valid predictions of the behavior of some states. But his theory does not account for cultural factors and its predictions fail when these predominate in a state's decisions.

His ridiculous op-ed in today's New York Times is proof for that. If Iran destroys the loading stations for oil along the western Persian Gulf coast with conventional ballistic missiles it would slow the flow of oil to a trickle. Additional attacks on tankers would bring it to effectively zero. There are no nukes needed to achieve either.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s hard-line approach appears to soften in meetings with world leaders, Anne Gearan, Robert Costa and David J. Lynch, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has dismissed criticism that he is failing to make big deals, arguing that his patience and relationship-building will pay off for the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cleanup begins in Hong Kong after night of anger against the government, Timothy McLaughlin and Shibani Mahtani​, July 2, 2019. The resulting damage of protesters’ successful bid to storm and briefly occupy the legislature were on full display for anyone passing by the building.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore? Michael Tomasky, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). They pay lip service to it, but they actively try to undermine its institutions.

rnc logoA number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.

We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats request White House communications sent via personal email, Rachael Bade, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats are asking the White House for copies of all work communications sent via personal email, personal cellphone and other forms of nonofficial transmission in an expansion of their investigation into whether Trump administration officials violated federal record-keeping laws.

The House Oversight Committee on Monday said the step was necessary “after six months of White House stonewalling” on the matter. This year, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) asked the administration about reports that some top White House officials — including President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — used personal email and encrypted applications to communicate.

Such communications are against record-keeping laws unless they are forwarded to and stored on official channels. The White House, however, has refused to tell the committee about the results of its own internal investigation of the matter, Democrats say. The panel wants copies of all emails that did not comply with this law.

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Teenager From ‘Good Family’ Deserves Leniency in Rape Case, Judge Says, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, July 2, 2019. The 16-year-old girl was visibly intoxicated, her speech slurred, when a drunk 16-year-old boy sexually assaulted her in a dark basement during an alcohol-fueled pajama party in New Jersey, prosecutors said.

The boy filmed himself penetrating her from behind, her torso exposed, her head hanging down, prosecutors said. He later shared the cellphone video among friends, investigators said, and sent a text that said, “When your first time having sex was rape.”

But a family court judge said it wasn’t rape. Instead, he wondered aloud if it was sexual assault, defining rape as something reserved for an attack at gunpoint by strangers.

He also said the young man came from a good family, attended an excellent school, had terrific grades and was an Eagle scout. Prosecutors, the judge said, should have explained to the girl and her family that pressing charges would destroy the boy’s life.

So he denied prosecutors’ motion to try the 16-year-old as an adult. “He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college,” Judge James Troiano of Superior Court said last year in a two-hour decision while sitting in Monmouth County.

Now the judge has been sharply rebuked by an appeals court in a scathing 14-page ruling that warned the judge against showing bias toward privileged teenagers.

Trump Wants Tanks For Fourth Show

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks for military tanks on the Mall as part of grandiose July 4 event, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey​, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). Officials are scrambling to finalize plans for the “Salute to America” celebration, which will also include jet flyovers, fireworks and a VIP section for the president’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith faces plenty of looming priorities this summer, from an $11 billion backlog in maintenance needs to natural disasters like the recent wildfire damage to Big Bend Park.

But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith’s attention: how to satisfy President Trump’s request to station tanks or other armored military vehicles on the Mall for his planned Fourth of July address to the nation.

The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles , as a prop for Trump’s “Salute to America” is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.

Associated Press, The Latest: Tanks arrive in DC ahead of July 4 celebration, Staff report, July 2, 2019. At least two Army tanks have arrived ap logoin Washington ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that President Donald Trump says will include military hardware.

An Associated Press photographer says the two M1A1 Abrams tanks are with four other military vehicles on a freight train in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington. The vehicles are being guarded by military police but are visible to passers-by on nearby paths. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

More U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the polls really tell us about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris after the democratic debate, Bill Palmer, July 2, joe biden kamala harris2019. Three major credible polls have been conducted and published since the debate took place. Just as Palmer Report predicted, all three of them show that Joe Biden is still in first place overall. Any pundits who claimed that the debate would be a “knockout blow” for Biden, or that Harris would catapult twenty-five points into first place based on one debate performance alone, were clearly spewing hyperbole; nothing shifts that dramatically that quickly, particularly this early on. What’s interesting is the spread when it comes to these three polls.

bill palmer report logo headerThe new CNN poll says that Joe Biden is now just five points ahead of Kamala Harris, who has climbed into second place. This poll would signal a seismic shift in the democratic field – if the other new polls were telling us the same thing. But while most news outlets and pundits are jumping on the CNN poll because it’s so ratings-worthy, the other two polls point to more of the status quo. The new Morning Consult poll says that Biden has a twenty-one point lead over Harris, while the new The Hill poll has Biden up by twenty-two points over Harris.

So which of these three widely varying polls should we believe? Statistically speaking, either all of them or none of them. Polls always vary from each other based on methodology and other factors. Those variances tend to be far sharper from one poll to the next immediately after a major event has taken place, such as a debate.

U.S. Politics

democratic 2020 candidates

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: The 2020 issue that matters is democracy itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 1, 2019. The future of U.S. democracy will be on the ballot next year. No one should pretend otherwise. We witnessed President Trump’s obvious disdain for democratic rights and liberties once again last week during his warm encounter in Japan with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

And the Supreme Court’s partisan, antidemocratic decision on gerrymandering, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoJr., showed how dangerous it would be to expand a right-wing majority hellbent on making our system less inclusive, less fair and less equal.

democratic donkey logoFor these reasons, Democratic primary voters should not be knocked for making “electability” their highest criterion in picking a presidential candidate.

Of course, judging who is most likely to win is a difficult and rather subjective enterprise. And this calculation must not be a cover for sexism. But Democrats have no room for error. They need to avoid the sectarian infighting for which their party is famous and find a candidate who can excite turnout while also demonstrating broad reach and political savvy.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Another first: America's senior past president believes current president is illegitimate, Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), July 1, 2019 (subscription required). During a human rights panel sponsored by his Carter Center at the Lansdowne conference facility in Leesburg, Virginia, former President Jimmy Carter called Donald Trump is an illegitimate president.

jimmy carter portrait deftnewsThe Carter Center specializes in monitoring and assisting in the free and fair conducting of elections worldwide. Carter based his opinion on foreign usurpation of Trump’s campaign and his election on the conclusion by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russians interfered in the election on behalf of Trump.

His vice president Walter Mondale suggested that Trump suffers from other issues, those that would make him ineligible to continuing serving in office. Mondale said of Trump, “He’s got something deep in him that is detestable . . . his rhetoric, his harshness, his divisiveness . . . Doctors tell me they think they recognize symptoms of psychological problems.”

FBI's Russia Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Professor’s tip about ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton spurred Russia probe, officials said. Then he vanished, Rosalind S. fbi logoHelderman, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). With Attorney General William P. Barr’s review of the FBI’s investigation underway, the origins of the inquiry itself are in the spotlight — and with them, the role of Joseph Mifsud, who has vanished from public view.

9/11 Researchers Seek Response

Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Lawyers’ Committee To File Mandamus Petition as U.S. Attorney Declines to Disclose Status of 9/11 Grand Jury Proceeding, Staff report, July 1, 2019. The Lawyers’ Committee is preparing to file a mandamus petition prior to the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 to seek confirmation that a federal grand jury is investigating new evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks.

The.executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, David Meiswinkle, and the Lawyers’ Committee’s litigation director, Mick Harrison spoke last month by telephone with Michael Ferrara, the chief of the terrorism unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Fatal Afghan Bombing

ny times logoNew York Times, Kabul Bombing Kills at Least 40 as Taliban Talks Continue, Fatima Faizi, Rod Nordland and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 1, 2019. A complex attack in Afghanistan badly damaged a war museum and TV station, officials said. Militants are still holed up in a nearby building. The attack came as American and Taliban negotiators were meeting in Qatar amid hopes for a deal on a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Global Trade / Freedom

djt xiFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Socialist Mindset on Trade, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, July 1, 2019. In announcing that the jacob hornberger newU.S. and China are resuming trade talk, President Trump (shown meeting with China's president) demonstrated the socialist mindset that afflicts him and his fellow Republicans and, for that matter, the Democrats as well. Trump said that during the negotiations, the United States would keep a 25 percent duty on $250 billion of Chinese goods and that he would give China a list of U.S. products to buy.

A list of U.S. products to buy? How in the world does Trump come up with such a list? How does he know what China wants? What if China isn’t interested in buying those particular things? It doesn’t matter, at least not to Trump. What matters to him is that he knows which particular U.S. products he wants sold and is forcing China to buy them as part of the agreement to return to the negotiating table.

It would be difficult to find a better example of the mindset of a central planner than that. Under a free-market system, people are free to buy whatever they want to buy. They make the choice, not the

How does Trump decide which American products and sellers make his favorites list? Politics, of course. We have a presidential election coming up. Trump is no dummy. Like his Democratic opponents, he has to start passing out the political candy in order to get votes. Therefore, the people who are going to make the list are those who stand a good chance at helping him get elected. Among the privileged will almost certainly be those American farmers who Trump has bankrupted or severely damaged economically with his trade war.

To ease the economic destruction that he has wrought on them, Trump ended up putting them on welfare. Undoubtedly he will put them on his favorites list so that he can proclaim, “Look what I have done for you. I bankrupted you but I put you on welfare and also on my favorites list that forced the Chinese to buy your products. We are winning my trade war and we are making America great again!”

The losers in all this trade mayhem? Both the American people and the Chinese people. Among American losers are the businesses that have been bankrupted or severely damaged by Trump’s trade antics. Also losing are American consumers, who Trump has forced to pay higher prices for items they wish to purchase.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Analysis: Qatar Holds Its Own Against Saudi-Emirati Axis, Wayne Madsen, July 1, 2019. For a small peninsular nation surrounded by hostile neighbors, Qatar is holding its own against an economic, military, and diplomatic axis led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Initially, Qatar was once a valued member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), formally called the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, an organization of Persian Gulf monarchies formed in 1981 as a bulwark against the Islamic Republic of Iran. As denoted by its formal title, the GCC is a solely Arab alliance composed of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, and as such, non-Arab Iran was not welcome as a member.

More U.S. Politics

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

Politico, ‘Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash, Natasha Korecki and Carla Marinucci, July 1, 2019. Kamala Harris might be reveling in her sudden burst of attention after roasting Joe Biden over racial issues on the debate stage last week, but a backlash is already brewing.

Biden supporters and Democrats who have attended the former vice president’s events in the days after the first nationally televised debate, are describing Harris’ assault on Biden as an all-too-calculated overreach after she knocked him on his heels in a grilling over busing and his remarks on segregationist senators.

“She played low ball, which was out of character. And he didn’t expect it, nor did I,” said Lee White, a Biden supporter who attended his remarks at the Jesse Jackson Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “She should not have gone that route. She’s much too intelligent, she’s been able to be successful thus far, why do you have to do that.” White, who is African American, said of the underlying segregationist issues Harris attacked: “I thought it was old news.”

One major Biden supporter from California who declined to be named for publication said Harris’ direct attack on Biden was a mistake that would haunt her.

“It’s going to bite her in the ass,” the supporter noted. “Very early on there was buzz … Biden-Kamala is the dream ticket, the best of both worlds.’’

After this week, “That shit ain’t happening.”

The criticism of Harris over her rough treatment of Biden is among the first signs of backlash — including in her home state — against the California Democrat who had a breakout moment in the first presidential debate.

It’s also a sign of the goodwill and loyalty that many still feel toward that the vice president, who has managed to keep many of his backers in his camp, even amid criticism of what was roundly viewed as a subpar debate performance. Indeed, sources say Biden walked away with a $1 million haul after two fundraisers in San Francisco alone this weekend.

“We can be proud of her nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe,” said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the Senate who has endorsed Biden in the 2020 primary. “He is about the best there is; for her to take that tack is sad.”

Harris stunned Biden in the debate, knocking him back on his heels by noting his past “hurtful” efforts to work with segregationists and what she defined as his opposition to school busing. Harris’ emotional recounting of her own experience in the Berkeley school district as a child who was bused to more segregated schools — “that girl was me,’’ she said — became a defining debate moment, and bruised Biden’s status as the Democratic front-runner.

But one of Biden’s supporters called the attack by Harris “too cute by half” after her campaign tweeted out — and quickly began merchandising — a photo of Harris as a young girl. “Couldn’t they at least pretend that it was semi-organic?” the Biden supporter asked, referring to the planned nature of Harris’ debate night ambush.

Assange Prosecution

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Torture of Julian Assange, Paul Craig Roberts, July 1, 2019. In a few days July 4th will be upon us. We will hear paul craig roberts head sternendless nonsense from insouciant speakers and editorialists about what a great democracy we are, having won our freedom from being a British colony.

One thing the United States most certainly is not is a democracy. A democracy requires an informed electorate, and the United States most certainly does not have an informed electorate. The American media, indeed, the entirety of the Western print and TV media, functions as a Propaganda Ministry for Washington and the ruling oligarchies. The explanations are controlled to serve the agendas of the ruling elites. The persecution and torture of Julian Assange proves conclusively that the First Amendment is a dead-letter Amendment.

Without an honest Fourth Estate it is impossible to prevent a democracy from becoming a tyranny. In America tyranny is far advanced. Suppose that Americans somehow became aware of the truth about Julian Assange's total innocence that has been disclosed by Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. What could they do about it, short of violent revolution and complete elimination of the ruling elites?

Formerly, the US Constitution was revered, but today even law faculties and judges see the Constitution as something to find a way around. The vast majority of Americans themselves have no idea that the Constitution is the bulwark of their independence and liberty.

nils melzer un photoNils Melzer (shown in a United Nations photo) describes how his investigation of Assange's treatment liberated him from the totally false picture that has been created in order to establish the legal precedent that government crimes against humanity cannot be revealed. In the "American Democracy," the people are not permitted to know.

"In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

"Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

"This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.

None responded positively."

Nils Melzer is a Swiss academic, author and practitioner in the field of international law. Since 1 November 2016, Melzer has been serving as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Ivanka Seeks Center Stage

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Surreal’: Ivanka Trump plays a prominent role in her father’s historic Korea trip, Anne Gearan, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). ivanka trump in 2011Both at the G-20 summit in Japan and in South Korea, where she crossed over into the North, President Trump’s daughter was everywhere.

She pronounced the short walk to the other side of one of the world’s most fortified borders “surreal.”

Previously, at the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan, Ivanka Trump was everywhere — at her father’s side at times when other leaders’ spouses were present (first lady Melania Trump skipped the trip), in meetings where her presence puzzled other participants, and even giving an awkward video “readout” of Trump’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hong Kong Protests

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Hong Kong protesters storm parliament on anniversary of return to China, Shibani Mahtani​, July 1, 2019. Demonstrators tore up fencing and smashed windows of the building, prompting the territory’s legislative council to issue its first “red alert” demanding that everyone leave the area immediately.

Police Raid Columnist's Home

washington post logoWashington Post, Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. handcuffed after hoax 911 call, authorities say, Martin Weil, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Leonard G. Pitts Jr. said he was awakened early Sunday by police who ordered him out of his Bowie, Md., home and handcuffed him while they investigated a report that a crime was being committed in the house.

leonard pitts Jr pulitzerThe report, made to Bowie police by telephone, was determined to be false. Pitts, 61, writes a column for the Miami Herald that deals with national issues and that appears in about 250 papers. He won the Pulitzer for commentary in 2004.

Pitts said he had no idea who might have made the call that prompted police to wake him from a sound sleep at 4:48 a.m. He said police told him that they had received a 911 call indicating that his wife or possibly another person was “being murdered” in the house. He said he was instructed to come out of the house, while remaining on his cellphone, and was ordered to his knees and handcuffed.

His wife and other family members emerged from the house, and police asked to check the house, satisfying themselves that there “were no corpses,” Pitts said. He said police apologized to him.


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