August 2018 News Reports

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2018 news and views

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

Aug. 31

Trump Watch

 ny times logoNew York Times, Lobbyist Sam Patten Pleads Guilty to Steering Foreign Funds to Trump Inaugural, Kenneth P. Vogel, Sharon LaFraniere and Adam Goldman, Aug. 31, 2018.  An American lobbyist on Friday admitted brokering access to President Trump’s inauguration for a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch in a scheme that highlighted the rush by foreign interests to influence the new administration.

republican elephant logoAs part of a plea agreement under which he pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, the lobbyist, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party, and to helping the Ukrainian oligarch who had funded that party illegally purchase four tickets to Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

Although the charges were not brought by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Robert S. Mueller III, they stem from his team’s work, and overlap substantially with its continuing investigation, suggesting that Mr. Patten could be a useful witness.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Village Voice, a New York Icon, Closes, Tyler Pager and Jaclyn Peiser, Aug. 31, 2018. When Peter D. Barbey bought The Village Voice in 2015, he vowed to invest in the storied alternative weekly, saying it would “survive and prosper.” But last August he shuttered the print edition, and on Friday he closed the operation altogether.

The end of the left-leaning independent publication was an anticlimax, given the many empty red plastic Village Voice boxes that have been scattered like debris across the sidewalks of Manhattan in recent years.

“This is a sad day for The Village Voice and for millions of readers,” Mr. Barbey said. “The Voice has been a key element of New York City journalism and is read around the world. As the first modern alternative newspaper, it literally defined a new genre of publishing.”

ny times logoNew York Times, National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All, Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 31, 2018 (print edition). President Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, devised a plan to buy all the stories on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected, according to Mr. Trump’s associates.The move indicated just how concerned they were about all the information amassed by the company, American Media, and its chairman, David Pecker.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s disapproval rating hits a high point in new poll, Philip Rucker and Scott Clement​, Aug. 31, 2018. Overall, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of the public support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say Trump should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Totally dishonest’: Trump asserts only he can be trusted over opponents and ‘fake news,’ Ashley Parker, Aug. 31, 2018. Over roughly the past day, President Trump has decried the “totally dishonest” media, with its “fake news” and “fake books.” He has argued that Google is biased against conservatives. And he has accused NBC News of “fudging” the tape of an interview with him that has been available online for more than a year.

The president has even declared there is no chaos in his White House, which he claimed is a “ ‘smooth running machine’ with changing parts,” despite the tumult that emanates almost daily from within its walls.

Trump’s assertions — all on Twitter, some false, some without clear evidence — come just over nine weeks before the midterm elections that could help determine his fate, and they are bound by one unifying theme: All of his perceived opponents are peddling false facts and only Trump can be trusted.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Still separated: Nearly 500 migrant children split from their parents remain in U.S. custody, Maria Sacchetti, Aug. 31, 2018. Problems reaching and vetting parents, along with multiple legal challenges, are slowing efforts to reunify families. More than a month after a court deadline passed for the government to reunite families divided by President Trump’s border crackdown, nearly 500 children remain in U.S. government-funded shelters without their parents, according to court papers filed Thursday night.

CNBC, Trump's move to scrap federal employee raises could damage the GOP as it defends House majority, Jacob Pramuk and John W. Schoen, Aug. 31, 2018. President Donald Trump's decision to scrap raises for federal civilian employees creates more difficulties for Republican House incumbents running in swing districts. A high concentration of federal workers lives in some competitive House districts in Virginia, which abuts Washington, D.C. Three GOP representatives — Barbara Comstock, Scott Taylor and Dave Brat — said they opposed Trump's action, as their Democratic opponents criticized the pay freeze.

Book Review: Supreme Court & Schools

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do Public School Students Have Constitutional Rights? Justin Driver, Aug. 31, 2018. The Supreme Court used to answer with a resounding yes. In recent decades, regrettably, it has changed its mind.

On Tuesday, as many students around the country start the school year, the eyes of the nation will turn to the Senate Judiciary Committee as it begins hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to our highest court. The convergence of these two events presents an opportunity to stress the crucial intersection of two distinctively American institutions: the public schools and the Supreme Court.

Public education occupies a central place in our national identity. As the politician Adlai Stevenson once remarked, “The most American thing about America is the free common school system.” Similar assessments have been made of our judiciary.

Although these two institutions are seldom studied in concert, it is impossible to grasp the full significance of either one without understanding the other. You cannot understand public education in the United States today without appreciating how the Supreme Court shapes the everyday realities of school life. Conversely, you cannot comprehend the Supreme Court’s role in American life without appreciating how its education decisions shape our social world.

Justin Driver is a law professor at the University of Chicago and the author of the forthcoming book “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind,” from which this essay is adapted.

#MeToo / Media Dispute

ny times logoronan farrowNew York Times, NBC Impeded Weinstein Reporting, Ex-Producer Says, John Koblin, Aug. 31, 2018 (print edition). Ronan Farrow, right, spent months investigating sexual misconduct accusations against Harvey Weinstein while he was at NBC News, but his articles published later in The New Yorker. A producer who worked closely with Mr. Farrow said “the very highest levels of NBC” tried to halt the work. The network disagrees.

Political Corruption?

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas senator Jeremy Hutchinson indicted in scheme, resigns, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2018. Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson resigned Friday, hours after he was an accused in an indictment of stealing campaign contributions and using them for personal expenses.

Hutchinson, a Republican who was first elected as a state representative in 2000 and then as a state senator in 2011, is facing eight counts of wire fraud, totaling $9,790 from January 2013 to January 2015, and four counts of filing false tax returns. A Sept. 18 court appearance is set.

According to the indictment, the legislator spent campaign funds on personal expenses, including a Caribbean cruise, a vacation to New Orleans, gym membership and Netflix fees, between 2010 and 2017. Hutchinson is the nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. In a statement, the governor said: "This is a very sad day for everyone when a family member is charged."

Aug. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump firing Jeff Sessions looks more likely than ever. Here’s the storm that awaits, Aaron Blake, Aug. 30, 2018 (print edition). President Trump likes to talk about firing people. And apparently he’s been doing it again with Jeff Sessions.

But doing it after the midterms solves only a political problem. It does nothing to temper the potentially game-changing effect on the Russia and related investigations. And that’s the big question that is likely to remain, given that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s and the Southern District of New York’s Michael Cohen cases aren’t done.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Winter is coming’: Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm, Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Aug. 30, 2018 (print edition). Advisers worry that President Trump has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself if Democrats take over the House, which would empower them to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani letter criticizing Romania’s anti-corruption drive drew attention of State Dept., Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 30, 2018 (print edition). The missive raises more questions about Rudolph Giuliani’s decision to work for foreign clients while serving as one of President Trump’s personal attorneys.

U.S. Politics

ron desantis screengrabRaw Story, Revealed: Ron DeSantis helps run a Tea Party Facebook group that promotes racism and 'deep state' conspiracies, Staff report, Aug. 30, 2018. National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All.

Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is an administrator of a Facebook group that promotes racist and “deep state” conspiracy theories.

American Ledger — a corruption watchdog news site — reported Wednesday that DeSantis is one of 52 administrators and moderators for the “Tea Party” Facebook group that is also co-run by failed Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward.

The GOP candidate’s participation in the large administrator pool was first revealed on Tuesday by Media Matters extremism researcher Natalie Martinez, who posted screenshots of a string of DeSantis campaign posts in the group. She later learned that another administrator named the candidate as one of the group’s admins.

The “Tea Party” group has nearly 95,000 members, the Ledger reported. In the past, group members have posted about the “ghetto scum” that is Black Lives Matter and made fun of the Parkland massacre survivors.

“One member believed the violent far-right rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 was a hoax,” the report noted, “writing in a post liked by 1,600 users that the rally was ‘orchestrated by the left’ to ‘destroy America.'”

Ward and her husband Michael were revealed to be administrators of the group in early July by Media Matters. Michael Ward was known to share posts from the candidate’s (verified) Facebook page and once called John McCain a “strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

After winning the GOP gubernatorial primary a day prior, DeSantis made headlines Wednesday after saying people who voted for his Democratic opponent — Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum — would “monkey up” the state.

ny times logokeith ellison o smallNew York Times, A Broken Relationship and Accusations of Emotional Abuse: The Case of Keith Ellison, Julie Turkewitz and Farah Stockman, Aug. 30, 2018. Mr. Ellison, right, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is running for attorney general in Minnesota. His former girlfriend accused him of emotional abuse. It could open a potentially new chapter of the #MeToo movement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-CIA officer’s full personnel file released in ‘human error,’ Postal Service admits, Laura Vozzella, Aug. 30, 2018. The U.S. Postal Service on Thursday acknowledged that it inappropriately released sensitive personal information about Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer challenging Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), calling it a “human error” that it will address by changing procedures for public information requests.

The admission comes days after Spanberger said the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, had obtained sensitive personal information about her from a questionnaire she submitted to the federal government years ago while seeking security clearance.

Ethnic/Immigration Disputes: Germany

ny times logoNew York Times, Mob Protests in Germany Show New Strength of the Far Right, Katrin Bennhold, Aug. 30, 2018. A rampage in the eastern city of Chemnitz now stands as a high-water mark in the outpouring of anti-immigrant hatred that has swelled in Germany. Led by several hundred identifiable neo-Nazis, the crowd appeared to be joined by thousands of ordinary citizens. More marches are planned Saturday.

Aug. 29

washington post logodon mcgahn cato screengrabWashington Post, White House Counsel Donald McGahn to leave in the fall, Robert Costa and Robert Barnes, Aug. 29, 2018. President Trump tweeted that McGahn plans to depart “shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.” The exit comes at a fragile moment as tensions between the president and the Justice Department have escalated.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoandrew gillum oWashington Post, Trump spars with Andrew Gillum as marquee race for Fla. governor takes shape, John Wagner, Aug. 29, 2018. President Trump attacked Democratic gubernatorial primary winner Andrew Gillum, right, on Twitter shortly after the candidate called for Trump’s impeachment during a TV appearance.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis, Winners and losers from the primaries in Arizona, Florida, Amber Phillips, April 29, 2018. Anyone who wanted a battle of ideologies in one of the year’s biggest governor’s races will get their wish.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How many norms can Trump and evangelical leaders break in one meeting? Jennifer Rubin, shown below right, Aug. 29, 2018. In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders, President Trump on Monday warned of “violence” from the left if Democrats retake control of Congress in November, according to multiple reports.

jennifer rubin new headshotThe comments, which mark an escalation of Trump’s rhetoric, come amid deepening investigations into the president’s associates as well as a midterm battle that is entering its crucial final months.

“They will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently,” Trump told the assembled leaders at the White House dinner, according to reports Tuesday by NBC News and the New York Times.

“There’s violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”
In addition, he wrongly told evangelical leaders that he repealed a law preventing them from conducting politics from the pulpit — and then asks them to behave in such a fashion that likely runs afoul of the rules for non-exempt organizations.

Consider all the things wrong with this meeting.

republican elephant logoFirst, the president is conducting an explicitly campaign-related meeting in the White House. He simply doesn’t understand that it’s not his house; it’s the American people’s. Second, once more he is hinting at, if not holding the threat of, violence over the heads of Americans. Pitting one group of Americans against another by suggesting one side will commit violence is the stuff of tinpot dictatorships. Third — and this concerns the evangelicals far more than it does Trump — the degree to which these religious leaders throw themselves at Trump’s feet, ignoring all manner of immoral and un-Christian conduct for the sake of political power, is bracing and has hurt both religion and politics.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-CIA officer running for Congress says GOP obtained her unredacted personnel file with sensitive data, Laura Vozzella, Aug. 29, 2018. “You have tried to exploit my service,” Democrat Abigail Spanberger wrote to the super PAC, which said that it obtained her information legally. Spanberger is challenging Rep. Dave Brat (R) in Virginia’s 7th Congressional district.

ny times logoNew York Times, New Sexual Misconduct Rules to Bolster Rights of Accused Students, Erica L. Green, Aug. 29, 2018. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing to propose new policies for campuses that narrow the definition of sexual harassment and reduce liability for institutions.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Are Overturned, Catie Edmondson, Aug. 29, 2018. The decision by the International Trade Commission is a win for regional American newspapers, which have struggled to absorb the cost of higher newsprint.

Manafort Case

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort wants to move his D.C. trial to Roanoke, saying Washington jurors are biased, Spencer S. Hsu, Aug.29, 2018. Attorneys for Paul Manafort are asking to have his coming money laundering and conspiracy trial moved from Washington, D.C., to Roanoke, arguing his fraud convictions in Alexandria this month worsened pretrial publicity in the nation’s capital.

Aug. 28

U.S. Politicsandrew gillum o

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Gillum, a Black Progressive, and Ron DeSantis, a Trump Acolyte, Win Florida Governor Primaries, Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 28, 2018. Florida Democrats nominated the Tallahassee mayor, Andrew Gillum, above, ron desantis oand Republicans tapped Representative Ron DeSantis, below at right, for governor Tuesday, setting the stage for a ferocious general election in the country’s largest swing state between one of President Trump’s most unabashed allies and an outspoken progressive who would be Florida’s first black governor.

Mr. Gillum’s defeat of former congresswoman Gwen Graham, the front-runner, marked one of the most significant upsets of the primary season and was a major victory for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It sets up twin governors’ races in neighboring southern states between left-leaning African Americans banking on the region’s new, diversifying electorate against ardent, Trump-style nationalists.

Georgia’s Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams will now be joined by Mr. Gillum, while Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, has a mirror to south in Mr. DeSantis.

In Arizona, Republican primary voters were going to the polls to decide a replacement for Mr. Trump’s most outspoken critic in the Senate, Jeff Flake. But the contest evolved into a test of which candidate could embrace Mr. Trump most snugly. In the Arizona governor’s primary, Democrats were deciding between an outspoken progressive and a pragmatist.

Watching Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Awkward phone call with Mexican president becomes part of the Trump spectacle, David Nakamura, Aug. 28, 2018 (print edition). The real-time sequence in the Oval Office offered another example of President Trump’s willingness to discard protocol and conduct his presidency like a reality show, conscripting those around him in service of the spectacle.

Shunned at two funerals and one (royal) wedding so far, President Trump may be well on his way to becoming president non grata.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017The latest snub comes in the form of the upcoming funeral for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), which, before his death, the late senator made clear he did not want the sitting president to attend. That the feeling is mutual — Trump nixed issuing a statement that praised McCain as a “hero” — only underscores the myriad ways Trump has rejected the norms of his office and, increasingly, has been rejected in turn.

Less than two years into his first term, Trump has often come to occupy the role of pariah — both unwelcome and unwilling to perform the basic rituals and ceremonies of the presidency, from public displays of mourning to cultural ceremonies.

“We’re not talking about a president going and having a rally in a state that voted against him,” said Tim Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University who previously served as the director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. “We’re talking about a president who can’t even go and participate in a ritual where presidents are usually welcomed, and that is one of the consequences of his having defined the presidency in a sectarian way.”

washington post logogoogle logo customWashington Post, Trump wakes up complaining about negative Google search results about himself. ‘Illegal?’ Isaac Stanley-Becker​, Aug. 28, 2018. In a pair of pre-dawn tweets, President Trump said Google was silencing conservative media. It was unclear whether Trump had Googled himself, or whether he was referring to a recent piece by a conservative blogger who acknowledged that her methods were "not scientific."

Papal Challenge

pope francis south korea 2014 w

Pope Francis is shown on a 2014 visit to South Korea (file photo via Wikimedia)

washington post logoWashington Post, With call for pope to resign, divisions within the Catholic Church explode into view, Chico Harlan, Aug. 28, 2018 (print edition). Some traditionalists blame homosexuality within the church for the sexual abuse crisis. Pope Francis has used more inclusive messages about gays at a time when the religion is losing its hold across the Western world.

MSM Ending Yemen War Self-Censonship

yemen cnn us missiles blackout broken1 14

Screenshot from CNN Aug. 20 report "CNN Exclusive: Bomb that killed 40 Childen in Yemen was Supplied by the United States"

Medium, Opinion: MSM [Mainstream Media] Finally Concedes Defeat On Yemen, Ceases Blackout Of Coverage, Caitlin Johnson, Aug. 28, 2018. Last month, an article by Fair.org went viral in republications by popular alternative media outlets ranging from Salon to Zero Hedge to Alternet to Truthdig, among many others.

msnbc logo CustomThe article was initially titled “ACTION ALERT: It’s Been Over a Year Since MSNBC Has Mentioned US War in Yemen,” but many subsequent republications went with variations on the more attention-grabbing headline, “MSNBC has done 455 Stormy Daniels segments in the last year  —  but none on U.S. war in Yemen.”

The centerpiece of the article was the following graphic [below right], which I saw shared on its own many times in my social media feeds:

yemen msnbc graphic comparing stormy yemen coverageThat’s about as in your face as it gets, isn’t it?

Ever since the Saudi-led assault on Yemen began in March of 2015, alternative media outlets everywhere have been repeatedly and aggressively decrying the mainstream media in the US and UK for their spectacular failure to adequately and accurately cover the violence and humanitarian disaster with appropriate reporting on who is responsible for it. After the 2016 US election, journalist Michael Tracey wrote an essay documenting how throughout the entire year and a half that Americans were pummeled with updates from the mass media about candidates and their campaigns, not one single question about Yemen was ever asked by any mainstream outlet of any candidate.

This is of course outrageous, but because of how media coverage works, mainstream attention was never drawn to the problem. It hasn’t been a total media blackout, but because it only turns up in mainstream media reports every once in a while with little if any emphasis being placed on who is behind the devastation, it occupies a very peripheral place in western consciousness.

This has all changed in the last few days. Suddenly, the atrocities being inflicted upon the people of Yemen are being pushed into mainstream attention by the mass media outlets which have been ignoring them for more than three years.

washington post logoThe Washington Post editorial board published an op-edtitled “End U.S. support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war.”

cnn logoCNN did some actual, real journalism for a change with a viral exclusive [on Aug. 20] documenting which American war profiteers were behind some of the more devastating Saudi bombings.

And yes, MSNBC finally did cover the violence in Yemen, breaking its year-long silence to report on a US-supplied bomb which killed 40 children with such urgent condemnation of those responsible you’d never know they’d been consistently ignoring such incidents which have been going on for years.

Now politicians and celebrities everywhere are shoving the horror of their government facilitating the slaughter of innocents into mainstream attention.

9/11 Research

Newsweek, CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says, Jeff Stein, Aug. 28, 2018. The authors of a new book on 9/11 hope to re-focus public attention on the cover-up. Thoroughly mining the multiple official investigations into the event, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski find huge holes and contradictions in the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.”

Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Nowosielski, a documentary filmmaker, have nowhere near the prominence of other journalists who have poked holes in the official story, in particular Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that was turned into a gripping multi-part docudrama on Hulu earlier this year.

But Duffy and Nowosielski come to the story with a noteworthy credential: In 2009 they scored an astounding video interview with Richard Clarke, White House counterterrorism adviser during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

In it, Clarke raged that top CIA officials, including director George Tenet, had withheld crucial information from him about Al Qaeda’s plotting and movements, including the arrival in the U.S. of future hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. In The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, the authors assemble a compelling case of a government-wide coverup of Saudi complicity in the affair.

#MeToo Rabbinical Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Orthodox Jewish organizations reach $14.25 million settlement with victims of voyeur-rabbi, Michelle Boorstein and Tara Bahrampour, Aug. 28, 2018. Victims of Barry Freundel, who spied for years on women in a ritual bath in Washington, had sought $100 million in the case that rocked U.S. Orthodox Judaism.

Many More Puerto Rican Deaths Reported

ny times logoNew York Times, A new analysis found that nearly 3,000 more deaths than expected occurred in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.​ Sheri Fink, Aug. 28, 2018. Along-awaited report on the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has found that nearly 3,000 more deaths than expected occurred in the months after the storm, the first official outside evaluation of the toll in a disaster whose damage in some cases took months to unfold.

The report, made public on Tuesday by researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico after The New York Times and other media outlets and researchers last year estimated that the death count far exceeded the government’s official toll of 64.

Whistleblowing

National Whistleblower Center, Nationwide Biofuels Fraud Whistleblower Featured on CBS Whistleblower Season Finale, Mary Jane Wilmoth, Aug. 28, 2018. On August 31, 2018 at 9/8c, the CBS summer standout series “Whistleblower” will feature the Case of “The 100 Million Dollar Scam,” which details the story of whistleblower Alex “Sasha”Chepurko, who blew the whistle on a nationwide biofuels scam making him one of the youngest whistleblowers at age 21.

alex chepurkoChepurko, shown at right, is represented by Washington, D.C. qui tam whistleblower attorney David Colapinto, a partner in the leading whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP in Washington, D.C. Chepurko went up against Caravan Trading, a New Jersey-based company that made $50 million a year buying and selling the raw materials for making biofuel. Biofuel is a type of diesel derived from products like soybean, corn and recycled cooking oil.

While working for Caravan, Chepurko noticed that 90% of its business was with one company, which was turning the raw materials it bought from Caravan at above-market prices, into biofuel. Chepurko became suspicious and shockingly his boss confided to him that it was all a big scam. Caravan was selling finished biodiesel to the company which pretended it made biodiesel and then applied for the government incentives and tax breaks for making green energy products. Chepurko’s disclosures resulted in several individuals going to jail and the United States recouping millions of dollars for taxpayers from Caravan, and others involved in the scam, to resolve claims of fraud brought by Chepurko and pursued by Colapinto.

CBS publicity materials describe “Whistleblower” as taking “a thrilling look into the real-life David vs. Goliath stories of heroic people who put everything on the line to expose illegal and often dangerous wrongdoing when major corporations rip off U.S. taxpayers.”

“The CBS Whistleblower report demonstrates the courage and strength shown by Cherpurko who risked his personal safety going up against a multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise,” said Colapinto who has a long history of litigating whistleblower reward claims and has helped establish important whistleblower protections. The show is hosted by former judge Alex Ferrer. According to the CBS website, each episode “introduces cases in which ordinary people step up to do the extraordinary by risking their careers, their families and even their lives to ensure others are not harmed or killed by unchecked, unethical corporate greed.”

Cherpuko was just 21 years old when he faced off against Caravan Trading to blow the whistle on its $100 million nationwide biofuels fraud.

This is the first known whistleblower case filed under three different qui tam whistleblower laws: the IRS whistleblower statute, the SEC whistleblower award program and the False Claims Act. The nationwide fraud scheme disclosed by Chepurko involved tax fraud, securities fraud and fraud on the EPA’s renewable fuels program.

Aug. 27

Alleged Vatican Cover-up

carlo maria vigano bo 2011

President Obama greets Vatican Ambassador to the United States Carlo Maria Vigano in 2011 (White House photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Vatican ambassador says Popes Francis, Benedict knew of sexual misconduct allegations against pope benedict XVI 2010 10 17 4McCarrick for years, Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli and Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition).

A former Vatican ambassador to the United States has alleged in an 11-page letter that Pope Benedict XVI 91, and (shown at right in a 2010 photo before his 2013 resignation) and Pope Francis — among other top Catholic Church officials — had been aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former D.C. archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCar­rick, shown below at left, years before he resigned this summer.

theodore mccarrickThe letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, 77, who was recalled from his D.C. post in 2016 amid allegations that he’d become embroiled in the conservative American fight against same-sex marriage, was first reported by the National Catholic Register and LifeSite News, two conservative Catholic sites.

The accusations sent a shock wave across the reeling Roman Catholic Church, but the letter offered no proof of its claims, and Viganò on Sunday told The Washington Post that he wouldn’t comment further, beyond confirming that he was the letter’s author.

Trump's Immigrant Orphan Policy Protested 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump administration’s legacy of orphans, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition). Sunday marked one month since the passage of a deadline, set by a federal judge, for the reunification of migrant children forcibly torn from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s policy. Even as the date came and went, hundreds of those families remained sundered, in many cases with no immediate prospect of being rejoined, the children rendered effectively as orphans and wards of the U.S. government.

djt time crying child 6 18Recent court filings are replete with statistics on the categories of children — toddlers, tweens and teens — who remain separated from their parents; those numbers hardly convey the trauma visited upon them by the administration’s zero-compassion policies.

By now it is well known, but still difficult to absorb, that the U.S. government broke apart families without the slightest notion or plan for how they would be reunited. This was bureaucratic barbarism on an epic scale. And in its aftermath, there is no accountability, and scarcely a glimmer of regret, for the suffering it inflicted on human beings.

Inside the White House

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rejected plans for a White House statement praising heroism, life of McCain, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition).The president opted instead for a short tweet that mentioned Sen. John McCain’s family rather than the man himself. The move underscored their bitter relationship, people close to both men said.

U.S. Politics/Corruption

Miami Herald, Rick and Ann Scott’s financial trail leads to Cayman Islands tax haven, Steve Bousquet, Aug. 27, 2018. The portfolio of Gov. Rick Scott and first lady Ann Scott includes earnings last year of at least $2.9 million in two dozen hedge funds registered in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven for U.S. and foreign investors.

The investments had a minimum total value of $25 million and a potential value of $62 million, according to the financial disclosure statement Scott filed last month as a U.S. Senate candidate. The 125-page statement included details of Scott’s blind trust, managed by a New York trustee who’s a former business associate of the governor’s.

ny times logojared kushner head shotNew York Times, Kushner Companies and Michael Cohen Accused of Falsifying Building Permits to Push Out Tenants, Charles V. Bagli, Aug. 27, 2018. Charles Kushner, the developer whose son Jared Kushner, right, is a senior adviser to President Trump, and Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, face scrutiny in New York for claims that they falsified construction permits in an attempt to remove rent-regulated tenants from buildings scattered across the city.

On Monday, the city’s Department of Buildings fined Kushner Companies $210,000 for 42 instances in which it says the company falsified construction permits at 17 residential buildings, where many of the tenants were protected by rent regulations from steep rent increases and eviction.

Landlords are required in New York City to disclose whether tenants in their buildings are rent regulated to obtain a construction permit. This requirement is designed to safeguard rent-regulated tenants from harassment. Unscrupulous landlords sometimes push out rent-protected tenants so they can sharply increase rents on those units.

Daily Beast, ‘Unite the Right 2’ Speaker Is Disbarred Ex-Lawyer Accused of Running Foreclosure Scam, Michael Blatt, Aug. 27, 2018. One of the keynote speakers at this month’s “Unite the Right 2” rally in Washington, D.C. was a Confederate apologist named Charles Edward Lincoln III.

While he was presented as a “civil-rights activist from New Orleans,” it wasn’t mentioned that he is, in fact, a disbarred ex-lawyer who has a history of criminal convictions, including a felony conviction for using a false Social Security number, and a long list of complaints against him by clients for alleged scams.

At the far-right event, Lincoln ranted that America’s modern ills, including mass incarceration, can be traced back to the Confederacy’s defeat in the Civil War.

Florida Gamer Shooting

washington post logoWashington Post, A serious player in the high-pressure, big-money world of competitive gaming, Kyle Swenson and Antonia Noori Farzan, Aug. 27, 2018. David "Bread" Katz, 24, had a promising competitive-gaming career. But this weekend, authorities identified him as the suspected shooter who killed two people at a live-streamed Madden NFL 19 qualifying tournament in Florida before taking his own life.

Russian Sanctions

washington post logoWashington Post, Punishing Russian businesses becomes a headache at Treasury, Jeanne Whalen and John Hudson, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition). Sanctions on a Russian oligarch and his companies in April caused havoc far beyond Russia, forcing the Treasury Department to scale them back. The episode is a cautionary tale as the United States readies more sanctions against Russia, including some beginning Monday that will affect U.S. technology exports.

Culture of Corruption?

ny times logoduncan hunter oNew York Times, Hard Partying and a Corruption Scandal: Duncan Hunter’s Political Life Unravels, Tim Arango, Adam Nagourney and Jose A. Del Real, Aug. 27, 2018 (print edition). In Alpine, Calif., a suburban Southern California enclave, Duncan Hunter was a good neighbor. He’d help people do yard work, or move heavy furniture.

In Washington, Mr. Hunter, right, was a fixture on the bar scene, and spent lavishly — over $400 for 30 tequila shots at a bachelor party, and countless fancy dinners. He visited one of his favorite bars sometimes multiple times a day, piling up thousands of dollars in tabs.

Those divergent lives — between the watering holes and halls of power in Washington and the suburban tracts and chain stores of Southern California — intersected for years, prosecutors say, as Mr. Hunter and his wife funded their personal lives with campaign donations, the dimensions of which were revealed in an indictment last week.

Mr. Hunter, 41, once boasted a glittering political résumé that touched all the right notes in his conservative district: war hero, father to three young children, scion of a political dynasty in Southern California, where his father held power for almost 30 years.

U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal?

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. and Mexico Agree to Preliminary Nafta Deal, Ana Swanson, Aug. 27, 2018. The United States and Mexico have reached agreement to revise key portions of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement and a preliminary deal could be announced on Monday, a crucial step toward revamping a trade pact that has appeared on the brink of collapse during the past year of negotiations.

Reaching an agreement on how to revise some of the most contentious portions of what President Trump has long called the worst trade pact in history would give Mr. Trump a significant win in a trade war he has started with countries around the globe, including Mexico, Canada, the European Union and China.

Still, a preliminary agreement between the United States and Mexico would fall far short of actually revising Nafta. The preliminary agreement still excludes Canada, which is also a party to Nafta but has been absent from talks held in Washington in recent weeks.

Court Blocks N. Carolina Gerrymander

Roll Call, North Carolina Voters Could Cast Ballots in New Districts Come November, Simone Pathé, Aug. 27, 2018. Court ruling strikes down state’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander. A three-judge panel on Monday struck down North Carolina’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, setting up the possibility that this fall’s midterms will be held under new lines. The court ruled that the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew the map in 2016 to favor the GOP. That redraw was response to an earlier court decision that invalidated North Carolina’s congressional map as a racial gerrymander.

U.S.-Russian Forces Square Off Over Syria

SouthFront, Opinion on Syrian War: Foreign Specialists Prepare To Stage Chemical Attack In Idlib, Staff report, Aug. 27, 2018. “Foreign specialists” arrived in Syria to stage a chemical attack, which will be blamed on the Damascus government, Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said on August 25, warning that the staging of the incident may happen soon.

The Russian military pointed out that this staged attack is designed to create a pretext for new US-led missile strikes on government facilities in the war-torn country. According to Konashenkov, Washington is already preparing for this move: the US Navy’s destroyer Sullivans with 56 cruise missiles on board arrived in the Persian Gulf several days ago while a B-1B strategic bomber of the US Air Force armed with AGM-158 JASSM air-to-surface missiles was deployed to the al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

Meanwhile, the Russian Naval Task Force near Syria has been strengthened with the Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen armed with Kalibr cruise missiles and Shtil-1 surface-to-air missile systems. The task force near Syria currently consists of at least 16 warships and submarines, including three Admiral Grigorovich class frigates and three Buyan-M class corvettes all armed with Kalibr missiles.

Genocide Charges For Myanmar?

ny times logomyanmar flagNew York Times, Myanmar Generals Should Face Genocide Charges Over Rohingya, U.N. Says, Nick Cumming-Bruce, Aug. 27, 2018. Myanmar’s army commander and other top generals should face trial in an international court for genocide against Rohingya Muslims and for crimes against humanity targeting other ethnic minorities, United Nations experts said on Monday after a yearlong investigation.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief of Myanmar’s army, is one of six generals named as priority subjects for investigation and prosecution by a United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar in a report detailing military campaigns involving atrocities that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.”

The three-member panel leveled the most serious charge, genocide, over the ferocious campaign unleashed by the Buddhist-majority security forces against Rohingya Muslims a year ago. That campaign, in the state of Rakhine, sent more than 700,000 fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.

Commentary On McCain Career

Consortium News, Opinion: The Other Side of John McCain, Max Blumenthal, Aug. 27, 2018. If the paeans to McCain by diverse political climbers seems detached from reality, it’s because they reflect the elite view of U.S. military interventions as a chess game, with the millions killed by unprovoked aggression mere statistics.

Aug. 26

Political, Justice Scandals

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s wall of secrecy erodes amid growing legal challenges, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman​, Aug. 26, 2018 (print edition). President Trump (shown in a file photo) seems politically wounded as longtime aides and trusted associates cooperate with prosecutors and embarrassing revelations about his affairs and his charity trickle out, uncontained.

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort, Cohen cases reveal weaknesses in enforcement of tax and election laws, Damian Paletta, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 26, 2018 (print edition). Several decisions by policymakers and lawmakers to defang regulation and defund investigations, particularly through political pressure aimed at the Internal Revenue Service, helped the tax fraud and campaign finance violations to go unnoticed.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Will Mueller Do? The Answer Might Lie in a By-the-Book Past, Matt Apuzzo, Aug. 26, 2018 (print edition). 
Long before the convictions last week of two former members of President Trump’s inner circle, the political left’s expectations for the Russia investigation were at a fever pitch.

robert muellerThe special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown in his former post as FBI director), faces crucial decisions in the coming months: Subpoena the president? Recommend charges? Write a public report?

For insight on what he will do next, look to his four decades of law enforcement.

Democrats predicted that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, would break with a half-century of policy and prosecute a sitting president. One MSNBC panel considered how to arrest him if he refuses to leave the White House. (Answer: “At some point, he is going to have to come out.”)

Mr. Mueller, a lifelong Republican who is an unlikely hero for the anti-Trump resistance, faces a series of crucial decisions in the coming months. Will he subpoena the president? Recommend charges? Will he write a public report? Each could help sway the midterm elections and shape the future of the presidency itself.

Inside DC

Axios, Sneak Peek, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 26, 2018. Congressional Republicans are getting ready for hell. Axios has obtained a spreadsheet that's circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill — including at least one leadership office — that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House.

republican elephant logoWhy this matters: Publicly, House Republicans are putting on a brave face about the midterms. But privately, they are scrambling to prepare for the worst. This document, which catalogs requests Democrats have already made, is part of that effort. It has churned Republican stomachs. Here are some of the probes it predicts:

• President Trump’s tax returns
• Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
• Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
• The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
• James Comey's firing
• Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys...

These demands would turn the Trump White House into a 24/7 legal defense operation. The bottom line: Thanks to their control of Congress, Republicans have blocked most of the Democrats’ investigative requests. But if the House flips, the GOP loses its power to stymie.

Lawyers close to the White House tell me the Trump administration is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.

Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Fatalities Reported at Video Gaming Event in Florida, Christopher Mele, Aug. 26, 2018. The authorities in Jacksonville, Fla., said there were “multiple fatalities” in a mass shooting at a bar that was hosting a live gaming tournament. Just before the shots were heard on a live stream, a red laser dot appeared on the chest of one of the players.

washington post logoWashington Post, Shooting suspect at esports event at Florida mall killed at least 2, Kristine Phillips, Alex Horton and Abha Bhattarai​, April 26, 2018. ​At least three people are dead and 11 are injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday afternoon during a video game tournament in Florida that drew professional players from around the world.

The gunman, who police said killed himself, is among the dead. The shooting occurred at the Madden NFL 19 competition at Jacksonville Landing, a popular waterfront shopping and dining area in the heart of downtown Jacksonville. Authorities said they received a 9-1-1 call at 1:34 p.m. on Sunday alerting them to a shooting at Chicago Pizza, the mall restaurant hosting the tournament. Officers arrived two minutes later.

Commentary:

The Guardian, Opinion: How video games are fuelling the rise of the far right, Alfie Bown, March 12, 2018. Violent, isolationist and misogynist desires course through games – and push rightwing ideologies on players.

Donald Trump’s claim, in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting, that these events are the result of violent video games, resurrects old arguments about whether young people emulate the games they play. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent decision to consider video game addiction an official illness shows comparable concern. However, these responses demonstrate anxiety about the right things for the wrong reasons.

Gaming cultures are connected to violence – but should be considered in terms of the rise of far right political discourse and the prominence of “alt-right” misogyny and racism. While Trump is firmly on the right and the WHO may embody normative centrism, there is an aspect of gaming that should worry the progressive left.

The white male supremacy in gaming has been discussed in the context of the harassment campaign Gamergate and via the link between Trump and gamer message board threads on the 4chan website. Yet it’s not simply that many gamers are right wing, or that the right recruits gamers, but that the logic and pleasure of gaming itself has served and continues to serve the political right.

Culture/Entertainment

ny times logoNew York Times, Neil Simon, Broadway Master of Comedy, Is Dead at 91, Charles Isherwood, Aug. 26, 2018.  Neil Simon was one of Broadway’s most successful and bankable writers, writing such hit plays as “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple.

Cohen Attorney Backtracks On Claims

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washington post logoWashington Post, Lawyer pulls back from claims about information Cohen has on Trump’s knowledge of Russian efforts, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, April 26, 2018. Lanny Davis, shown above in a file photo, a spokesman and attorney for President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, expressed regret at not being clearer in assertions he made to reporters.

The prospect that Cohen could be a potential witness against the president in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has dominated the news, particularly since Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance crimes.

Commentary On Sen. McCain

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate candidate Kelli Ward suggests McCain timed pre-death announcement to hurt her campaign, Kristine Phillips, April 26, 2018. Kelli Ward, a U.S. Senate hopeful and onetime rival of Sen. John McCain, is facing a torrent of criticism after she appeared to suggest that his announcement Friday to halt medical treatment for his brain cancer was timed to hurt her campaign. McCain, 81, died a day after his announcement.

One of Ward’s staffers on Saturday wrote a Facebook post wondering whether the timing of the statement from McCain’s family, made on the same day that Ward’s statewide bus tour kicked off, was simply a coincidence or a tactic “to take media attention off her campaign.”

Ward did not dispute the notion and said in reply: “I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me."

McCain died just hours after Ward’s Facebook comments.

john mccain april 1 2007 reuters sergeant matthew roe

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (C) and an unidentified military escort (R) visit the Shorga marketplace and interacted with local merchants while walking the streets of Baghdad April 1, 2007 with General David Petraeus (not pictured), U.S. Commander in Iraq. (Reuters/Sergeant Matthew Roe) 

Truthout via Banderas News, The American Tragedy of John McCain, William Rivers Pitt, April 2007 (column about the then-GOP presidential candidate in 2008 republished in August 2018).

Arizona Sen. John McCain took a walk through a Baghdad market on April Fool's Day, and may well have burned his presidential campaign down to the ground in the process. That little stroll has visited upon his head a deluge of humiliation and shame vast and astonishing enough to beggar imagination, and that was before the bodies started hitting the ground.

The genesis of this catastrophe, in case you missed it, was a verbal gaffe by McCain during a widely broadcast interview last week [in 2007]. After enduring several minutes of sharp interrogation regarding his staunch support of Bush, the war and the "surge," a neuron within his logic circuits apparently misfired. He claimed, with an entirely straight face, that the streets of Baghdad are today entirely safe for an American to walk down. This whopper made even the most shamelessly craven war apologists shake their heads in public, and forced McCain to undertake a desperate face-saving lunge to recover some shred of credibility.

McCain traveled to Baghdad to prove his claim correct, and the pictures appeared shortly thereafter. In the first available frames, the senator was shown walking through a Baghdad marketplace wearing a Kevlar vest, a general on his right and a troop on his left, and a second troop three steps ahead brandishing his rifle.

On the heels of those narrow-scope photos came reports of what McCain's entourage was actually comprised of. That "safe" Baghdad market had been flooded with more than one hundred battle-ready troops and armored Humvees. Three Blackhawk helicopters and two Apache attack helicopters roared overhead, and sharpshooters were posted on the surrounding rooftops. Simply put, McCain's "safe" street was one overly loud mouse-fart away from being paved with flaming lead during every step of that little walk.

To compound the calamity, a report emerged two days later describing the abduction and slaughter of 21 Iraqis who worked in the marketplace McCain's mini-Normandy force had stormed the previous Sunday, an obvious act of retribution for his visit by a violent Baghdad militia.

Already belied by the revealed firepower he brought along, McCain's "safe" walk in Iraq led directly to yet another horrific Baghdad bloodbath. There is bad, there is awful, and then there is this thing, this quantum singularity of ignominy that bends the very light now shining upon it.

Call it farce, call it folly, condemn it for its drenching hypocrisy and the mortal consequences suffered by 21 innocent people. One must also see this, in the end, as a true American tragedy of historic proportions.

Once upon a time, John McCain was a man who commanded and deserved great respect. Beyond the awe-inspiring courage and strength that marked his Vietnam service was the integrity he displayed, for the most part, in his political life.

While his conservative views did not jibe with many, there was something about his conduct in office, his independence of thought within the rigid confines of his party, that made Americans stand up and take notice. Even the scandals involving him, most notably the embarrassing Keating Five debacle, did not permanently tarnish his image.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, In Liberal Wine Country, Turning Newspaper Readers Into Shareholders, Tim Arango, Aug. 26, 2018. A weekly newspaper publisher in Northern California is selling stock to its readers, who hope to save their paper and, some of them believe, democracy.

Last year, Rollie Atkinson, the owner and publisher of The Healdsburg Tribune and three other weeklies in Sonoma County, was staring down a grim financial reality. The business model, he said, was “failing rapidly.” He was tired of throwing his savings into the newspapers to keep them going, and weary of the “daily struggle” of staying afloat in an environment where readers have access to a torrent of information for free.

Aug. 25

Senator McCain's Death

john mccain 2009 w

ny times logoNew York Times, John McCain, War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender, Dies at 81, Robert D. McFadden, Aug. 25, 2018. A look at the formative times and turmoil that shaped a historic American figure, with Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent.

John S. McCain, the proud naval aviator who climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency, died on Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 81.

Roll Call, John McCain Has Died: Senate Hell-Raiser’s Independence Cut Both Ways, David Hawkings, Aug. 25, 2018. Iconoclasm sank his presidential run but buoyed him on the Hill. The Arizona Republican is shown in a file photo from 2009, the year following his GOP nomination for the presidency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: John McCain’s final “screw you” to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 25, 2018. John McCain passed away last night, and in a sign of how most Americans felt about him, the words “American Hero” began trending on Twitter. That placed Donald Trump in a difficult position, as he’d routinely said horrible things about McCain, particularly about his status as a war hero. Trump posted a generic condolence tweet that may or may not have been subtly backhanded, but it was McCain who managed to stick it to Trump in the end.

Senator McCain’s ultimate condemnation of Donald Trump came in two different forms. After Trump treasonously stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and sided with him over the United States Government, an ailing McCain released a statement which called it and one of the “most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory” while slamming Trump for being egotistical and “pathetic.”

But McCain’s final; proverbial “screw you” to Trump came in the form of something he set up before his death, which will now leave Trump humiliated for all to see.

bo george w bush michelle laura 5 3 11John McCain told friends months ago that he didn’t want Donald Trump at his funeral. Instead he wanted former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to attend his funeral and deliver the eulogy. McCain famously lost to Bush in the 2000 Republican primary race for President, and then lost to Obama in the 2008 general election for President. Yet McCain chose these two men – one Republican and one Democrat (shown with their wives in a 2011 White House photo) – to eulogize him.

McCain thus ensured that his funeral would be bipartisan and inclusive, making it all the more glaring that current “President” of the United States wasn’t invited.

Donald Trump is just barely hanging onto the Oval Office as his various criminal scandals close in on him by the minute. Now a deceased war hero has found a way to stick it to a guy who committed treason.

Trump CFO Joining DoJ "Flipper" Witnesses?

allen weisselberg djt carolyn kepcher

In a file photo, Donald Trump, center, is accompanied by longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and high-ranking Trump executive Carolyn Kepcher, both whom became highly visible as "Apprentice" evaluators on the hit TV reality show. Weisselberg, 71, as reported below, has become a government witness.Trump abruptly replaced his firing co-executioner Kepcher, now 49, on the show in 2006 with his daughter Ivanka and ended Kepcher's other Trump Organization employment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Organization executive granted immunity in federal probe of Cohen, Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman​, Aug. 25, 2018 (print edition). Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, was one of the executives who helped arrange $420,000 in payments to Donald Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen to help reimburse him for hush money he paid an adult-film star [Stormy Daniels].

stormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomWeisselberg was granted immunity by federal investigators in New York in exchange for his truthful testimony about his role in the payments, according to people familiar with the discussions.

allen weisselberg croppedWeisselberg, right, is the person identified in court filings as “Executive-1,” who prosecutors said helped authorize $420,000 in payments to Cohen, one person said. He testified last month before a grand jury investigating Cohen.

In addition to being the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Weisselberg is also one of two trustees of the trust that controls the president’s assets.

See related New York Times story below: Trump, Familiar With ‘Flipping’ Under Legal Pressure, Says It ‘Almost Ought to Be Illegal.

More On Trump Team Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The three illegal acts that may have helped Trump win the presidency, Philip Bump, Aug. 25, 2018. It is worth remembering that Michael Cohen’s revelation was the third allegation of an effort to surreptitiously aid Trump’s 2016 campaign that violated the law. Hush money. Hackers. Trolls.

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort’s trial in D.C. to take 3 weeks, probe Ukraine lobbyist work, Spencer S. Hsu​. Aug. 25, 2018 (print edition). A filing on Friday night is a road map of the next trial facing President Trump’s former campaign chairman, convicted Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria on eight of 18 tax- and bank-fraud charges.

The Paul Manafort trial set for September in Washington is expected to last three weeks and, on the basis of a list of 1,500 possible exhibits, will delve far more deeply into how he operated as a lobbyist and consultant than was done in his ­just-completed trial in Virginia.

The estimated trial timeline and exhibits were included in a joint filing Friday night in federal court in Washington by Manafort’s defense and prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The required filing is a road map of the next trial facing President Trump’s former campaign chairman, convicted Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria on eight of 18 tax- and bank-fraud charges after a trial that focused on Manafort’s finances.

Politico, It Would Take Exactly One Senator to Get Trump’s Taxes, George Y. Kin, Aug. 24, 2018. What does he owe to Russia? Here’s how a single Senate Republican could begin to unravel the mystery. 

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, In victory for unions, judge overturns key parts of Trump executive orders, Lisa Rein, Aug. 25, 2018. Unions representing federal workers on Saturday declared victory in what they have described as an assault by the Trump administration after a federal judge struck down key provisions of a set of executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire employees and weaken their representation.

“It’s a big win for us,” said David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees. With 750,000 members, the AFGE was the largest of about a dozen unions to sue the administration to block the new rules affecting 2.1 million civil servants.

Aug. 24

ny times logoNew York Times, Manhattan D.A. Eyes Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization, William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 24, 2018 (print edition). The Manhattan district attorney’s office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials in connection with Michael D. Cohen’s hush money payment to an adult film actress, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

cyrus vance jrA state investigation would center on how the company accounted for its reimbursement to Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 he paid to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, who has said she had an affair with President Trump, the officials said.

Both officials stressed that the office’s review of the matter is in its earliest stages and prosecutors have not yet made a decision on whether to proceed.

State charges against the company or its executives could be significant because Mr. Trump has talked about pardoning some of his current or former aides who have faced federal charges. As president, he has no power to pardon people and corporate entities convicted of state crimes.

As the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., right, considers opening an investigation, the New York State attorney general’s office has moved to open a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Cohen has violated state tax law, an inquiry that would be unrelated to the federal tax evasion charges that he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the state matter.

djt david pecker

Donald Trump and his friend David Pecker (file photo)

wsj logoWall Street Journal, David Pecker Granted Immunity in Cohen Case, Nicole Hong and Lukas Alpert, Aug. 24, 2018 (print edition). Publishing executive met with prosecutors to describe involvement of Cohen, Trump in hush-money deals to women ahead of 2016 election.

stormy daniels 2010 83 wDavid Pecker, the chief executive of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen and Donald Trump in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women (including Stormy Daniels, right) during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

In exchange for immunity, Mr. Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., has met with prosecutors and shared details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged in an effort to silence two women who alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals, some of the people said. Prosecutors have indicated that Mr. Pecker won’t be criminally charged for his participation in the deals, the people said.

Mr. Pecker has previously said he is a longtime friend of Messrs. Trump and Cohen.

Prosecutors have indicated Dylan Howard, chief content officer of American Media, also won’t be criminally charged in the Cohen investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

Opinion commentary: In New York City, Donald Trump's mentor and attorney in his rise in the constructing and gambling businesses was super-lawyer Roy Cohn, whose other clients included leaders of three of the city's five Mafia families such as John Gotti, as shown above in a Wikipedia entry on Cohn.

ny times logoNew York Times, With a Vocabulary From ‘Goodfellas,’ Trump Evokes the Wiseguys of New York, Mark Landler, Aug. 24, 2018 (print edition). As Mr. Trump faces his own legal troubles, he has taken to using a vocabulary that sounds uncannily like that of John J. Gotti and other mobsters in the waning days of organized crime.

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, “the Dapper Don” and “the Donald” vied for supremacy on the front pages of New York’s tabloids. The don, John J. Gotti, died in a federal prison in 2002, while Donald J. Trump went on to be president of the United States.

Now, as Mr. Trump faces his own mushrooming legal troubles, he has taken to using a vocabulary that sounds uncannily like that of Mr. Gotti and his fellow mobsters in the waning days of organized crime, when ambitious prosecutors like Rudolph W. Giuliani tried to turn witnesses against their bosses to win racketeering convictions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Urges Sessions to Examine Corruption on the ‘Other Side,’ Eileen Sullivan, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, Aug. 24, 2018. Undeterred by his attorney general’s pledge to keep politics out of the Justice Department, President Trump again attacked Jeff Sessions, urging him to look into several highly partisan issues.

jeff sessions ag oThe fresh jabs launched at Mr. Sessions, right, in early morning Twitter posts came after an evening of what appeared to be restraint. Mr. Trump wanted to rebut Mr. Sessions’s comments on Thursday on Twitter, but his advisers stopped him, according to people briefed on the matter.

The exchange extended the war that Mr. Trump has waged for more than a year on the Justice Department, focusing mostly on the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian election meddling.

Trump Creates Korean Diversion

washington post logonorth korea flagWashington Post, Trump calls off Pompeo’s North Korea visit, citing a lack of progress on denuclearization, John Hudson​, Aug. 24, 2018. In a surprise announcement on Twitter, President Trump called off a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday just days before the top diplomat planned to arrive in the country for the next round of high-stakes nuclear talks.

Citing a lack of “progress” on denuclearization, Trump tweeted that “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time.” The president also attributed the canceled meeting to China, which he said was not “helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were.”

More On DC Scandals

washington post logomichael cohen paul manafort nydaily news 821 2018Washington Post, Critics fear Trump’s attacks are inflicting lasting damage on the justice system, Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey and Ann E. Marimow​, Aug. 24, 2018 (print edition). President Trump took his criticism of the criminal justice system to new heights, alarming national security and law enforcement officials who fear the president is seeking to protect himself from encroaching investigations at the expense of American ­institutions.

• Trump continues public feud with Sessions, urging investigations of the ‘other side’

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Fox fallout shows why Trump’s lawyers don’t want Mueller to get an interview, James Hohmann​, Aug. 24, 2018.  Even Rudolph W. Giuliani says he disagrees with the president’s comments on “flippers.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I didn’t do it’: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter seems to shift blame to wife for campaign finance charges, John Wagner, Aug. 24, 2018. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) duncan hunter oappeared to shift blame to his wife for charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, explaining in a television interview on Thursday night that she handled the family finances.

Hunter, right, a former Marine, said that when he went to Iraq in 2003 he gave his wife, Margaret, power of attorney and that she continued to manage his money during his congressional career.

“She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure,” Hunter said during an appearance on Fox News. “But I didn’t do it,” Hunter told host Martha MacCallum. “I didn’t spend any money illegally.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Surrender Donald, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2018. Today we learned that Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for his testimony before the Michael Cohen grand jury. Cohen has ended up pleading guilty, meaning that Weisselberg won’t have to testify against Cohen at trial. But an immunity deal means that Weisselberg will have to keep cooperating with prosecutors on anything they want, which means he has to give up all of Donald Trump’s dirty financial secrets.

In other words, Trump’s whole life is over. So now what?

To be clear, everything is going to come out now. Special Counsel Robert Mueller just gained de facto access to decades worth evidence and documents and testimony about the criminal enterprise known as the Trump Organization. This helps explain why it was reported last night that the District Attorney for Manhattan is preparing criminal charges against top Trump Organization officials; if Michael Cohen’s cooperation helps make the case, then Weisselberg makes it a slam dunk.

Even though Donald Trump is still occupying the office of President of the United States, there is now nothing he can do to prevent the State of New York and the Manhattan DA from ripping apart his entire financial empire. Trump can’t stop them by firing anyone, because these people don’t answer to him, and he can’t stop it by pardoning anyone, because these are non-federal charges, which he can’t pardon.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Michael Cohen Guilty Plea Reveals Link to Qatari Royal Family, Mark Maremont and Rob Barry, Aug. 24, 2018. Trump’s former lawyer received a $100,000 brokerage fee for a Florida real-estate deal in which he represented a company owned by Sheikh Abdul Aziz

A $100,000 real-estate brokerage fee that was part of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty plea Tuesday came from representing a company owned by a member of the Qatar royal family, according to interviews and real-estate documents. Mr. Cohen admitted to failing to pay taxes on more than $4 million in income, among other felonies. That income included what prosecutors described as $100,000 in 2014 from “brokering the sale of a piece of property in a private aviation community in Ocala, Florida.”

Slate, Opinion: A Lone Holdout Juror Actually Made It More Likely That Paul Manafort Will Go to Jail Even if Trump Pardons Him, Jed Shugerman, Aug. 23, 2018. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had recently discussed with his lawyers the prospect of issuing a pardon for Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman, who was convicted earlier this week on charges of bank fraud and tax fraud, remains under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller for his work on the 2016 campaign and his connections to Russia.

In considering a pardon, Trump could be seeking to pre-empt a cooperation deal with another former top lieutenant after Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-related offenses this week and promised through an attorney to cooperate with the Mueller probe. A pardon would backfire, though, because Manafort would still face numerous state charges and his federal convictions this week would now be admissible in some of those states. Moreover, Trump would only be strengthening the criminal obstruction and the impeachment cases against him.

paul manafort mugIf Trump pardons Manafort, shown in a mug shot at left, on the charges from this month’s federal case alone, then he would still face prosecution in three very blue states (New York, Illinois, and California) and one increasingly blue-ish state (Virginia).

Those are four jury pools that would potentially be altogether worse for Manafort. If, in this month’s trial, Manafort could only persuade one juror out of 12 on about half of these charges, his chances would seem pretty low at running the table in four more trials in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and northern Virginia. And we haven’t even discussed the charges in the second federal trial next month and whatever additional state criminal liability Manafort might face that has not been charged at the federal level. And Mueller still might be strategically holding off on other charges.

It’s also important to note that the Supreme Court has taken up a case called Gamble v. United States in which it could rule on double jeopardy and federal-state dual sovereignty for next term. This case could directly impact the Trump investigation if Manafort is pardoned. There are many reasons the Senate should delay confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh. But there is no way Kavanaugh should be confirmed while he may be the deciding vote on a case directly impacting double jeopardy law and the Trump investigation. Ultimately, a Trump pardon wouldn’t benefit Manafort in any concrete sense, but it would build a stronger case for impeachment and removal. Such a pardon would only add proof of Trump’s obstruction, providing additional evidence of criminal corrupt intent. Finally, the same principle of state sovereignty to prosecute would apply to any crimes Trump himself may have committed. If Trump is foolish enough to try to pardon himself, there will be no holding back the state prosecutor.

CNN, Ex-Trump World Tower doorman releases 'catch-and-kill' contract about alleged Trump affair, Staff report, Aug. 24, 2018. A former Trump World Tower doorman who says he has knowledge of an alleged affair President Donald Trump had with an ex-housekeeper, which resulted in a child, is now able to talk about a contract he entered with American Media Inc. that had prohibited him from discussing the matter with anyone, according to his attorney.

On Friday, Marc Held -- the attorney for Dino Sajudin, the former doorman -- said his client had been released from his contract with AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, "recently" after back-and-forth discussions with AMI.

CNN has exclusively obtained a copy of the "source agreement" between Sajudin and AMI, which is owned by David Pecker. The contract appears to have been signed on Nov. 15, 2015, and states that AMI has exclusive rights to Sajudin's story but does not mention the details of the story itself beyond saying, "Source shall provide AMI with information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child..."

The contract states that "AMI will not owe Source any compensation if AMI does not publish the Exclusive..." and the top of the agreement shows that Sajudin could receive a sum of $30,000 "payable upon publication as set forth below."

But the third page of the agreement shows that about a month later, the parties signed an amendment that states that Sajudin would be paid $30,000 within five days of receiving the amendment. It says the "exclusivity period" laid out in the agreement "is extended in perpetuity and shall not expire." The amendment also establishes a $1 million payment that Sajudin would be responsible for making to AMI "in the event Source breaches this provision."

Down With Tyranny! Opinion: Will Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Tilt at Windmills Evolve to a Direct Hit? Skip Kaltenheuser, Aug. 24, 2018  Attending the National Press Club for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s impassioned speech on corruption, my mind drifted to an intoxicated phone call I made to Chris Mathews.

Mathews was phenomenally gracious, given that he didn’t know me from Adam, I woke him at midnight and my tequila-fueled exasperation fell short of diplomatic grace. “Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Mathews, but WHY the hell aren’t the Democrats hammering Reagan on corruption, all the scandals floating about his administration?” Mathews sighed and politely accepted my frustration. He explained that while corruption abounded, voters just didn’t care that much about the issue.

maria butina mug alexandriany times logoNew York Times, Maria Butina Did Not Use Sex in Covert Russian Plan, Her Lawyers Say, Michael LaForgia, Aug. 24, 2018.  Federal prosecutors who said that a Russian gun-rights activist traded sex as part of a secret influence campaign had only weak evidence to support that claim, the woman’s lawyers argued in court papers filed on Friday.

Instead, they said, the government distorted years-old text messages from the woman, Maria Butina, shown in a mug shot, and quoted others out of context to trump up salacious allegations. It was all part of a “sexist smear” effort that spread widely and prejudiced public opinion against Ms. Butina, her lawyers, Robert N. Driscoll and Alfred D. Carry, argued.

U.S. Political News

ny times logoNew York Times, John McCain Will No Longer Be Treated for Brain Cancer, Family Says, Nicholas Fandos and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 24, 2018. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been battling brain cancer for more than a year, will no longer be treated for his condition, his family announced on Friday, a sign that the Republican war hero is most likely entering his final days.

john mccain 2009 w“Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: He had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious. In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict,” the family said in a statement. “With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”

Mr. McCain (shown in a 2009 photo) had been undergoing treatment since July 2017, and has been absent from Washington since December. Mr. McCain’s family has gathered in Arizona, and people close to him say his death is imminent.

From his ranch in Arizona, Mr. McCain had managed to maintain a voice in key foreign policy and military policy debates, sharply criticizing President Trump after his summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, an old adversary of Mr. McCain. At home, he has welcomed close friends to renew ties. But after decades as a fixture in Washington and a larger-than-life character, he had largely retreated from the public eye.

#MeToo In Opera, Again

ny times logoNew York Times, Singer Accuses David Daniels, Leading Opera Star, of Rape, Michael Cooper, Aug. 22, 2018. The opera star David Daniels, one of the world’s best-known countertenors, took a leave of absence from his job as a music professor at the University of Michigan on Wednesday after a young singer accused him of drugging and raping him after a performance in Houston in 2010.

The singer, Samuel Schultz, a 32-year-old baritone, said in an interview on Wednesday that he had been drugged and raped by Mr. Daniels and Mr. Daniels’s partner, Scott Walters, who is now his husband, when Mr. Daniels was appearing at Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Schultz’s accusation was first reported by The Daily News, which quoted two people who said that Mr. Schultz had told them of the attack at the time.

JFK Assassination Cover-up

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Anti-Conspiracy Theorists in the JFK Assassination, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 24, 2018. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Kennedy assassination has been “anti-conspiracy theorists,” especially within the mainstream press. People are so scared of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist” that they will do everything they can to avoid making a careful examination of the circumstantial evidence pointing toward a national-security regime-change operation in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Consider, for example, Saundra Spencer, who I discuss both in my book The Kennedy Autopsy and in my current, ongoing video-podcast series on the JFK assassination.

Spencer was a U.S. Navy petty officer who was serving in the U.S. Navy’s photography lab in Washington D.C., in November 1963. She had a top-secret security clearance. Her job included the development of classified photographs. She worked closely with the White House. It would be virtually impossible to find a more credible and competent witness than Saundra Spencer. No one has ever questioned her veracity, integrity, and competence.

As most everyone knows, when someone in the military acquires what is known as “classified information,” he is required to keep it secret for the rest of his life, even if he leaves the military. Every member of the U.S. military — indeed, every employee of the U.S. national-security establishment — knows that if he ever breaches the secrecy principle, he is subject to severe punishment.

In the 1990s, Spencer was summoned to testify before the Assassination Records Review Board, the commission charged with enforcing the JFK Records Act, which forced the U.S. national-security establishment to disclose its records relating to the JFK assassination to the public.

Spencer related an astounding story, one that she had kept secret for some 30 years owing to its classified nature. After the ARRB released her from her obligation of secrecy, Spencer stated that on the weekend of the assassination, she had been asked to develop, on a top-secret basis, the photographs of the autopsy that the U.S. military had performed on President Kennedy’s body on the evening of the assassination.

The ARRB’s general counsel showed Spencer the official autopsy photographs, which she carefully examined. She stated directly, firmly, and unequivocally that those autopsy photographs were not the autopsy photographs that she developed on the weekend of the assassination. The ones she developed, she said, showed a large, exit-sized wound in the back of President Kennedy’s head. The official autopsy photographs showed the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact, that is, without a large exit-sized wound.

What are we to make of this? Well, according to anti-conspiracy theorists, nothing. We are not supposed to go down that road. We are not supposed to ask any questions, for to do so would mean that we have entered the dreaded realm of “conspiracy theory.”

Even the fact that the treating physicians at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital, who described the large, exit-sized wound in the lower back of the president’s head, from which, they said, was leaking cerebellum, which is the lower back part of the brain, is not supposed to cause us to wonder what is going on here. That could lead down the dangerous road to being called a “conspiracy theorist.”

reality winner mug Customwhowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Threats to Democracy, Austen Erblat, Aug. 24, 2018. Reality Winner, right, an Air Force veteran and former NSA contractor, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison Thursday after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

Whistleblower advocates condemned the sentence and its length as “shameful,” while President Donald Trump used the case to take a swipe at his political rival, Hillary Clinton, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Winner was accused of leaking to the Intercept a document about Russian military officers attempting to hack an American election software company. She initially pleaded not guilty, but changed her plea to guilty last month.

Public scrutiny and accusations that the Intercept failed to protect its source when publishing the report led the organization to do an internal review of its procedures. Soon thereafter, Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed acknowledged failures on their part.

Media News

The Wrap, Cohen, Manafort give 5 MSNBC shows largest audience ever, Tony Maglio and Reid Nakamura, Aug. 22, 2018. MSNBC shows got a big ratings boost on Tuesday from back-to-back news about former Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.

“Hardball,” “All In,” “11th Hour,” “The Beat” and “MTP Daily” all boasted their largest audiences ever on Tuesday, the day former Trump campaign chairman Manafort was convicted on eight charges relating to bank and tax fraud, and Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.Additionally, “Maddow,” “Deadline” and “The Last Word” all got their second-most total viewers of all time on Tuesday. Each of these records and near-records exclude political conventions, debates and election nights.

With 3.893 million total viewers, “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the most-watched show on all of cable on Tuesday night, followed by its lead-out “The Last Word,” which was watched by 3.339 million viewers.

Chris Hayes’ “All In” finished sixth with 2.658 million viewers. “Hardball With Chris Matthews” came in at seventh with 2.478 million, and “11th Hour With Brian Williams” finished 10th with 2.412 million.

MSNBC’s primetime line-up, composed of “All In,” “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Last Word,” finished first in both total viewers and among the key cable news demographic of adults 25-54.

Aug. 23

Trump Blasts 'Flipping'

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Familiar With ‘Flipping’ Under Legal Pressure, Says It ‘Almost Ought to Be Illegal,’ Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 24, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Trump’s comment on “flippers” illustrates why his views diverge on former associates in legal trouble: Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

paul manafort michael cohen nypostPresident Trump said he was not surprised that his onetime lawyer and fixer cooperated with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser punishment — “It’s called ‘flipping,’ and it almost ought to be illegal,” he said.

Mr. Trump said the years in prison facing his longtime attorney, Michael D. Cohen, for bank fraud were too daunting, and “in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that.”

“I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday during an interview with “Fox & Friends” that aired on Thursday.

Editor's note: The Murdoch-owned New York Post reported on its Aug. 22 front page about Trump's problems.

More Pressure On Kavanaugh

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Democrats want to know whether Kavanaugh crossed line as a source during Clinton probe, Tom Hamburger, Robert Barnes and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Aug. 22, 2018. The senators are exploring whether the Supreme Court nominee violated federal rules in his private communications with outsiders during Kenneth Starr’s wide-ranging investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

bill clinton wDuring independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s tumultuous investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, there were loud objections and even lawsuits filed over Clinton’s complaints that information meant to be kept secret was being leaked to the press by Starr’s staff.

Among those guiding the journalists and authors was a young lawyer named Brett M. Kavanaugh, now a federal judge and President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Manafort Juror Speaks Out

paula duncan

Manafort juror Paula Duncan speakers out (screen shot from Fox News interview)

fox-news-logo Small.pngFox News via MSN, Manafort juror reveals lone holdout prevented Mueller team from convicting on all counts, Shannon Bream interview, Aug. 22, 2018 (11:47 min. video). Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team was one holdout juror away from convicting Paul Manafort on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, juror Paula Duncan told Fox News in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

“It was one person who kept the verdict from being guilty on all 18 counts,” Duncan, 52, said. She added that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors often seemed bored, apparently catnapping during parts of the trial. (More from interview below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Lone holdout on Manafort jury blocked conviction on all counts, juror says, Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 23, 2018. A juror in the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman said she and most of her peers wanted to convict him on every charge.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sought lawyers’ advice weeks ago on possibility of pardoning Manafort, Giuliani says, Carol D. Leonnig, Aug. 23, 2018. The subject came up while Paul Manafort was on trial and President Trump was expressing his anger at how federal prosecutors had “beat up” and mistreated the former Trump campaign manager, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said.

Media Role In Trump Cover-Up

washington post logodavid pecker croppedWashington Post, Trump campaign, tabloid hatched plan to bury stories, prosecutors allege, Sarah Ellison, Beth Reinhard and Carol Leonnig​, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). David Pecker, right, and his company, the publisher of the National Enquirer, were more deeply involved in the effort to help the Trump campaign than was previously known, according to documents released as part of Michael Cohen’s plea.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact checker: Trump team’s narrative on hush money is not just misleading. It’s a lie, Glenn Kessler, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). This week’s guilty plea by Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, offers indisputable evidence that the president and his allies have been deliberately dishonest at every turn in statements about hush-money payments to silence two women. Here is the definitive story of a Trump lie.

Cohen's Father Cites Holocaust

The Hill, Cohen's father said he didn’t survive Holocaust to have his name 'sullied' by Trump: report, Aris Folley, Aug. 23, 2018. The decision of President Trump’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen to plead guilty to multiple fraud charges and campaign finance law violations reportedly came after a conversation he had with his father earlier this year, who said he did not survive the Holocaust to have his name "sullied" by Trump.

djt time crying child 6 18The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that a person familiar with the conversation said the exchange prompted Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for the president, to break with Trump.

Maurice Cohen, a Polish Holocaust survivor, reportedly urged his son not to protect Trump and said that he did not survive the Holocaust to have his name “sullied” by the president, a person familiar with the conversation told the Journal.

rnc logoOn June 20, Michael Cohen resigned as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeting his first public criticism of Trump, which referenced his father, the Journal notes.

“As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy [are] heart wrenching,” Michael Cohen said in a since-deleted tweet, according to the Journal.

Trump v. Sessions?

ny times logojeff sessions ag oNew York Times, Attorney General Pushes Back on Trump Attack, Saying Justice Will Stay Independent, Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 23, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, defended himself against a recent attack by President Trump, who has questioned his leadership.

“While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Mr. Sessions said in a rare public statement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed back against President Trump’s recent attack on him — namely that Mr. Sessions never took control of the Justice Department — and said on Thursday that he would not be influenced by politics in the job.

“While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Mr. Sessions said in a rare public statement.

The president has long expressed regret over naming Mr. Sessions to be attorney general because he suggested Mr. Sessions failed to protect him by recusing himself from the government’s continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any possible coordination with members of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

ben sasse o croppedRoll Call, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins Warn Trump About Firing Jeff Sessions, Niels Lesniewski, Aug 23, 2018. Republicans say confirming a replacement would be a problem. Republican senators grew increasingly vocal in their warnings to President Donald Trump if he fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions, including threats not to vote for a replacement.

Sen. Ben Sasse, shown at right, came to the floor Thursday afternoon to read into the Congressional Record the statement that Sessions, a former Alabama senator well-liked by his former colleagues, issued in response to criticism from Trump.

Sessions was highlighting the independence of the Justice Department, and Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, wanted it to be perfectly clear that he would have the attorney general’s back.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Sessions was given attorney general job only because of his loyalty during campaign, John Wagner and Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 23, 2018. In a Fox News interview, the president blasted his appointee for failing to take control of the Justice Department, which he said was dominated by Democrats.

VP Pence Implicated?

spiro agnew

Spiro Agnew, disgraced Vice President under President Richard Nixon

mike pence o SmallWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Pence tied to Manafort's offshore business cabal; Is there an Agnew future ahead for Pence? Wayne Madsen, syndicated columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Aug. 23, 2018 (subscription required; column excerpted here with permission). Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, convicted in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on eight criminal counts, including bank and tax fraud, was the chief promoter of Vice President Mike Pence while Trump was deciding on a running mate.

Pence's brother, Ed Pence, left, is a retired executive with engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc., headquartered in ed pence cumminsColumbus, Indiana.

During Ed Pence's 36 years with the firm, he was promoted to vice president in charge of strategic initiatives.... It is noteworthy that one of the illegal activities for which the Russian mafia is particularly noted is black marketing stolen antiquities, especially from the Middle East....See also WMR, April 16, 2018 -- Pence's own "Eurasian mob" problem.

DCTribune, Vice President Pence Now Being Investigated For Campaign Fraud, His Ties To Russia And Manafort, Staff report, If Pence is eliminated from the line of succession, the Trump legacy will be a blank slate.

More On Trump Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Fearing More Trump Scandals, G.O.P. Urges Incumbents to Address Misdeeds, Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). Senior Republican Party leaders began urging their most imperiled incumbents on Wednesday to speak out about the wrongdoing surrounding President Trump, with Representative Tom Cole, a former House Republican campaign chairman, warning, “Where there’s smoke, and there’s a lot of smoke, there may well be fire.”

Democrats face their own pressure to shed their cautious midterm strategy and hammer the opposition for fostering what Democratic leaders are labeling “a culture of corruption” that starts at Mr. Trump and cascades through two indicted House Republicans to a series of smaller scandals breaking out in the party’s backbenches.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House grapples with Cohen, Manafort convictions, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). Inside President Trump’s orbit, there is a debate: Some confidants see this week — in which two of his former aides were convicted in federal courts — as an unsettling inflection point. Others just see yet another round of problems that are not a danger to Trump.

#MeToo Scandals

washington post logourban meyer 2017Washington Post, Ohio State suspends Urban Meyer for three games over handling of domestic abuse claims, Will Hobson and Chuck Culpepper, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). The football coach (shown in a 2017 file photo) has been on administrative leave since Aug. 1, pending an investigation into what he knew about allegations of domestic abuse concerning a former assistant. Ohio State football Coach Urban Meyer will be suspended without pay for the first three games of the upcoming season because of concerns over his handling of domestic violence allegations lodged against a longtime assistant and family friend, the school announced Wednesday night.

ohio state buckeyes logoA university investigation found that Meyer and Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith failed to inform the school’s compliance department about accusations made against former assistant coach Zach Smith in 2015 and instead awaited the conclusion of a law enforcement investigation that ultimately produced no criminal charges. The university also suspended Gene Smith for two weeks.

The school’s investigation — led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — also concluded that while Meyer didn’t cover up wrongdoing by his assistant, he didn’t act forcefully enough in the face of repeated signs of misconduct by the former receivers coach, which included a 2014 incident in which he took high school coaches to a strip club in Miami while on a recruiting trip representing the school.

paris dennard

Paris Dennard, frequent CNN commentator and columnist for The Hill backing conservative views (screen shot)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump called this White House defender ‘wonderful.’ He was fired from his previous job for alleged sexual harassment, Aaron C. Davis, Aug. 23, 2018 (print edition). A conservative commentator who was lauded by President Trump this week as “wonderful” and who has argued that past sexual indiscretions should have no bearing on Trump’s presidency was fired from Arizona State University four years ago for making sexually explicit comments and gestures toward women, according to documents and a university official.

An internal investigation by the university concluded that Paris Dennard, a surrogate during the campaign and now a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, told a recent college graduate who worked for him that he wanted to have sex with her. He “pretended to unzip his pants in her presence, tried to get her to sit on his lap, and made masturbatory gestures,” according to a university report obtained by The Washington Post.

According to the 2014 report, Dennard did not dispute those claims but said he committed the acts jokingly. The investigation began after the woman and a second female employee told superiors Dennard’s actions went too far and had made them uncomfortable.

cnn logoDaily Beast, CNN Suspends Trump-Defending Pundit Paris Dennard After Sexual Harassment Claims, Matt Wilstein, Aug. 22, 2018. Less than two hours after The Washington Post published its damning exposé about Paris Dennard, a prominent cable news defender of President Donald Trump, CNN announced that it was suspending the pundit “effective immediately.”

“We are aware of reports of accusations against Paris Dennard,” a spokesperson for CNN said Wednesday evening. “We are suspending Paris, effective immediately, while we look into the allegations.”

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Arming teachers with federal education money? Are they even thinking? Editorial Board, Aug. 23, 2018. How many public school teachers in the United States end up digging into their own pockets to pay for pencils, notebooks and other classroom supplies? Ninety-four percent of them, according to a survey published in May by the Education Department.

betsy devos oNow that same department has a solution: Under the leadership — and we use that term guardedly — of Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, the department is actually thinking — yes, we use that term guardedly as well — of letting states use federal funds to buy guns for educators.

Under consideration is a plan to allow states to tap into a federal fund for education reform and student improvement to purchase firearms and train school personnel in their use. Such a move, as the New York Times reported in disclosing the department’s internal discussions, would appear to be an unprecedented break with federal policy not to pay to outfit schools with firearms.

In fact, the school safety bill passed in March by Congress expressly prohibited using any of its money for weapons, and guidance for “school preparedness” grants awarded by the Department of Homeland Security also disallows spending on arms and ammunition. But the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, the program being eyed by education officials, includes no such prohibitions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Majority-black Georgia county fires consultant who proposed closing two-thirds of its polling places, Vanessa Williams, Aug. 23, 2018.  The move comes ahead of a scheduled Friday vote on the plan — a meeting that activists plan to pack, saying they remain wary of the Board of Elections for taking the proposal seriously in the first place.

mitch mcconnell2Roll Call, Senate GOP Leaders Double Down on Working Through Labor Day, Niels Lesniewski, Aug. 23, 2018. Despite rumors of an early exit for the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, said the chamber wouldn’t be cutting short the August session unless all 17 of the president’s nominations on which he sought to cut off debate Wednesday are confirmed.

“None are particularly controversial. All are qualified. No more obstruction, no more delays — it’s time to confirm them all,” the Kentucky Republican said. “And the Senate will continue to work right through August until every single one of them is confirmed.”

His chief lieutenant, Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, reiterated that the chamber was here to process the president’s nominees.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump cited false claims of widespread attacks on white farmers in South Africa, Kimon de Greef and Palko Karasz, Aug. 23, 2018. President Trump waded into South Africa’s proposal to seize land from white farmers, saying in a post on Twitter late Wednesday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” the “the large scale killing of farmers” — a claim disputed by official figures and the country’s biggest farmer’s group.

south africa flag after 1994Mr. Trump’s comment that the “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers” came after the Fox News host Tucker Carlson presented a late-night program on South Africa, including land seizures and homicides, and described President Cyril Ramaphosa as “a racist.”

The tweet gives prominence to a false narrative pushed by some right-wing groups in South Africa that there have been numerous seizures of white-owned land and widespread killings of white farmers. Some of those groups have brought their claims to the United States on lobbying trips.

omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverMSN, Omarosa Manigault Newman's 'Unhinged' Stands Alone at the Top of the New York Times Best Seller List, Don Reisinger, Omarosa Manigault Newman has taken the fight to President Donald Trump. And it’s paid off.

Her new book, Unhinged, has climbed to the top of The New York Times Best Seller List. The book, which details her time with Trump and takes an inside look at the White House, is the top hardcover nonfiction book, topping Gregg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax. Jeanine Pirro’s Liars, Leakers and Liberals is the third-most-popular hardcover nonfiction, according to the Times. Unhinged is also at the top of the Times‘ combined print and e-book nonfiction list.

Unhinged is performing similarly well at Amazon, where it ranks 27th in the online retailer’s best seller list. In Apple’s iBooks list, which examines the top e-books available to iPhones and iPads, Unhinged was only able to capture the 69th spot.

cbs news logoCBS News via MSN, "Deeply disturbing": Citadel Military College officer charged with sexual assault, Staff report, An officer responsible for training cadets at The Citadel military college is under arrest, charged with sexually assaulting a student.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Boes appeared in front of a South Carolina judge Wednesday after turning himself in to police. A 20-year-old male cadet accuses Boes of assaulting him multiple times.

In one instance, the cadet claims Boes performed sex acts on him after supplying him with alcohol and unidentified white pills at Boes' on-campus residence.

Crime and Courts

ap logoAssociated Press via CBS, Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty to leaking secret U.S. report, gets 63-month sentence, Aug. 23, 2018. A former government contractor who pleaded guilty to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization was sentenced to more than five years Thursday as part of a deal with prosecutors, who called it the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.

reality winner mug CustomReality Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information.

The former Air Force translator, shown at right, in a mug shot, worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency's office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet.

In court Thursday, Winner apologized and acknowledged that what she did was wrong.

Authorities never identified the news organization. But the Justice Department announced Winner's June 2017 arrest the same day The Intercept reported on a secret NSA document. It detailed Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner had leaked.

U.S. intelligence agencies later confirmed Russian meddling.

The judge's sentence was in line with a plea agreement between Winner's defense team and prosecutors, who recommended she serve five years and three months behind bars. Prosecutors said in a court filing that punishment would amount to "the longest sentence served by a federal defendant for an unauthorized disclosure to the media."

Among other leak cases cited by prosecutors in court documents, the stiffest prior sentence was three years and seven months in prison given to former FBI explosives expert Donald Sachtleben. Secret information he leaked included intelligence he gave to The Associated Press for a story about a U.S. operation in Yemen in 2012.

Trump Team Bolsters Pro-Israel Advocacy

washington post logo

israel flagTimes of Israel, Trump names Jewish security expert to senior intelligence post, Staff report, Aug. 23, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump chose as the deputy chairwoman of the intelligence advisory board a Jewish national security expert who is well known in the pro-Israel national security community.

Samantha Ravich was named to the board, which helps shape intelligence policy, on Tuesday. Ravich, a former deputy national security adviser to vice president Dick Cheney, is a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an influential hawkish pro-Israel think tank. She is also a senior adviser to the Chertoff Group, founded by Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary in the George W. Bush administration, and has worked with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. One of her specialties is combating extremists.

Aug. 22

Trump Allies Guilty

paul manafort michael cohen nypost

The New York Post and New York Daily News front page stories are displayed above and at right.

washington post logomichael cohen paul manafort nydaily news 821 2018Washington Post, Citing Cohen plea, Senate Democrats seek delay in Kavanaugh hearings, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis, Aug. 22, 2018. Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for delaying confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in the wake of a guilty plea by Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, on campaign-finance counts that involve the president.

Democrats, who have been seeking leverage to slow down Kavanaugh’s consideration, argued that a new justice could be forced to decide questions directly relating to Trump, including whether he must comply with a subpoena from prosecutors and whether he can be indicted while in office.

More On Manafort Jury

fox-news-logo Small.pngFox News via MSN, Manafort juror reveals lone holdout prevented Mueller team from convicting on all counts, Shannon Bream interview, Aug. 22, 2018 (11:47 min. video) (Continued from above). Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team was one holdout juror away from convicting Paul Manafort on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, juror Paula Duncan told Fox News in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

The identities of the jurors have been closely held, kept under seal by Judge T.S. Ellis III at Tuesday's conclusion of the high-profile trial. But Duncan gave a behind-the-scenes account to Fox News on Wednesday, after the jury returned a guilty verdict against the former Trump campaign chairman on eight financial crime counts and deadlocked on 10 others.

Duncan described herself as an avid supporter of President Trump, but said she was moved by four full boxes of exhibits provided by Mueller’s team – though she was skeptical about prosecutors' motives in the financial crimes case.

“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,” Duncan said of the special counsel’s case, which she separately described as a “witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion,” borrowing a phrase Trump has used in tweets more than 100 times.

“Something that went through my mind is, this should have been a tax audit,” Duncan said, sympathizing with the foundation of the Manafort defense team’s argument.

She described a tense and emotional four days of deliberations, which ultimately left one juror holding out. Behind closed doors, tempers flared at times, even though jurors never explicitly discussed Manafort’s close ties to Trump.

republican elephant logo“It was a very emotionally charged jury room – there were some tears,” Duncan said about deliberations with a group of Virginians she didn’t feel included many “fellow Republicans.”

A political allegiance to the president also raised conflicted feelings in Duncan, but she said it ultimately didn’t change her decision about the former Trump campaign chairman.

“Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me, I wanted him to be innocent, I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t,” Duncan said. “That’s the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did.”

Duncan, a Missouri native and mother of two, showed Fox News her two notebooks with her juror number #0302 on the covers.

In the interview, Duncan also described how the special counsel’s prosecutors apparently had a hard time keeping their eyes open.“A lot of times they looked bored, and other times they catnapped – at least two of them did,” Duncan said. “They seemed very relaxed, feet up on the table bars and they showed a little bit of almost disinterest to me, at times.”

The jury box was situated in a corner of the courtroom that gave them an unobstructed head-on view of the prosecutors and defense, while members of the media and the public viewed both parties from behind.

Judge Ellis told jurors, including Duncan, that their names would remain sealed after the trial’s conclusion, because of dangerous threats he received during the proceedings.

But the verdict gave Duncan a license to share her story without fear. “Had the verdict gone any other way, I might have been,” Duncan said.

Her account of the deliberations is no longer a secret. And neither is the pro-Trump apparel she kept for a long drive to the federal courthouse in Alexandria every day.

“Every day when I drove, I had my Make America Great Again hat in the backseat,” said Duncan, who said she plans to vote for Trump again in 2020. “Just as a reminder.”

Trump Lawyer's Guilty Plea

Palmer Report, Analysis: The head of the National Enquirer has sold out Donald Trump to prosecutors, Bill Palmer, Aug. 22, 2018. With all the chaos yesterday surrounding Michael Cohen’s plea deal and his decision to name Donald Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in his crimes, one of the overlooked aspects was that by default, Cohen was also accusing National Enquirer boss David Pecker of having been a part of that felony conspiracy. So why wasn’t Pecker in court getting busted yesterday? Now we have our answer: he sold Trump and Cohen to the Feds.

david pecker croppedIt’s been long established that the National Enquirer was coordinating its largely fictional editorial message with the Donald Trump campaign through Michael Cohen, and even going so far as to get Team Trump’s approval on the cover layout of each issue before going to print. Earlier this year we learned that during the election, Pecker, shown at right, and the Enquirer bought the exclusive rights to Karen McDougal’s story about her affair with Trump, for the devious purpose of never running it and making sure no one else could run it.

The Wall Street Journal now says that Pecker “provided prosecutors with details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged with women who alleged sexual encounters with President Trump, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals.”

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Nicole Hong and joe Palazzolo, Aug. 22, 2018. Prosecutors had reams of evidence and a long list of counts, which also could have included the lawyer’s wife. Michael Cohen had many reasons to play ball last weekend when his legal team sat down to talk to federal prosecutors.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office had testimony from Mr. Cohen’s accountant and business partners, along with bank records, tax filings and loan applications that implicated not only Mr. Cohen in potential criminal activity, but also his wife, who filed taxes jointly with her husband.

wsj logoPresident Donald Trump officialWall Streeet Journal, How Dollars Flowed From Trump Organization to Michael Cohen, Joel Eastwood, Aug. 22, 2018. Cohen told a judge he made payments to two women ‘for the purpose of influencing the election’ and acted at the direction of Donald Trump.

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations related to two payments made in the final months before the 2016 election to women who alleged having had sexual relations with Donald Trump.

Politico, ‘He’s Unraveling’: Why Cohen’s Betrayal Terrifies Trump, Michael Kruse, Aug. 22, 2018. Perhaps for the first time, an insider has bitten back — hard. For 16 or so hours after Tuesday’s double-barreled bombshell news, President Trump couldn’t even publicly say Michael Cohen’s name. That was the first signal he had been wounded by his former fixer’s guilty plea.

He said he felt badly for Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager who had just been convicted of bank and tax fraud. But he said nothing at first about Cohen’s admission in open court that he had tried to influence the 2016 election by paying off two women — and that he had done so at Trump’s direction.

Trump insisted the Manafort case had “nothing to do with Russian collusion,” but Cohen’s damning statement couldn’t be so easily swatted aside. Because Cohen’s actions have everything to do with Trump.

michael cohen nytimes twitter 8 21 2017

New York Times, Pleading Guilty, Cohen Implicates President; In Manafort Trial, A Conviction On Eight Counts

ny times logoNew York Times, Cohen: Tump Asked for Hush Payments to Women, Cohen Says, William K. Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and Jim Rutenberg, Aug. 22, 2018 (print edition). Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer (shown above in a file photo in front of Trump Tower), made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that he had arranged payments to two women at Mr. Trump’s behest to secure their silence about affairs they said they had with him.

djt Karen McDougal Donald Trump youtubeNote: Other information in the case strongly suggested that the women were former Playmate Karen McDougal, left, and porn star Stormy Daniels, below at right,, each of whom has claimed to have received payoffs from Trump via intermedias to keep quiet about their affairs with him.

Mr. Cohen acknowledged the illegal payments while pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges. He told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments to the women were “at the direction of the candidate,” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

djt stormy daniels screengrabMr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, bringing to a close a monthslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic film actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to rnc logosecure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

[Read more about Mr. Cohen’s appearance in court and his admission that he paid Stormy Daniels, shown in a file photo, “at the direction” of President Trump. Mr. Cohen was a deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee.]

washington post logoWashington Post, Convictions of former associates ramp up pressure on Trump, Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, Philip Bump and Renae Merle, Aug. 22, 2018 (print edition). Former ‘fixer’ takes plea deal; ex-Trump campaign chairman found guilty of fraud. The dramatic collision of the investigations into Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort came as the legal and political pressure intensified on President Trump.

michael cohen 7 14 2015 cnn customNational Public Radio (Morning Edition), Michael Cohen Will Not Accept Pardon From ‘Criminal’ Trump, Says Lawyer, Colin Dwyer and Ryan Lucas, Aug. 22, 2018. Michael Cohen, right, will “never accept” a pardon from President Trump, his lawyer has said. Lanny Davis, who attacked Trump as a “criminal” during an interview on NPR, said his client would “under no circumstances” accept a presidential pardon due to his low regard for his former employer.

“I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man who he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the Oval Office,” said Davis. “He has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump, who used the pardon power in a way that no president in American history has ever used a pardon—to relieve people of guilt who committed crimes who are political cronies of his.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to an array of criminal charges Tuesday, but also implicated Trump in a federal crime. Davis had strong words for the president, saying in no uncertain terms: “The president of the United States is a criminal. He has not pled guilty to a crime but his own lawyers have described him directing somebody to do something that is a criminal act.”

Related story:, Cohen doesn’t want to be ‘dirtied’ by a Trump pardon, lawyer says.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company approved $420,000 in payments to Cohen, relying on ‘sham’ invoices, prosecutors say, Carol D. Leonnig and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 22, 2018 (print edition). Documents released as part of Michael Cohen’s plea deal reveal new details about the financial arrangements behind efforts to silence women in the 2016 campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Praises Manafort for Refusing to ‘Break,’ Unlike Cohen, Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 22, 2018. In the president’s view, his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is “brave,” and Mr. Cohen is a bad lawyer.

President Trump on Wednesday praised his former campaign chairman who was just convicted of defrauding the federal government and accused his longtime personal attorney of breaking under legal pressure.

ny times logoNew York Times, All the President’s Crooks, Editorial board, Aug. 21, 2018. One of them, Mr. Trump’s own lawyer, has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony.

On Tuesday afternoon, the American public was treated to an astonishing split-screen moment involving two of those people, as Mr. Trump’s former campaign chief was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia of multiple crimes carrying years in prison at the same time that his longtime personal lawyer pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to his own lengthy trail of criminality, and confessed that he had committed at least some of the crimes “at the direction of” Mr. Trump himself.

Let that sink in: Mr. Trump’s own lawyer has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony.

Only a complete fantasist — that is, only President Trump and his cult — could continue to claim that this investigation of foreign subversion of an American election, which has already yielded dozens of other indictments and several guilty pleas, is a “hoax” or “scam” or “rigged witch hunt.”

Law and Justice

david cay johnston headshotDC Report, New York Prosecutors Can Now Go After Trump, David Cay Johnston, right, Aug. 22, 2018. The guilty plea by Michael Cohen gives New York state and local prosecutors ample grounds to investigate Donald Trump. They should just in case the special prosecutor's federal inquiry is shut down, our David Cay Johnston reports. It's an important story you won't read anywhere else about the duty of Cy Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, and Barbara Underwood, the state attorney general, to investigate.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, In Trump’s right-wing media universe, it was a day like any other, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 22, 2018. It’s Tuesday afternoon. Imagine, for a moment, that President Trump logs on to Twitter. But his social media feed hardly records the magnitude of the developments.

Instead, a link from Sean Hannity of Fox News appears, announcing the intention of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, to enter a guilty plea but omitting the fact that Cohen’s admission implicates the president. A minute later, another link from Hannity comes through, this one about a former congressional IT staffer targeted by conspiracy theories cooked up by right-wing media and advanced by the president.

Trump’s carefully curated feed is a reflection of the ideological chasm that’s dividing the media and splintering society. Tuesday offered vivid evidence of the way in which right-wing media insulates Trump, and his most devoted supporters, from blunt assessments of his administration.

Roll Call, Democrats Pick Independent to Take On House Dean Don Young in Alaska, Bridget Bowman, Aug. 22, 2018. Young is the most senior member of the House.

Independent Alyse Galvin won the Democratic primary to take on longtime Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young.

Galvin won 54 percent of the vote in the four-way Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press. Young also easily won his primary with 70 percent of the vote. Young, who was first elected in 1973, is a Democratic target this cycle. But winning statewide could be a challenge for Galvin given Young’s name ID and the Republican slant of the state.

Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

SCOTUSblog, Wednesday round-up, Edith Roberts, Aug. 22, 2018.  For The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck and Gabriel Pogrund report that “[a] Republican senator whose vote could ensure the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh” — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – “offered an upbeat assessment of their meeting Tuesday, highlighting the judge’s statement that the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is ‘settled law.’”

Additional coverage comes from Scott Detrow at NPR , Natalie Andrews and Byron Tau for The Wall Street Journal, Sheryl Gay Stolberg for The New York Times, and the Associated Press. At The Hill, Tal Axelrod reports that “[a] Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday shows a plurality of Maine voters want … Collins … to reject Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and many will be less likely to support her for reelection if she votes to confirm him.”

Megan Keller reports at The Hill that “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Tuesday said that he thinks a ‘smelly special interest network’ of dark money was involved in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination process.”

In an op-ed for The Hill, Steven Calabresi refutes “criticism of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court [charging] that his references to constitutional originalism suggest he would reach a series of bad results in certain cases.”

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern suggests that “[a]side from the looming election,” “there is one clear reason” why the Republicans are “so eager to push through Kavanaugh’s nomination before the documents [from the nominee’s days in the White House counsel’s office] are released”: “The Supreme Court has stacked its October docket with major cases that will require Kavanaugh’s vote for a conservative victory.”

Looking Back In History

jfk pt 109 crew 1943 jfk library

Lt. John F. Kennedy, right, with his World War II crew on the PT109 before destruction of their boat and a dramatic rescue (1943 photo from the JKF Library)

whowhatwhy logoruss bakerWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: JFK’s War Heroism Speaks Louder Than Rhetoric of War-Dodging Chicken Hawks, Russ Baker, right, Aug. 22, 2018. Talking tough about military action and being tough are not one and the same. That’s worth remembering in the Trump era, when potential conflicts always seem just a tweet away. While many politicians, including President Donald Trump, have been quick to threaten military action, few have seen the horrors of war up close.

One reminder that war heroes do not necessarily become hawks — and vice versa — comes this month: the 75th anniversary of the day in 1943 when future president John F. Kennedy’s PT boat sank after being sheared in half by a Japanese destroyer off the Solomon Islands.

Kennedy managed to swim in the dark, for five hours, in treacherous currents — all while towing an injured mate. His teeth were clenched to the strap of a life jacket that held the man. (Go here to read the whole riveting story). Kennedy was later credited with saving members of the crew, and received both the Navy Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart for his heroics.

Kennedy’s war experience first became national news when, in 1944, both the New Yorker and Reader’s Digest published his story of survival during war on the high seas. Later, it served as a focal point of his candidacy in his first run at public office — in the 1946 Massachusetts congressional elections. Kennedy acknowledged the importance of his “war hero” status himself, later commenting, “I was elected to the House right after the war because I was the only veteran in the race.”

Less Guns, Less Crime

john donohueStanford Magazine via Medium, John Donohue Isn’t Afraid to Make You Mad, Jennie Dusheck, Aug. 22, 2018. The law professor shines an empirical light on abortion, crime and guns.

Let me show you a picture,’ says law professor John Donohue, right,. He jumps to his feet, comes round his desk and plops down a graph. He’s explaining a statistical technique he uses to analyze the relationship between violent crime and laws that allow more people to carry guns in public. His work shows that when more people carry guns, violent crime increases.

Donohue’s goal is to influence how laws are made, using empirical studies of how things work in the real world. “I think of myself as somebody who is just trying to figure out what the impact of laws and legal change is, so we are in a better position to know if we want to change the law or policy,” he says.

Aug. 21

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Michael Avenatti: Chances of deposing Trump just went 'through the roof' [on civil case by Stormy Daniels], Nicole Wallace, Aug. 21, 2018( 3:20 min. video). Stormy Daniels' attorney reacts to the details of Michael Cohen's plea agreement, including one guilt plea that appears to implicate Donald Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Found Guilty of 8 Fraud Charges, Sharon LaFraniere, Aug. 21, 2018. The ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort was convicted of eight counts, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the other 10.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted on Tuesday in his financial fraud trial, bringing a dramatic end to a politically charged case that riveted the capital.

The verdict was read out in United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., only minutes after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violating campaign finance law and other charges.

Mr. Manafort’s trial did not touch directly on Mr. Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election or on whether Mr. Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation. But it was the first test of the special counsel’s ability to prosecute a case in a federal courtroom amid intense criticism from the president and his allies that the inquiry is a biased and unjustified witch hunt.

paul manafort mugThe verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose prosecutors built a case that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain $20 million in loans.

Mr. Manafort, shown at left in a jail mugshot, was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.

Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort, said his client was “evaluating all of his options at this point.”

Politico, Mueller wins more than a conviction in Manafort case, Darren Samuelson and Josh Gerstein, Aug. 21, 2018. By convincing a jury that he has uncovered criminal behavior, the special counsel has likely insulated his larger probe from political threats.

Special counsel Robert Mueller may have won only a partial courtroom victory against Paul Manafort, but Tuesday’s guilty verdicts against the former Trump campaign chief strengthen Mueller's hand in his wider probe of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Blasted by Trump and his allies as a biased and out-of-control prosecutor, Mueller — through his deputies who argued the case in court — has convinced an Alexandria, Virginia, jury that Manafort is guilty of eight out of 18 federal charges of bank and tax fraud. Manafort faces a maximum of 80 years in jail.

While some pro-Trump conservatives suggested Tuesday that Mueller had won a Pyrrhic victory because jurors deadlocked on a majority of the counts against Manafort, many legal experts called the outcome a clear success that will reassure Mueller’s defenders.

“This is unquestionably a win for the special counsel,” said Timothy Belevetz, a former assistant U.S. attorney from the Eastern District of Virginia. “It strengthens the special counsel’s mandate by demonstrating the office is productive and is achieving results.”

Even a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team conceded that the eight guilty verdicts were a victory for Mueller. “I don’t think it’s ever a black eye to a prosecutor when they get eight guilty verdicts,” said Mark Corallo, who also served as a Justice Department spokesman under President George W. Bush. “That’s a very serious conviction. There’s no defeat to a prosecutor when they get eight out of 10, 15 or 20 charges.”

More GOP Scandal?

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Duncan Hunter, wife charged with spending campaign money on personal expenses, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 21, duncan hunter o2018. The Justice Department on Tuesday charged a Republican Congressman, right, and his wife with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, theater tickets and other personal expenses.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (Calif.) and his wife, Margaret, were charged in a 48-page indictment that details how they allegedly used campaign money to live beyond their means, funding trips to Italy, Hawaii and other places, as well as school tuition, dental work and theater tickets. The Justice Department said in a news release that the couple also allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on more modest items, such as golf outings, video games and even home utilities.

republican elephant logoThe Justice Department alleged the couple falsely described the purchases in FEC filings as “campaign travel,” “dinner with volunteers/contributors,” or by using other seemingly innocent monikers. They described the payment of their family dental bills as a charitable contribution to “Smiles For Life,” and tickets to see “Riverdance” at the San Diego Civic Theater as “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising.”

“Elected representatives should jealously guard the public’s trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in a statement. “Today’s indictment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Hunter, 41, who represents an area near San Diego, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine. He is running for reelection in November.

Roll Call, Duncan Hunter in Indictment: ‘Tell the Navy to Go F*** Themselves,’ Katherine Tully-McManus, Aug 21, 2018. Prosecutors allege California Republican also falsely claimed expenditures for ‘wounded warriors.’

duncan hunter oA federal indictment alleges that House Armed Services member Duncan Hunter was not happy when he didn’t get a tour of a military base in Italy and had this to say: “Tell the Navy to go f--- themselves.”

Prosecutors also accused the California Republican of falsely claiming that personal expenditures were for “wounded warriors.”

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii.

Hunter tried to justify using campaign funds to pay for a family trip to Italy in November 2015 by visiting a Navy installation but was told that only a particular date was available, the indictment alleges. That’s when he supposedly made the offensive comment to his chief of staff.

To conceal the use of campaign funds to pay for the Italy trip, Hunter’s wife, Margaret, told his campaign treasurer that the charges were mostly “military/defense” related.

However, she emailed a friend that “Italy was amazing .. Truly our best family trip so far. Like that saying ‘if traveling was free you’d never see me again’!”

chris matthews omarosa others 8 21 2017.jp

Palmer Report, Analysis: Omarosa releases video recording and blows up Donald Trump’s defense, Bill Palmer, Aug. 21, 2018. Trump is having his worst day ever, by far. So could it get any worse? Sure, because it turns out Omarosa was booked for MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight (as shown above), and she brought a video recording with her which just happened to conveniently blow up Trump’s defense.

It turns out Omarosa’s video wasn’t of Donald Trump, it didn’t incriminate anyone, and it wasn’t even secretly recorded. All it did was show Michael Cohen getting onto Trump’s plane during the campaign and walking around like he owned the place. But this video demonstrated that Cohen was indeed involved with the campaign, and as Omarosa went on to explain, the trip depicted in the video had been put together entirely by Cohen. So why is so important?

Even though Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen to pay off two women in violation of federal campaign law, Cohen was never officially a campaign official. Trump has already argued to an extent earlier this year, and will certainly try to argue more loudly now, that he can’t have been in violation of campaign law because Cohen wasn’t with the campaign. This video helps demonstrate otherwise, thus weakening Trump’s argument in the court of public opinion.

Breitbart, Omarosa: 'This Is the Beginning of the End for Donald Trump,'  Pam Key, Aug. 22, 2018. Omarosa: 'This Is the Beginning of the End for Donald Trump'

washington post logolarry kudlow cpac 2016 gage skidmore CustomWashington Post, Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted publisher of white nationalists at his home, Robert Costa, Aug. 21, 2018. Peter Brimelow, who has promoted white nationalists on his website, was a recent guest at a birthday bash for President Trump’s top economic adviser.

Kudlow, shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore, expressed regret after learning of Brimelow's views: “If I had known this, we would never have invited him.”

Brimelow attended the gathering, a birthday bash for Kudlow, one day after a White House speechwriter was dismissed in the wake of revelations that he had spoken alongside Brimelow on a 2016 panel.

Brimelow, 70, was once a well-connected figure in mainstream conservative circles, writing for Dow Jones and National Review. But over the past two decades, he has become a zealous promoter of white-identity politics on Vdare.com, the anti-immigration website that he founded in 1999.

U.S. Security Officials React To Trump

john brennan souza pogo graphic

Former CIA Director John Brennan. (Photo: White House / Pete Souza; Illustration by POGO)

washington post logoWashington Post, Almost 250 officials have spoken out against Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance. Here’s a list, Youjin Shin, Aug. 21, 2018. A bipartisan group of former intelligence officials has voiced support for former CIA director John Brennan after President Trump revoked his security clearance. Brennan has been a vocal critic of Trump.

cia logoOn Aug. 15, President Trump revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. Brennan led the CIA during most of President Barack Obama’s second term and had become a vocal Trump critic.

A bipartisan group of more than a dozen former intelligence directors, plus retired Adm. William H. McRaven, spoke out against the president’s move. On Aug. 17, they were joined by another 60 officials, and over 170 added their names on Aug. 20. Here’s an non-exhaustive list of major figures who have voiced their support for Brennan.

bo head shot wh

Axios, Go deeper: Trump denies considering blocking Obama from intel briefings, Haley Britzky, Aug. 21, 2018. President Trump denied on Tuesday a New Yorker report about his consideration of blocking former President Barack Obama from intelligence briefings.

new yorker logoThe big picture: The New Yorker's Adam Entous reported that the "extraordinary step" of booting Obama (shown above in a White House file photo) from intelligence briefings had been suggested to Trump, but that he hadn't taken it.

What Trump said: "Fake News, of which there is soooo much (this time the very tired New Yorker) falsely reported that I was going to take the extraordinary step of denying Intelligence Briefings to President Obama. Never discussed or thought of!"

What the New Yorker reported: Adam Entous wrote that some of Trump's advisers suggested that he "take the extraordinary step of denying Obama himself access to intelligence briefings." But, per Entous, Trump decided against it at the recommendation of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Russian Election Threats?

gru logo Custom 2

Above, the logo of the Russian intelligence service G.R.U.

ny times logovladimir putin o wNew York Times, Russian Hackers Now Targeting Conservative Think Tanks, David E. Sanger and Sheera Frenkel, Aug. 21, 2018. The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative U.S. think tanks that have broken with President Trump, a report by Microsoft found. The shift underscores the agency’s goals of disrupting any institutions that challenge Moscow and President Vladimir V. Putin, right, of Russia.

In a report scheduled for release on Tuesday, Microsoft Corporation said that it detected and seized websites that were created in recent weeks by hackers linked to the Russian unit formerly known as the G.R.U. The sites appeared meant to trick people into thinking they were clicking through links managed by the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, but were secretly redirected to web pages created by the hackers to steal passwords and other credentials.

Related coverage below:

washington post logomicrosoft logo squareWashington Post, Microsoft shuts down Russian operation targeting U.S. political institutions, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg​, Aug. 21, 2018. The technology giant said hackers created phony versions of websites used by the Senate and Washington nonprofit organizations. Among those targeted was a conservative think tank active in investigations of corruption in Russia, Microsoft said.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Microsoft Promotes Russia Scare To Gain Insider Access To Campaign Information, b, Aug. 21, 2018. The software behemoth Microsoft Corp wants to gain an insider view on candidates and election campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

The Seattle based company now offers a "special cybersecurity protection" to those candidates and campaigns that use its Office 365, Outlook or Hotmail cloud services. Those who take up the offer will put their emails, internal strategy papers and financial records onto Microsoft owned and administrated servers where Microsoft personal will have a special eye on them.

 The company hopes that a large amount of such data will enable it "to collect critical feedback" into developing political dangers and will allow it to "to address the specific needs of eligible organizations". This could, for example, be done by directing or withholding campaign contributions in line with its corporate interests. The acquired material will also be of interest to various national intelligence agencies and might be of value for future political trades.

Microsoft's new data acquisition path for its corporate intelligence has its own marketing campaign. This uses the well established bogeyman of the "Russian threat."

microsoft logo squareMicrosoft engineers scanned the 220 million internet domain names to find a few domains that seem to have some similarities with know product names or known institutional names. Microsoft claimed that these domain names were trademark infringements of its office product, as well as of the conservative Hudson Institute, the International Republican Institute and the U.S. Senate. A judge agreed and allowed the company to seize the domain names. They now redirect to Microsoft honeypot servers. Any attempt to access them will be logged.

Its public relation department held a press conference and managed to spin a scare story of a "Russian threat" around the seized domain names. It did not provide any evidence on how the seized domain names might or might not be related to "Russia."

Journalists were pointed to a blog post by Microsoft's president which they could pick for quotes. After scaring the bejesus out of the stenographing scribes, the company made sure to empathize the offer that, if taken up, will give its strategic intelligence department valuable internal insights into election campaigns.

Major U.S. news sites swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker.

Priest Scandal Hits DC, Again

washington post logocardinal donald wuerl portrait fullWashington Post, Cardinal Wuerl the target of rising anger after grand jury report on abuse by priests in Pa., Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 21, 2018 (print edition). The District’s archbishop, right, who presided for years in Pittsburgh where numerous priests were identified as alleged abusers, has become the face of a ballooning crisis in the Catholic Church.

Voting Suppression

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP turns to toilets to suppress more black voters, Dana Milbank, Aug. 21, 2018. It warms the heart to see the newfound concern that Georgia has for its disabled residents.

Election overseers were worried sick that the disabled in Randolph County, a rural hamlet where 60 percent of residents are black and nearly a third live in poverty, might arrive at their polling place and find they had to park on grass or, worse, that there was no railing next to the toilet seat.

And so, bless their hearts, the officials did the compassionate thing: They proposed to close seven of the nine polling places in Randolph. Now disabled people wouldn’t have to worry about tripping on turf. They’d simply have to haul themselves up to 30 miles round trip to one of the two remaining precincts.

Many of those present expressed suspicion that the election officials’ motive was concern for the disabled, rather than, say, suppressing African American voters.

stacey abrams campaignWell, maybe because voters in African American-majority Randolph went for Hillary Clinton by 11 points. Maybe because in a county where there is negligible public transportation and nearly a quarter of households don’t have a car, eliminating 78 percent of polling places (including one where nearly 97 percent of voters are black) pretty much guarantees people won’t vote.

And maybe because the proposal’s author, Malone, was suggested for the job by the office of Secretary Kemp — who just happens to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee against Democrat Stacey Abrams, shown in a campaign ad, who just happens to be black.

Official Corruption Reform

National Press Club, Sen. Warren pushes anti-corruption proposals, ducks question on Trump impeachment, Wesley G. Pippert, Aug. 21, 2018. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., laid out what she called “the most ambitious anti-corruption legislation proposed since Watergate" at the National Press Club Aug. 21, yet could not avoid reporters' questions about President Trump and her own plans for the 2020 presidential campaign.

elizabeth warren npc jip 11 18 15 IMG 1217 SmallWarren, who last spoke at the Club in 2016 (with a Justice Integrity Project photo illustrating that appearance), proposed a lifetime ban on lobbying by presidents, members of Congress, federal judges and cabinet secretaries. She would ban individual stock ownership by the same officials while they were in office.

In addition, she would ban direct political donations by lobbyists to candidates or members of Congress. And she would establish a new and independent U.S. Office of Public Integrity and strengthen the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics.

"Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: people don't trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people," Warren said. "They're right."

"This problem," she said, "is far bigger than Trump."

But Warren did finger one person: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a brain child of Warren, has taken steps to weaken CFPB's enforcement powers. Warren said that Mulvaney told a roomful of bankers that when he was in Congress, "if a lobbyist didn't give him money, the lobbyist didn't get a meeting -- he met only with those lobbyists who ponied up for his campaign war chest."

"Our government is putting the wealthy and well-connected over the people," Warren said. "People understand this government is not working for them."

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-congressional IT staffer gets time served in loan case after prosecutors debunk conspiracy theories, Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 21, 2018. In releasing Imran Awan, the U.S. judge read aloud passages of court filings in which federal prosecutors debunked allegations fanned by President Trump on Twitter that Awan was a Pakistani operative who compromised computer files with cover from House Democrats.

A former congressional technology staffer who became the target of a litany of political conspiracy theories was sentenced to time served Tuesday for lying on a loan application as a federal judge in Washington condemned his ongoing harassment by the “highest” levels of government over unfounded conspiracies.

In releasing Imran Awan, 38, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan read aloud passages of court filings in which federal prosecutors debunked allegations promulgated on right-leaning news sites and fanned by President Trump on Twitter that suggested Awan was a Pakistani operative who secretly compromised computer files with cover from House Democrats. Chutkan also noted that the Virginia man’s July 3 guilty plea to a felony over a home-equity loan was unrelated to his work on Capitol Hill.

Prosecutors sought no jail time for Awan, who fully repaid the $165,000 loan within 30 days in 2017 before he knew he was under investigation for falsely claiming that a rental home was his wife’s main residence.

mollie tibbetts cristhian bahena rivera

Murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an alleged illegal immigrant from Mexico shown in a mug shot, and the late Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, shown in a family photo.

washington post logo​Washington Post, Man charged with killing Mollie Tibbetts is an undocumented immigrant, authorities say, Eli Rosenberg, Nick Miroff and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Aug. 21, 2018. Law enforcement officials in Iowa have charged a man with murdering 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts, saying he admitted to pursuing her as she ran on a country road and eventually led them to the field where a body they believe to be hers was hidden under cornstalks.

The suspect was identified as 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities said was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Rivera worked at a local farm for the past four years, He was charged with first-degree murder, with a potential penalty of life in prison

Tibbetts, who was studying psychology the University of Iowa, had been missing since leaving for a run last month from her boyfriend’s house in Brooklyn, Iowa, a small town of about 1,500.

The case unraveled in dramatic fashion on Tuesday as reports emerged in the morning that authorities had found Tibbetts’s body, followed by an afternoon announcement that Rivera had been arrested and charged.

For more than a month after Tibbetts disappeared on July 18, federal, state and local authorities scoured the rural county, sifting through electronic data from her Fitbit, cellphone and social media accounts for any clue about what happened to her.

Rahn said that investigators had talked to hundreds of people and received more than 4,000 tips, but the break in the case came within the last two weeks when they found someone with a security camera system while canvassing a neighborhood.

The cameras captured images of Tibbetts running, as well as a black Chevy Malibu that investigators said they traced to Rivera, informing a determination that Rivera was one of the last people to see her running, Rahn said. They conducted a lengthy interview with Rivera on Monday after approaching him for the first time, in which he told them about seeing her running and how he pursued her.

“He was very compliant,” Rahn said. “He was willing to talk to us. There was no fight or struggle of any kind.”

The case seems certain to add fuel to the already explosive and racially tinged debate about immigration, as President Trump’s border wall, which he touts as a symbol of security, remains an unfulfilled and unfunded campaign promise.

Supreme Court Nominee

washington post logoWashington Post, Brett Kavanaugh memo detailed explicit questions for Clinton, Michael Kranish, Aug. 21, 2018 (print edition). Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a strikingly explicit 1998 memo that he was “strongly opposed” to giving then-President Bill Clinton any “break” in the independent counsel’s questioning about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, according to a document released Monday. [Read the memo from Brett Kavanaugh]

supreme court graphicIn the memo, Kavanaugh, who worked as an associate counsel for independent counsel Ken Starr and is now President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, laid out several proposed questions, including, “If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

Excerpts of the memo have been previously reported, including by The Washington Post last month, quoting from a book about the Lewinsky investigation. However, the full memo had not been released until Monday, when it was released by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Post.

Papal Response To Abuse Scandal

washington post logoPope FrancisWashington Post, Pope says ‘no effort must be spared’ to fight sexual abuse in Catholic Church, Chico Harlan​, Aug. 21, 2018 (print edition). In a letter, Pope Francis, right, said the Catholic Church has not dealt properly with “crimes” against children and needs to prevent sexual abuses from being “covered up and perpetuated.” The letter came after a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed alleged abuses by more than 300 priests against 1,000 children over decades.

Global Debt: Malaysia

ny times logoNew York Times, $250 Billion in Debt, Malaysia Balks at Chinese Investments, Hannah Beech, Aug. 21, 2018 (print edition). A country that once courted Chinese investment now fears becoming overly indebted for big projects that are neither viable nor necessary — except to China.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Takeaways From Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea, Alan Feuer, Aug. 21, 2018. You could easily be confused by the sheer number and variety of the criminal charges that Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s onetime fixer and personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to on Tuesday. The charging documents describe a universe of shady dealings and unsavory characters. None of the revelations seem helpful to Mr. Trump.

You could easily be confused by the sheer number and variety of the criminal charges that Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s onetime fixer and personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

After all, the combative Mr. Cohen, a former vice president at the Trump Organization, was accused of violating laws that involved his taxi business, his financial dealings with at least three banks and — it was the headline allegation — his secretive efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. He admitted joining forces with the nation’s best-known supermarket tabloid to buy the silence of at least two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Global Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘This Man Deserves What He Gets’: In Queens, a Nazi’s Long Flight From Justice Ends, Aug. 21, 2018. Sarah Maslin Nir and Ali Winston, Aug. 21, 2018. Neighbors watched as Jakiw Palij, 95, was wheeled out of his Jackson Heights home on Monday to be deported to Germany.

The 95-year-old man in the red brick house at 33-18 89th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, was known for keeping his yard spick-and-span, even tidying up rubbish on his neighbors’ stoops. Most days, he was quick with a smile and a “good morning,” in his thick Polish accent. He would sit on the steps behind his home during block parties, watching the festivities from his perch.

ny times logoNew York Times, Saudi Arabia is seeking the death penalty for a woman who advocated equal rights for the country’s Shiite minority, David D. Kirkpatrick, Aug. 22, 2018. Saudi Arabia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the world, is taking the rare step of seeking the death penalty for a 29-year-old female activist accused of encouraging demonstrations for greater rights for the Shiite Muslim minority, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said.

The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has presented himself abroad as a reformer who is working to loosen some of the kingdom’s strict moral codes and to liberalize its economy. But an inconsistent approach to human rights and the rule of law has undermined his efforts.

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are by beheading, a method used to kill 48 people over a four-month period this year.

Saudi Arabia has executed many women, and Shiite activists convicted of terrorism or political crimes have been sentenced to death as well. But calls for capital punishment for a woman in a case of nonviolent political crime are highly unusual.

Aug. 20

Mueller Probe

djt handwave file

washington post logorobert muellerWashington Post, Trump calls Mueller lawyers ‘thugs’ and ‘a National Disgrace!’ John Wagner​, Aug. 20, 2018. A spate of morning tweets by the president, shown in a file photo, marked the latest escalation of rhetoric against the special counsel, Robert Mueller, now investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller is shown at right when he was FBI director for more than a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyers’ Sudden Realization: They Don’t Know What Don McGahn Told Mueller’s Team, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Aug. 20, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s lawyers do not know just how much the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, told the special counsel’s investigators during months of interviews, a lapse that has contributed to a growing recognition that an early strategy of full cooperation with the inquiry was a potentially damaging mistake.

The president’s lawyers said on Sunday that they were confident that Mr. McGahn had said nothing injurious to the president during the 30 hours of interviews. But Mr. McGahn’s lawyer has offered only a limited accounting of what Mr. McGahn told the investigators, according to two people close to the president.

ny times logomichael cohen ap file croppedNew York Times, Cohen Is Being Investigated for Loans in Excess of $20 Million, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 20, 2018 (print edition). Federal authorities investigating whether Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, committed bank and tax fraud have zeroed in on loans obtained by taxi businesses that he and his family own.

Any criminal charges against Mr. Cohen, right, which could be filed by the end of the month, would deal a significant blow to the president.

Air Pollution / Global Warming

william wehrum o

William E. Wehrum, right, the top air pollution official in the Trump administration, was a lawyer for polluting industries. He has been able to push his deregulatory agenda because of a quirk in federal ethics rules that are less restrictive for industry lawyers than for officials who had worked as registered lobbyists.

ny times logoNew York Times, Top E.P.A. Official Is Set to Deliver a Big Win to Ex-Clients, Eric Lipton, Aug. 20, 2018 (print edition). As a corporate lawyer, William L. Wehrum worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants.

epa general logoNow, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government’s top air pollution official.

On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to propose a vast rollback of regulations on emissions from coal plants, including many owned by members of a coal-burning trade association that had retained Mr. Wehrum and his firm as recently as last year to push for the changes.

Bolton Implicated In Russian Probe?

john bolton full cropped CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: Russian spy Maria Butina caught working with John Bolton, Bill Palmer, Aug. 20, 2018. Back when Donald Trump hired John Bolton as his new White House National Security Adviser, various observers thought it was because Trump was preparing to start a war, and he wanted a perennial warmonger like Bolton in the fold.

Palmer Report instead pointed to Bolton’s close ties to Cambridge Analytica, which had just gotten busted in the Trump-Russia scandal, and suggested that Trump was bringing Bolton into the White House because he was a key Trump-Russia player. Sure enough, Bolton, shown at right in a file photo, has now been caught working with arrested Russian political operative Maria Butina.

Leading Democrats in the House just sent a lengthy letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly which starts off like this: “We are writing regarding recent reports that National Security Advisor John Bolton, in his former capacity as a top official with the National Rifle Association (NRA), worked directly with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by federal prosecutors with infiltrating that organization and spying against the United States for years.”

nra logo CustomThe upshot here is that when the White House was vetting John Bolton for the National Security Adviser position, they either learned that Bolton was working with Maria Butina and tried to suppress it, or they did an extraordinarily negligent job of vetting him.

This letter appears to be aimed at pressuring Kelly into turning over the records from the vetting process, for fear that he’ll expose himself to obstruction charges if he refuses. But the goal here is to expose that John Bolton was working with a Russian spy before Trump made him National Security Adviser.

This revelation about John Bolton and Maria Butina lends more credence than ever to Palmer Report’s earlier premise that Trump hired Bolton because of the Trump-Russia scandal.

U.S. Politics / Corruption

blake farenthold oRoll Call, Report: Farenthold Tried to Steer Contract to Businessman who Later Got Him Lucrative Job, Stephanie Akin, Aug 20, 2018. Disgraced congressman complained of ‘f-tards’ who drove him out of office amid #metoo scandal. Blake Farenthold, who resigned from Congress in disgrace amid a sexual harassment scandal, tried to steer a federal contract to a business owned by the chairman of a Texas port authority who donated almost $20,000 to his campaign and later gave him a job, according to a local newspaper investigation published Monday.

The Calhoun Port Authority’s secret decision to award Farenthold that $13,333-a-month lobbying gig shortly after his May ouster from Congress has sparked local controversy and is at the center of a lawsuit filed by The Victoria Advocate.

The newspaper’s lawsuit was also attracting attention Monday after the release of a the transcript of an Aug. 1 deposition, during which Farenthold made factually questionable arguments to defend his decision to reneg on a promise to repay taxpayers $84,000 for a sexual harassment settlement and called the media "f-tards" for running him out of Congress, The Huffington Post reported.

HuffPost, GOP Senate Candidate Defends Bringing Pizzagate Conspiracist On Her Bus Tour, Willa Frej, Aug. 20, 2018. A Republican Senate candidate in Arizona tried to downplay the backlash she’s facing after announcing she was pairing up with right-wing personalities during an upcoming bus tour.

“I don’t really know what Mike Cernovich’s views are,” Kelli Ward told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday. “Mike Cernovich has an audience that we want to reach, and that includes Republicans, conservatives, liberals, Democrats, people of all ilks.”

Cernovich was one of the main promoters of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, accusing a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant of running a pedophilia ring on behalf of Democrats including Hillary Clinton. The pizzeria received violent threats over the rumor, and a man fired a gun into the restaurant as he was reportedly “self-investigating” the theory.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Zephyr Teachout Is the Right Choice as Attorney General for Democrats, Editorial Board, Aug. 20, 2018 (print edition). The office is a potential firewall against an out-of-control president and corrupt New York State government. Zephyr Teachout is shown below right on her Twitter photo. The New York Democratic primary is Sept. 13.

zephyr teachout twitterThe most important choice facing New York voters this fall is whom they will pick as their next state attorney general. The office could be the last line of defense against an antidemocratic president, a federal government indifferent to environmental and consumer protection and a state government in which ethics can seem a mere inconvenience.

Even in the best of times the office plays a critical role, policing fraud on Wall Street and ensuring enforcement of state and federal laws, from regulating the financial system to preventing employment discrimination. Its influence is felt across the nation.

These are not the best of times. With the right leadership, the office could serve as a firewall if President Trump pardons senior aides, dismisses the special counsel, Robert Mueller, or attacks the foundations of state power. Only a handful of American institutions are equipped to resist such assaults on constitutional authority, and the New York attorney general’s office, with 650 lawyers and a history of muscular law enforcement, is one of them.

The next attorney general will have a full docket in New York as well. Albany has long been a chamber of ethical horrors. In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former senior aide Joseph Percoco was convicted on corruption charges. In May, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, was also convicted of corruption. In July, the former Republican Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos, was convicted of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he used his office to pressure businesses to pay his son $300,000 for no-show jobs. The same month, Alain Kaloyeros, a key figure behind Mr. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic initiative, was convicted in a bid-rigging scheme.

#MeToo Pioneer Argento Accused

asia argento anthony bourdain beach twitter Small

Actress and director Asia Argento is shown with her lover, the late culinary reporter Anthony Bourdain, who supported her in her #MeToo accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Her Twitter feed is illustrated by the 'No Shame' graphic below left)

ny times logoNew York Times, Asia Argento, a #MeToo Leader, Made a Deal With Her Own Accuser, Kim Severson, Aug. 20, 2018 (print edition). The Italian actress and director Asia Argento was among the first women in the movie business to publicly accuse the producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.

She became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement . Her boyfriend, the culinary television star Anthony Bourdain, right, eagerly joined the fight.

anthony bourdain 2014asia argento no shame fist twitterBut in the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday. She was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.

That claim and the subsequent arrangement for payments are laid out in documents between lawyers for Ms. Argento and Mr. Bennett, a former child actor who once played her son in a movie.

Yemen's Houthis: News, History

SouthFront, Historical Analysis: Houthis Launch Badr-1 Missile At Military Camp Of Saudi-backed Forces In Western Narjan, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2018 (61 min. historical video). The Houthis have once again intensified their missile strikes on targets in southern Saudi Arabia since the Saudi-UAE coalition and its proxies resumed attempts to advance on the key Houthi-controlled port city of al-Hudaydah in western Yemen. The Saudi-UAE-backed advance has achieved no gains. However, it has already led to an escalation of the simmering conflict.

Religious Battle In The Ukraine

Consortium News, Opinion: Religious Divisions Threaten to Further Inflame Ukrainian Civil War, Dmitry Babich, Aug. 19, 2018. Not admitting the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to Kiev is like barring the Pope from Rome, but that is just what the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government has done.

More On Manafort Jury

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort jury resumes deliberations for a third day, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 20, 2018. The six-woman, six-man panel is weighing 18 bank fraud and tax charges against President Trump’s former campaign chairman.

Aug. 19

Mueller Probe

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ny times logoNew York Times, Top Lawyer in White House Gives Mueller Coveted Details, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 19, 2018 (print edition). The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

don mcgahn cato screengrabIn at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn (shown above right) to respond to it.

It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.

rudy giuliani chuck todd mtp 8 19 18

NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, left, reacts as President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliana tells Todd on the Aug. 19 show "The truth isn't truth." (NBC screenshot)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani melts down and yells “Truth Isn’t Truth” and his whole world explodes, Bill Palmer, Aug. 19, 2018. Donald Trump woke up this morning in such an unhinged panic about White House Counsel Don McGahn having sold him out to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, his crazed tweets threatened to take over the day’s narrative.

But it turned out that was a mere warm up act for what was coming, as Trump’s criminal defense attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared on "Meet The Press" and not only managed to top Trump in the absurdity department, he arguably turned in the most absurd television interview performance of all time. No really.

Security Clearance Dispute

james comey james clapper john brennan

Then CIA-Director John Brennan, right, with then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey in congressional testimony (file photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Brennan says he’s willing to take Trump to court as battle heats up over revoked clearance, Felicia Sonmez and Carol Morello​, Aug. 19, 2018. Former CIA director John O. Brennan, an outspoken critic of President Trump, said he was “going to do whatever I can” to help prevent other current and former officials from having their security clearances revoked.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Former intelligence officials bite back after Trump goes after Brennan’s clearance, Dan Balz, Aug. 19, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s order to revoke the security clearance of critic and former CIA director John Brennan has generated a kind of collective rebuttal rarely, if ever, seen in relations between a president and those who have gathered the nation’s secrets.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Reviews: I read six sycophantic pro-Trump books — and then I read Omarosa, Carlos Lozada, Aug. 19, 2018 (print edition). Hagiographies of the president share seven core traits.

Books cited in this essay:

newt gingrich gage skidmore3Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait). Center Street. 347 pp. $27.

Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency by Corey R. Lewandowski and David N. Bossie. Center Street. 278 pp. $27.

Trump’s America: The Truth About Our Nation’s Great Comeback by Newt Gingrich. Center Street. 339 pp. $27

Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy by Judge Jeanine Pirro. Center Street. 274 pp. $27

The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump by Gregg Jarrett. Broadside. 332 pp. $28.99

The Briefing: Politics, The Press, and the President by Sean Spicer. Regnery. 278 pp. $28.99

Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault Newman. Gallery Books. 334 pp. $28

craig unger djt cover

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Signs of Trump-Putin collaboration, starting years before the campaign? Shane Harris, Aug. 17. Shane Harris is a staff writer at The Washington Post. He covers intelligence and national security and the Russia investigation.

House of Trump, House of Putin:
The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia

By Craig Unger

Dutton. 354 pp. $30

Based on his own reporting and the investigative work of a former federal prosecutor, Unger posits that through Bayrock, Trump was “indirectly providing Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the U.S.”

As the theory goes, Putin wanted to keep tabs on the billionaires — some of them former mobsters — who had made their post-Cold War fortunes on the backs of industries once owned by the state. The oligarchs, as well as other new-moneyed elites, were stashing their money in foreign real estate, including Trump properties, presumably beyond Putin’s reach.

Trump, knowingly or otherwise, may have struck a side deal with the Kremlin, Unger argues: He would secretly rat out his customers to Putin, who would allow them to keep buying Trump properties. Trump got rich. Putin got eyes on where the oligarchs had hidden their wealth. Everybody won.

Thus Trump succeeded in business with Russia by what could most charitably be described as willful ignorance. Take the money. Don’t ask too many questions. And he’d had a lot of practice at that, Unger writes. Trump’s burgeoning real estate empire was fueled in the 1980s by another privileged class, Russian gangsters who appear to have used Trump properties to launder their ill-gotten gains, Unger alleges.

republican elephant logoAxios, Analysis: 1 big thing: Trump's "red wave" could sink GOP, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 19, 2018. The president's contempt for mainstream polling and the media may come back to haunt him in November.

Several top Republican operatives working on the midterm elections told me Trump's fanciful "red wave" predictions could depress Republican turnout and, ironically, serve to make any blue wave even bigger.

U.S. War Crime In Yemen?

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

washington post logoWashington Post, End U.S. support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war, Editorial Board, Aug. 19, 2018 (print edition). On Aug. 9, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen struck a bus packed with young boys in the northern village of Dahyan, killing at least 51 people, including 40 children, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Saudi Arabian flagAs Saudi spokesmen defend this horrific massacre — one called the bus a “legitimate military target” — Trump administration officials are being pressed by members of Congress and reporters to say whether the bomb that was dropped was supplied by the United States, and whether the plane that dropped it was refueled by the U.S. military under an ongoing support operation.

American FlagThe administration’s response has amounted to a shrug. When journalists questioned a senior U.S. official this week, he responded: “Well, what difference does that make?”

The obvious answer is, a big one. If it assisted in an airstrike that killed innocent civilians — the boys, according to the New York Times, ranged in age from 6 to about 16 — the United States is complicit in a probable war crime. And the Dahyan bombing was not an isolated incident. Previous airstrikes have hit weddings, funerals and food markets.

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Want Pennsylvania (and Trump Voters) Back, Matt Flegenheimer and Thomas Kaplan, Aug. 19, 2018. With its redrawn congressional map and democratic donkey logoworking-class union towns, the state has found itself at the center of Democrats’ plans to win control of the House of Representatives.

In his 2016 victory, Mr. Trump swiped several states that Democrats had assumed were theirs: Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida. But perhaps no outcome matched the psychic toll of losing Pennsylvania, where the past Democratic coalition of city-dwelling liberals, racial minorities and white working-class voters in union towns had long defined the party’s identity as a big-tent enterprise.

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Trump Tax Cut Unlocks Millions for a G.O.P. Election Blitz, Jim Tankersley and Michael Tackett, Aug. 19, 2018 (print edition). Republicans are struggling to make the $1.5 trillion Trump tax cuts a winning issue with voters in the midterm congressional elections, but the cuts are helping the party in another crucial way: unlocking tens of millions of dollars in campaign donations from the wealthy conservatives and corporate interests that benefited handsomely from it.

paul ryan oBillionaires and corporations that reaped millions of dollars in tax cuts are pumping some of that windfall into the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC” closely aligned with Speaker Paul D. Ryan (left) that is flooding the airwaves and front porches of swing congressional districts with increasingly sharp attacks on the Democratic candidates vying to wrest control of the House.

Republicans may be struggling to sell their $1.5 trillion tax cut to voters, but the law has helped unleash tens of millions from donors who benefited handsomely from it.

#MeToo Reprisal

kevin spacey house

washington post logoWashington Post, After #MeToo, Kevin Spacey movie ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ earns $126 on opening day, Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Aug. 19, 2018. The movie was made two-and-a-half years ago, well before Spacey’s accusers came forward. In some theaters, only one person had opted to see it all weekend. Spacey is shown above in a promotional photo for House of Cards, a series in which he formerly starred.

Aug. 18

Crackdown On Critics

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

washington post logoWashington Post, White House drafts more cancellations of clearances as Trump aims to punish critics, Karen DeYoung and Josh Dawsey​, Aug. 18, 2018 (print edition). President Trump wants to sign off on “most if not all” of the documents revoking the security clearances, said one senior White House official, who indicated that communications aides have discussed the optimum times to release them as a distraction during unfavorable news cycles.

Trump's comments followed the release of a statement signed by 14 former CIA directors and deputy directors from Republican and Democratic administrations, as well as a former director of national intelligence, who called Trump’s revocation this week of former CIA director John Brennan’s clearance a blatant attempt to “stifle free speech” and send an “inappropriate and deeply regrettable” signal to other public servants.

CIA LogoLater Friday, 60 additional former CIA officials issued a statement objecting to the Brennan action and stating their belief “that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Not a King, Tim Weiner (the author of histories of the F.B.I. and C.I.A.), Aug. 18, 2018 (print edition). A group of former intelligence and military leaders have a message for the nation’s troops and spies: think twice before following the president’s orders in a crisis.

More On Trump Probes

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, GOP fundraiser Broidy under investigation for alleged effort to sell government influence, Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 18, 2018 (print edition). The Justice Department is examining whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, right, offered to influence the Trump administration for foreign officials, according to three people familiar with the inquiry.

elliott broidyAs part of the investigation, prosecutors are scrutinizing a plan that Broidy, left, allegedly developed to try to persuade the Trump government to extradite a Chinese dissident back to his home country, a move sought by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to two of the people.

They also are investigating claims that Broidy sought $75 million from a Malaysian business official if the Justice Department ended its investigation of a development fund run by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian probe has examined the role of the former prime minister in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the fund.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. seeks to halt lawsuit by D.C. and Maryland against Trump’s business, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 18, 2018 (print edition). The lawsuit centers on whether President Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign and state governments while in office. Justice officials said case would distract from Trump’s “performance of his constitutional duties.”

Global News

washington post logokofi annanWashington Post, Kofi Annan 1938–2018: Former U.N. secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize winner dies at 80, Stanley Meisler, ​Aug. 18, 2018. Annan’s popular and influential reign at the United Nations — the body he led from 1997 to 2006 — was marred by White House anger at his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq. He is shown at right in a file photo.

Aug. 17

Supreme Court Fight

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Cover Up Brett Kavanaugh’s Past?  Editorial Board, Aug. 17, 2018. For the first time in modern history, Republicans are refusing to request a Supreme Court nominee’s relevant papers. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters have spent the last month lavishing him with acclaim. He’s a legal superstar, they say, one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in history. So why are Senate Republicans so afraid of letting Americans learn more about him?

After what they did to Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 — obliterating Senate tradition by outright ignoring President Barack Obama’s third Supreme Court nomination for partisan political gain — you might think it would be hard for Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to inflict any more damage on the court.

Surprise! They’re now running the most secretive and incomplete confirmation process in modern history. They scrambled to set the start of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for Sept. 4, even as they have refused multiple requests by their Democratic colleagues to see more than one million documents covering his years as White House staff secretary to President George W. Bush. Judge Kavanaugh has called that job, which he held from 2003 to 2006, “the most interesting and informative” of his career in terms of preparing for his work on the bench.

These documents could contain important information about his role in some of the Bush administration’s most controversial actions, including its warrantless wiretapping program and its torture policy. Judge Kavanaugh was evasive during his 2006 confirmation hearing for a seat on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., where he currently sits. He denied any involvement in those policies, but Democratic senators have long believed that his answers to them were, at best, misleading. And at least one former Bush official appeared to directly contradict him. So what was his true role? The documents may or may not answer that question definitively, but we’ll never know without seeing them.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Appears to Be Fixed on Punishing Ties to Russia Inquiry, Michael D. Shear and Julian E. Barnes, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). For more than a year, law enforcement officials have repeatedly rebuffed President Trump’s efforts to use the power of his office to derail the Russia investigation. Stymied, Mr. Trump is lashing out in other ways against an investigation that he clearly hates or fears.

washington post logowilliam mcraven 2012Washington Post, William McRaven, commander of the Osama bin Laden raid, asks Trump to revoke his security clearance, Felicia Sonmez, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). One day after President Trump stripped former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance, the commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said it would be an honor if the president would take away his clearance next.

William H. McRaven, shown at right in a 2012 photo, a retired four-star admiral who oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid, directly addressed Trump in a Washington Post op-ed published online Thursday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Threatens to Revoke Clearance of Justice Dept. Official, Michael D. Shear, Aug. 17, 2018. President Trump threatened to revoke “very soon” the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a little-known Justice Department official who is the target of conspiracy theorists.

john brennan souza pogo graphic

Former CIA Director John Brennan. (Photo: White House / Pete Souza; Illustration by POGO)

POGO: Project On Government Oversight, Opinion: Weaponizing Security Clearances Is Unacceptable, Whether CIA Directors are the Victims or Perpetrators, Katherine Hawkins, Aug. pogo logo square17, 2018.

A group of former CIA directors and deputy directors has denounced President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance in retaliation for Brennan’s criticisms of him as “an attempt to stifle free speech.” They are correct about the dangers of the President‘s actions — but wrong to claim that the abuse of executive authority over clearances and classified information is “unprecedented.” Adverse action against a whistleblower’s security clearance is a common form of retaliation, and the legal protections against such reprisals are weak and poorly enforced.

Executive agencies regularly use their classification powers to avoid oversight or accountability for embarrassing or unlawful conduct. POGO called for Brennan’s resignation in 2014 over the agency’s retaliatory search of the computer files and baseless criminal referral of the Senate staffer who led the intelligence committee’s investigation into CIA torture. The current CIA Director, Gina Haspel, used her classification authority to prevent any substantive disclosure of her central role in the torture program during her Senate confirmation process.

The current clearance adjudication process does not have adequate protections. Approximately four million Americans hold security clearances, and for many of them, losing their clearance would mean losing their jobs. The President’s actions could encourage retaliation by other national security officials who wish to silence whistleblowers and critics, who are in a much more vulnerable position than Brennan. They need enforceable protection against using the security clearance process for retaliation—something that the leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies and their Congressional allies have long opposed.

Omarosa Revelations

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end, seeks the arrest of Omarosa, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2018. Donald Trump is now telling his advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Omarosa arrested as punishment for her new tell-all book and the secret White House recordings she’s been releasing.

This sounds like something from the Onion, but it’s actually coming from Vanity Fair [“Death Spiral”: Why Omarosa Totally Triggered Trump], which has previously demonstrated that it has reliable sources in Trump’s inner circle. So omarosa manigault newman headshotwhere does this leave us?

There are no legal experts who believe that Omarosa (shown in a file photo) has committed any crime with her secret recordings. Donald Trump is rather ignorant of the law in general, so maybe he mistakenly thinks otherwise. Or maybe Trump wants Omarosa arrested without regard for whether she’s broken any laws.

Either way, by announcing to his political advisers that he wants the Department of Justice to arrest Omarosa, he’s violating her civil rights – and he’s very likely committing a crime of his own.

melania trump ny post nude cover july 30 2016The Hill, Omarosa predicts in new book that Trump would deport Melania if she crosses him, Aris Folley, Aug. 17, 2018. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman claims in her new tell-all memoir of her time in the White House that President Trump would find a way to invalidate his wife’s citizenship if she were to cross him.

According to The Mercury News, Manigault Newman hypothesizes in her new book that Trump would find a way to deport Melania Trump to Slovenia, her native country, if she decided to leave him during his time in office.

“Since Donald is fully aware of however she acquired her permanent citizenship, he could, if there were anything fishy around it, expose the methods and somehow invalidate it,” Manigault Newman wrote. “He is a vindictive man, and I would not put anything past him.”

melania trump twitterThe first lady, shown at left in her Twitter photo and on the front page of the Murdoch-owned New York Post two years ago in some of her early modeling photos in New York, reportedly got a green card through a program specifically for people with "extraordinary ability,” known as the elite EB-1 program or the “Einstein visa.” She became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

The program is reserved for people such as academic researchers and multinational business executives, in addition to those with sustained national and international acclaim, melania trump ny post cover aug 1 2016The Washington Post reported in March.

“If Melania were to try to pull the ultimate humiliation and leave him while he’s in office, he would find a way to punish her,” Manigault Newman wrote. “This is a man who has said he could pardon himself from the Mueller investigation. Why not pardon himself over an alleged visa payoff?”

Naturalized citizens may be "de-naturalized" and subjected to deportation on several grounds, including falsification or concealment of relevant facts and refusal to testify before Congress.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, responded earlier this week to claims in Manigault Newman’s book that Melania Trump could not wait for her husband's presidency to be over in order to divorce him.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Court ruling hands Omarosa major advantage over Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2018. Even as Omarosa continues to release more of the secret recordings she made of Donald Trump and his administration, Trump keeps seeking ways to try to shut her down. He’s told staffers that he wants Attorney General jeff sessions ag oJeff Sessions, right, to arrest her, and while that’s a jarring abuse of power, it’s highly unlikely to go anywhere.

However, Trump has also seized on another, slightly less unrealistic angle that he thought was going to work.

Donald Trump has had all of his people sign a nondisclosure contract which he thought binded them to arbitration. Accordingly, he filed for arbitration this week to try to force Omarosa to stop releasing tapes. But in a matter of rather interesting timing, a judge handed down a ruling today in a separate case which just happens to directly impact the Trump-Omarosa battle.

Former Trump staffer Jessica Denson has been engaged in a legal battle since last year about whether she had the right to go public about the alleged sexual harassment she was subjected to during the campaign, without having to go through arbitration. The judge ruled today that the arbitration clause is very narrow in definition, and applies to almost no situations. This instantly undermines Donald Trump’s current effort at trying to force Omarosa into arbitration.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Death by a thousand cuts, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2018. Palmer Report has long pointed out that there’s a good chance Donald Trump’s presidency will go down the drain not as a result of one shockingly scandalous reveal, but rather through death by a thousand cuts. Richard Nixon [shown in an iconic 1974 photo leaving Washington following richard nixon leaves wh 1974 1his resignation] wasn’t ousted because of any one memorable Watergate moment, though there were many. He went down once the combined weight of all of those moments had simply made it impossible for him to move forward. We’re now seeing Omarosa, of all people, doing this to Trump all by herself.

Simply by releasing three secret recordings within the span of a week, Omarosa has exposed Donald Trump as a clueless weakling who can’t take responsibility for his own personnel moves, exposed Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly, below at right, as a stooge with no regard for security protocol, exposed Trump’s daughter-in-law to a potential prison sentence, and exposed Trump’s 2020 “reelection” campaign as little more than a front for bribe money.

john kelly o dhsFurther, by using these tapes to build credibility where she would otherwise have none, Omarosa has managed to breathe life into the accusations she can’t prove. The mainstream media is finally talking about Donald Trump’s alleged use of racial slurs on the set of the Apprentice. Penn Jillette and Tom Arnold say they’ve heard it themselves. But now it’s a source of discussion at the White House press briefing, and a lead story on cable news. The kicker is that this is just getting started, as the New York Times now says that Omarosa may have as many as two hundred tapes – and it’s clear she’s going to keep releasing them in swift fashion.

Special Counsel / Manafort Trial

Roll Call, Manafort Judge Says He’s Getting Death Threats, Griffin Connolly, Aug. 17, 2018. Judge T.S. Ellis III says he won’t reveal jurors info to prevent them from getting similar threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends Manafort on jury’s second day of deliberations, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Devlin Barrett​, Aug. 17, 2018. “It’s very sad what they’ve done” to him, President Trump said as jurors began their second day of deliberating whether Paul Manafort is guilty of tax- and bank-fraud crimes.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘No Comment’: The Special Counsel’s (Very) Careful Team, Noah Weiland, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). The trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has provided the public with its first extended glimpse of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators.

robert mueller graphic IMG 6401The prosecutors’ habits are to be expected in such a big case, former members of independent counsel teams said. The difference this time is the magnitude of the investigation paired with an era of instant news.

“This is unusual,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel who was selected by Judge Kenneth W. Starr to handle the grand jury questioning of President Bill Clinton. “This is a major, major trial with intense press interest in an era when you have 24-hour cable news.”

Perhaps no member of Mr. Mueller’s team has drawn more curiosity than the special counsel himself, who has not spoken publicly about the inquiry. The void has filled with speculation about the smallest observations — even about his choice of watch, the hyper-accurate Casio DW-290, which he wears with the face on the inside of his wrist.

More on Supreme Court Fight

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Republicans “Running a Scam” to Confirm Kavanaugh, Bill Yeomans, Aug. 17, 2018. AFJ Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that Senate Republicans are short-circuiting the normal confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, by moving ahead without obtaining all the relevant documents from his career -- and he minces no words.

Yeomans notes:

republican elephant logo"The Republican Senate majority is running a scam to ram through confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh without the scrutiny that is essential to our constitutional health. Republicans are panicking…polling shows that a majority of the public already opposes Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senate Republicans understand that the more the public learns about the nominee and his positions and the longer the Senate and public have to consider the nomination, the less popular he will become."

Adding his voice to the chorus of those demanding that Republicans stop taking irresponsible shortcuts, Yeomans concludes that the Senate "must take the time to gather and release all of the records."

Religion

washington post logoWashington Post, Stop calling the Mormon Church ‘Mormon,’ says church leader. ‘LDS’ is out too, Allyson Chiu, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). With eight words, 11 syllables and one hyphen, the full name of the Mormon Church is quite the mouthful: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Given its cumbersome name, it’s unsurprising that both members and nonmembers of the Utah-based faith have long used abbreviations, such as Mormon and LDS. Take, for example, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the LDS Business College.

But Thursday, the church’s leader, President Russell M. Nelson, announced that he wants people to stop using “Mormon” and “LDS” — abbreviations that have been the subject of numerous debates throughout the religion’s history.

Saudi War Atrocity In Yemen

CNN, Bomb that killed 40 kids in Yemen made in US, Aug. 17, 2018.  (5:14 mins. video). The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, White House drafts more cancellations of clearances as Trump aims to punish critics, Karen DeYoung and Josh Dawsey​, Aug. 17, 2018. President Trump wants to sign off on “most if not all” of the documents revoking the security clearances, said one senior White House official, who indicated that communications aides have discussed the optimum times to release them as a distraction during unfavorable news cycles.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration is considering pulling back $3 billion in foreign aid, Carol Morello and Karoun Demirjian, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration is considering taking back more than $3 billion in foreign aid that Congress already approved, in a move that senators from both parties are calling questionably legal and promising to resist.

The Office of Management and Budget instructed the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development earlier this month to provide a balance sheet of foreign aid projects that have not yet been funded. Unless Congress intervenes, the money may be returned to the U.S. Treasury at the end of fiscal year on Sept. 30. A scramble is on to allocate the money before the administration announces the expected change, which would freeze the billions of dollars left.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commerce secretary faces scrutiny for investments, not selling certain holdings, Steven Mufson​, Aug. 17, 2018. Wilbur Ross’s failure to divest created potential for violation and undermined public confidence, Office of Government Ethics says.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Cancels Military Parade, Blaming City Officials, Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 17, 2018. Saying local officials in Washington gave a “ridiculously high” cost estimate, the president canceled a military parade that the Pentagon had already postponed.

Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, pushed back on Twitter, saying that she had “finally got thru” to the president to convey the “realities” of what it costs to stage events like military parades in the city.

She put the number at $21.6 million, though the city’s costs are just a fraction of the total, with federal agencies also kicking in millions of dollars. A day earlier, the Pentagon said Mr. Trump’s parade to celebrate the military could be postponed to 2019, as officials acknowledged that the event could cost more than $90 million.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump seeks to revoke ‘very quickly’ security clearance of Justice official, John Wagner and Karen DeYoung, Aug. 17, 2018. President Trump's statement on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr came as more than a dozen former senior U.S. intelligence officials signed a letter sharply criticizing Trump for what they call his “ill-considered” decision to revoke former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance.

Culture / Entertainment News

washington post logoWashington Post, From giving birth at age 12 to ‘physical fights’: The difficult life and times of Aretha Franklin, Travis M. Andrews​, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). Her life was marred with crushing trials and tribulations. Perhaps her turbulent personal life fueled her music, which was often victorious but tinged with searing pain.

Media

ny times logoNew York Times, For News Media, a Day of Solidarity in a Summer of Unease, Michael M. Grynbaum, Aug. 17, 2018 (print edition). For the nation’s journalists, this has been a summer of unease and unrest.

On live television, a caller to C-Span threatened “to shoot” a pair of CNN journalists, Don Lemon and Brian Stelter, for their political commentary. In Tampa, Fla., rallygoers hurled vitriol at reporters covering a speech by President Trump, who later tweeted his approval. Mr. Trump added a new adjective to his nickname for the media — “the fake, fake, disgusting news” — and his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, declined to disavow the phrase “enemy of the people.”

All of this came on top of the usual, apolitical afflictions facing news organizations, like Tronc’s move to lay off half the staff of The Daily News, decimating one of New York’s biggest papers.

On Thursday, newsrooms responded. In a coordinated effort started by The Boston Globe, more than 300 publications issued editorials reaffirming the purpose and promise of journalism in American society. “Journalists Are Not The Enemy,” declared The Globe. “A Free Press Needs You,” wrote The New York Times. Mixed in with pro-press quotes from founding fathers were reminders of journalists’ role in provinces small and large: tying communities together, keeping citizens informed, holding governments to account.

Trump's Fight With Viet Vets

New York Magazine, Opinion: Trump Picked Fight With Vietnam Vets Over Who Better Understood What Agent Orange Was, Eric Levitz, Aug. 17, 2018. President Trump is comprehensively unfit for his job. He’s bad at the big, historically important stuff, like understanding legislation and how it gets passed, setting coherent diplomatic goals and then pursuing a rational strategy for advancing them, and not orchestrating crimes against humanity.

boy scouts logo customBut he’s every bit as bad at the little things. The man is simply incapable of fulfilling his most basic responsibilities as the figurehead of the American State — responsibilities like giving a speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree without bringing up the orgies he once attended on his friend’s yacht, or making a condolence call to the bereaved widow of a fallen soldier without insinuating that her husband was responsible for his own death, or hosting a White House solar eclipse party without staring directly into the sun, or meeting with Vietnam veterans about their health-care concerns without getting into fight about whether he understands the difference between napalm and Agent Orange better than they do.

That last failure was just revealed by the Daily Beast Friday morning.

One of the first things that Trump did as president — after more than a year of campaigning as a champion of veterans’ interests — was to name reality star Omarosa Manigault Newman as the White House point person for veterans’ issues.

This did not please veterans.

omarosa manigault newman headshotThus, to reassure the constituency, Trump and Omarosa, shown in a file photo, met with the leadership of various veterans organizations at the White House in March of 2017.

After everyone was settled in, the president went around the room asking the representatives from each group about what they were working on, and how his administration could further their aims. Rick Weidman, co-founder of Vietnam Veterans of America, told the president about how the number of Vietnam veterans who suffer from medical conditions caused by their exposure to Agent Orange (a notorious herbicidal weapon used by the U.S. during that war) is much higher than the government recognizes. For this reason, only a fraction of those who were poisoned by the chemical have access to the special health benefits that they should be entitled to, Weidman explained.

Trump replied, “That’s taken care of,” according to multiple attendees who spoke to the Daily Beast.

The veterans were perplexed — they had just explained to the president that the issue was not, in fact, taken care of. When Weidman and his allies tried to reiterate their concerns, the president interrupted to ask whether Agent Orange was “that stuff from that movie.”

The president did not specify what film he was referencing. But as the commander-in-chief continued rambling, it became clear that he was thinking of the helicopter attack scene from Apocalypse Now. Multiple Vietnam veterans informed the president that the chemical agent used in that scene was napalm, not Agent Orange.

He then went around the room polling attendees about if it was, in fact, napalm or Agent Orange in the famous scene from “that movie,” as the gathering — organized to focus on important, sometimes life-or-death issues for veterans — descended into a pointless debate over Apocalypse Now that the president simply would not concede, despite all the available evidence.

In the many months since this encounter, the president has matched his failure to do right by Vietnam veterans on the minor matter of respecting their superior recall of Apocalypse Now, with betrayals on issues of greater import.

Aug. 16

spj enough banner crop

Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ President: There is no democracy without a free press / Our Letter to the Editor, Rebecca Baker, Aug. 16, 2018. Today, hundreds of newspapers across the country are publishing editorials to fight back against anti-press rhetoric. The Society of Professional Journalists stands in solidarity with these newsrooms and other journalism organizations and applauds their efforts to explain the importance of the work they do every day.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: This editor, a member of SPJ beginning in the mid-1980s and more recently of the National Press Club, American Society of Newspaper asne logoEditors and Overseas Press Club, endorses on behalf of the project the editorial campaign on behalf of the press and public articulated by the announcement above by SPJ.

The public awareness campaign is typified also by the editorial below by the New York Times, which excerpts other sample editorials from across the United States

ny times logoNew York Times, A Free Press Needs You, Editorial Board, Aug. 16, 2018. “Public discussion is a political duty,” the Supreme Court said in 1964. That discussion must be “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” and “may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

In 2018, some of the most damaging attacks are coming from government officials. Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period.

Answering a call last week from The Boston Globe, The Times is joining hundreds of newspapers, from large metro-area dailies to small local weeklies, to remind readers of the value of America’s free press. These editorials, some of which we’ve excerpted, together affirm a fundamental American institution.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.

ny times logoNew York Times, Newspapers Are ‘in Collusion’ Over Free Press, Trump Says, Eileen Sullivan, Aug. 16, 2018. The president lashed out after over 200 newspapers, including The Times, published editorials about the dangers of his repeated attacks on the news media.

More Trump Crackdown On Critics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, Felicia Sonmez and David Nakamura, Aug. 16, 2018 (print edition). Brennan has been a leading critic of President Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president is also reviewing security clearances of other former officials including former FBI director James B. Comey.

john brennan twitterPresident Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John O. Brennan, shown in a Twitter photo), White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday, citing “the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”

Brennan is a leading critic of Trump who as recently as Tuesday sharply denounced the president for calling his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman “that dog.”

Trump is also reviewing security clearances of other former officials including former FBI director James B. Comey, Sanders said during a regular White House news briefing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash, John Brennan (former CIA director), Aug. 16, 2018. That’s why the president revoked my security clearance: to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him.

When Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s internal security service, told me during an early August 2016 phone call that Russia wasn’t interfering in our presidential election, I knew he was lying. Over the previous several years I had grown weary of Mr. Bortnikov’s denials of Russia’s perfidy — about its mistreatment of American diplomats and citizens in Moscow, its repeated failure to adhere to cease-fire agreements in Syria and its paramilitary intervention in eastern Ukraine, to name just a few issues.

cbs news logoCBS News, Top former intelligence bosses sign letter supporting John Brennan, Olivia Gazis, Aug. 16, 2018. Thirteen former leaders of the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. have signed an open letter standing foursquare against President Trump, in favor of freedom of speech and, crucially, for the administration of justice. They have served presidents going back to Richard M. Nixon mostly without publicly criticizing the political conduct of a sitting commander in chief — until now.

Thirteen former senior intelligence officials, including 12 former CIA directors and deputy directors and one former director of national intelligence, have signed a letter of support for former CIA director John Brennan, calling the signal sent by the White House's decision to strip him of his security clearance "inappropriate" and "deeply regrettable."

"We feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions by the White House," the senior officials wrote. "We know John to be an enormously talented, capable and patriotic individual who devoted his entire adult life to the service of this nation."

robert gatesThe letter's signees include former Directors of Central Intelligence Robert Gates (left), William Webster, George Tenet and Porter Goss; former CIA directors Gen. Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Gen. David Petraeus; former director of national intelligence James Clapper; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell, who is also a CBS News senior national security contributor.

michael morrel npc kreig 5 11 2015 cropped SmallMorell, (shown at right in a file photo by the Justice Integrity Project) told "CBS This Morning" he helped organized the letter.

He said it was "difficult to get the language just right, because there were those of us who believed that what John has done since he left government and how he has chosen to use his voice is appropriate, and actually required in a democracy, and there are those of us who believe that he is acting inconsistent with the stature of a former director, so it was tough to get that right."

New Omarosa Tape On Trump Job Offer

omarosa lara trump nbc Custom

nbc logoNBC News, Omarosa releases secret tape of Lara Trump offering her $15K-a-month campaign job, Adam Edelman, Aug. 16, 2018. The tape, which was broadcast on MSNBC, was made just days after the former "Apprentice" contestant left her White House job.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality TV star who became a top White House aide to President Donald Trump, on Thursday released exclusively to MSNBC a secret tape of campaign official Lara Trump offering her a $15,000-a-month job after she was fired from the administration.

rnc logoThe tape — which, according to Manigault Newman was made on Dec. 16, 2017, just days after she had left the White House — appears to corroborate claims she made in her new book about receiving an offer from the president's re-election campaign, which would work with the Republican National Committee. Manigault Newman wrote in her book that the job offer came with the condition of signing a nondisclosure agreement; she said she did not accept it.

On the new tape, Lara Trump says: "It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can't have, we got to," she continues, before Manigault Newman interjects, "Oh, God no."

"Everything, everybody, positive, right?" Trump continues.

The Hill, NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes, Aris Folley, Aug. 16, 2018. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman is reportedly believed to have scores of recordings from her time working for President Trump, leaving other aides concerned.

omarosa manigault abc ml 12 14 17 CustomThe New York Times reported on Thursday that Manigault Newman, shown in a file photo, could have as many as 200 tapes that may contain information about the president and people close to him.

The newspaper reported that a number of Trump administration aides have expressed concern that they too will make an appearance on Manigault Newman’s other tapes as she continues to release bombshell recordings in promotion of her new tell-all book, “Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House.”

Report: Trump Wants Omarosa Arrested

Vanity Fair, “Death Spiral”: Why Omarosa Totally Triggered Trump, Gabriel Sherman, Aug. 16, 2018. The perceived betrayal of a longtime female ally, and her perfectly executed Trumpian tactics, made the feud too personal to ignore.

omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverIn the days before Omarosa Manigault Newman rolled out her White House tell-all, Unhinged, Donald Trump’s advisers were hoping he wouldn’t engage with the book, believing it would only elevate her claims and help sell more copies.

“Just ignore it,” one told me, while even Melania Trump told her husband to let it go, Axios reported. Of course, this being Donald Trump, he ignored their counsel and went to war.

Now advisers fear his rage at Manigault Newman is fueling irrational outbursts that bolster the claim in her book that Trump said the “n-word” during an Apprentice outtake.

omarosa manigault newman headshotIn recent days, Trump has called Manigault Newman, shown in a file photo, “crazed,” a “lowlife,” and a “dog” on Twitter. His campaign filed an arbitration suit against her seeking “millions.”

And Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Manigault Newman arrested, according to one Republican briefed on the conversations. (It’s unclear what law Trump believes she broke.)

Another Republican recounted how over the weekend Trump derailed a midterm-election strategy session to rant about Manigault Newman’s betrayal. In an effort to change the narrative, the White House announced yesterday that Trump had revoked former C.I.A. director John Brennan’s security clearance. But that only ignited a new public-relations crisis.

Trump Response To Omarosa

fox news logo SmallFox News, Lara Trump blasts Omarosa ‘betrayal,’ calls latest tape a ‘fraud,’ Adam Shaw, Aug. 16, 2018. Lara Trump tore into her old friend Omarosa Manigault Newman on Thursday after she released a tape of the president's daughter-in-law offering her a job on the 2020 campaign shortly after being fired from the White House.

“I hope it’s all worth it for you, Omarosa, because some things you just can’t put a price on,” Trump said in a statement. She fired back after Manigault Newman appeared on MSNBC and aired excerpts from a tape that appeared to show Lara Trump offering her a job at $180,000 a year to join President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, after she was fired in December 2017.

$92 M Cost Estimate For Trump Military Parade

CNN, Pentagon postpones Trump's military parade, Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Clare Foran, Aug. 16, 2018. The Department of Defense says the military parade originally scheduled for Veterans Day will be postponed.

"The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America's military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I," Defense Department spokesman Col. Rob Manning said in a statement Thursday. "We originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019."

President Donald Trump said in February that a military parade in Washington would be "great for the spirit of the country," but that it would need to come at a "reasonable cost." The President said he was inspired by the Bastille Day parade in France, which he described as "quite something" after attending in 2017.

An administration official told CNN the $92 million figure for the US military parade, which was first reported by CNBC, was a planning estimate for an event that would meet President Donald Trump's intent. About half that amount would have been for non-military costs like security.

Manafort Jury Weighs Verdict

Roll Call, Manafort Jury at Impasse Over Foreign Accounts, ‘Reasonable Doubt’, Griffin Connolly, Aug 16, 2018. Jurors had four questions for judge Thursday. After roughly seven hours of deliberation Thursday, the six men and six women on the jury deciding the fate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appeared at an impasse and will require at least another day to hand down their verdict.

FBI logoAt approximately 5:06 p.m., Judge T.S. Ellis III read a handwritten note from the jury with four questions. One of the questions referred to the requirements for people filing reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, or FBARs. Another asked the judge to redefine “reasonable doubt.”

The questions Thursday afternoon provide insight into the debates jurors are sorting out as they try to come to a consensus agreement on whether Manafort is guilty or innocent on none, some, or all, of the 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud.

In their first question for Ellis, the jury asked if someone is required to file an FBAR if they own “less than 50 percent of the account, do not have signature authority over the account,” but do have the authority to “direct disbursement of funds” from the account. Prosecutors have charged Manafort with willfully failing to submit FBARs to the Treasury Department in order to conceal the existence of 31 foreign accounts in which he allegedly hid more than $30 million from the IRS.

ny times logoNew York Times, Questions the Jurors in the Manafort Trial Will Be Asking, Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Baumgaertner, Aug. 16, 2018. Jury deliberations began in the trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, who is charged with 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. The prosecution called more than 20 witnesses and presented a wealth of documents, including Mr. Manafort’s financial records and emails. The defense rested without calling any witnesses, which is not uncommon.

Many factors could affect how the jury weighs the evidence. Here are some:

Rick Gates’s credibility. Mr. Manafort’s close aide for nearly two decades, Mr. Gates helped Mr. Manafort with both his business and personal finances. At Mr. Manafort’s request, he testified, he doctored profit and loss statements, lied to accountants about Mr. Manafort’s foreign bank accounts and helped him deceive bank officers so they would approve millions of dollars in loans for which Mr. Manafort did not qualify.

But Mr. Gates was also a flawed witness. He has pleaded guilty to two felony charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the hope of winning a lighter sentence. He also acknowledged committing a host of other crimes, including embezzling from Mr. Manafort’s accounts.

On the stand, he vacillated between taking responsibility for his misdeeds and trying to minimize them. Asked why he lied on one financial document, for instance, he said he was merely doing his friend “a favor.” Kevin Downing, one of Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, accused him of leading a “secret life” that included at least one mistress, and possibly four.

Aretha Franklin Dies

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People Magazine, Remembering the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin's Life in Photos, Kate Hogan, Aug. 16, 2018. The legendary singer lived an incredibly full life. Born in Memphis on March 25, 1942, Aretha Franklin got a taste for gospel music thanks to her father, Rev. C. L. Franklin. At age 5 she moved to Detroit, where her dad became pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church and encouraged her talents.

She eventually toured the country in her dad’s gospel caravan before landing a contract with Columbia Records, and later, Atlantic. It was then her career took off; her 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You went gold.

Daily Beast, When Franklin Sang ‘Nessun Dorma’ at the Grammys: The Story Behind the Greatest Award Show Performance Ever, Kevin Fallon, Aug. 16, 2018. With only 20 minutes notice, Franklin replaced an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and, unrehearsed, stopped the show singing opera. The story behind the legendary performance.

It was 30 minutes into the 1998 Grammy Awards and Gary Simmons, the assistant to the show’s co-producer, Tisha Fein, got a phone call: Luciano Pavarotti would not be performing.

The renowned opera singer was set to perform one of his most famous arias, “Nessun Dorma,” in celebration of being a Grammy Living Legend honoree that night. He had been at the rehearsal, and sounded fine. Nonetheless, Pavarotti himself was on the phone, mid-telecast, telling an assistant, “I don’t feel well, I can’t come, I sing for you next year.”

Supreme Court Nominee

New York Magazine, Opinion: Poll: Kavanaugh Is the Most Unpopular Court Pick in Decades, Eric Levitz, Aug. 16, 2018. The conservative movement’s judicial agenda is extremely unpopular. This is, in part, because the movement recognizes that some of its goals are too politically toxic to advance through the more democratic branches of the federal government, and thus, seeks to implement them through litigation. Congress would have had a difficult time clearing the way for unlimited corporate spending on American elections, or gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or legalizing most forms of political bribery, or hobbling public-sector unions — but the Roberts court had no such trouble.

brett kavanaughAnd yet, historically, the unpopularity of conservative jurisprudence has rarely put a dent in the in the public image of conservative judicial nominees.

Democratic voters have traditionally followed the lead of their party’s elites, and judged Republican presidents’ Supreme Court picks on the strength of their professional qualifications, rather than their ideological commitments. John Roberts and Samuel Alito are two of the most radically reactionary Supreme Court justices in our nation’s modern history, and yet both enjoyed overwhelming public support when their nominations were brought before the Senate. Even last year, in our hyperpolarized epoch, when Donald Trump announced his intention to put Neil Gorsuch into Merrick Garland’s rightful Supreme Court seat, 49 percent of Americans said that the Senate should confirm him, while just 36 percent said it should not.

All of which makes this new CNN poll remarkable: A plurality of American voters currently want the Senate to reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. In the past three decades, no high court nominee has ever attracted plurality opposition in initial polling — and only Robert Bork suffered a lower level of opening support.

Media on Whistleblowers

 aaron westrick

Dr. Aaron Westrick, above, a former policeman whose life was saved by his bulletproof vast, became the research director for America’s largest body armor company – Second Chance Body Armor – and was the first official to oppose the sale of bulletproof vests made with Zylon fiber. Based on his disclosures, these defective vests were forced off the market and police officer’s lives were saved. Dr. Westrick is the subject of a one hour documentary featuring highlights of his case and the scandal behind the sale of faulty Zylon vest. The CBS show "Whistleblower" featuring Dr. Westrick can be seen Friday, August 17 at 10/9c or online here.

national whistleblower center logoNational Whistleblower Center, Opinion: Faulty Bulletproof Vest Case Featured on CBS’s “Whistleblower” Series, Mary Jane Wilmoth, Aug. 16, 2018. On August 17, 2018, the CBS summer standout series “Whistleblower” will feature the captivating story of Dr. Aaron Westrick, a whistleblower represented by Washington, D.C. qui tam attorney Stephen M. Kohn.

Westrick went up against Japanese fiber manufacturer Toyobo and Second Chance Body Armor, the largest body armor manufacturer in the U.S. at the time, in a False Claims Act case that lasted 14 years. The qui tam lawsuit resulted in the United States recouping millions of taxpayer dollars, Toyobo alone paying $66 million to resolve claims of fraud brought by Dr. Westrick and pursued by Kohn.

CBS publicity materials describe “Whistleblower” as taking “a thrilling look into the real-life David vs. Goliath stories of heroic people who put everything on the line in order to expose illegal and often dangerous wrongdoing when major corporations rip off U.S. taxpayers.”

“The CBS Whistleblower story demonstrates the courage and strength shown by Dr. Westick to face off against huge corporations to save lives,” said Kohn, who has a long history of representing qui tam whistleblowers and has helped establish important whistleblower protections.

The show is hosted by Alex Ferrer, a former judge and police officer. According to the CBS website, each episode “introduces cases in which ordinary people step up to do the extraordinary by risking their careers, their families and even their lives to ensure others are not harmed or killed by unchecked, unethical corporate greed.”

Dr. Westrick was the first official in the body armor industry to blow the whistle on bullet proof vests made from a material known as Zylon. His disclosures resulted in the decertification of Zylon vests by the National Institute for Justice and millions of dollars in sanctions obtained from Second Chance Body Armor (“SCBA”) and Toyobo, the Japanese company that manufactured the Zylon material. Dr. Westrick also testified in the wrongful death case of Officer Tony Zeppetella, who was shot while wearing a Zylon vest. Dr. Westrick’s testimony was the critical evidence that resulted in the jury awarding Zeppetella’s widow $1.5 million in damages based on the failure of SCBA and Toyobo to warn police officers of the dangers from Zylon.

Westrick’s disclosures ultimately resulted in the defective vests being forced off the market saving the lives of countless police officers, military and first responders. United States ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., et al. (D.D.C. No. 04-0280 PLF).

In a ceremony marking National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, pointed to the Westrick case stating, “when you don’t listen to whistleblowers like Dr. Westrick, that’s when the regrets come. Because of his remarkable courage, the product was pulled from the market, and no doubt countless lives saved. But think about it this: what if his company had listened to him in the first place? Times would have turned out very differently for the two brave officers whose vests failed them.”

“Dr. Westrick is a true American hero,” said Kohn. “He lost his job and career in the body armor industry by exposing Zylon safety risks.He provided documents and testimony justifying the removal of Zylon vests from the market, and compensation to states and the federal government due to the immoral sale of Zylon vests.” Westrick partnered with whistleblower attorneys Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP and the National Whistleblower Center to pursue his qui tam lawsuit to a successful end for the taxpayers and public safety.

More U.S. Politics

Roll Call, Rodney Davis’ Field Director Charged With Assault After Crashing Opponent’s Event, Bridget Bowman, Aug 16, 2018. Staffer reportedly harassed Davis’ opponent Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Republican Rep. Rodney Davis’ campaign field director was arrested and charged with aggravated assault Wednesday night after an altercation involving the Illinois lawmaker’s Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.

Levi Lovell was arrested at a Londrigan campaign event at a local bar, according to WCIA Chicago reporter Mark Maxwell. Lovell reportedly shouted at Londrigan, a businesswoman and former aide to Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, and then punched someone at the event.

The response from the Davis campaign was swift. “As soon as I was made aware of the incident, his employment was immediately terminated,” campaign manager Matt Butcher said in a statement.

Londrigran said she was “relieved that my family, staff, and supporters are all ok and that this incident didn’t escalate even further.”

Drug Overdoses Rising

ny times logoNew York Times, New Estimates Show Record Number of Overdose Deaths, Margot Sanger-Katz, Aug. 15, 2018. Fentanyl is a big culprit in new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control that indicate over 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, an increase of around 10 percent.

Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths.

Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly. It is the second factor that most likely explains the bulk of the increased number of overdoses last year.

The picture is not equally bleak everywhere. In parts of New England, where a more dangerous drug supply arrived early, the number of overdoses has begun to fall. That was the case in Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island; each state has had major public health campaigns and has increased addiction treatment. Preliminary 2018 numbers from Massachusetts suggest that the death rate there may be continuing to fall.

But nationwide, the crisis worsened in the first year of the Trump presidency, a continuation of a long-term trend. During 2017, the president declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, and states began tapping a $1 billion grant program to help fight the problem.

#MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, Vatican Calls Details of Abuse in Report ‘Reprehensible,’ Sharon Otterman and Elisabetta Povoledo, Aug. 16, 2018. “Victims should know that the Pope is on their side,” the Vatican said, responding to a grand jury report on pervasive sex abuse committed by clergy and covered up by Catholic Church leaders in Pennsylvania.

Media News

ny times logogoogle logo customNew York Times, Google Workers Protest Plans for Censored Search Engine for China, Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi, Aug. 16, 2018. About 1,400 of the tech giant’s employees have signed a letter demanding transparency, saying censored search results raise “urgent moral and ethical issues,” according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.

Media: UN Propaganda On ISIS?

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Syria -- Pentagon Plants High ISIS Numbers To Justify Occupation, b, Aug. 16, 2018. The U.S. aim in Syria is still 'regime change'. The Pentagon has made it clear that it wants to stay in the country even after the Islamic State vanished. A little propaganda trick is now used to create a justification for its continuing occupation.

The report by the UN Security Council's Sanctions Monitoring Team on ISIS, in parts discussed here, includes a number that smells of bullshit and manipulation: "Some Member States estimate the total current ISIL membership in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic to be between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals, roughly equally distributed between the two countries. Among these is still a significant component of the many thousands of active foreign terrorist fighters." Footnote 2 gives as source: "Member State information."

The high number given by a "Member State" exceed all prior assessments. The original strength of ISIS was estimated as a few thousand and it swelled as it took more land and incorporated local auxiliary forces and newly arriving foreign fighters. In September 2014, when ISIS was near its peak, the CIA estimated a total of 31,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. The number shrank as ISIS was kicked out of more places it earlier occupied while it lost ten thousands of its fighters to Russian, Syrian, Iraqi and U.S. bombs, artillery and other military means. In July 2017 the commanding general of U.S. Special Forces said that 60 to 70,000 ISIS fighters had been killed.

Federal Judge OKs Release of FBI Steele Dossier

Politico, Judge: Trump's release of dossier memos opens door to disclosures from FBI, Josh Gerstein, Aug. 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's decision to declassify competing congressional memos about the validity of the so-called Steele dossier means the FBI has lost its authority to rebuff Freedom of Information Act requests about the bureau's efforts to verify the report's intelligence linking Trump to Russia during the 2016 campaign, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta previously blessed the FBI's decision to refuse such FOIA requests by declining to confirm whether or not any records exist about aspects of its handling of the hotly contested dossier, prepared by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The judge ruled in January that Trump's tweets about the dossier did not require the FBI and other intelligence agencies to be more responsive to public records requests on the issue.

However, Mehta said Trump's actions in February to green-light the release of one memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and a separate memo from the panel's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, left untenable the FBI's position of resisting disclosure.

The decision came on a FOIA lawsuit filed last year by this reporter and a pro-transparency group, the James Madison Project.

Cops, Crime, Courts: U.S. Roundup

San Francisco Chronicle, 76-year-old deaf woman sues Alameda County sheriff’s deputy for rough arrest, Megan Cassidy, Aug. 16, 2018. A deaf 76-year-old woman accused an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputy of excessive force during an alleged jaywalking incident last year, claiming the deputy “violently threw” her to the ground and handcuffed her to an ambulance while she was unconscious.

Attorneys for plaintiff Hui Jie Jin laid out the allegations in a lawsuit filed late last week in Northern District of California. The suit claims Jin suffered a permanent brain injury, along with contusions and abrasions, as a result of what her attorneys called an unlawful arrest.

Aug. 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort’s tax- and bank-fraud case is heading to the jury, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 15, 2018. Jury members in the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort heard closing arguments Wednesday as they prepared to deliberate on 18 charges of bank fraud and lying to the IRS that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” prosecutor Greg Andres said during closing arguments to the six-woman, six-man jury in Alexandria, Va. “Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t.”

The jury is scheduled to start deliberating Thursday after hearing testimony about the lavish lifestyle and multimillion-dollar loans of the political consultant and onetime chairman of the Trump campaign.

As Andres spoke, slowly and dispassionately, jurors looked at him, occasionally scribbling notes in the black notebooks they have used throughout the trial. Manafort, wearing a blue suit, did not look at Andres or the jury while the prosecutor spoke.

Roll Call, 3 Key Points in Manafort Defense’s Closing Argument; Prosecutors bear the burden of proof in the U.S., Manafort’s lawyers remind jury, Griffin Connolly, Aug 15, 2018. Paul Manafort’s lawyers presented their final argument Wednesday, defending the former Trump campaign chairman from 18 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and bank fraud conspiracy.

Manafort faces up to 305 years in prison if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty on all charges.

Prosecutors bear the burden of proof in the United States, defense attorney Richard Westling reminded jurors. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, which is prosecuting Manafort, did not reach that evidential threshold, Westling said.

Here are the defense’s three main arguments why:

washington post logoWashington Post, Clearinghouse for Kavanaugh documents is Bush White House lawyer, angering Senate Democrats, Seung Min Kim​, Aug. 15, 2018. The National Archives, which has played a central role for previous Supreme Court nominees in vetting their White House papers and sending them to the Senate, has effectively been sidelined.

Official Corruption?

New York Post, Opinion column: Whistleblower makes shocking IRS, insider trading allegations, John Crudele, Aug. 15, 2018. A whistleblower made this shocking allegation to me last week: the IRS was tipping off members of Congress to corporate takeovers so the elected officials could profit from insider trading. My snitch also charged that higher-level employees of the IRS also used that information to enrich themselves.

This may sound crazy but remember: Up until a few years ago members of Congress were allowed to trade stock based on information they got while performing their public duties. It wasn’t until 2012, during President Obama’s tenure, that the practice was banned.

But the difference between what had been going on legally until 2012 and what my whistleblower is contending is enormous. Everyone assumed that members of Congress were just profiting from things they happened to learn while working on their committees — that a drug was going to get turned down by the FDA, for instance, or that a company was sniffing around to see how regulators would feel about a merger.

That was bad enough! What the whistleblower alleges goes well beyond that and is, quite frankly, freakin’ mind-boggling.

Media News: Twitter

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Twitter CEO says he’s rethinking how the core of the social media platform works, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Aug. 15, 2018. Jack Dorsey told The Post that he is experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers.” He also doesn’t want to enable the spread of hate speech, harassment and false news.

Pennsylvania Court Cites #MeToo Suspects

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse, Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday released a sweeping grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing hundreds of accused clergy and detailing 70 years of misconduct and church response across the state.

The release is the culmination of an 18-month probe, led by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, on six of the state’s eight dioceses — Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg — and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

Some details and names that might reveal the 300 clergy listed have been redacted from the report. Legal challenges by clergy delayed the report’s release, after some said it is a violation of their constitutional rights. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled last month that the report must be released but with some redaction.

theodore mccarrickThe report’s release begins an information war, with prosecutors and many victims saying it’s the start of holding church leaders at the top accountable for the first time, while church lawyers and other advocates for the institution say the report depicts an era of another century, unfairly smearing today’s Catholicism in Pennsylvania.

The report has helped renew a crisis many in the church thought and hoped had ended nearly 20 years ago after the scandal erupted in Boston. But recent abuse-related scandals, from Chile to Australia, have reopened wounding questions about accountability and whether church officials are still covering up crimes at the highest levels.

The new wave of allegations has called Pope Francis’s handling of abuse into question as many Catholics look to him to help the church regain its credibility. The pope’s track record has been mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report follows the resignation last month of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, right, a towering figure in the U.S. church and former D.C. archbishop who was accused of sexually abusing minors and adults for decades. Both have further polarized the church on homosexuality, celibacy and whether laypeople should have more power. It has also triggered debate about whether statutes of limitations should be expanded.

washington post logocardinal donald wuerl portrait fullWashington Post, Washington archbishop’s actions in Pittsburgh scrutinized in sexual abuse investigation of Catholic Church, Julie Zauzmer and Reis Thebault, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). Washington, DC's Cardinal Donald Wuerl, right, spent 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh. A grand jury investigation, which probed six dioceses’ histories dating back to 1947, depicts Wuerl’s actions there as mixed, at times stopping abusive priests from continuing in their ministries and at other times guiding them back into parishes.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats pick historic nominees in New England; Pawlenty stunned in Minn., Michael Scherer,  Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). Democrats continued their pattern of nominating glass ceiling breakers by selecting a transgender woman as their candidate for governor in Vermont, a black woman for a U.S. House seat in Connecticut and a Muslim woman for another congressional seat in Minnesota. Also in Minnesota, Jeff Johnson is projected to have defeated Tim Pawlenty, a former governor who was critical of Donald Trump in 2016. The upset was a sign of the president’s rising control over the Republican electorate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Change Their Strategy in Bid for House, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 15, 2018. House Democrats, looking to wrest control of the chamber from Republicans in November, are discarding the lessons of successful midterms past and pressing only a bare-bones national agenda, leaving it to candidates to tailor their own messages to their districts.

democratic donkey logoIt is a risky strategy, essentially putting off answering one of the most immediate questions facing the Democratic Party after its losses in 2016: What does it stand for? The approach could also raise questions among voters about how Democrats would govern.

Democrats say they have answered that question with a recently adopted slogan, “For the People,” a skeletal, three-point platform and a longer version, called “A Better Deal.” But with anti-Washington sentiment simmering; a deep divide between the party’s moderates and its left flank; and the brand of the party’s longtime leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, toxic in large sections of the country, they have concluded that a unified campaign framework emanating from Capitol Hill would do more harm than good.

GOP Court Packing Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, With little fanfare, Trump and McConnell reshape the nation’s circuit courts, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). As the Senate moves toward confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading a lower-key yet deeply consequential charge to remake the entire federal judiciary.

The Senate will return Wednesday from an abbreviated summer recess to confirm two more federal appeals court judges by the end of the week. That would come on top of a record-breaking string of confirmations: The Senate already has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office.

'Unhinged' President?

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘That Dog,’ Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). In Twitter posts, the president (shown above in a publicity photo from his show "The Apprentice") attacked the former aide who has written a book [Unhinged] about her time in the White House, calling her a “crazed, crying lowlife.”

omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverMr. Trump also renewed his offensive on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and blamed him for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.Fresh from his vacation in New Jersey,

Mr. Trump had a light week of scheduled events. He spent much of Tuesday morning tweeting out quotations from people who criticized the special counsel investigation, at times inserting his own opinions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign files arbitration action against Omarosa Manigault Newman, John Wagner, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s campaign has filed an arbitration action against Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging the former White House aide, who just published a tell-all book, has broken a 2016 confidentiality agreement, a campaign official said Tuesday.

The action, which the campaign said was filed in New York, comes amid a publicity tour by Manigault Newman to promote her book, “Unhinged,” which portrays Trump as bigoted and racist and questions his mental capacity. The Washington Post has not seen the nondisclosure agreement signed by Manigault Newman during the campaign, but copies of other agreements signed by aides include broad prohibitions on behavior and appear to be drawn heavily from similar contracts used by the Trump Organization, the president’s family firm.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: Contracts are not enforceable when they involve illegal activities. One can expect the defendant basic legal principal to boomerang the president's action back at him and focus on proof of illegal activities of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and public. If successful that might take the Stormy Daniels  / Michael Avenatti public relations-litigation model to new levels.

Manafort Tax, Bank Fraud Trial

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Paul Manafort shown in a 2016 cable screenshot when he was Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort’s defense team rests without calling witnesses, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman​, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). The decision in the bank- and tax-fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort comes after Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort as his lawyers argued the special counsel had failed to prove its case.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, White House press secretary apologizes for false statement about black employment, Jeff Stein, Aug. 15, 2018 (print edition). Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrongly said that President Trump has created three times as many jobs for black workers as the Obama administration did. The White House Council of Economic Advisers took responsibility for the error.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s lawyers prepare to fight subpoena all the way to high court, Robert Costa​, Aug. 15, 2018. Rudolph W. Giuliani said President Trump’s lawyers are “pretty much finished” drafting a response to a potential subpoena request from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office.

washington post logokellyanne conway fox aug.28 2016Washington Post, She works for Trump. He can’t stand him. This is life with Kellyanne and George Conway, Ben Terris, Aug. 15, 2018. The Conways, like the rest of the country, have been jolted by the President Trump. They love each other, exasperate each other and talk behind each other’s backs. Take a look inside the marriage of one of Trump’s most loyal advisers and her husband, an increasingly outspoken critic of the president.

Syrian War

SouthFront, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Commander Threatens Lavrov, Vows To “Cut The Feet” Of Any Soldier Attacking Idlib, Staff report, Aug. 15, 2018. On August 15, Abu al-Fath al-Farghaly, a senior commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), warned Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, that the radical group will “cut the feet” of any soldier who attacks the northern governorate of Idlib.

“The Mujahedeen are in their strongest physical and moral status and their will won’t decline for a moment until the liberation of Damascus and beyond,” al-Farghaly said in an open letter to Lavrov, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a.

A day earlier, Lavrov said during a joint news conference in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has the right to defend itself against attacks in Idlib. The Russian foreign minister also noted that the de-escalation agreement in northern Syria don’t include terrorist groups.

Lavrov’s statement clearly triggered HTS’ leadership, who believed that the de-escalation agreement and Turkey will protect their remaining strongholds in northern Syria.

Many Syrian activists mocked al-Farghaly warning because HTS was badly defeated and its so called “Mujahedeen” run away in all the recent battles with the SAA. This warning is likely meant to calm down HTS-supporters in northern Syria who are panicking over the upcoming attack of the SAA.

Aug. 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Defense team gets chance to present its case in Manafort trial, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman​, Aug. 14, 2018.

Tuesday, 9:19 a.m.: New emails show Manafort deeply involved in financial dealings with banks, loan applications. Before resting Monday, prosecutors moved into evidence about three dozen emails that have not previously been shown. Most attempt to  show Paul Manafort himself was deeply involved in his financial dealings even when delegating authority to deputy Rick Gates, who defense attorneys claim was sabotaging his boss. Gates testified he committed fraud at Manafort’s direction and testified under a plea deal with prosecutors.

On Monday, Manafort’s attorneys argued some of the allegations related to the loans from Federal Savings Bank are not “material,” or significant. steve calk banker croppedThe Federal Savings Bank loaned Manafort $16 million, which prosecutors say Manafort received based on fraudulent financial information. Prosecutors also say the bank’s chief executive, Stephen Calk (shown  at right), had helped Manafort secure the loans because Calk wanted a Cabinet-level position in the Trump administration.

In an Aug. 4, 2016 email to Manafort, Calk says, “I am happy and willing to serve.” In November, just after the election, Calk sends a petition to be nominated Secretary of the Army to Manafort, asking “what changes and improvements I should make.”

donald trump make great logoAmong the qualifications Calk lists — “Mr. Calk willingly risked his national professional and personal reputation as an active, vocal, and early supporter of President-Elect Trump.” He listed the “Perspective Rolls” [sic] he would like in the administration, listing possible prospective jobs he sought, in order. Secretary of the Army was number one, followed by the chiefs of Treasury, Commerce, HUD, and Defense.

He said he would also be most interested an ambassadorship in the United Kingdom but would settle for France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Ireland, Australia, China, United Nations, the European Union, Portugal, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Singapore. in that order.

Abortion / Supreme Court Vacancy

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Court Shaped by Trump Could Restrict Access to Abortion, Adam Liptak, Anjali Singhvi, Natalie Reneau, Robin Stein and Aaron Byrd, Aug. 14, 2018.  President Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was a cautious supporter of abortion rights. With his departure and the addition of a second Trump appointee, the Supreme Court would have a conservative majority that would most likely sustain sharp restrictions on access to abortion in the United States.

supreme court graphicBut if the court does hear a case that brings up the issue, it is hardly clear that it would take the drastic step of overruling Roe. The court could instead opt for a more incremental strategy, upholding increasingly severe restrictions in much of the country but stopping short of saying that the Constitution has nothing to say about a right to abortion.

Assuming that there are five justices ready to limit abortion rights, how could that happen? Here are some of the possible scenarios, each of which entails a different degree of legal upheaval.

Inside Trump White House

Fortune Magazine, Select Former Trump Aides Receive Monthly Salaries of $15,000, Reports Say, Renae Reints, Aug. 14, 2018.  Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman reportedly states in her book that she was offered a monthly salary of $15,000 for signing a nondisclosure agreement. Finance records obtained by ABC News appear to back this claim.

rnc logoAccording to the network, federal election filings show a number of former Trump aides have received monthly payments of around $15,000. The money comes from either the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, or the America First PAC, but it’s not clear if the payments are in exchange for the former aides’ silence.

Those receiving payments — either directly or through firms they manage — include former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller, former personal assistant to the president John McEntee, former digital media director of the Trump campaign Brad Parscale, and former director of advertising for the Trump campaign Gary Coby, ABC reports. The salaries are listed for “security services,” “payroll,” “digital consulting [and] management consulting,” and “media services [and] consulting,” respectively.

The White House has not responded to the claims of hush money, although Trump has publicly attacked Manigault-Newman after tweeting she, too, signed an NDA, a statement she denies.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told ABC earlier this week that NDAs are standard practice for any workplace, Politico reports. “That’s not hush money,” she said. But Manigault-Newman says she was offered a salary for a “job” that required no work — only her signature on an NDA.

ny times logodjt official SmallNew York Times, Trump Appears to Admit White House Aides Signed Nondisclosure Agreements, Maggie Haberman, Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). A tweet disparaging Omarosa Manigault Newman appeared to confirm the highly unusual move of having aides sign nondisclosure agreements, which officials have declined to acknowledge for months.

The president made the statement in a post on Twitter about Newman, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who became an assistant to the president, and whose new book makes unflattering claims about Mr. Trump and his family. “Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!” Mr. Trump tweeted, using the type of moniker he often deploys against people who say disparaging things about him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s deals to silence aides seen as aggressive, unusual, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Aug. 14, 2018. Dozens of White House aides have signed nondisclosure agreements in exchange for working for President Trump, who has long relied on such agreements in his business career, according to current and former administration employees.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Sabotage of Obamacare Is Illegal, Nicholas Bagley and Abbe R. Gluck, Aug. 14, 2018. A president doesn’t have the right to dispense with laws he dislikes.

From the moment he took office, President Trump has used all aspects of his executive power to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. He has issued executive orders, directed agencies to come up with new rules and used the public platform of the presidency in a blatant attempt to undermine the law. Indeed, he has repeatedly bragged about doing so, making statements like, “Essentially, we are getting rid of Obamacare.”

But Mr. Trump isn’t a king; he doesn’t have the power to dispense with laws he dislikes. He swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That includes the requirement, set forth in Article II, that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Mr. Bagley and Ms. Gluck, the authors of the column above, are law professors.

GOP Court Corruption?

ny times logoallen loughry croppedNew York Times, West Virginia House of Delegates Votes to Impeach Entire State Supreme Court, Campbell Robertson, Aug. 14, 2018. The West Virginia House of Delegates voted late Monday night to impeach all of the justices on the Supreme Court, a decision prompted initially by reports of extravagant spending on office renovations. In a series of votes that frequently fell along rough party lines, lawmakers approved 11 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices, sending the process on to the State Senate.

republican elephant logoMost of the articles involved the chief justice, Allen Loughry, right, a Republican, who has been suspended since June and is facing a 23-count federal indictment on charges of fraud and false statements. He is accused of using state property for personal use and of deceiving lawmakers, in addition to the charge of “unnecessary and lavish spending,” most emblematically on a $32,000 office sofa.

Media: Fighting Fake Theory

ny times logoNew York Times, Thwarting Fight Against Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories, Sapna Maheshwari and John Herrman, Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). The father of a 6-year-old victim has tried to erase lies about his son from the internet, but Automattic, which runs WordPress, said “untrue content is not banned.” Leonard Pozner says he spends hours every day trying to erase online conspiracy theories that the death of his 6-year-old son Noah at the Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.

alex jones headshotHe has taken Alex Jones, right, of Infowars, by far the most visible Sandy Hook denier, to court. He has put pressure on major tech companies to take action against the conspiracy theorists who flourish on their platforms.

But the bulk of his work is more methodical. Sandy Hook conspiracies are strewn around the internet on various platforms, each with its own opaque rules and reporting mechanisms. So Mr. Pozner has studiously flagged countless videos and posts for a wide variety of offenses — invasions of privacy, threats and harassment, and copyright infringement — prompting Facebook, Amazon and Google to remove false material about his son.

Twitter has been less receptive to his claims and some smaller sites have simply not responded at all. But one company, Mr. Pozner says, has actively pushed back against his attempts.

U.S. Politics

nancy pelosi o

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi? Paul Krugman, Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). Republicans’ attack ads have increasingly focused on one of their usual boogeymen — or, rather, a boogeywoman: Nancy Pelosi, right, the former and possibly future speaker of the House.

So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.

ny times logoNew York Times, 4 States Are Voting on Tuesday. Here’s What to Watch, Sydner Ember, Aug. 14, 2018. A look at the most important primaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As Trump keeps raging at Mueller, another poll shows his lies are failing, Greg Sargent, Aug. 14, 2018. Because so many of us got it wrong in 2016, we often tend to reflexively tell ourselves that President Trump must be working some kind of hidden magic over public opinion that we’re all missing.

One place this constantly manifests itself is with special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation: If Mueller’s approval falls a few points, a throng of pundits and hand-wringing liberals rushes forth to tell us that Trump is “winning” his battle with Mueller.

American FlagBut what if public opinion about Trump and the Russia probe is a lot simpler than we think? What if the story is that large majorities think Trump is probably guilty of some sort of wrongdoing; believe that Mueller’s investigation is legitimately in keeping with the rule of law and is pursuing matters that are important to the public interest; want Trump to face questioning over these matters; don’t like Trump’s constant attacks on the investigation; and believe Trump has been trying to interfere with the probe and has been steadily lying about it all along?

bob goodlatte cropped oRoll Call, Goodlatte Family Feud Not the First to Befuddle Congress, Morgan Phillips, Aug. 14, 2018. Things got a little awkward for retiring Republican Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, right, over the weekend, after his son announced he had donated the maximum amount allowed to the Democrat running to replace him.

republican elephant logoThe San Francisco-based younger Goodlatte tweeted about his contribution, setting off a flood of copycat money. Democratic candidate Jennifer Lewis saw more than $40,000 pour into her campaign coffers in the hours following the tweet. But Bobby Goodlatte didn’t stop there. On Monday, he tweeted support for newly fired FBI agent Peter Strozk, whom his father had grilled at a congressional hearing in July.

“I’m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok’s career was ruined by my father’s political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress. Thank you for your service sir. You are a patriot,” he said.

Between Bernie’s son and the Conyers family, this election cycle has seen some familial discord. When Bobby Goodlatte, son of the Virginia congressman by the same name, spoke out this week in defiance of his father, it struck some as odd. But it wasn’t the first family feud to play out in Congress. Here are a few of the ones we’ve seen this year.

bobby wilson arizona state senateAlterNet, Trump-Imitating GOP Candidate Who Killed His Own Mother Also Allegedly Threatened His Homeowners' Association President, Matthew Chapman, Aug. 14, 2018. Bobby Wilson, right, recently boasted about killing his mother. That's not the only violent altercation he has been in.

republican elephant logoBobby Wilson, a Republican candidate for Arizona State Senate, drew controversy at a Moms Demand Action event last month when he cited, as an example of "good guys" with guns, the time he fatally shot his own mother.

Now, The Arizona Republic has discovered Wilson was involved in another violent incident in 2016 at their vacation community in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, during which he allegedly made a violent threat against the president of a condo association, Dan Dimovski.

World Affairs: Israel

ny times logoisrael flagNew York Times, Opinion: Israel, This Is Not Who We Are, Ronald S. Lauder (president of the World Jewish Congress), Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). Orthodoxy should be respected, but we cannot allow the politics of a radical minority to alienate millions of Jews worldwide.

Global Finance Crisis: Turkey

washington post logoWashington Post, Erdogan calls for boycott of U.S.-made electronics amid feud with Trump administration, Kareem Fahim​, Aug. 14, 2018.  A dispute over an American pastor detained in Turkey has sparked the worst crisis between the NATO allies in decades and has contributed to the rapid decline of the Turkish currency.

U.S Complicity With ISIS?

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: UN Sanction Monitor: U.S. Watches As ISIS In Syria Recuperates, Pumps And Sells More Oil, b, Aug. 14, 2018. Since November 2017 the U.S. largely stopped the fight against ISIS in north-east Syria. It gave ISIS the chance to regain power. A new report to the UN Security Council now confirms that ISIS in north-east Syria recuperated. It again profits from oil extraction under the nose of U.S. forces.

#MeToo: Deputy DNC Chair Accused

ny times logokeith ellison o smallNew York Times, Representative Keith Ellison Denies Domestic Abuse Allegations, Matthew Haag, Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). Ahead of Minnesota’s primaries on Tuesday, Representative Keith Ellison, right, has denied allegations that he emotionally and physically abused a former girlfriend, including once trying to pull her off a bed while yelling obscenities at her.

The allegations surfaced on Saturday night in a Facebook post published by the son of the ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan. The post referred to a two-minute video that the son, Austin Monahan, claimed showed Mr. Ellison “dragging my mama off the bed by her feet.”

democratic donkey logoThe denial on Sunday by Mr. Ellison, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, was forceful. “Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being,” he said in a statement. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”

In an email to The New York Times on Sunday night, Ms. Monahan, an organizer at the Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club, said that she survived what she described as “narcissist abuse” after a multiyear relationship with Mr. Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

#MeToo: Feminist Accused

ny times logoNew York Times, What Happens to #MeToo When a Feminist Is Accused? Zoe Greenberg, Aug. 14, 2018 (print edition). Avital Ronell, a superstar professor, was found by N.Y.U. to have sexually harassed a male grad student. But his charges have met with disbelief from some feminist scholars.

Nimrod Reitman accused his former N.Y.U. graduate school adviser, Avital Ronell, of sexually harassing him, and the university found her responsible. But some leading feminist scholars have supported her in ways that echo the defenses of male harassers.CreditCaitlin Ochs for The New York Times

The case seems like a familiar story turned on its head: Avital Ronell, a world-renowned female professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University, was found responsible for sexually harassing a male former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman.

An 11-month Title IX investigation found Professor Ronell, described by a colleague as “one of the very few philosopher-stars of this world,” responsible for sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, to the extent that her behavior was “sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment.” The university has suspended Professor Ronell for the coming academic year.

More On Manafort Case:

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Trump will pardon Paul Manafort, Paul Waldman, Aug. 14, 2018. Today saw a major development in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as the defense decided not to call any witnesses. So not only won’t Manafort be testifying, neither will anyone else on his behalf.

paul manafort mugWhich brings us a bit closer to what could be the final disposition of this case: the day when President Trump pardons Manafort, shown at left in his jail mugshot.

We should acknowledge that criminal defendants often decide not to call any witnesses; there are a number of situations in which you might choose to do so. Maybe you feel the prosecution did such a poor job that there’s nothing more to add. And since the burden is on them to prove that the defendant is guilty, not calling any witnesses can be a way of making sure the jury focuses on the prosecution’s case, instead of muddying up their deliberation with questions about whether the defense witnesses were credible. You also might be concerned about what the cross-examination of your witnesses could reveal.

But in Manafort’s case, it’s certainly a risk. The prosecution offered not only people who testified that he committed crimes but also extensive documentation of bank fraud and tax fraud. There’s another explanation, though, one well put by Franklin Foer, who has reported extensively on Manafort:

Going on the stand himself was probably never under consideration, since cross-examination would have been a nightmare. It’s unclear whether Manafort had any fact witnesses who could refute the evidence that was offered in the prosecution’s case. And there may not be anyone around who would testify to Manafort’s sterling character, both because few people want to be associated with him today and because he has long been known as a particularly immoral schemer, almost a walking caricature of the mercenary lobbyist willing to do anything for a buck.

Aug. 13

Voting Rights / Suppression

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

ny times logoJustice Department log circularNew York Times, Shifting Its Stance on Voting Rights, U.S. Embraces Limits, Michael Wines, Aug. 13, 2018 (print edition). Voting Rights Advocates Used to Have an Ally in the Government. That’s Changing. The Obama Justice Department fought voter-ID laws, aggressive purges of voter rolls and dilution of minority votes. Under President Trump (shown above in a Defense Department photo), the department often does the opposite.

Manafort Trial

Roll Call, 3 Takeaways as Prosecution Rests Case in Paul Manafort Trial, Griffin Connolly, Aug 13, 2018. Trial has put potential tax reporting loophole under the microscope.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution team on Monday rested its case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, wrapping up its evidence and witness testimony in just 10 days. The defense will decide whether it will call any witnesses Tuesday morning. If it does not, both sides are expected to deliver closing arguments. Then the jury will decide Manafort’s fate.

The former political consulting titan is being tried on 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud and faces a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Day 10 of the trial:

1. Manafort puts potential tax reporting loophole under the microscope

For the tax evasion charges against Manafort from 2012 to 2014, the prosecutors’ case hinges on whether Manafort willfully failed to report on his tax returns that he owned foreign bank accounts. Manafort, through his political consulting firms (first, Davis Manafort Partners, then DMP International), controlled 32 foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom, set up by Cypriot lawyer Kypros Chrysostomides, referred to in court as “Dr. K” due to his name’s difficult pronunciation and spelling for non-Greek speakers.

To be required to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts, or FBAR, a person must own more than 50 percent of the entity with foreign accounts. For the years 2012 through 2014, Manafort owned a flat 50 percent of his firms, the defense has argued — just under the threshold that would trigger an FBAR requirement.

But Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, owned the other 50 percent, and the couple have filed joint tax returns for decades, U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye has argued. The rules for filing an FBAR state that a person can have ownership both “directly” and “indirectly.”

Neither the prosecution, the defense, nor the judge has explicitly said whether Kathleen Manafort’s 50 percent ownership of DMP and DMP International constitutes an indirect ownership by her husband.

The jury’s decision ultimately comes down to whether they believe that Manafort knew he was supposed to file FBARs for his income from DMP and DMP International and that he willfully hid millions of dollars in income overseas in accounts he did not report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort trial Day 10: Special counsel’s office calls its final witness in fraud case, Rachel Weiner, Lynh Bui, Michael Kranish and Tom Jackman​, Aug. 13, 2018. ​After calling 27 witnesses over 10 days, prosecutors with the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III sought to prove that President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman lied to avoid paying taxes on millions in overseas income and to obtain loans. Manafort’s defense will now have the opportunity, if it chooses, to present witnesses.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.

The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

What we learned from Day 10 of the trial:

• Paul Manafort or his agents neglected to mention mortgages on two New York properties when he sought $16 million in loans

• A vice president of Federal Savings Bank said he wouldn’t have approved the $16 million loans, but the bank CEO pushed them through

• The prosecution rested its case in chief, and the defense will argue its motion to acquit on Tuesday

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs defense bill but snubs the senator the legislation is named after — John McCain, Anne Gearan, Paul Sonne and David Nakamura, Aug. 13, 2018.  President Trump frequently disparages the senator publicly, although usually not by name. McCain has been among the harshest of his Republican critics.

john mccain 2009 wPresident Trump on Monday signed a sprawling $716 billion defense bill named for John McCain, right, at a ceremony here, but he made no public mention of the ailing senator who has been among his harshest Republican critics.

In a 25-minute address to troops, Trump praised the U.S. military as the world’s most powerful war-fighting force and took credit for the legislation, which represents a $16 billion increase in authorized funding for the Pentagon over the current year.

But Trump said nothing of McCain (R-Ariz.), a former GOP presidential nominee, Vietnam War hero and POW, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a champion of most of the priorities contained in the legislation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Banker: Manafort omitted two New York mortgages when applying for $16 million in loans, Rachel Weiner, Lynh Bui, Michael Kranish and Tom Jackman​, Aug. 13, 2018. Prosecutors allege Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in. They are expected to rest their case today.

Paul Manafort

ny times logoNew York Times, The Rise and Fall of Paul Manafort: Ego, Greed and Deception, Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 13, 2018 (print edition). The former Trump campaign chairman’s trial has ripped away the facade of a man (shown above in a file photo) who worked for the campaign for free, intimating he was too rich to need the money.

Trump Keeps Omarosa In News

The Hill, Trump lashes out at 'Wacky Omarosa,' Jordan Fabian, Aug. 13, 2018. President Trump on Monday blasted former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (shown at right in a portrait by Gage Skidmore) after she went on a media tour to promote her new book that calls the president a racist and an incompetent leader.

"Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will," Trump tweeted, referring to her appearances on his old reality television program.

omarosa manigault newman gage skidmore custom 2In a series of tweets, Trump sought to explain why he hired someone whom he dubbed a "lowlife" to a senior position in the White House and the reasons for her dismissal last winter.

"She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok," the president wrote. "Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard...."

The latest barbs from Trump escalated the conflict with Manigault Newman, which has virtually consumed the White House for the past several days.

"While I know it’s 'not presidential' to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!" Trump wrote in a separate tweet.

The Hill, New Omarosa tape: Firing caught Trump by surprise, Emily Birnbaum, Aug.13, 2018. Omarosa Manigault Newman on Monday morning released a recording of a phone call between herself and President Trump in which Trump expresses surprise that the former White House aide was fired.

"Omarosa, what's going on?" Trump can be heard saying in the brief clip, which aired for the first time on NBC's "Today" show. Manigault Newman said the phone call took place the day after Trump's chief of staff John Kelly fired her. "I just saw on the news that you're thinking about leaving. What happened?" Trump asks.

"General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave," Manigault Newman replied in the recording.

"No," Trump said. "Nobody even told me about it. You know, they run a big operation but I didn't know it. I didn't know that. Damnit."

"I don't love you leaving at all," he added.

This audio comes on the heels of Manigault Newman's Sunday release of a tape that records Kelly firing her from her White House position.

washington post logoWashington Post, Omarosa is good at getting fired. She’s even better at talking about it on TV, Helena Andrews-Dyer,  Aug.13, 2018. Her expertly timed one-on-one interviews are a master class in misdirection. Because if there’s anything Omarosa learned from her former boss President Trump (who recently called his former staffer a “lowlife”) it’s how to manipulate the narrative while seemingly feeding into it.

omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverOmarosa, whose new book Unhinged is a literary dart aimed straight at the White House, has been hitting the sit-down circuit hard over the last 24 hours. The former assistant to the president appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, sitting across from host Chuck Todd, and by Monday morning she was sipping from a “Today” show mug at a table with Savannah Guthrie.

“Savannah, slow down,” Omarosa told the morning-show host who had been trying, like any good cross-examiner, to get the former reality-show star to answer a question straight. Did you know the president was a liar? If so, then why work at the White House, Guthrie had asked.

“I’m going to answer your questions,” Omarosa continued, setting the pace as she always does. “Don’t worry, I’m here. I’ve got all the time you need. You don’t have to ask 10 questions in one second. It’s okay.”

More Trump Probe Fallouts

peter strzok croppedThe Hill, FBI fires Strzok over anti-Trump texts, Olivia Beavers, Aug. 13, 2018. The FBI has fired Peter Strzok, right, the counterintelligence agent who came under fire for sending disparaging text messages about President Trump and other political figures during the 2016 election.

FBI logoStrzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, confirmed the firing, which took place on Friday. He blasted the decision in a statement, saying the "Deputy Director of the FBI overruled the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and departed from established precedent by firing 21-year FBI veteran Peter Strzok."

"The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical Bureau practice, but also contradicts Director Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters," Goelman said in a statement.

U.S. Plan's Impact

ny times logoICE logoNew York Times, Trump’s Immigrant Plan Could Hurt a Million New Yorkers, Liz Robbins, Aug. 13, 2018. A proposed rule would make it difficult for immigrants and their family members who use government services to obtain permanent residency, city officials said.

Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards.

New York City officials estimated that at least a million people here could be hurt by this plan, warning that the children of immigrants seeking green cards would be most vulnerable.

#MeToo News

washington post logoPope FrancisWashington Post, New sex scandals roiling the Vatican, presenting a crisis for Pope Francis, Chico Harlan​, Aug. 13, 2018 (print edition). Analysts who have studied the Roman Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse, and several people who have advised the pope, say the Vatican has been unable to take the dramatic steps that can help an organization get out from under scandals — and avoid their repetition.

U.S. Political News

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A natural’: Donald Trump Jr. emerges as a campaign star, despite Russia baggage, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker​, Aug. 13, 2018 (print edition). Although the president’s son is under scrutiny in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe, he has emerged as his father’s political alter ego and is poised to be a key player in a strategy aimed at galvanizing President Trump’s most ardent supporters.

ny times logoNew York Times, White Supremacists, Fractured, Chose to Shun Rally, Richard Fausset, Serge F. Kovaleski and Alan Feuer, Aug. 13, 2018. The white supremacists who alarmed the nation a year ago on the streets of Charlottesville, Va., with their tiki torches and hateful chants show signs, at least temporarily, of being pushed back into the shadows after months of legal challenges, counterprotests and internal strife.

Sunday’s sparse turnout on the streets of Washington says little about the country’s current levels of intolerance, bigotry and xenophobia. Hate crimes in the 10 largest American cities were up last year, and fearmongering talk of “massive demographic changes” has made its way into the mainstream. But it does say something about the disarray within a movement that last August had a disquietingly large turnout at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

Turkish Financial Crisis

ny times logoFlag of TurkeyNew York Times, Turkey’s Economic Woes Fuel Fears of Contagion in Markets, Jack Ewing and Alexandra Stevenson, Aug. 13, 2018. After the country’s currency fell to a new low against the U.S. dollar, investors expressed concern that the problems could spill over into other regions.

Turkish Anger At U.S.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Erdogan: How Turkey Sees the Crisis With the U.S., Recep Tayyip Erdogan (president of Turkey, shown at right), Aug. 13, 2018. Unilateral actions against Turkey by the United States will undermine American interests and force Turkey to look for other friends and allies.

recep erdogan throneUnless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy.

On July 15, 2016, Turkey came under attack by members of a shadowy group led by Fethullah Gulen [shown in a file photo at left], who leads his organization, officially described by my government as Fethullah Terrorist Organization, from a compound in rural Pennsylvania. The Gulenists tried to Fetullah-Gullenstage a bloody coup against my government. On that night, millions of ordinary citizens rushed to the streets out of a sense of patriotism, similar to what the American people undoubtedly experienced after Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Two hundred and fifty one innocent people, including Erol Olcok, my longtime campaign manager and dear friend, and his son, Abdullah Tayyip Olcok, paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom. Had the death squad, which came after me and my family, been successful, I would have joined them.

The Turkish people expected the United States to unequivocally condemn the attack and express solidarity with Turkey’s elected leadership. It did not. The United States reaction was far from satisfactory. Instead of siding with Turkish democracy, United States officials cautiously called for “stability and peace and continuity within Turkey.” To make matters worse, there has been no progress regarding Turkey’s request for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen under a bilateral treaty.

More On Omarosa

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Welcome to the Resistance, Omarosa, Michelle Goldberg, Aug. 13, 2018. Naturally, Manigault Newman’s new book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, is self-serving, a way to avenge her 2017 firing and make money telling us what we already know about this wretched administration.

Nevertheless, she had other options for cashing in. She has revealed that she was offered a $15,000-a-month position on the Trump re-election campaign in exchange for keeping her mouth shut. She could have had a career in right-wing media; an African-American celebrity willing to say that the Republican Party isn’t racist will always find patrons.

Studies have shown that the people who are most likely to leave cults are those who maintain intimate links to people outside them. Manigault Newman, who last year married a pastor who campaigned for Hillary Clinton, could never fully sever ties with Trump critics.

Police State Methods

National Security Archive, Guatemala Police Archive under Threat, Staff report, Aug. 13, 2018. Repository of historic human rights evidence faces government crackdown. Guatemala’s renowned Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN) is in crisis after its director Gustavo Meoño Brenner was abruptly removed in one of a series of recent actions orchestrated by the Guatemalan government and a United Nations office.

The actions also placed the AHPN’s remaining staff of more than fifty people on temporary contract, and transferred oversight for the repository from the country’s national archives, where it had functioned since 2009, to the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Meoño learned of his removal on Friday, August 3, when a convoy of government vehicles pulled up in front of the Police Archive, and officials from the Culture Ministry and the Guatemalan office of the United Nations Development Programmme (UNDP) entered, demanding that he leave. “The operation was executed with all the characteristics of a commando strike,” one press account reported.

The unexpected move threatens to jeopardize the stability of the AHPN’s enormous collection of fragile National Police documents.

Since their discovery in an abandoned and deteriorating state on a Guatemala City police base in 2005, hundreds of volunteers and paid employees have cycled through the AHPN under Meoño’s leadership to clean, organize, scan, and make public over twenty million pages of the estimated 8 linear kilometers of paper records. A UNDP employee with no experience in archival management has been named to replace Meoño as director.

Aug. 12

Omarosa's Trump Book

washington post logoomarosa manigault newman unhinged CustomWashington Post, Ex-Trump aide releases recording purportedly made in White House Situation Room, Stephanie McCrummen​, Aug. 12, 2018. Omarosa Manigault Newman’s purported recording, which would constitute a serious breach of White House security, was played on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

Axios Sneak Peek, Analysis: 1 big thing: Inside Omarosa's reign of terror; 2. Between the lines on Omarosa's secret tapes, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 12, 2018. Want to know the secret behind Omarosa's wild, largely unchallenged, run in the White House, during which she would swan in and out of the Oval Office, secretly recording the president and his chief of staff? It’s simple: Some of the most powerful men in government were terrified of her.

1 big thing: Inside Omarosa's reign of terror: "I'm scared shitless of her... She's a physically intimidating presence," a male former colleague of Omarosa's told me. "I never said no to her," the source added. "Anything she wanted, 'Yes, brilliant.' I'm afraid of her. I'm afraid of getting my ass kicked." (He wouldn't let me use a more precise description of his former White House role because he admitted he's still scared of retribution from Omarosa. Other senior officials have admitted the same to me.)

Three other former officials shared that sentiment. “One hundred percent, everyone was scared of her,” said another former official.

President Donald Trump officialThe big picture: Trump has nobody to blame but himself for Omarosa's raucous book tour, in which she calls him a racist and a misogynist, and says he's in mental decline. Trump brought her into the White House at the senior-most level with the top salary.

In many ways, two former senior administration officials pointed out, what Omarosa is doing now is pure Trump.

"She may be the purest of all the Trump characters," one told me. "She may be the most Trumpian. She knows media, she knows about physical presence, like Trump does...that's why I think he's rattled."

john kelly o dhs2. Between the lines on Omarosa's secret tapes: A scene that caught the attention of West Wing officials and national security lawyers today: Omarosa let NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd play tapes of White House chief of staff John Kelly, whom she secretly recorded while he was firing her.

Why this matters: It's extraordinary enough to secretly record a White House colleague and then play the tape on television. But it's even more stunning that the conversation happened in the Situation Room — the most secure area in the West Wing, reserved for the most sensitive conversations, many of them dealing with highly classified intelligence.

Behind the scenes: I spoke to several Trump officials who've spent time in the SitRoom. They say Kelly and the White House lawyers — especially Uttam Dhillon, who was recently appointed to head the Drug Enforcement Administration — used the SitRoom to talk with staff they were accusing of serious breaches, including problems with their clearances.

In the recording Omarosa played on "Meet the Press," Kelly refuses to elaborate on the "pretty serious integrity violations" he tells her she committed.

The bottom line: Omarosa says Kelly threatened her and she made her secret recording to protect herself. And to be clear: the conversation was not classified, meaning she may not have broken federal law. But national security lawyers I've spoken to say it’s nonetheless disturbing.

Fox News, Omarosa releases purported secret recording of Chief of Staff John Kelly 'threatening' her in the Situation Room, Gregg Re, Aug. 12, 2018. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the ex-reality star and former Trump aide who has since accused the president of racism, on Sunday released what she claimed was a secret recording of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "threatening" her in the White House Situation Room.

But White House officials pushed back immediately, saying Manigault-Newman's termination for alleged ethical violations was handled appropriately and charging that she had flagrantly security protocols by taping Kelly in the highly secured room in the basement of the West Wing.

In the recording, Kelly purportedly calls for Manigault-Newman's "friendly departure" from the administration without any "difficulty in the future relative to your reputation." According to the tape, Kelly continued by saying that things could get "ugly" for her, and that she was "open to some legal action" for conduct that would merit a court martial if she were in the military.

That comment was a "very obvious ... threat," Manigault-Newman told NBC's "Meet the Press." She said she had recorded the conversation because otherwise no one would believe her. That Manigault-Newman had apparently managed to record a conversation in the White House's high-tech Situation Room, which is the nerve center of sensitive government military operations, alarmed analysts Sunday.

U.S. Politics

bob woodward carl bernstein npc noel 10 20 14

Bob Woodward, left, and Carl Bernstein speak at the National Press Club in a 2014 forum on their work (Photo courtgesy of Noel St. John)

The Guardian, Woodward and Bernstein: Watergate echoes loud in Donald Trump era, David Smith, Aug. 12, 2018  Veteran journalists may have thought their biggest story was behind them, then Trump came along. ‘This is worse than Watergate,’ says Bernstein.

Carl Bernstein received an email from Bob Woodward the other day. “Can you believe this?” it read, “44 years!”

It was a reference to President Richard Nixon’s resignation on 8 August 1974, following years of dogged reporting by the Washington Post’s Woodward and Bernstein into the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

The most famous double act in journalism were in their early 30s at the time and, like the Beatles when they broke up, could have been forgiven for assuming that the biggest story of their career was behind them. But then along came Donald Trump with Watergate echoes too loud to ignore. “Woodstein”, as the affectionate compound noun has them, are elder statesmen now but the hunger is still there.

Woodward’s upcoming book, Fear: Trump in the White House, shot to number one on Amazon.com within a day of its announcement. It is expected to be the most authoritative account yet of the first 18 months of the administration.

Bernstein was among three CNN reporters who recently broke the story of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s allegation that the Republican candidate knew in advance of the June 2016 meeting between his son, Don Jr, and Russian representatives.

keith ellison o smallRoll Call, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison Denies He Abused Ex-Girlfriend, Staff report, Aug. 12, 2018. Allegations surfaced Saturday against lawmaker running for state AG.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., right, has denied that he was abusive to an ex-girlfriend. The accusations surfaced just days a primary vote on Tuesday that will decide whether he becomes his party's pick to run for state attorney general.

Ellison confirmed that he’d had a long-term relationship with Minneapolis resident Karen Monahan in a statement on Sunday, while denying the accusations.

Her 25-year-old son, Aslim Monahan, wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he’d clicked on a file while was trying to download something on his mother’s computer in 2017 and “found over 100 text and twitters messages and video almost 2 min long that showed Keith Ellison dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a “f---ing bitch” and telling her to get the f--- out of his house.”

Aslim Monahan wrote that his mother said nothing happened “until I told her I saw a video and hell of a lot of messages saying something different.”

Ellison issued this statement on Sunday: “Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being. This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”

Several hours after her son’s Facebook post, Karen Monahan also weighed in on social media. “That was my son who posted and its true,” she tweeted. “He wouldn’t lie about his own mom.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Wisconsin Faces a Political Crossroads at the Polls Tuesday, Monica Davey, Aug. 12, 2018. Democrats hope to swing back in their favor a state that played an unexpectedly pivotal role in President Trump’s victory. But it may be too late.

Wisconsin’s urgent struggle to define — or redefine — its political direction is part of a larger identity crisis that has rippled across the Upper Midwest since 2016.

Like Wisconsin, union-rich Michigan had been seen as a given for Democrats in presidential years, but narrowly sided with Mr. Trump, revealing the possibility of a shifting set of concerns and priorities and a changed political landscape. Minnesota, which is also holding primary elections on Tuesday, stayed in the Democratic column in 2016, but Mr. Trump lost by a far slimmer margin than expected, setting off a flurry of re-examination there.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tweets Reflect Fixation on Women’s Appearances, Maggie Haberman, Aug. 12, 2018. The president’s comments on Lisa Page and Nellie Ohr made clear his disdain for the two women, who have connections to the Russia inquiry.

Supreme Court Nominee

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh could usher ‘end of the regulatory state as we know it,’ Robert Barnes and Steven Mufson​, Aug. 12, 2018. Hot-button social issues such as abortion and race have so far dominated the debate about Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but there is no more important issue to the Trump administration than bringing to heel federal agencies and regulatory entities.

Race / Culture Battles

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Rally, Trump Does Not Condemn White Supremacists, Noah Weiland, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). As white nationalists planned to gather in front of the White House on Sunday to mark the anniversary of last year’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., President Trump denounced “all types of racism,” but did not specifically condemn the supremacists.

Daily Beast, Surrounded by Thousands of Protesters, White Nationalists Sneak Out of Their Own D.C. Rally, Kelly Weill, Jason Kessler planned the Charlottesville hate march. Exactly one year later, he and a dozen supporters got run out of the nation’s capital.

The racists wanted a show of force, a two-hour rally, and the respect of the nation’s capital. They got none of it. Instead, the two dozen or so white supremacists were outnumbered by more than 1,000 protesters. The group relied all day on a heavy police presence to escort their rally and then, before it was even scheduled to start, they fled in police vans.

Unite the Right II, meant to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville hate rally, was a bust. Its organizer, Jason Kessler, had spent the previous year accumulating enemies, from white supremacists who attended his first rally to thousands of anti-fascists protesters who were ready to shut down his sequel on Sunday.

Kessler’s faction assembled in a Virginia subway station in the afternoon. Rather than face protesters at the subway station’s entrance, they lingered by a private bus until a swarm of police — more than one officer per white supremacist — rushed them into the station.

The dozen white nationalists filtered into a heavily blockaded area in front of the White House, where Kessler delivered remarks, in part acknowledging the rally’s failure, and aired some old talking points in which he claimed to be a free speech activist and not a white nationalist.

Unite the Right II was scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Lafayette Park. But after the racists’ hasty trip to the park and their meager speeches, they hitched a ride out of the rally in police vans before 5 p.m., more than half an hour before the event was supposed to begin. Police escorted them to a subway station, where they helped them onto train cars a second time and shipped them off out of the city.

City of Charlottesville, Virginia, Press Release: Arrests Made in Charlottesville, Aug. 12, 2018. As of 4 p.m. on Sunday, four individuals have been arrested in connection with incidents in and around the downtown area.

Media News

The Hill, At least 100 newspapers sign up to publish editorials targeting Trump, Morgan Gstalter, Aug. 12, 2018. The Boston Globe has enlisted more than 100 newspapers from across the country to publish editorials fighting back against President Trump’s repeated attacks on the media.

The Globe has been contacting editorial boards and asking them to publish an editorial on Thursday, CNN reported Saturday. "We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date," The Globe said in its pitch.

Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor, told CNN that more than 100 publications have signed up to participate as of Saturday. She told the network that she expects the number of newspapers participating will rise in the next few days.

"The response has been overwhelming," Pritchard said. "We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump's assault on journalism."

asne logoMajor journalistic organizations, including the American Society of News Editors [ASNE] and the New England Newspaper and Press Association, have been helping to coordinate the effort, CNN reported. Each newspaper will write their own editorial, rather than publish a unified message.

Pritchard told the newspaper teams to write about how Trump’s “assault” on journalism impacts their communities. "Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming,” Pritchard wrote.

The Globe’s campaign began days after the president ramped up his attacks on the media, which he often calls “the enemy of the people.”

"The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE," Trump tweeted last week. "I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!"

Editor's note: Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig is a member of ASNE and the project supports the editorial effort.

Russia Probe

kristin davis roger stone jan 28 2013washington post logoWashington Post, How an ex-madam, Roger Stone and a toddler got tangled up in the Russia investigation, Manuel Roig-Franzia, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). Stone, an infamous political trickster, has made allegations of harassment as close confidant Kristin Davis became his latest associate to appear before the grand jury convened by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. They are shown above in a file photo.

Investigators have been looking into Stone’s communication with Twitter persona Guccifer 2.0.

washington post logo

devin nunes head oWashington Post, Opinion: The unimpeachable integrity of the Republicans, Dana Milbank, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). House Intellitgence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican shown at right, wants to impeach the deputy attorney general. But House Republicans are running out of prospective impeachment manage

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Online activists hit hatemongers like Alex Jones where it hurts the most — in the wallet, Margaret Sullivan,  Sleeping Giants uses social media to publicly notify companies when their ads appear on sites whose far-right or bigoted views don’t mesh with their corporate values. But while some see it as “a service to advertisers,” others see a “leftist group that organizes social media mobs.”

The whole process of applying concerted social-media pressure raises profound questions.

What happens when these same techniques are used not to point out bigotry but to go after legitimate comment or personalities by twisting the facts?

“For better and worse, online activists have shown just how easily the digital economy allows agitators to make web publishers feel their pain,” wrote Osita Nwanevu in Slate, comparing Sleeping Giants to an effort all the way across the political spectrum — the Gamergate movement’s successful targeting of Gawker’s advertisers in 2014 as they made the hypocritical case to advertisers that Gawker supported bullying.

Rivitz notes that Sleeping Giants has never called for a boycott. It has merely — but insistently — pointed out to companies that they are advertising in places that may not be compatible with their corporate image.

More On Omarosa's Book

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Omarosa’s book isn’t news, but what she did sure is, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 12, 2018. When she has tapes allegedly made within the confines of the White House, and worse, the Situation Room, that is news because it reflects the abject incompetence and sloppiness in the administration, both of which endanger the country.

In that respect, Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” did the country a service in revealing the cavalier and unprofessional conduct inside the West Wing:

Omarosa Manigault Newman: As you’ll see in Unhinged, I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies. The president lies to the American people. Sarah Huckabee stands in front of the country and lies every single day. You have to have your own back because otherwise you’ll look back and you’ll see 17 knives in your back.

The Hill, White House seeks to prevent Omarosa from releasing more tapes: report, Morgan Gstalter, Aug. 12, 2018. The White House is looking into legal options against former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman after she secretly recorded chief of staff John Kelly in the Situation Room, ABC News reported Sunday.

The administration reportedly wants to block Manigault Newman from releasing any more tapes and punish her for the recording she revealed on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier Sunday, which was taped during Kelly's firing of her back in December.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Sunday that the “very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room, shows a blatant disregard for our national security.”

“And then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee,” Huckabee Sanders continued.

A number of journalists, national security experts and former White House staff raised alarms about the dangers of recording in the Situation Room — the highly sensitive space where phones and electronic devices are prohibited for security reasons.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer called Manigault Newman’s taping “a massive violation of security protocol.”

“She taped the chief of staff for the White House in the Situation Room, clearly a violation of every security protocol that she signed when she applied for a security clearance,” Spicer said on "Fox News Sunday."

Manigault Newman released the tape in conjunction with her book tour for Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House. Excerpts of the explosive memoir released this week include the former aide claiming that Kelly fired her when he knew she was close to getting the audio of Trump using a racial slur.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Don’t fall for Trump’s latest whataboutism, Editorial board, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). The claim that the Clinton team’s and the Trump team’s actions in the 2016 campaign were on the same moral or legal plane is preposterous.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What happens when the government stops doing its job? Steven Mufson, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). Trump wants to roll back regulations. But his administration may have an even greater impact by just ignoring them.

Global Intrigues

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Sunday Cartoon Op-Ed, Picking Sides in Saudi Arabia’s Feud With Canada, Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, Aug. 12, 2018. What happens when you oppress basically everybody who is not a prince? You have idiots running the country. Exhibit A is Saudi Arabia, which just started an ill-advised fight with Canada.

wayne madsen new headshotHabilian Foundation, Opinion: MEK Terrorists To Stir Up Problems In The Balkans, Wayne Madsen (Q&A format), Aug. 12, 2018. Investigative reporter and commentator Wayne Madsen, right, is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

The MEK became part of the neo-conservative network calling for US intervention in Iran after the disastrous US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The MEK worked closely with leading pro-Israel neo-cons in the aftermath of the Iraq debacle. These include Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Daniel Pipes, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback (now Donald Trump's special envoy for "religious liberty"), and the late Democratic Representative Tom Lantos.

The MEK also has other strong bi-partisan political support in the US from people like Rudolph Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser.

maryam rajavi 2017 paris conferenceThe MEK is a personality cult beholden to the Rajavis that conducts terrorist attacks on Iran and Shi'as in Iraq on behalf of third parties, including the U.S., Israel, and the Saudis.

The Rajavis [Maryam Rajavi, shown at left, wife of Massoud Rajavi] are cult leaders in the same manner of the heads of the Church of Scientology, the Unification Church (the "Moonies"), and the personality cult now developing [around] Trump.

Cults are neither democratic nor libertarian because members must give total loyalty to the cult leaders. In the case of MEK, it is the Rajavis.

Aug. 11

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logobrett kavanaugh confirmation hearing 2004 CustomWashington Post, Analysis: Democrats all but acknowledge Kavanaugh is headed toward confirmation to Supreme Court, Sean Sullivan​, Aug. 11, 2018 (print edition). The Senate is poised to install Brett M. Kavanaugh, rigfht,  on the high court and take the next step toward fulfilling President Trump’s pledge to remake the Supreme Court — and the wider federal judiciary, potentially for decades.

Manafort Trial Revelations

paul manafort cnn

Paul Manafort shown in a 2016 cable screenshot when he was Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort’s scramble: Raising millions for himself as he ran Trump’s campaign, Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Marc Fisher​, Aug. 11, 2018 (print edition). Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Marc Fisher​·​ With 3 a.m. emails and a flurry of loan applications, Paul Manafort was trying to save a tanking business. Months ahead of the election, there was no sign, campaign insiders say, that he was in crisis.

ap logoAssociated Press​ via Washington Post, Airline employee steals plane without passengers from Seattle airport and crashes, Staff report, Aug. 11, 2018. A “suicidal” airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane, took off from Sea-Tac International Airport and was chased by military jets before crashing into a small island in the Puget Sound, officials said. Video showed the plane doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers.

Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes.

New Book On Trump: 'Unhinged'

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk about Omarosa, Bill Palmer, Aug. 11, 2018. Trump came face to face with pool reporters today, and one of them asked him this question: “Do you feel betrayed by Omarosa?” His answer: “Lowlife. She’s a lowlife.” Wait, so if she’s a lowlife, why did he give her a senior adviser position in the White House?

omarosa manigault newman unhinged Custom

The Guardian, The key Trump revelations in Omarosa Manigault Newman's new book, David Smith, Aug. 11, 2018 (print edition). The ex-White House adviser’s forthcoming memoir says Trump insisted upon being sworn in to the presidency with his own book.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, whose association with Donald Trump goes back all the way to his days on reality TV, has displayed her flair for spectacle by publishing a scathing insider’s account of his White House.

Omarosa [shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore] says Trump is a racist who uses N-word – and claims there is tape to prove it.

Her book, Unhinged, characterizes the US president as a bigot, sexist and racist who has been caught on mic using the N-word “multiple times.” This is the verdict of the woman who was his director of African American outreach during the 2016 presidential election, then the most senior African American on his staff until her sudden departure last December.

Manigault Newman, who embraced the role “villain” on The Apprentice, said in 2015: “When you have a big reality TV star as the front-runner for the Republican nomination there is no way to separate it. This is the new reality.” Donald Trump is shown in a promotional photo for the show at right.

donald trump apprentice black and whiteHer memoir offers a glimpse of a reality TV candidacy and presidency full of chaos, egos, internecine warfare and mendacity.

When the Guardian approached the White House for comment about Manigault Newman’s book on Thursday, there was no response. But on Friday, press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed: “This book is riddled with lies and false accusations”. She added: “It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks.”

There is more to come, however. Manigault Newman is due to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday and then embark on a lengthy publicity tour that could further damage the man she once regarded as a mentor.

Mueller Targeting Assange?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Robert Mueller is making his move on Julian Assange, Bill Palmer, Aug. 11, 2018. Over the past few days we’ve seen Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury proceedings against Roger Stone reach a crescendo with the subpoena of Randy Credico, the alleged go-between for Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the election.

roger stone headshotIt’s now nearly a given that Stone, shown in a file photo, will soon be indicted. But now the evidence is mounting that Mueller is about to make his move on Assange as well.

The first hint came when Ecuador recently decided to hand Julian Assange over to UK authorities, who are surely willing to extradite him to the United States if he’s indicted here. But now we’re learning that the Senate is actively seeking testimony from Assange. More specifically, the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing the asking. This is a big deal, because this is the one congressional committee that’s been fully acting in concert with Robert Mueller. They wouldn’t be sending this request unless it was in line with Mueller’s agenda.

So now we know that, just as Mueller is preparing to indict Roger Stone for conspiring with Assange, and just as Ecuador is suddenly looking to rid itself of Assange, a Mueller-aligned committee is seeking testimony from Assange.

The most likely scenario is this: Mueller is about to indict Assange and seek his extradition. Ecuador knows this, and doesn’t want to defy the U.S. but also doesn’t want to be seen as capitulating to the U.S., so it’s letting the UK do the handoff. And the Senate is asking for Assange’s testimony because it plans to haul him in once he’s been brought here.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats seek stronger social media presence to guard against potential Russian interference in midterms, Michael Scherer, Aug. 11, 2018. Democratic leaders fearful of potential Russian interference and burned by recent conservative success on social media have begun a new effort to win the midterm election battle on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

democratic donkey logoThe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party organization in charge of strategy for House races, introduced internal software this spring to identify suspected automated Twitter accounts, or bots, that frequently post about key races and seem similar to the fake accounts that U.S. intelligence officials and technology firms say were part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, party officials said.

twitter bird CustomThe system also is designed to provide a more aggressive strategy to drive discussions on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, an area in which Democrats think they were outmaneuvered in 2016 — with the committee hiring dozens of social media specialists to fight daily messaging battles online.

The previously unreported effort has dispatched 43 staff members — called “battle station organizers” — to the most competitive districts in the nation, where they are building grass-roots networks to spread pro-Democratic messages as well as attacks on Republicans in local Facebook and Twitter communities. The DCCC has flagged nearly 10 accounts as malicious bots to Twitter, which shut them down, committee staff members said.

chris collins cropped oCQ / Roll Call, Chris Collins Suspends Campaign Just Days After Criminal Indictment, Simone Pathé, Aug. 11, 2018. New York Republican, shown at right, faces charges related to insider trading. New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who was arrested and indicted on charges related to securities fraud earlier this week, has suspended his campaign.

Removing Collins' name from the ballot would be extremely difficult under New York State law.

According to a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, the three avenues to remove one's name from the ballot is if the candidate dies; does not meet the basic requirements for candidacy like minimum age and residency in the state; or runs for another office and declines the nomination for the first office that candidate was seeking.

michael avenatti ccn 3 23 18 Custom

Attorney Michael Avenatti, shown in a CNN file photo, spoke in Iowa to a Democratic gathering on strategies to fight President Trump

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Avenatti Urges Democrats to Reject Michelle Obama’s Advice on Trump, Maggie Astor, Aug. 11, 2018 (print edition). Michael Avenatti, fresh off his declaration that he may run for president in 2020, used his first big speech as a prospective candidate to call on the Democratic Party to reject Michelle Obama’s oft-quoted advice about President Trump and his allies: “When they go low, we go high.”

Mr. Avenatti, the hard-charging lawyer who represents the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, did not once mention the former first lady in his keynote speech Friday night at the Democratic Wing Ding, a party fund-raiser in northern Iowa. But there was no mistaking his meaning.

“We must be a party that fights fire with fire,” Mr. Avenatti said to cheers from the audience, his voice rising. “When they go low, I say hit back harder.”

He received a thunderous ovation at the end of his speech, notably louder than the applause for the night’s other speakers, including Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio as well as Representative John Delaney of Maryland, who is running for president.

At times, his language verged on apocalyptic. The Democratic Party, he said, is “fighting for no less than the survival of our republic,” and doing so against “a man that wants to turn back the hands of time, to send us back to the Dark Ages.”

In such a fight, he continued, “we must honestly ask ourselves whether those that we fight for can afford our gentleness.”

It is a message in keeping with the work that has made Mr. Avenatti a boldface name: his alliance with Ms. Clifford, who claims to have had an affair with Mr. Trump and is suing the president’s onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

As Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, Mr. Avenatti has adopted the president’s brash manner and some of his tactics. He has a similar instinct for using the news media to his advantage; he seems always to be on one cable news show or another. His Twitter feed is sometimes combative, sometimes coy, virtually always provocative — an example of the tack he is now urging the Democratic Party to take.

There was a certain tension, however, in his speech, which mingled calls to arms with calls for Democrats to reach out compassionately to Trump voters whose support for the president may be wavering. Democrats should think of such voters “not as evildoers but as victims of a great con,” he said. “Decent people get conned all the time, and let’s face it, Trump is a very good con man.”

Global Human Rights

ap logochina flag SmallAssociated Press​ via Washington Post, New evidence emerges of China forcing Muslims into ‘reeducation’ camps, Emily Rauhala​, Aug. 11, 2018. Beijing denied the charge, but new court testimony corroborates claims of extralegal detention and forced indoctrination. “In China, they call it a political camp, but really it was a prison in the mountains,” Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national, told a court last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump condemns ‘all types of racism’ after a week of racially tinged remarks, Anne Gearan, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 12, 2018 (print edition). As white nationalists prepared to rally in Washington, the president urged the nation to “come together.” Earlier in the week, he stoked divisions with attacks on black athletes and other minorities.

Aug. 10

Manafort Corruption Trial

steve calk banker cropped

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort got $16 million in loans from bank whose CEO wanted Trump administration post, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Tom Jackman, Aug. 10, 2018. Federal Savings Bank Senior Vice President Dennis Raico testified how Paul Manafort won quick approval for loans as part of a process that featured unusual involvement from the bank’s CEO and chairman Steve Calk, shown above, who was seeking a role in the Trump administration.

A bank CEO who helped President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort obtain $16 million in loans hoped for a Cabinet-level position in the administration, a bank employee testified in federal court Friday.

The bank employee, Dennis Raico, was called as a witness after a confusing morning at Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Va., during which U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III huddled privately with prosecutors and defense attorneys, delaying the start of testimony until midafternoon. A transcript of those discussions was sealed.

No reason was offered for the delay, but when Raico finally took the stand, he described how the CEO, Steve Calk, was willing to depart from bank policies to approve loans for a friendly and well-connected political operative.

thomas s ellis iii federal judge

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III is presiding, sometimes colorfully and in biased, anti-prosecution fashion, over the trial of Paul Manafort (file photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge in Manafort trial admits mistake after berating prosecutors, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Devlin Barrett​, ​Aug. 10, 2018 (print edition). T.S. Ellis III’s daily spats with the government’s attorneys subsided Thursday as he asked jury members to ignore his outburst the day before. The move came in response to a motion filed overnight by prosecutors pursuing bank fraud and tax evasion charges against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Other Mueller Probe News

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge holds witness in Mueller probe in contempt for refusing to appear before grand jury, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 10, 2018. Andrew Miller, a former aide to longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone, had lost a court battle to quash a subpoena. •Analysis: Trump keeps tweeting about Mueller more and more.

roger stone fox shot

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone, Lifelong Political Scrapper, Fights for His Future, Alan Feuer, Aug. 10, 2018. Several recent turns in the special counsel’s Russia investigation have placed Mr. Stone, shown in a file photo, in increasing legal jeopardy.

As a flamboyant veteran of Washington and New York City politics, the campaign strategist Roger J. Stone Jr. has been in any number of knock-’em-down scrapes over the years, reaching back four decades to his early days as a self-described “dirty trickster” in the Nixon administration.

But now Mr. Stone, a veteran adviser to President Trump who has long cut a piratical figure on the political scene, appears to be engaged in his stiffest fight yet: the one for his own legal future.

On Friday, a stream of developments in the special counsel investigation underscored his peril. An old friend — a former procuress from New York whom Mr. Stone has employed as an administrative worker — testified about him to the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the inquiry. Another old friend, a New York City radio host, has been subpoenaed to appear before the same grand jury. And one of his close aides was held in contempt of court for ignoring his own subpoena, though the order was stayed.

Supreme Court Nomination

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Hearing Date Set for September 4 in Senate, Todd Ruger, Aug. 10, 2018. Republicans want a floor vote on Trump’s pick by the midterms.

ny times logobrett kavanaugh.judgeLNew York Times, Kavanaugh Urged Ken Starr Not to Indict Clinton, Michael D. Shear, Aug. 10, 2018. The view of Brett Kavanaugh, right, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, about the separation of powers may please Mr. Trump. But Democrats will want to ask more questions about his views. On Christmas Eve 1998, five days after the House impeached President Bill Clinton, Brett Kavanaugh urged his boss — Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel — not to pursue a criminal indictment of Mr. Clinton until after he left office.

Judge Kavanaugh, now President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, delivered the advice in a private memorandum made public on Friday by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

It shows that Judge Kavanaugh believed — rightly, it turned out — that the Senate would fail to convict the president for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that Mr. Starr and Mr. Kavanaugh had enumerated for Congress after Mr. Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Omarosa Book On Trump

usa today logo 5omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverUSA Today, Omarosa's ‘Unhinged’ bombshells: Trump racist, mentally 'in decline,' 'physically' unwell, Jocelyn McClurg, Aug. 10, 2018. Omarosa Manigault-Newman is going after President Donald Trump and his administration with a book entitled Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House set to be released on Aug. 14.

Omarosa Manigault Newman says she has “escaped from the cult of Trumpworld.” In her new book, the former White House aide and reality TV star is unleashing fire and fury on her one-time boss and mentor, Donald Trump.

Gallery Books, publisher of “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” promised an “explosive, jaw-dropping account.” We’ve read the book (on sale Aug. 14), which no doubt will provoke a tweet-storm of pushback from the White House.

omarosa manigault newman gage skidmore custom 2washington post logoWashington Post, Omarosa Manigault Newman says she refused $15,000-a-month hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 10, 2018. Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly last December, according to a forthcoming book by Manigault Newman and a document viewed by The Washington Post.

But she refused, according to the incendiary new book, Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House, which also depicts Trump as unqualified, narcissistic and racist. Excerpts of the book were obtained by The Post. She is shown at right in a Gage Skidmore portrait.

After she was fired, Manigault Newman wrote, she received a call from Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a job and the monthly contract in exchange for her silence.

Politico, Hell hath no fury like Omarosa scorned, Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson, Aug. 10, 2018. With her new book, ‘The Apprentice’ star and former White House official is finally and completely burning her bridges with Trump.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former star on “The Apprentice” and presidential aide, is selling herself as the ultimate Trump insider, with the best dirt on the president of the United States going back 15 years.

Nothing can change your mind about a person as quickly as getting dumped or fired. In season one, Omarosa Manigault Newman, “The Apprentice” villain-turned-senior White House official, crowed that Donald Trump’s critics one day would be proved wrong about him and forced to “bow down to President Trump.

In season two, the former communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison has penned a tell-all book in which she calls the president a “racist, bigot and misogynist” and slams his daughter for ordering up lists of leakers to fire.

The story behind Manigault Newman’s change of heart sold for a modest advance, according to people in the publishing world, in part because she spoiled the surprise in February, when she appeared on the reality show “Celebrity Big Brother,” likening her exit from the White House last December to being “freed from a plantation” and calling Trump “a special kind of fucked up.”

Impact: U.S. Attack On Turkey's Finances

 

recept erdongan hassan rouhani vladimir putin

Leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey (file photo)

Global Research, Opinion: Is Turkey Sleeping with the Enemy? The Russia -Turkey -Iran “Triple Entente,” Michel Chossudovsky, Aug. 10, 2018. US-Turkey military cooperation (including US air force bases in Turkey) dates back to the Cold War. Today Turkey is now sleeping with both Iran and Russia. And Iran in turn is now supported by a powerful China-Russia block, which includes military cooperation, strategic pipelines as well extensive trade and investment agreements.

But there is more than meets the eye.

While the US and Israel have for many years contemplated military action (including the preemptive use of nuclear weapons) against Iran, this military agenda –which relied on a longstanding military-intelligence alliance between Israel and Turkey– is currently in jeopardy. And so is Ankara’s bilateral military alliance with Washington.

Who Benefits from Trump’s Foreign Policy Statements? Short-Selling Major Currencies. Insider Trade?

On a related matter, the Trump administration is involved in acts of manipulation on foreign exchange markets with the full support of Wall Street. What is the consequence of Trump’s statements? Trigger the collapse of the Turkish Lira, which constitutes a de facto act of financial warfare directed against Turkey.

Those who had advanced knowledge of Trump’s statements (“inside information”) are making multibillion dollar profits on the foreign exchange markets. This is an issue for further investigation.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: U.S. wage growth is getting wiped out entirely by inflation, Heather Long​, Aug. 10, 2018. The good news: Pay is up 2.7 percent in the past year. The bad news: The cost of living is up 2.9 percent. This means, according to Labor Department figures, that U.S. workers' paychecks are worth less than they were a year ago.​

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. prepares for Sunday showdown between white supremacists and counterprotesters, Peter Hermann and Joe Heim​, Aug. 10, 2018. A “white civil rights” rally planned by the organizer of last August’s deadly Charlottesville rally has city leaders and law enforcement worried.

District leaders are preparing for what could be a contentious and trying day Sunday when the organizer of last year’s deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville holds an anniversary gathering with up to 400 supporters in Lafayette Square across from the White House.

As many as 1,500 counterprotesters are expected at Lafayette Square and more at two nearby parks, setting up a possible volatile showdown that District and federal law enforcement officials say they are prepared to confront.

Unlike in Charlottesville, where police allowed the opposing factions to clash in what turned into a bloody melee, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Thursday that the goal “will be to keep the two groups separate. . . . When they are in the same area at the same time, it leads to violent confrontations. Our goal is to prevent that from happening.”

CIA Torture Files Released

gina haspel national security archive collage Custom

CIA Director Gina Haspel shown in a collage by the National Security Archive

National Security Archive, Analysis: Gina Haspel CIA Torture Cables Declassified, Staff report, Aug. 10, 2018. Haspel described extended sessions of physical violence and waterboarding; CIA cables detail contract psychologists Mitchell and Jessen working for Haspel.

Current CIA director Gina Haspel described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected Al-Qa’ida terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, according to declassified CIA cables – most of which she wrote or authorized – obtained by the National Security Archive through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and posted on the Web today.

cia logoThe Haspel cables detail conditions the public has only seen in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs from Iraq of detainees hooded and shackled, forced nudity, wall slamming, and box confinement, as well as “enhanced techniques” never photographed such as the simulated drowning of suspects on the waterboard. Waterboarding is a war crime under both U.S. and international law, dating back to U.S. prosecution of Japanese solders for torturing U.S. POWs during World War II.

Although the CIA redacted Haspel’s name and those of the CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who administered the waterboard, other declassified documents (including the 2004 CIA Inspector General report) and public statements confirm their leadership of the torture of alleged terrorist Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri at the black site between November 15 and December 4, 2002.

“Release of Gina Haspel’s torture cables shows the power of the Freedom of Information Act to bring accountability even to the highest levels of the CIA,” said Archive director Tom Blanton, who first identified the Haspel cables from a footnote (336 on p. 67) in the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report declassified in 2014.

The Archive filed its FOIA request for the Haspel cables on April 16, 2018, after she was nominated by President Trump to be CIA director. Despite the clear public interest in the documents, the CIA denied the Archive’s request for expedited processing, and the Archive went to court on April 27.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Haspel as CIA director on May 17 (by a vote of 54-45) on the basis of a record amassed almost exclusively in closed hearings, with no declassification or public release of information even remotely approaching that of previous CIA nominees.

Corruption Claims Against State Supreme Court

allen loughry II 2014

washington post logoWashington Post, The entire W.Va. Supreme Court faces impeachment for alleged corruption: Gas money, restaurant lunches, an antique desk, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 10, 2018. Republican West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II, 48, right, is currently suspended without pay after arrest (2014 file photo)

A West Virginia House panel moved this week to impeach the state’s entire Supreme Court. Fourteen articles of impeachment, which will go to the full House of Delegates for a vote, allege corruption, maladministration, incompetence, neglect of duty and potential criminal behavior — impeachable offenses under Article IV, Section 9 of the West Virginia Constitution. Two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict. Both houses are Republican-controlled.

Desks went missing in the Mountain State. Not just any desks. These were state heirlooms named for Cass Gilbert, the prominent American architect who designed the state capitol in Charleston, W.Va., selecting the walnut workstations for the chambers of the state Supreme Court almost a century ago. He would later design the United States Supreme Court.

There were supposed to be 10 of them, five for the court’s five justices, elected to 12-year terms, and five for their assistants. But local media, poking around last fall, could only account for seven desks, including the one that had recently gone from the home of the then-chief justice, Allen H. Loughry II, to a nearby court warehouse.

But wait, why was the desk, state property valued at $42,000, at the judge’s private residence in the first place? And now that you mention it, what about that leather couch that had left his home for the warehouse three days earlier?

Federal investigators believe they have answers to these questions — answers that form the basis of a 23-count indictment charging Loughry, a Republican, with fraud, witness tampering, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 405 years in prison and a fine of $5.75 million. He pleaded not guilty and was suspended without pay in June.

Supreme Court / Race / Ethnicity

todd henderson university of chicagoUniversity of Chicago Maroon, UChicago Law Prof Says Sotomayor Got on Court Because She’s Latina, Wipes Twitter, Maroon Staff, Aug. 8, 2018. Conservative sonia sotomayor in scotus robe1University of Chicago Law Professor M. Todd Henderson said in a tweet Tuesday that Justice Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the Supreme Court because “her Latinaness gave us insight into her soul.”

His tweet, which said she is a “second-class intellect,” immediately drew sharp criticism from members of the University community and beyond. Some questioned how Henderson was a professor at the Law School; one user wrote, “Your dumb ass couldn’t get onto the food court.”

After initially fighting back against his critics, Henderson issued a half-apology Tuesday evening, again via tweet. He said that having another woman and Hispanic on the Court was a good thing, but argued that there are dozens of appeals court judges “smarter” than Justice Sotomayor. Still, he said, if he were a senator he would have confirmed her to the Court.

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logonancy pelosi oWashington Post, Democrats get jittery about midterms as GOP ads target Pelosi, Mike DeBonis​, Aug. 10, 2018. While the party grows optimistic about its chances of retaking the House, some Democrats are increasingly anxious that their polarizing leader, Nancy Pelosi, is making it harder to compete in crucial swing districts.

ny times logoNew York Times, DeVos Ends Policies on Abuses by For- Profit Colleges, Erica L. Green, Aug. 10, 2018. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in her most dramatic move to deregulate for-profit colleges, announced she will end an Obama-era rule to force them to prove the gainful employment of their graduates.

Florida News Online, Sarasota House Candidate Claims College Degree, University Says No Record of it, David Bishop, Aug. 10, 2018. Republican Melissa Howard appears not to have the academic credentials she’s claiming in her Sarasota-area state House campaign. Despite stating on her campaign website and other candidate biographies that she graduated with a Bachelors degree in 1994 from Miami University (Ohio), the university through a non-profit clearinghouse that verifies academic records says no degree was ever awarded.

melissa howardWhen asked about the discrepancy that she didn’t graduate from Miami University, Howard, shown at left in a Facebook photo, said “that was a lie.” She offered to send yearbook pictures and even provided a picture of her at a graduation ceremony.

When FLA News asked for the one document that would verify graduation – a diploma – Howard promised to send an electronic copy but did not. She claimed it was in her mother’s storage unit in Ohio. Her campaign consultant later said Howard did not graduate in 1994, she was one credit short and later completed it in 1996. However, the campaign was unable to provide a copy of her diploma, despite four days of repeated requests.

Academic records are easily searched on the National Student Clearinghouse website. The non-profit organization partners with universities and colleges to allow for verification of academic degrees. Miami University calls the clearinghouse its “authorized agent for providing degree verification for graduates…”

When FLA News searched Howard’s academic record – using her maiden name Melissa Marie Fox and date of birth December 25, 1971 – it confirmed she attended Miami University from August 1990 to May 1994. But also states “No Degree — Enrollment Only.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump takes aim at Turkey, announcing doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs, Damian Paletta​, Aug. 10, 2018.  The new tariffs seek to inflict additional pain on Turkey, which is already suffering a swift economic descent as its currency stumbles.

turkey flagPresident Trump on Friday said he told his administration to double the steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey, reflecting the rapidly deteriorating state of relations between both countries. The announcement would mark a major policy shift, but it was made in a Twitter post with little context. Trump remarked that Turkey’s currency, the Lira, was weakening against the U.S. dollar, a phenomenon that would make existing tariffs less impactful.

Doubling the tariffs to 20 percent for aluminum and 50 percent for steel would magnify the impact of the trade restrictions.

washington post logokris kobach kansas SmallWashington Post, Kobach recuses himself from vote counting in his primary challenge vs. Kansas governor, Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez​, Aug. 10, 2018. Vote-tallying errors have sharply cut into the lead that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, right, a staunch ally of President Trump, is carrying against incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Media News

ny times logofacebook logoNew York Times, Facebook Banned Infowars. Now What? Kevin Roose, Aug. 10, 2018 (print edition). Slippery-slope fears about mass censorship by social media platforms are probably overblown. But many valid questions remain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Hasten Local Newspapers’ Demise, Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser, Aug. 10, 2018 (print edition).  The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint is hastening the demise of local newspapers across the country, forcing already-struggling publications to cut staff, reduce the number of days they print and, in at least one case, shutter entirely.

Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wis., the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Mr. Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Mr. Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents.

Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day.

Taliban Resurgence

ny times logoNew York Times, Taliban Launch Assault on Ghazni, a Key Afghan City, Rod Nordland and Fahim Abed, Aug. 10, 2018. As Taliban insurgents entered the southeastern Afghan city of Ghazni before dawn on Friday, and within hours they claimed to have much of the provincial capital under their control. If confirmed, the rout would be the insurgents’ most important strategic gain in years.

Witnesses and health officials feared the casualty toll would be high. Zahir Shah Nikmal, head of the provincial department of public health, said 16 bodies and 40 wounded people had been brought to hospitals so far. Almost all were members of the security forces, he said, and officials were trying to arrange evacuations by helicopter for the critically wounded. Government officials denied the city had fallen, but they conceded that the insurgents were within 300 yards of the governor’s office and police headquarters.

Syrian Reconciliation

syria flagSouthFront, Thousands Of Locals From Daraa And Al-Quneitra Join Syrian Army, Staff report, Aug. 10, 2018. More than 3,800 civilians and former fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from the southern governorates of Daraa and al-Quneitra have joined the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) so far, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on August 10.

Daraa and al-Quneitra joined the reconciliation process last month and the radical militants there withdrew towards the opposition-held areas in northern Syria. The reconciliation agreement gave 18-42 y.o. men in the two governorates a six-month period to reconcile and join the SAA, if they have not completed their mandatory service during the war or prior to it.

The UK-based monitoring group estimated that more than 23,000 former FSA fighters from central and southern Syria have joined the SAA and other pro-government forces, such as the Tiger Forces, since the beginning of this year. Most of these fighters are from the regions of Eastern Ghouta, Eastern Qalamun and Northern Homs, which have been recently liberated by the SAA and its allies.

More civilians and former FSA fighters in southern Syria will likely join the SAA before the end of the six-month period. Local observers believe that the number of new recruits will exceed 50,000 eventually.

More on Manafort Trial

paul manafort rick gates nbcnews

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort trial Day 8: Judge Ellis apologizes for outburst at prosecutors, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Tom Jackman​, Aug. 10, 2018 (print edition). The mea culpa from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III came before federal prosecutors sought to detail how Paul Manafort, shown at left, allegedly defrauded a bank by claiming a Manhattan property was a “second residence” in obtaining $3.4 million loan.

10:01 a.m.: Judge Ellis begins court with mea culpa for outburst over expert. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has raked prosecutors from the special counsel’s office over the coals for the past week and a half. But on Thursday, he backed down, telling jurors to ignore one piece of criticism. “I was critical of counsel for … allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom,” he said before testimony began. “You may put that aside… I may well have been wrong.”

10:37 a.m.: Documents show Manafort claimed Manhattan property was a ‘second residence’ in obtaining $3.4 million loan

With their first witness of the day, prosecutors sought to detail how Paul Manafort defrauded Citizens Bank – obtaining a $3.4 million loan in part by falsely claiming a property he owned in New York was a second residence, rather than a rental property.

Mortgage loan assistant Melinda James, who works at Citizens Bank, described for jurors how in 2016 Manafort sought what is known as a $3.4 million cash-out refinance on a property he owned on 29 Howard St. in lower Manhattan. What that means, James testified, is Manafort was essentially seeking to refinance so he could get cash for the equity in the property.

As he questioned James, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye flashed for jurors the mortgage documents Manafort signed and emails Manafort wrote attaching documents to support his loan application. That is important because defense attorneys have sought to cast blame for the fraud of which Manafort is accused on his business partner, Rick Gates.

Aug. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge in Manafort Trial Is a ‘Caesar’ in His Own Rome, Emily Cochrane and Sharon LaFraniere, Aug. 9, 2018. The message Judge T.S. Ellis III gives lawyers in his court is clear: Keep questions on point, move briskly and show some respect.

Roll Call, 3 Takeaways From Day 8 of the Paul Manafort Trial, Griffin Connolly, Aug. 9, 2018. Who lied on a bank loan application? Was it Manafort, Gates or both?

House Intelligence Chairman's Scandal

washington post logodevin nunes head oWashington Post, Devin Nunes, in secret recording, tells donors GOP majority is necessary to protect Trump, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 9, 2018. The California Republican, right, made the remarks during a closed-door fundraiser last month for a GOP colleague. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In leaked audio, Devin Nunes makes strong case for Democratic Congress, Greg Sargent, Aug. 9, 2018. Last night, Rachel Maddow reported on leaked audio of Rep. Devin Nunes, who is perhaps President Trump’s staunchest bodyguard against accountability on Capitol Hill, in which he candidly revealed that Republicans hope to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after the elections. Nunes is already leading such an impeachment drive — which hasn’t generated much GOP support — but Nunes added that he expected many Republicans to back Rosenstein’s impeachment down the line.

In case the meaning of this isn’t clear enough, Nunes also candidly stated that maintaining the GOP majority in Congress is imperative — to protect Trump from the Russia investigation.

In so doing, the California Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee inadvertently made a very powerful case for a Democratic takeover of Congress. Nunes’s comments also point to a way that Democrats can make the midterms about Trump corruption, while also making the Russia story — and the handling of it by Trump and Congressional Republicans — an important strand in that argument.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the Devin Nunes tape is so devastating for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 9, 2018. Yes, it’s bad for Devin Nunes that he gave away his own secret plan to try to impeach and remove Rod Rosenstein again this fall. He may have just gotten himself hit with yet another count of obstruction of justice for it. But this plan was guaranteed to fail anyway, as the Senate wouldn’t even have so much as forty or fifty votes to remove Rosenstein, let alone the required sixty-seven. It was what he said afterward that took the cake.

There are few things more shocking to the system in politics than a leaked tape. We were reminded of that a few weeks ago when Michael Cohen leaked a tape which incriminated him and Donald Trump. Then yesterday Omarosa revealed that she has humiliating tapes of Trump. But the real shocker came last night when Devin Nunes was caught on tape privately admitting a series of things that he definitely didn’t want the general public knowing about. The initial shock of the tape almost obscured the most devastating part for Trump.

The part that’s devastating for Trump was this sentence: “If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones.”

Well guess what? Jeff Sessions isn’t going to unrecuse himself, for the same reason he recused himself to begin with: he’s also guilty in the Trump-Russia scandal, and he’s trying to protect himself at Trump’s expense by laying low. Also, Robert Mueller isn’t going to clear Donald Trump, because Trump is obviously guilty of several felonies under the law.

So by Devin Nunes’ own admission, he and his fellow far-right House GOP looney tunes are the “only ones” who can save Donald Trump. The thing is, they can’t save him.

U.S. Mapped Airstrike Killing Children?

cbs news logoCBS News, Opinion: Yemen airstrike kills dozens of children, reportedly on a field trip, Holly Williams, Aug. 9, 2018. There was a horrifying attack Thursday in Yemen -- a Middle Eastern country torn apart by a 3-year-old civil war. An airstrike in the north reportedly killed at least 50, more than half of them children.

The world has forgotten Yemen's bloody war, but when you look at these young victims -- their tiny bodies, some still struggling for life -- you won't be able to forget them.

The children were reportedly on a field trip, when their bus was hit by an airstrike. Video footage, which CBS News can't independently verify, appear to show the devastating aftermath.

The strike was carried out by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition, which is backed in this war by the U.S. Saudi Arabia says this was a legitimate military operation, targeting Yemeni rebels backed by Iran, its arch enemy.

Judge Threatens Sessions

jeff sessions ag oThe Hill, Judge threatens to hold Sessions in contempt after attempted deportation of migrant woman, Lydia Wheeler and Justin Wise, Aug. 9, 2018. A federal judge on Thursday threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt after discovering that the Trump administration attempted to transfer a woman and her daughter out of the country while an appeal hearing for their deportation was underway.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, belowat left, granted the American Civil Liberty Union's (ACLU) request for an emergency order to halt the expedited removal of immigrants seeking asylum from domestic abuse and gang violence after he learned the government had put a plaintiff in the case and her daughter on a flight to Central America.

emmet sullivan 2012The ACLU, which is challenging Sessions's decision to no longer grant asylum to the victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, said the government had assured the court on Wednesday no plaintiff in the case would be deported before midnight.

"This is pretty outrageous,” Sullivan said, according to The Washington Post. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?

"I’m not happy about this at all," he said. "This is not acceptable."

The woman, identified in court papers as "Carmen," is a plaintiff in the ACLU's lawsuit filed this week against Sessions. The organization is suing Sessions over his recent decision to stop granting asylum for people who have faced domestic and gang violence.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and attorneys for the ACLU had reportedly agreed to postpone the hearings for Carmen until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday in order for the parties to argue the case in court.

But ACLU attorneys were told that Carmen and her daughter had been taken from a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, and may have been headed to the airport in San Antonio on Thursday morning for a flight out of the U.S., The Post reported. The newspaper reported that Sullivan, an appointee of former President Clinton, mandated that the government “turn the plane around" after ruling in favor of the ACLU's petition to stay removal.

Puerto Rican Death Toll

ny times logoNew York Times, Puerto Rico Report Acknowledges Higher Hurricane Death Toll, Frances Robles, Aug. 9, 2018. In a report to Congress requesting recovery funds, the government acknowledged that 1,427 people probably died in Hurricane Maria. The official death toll is 64.

Media News

tribune media

washington post logoajit pai headshot customWashington Post, Tribune pulls out of $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair, plans to sue for ‘breach of contract,’ Brian Fung and Tony Romm​, Aug. 9, 2018. The deal had aimed to create a conservative broadcasting giant that would reach roughly 70 percent of U.S. households. But the merger began to stumble last month after FCC chairman Ajit Pai, right, said he had “serious concerns” about it.

sinclair broadcast logo custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump, snowflake, Robert Harrington, Aug. 9, 2018. You heard right. In a recent Ipsos poll, forty-three percent of Republicans think Donald Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” and a whopping forty-eight percent think, “the news media is the enemy of the American people.” Thankfully, the rapacious Republican cretins in Congress have yet to encode such idiocy into law, and until they do, we have a thing or two to say about that.

After a brief experiment in trying lamely to climb down from it, the “president” has once again taken to referring to the entire media as “the enemy of the people.” There is something uniquely pathological about an ideology that has spent so much of its political life mounting a casus belli over the Second Amendment that it would so insouciantly jettison the First. But that is what fear does, and never is the will of the shivering coward more readily molded than when that shivering is at its most pronounced.

Trump Immigration Hypocrisy?

Melania Trump's parents, Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knaves, center, after obtaining citizenship (New York Times photo via Noah Smith on Twitter)

Melania Trump's parents, Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knaves, center, after obtaining citizenship (New York Times photo via Noah Smith on Twitter)

ny times logoNew York Times. Trump Hates ‘Chain Migration.’ But His In-Laws Just Used It, Annie Correal and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 9, 2018. President Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denounced what he calls “chain migration,” in which adult American citizens can obtain residency for their relatives. On Thursday, his Slovenian in-laws, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, became United States citizens in a private ceremony in Manhattan by taking advantage of that very program.

Asked if the Knavses had obtained citizenship through “chain migration,” their lawyer, Michael Wildes, said, “I suppose.” He said chain migration is a “dirtier” way of characterizing what he called “a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.” The process is more commonly known as family-based immigration. Viktor and Amalija Knavs had a private naturalization ceremony after being sponsored by their daughter Melania Trump under an immigration policy President Trump has railed against.

Melania Trump had sponsored her parents for their green cards, Mr. Wildes said in describing the process by which the Knavses had become United States citizens. “Once they had the green card, they then applied for citizenship when they were eligible,” he said.

Even as his in-laws were going through the process, Mr. Trump was denouncing it. In November, he tweeted, “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”

SCOTUS Nominee Finances

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s finances: Nominee dwells among elite but hasn’t chased riches, Amy Brittain​, Aug. 9, 2018.  If confirmed, the nominee would be the least wealthy person on the Supreme Court, by a considerable margin.

supreme court graphicKavanaugh has reported credit card debts that exceeded $15,000 for six of his 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. At the end of 2016, those debts ranged from $45,000 to $150,000 and were spread among three credit cards, before being paid off sometime last year. A White House spokesman has said that Washington Nationals baseball tickets and home improvement costs accounted for those debts but has not provided a detailed breakdown. The spokesman told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh’s friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets.

“There was never a hint of anything irresponsible about anything that he did,” said Bob Bittman, a Washington lawyer who worked with Kavanaugh in the Kenneth W. Starr-led independent counsel’s office. “But apparently he was in debt. I believe it was temporary or there was a plan to get out of it, or he was going to be repaid by friends. He’s not the type of guy who does things to keep up with the Joneses.”

The same year he accumulated the highest debts of his judicial tenure, Kavanaugh also joined the Chevy Chase Club — an elite country club that counts Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. among its members and, as of 2017, required a $92,000 initiation fee and annual dues of more than $9,000.

“It’s a place where your children can be on the swim team, learn to play tennis and play in an ice hockey league. It’s a family-focused environment,” said Helgi Walker, a Washington lawyer and friend of Kavanaugh’s who also belongs to the club.

A financial statement that was filed last month as part of the Senate vetting process reveals that Kavanaugh’s net worth, the calculation of what an individual owns minus debts, is around $942,000. The threshold for the top 1 percent of net worth in the United States is more than $10 million, according to recent survey data from the Federal Reserve.

U.S. Politics

noah smith ohio republicans jeremy pelzer 2018 russians

Ohio Trump supporters with pro-Russia tee-shirts at rally (Cleveland.com photo by Jeremy Pelzer retweeted by Bloomberg's Noah Smith) (Photo: @Noapinion/Twitpic)

Common Dreams, A Buckeye’s Lament (Opinion): What Has Happened to Ohio and the Midwest? Mike Lofgren, Aug. 9, 2018. Away from the large urban centers, the Midwest has transformed into a stronghold of derivative Southernism: country music and mores, religious fundamentalism, the cult of the good old boy, reactionary conservatism of a primitive type.

By now, you’ve almost certainly seen the photo taken at a Trump political rally in central Ohio, my native state. It has sparked a lot of comment, the substance of which suggests that even for journalists and pundits, it is no longer easy to sustain the firewall between judgments about Donald Trump and judgments about his supporters.

republican elephant logoFor too long, the national media have fed us a tale of economic anxiety in the Great Heartland being responsible for Trump’s election. It is not that the tale is wholly, or even mostly, false, but it is told in the wrong context, and without important qualifiers attached. Of course, opposing explanations have been advanced: “status anxiety” (a euphemism for fear of minorities) and “racial resentment” (although how this term is functionally different from garden-variety racism is not clarified). But economic anxiety as a rationale is still widely circulated.

It is easy to see why Eastern journalists, on their expeditions to the Heartland, filed stories about salt-of-the-earth, friendly folks just trying to get by and who were intrigued by the economic promises of a successful businessman. One can hardly escape noticing an undertone in those pieces, both of trying not to sound condescending, and of suppressed guilt.

But what we saw on display at the Ohio rally cannot be explained by the theory of goodhearted folks grasping in desperation for an economic lifeline. One of the big stories of the last 50 years that the national press has missed, but is impressed upon me every time I return to the Midwest, is what I call the NASCAR-ization of the region, whereby it has become, in many respects, a cultural colony of the South. Away from the large urban centers, the Midwest has transformed into a stronghold of derivative Southernism: country music and mores, religious fundamentalism, the cult of the good old boy, reactionary conservatism of a primitive type.

This is quite a comedown for a state destined by the Northwest Ordinance to be a free state, whose colleges from early on harbored abolitionist sentiment, and which greatly benefitted from the land grant universities provided by the Morrill Act. A state that was until recently progressive, not in some ideological sense, but meaning simply forward-looking. And so it was with the rest of the Midwest, once widely considered the “most typical” American region, until it became a cultural outpost of Dixie.

john kasichOhio was hit exceptionally hard by the 2008 financial crash. Having many auto plants and a huge auto parts supplier base, the state was vulnerable when the Big Three auto companies nearly collapsed as the car loan market evaporated. Ohio was still suffering when in 2010 it elected as governor the former managing director of Lehman Brothers’ Columbus office, the same man who a few years before helped talk the state’s pension fund managers into losing $480 million of public money by buying worthless Leman securities.

Why does economic distress cause people in Ohio and similar states to rally to the side of those responsible, directly or indirectly, for that same distress, and place their own well-being into their hands? (That the governor, John Kasich, shown at left) now condemns Trump may set our irony meters jumping, but it does not change the underlying facts).

washington post logokris kobach kansas SmallWashington Post, Kobach lead cut by more than half after vote-tallying error in GOP primary for Kan. governor, Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez​, Aug. 9, 2018. Kris Kobach, right, a staunch ally of President Trump, originally had a 191-vote advantage over incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer as of Wednesday. The latest adjustment means Kobach’s lead is reduced to 9 votes.

Thomas County elections clerk Shelly Harms said they had submitted 522 votes for Colyer on Tuesday night and a clerical error at the secretary of state’s office caused it to be entered as 422 votes.

richard painter

Richard Painter, a former chief ethics counsel in the George W. Bush White House, is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in a November special election. The seat is held by Sen. Tina Smith, who was appointed when Al Franken resigned at the beginning of the year. Smith also is seeking the nomination in the Aug. 14 primary.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Editorial counterpoint: Endorsement for U.S. Senate left out important points, Richard Painter, Aug. 9, 2018. Yes, ousting Donald Trump is a priority for me, but I've repeatedly addressed other issues, too. Among them are conflicts of interest, including that of Sen. Smith, the newspaper's endorsee.

The [Star-Tribune] editorial endorsement of Tina Smith ("DFL's Sen. Smith stands out — quietly," Aug. 9) claims that my sole focus is on impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office. That is an important priority for me and for millions of Americans concerned about the Constitution and the future of our Republic (Sen. Smith clearly disagrees with me on that). But I have repeatedly addressed other issues as well.

I support Medicare for All and will sign onto Sen. Bernie Sanders' single-payer bill. Sen. Smith will not. I oppose all sulfide mining near major waterways anywhere in the United States. Sen. Smith supports the PolyMet sulfide mine. I support a carbon fee to reduce global warming. It is not clear what Sen. Smith plans to do about that problem. None of these critically important issues were addressed in your editorial.

The editorial rightly called upon Sen. Smith to address her conflict of interest from holdings she and her husband have in medical device stocks, running into the millions, according to FEC reports. Inexplicably, you called for her to address this problem only if she wins the primary. This has nothing to do with the primary or the general election. It has to do with the fact that she is a sitting senator.

This conflict of interest should have been addressed in January before she was sworn in to replace Al Franken. She needs to sell the stock now or resign.

chris collins cropped oWith one member of Congress (Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., shown at right) arrested this week in a case involving insider trading of pharma stock, it is critically important to get senators and representatives out of investments in individual companies, particularly in health care. Americans are sick and tired of paying sky-high prices for insurance, drugs and medical devices while their elected representatives have conflicts of interest.

Finally, your editorial praises Sen. Smith for taking the lead role in negotiating the Vikings stadium deal. That deal, a taxpayer-subsidized stadium, cost Minnesota and Minneapolis taxpayers a half-billion dollars. I and other Minnesotans pay for our own Vikings tickets when we can afford to, which is not very often. The billionaire team owner can pay for his own stadium.

In 2017, Donald Trump took office with massive financial conflicts of interest. I have criticized him on television and in newspaper op-eds. I have even sued him over foreign government payments that violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. I have pointed out the vice president's complicity in the Russia investigation.

Next Tuesday, I will rise or fall on the ballot depending upon whether voters care as much I do about investigating and removing this president and vice president from office, as well as my insistence that it is inconsistent with ethics, and with Minnesota values, for a U.S. senator to own millions of dollars in health care stocks while voting on health care legislation.

Richard Painter is a candidate for U.S. Senate in the DFL special primary.

Tampa Bay Times, Florida House candidate caught on video stealing rival’s fliers, Waveney Ann Moore, Aug. 9, 2018. Video shows candidate replacing rival's campaign flyers with his own. The tussle between two Republicans vying for a chance to capture the House District 69 seat has taken an unpleasant turn.

raymond blacklidge jeremy bailieRaymond Blacklidge filed a report with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday accusing his rival, Jeremy Bailie, of stealing his campaign fliers from the doors of dozens of St. Pete Beach homes. And, Blacklidge said, his rival then replaced them with Bailie’s own campaign materials. Blacklidge is left in the adjoining photo, Bailie right.

"It’s just a shame that my opponent is doing things that are childish and immature," said Blacklidge, 58. The insurance executive said he’s disappointed in the 27-year-old Ballie: "I truly think that Jeremy is an intelligent guy that would make a good politician someday. He needs to mature a little bit before he becomes a state representative."

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Issue New Sanctions on Russia Over Spy Poisoning, Gardiner Harris, Aug. 9, 2018 (print edition). The sanctions, prompted by the attempted assassination of an ex-Russian spy, are part of anti-Russian efforts by the U.S., even as President Trump works to forge warmer ties.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Gets a New 20% Tax Break? The Treasury Dept. Speaks, and Trump May Save, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 8, 2018. Doctors, however, are out of luck.  A new 20 percent tax break included in last year’s $1.5 trillion tax overhaul could wind up benefiting President Trump’s real estate empire given how the Treasury Department plans to implement the provision, several tax experts said.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department issued a sprawling regulation outlining the types of companies and professionals eligible to qualify as “pass-through” entities and get the 20 percent tax deduction. The widely anticipated rule has huge implications for law firms, real estate trusts, family farms and other companies that are structured so their profits are taxed as individual income for their owners.

White Nationalist Riot: State of Emergency

charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, As anniversary of Charlottesville rally nears, Va. governor declares state of emergency, Reis Thebault, Aug. 9, 2018. The declaration, which took effect Wednesday and could run through Sept. 12, will increase state and local law enforcement’s capacity to respond to civil unrest that may occur as both neo-Nazis and counterprotesters mark the rally’s anniversary this weekend. A torchlight parade last year by white nationalists is shown above. 

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

Cincinnati Enquirer via USA Today, Ohio race just got closer after county finds hundreds of uncounted votes, Jessie Balmert, Aug. 9, 2018 (print edition). The tight race between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson just got tighter. Election officials in Franklin County found 588 previously uncounted votes in a Columbus suburb. The result: O'Connor had a net gain of 190 votes, bringing the race's margin down to 1,564.

"The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system," according to a Franklin County Board of Elections news release.Balderson declared victory Tuesday night in the closely watched congressional district race in central Ohio. But O'Connor says he's waiting for all votes to be counted. That includes 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots, which will be tabulated by Aug. 24.

Environment

New York Daily News, Opinion: They are America's aces in the hole in a competitive energy world, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 9, 2018. The key to ample supplies of energy resources rests with which are sustainable and which are not. While oil and gas may be abundant now, that does not mean these fossil fuels will be all that available in the future.

Wind energy, of course, does not carry all the environmental risks associated with oil and gas, and the presence of wind is pretty much eternal. If safety measures are strictly followed, carbon-free nuclear energy is also a viable option especially as the horrors of Chernobyl fade into the past. For years, the oil and natural gas industries have benefited from generous federal government subsidies. Why should the wind and nuclear industries, now in need of similar subsidies, be any different?

The simple answer is that they should receive the same degree of concern by Congress and the Trump administration as the politically well-connected oil, gas and coal industries.

Renewable energy sectors like wind and nuclear employ some 500,000 people around the United States.

If jobs are of interest to the White House and Congress, a high priority should be afforded to the half-million employees located in every state in the wind and nuclear industries as is extended to oil and gas workers in a dozen states that include Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

More On Free Speech

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump, snowflake, Robert Harrington, Aug. 9, 2018. You heard right. In a recent Ipsos poll, forty-three percent of Republicans think Donald Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” and a whopping forty-eight percent think, “the news media is the enemy of the American people.” Thankfully, the rapacious Republican cretins in Congress have yet to encode such idiocy into law, and until they do, we have a thing or two to say about that.

After a brief experiment in trying lamely to climb down from it, the “president” has once again taken to referring to the entire media as “the enemy of the people.” There is something uniquely pathological about an ideology that has spent so much of its political life mounting a casus belli over the Second Amendment that it would so insouciantly jettison the First.

But that is what fear does, and never is the will of the shivering coward more readily molded than when that shivering is at its most pronounced. And yet a man who spent most of his life as a punchline – rewind a few years and remember this is Donald Trump we are talking about – so effortlessly manipulates their fear.

So where in the name of hell does this political ideology entombed in fear – homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, paralytic at the notion of going to their favorite Wal-Mart without a sidearm leather-strapped to their thighs – get off calling us snowflakes? Since when does a party deriving its ethos from old cowboy movies require the intervention of the federal government to preserve their quivering violets from shrinking further? The sad reality is the party conceived in the shadow of Honest Abe has shrivelled into the brainless parroting of Dishonest Ape, while the Freedom of Speech enshrined in American Democracy itself hangs in the balance.

Aug. 8

Trump Ally, GOP Congressman Arrested

Roll Call, Rep. Chris Collins Arrested for Securities Fraud, Katherine Tully-McManus, Aug 8, 2018. Charges to three defendants also include wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements.

chris collins cropped oNew York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, right, was arrested and indicted on charges related to securities fraud Wednesday. The indictment is tied to securities of an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics where Collins has served on the board of directors. Last August, the House Ethics Committee took up an inquiry into Collins and allegations that he had shared nonpublic information about the company, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.

Collins gained personal benefit and provided nonpublic information to his son Cameron Collins, who sold nearly $1.4 million of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to the complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Christopher Collins knew or recklessly disregarded that he breached his duty by disclosing this inside information to Cameron Collins,” the SEC said.

Collins, who represents the suburbs of Buffalo and rural counties in upstate New York, became the first House Republican to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

securities exchange commission sealThe Australia-based biotech company is trying to develop a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Collins is the company’s largest shareholder and serves on its board of directors, attending its meetings by phone.

The indictment obtained from a federal grand jury also charges Collins’ son, Cameron Collins, as well as the father of his fiancee, Stephen Zarsky.

Collins passed nonpublic information about Innate’s drug trial results to his son to help him “make timely trades in Innate stock and tip others,” the indictment alleges. Cameron Collins then allegedly traded on that inside information and passed it to Zarsky “so that they could utilize the information for the same purpose,” according to the indictment. Zarsky also allegedly traded on the inside knowledge and passed it along to yet more unnamed co-conspirators.

republican elephant logoIn total, the three defendants avoided “over $768,000 in losses that they would have otherwise incurred” had they sold their stock after the information was made public, according to the indictment.

Rep. Collins’ lawyers responded quickly to the allegations. “We will answer the charges filed against Congressman Collins in Court and will mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name,” they said in a statement Wednesday morning.

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP declares victory in a U.S. House race in Ohio that’s too close to call, Michael Scherer, Aug. 8, 2018. The contest between Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor in the solidly red northern Columbus suburbs was the latest example of increased Democratic energy and tepid GOP candidate performance that has defined recent special elections. ​In Kansas, Kobach and Colyer in dead heat as GOP primary for governor hinges on count from suburbs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers from the elections in Ohio, Kansas and three other states, Amber Phillips​, Aug. 8, 2018. ​President Trump was not the big winner in the latest round of primaries and special elections. House Democrats were.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic Party’s liberal insurgency hits a wall in Midwest primaries, David Weigel​, Aug. 8, 2018. Six weeks after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled a powerful incumbent in New York, voters turned to establishment candidates over more liberal challengers in almost every closely watched race across several states.

joe manchik green candidate twitter croppedWashington Examiner, Green Party spoiler candidate in Ohio special election claims to be descended from aliens, Katelyn Caralle, Aug. 8, 2018. The Green Party congressional candidate who could prove to be a spoiler in Tuesday night’s special election in Ohio claims to be descended from aliens.

Joe Manchik, shown at right in Twitter photo, received 1,127 votes in last night's contest – a small collection that may ultimately decide who wins the contest to fill Patrick Tiberi’s seat for the few months remaining of his term. As the vote stands now, the margin in the election between the Republican and Democratic candidates was less than 2,000 votes apart.

On his Facebook profile, Manchik said that his ancestors “originally came to planet Earth from a planet orbiting a star in the Pleiades star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus.” But that's not the only quirky thing about Manchik. Earlier this year he gave a slur-filled speech where he couldn’t remember his own website address.

Had the 1,127 votes that went to Manchik gone instead to Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor, the race would have been so close it would have triggered an automatic recount, the Daily Mail reports. Republican candidate Troy Balderson was projected as the victor by just 1,754 votes over O’Connor. Despite the celebratory mood for Republicans, the election results have yet to be finalized. On Tuesday night, election officials said there were still more than 5,000 absentee ballots that had not yet been counted, along with 3,435 provisional ballots, all of which cannot be counted until 11 days after the election.

Therefore, the true outcome of the race may not be officially known until August 18.

stephen miller white house screenshotPalmer Report, Opinion: Stephen Miller is in deep trouble, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2018. This week Stephen Miller, who has arguably become the most influential political adviser remaining in Donald Trump’s rapidly emptying White House, wants to prevent immigrants from obtaining citizenship if they’ve ever relied on any government program. It demonstrates once and for all that his anti-immigration policies have nothing to do with the rule of law, and that the man is simply a depraved white supremacist. But guess what? Miller has a huge legal problem.

This past week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller formalized his request to interview Donald Trump about his various criminal scandals. One of the points of contention is Trump’s unwillingness to answer questions about his obstruction of justice. This is ostensibly because so many of Trump’s current and former underlings have been interviewed by Mueller about their participation in Trump’s obstruction schemes. Not only can Mueller use their testimony to nail Trump for obstruction, he can also use it to nail Trump if he lies during the interview, which is a federal crime itself. So what does this have to do with Stephen Miller? It turns out he’s the star witness.

Daily Beast, Omarosa Secretly Recorded Trump — And Played the Audio for People, Sources Say, Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Maxwell Tani, Aug. 8, 2018. Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell The Daily Beast that Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the infamous former Apprentice star who followed Trump to the White House, secretly recorded conversations with the president—conversations she has since leveraged while shopping her forthcoming “tell-all” book, bluntly titled Unhinged.

For months, it has been rumored that Manigault had clandestinely recorded on her smartphone “tapes” of unspecified private discussions she had in the West Wing. Audio actually does exist, and even stars Manigault’s former boss.

Saudis Extend Reprisal Against Canada

Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Trudeau to speak to reporters as Saudi minister says he must fix 'big mistake,' John Paul Tasker, Aug. 8, 2018. 'Canada knows what it needs to do,' Adel al-Jubeir says. The diplomatic brawl between Canada and Saudi Arabia showed no signs of abating Wednesday as the kingdom's foreign affairs minister publicly demanded that Canada withdraw its criticism of his country's human rights record.

adel al jubeir western garb saudi fmSpeaking to reporters in Riyadh, Adel al-Jubeir (shown in a file photo) said there will be no reconciliation between the two countries unless Canada recants its condemnation of Saudi Arabia's decision to jail prominent women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah.

"Canada knows what it needs to do," he said.

canadian flagBadawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, a Saudi dissident blogger who has been imprisoned by the Saudi government since 2012 on charges of apostasy and "insulting Islam through electronic channels." Raif Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, and their three children have been living in Quebec since 2015 after fleeing the kingdom.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland sent a tweet last week saying she was alarmed by Badawi's imprisonment and calling for the release of "peaceful" human rights activists — a statement which drew the ire of the Middle Eastern kingdom's governing monarchy.

"A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected," al-Jubeir said Wednesday. "Canada needs to fix its big mistake."

justin trudeau lima 2018

CTV, Trudeau not apologizing for critique of Saudi government as tensions flare, Rachel Aiello, Aug. 8, 2018. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (shown in a photo earlier this year on a trip to Peru) showed no signs of ceding to Saudi Arabia Wednesday, saying the federal government has, and will continue to "speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights."

His comments come amid an ongoing diplomatic and economic dispute with the Middle Eastern nation, including the Saudi foreign minister saying earlier Wednesday that Canada needs to take back its critique of the country’s arrest of human rights activists.

"We have always had a positive and constructive relationship with countries around the world while at the same time always making sure we’re bringing up human rights concerns, because Canadians expect that, and indeed people around the world expect that leadership from Canada," Trudeau said.

saudi arabia flagWall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia Orders Its Fund Managers to Dump Canadian Assets, Margherita Stancati, Nicolas Parasie and Paul Vieira, Aug. 8, 2018. Escalating diplomatic feud is poised to affect hundreds of millions of Canadian dollars of stocks, bonds and cash.

canadian flagSaudi Arabia is ordering its citizens to leave Canada, selling its financial assets there and freezing trade between the two countries as part of an extraordinary diplomatic spat that has brought into global view the kingdom’s extreme sensitivity to Western criticism.

The steps follow the Canada’s foreign ministry’s chastising Saudi Arabia for its recent arrest of human-rights activists. Canada’s foreign ministry, in a Twitter message sent on Friday, called on Saudi authorities to “immediately release” the activists.

Former Prosecutor Slams Trump

ben ferencz nuremberg screengrab

"Nobody wins in war; the only winner is death," Ben Ferencz told United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (Screengrab)

Common Dreams, 99-Year-Old Nuremberg Prosecutor Calls Trump's Detention of Children a 'Crime Against Humanity,' Andrea Germanos, Aug. 8, 2018. "What could cause more great suffering than what they did in the name of immigration law?"

The last surviving prosecutor at the Nazi Nuremberg trials just offered harsh criticism for the Trump administration's family separation crisis resulting from its cruel immigration policies, calling it "a crime against humanity."

Ninety-nine year old Ben Ferencz made the comments in a recent lengthy interview with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, which was posted online Tuesday.

When he learned of the family separations, "it was very painful for me," Ferencz told Zeid. "I knew the Statue of Liberty. I came under the Statue of Liberty as an immigrant." Ferencz was a baby when his family came to the United States from Romania.

He referenced lines from Emma Lazarus's poem inscribed at the base of the monument, including its ending: "I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

But "the lamp went out when [Trump] said no immigrants allowed unless they meet the rules that we laid down," Ferencz said. "It was outrageous. I was furious that anybody would think that it's permissible to take young children—5, 4, 3 years of age—and take them away from their parents and say the parents go to another country and the children go to another country, and we'll get you together, maybe, at some later date."

More On Manafort Trial: Day 6

paul manafort rick gates nbcnews

Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, left, and Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates, a former aide and business partner to Manafort for a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort’s Lawyers Accuse Gates of Multiple Affairs, Kenneth P. Vogel and Noah Weiland, Aug. 8, 2018. Lawyers for Paul Manafort accused his longtime deputy Rick Gates, shown below, of having four extramarital affairs and lying about them, a last attempt by the defense to undermine the credibility of the government’s star witness at the fraud trial of Mr. Manafort on Wednesday.

Kevin Downing, the lead lawyer for Mr. Manafort, offered no evidence of either the affairs or Mr. Gates’s misrepresentation of them, and the judge, T.S. Ellis III, cut off the questioning before Mr. Gates could directly respond to the allegations.

The exchange marked a dramatic conclusion to Mr. Gates’s testimony against his former boss, which spanned three days in federal court here in the trial of Mr. Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges brought by the special counsel.

Mr. Gates provided hours of damning testimony against Mr. Manafort related to their decade of work together on behalf of Russia-aligned Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs. Mr. Gates accused Mr. Manafort of deliberately hiding income from the Ukraine work in foreign bank accounts to evade federal taxes, as well as personally directing the falsification of financial statements to obtain bank loans.

ny times logoNew York Times, Paul Manafort Trial Live Updates: After a $215,000 Tax Bill, Manafort Writes ‘This Is a Disaster,’ Staff report, Aug. 8, 2018 (print edition). Rick Gates, the former right-hand man to Paul Manafort, President Trump’s campaign chairman, is testifying in Mr. Manafort’s trial on bank and tax fraud charges in Alexandria, Va.In late 2015 and 2016, Mr. Manafort’s political consulting firm had no clients. Prosecutors led him through a clinical examination of his and Mr. Manafort’s business dealings, including how he hid income to avoid taxes.

Mr. Gates said that in March 2016, when he and Mr. Manafort joined a “presidential campaign” in the United States — he did not name Mr. Trump’s bid for office — the firm had no clients. He said vendors and accountants were dunning Mr. Manafort about his unpaid bills.

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort trial Day 6: Gates explains how millions were funneled to Manafort, Justin Jouvenal, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman, Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege that he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.

Rick Gates is now testifying that he gave a bank fraudulent home insurance documents at Paul Manafort’s request, so that his boss could get a loan from Citizens Bank.

Manafort had told a representative from the bank that he had no mortgage on a townhouse he owned in Brooklyn, Gates explained. But when the bank first got documents from insurance broker Donna Duggan they showed there was a mortgage on the home.

New Media: Protest To Twitter

ConsortiumNews, VIPS Asks Twitter to Restore Van Buren’s Account, Aug. 8, 2018.

TO: Twitter Board of Directors

twitter bird CustomWe at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are greatly disturbed by the recent decision of your management to permanently suspend the Twitter account @WeMeantWell of our colleague Peter Van Buren. Peter is a highly respected former Foreign Service Officer possessing impeccable credentials for critiquing current developments that might lead to a new war in Eastern Europe or Asia, something which we Americans presumably all would like to avoid.

In 2011 our colleague Peter published a book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, about the poor decision- making by both civilians and military that led to the disastrous occupation and faux-democracy development in Iraq. It is Peter’s concern that our country may well be proceeding down that same path again — possibly with Iran, Syria and other countries in the Middle East region.

It is our understanding that Peter became involved in an acrimonious Twitter exchange with several mainstream journalists over the theme of government lying. One of the parties to the exchange, reported to be Jonathan Katz of @KatzOnEarth — possibly joined by some of his associates – complained. Subsequently, and without any serious investigation or chance for rebuttal regarding the charges, Peter was suspended by you for “harass[ing], intimidate[ing], or us[ing] fear to silence someone else’s voice.” Peter absolutely denies that anything like that took place.

Signed: William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.); Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret); former chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon; and 16 others.

Aug. 7

Trump Cabinet Corruption?

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Forbes, New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting, Dan Alexander, Aug 7, 2018.  A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been quietly making its way through the New York State court system over the last three years, pitting a private equity manager named David Storper against his former boss: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (shown above).

The pair worked side by side for more than a decade, eventually at the firm, WL Ross & Co. — where, Storper later alleged, Ross stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork. Two weeks ago, just before the start of a trial with $4 million on the line, Ross and Storper agreed to a confidential settlement, whose existence has never been reported and whose terms remain secret.

It is difficult to imagine the possibility that a man like Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth some $700 million, might steal a few million from one of his business partners. Unless you have heard enough stories about Ross. Two former WL Ross colleagues remember the commerce secretary taking handfuls of Sweet’N Low packets from a nearby restaurant, so he didn’t have to go out and buy some for himself. One says workers at his house in the Hamptons used to call the office, claiming Ross had not paid them for their work. Another two people said Ross once pledged $1 million to a charity, then never paid. A commerce official called the tales “petty nonsense,” and added that Ross does not put sweetener in his coffee.

There are bigger allegations. Over several months, in speaking with 21 people who know Ross, Forbes uncovered a pattern: Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there, huge amounts for most but not necessarily for the commerce secretary. At least if you consider them individually. But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.

Not that he sees himself that way. “The SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me,” Ross said in a statement, failing to mention the $2.3 million fine it levied against his firm in 2016. The commerce secretary also noted that one lawsuit against him got dismissed, without saying it is currently going through the appeals process. Ross confirmed settling two other cases, including the recent one against Storper, but declined to offer additional details.

Those who’ve done business with Ross generally tell a consistent story, of a man obsessed with money and untethered to facts. “He’ll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets,” says New York financier Asher Edelman. One of Ross’ former colleagues is more direct: “He’s a pathological liar.”

New Scandal At Veterans Administration

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ProPublica, The Shadow Rulers of the VA, Isaac Arnsdorf Aug. 7, 2018. How Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and two other Mar-a-Lago cronies are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies.

Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

mar a lago aerial CustomMore to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida (shown in an aerial view at right). The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman declined to be interviewed and fielded questions through a crisis-communications consultant. In a statement, they downplayed their influence, insisting that nobody is obligated to act on their counsel. “At all times, we offered our help and advice on a voluntary basis, seeking nothing at all in return,” they said. “While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions, or direct government officials to take any actions… To the extent anyone thought our role was anything other than that, we don’t believe it was the result of anything we said or did.”

VA spokesman Curt Cashour did not answer specific questions but said a “broad range of input from individuals both inside and outside VA has helped us immensely over the last year and a half.” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters also did not answer specific questions and said Perlmutter, Sherman and Moskowitz “have no direct influence over the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Trump Counsel Giuliani

washington post logorudy giuliani recentWashington Post, Giuliani says Trump team has ‘real reluctance’ over letting Mueller ask about obstruction, Robert Costa, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, right, said the legal team plans to send a letter to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that will largely rebuff his latest offer of a presidential interview.

Supreme Court Role?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Get ready for this nightmare scenario involving Trump, Mueller and Kavanaugh, Greg Sargent, Aug. 7, 2018. Two of the biggest stories in Washington right now are on track to collide in spectacular fashion. And it’s not clear — at least to me — that the political world is taking this possibility seriously enough, let alone prepared to deal with the fallout for our political system that might result from it.

Simply put: The battle over whether President Trump will sit for an interview with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III could end up running headlong into the confirmation fight over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, that’s set for this fall.

The Post reports that Rudy Giuliani, who is supposedly Trump’s lawyer, is preparing a letter to Mueller that will largely reject the special counsel’s latest suggested terms for an interview. Giuliani claims Trump’s team has “real reluctance” about Trump facing any questions about potential obstruction of justice. While it’s very possible something will be worked out, it’s also possible that, in the end, Trump may decide against sitting for an interview.

Giuliani has said that this decision will be coming in a week to 10 days, which means this could be upon us before we know it.

Saudis Expel Canadian Ambassador

washington post logoWashington Post, In rupturing ties with Canada over tweet, Saudi Arabia serves notice to would-be critics, Kareem Fahim and Amanda Coletta, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). After Canada called for the release of a women’s rights activist, the Saudi government responded with fury, highlighting its increasingly assertive foreign policy under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right.mohammad bin salman cropped file small

The storm started with a tweet by Canada’s foreign minister last week expressing alarm at the recent arrest of a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia who had relatives living in canadian flagCanada, and calling for her release.

On Monday, the Saudi government responded, with fury. The Canadian ambassador was ordered to leave within 24 hours, and the Saudi government halted trade and investment deals between the two countries. Saudi media reported that educational exchange programs would be suspended — affecting 12,000 Saudi students studying on state-sponsored scholarships in Canada. And Saudi Arabia’s national airline said it was suspending flights to Canada, beginning on Aug. 13.

Child Separation Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, it’s not the ACLU’s job to reunite the families you sundered, Mr. President, Editorial Board, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). As the government said in court filings, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], which represents the parents, should use its “considerable resources” and network of advocacy groups, lawyers and volunteers to reunify hundreds of families that remain sundered despite U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw’s order that they be reunified. The judge was having none of it. “This responsibility is 100 percent on the government,” he said.

dana sabrawEdging away from his characteristic understatement, Mr. Sabraw, right, a Republican appointee, went further. “The reality is that for every parent that is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” he said.

The ACLU says it is ready to help reunite families, but it’s preposterous that the government would try to outsource the job and shed its own responsibility.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, 5 States Are Voting on Tuesday. Here’s What to Watch, Maggie Astor, Aug. 7, 2018. A look at the most important primaries in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, and a special election in Ohio.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democrats, Do Not Give Up on the Senate, Frank Bruni, Aug. 7, 2018. The party’s odds aren’t great, but they look better all the time.

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, This Is the Way Paul Ryan’s Speakership Ends, Mark Leibovich, Aug. 7, 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan has hesitated to publicly criticize President Trump. As he nears his exit, he told us why: “The pissing match doesn’t work.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Better Way to Ban Alex Jones, David French, Aug. 7, 2018. "Hate speech” is extraordinarily vague and subjective. Libel and slander are not.

Let me start by making a few things abundantly clear. First, Alex Jones is a loathsome conspiracy theorist who generates loathsome content. Second, there is no First Amendment violation when a private company chooses to boot anyone off a private platform. Third, it seems reasonably clear that Mr. Jones’s content isn’t just morally repugnant, it’s also legally problematic. He makes wild, false claims that may well cross the line into libel and slander.

alex jones headshotRight now, Mr. Jones [shown at right] is defending lawsuits filed by multiple Sandy Hook Elementary families accusing him of making intentionally false factual statements. Most appallingly, he has insisted that these grieving families were faking their pain:

So on Monday, when Apple, Facebook and YouTube acted — in seemingly coordinated fashion — to remove the vast bulk of Mr. Jones’s content from their sites, there’s no cause for worry, right? After all, this was an act of necessary public hygiene. A terrible human being who has no regard for truth or decency is finally getting what he deserves.

Would that it were that simple.

Rather than applying objective standards that resonate with American law and American traditions of respect for free speech and the marketplace of ideas, the companies applied subjective standards that are subject to considerable abuse.

Mr. French, the author of the column above, is a First Amendment litigator and senior writer for National Review.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. statehood: Should activists go bipartisan or try a Democratic power grab? Fenit Nirappil, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). A blue 51st state is gaining appeal in some partisan circles, but District activists say that might hurt their cause.

Israelis Alleged In Syrian Car Bomb Assassination

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel Is Said to Have Assassinated Syrian Rocket Scientist, David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). Aziz Asbar was one of Syria’s most important rocket scientists, bent on amassing an arsenal of precision-guided missiles that could be launched with pinpoint accuracy against Israeli cities hundreds of miles away.

israel flagHe had free access to the highest levels of the Syrian and Iranian governments, and his own security detail. He led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was hard at work building an underground weapons factory to replace one destroyed by Israel last year.

On Saturday, he was killed by a car bomb — apparently planted by Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

It was at least the fourth assassination mission by Israel in three years against an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil, a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency confirmed on Monday. The following account is based on information provided by the official, whose agency was informed about the operation. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity to discuss a highly classified operation.

Under Israeli law, the prime minister alone is authorized to approve an assassination operation, euphemistically known as “negative treatment” within the Mossad. Spokesmen for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Trump Culture Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Walk of Fame star: The West Hollywood City Council wants it permanently removed, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). Samantha Schmidt, Aug. 7, 2018. Since the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star (blow at left)has seen just about everything.

djt smashed hollywood star img 3675 CustomIt was smashed into pieces — twice. It was vandalized with a swastika, enclosed with a miniature border wall, defaced with profanity and graced with the presence of a gold-painted toilet telling passersby to “TAKE A TRUMP.”

Trump supporters have fought back, defending the star. Late last month, hours after a man destroyed the star with a pickax, a fierce brawl ensued, leaving one person kicked in the head and another bleeding from the face.

The site has become a symbol not only of the nation’s celebrity president but of the polarization surrounding him. And a nearby city council has had enough of it.

On Monday night, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to ask for the removal of Trump’s star because of the president’s “disturbing treatment of women and other actions that do not meet the shared values of the City of West Hollywood, the region, state, and country.” It cited Trump’s lewd comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape, his policy of separating families at the border and his denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Because the city of West Hollywood does not have any control over the Walk of Fame, the council’s resolution simply urges the Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to remove the star.

Trump received his star on the Walk of Fame in 2007 for his work as the producer of the Miss Universe Pageant. His is one of more than 2,500 coral terrazzo and brass stars on the two-mile stretch of the popular Hollywood tourist attraction. Each year a committee sifts through about 200 nominations to select 20 to 24 new stars to add to the Walk of Fame. [Editor's note: Historically, sponsors have often had to pay for the honor.]

#MeToo Clergy Scandals

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The Rev. Bill Hybels, longtime pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church

ny times logoNew York Times, Willow Creek Church Says It Will Investigate Its Powerful Pastor, Bill Hybels, Laurie Goodstein, Aug. 7, 2018 (print edition). Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago announced on Monday that it plans to launch a new independent investigation into allegations that the Rev. Bill Hybels, the church’s influential founding pastor, sexually harassed female co-workers and a congregant over many years.

The announcement came one day after The New York Times reported on accusations from Pat Baranowski, Mr. Hybels’s former executive assistant. She said that Mr. Hybels had sexually and emotionally abused her while she worked at the church and lived with him and his family in the 1980s.

Heather Larson, one of two top pastors at Willow Creek, said in a statement: “It was heartbreaking yesterday to read about the new allegation against Bill Hybels in The New York Times. We have deep sadness for Ms. Baranowski. The behavior that she has described is reprehensible.”

The church’s other top pastor, the Rev. Steve Carter, resigned on Sunday. He said he could no longer work at Willow Creek in good conscience.

More On Manafort Trial

Roll Call, Paul Manafort Trial Could End This Week, Prosecutors Say, Griffin Connolly, Aug. 7, 2018.  The tax evasion and bank fraud trial of Paul Manafort could draw to a close as early as the end of the week, prosecutors said Tuesday before Judge T.S. Ellis III recessed the court for lunch.

Ellis has hounded special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution team to sideline evidence and witnesses that are not directly related to the charges against Manafort. When do prosecutors hope to rest their case? Ellis asked after he dismissed the jury for lunch Tuesday.

“We’re hoping by the end of this week,” U.S. Attorney Greg Andres said. “That’s our intention.”

Andres spent the morning questioning Manafort’s longtime deputy, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy against the United States and one charge of lying to an FBI agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss.

Manafort faces 18 charges of tax evasion and bank fraud and a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury hands him a guilty verdict.

Gates explained Tuesday how he and Manafort opened up bank accounts in Cyprus using “shelf” companies created and nominally maintained by a Cypriot law firm to make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to find a paper trail or fingerprints tying Manafort to the accounts.

From 2007 to 2016, they funneled millions of dollars into the accounts, which Gates said Manafort used to duck roughly $15 million in taxes.

Gates is the 15th witness the government has called to testify in the trial through the halfway point of the sixth day. Prosecutors originally submitted 35 potential witnesses.

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Aug. 6

U.S. War Contracting

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon doubles down on ‘single-cloud’ strategy for $10 billion contract, Aaron Gregg, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). The Defense Department has doubled down on a decision to turn to just one cloud-computing provider for one of its biggest IT contracts in years, offering a rebuke to some in industry who fear this approach will give one Department of Defense Sealcompany too much influence over the government’s information systems.

Late last month, the Defense Department released a long-awaited request for proposals for what it is calling the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), in which it specified that the contract would have a ceiling of $10 billion over the course of a decade, an opportunity that officials have indicated would account for about 16 percent of the department’s overall cloud migration work.

The Defense Department also indicated it would use just one company for the contract — a decision that has sparked sharp divisions among the handful of firms vying for the contract.

amazon logo smallThe massive scale of the contract has attracted interest from old-guard beltway contractors as well as West Coast technology giants. Microsoft, Amazon, Google, CIA LogoOracle, IBM and General Dynamics have expressed interest.

Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing unit of Amazon.com, is seen as a front-runner because of its work with the CIA under an earlier, $600 million contract, something that has given it years of expertise in handling classified data. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Manaford Trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Rick Gates Says He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort, Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 6, 2018. For decades, Mr. Gates was right-hand man to Mr. Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is accused of tax and bank fraud. He began testifying in federal court on Monday. Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s right-hand man for years, began testifying against his former boss on Monday in federal court in Alexandria, Va. He is considered the most important witness in Mr. Manafort’s trial on tax and bank fraud charges.

Asked by prosecutors whether he was involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Gates responded, “Yes.”

rnc logoMr. Gates also testified that he and Mr. Manafort held 15 foreign bank accounts that were not disclosed to the federal government. Mr. Gates said the required financial filings were not submitted “at Mr. Manafort’s direction.”

Mr. Gates admitted to a wide variety of crimes, including bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, lying to federal authorities, lying in a court deposition and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Manafort’s accounts by falsely claiming expenses.

Mr. Manafort was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, but resigned from the campaign in August 2016 after just five months. Mr. Gates, the deputy chairman, remained on the campaign as a liaison to the Republican National Committee through the election. Mr. Gates was named deputy chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural campaign, raising huge sums for the event.

Trump Admissions On Twitter

washington post logodonald trump jr time cover croppedWashington Post, Trump defends 2016 meeting between son, Kremlin-aligned lawyer, Ashley Parker and Rosalind Helderman, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). President Trump offered his most definitive and clear public acknowledgment that Donald Trump Jr. (shown on a Time Magazine cover last year) attended the meeting at Trump Tower to “get information on an opponent,” contradicting an initial misleading statement he dictated for his son last year. In a tweet, the president called the meeting “totally legal.”

While “collusion” is not mentioned in U.S. criminal statutes, Mueller is investigating whether anyone associated with Trump coordinated with the Russians, which could result in criminal charges if they entered into a conspiracy to break the law, including through cyberhacking or interfering with the election.

republican elephant logo“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” the president wrote in one of several early morning tweets Sunday, many of which took aim at the media. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere.” He concluded by further distancing himself from the meeting his son arranged, writing: “I did not know about it!”

washington post logoWashington Post, One Trump tweet, two problematic admissions, Aaron Blake​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). President Trump this weekend tweeted about his personal legal issues in a way he perhaps shouldn't have.​

U.S. Politics

mike pence kris kobach ken blackwell el com wh whowhatwhy

Left to right: Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Vice President Mike Pence, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at the launch of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, July 24, 2017. White House photo via YouTube with WhoWhatWhy graphic

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy. Opinion: Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission Was… a Fraud, Nina Sparling, Aug. 6, 2018. Newly released documents from President Donald Trump’s now defunct voter fraud commission — ostensibly created to investigate “millions” of illegal votes — confirm that there was never any there there.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Backs Kris Kobach in Kansas Race, Against Republican Advice, Jonathan Martin, Aug. 6, 2018. Kris Kobach, a Trump ally, holds hard-line positions on immigration and voting rights. Should he win the Republican primary for governor on Tuesday over the incumbent, Gov. Jeff Colyer, many Democrats think their nominee stands a chance of winning in the general election.

President Trump turned aside the advice of party officials and intervened in the Kansas Republican primary for governor Monday, throwing his support behind the polarizing secretary of state, Kris Kobach, one day before voters go to the polls there.

In a tweet that Republican governors and some of his own aides had sought to avert, Mr. Trump called Mr. Kobach “a fantastic guy” and offered his “full & total endorsement.”

Mr. Kobach is running against Gov. Jeff Colyer, who succeeded Sam Brownback, and a handful of other Republicans in a contest that had been highly competitive. But Mr. Trump’s blessing is now likely to lift Mr. Kobach, who is best known for his hard-line views on immigration and voting rights.

washington post logodjt official SmallWashington Post, Trump at a precarious moment: Privately brooding and publicly roaring, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). ​The president, anxious about the Russia investigation’s widening fallout and the legal fate of his eldest son, has increasingly channeled his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance and invective during public appearances.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Deeply Blue New Jersey, an Unexpected Battle for Senate, Nick Corasaniti, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). Senator Robert Menendez’s corruption trial had barely ended at the federal courthouse in Newark, but his team was already feverishly working the phones. Within 24 hours, nearly every major Democratic public official in New Jersey — from the newly elected governor to influential state legislators to powerful county chairs — had pledged their endorsement.

Mr. Menendez’s ability to quickly unite fellow Democrats behind him so soon after his trial concluded in a hung jury and even before prosecutors dropped the case seemed to assure a relatively smooth glide to re-election in an increasingly blue state, which had just elected a Democratic governor by 13 points.

robert menendez offBut six months later, the road has become unexpectedly bumpy. Facing a deep-pocketed Republican challenger, a blitz of negative ads and lingering concerns over a lackluster performance in an uncontested primary, Mr. Menendez’s race has started to concern some Democrats.

After weathering a criminal indictment and a harsh ethics rebuke from his Senate peers, Mr. Menendez, shown at left, may find himself in a tough enough re-election fight that will force the party to devote money and energy needed in other races critical to the party’s quest to retake Congress.

In theory, Mr. Menendez, 64, should win easily: Registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 900,000; President Trump remains deeply unpopular; contested congressional races are energizing Democrats; and he has the backing of a Democratic machine that still has enough clout to deliver victory.

Roll Call, North Carolina GOP Candidate Preached Extensively on Wives Submitting to Husbands, Eric Garcia, Aug. 6, 2018. Former Baptist preacher Mark Harris is running in the 9th District.  Democrats were already targeting North Carolina’s 9th District before incumbent Rep. Robert Pittengerlost his Republican primary in May. And they’re hoping that past comments from the former Baptist minister who defeated him improves their chances of flipping the seat this fall.

republican elephant logoMark Harris on multiple occasions — as a preacher and political candidate — has said that women should submit fully to their husbands and that he believed homosexuality is a choice. Before venturing into politics, he was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Harris said in a Friday interview with Roll Call that a wife submitting to her husband does not mean that they are not equal. He said he regularly mentions that in counseling sessions and when he presides at weddings.

Harris faces Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine veteran and business owner, in this once-thought safe Republican district that stretches along the South Carolina border from the wealthy suburbs of Charlotte to Fayetteville. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already named McCready to its Red to Blue program for promising recruits before Pittenger lost. He has also received financial help from Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a fellow Marine veteran. McCready finished the second quarter ended June 30 with $1.8 million in the bank to $296,000 for Harris.

Phoenix New Times, Opinion: Ex-Sheriff Joe 'I Was Duped' Arpaio Is Mentally Unfit for U.S. Senate, Ray Stern, Aug. 6, 2018. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (shown above with a comedian and at right in a file photo) says he had no idea he was agreeing in a televised interview that he'd consider having oral sex with President Trump. And he thought, when talk to turned to "golden showers," that he and Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen were discussing a shower made of gold.

joe arpaio flagCohen, pretending to be a Finnish YouTube star, found Arpaio to be like Play-Doh in his hands. "He mentioned Trump and gold — I thought he was talking about a gold shower," Arpaio explained.

Arpaio, 86, is apparently easier to fool than a homeschooled third-grader. And he's running for U.S. Senate.

He's admitted to being "duped" before. In fact, what happened in the Cohen interview is just the latest piece of evidence from the past 10 years or so that Arpaio's mental faculties have faded. Forget the scandals for a moment — the jail deaths, the lack of sexual abuse investigations under his reign, the discrimination against Latinos.

Cohen just exposed for the rest of the country what many Arizonans already knew: If Arpaio was ever fit to be a senator, that time has passed.

republican elephant logoRepublican voters in Maricopa County turned on Arpaio in 2016, rejecting his bid for a seventh four-year term. But Arpaio isn't satisfied staying out of the limelight — he's one of several Arizona candidates this year who screwed up somehow and are trying to regain their reputations and give their self-esteem a boost.

Arpaio's in third place for the Republican primary, polls show, behind Kelli Ward and Martha McSally, and all of them may be behind Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema for November's general election. Despite the long-shot odds, Arpaio seems to be taking the race seriously. He's raising money and recently plastered metro Phoenix with campaign signs.

The Intercept, Minnesota Attorney General — Now Democratic Frontrunner for Governor — Relied on Government Employees for Campaign Work, They Say, Rachel M. Cohen, Aug. 6, 2018. Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s three-term attorney general and current candidate for governor, has presided over an office culture in which professional success is linked to the willingness of employees to participate in Swanson’s campaign work, eight former and current employees of the attorney general’s office told The Intercept.

Swanson, a moderate Democrat who was first elected in 2007, has kept a remarkably low profile throughout her 11 years in office, largely avoiding crowds and close media coverage. Just last month, Minnesota Public Radio described her as “an atypically private politician who runs a tightly-controlled office and makes few public appearances.” Unlike nearly all other politicians across the country, she maintains no personal or professional presence on Twitter or Facebook.

None of this is by accident, according to sources familiar with Swanson. Lawyers and other employees who have worked for her describe a highly politicized office in which burnishing Swanson’s image is a primary focus.

democratic donkey logoThe lawyers and other staffers in the attorney general’s office interviewed for this article said they felt pressured to carry out tasks like stuffing envelopes for the benefit of the campaign and scheduling campaign events, sometimes during the work day. They said they felt their promotions and pay raises were based partly on participation in political campaigns. Attorneys reported foregoing basic legal work to instead correspond with constituents and defend the office’s and Swanson’s reputation in various public relations campaigns — work they said they felt was political. Multiple sources reported that these office dynamics began as early as Swanson’s first year in office and continued through this year.

It is not illegal for politicians to invite their employees to get involved with their campaigns. However, Minnesota law bars the use of “official authority or influence” to compel employees to engage in political activity.

Ruth Stanoch, a spokesperson for Swanson’s campaign, said the allegations are “categorically false” and that additional questions should be directed to the attorney general’s office. A spokesperson from that office, Benjamin Wogsland, told The Intercept that anyone who volunteers on a political campaign must do so own their own personal time, and that “the office does not consider an employee’s participation in the political process or lack thereof in determining raises and promotions.” He declined to answer specific follow-up questions unless The Intercept would name the employees we interviewed.

Former staff and legal observers are also calling attention to other elements of Swanson’s record. These include what was widely considered an aggressive union busting effort she conducted early in her first term. Also of note, they say, is a history of touting high-profile lawsuits against corporate defendants and the Trump administration — and then settling or exiting them quietly after the press had moved on.

Democrats are expected to maintain control of the governor’s mansion in the November election, and a recent poll showed Swanson with a narrow lead over her two more progressive primary opponents. But with the August 14 primary fast approaching, those who worked with her say they want Democratic voters to know more about the candidate for whom they’re being asked to cast a ballot.

Attempted Presidential Assassination

ny times logonicolas maduro customNew York Times, Attack on Maduro: 2 Blasts, a Stampede and a ‘Flying Thing,’ Ana Vanessa Herrero and Nicholas Casey, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). A drone attack that failed to kill President Nicolás Maduro, right, of Venezuela unfolded on live TV and in front of many witnesses: “It was like, bang, I had never heard a sound like that in my life.”

In the presidential box stood the small cadre who run the country: a loyal general who was now the interior minister, the chief judge of the Supreme Court and Nicolás Maduro, the president, who looked down at a parade of national guard troops.

Mr. Maduro, bedecked for the ceremony with the gold chain and tricolor sash of his office, was ending his speech Saturday afternoon on the topic that is top of mind for every Venezuelan: the ravaged economy, which has left much of the population desperate for food, emptied the hospitals of medicine and driven hundreds of thousands to leave the country. Before a loyal audience, the president tried to sound an optimistic tone on improvements to come, despite Venezuela’s dire condition.

Media: Demise of Local News

washington post logoWashington Post, The local-news crisis is destroying what a divided America desperately needs: Common ground, Margaret Sullivan​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). People who get their news only from Facebook or from cable TV are often deep in their own echo chambers. That’s why we need the local newspaper to give us common information — an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.

Ken Doctor saw it coming. A few years ago, the media analyst looked at the trend lines and predicted that by 2017 or so, American newsrooms would reach a shocking point. “The halving of America’s daily newsrooms,” he called what he was seeing.

Last week, we found out that it’s true. A Pew Research study showed that between 2008 and last year, employment in newspaper newsrooms declined by an astonishing 45 percent. (And papers were already well down from their newsroom peak in the early 1990s, when their revenue lifeblood — print advertising — was still pumping strong.)

The dire numbers play out in ugly ways: Public officials aren’t held accountable, town budgets go unscrutinized, experienced journalists are working at Walmart, or not at all, instead of plying their much-needed trade in their communities.

One problem with losing local coverage is that we never know what we don’t know. Corruption can flourish, taxes can rise, public officials can indulge their worst impulses. And there’s another result that gets less attention: In our terribly divided nation, we need the local newspaper to give us common information — an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.

Media: Apple Spikes Alex Jones

alex jones radio logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Alex Jones’s podcasts are erased by Apple in latest move against the conspiracy theorist who claims Sandy Hook was a hoax, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 6, 2018. Apple has wiped iTunes and its podcasting app virtually clean of content by Alex Jones in one of the most aggressive moves by technology companies and streaming services against the conspiracy theorist and owner of the right-wing media platform Infowars.

As of early Monday, just one of the six Infowars programs once listed by Apple remained, “RealNews with David Knight.” The decision to pull the other shows, including “The Alex Jones Show” and “War Room,” represents a broader effort than those made by other companies in recent days to stop disseminating material associated with Jones, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America.”

Last week, Spotify removed several episodes of “The Alex Jones Show,” following similar moves by YouTube and Facebook the week before. The more sweeping action taken by Apple shows how companies have responded differently to the task of regulating false information and hate speech while remaining a neutral platform. Jones, who faces several defamation lawsuits arising from his claim that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, argues that his statements are protected speech.

Trump Reimposes Iran Sanctions

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Analysis: Trump to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Now what? Ishaan Tharoor, Aug. 6, 2018. The first batch of sanction will be reimposed today, and the Trump administration will struggle to isolate Iran — and, in the process, may find itself isolated.

Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, the United States agreed to relax sanctions on Iran. But the Trump administration has now begun to put them back in place, with the first batch to be reimposed Monday. Those sanctions target a range of economic sectors, including automobiles, gold, steel and other key metals. After 90 days, a heftier tranche of sanctions on Iran's oil industry is set to go back into effect.

Supreme Court Control

SCOTUSblog, Monday round-up, Edith Roberts, Aug. 6, 2018. We round up the latest news on Judge Brett Kavanaugh (shown at right), including speculation on documents from his time in President George W. Bush’s administration and a debate over whether Democrats should support his confirmation when they disapprove on the merits.

brett kavanaugh confirmation hearing 2004 CustomAt BuzzFeed News, Chris Geidner and Jason Leopold report that “[i]n the midst of a growing fight over what documents senators will see from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s five years in the George W. Bush White House, a narrow glance into three months of Kavanaugh’s communications with just one office at the Justice Department shows that he worked on key questions involving the president’s power to keep documents from Congress and the public, as well as important legislation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

For the Washington Post, Seung Min Kim reports that “Senate Democrats will begin meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh to press him privately on releasing his papers, … after Democrats had boycotted these sit-downs for weeks amid a document dispute with Republicans.”

republican elephant logoAt Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost asserts that “the Republicans’ prime movers on judicial confirmations — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley — are adopting tactics that flatly contradict their stances on President Obama’s last two Supreme Court nominations.”

For the New York Times, Michael Shear and Adam Liptak take a close look at Kavanaugh’s experience working on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton, “an immersion course in the brutal ways of Washington combat.”

#MeToo Clergy Scandals

bill hybels file hand folded

ny times logoNew York Times, He’s a Superstar Pastor. She Worked for Him and Says He Groped Her Repeatedly. Laurie Goodstein, Aug. 5, 2018. Bill Hybels, shown at right, built an iconic evangelical church outside Chicago. A former assistant says that in the 1980s, he sexually harassed her.

After the pain of watching her marriage fall apart, Pat Baranowski felt that God was suddenly showering her with blessings. She had a new job at her Chicago-area megachurch, led by a dynamic young pastor named the Rev. Bill Hybels, who in the 1980s was becoming one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country.

The pay at Willow Creek Community Church was much lower than at her old job, but Ms. Baranowski, then 32, admired Mr. Hybels and the church’s mission so much that it seemed worth it. She felt even more blessed when in 1985 Mr. Hybels and his wife invited her to move into their home, where she shared family dinners and vacations.

Once, while Mr. Hybels’s wife, Lynne, and their children were away, the pastor took Ms. Baranowski out for dinner. When they got home, Mr. Hybels offered her a back rub in front of the fireplace and told her to lie face down.

“I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time. “I felt like if this was exposed, this fantastic place would blow up, and I loved the church. I loved the people there. I loved the family. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. And I was ashamed.”

Mr. Hybels denied her allegations about her time working and living with him. “I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he said in an email.

Since the #MeToo movement emerged last year, evangelical churches have been grappling with allegations of sexual abuse by their pastors. A wave of accusations has begun to hit evangelical institutions, bringing down figures like the Rev. Andy Savage, at Highpoint Church in Memphis, and the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival, a Christian music event.

Ms. Baranowski is not the first to accuse Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing, though her charges are more serious than what has been reported before.

In March, The Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported that Mr. Hybels had been accused by several other women, including co-workers and a congregant, of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades. The allegations included lingering hugs, invitations to hotel rooms, comments about looks and an unwanted kiss.

Crime Around the Nation

Law & Crime, NASCAR CEO Reportedly Name-Dropped Trump During Arrest Process for DWI, Alberto Luperon, Aug. 6, 2018. NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France was charged Sunday night for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance. From there, the details get a little … interesting. France reportedly name-dropped President Donald Trump during the process of the arrest.

First, here’s the public story, as told by the Sag Harbor Village Police Department statement obtained by ESPN. France was seen driving a 2017 Lexus northbound on Main Street, and failed to stop at a stop sign, police said. Officers said a traffic stop followed and they discovered France was intoxicated. They claimed that after arresting him, they discovered oxycodone pills on his person. Cops arrested France at 7:30 p.m., held him overnight, arraigned him morning, and released him on his own recognizance.

The president’s relationship with the company goes back some years, to a proposed Trump Motor Speedway in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing can safely describe itself as a family business. France’s grandfather Bill Sr., a racing driver himself, founded it in 1948. He stepped down as CEO so his son Bill France Jr. could take over. Brian France became CEO in 2003.

TMZ said it got a statement from NASCAR on the incident, saying it was aware of it, gathering facts and that it “take[s] this as a serious matter.” NASCAR said further comment would be forthcoming after an examination of the facts in this case.

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Aug. 6

U.S. War Contracting

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon doubles down on ‘single-cloud’ strategy for $10 billion contract, Aaron Gregg, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). The Defense Department has doubled down on a decision to turn to just one cloud-computing provider for one of its biggest IT contracts in years, offering a rebuke to some in industry who fear this approach will give one Department of Defense Sealcompany too much influence over the government’s information systems.

Late last month, the Defense Department released a long-awaited request for proposals for what it is calling the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), in which it specified that the contract would have a ceiling of $10 billion over the course of a decade, an opportunity that officials have indicated would account for about 16 percent of the department’s overall cloud migration work.

The Defense Department also indicated it would use just one company for the contract — a decision that has sparked sharp divisions among the handful of firms vying for the contract.

amazon logo smallThe massive scale of the contract has attracted interest from old-guard beltway contractors as well as West Coast technology giants. Microsoft, Amazon, Google, CIA LogoOracle, IBM and General Dynamics have expressed interest.

Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing unit of Amazon.com, is seen as a front-runner because of its work with the CIA under an earlier, $600 million contract, something that has given it years of expertise in handling classified data. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Manaford Trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Rick Gates Says He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort, Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 6, 2018. For decades, Mr. Gates was right-hand man to Mr. Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is accused of tax and bank fraud. He began testifying in federal court on Monday. Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s right-hand man for years, began testifying against his former boss on Monday in federal court in Alexandria, Va. He is considered the most important witness in Mr. Manafort’s trial on tax and bank fraud charges.

Asked by prosecutors whether he was involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Gates responded, “Yes.”

rnc logoMr. Gates also testified that he and Mr. Manafort held 15 foreign bank accounts that were not disclosed to the federal government. Mr. Gates said the required financial filings were not submitted “at Mr. Manafort’s direction.”

Mr. Gates admitted to a wide variety of crimes, including bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, lying to federal authorities, lying in a court deposition and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Manafort’s accounts by falsely claiming expenses.

Mr. Manafort was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, but resigned from the campaign in August 2016 after just five months. Mr. Gates, the deputy chairman, remained on the campaign as a liaison to the Republican National Committee through the election. Mr. Gates was named deputy chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural campaign, raising huge sums for the event.

Trump Admissions On Twitter

washington post logodonald trump jr time cover croppedWashington Post, Trump defends 2016 meeting between son, Kremlin-aligned lawyer, Ashley Parker and Rosalind Helderman, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). President Trump offered his most definitive and clear public acknowledgment that Donald Trump Jr. (shown on a Time Magazine cover last year) attended the meeting at Trump Tower to “get information on an opponent,” contradicting an initial misleading statement he dictated for his son last year. In a tweet, the president called the meeting “totally legal.”

While “collusion” is not mentioned in U.S. criminal statutes, Mueller is investigating whether anyone associated with Trump coordinated with the Russians, which could result in criminal charges if they entered into a conspiracy to break the law, including through cyberhacking or interfering with the election.

republican elephant logo“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” the president wrote in one of several early morning tweets Sunday, many of which took aim at the media. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere.” He concluded by further distancing himself from the meeting his son arranged, writing: “I did not know about it!”

washington post logoWashington Post, One Trump tweet, two problematic admissions, Aaron Blake​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). President Trump this weekend tweeted about his personal legal issues in a way he perhaps shouldn't have.​

U.S. Politics

mike pence kris kobach ken blackwell el com wh whowhatwhy

Left to right: Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Vice President Mike Pence, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at the launch of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, July 24, 2017. White House photo via YouTube with WhoWhatWhy graphic

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy. Opinion: Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission Was… a Fraud, Nina Sparling, Aug. 6, 2018. Newly released documents from President Donald Trump’s now defunct voter fraud commission — ostensibly created to investigate “millions” of illegal votes — confirm that there was never any there there.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Backs Kris Kobach in Kansas Race, Against Republican Advice, Jonathan Martin, Aug. 6, 2018. Kris Kobach, a Trump ally, holds hard-line positions on immigration and voting rights. Should he win the Republican primary for governor on Tuesday over the incumbent, Gov. Jeff Colyer, many Democrats think their nominee stands a chance of winning in the general election.

President Trump turned aside the advice of party officials and intervened in the Kansas Republican primary for governor Monday, throwing his support behind the polarizing secretary of state, Kris Kobach, one day before voters go to the polls there.

In a tweet that Republican governors and some of his own aides had sought to avert, Mr. Trump called Mr. Kobach “a fantastic guy” and offered his “full & total endorsement.”

Mr. Kobach is running against Gov. Jeff Colyer, who succeeded Sam Brownback, and a handful of other Republicans in a contest that had been highly competitive. But Mr. Trump’s blessing is now likely to lift Mr. Kobach, who is best known for his hard-line views on immigration and voting rights.

noah smith ohio republicans jeremy pelzer 2018 russians

Ohio Trump supporters with pro-Russia tee-shirts at rally (Cleveland.com photo by Jeremy Pelzer retweeted by Bloomberg's Noah Smith)

Vox, Trump’s Republican Party, explained in one photo, Zack Beauchamp, Aug. 6, 2018. A monument to what political scientists call “negative partisanship,” one of the most important phenomena of our political time. Sometimes there are images that so perfectly encapsulate a moment in time that all you can do is marvel. They’re the kinds of things that will show up in history textbooks, the kind of thing that high school students will look at when they’re trying to understand a previous era.

I think Cleveland.com reporter Jeremy Pelzer has taken just one of those images: a photo of two men at a Trump rally in Ohio on Saturday night wearing shirts that say “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.”

These men, named James T. Alicie and Richard M. Birchfield, are a perfect encapsulation of the way Donald Trump has transformed the Republican Party in his image — abandoning its traditional positions on issues ranging from Russia to trade in favor of Trump’s positions on these issues. The photo is also an extremely clear way of understanding how deep hatred of Democrats is warping the Republican Party, part of a phenomenon political scientists call “negative partisanship.”

But before the science, the photo:

There’s a reason Smith’s tweet got retweeted nearly 9,000 times and why the original photo was on the front page of Reddit. The idea that Republicans would be willing to side with Russia — which is widely believed to have meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump get elected — seems like a parody of the way Republicans think. Yet here it is, printed on a T-shirt spotted at a Trump rally.

This attitude — hatred of the other party above all else — is at the heart of so-called “negative partisanship,” a concept that Georgetown University’s Jonathan Ladd defines as “the tendency to vote for a party not mainly because you like it, but because you are repulsed by the other major party.” This phenomenon, he explains, is why Republican leaders and voters were able to get past their policy disagreements with Trump and vote for him: They’d rather have a Republican in office, however unorthodox and unqualified, than any kind of Democrat.

The crucial feature about negative partisanship is that it isn’t really about policy; it’s about identity. Negative partisanship becomes really powerful, political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster write, when “supporters of each party perceive supporters of the opposing party as very different from themselves in terms of their social characteristics and fundamental values.” The other party is your cultural enemy, hostile to people “like you,” and therefore must be defeated at all costs — even if, as in this instance, it means siding with a foreign power.

washington post logodjt official SmallWashington Post, Trump at a precarious moment: Privately brooding and publicly roaring, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). ​The president, anxious about the Russia investigation’s widening fallout and the legal fate of his eldest son, has increasingly channeled his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance and invective during public appearances.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Deeply Blue New Jersey, an Unexpected Battle for Senate, Nick Corasaniti, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). Senator Robert Menendez’s corruption trial had barely ended at the federal courthouse in Newark, but his team was already feverishly working the phones. Within 24 hours, nearly every major Democratic public official in New Jersey — from the newly elected governor to influential state legislators to powerful county chairs — had pledged their endorsement.

Mr. Menendez’s ability to quickly unite fellow Democrats behind him so soon after his trial concluded in a hung jury and even before prosecutors dropped the case seemed to assure a relatively smooth glide to re-election in an increasingly blue state, which had just elected a Democratic governor by 13 points.

robert menendez offBut six months later, the road has become unexpectedly bumpy. Facing a deep-pocketed Republican challenger, a blitz of negative ads and lingering concerns over a lackluster performance in an uncontested primary, Mr. Menendez’s race has started to concern some Democrats.

After weathering a criminal indictment and a harsh ethics rebuke from his Senate peers, Mr. Menendez, shown at left, may find himself in a tough enough re-election fight that will force the party to devote money and energy needed in other races critical to the party’s quest to retake Congress.

In theory, Mr. Menendez, 64, should win easily: Registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 900,000; President Trump remains deeply unpopular; contested congressional races are energizing Democrats; and he has the backing of a Democratic machine that still has enough clout to deliver victory.

Roll Call, North Carolina GOP Candidate Preached Extensively on Wives Submitting to Husbands, Eric Garcia, Aug. 6, 2018. Former Baptist preacher Mark Harris is running in the 9th District.  Democrats were already targeting North Carolina’s 9th District before incumbent Rep. Robert Pittengerlost his Republican primary in May. And they’re hoping that past comments from the former Baptist minister who defeated him improves their chances of flipping the seat this fall.

republican elephant logoMark Harris on multiple occasions — as a preacher and political candidate — has said that women should submit fully to their husbands and that he believed homosexuality is a choice. Before venturing into politics, he was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Harris said in a Friday interview with Roll Call that a wife submitting to her husband does not mean that they are not equal. He said he regularly mentions that in counseling sessions and when he presides at weddings.

Harris faces Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine veteran and business owner, in this once-thought safe Republican district that stretches along the South Carolina border from the wealthy suburbs of Charlotte to Fayetteville. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already named McCready to its Red to Blue program for promising recruits before Pittenger lost. He has also received financial help from Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a fellow Marine veteran. McCready finished the second quarter ended June 30 with $1.8 million in the bank to $296,000 for Harris.

Phoenix New Times, Opinion: Ex-Sheriff Joe 'I Was Duped' Arpaio Is Mentally Unfit for U.S. Senate, Ray Stern, Aug. 6, 2018. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (shown above with a comedian and at right in a file photo) says he had no idea he was agreeing in a televised interview that he'd consider having oral sex with President Trump. And he thought, when talk to turned to "golden showers," that he and Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen were discussing a shower made of gold.

joe arpaio flagCohen, pretending to be a Finnish YouTube star, found Arpaio to be like Play-Doh in his hands. "He mentioned Trump and gold — I thought he was talking about a gold shower," Arpaio explained.

Arpaio, 86, is apparently easier to fool than a homeschooled third-grader. And he's running for U.S. Senate.

He's admitted to being "duped" before. In fact, what happened in the Cohen interview is just the latest piece of evidence from the past 10 years or so that Arpaio's mental faculties have faded. Forget the scandals for a moment — the jail deaths, the lack of sexual abuse investigations under his reign, the discrimination against Latinos.

Cohen just exposed for the rest of the country what many Arizonans already knew: If Arpaio was ever fit to be a senator, that time has passed.

republican elephant logoRepublican voters in Maricopa County turned on Arpaio in 2016, rejecting his bid for a seventh four-year term. But Arpaio isn't satisfied staying out of the limelight — he's one of several Arizona candidates this year who screwed up somehow and are trying to regain their reputations and give their self-esteem a boost.

Arpaio's in third place for the Republican primary, polls show, behind Kelli Ward and Martha McSally, and all of them may be behind Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema for November's general election. Despite the long-shot odds, Arpaio seems to be taking the race seriously. He's raising money and recently plastered metro Phoenix with campaign signs.

The Intercept, Minnesota Attorney General — Now Democratic Frontrunner for Governor — Relied on Government Employees for Campaign Work, They Say, Rachel M. Cohen, Aug. 6, 2018. Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s three-term attorney general and current candidate for governor, has presided over an office culture in which professional success is linked to the willingness of employees to participate in Swanson’s campaign work, eight former and current employees of the attorney general’s office told The Intercept.

Swanson, a moderate Democrat who was first elected in 2007, has kept a remarkably low profile throughout her 11 years in office, largely avoiding crowds and close media coverage. Just last month, Minnesota Public Radio described her as “an atypically private politician who runs a tightly-controlled office and makes few public appearances.” Unlike nearly all other politicians across the country, she maintains no personal or professional presence on Twitter or Facebook.

None of this is by accident, according to sources familiar with Swanson. Lawyers and other employees who have worked for her describe a highly politicized office in which burnishing Swanson’s image is a primary focus.

democratic donkey logoThe lawyers and other staffers in the attorney general’s office interviewed for this article said they felt pressured to carry out tasks like stuffing envelopes for the benefit of the campaign and scheduling campaign events, sometimes during the work day. They said they felt their promotions and pay raises were based partly on participation in political campaigns. Attorneys reported foregoing basic legal work to instead correspond with constituents and defend the office’s and Swanson’s reputation in various public relations campaigns — work they said they felt was political. Multiple sources reported that these office dynamics began as early as Swanson’s first year in office and continued through this year.

It is not illegal for politicians to invite their employees to get involved with their campaigns. However, Minnesota law bars the use of “official authority or influence” to compel employees to engage in political activity.

Ruth Stanoch, a spokesperson for Swanson’s campaign, said the allegations are “categorically false” and that additional questions should be directed to the attorney general’s office. A spokesperson from that office, Benjamin Wogsland, told The Intercept that anyone who volunteers on a political campaign must do so own their own personal time, and that “the office does not consider an employee’s participation in the political process or lack thereof in determining raises and promotions.” He declined to answer specific follow-up questions unless The Intercept would name the employees we interviewed.

Former staff and legal observers are also calling attention to other elements of Swanson’s record. These include what was widely considered an aggressive union busting effort she conducted early in her first term. Also of note, they say, is a history of touting high-profile lawsuits against corporate defendants and the Trump administration — and then settling or exiting them quietly after the press had moved on.

Democrats are expected to maintain control of the governor’s mansion in the November election, and a recent poll showed Swanson with a narrow lead over her two more progressive primary opponents. But with the August 14 primary fast approaching, those who worked with her say they want Democratic voters to know more about the candidate for whom they’re being asked to cast a ballot.

Attempted Presidential Assassination

ny times logonicolas maduro customNew York Times, Attack on Maduro: 2 Blasts, a Stampede and a ‘Flying Thing,’ Ana Vanessa Herrero and Nicholas Casey, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). A drone attack that failed to kill President Nicolás Maduro, right, of Venezuela unfolded on live TV and in front of many witnesses: “It was like, bang, I had never heard a sound like that in my life.”

In the presidential box stood the small cadre who run the country: a loyal general who was now the interior minister, the chief judge of the Supreme Court and Nicolás Maduro, the president, who looked down at a parade of national guard troops.

Mr. Maduro, bedecked for the ceremony with the gold chain and tricolor sash of his office, was ending his speech Saturday afternoon on the topic that is top of mind for every Venezuelan: the ravaged economy, which has left much of the population desperate for food, emptied the hospitals of medicine and driven hundreds of thousands to leave the country. Before a loyal audience, the president tried to sound an optimistic tone on improvements to come, despite Venezuela’s dire condition.

Media: Demise of Local News

washington post logoWashington Post, The local-news crisis is destroying what a divided America desperately needs: Common ground, Margaret Sullivan​, Aug. 6, 2018 (print edition). People who get their news only from Facebook or from cable TV are often deep in their own echo chambers. That’s why we need the local newspaper to give us common information — an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.

Ken Doctor saw it coming. A few years ago, the media analyst looked at the trend lines and predicted that by 2017 or so, American newsrooms would reach a shocking point. “The halving of America’s daily newsrooms,” he called what he was seeing.

Last week, we found out that it’s true. A Pew Research study showed that between 2008 and last year, employment in newspaper newsrooms declined by an astonishing 45 percent. (And papers were already well down from their newsroom peak in the early 1990s, when their revenue lifeblood — print advertising — was still pumping strong.)

The dire numbers play out in ugly ways: Public officials aren’t held accountable, town budgets go unscrutinized, experienced journalists are working at Walmart, or not at all, instead of plying their much-needed trade in their communities.

One problem with losing local coverage is that we never know what we don’t know. Corruption can flourish, taxes can rise, public officials can indulge their worst impulses. And there’s another result that gets less attention: In our terribly divided nation, we need the local newspaper to give us common information — an agreed-upon set of facts to argue about.

Media: Apple Spikes Alex Jones

alex jones radio logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Alex Jones’s podcasts are erased by Apple in latest move against the conspiracy theorist who claims Sandy Hook was a hoax, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 6, 2018. Apple has wiped iTunes and its podcasting app virtually clean of content by Alex Jones in one of the most aggressive moves by technology companies and streaming services against the conspiracy theorist and owner of the right-wing media platform Infowars.

As of early Monday, just one of the six Infowars programs once listed by Apple remained, “RealNews with David Knight.” The decision to pull the other shows, including “The Alex Jones Show” and “War Room,” represents a broader effort than those made by other companies in recent days to stop disseminating material associated with Jones, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America.”

Last week, Spotify removed several episodes of “The Alex Jones Show,” following similar moves by YouTube and Facebook the week before. The more sweeping action taken by Apple shows how companies have responded differently to the task of regulating false information and hate speech while remaining a neutral platform. Jones, who faces several defamation lawsuits arising from his claim that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, argues that his statements are protected speech.

Trump Reimposes Iran Sanctions

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Analysis: Trump to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Now what? Ishaan Tharoor, Aug. 6, 2018. The first batch of sanction will be reimposed today, and the Trump administration will struggle to isolate Iran — and, in the process, may find itself isolated.

Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, the United States agreed to relax sanctions on Iran. But the Trump administration has now begun to put them back in place, with the first batch to be reimposed Monday. Those sanctions target a range of economic sectors, including automobiles, gold, steel and other key metals. After 90 days, a heftier tranche of sanctions on Iran's oil industry is set to go back into effect.

Supreme Court Control

SCOTUSblog, Monday round-up, Edith Roberts, Aug. 6, 2018. We round up the latest news on Judge Brett Kavanaugh (shown at right), including speculation on documents from his time in President George W. Bush’s administration and a debate over whether Democrats should support his confirmation when they disapprove on the merits.

brett kavanaugh confirmation hearing 2004 CustomAt BuzzFeed News, Chris Geidner and Jason Leopold report that “[i]n the midst of a growing fight over what documents senators will see from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s five years in the George W. Bush White House, a narrow glance into three months of Kavanaugh’s communications with just one office at the Justice Department shows that he worked on key questions involving the president’s power to keep documents from Congress and the public, as well as important legislation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

For the Washington Post, Seung Min Kim reports that “Senate Democrats will begin meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh to press him privately on releasing his papers, … after Democrats had boycotted these sit-downs for weeks amid a document dispute with Republicans.”

republican elephant logoAt Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost asserts that “the Republicans’ prime movers on judicial confirmations — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley — are adopting tactics that flatly contradict their stances on President Obama’s last two Supreme Court nominations.”

For the New York Times, Michael Shear and Adam Liptak take a close look at Kavanaugh’s experience working on independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton, “an immersion course in the brutal ways of Washington combat.”

#MeToo Clergy Scandals

bill hybels file hand folded

ny times logoNew York Times, He’s a Superstar Pastor. She Worked for Him and Says He Groped Her Repeatedly. Laurie Goodstein, Aug. 5, 2018. Bill Hybels, shown at right, built an iconic evangelical church outside Chicago. A former assistant says that in the 1980s, he sexually harassed her.

After the pain of watching her marriage fall apart, Pat Baranowski felt that God was suddenly showering her with blessings. She had a new job at her Chicago-area megachurch, led by a dynamic young pastor named the Rev. Bill Hybels, who in the 1980s was becoming one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country.

The pay at Willow Creek Community Church was much lower than at her old job, but Ms. Baranowski, then 32, admired Mr. Hybels and the church’s mission so much that it seemed worth it. She felt even more blessed when in 1985 Mr. Hybels and his wife invited her to move into their home, where she shared family dinners and vacations.

Once, while Mr. Hybels’s wife, Lynne, and their children were away, the pastor took Ms. Baranowski out for dinner. When they got home, Mr. Hybels offered her a back rub in front of the fireplace and told her to lie face down.

“I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time. “I felt like if this was exposed, this fantastic place would blow up, and I loved the church. I loved the people there. I loved the family. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. And I was ashamed.”

Mr. Hybels denied her allegations about her time working and living with him. “I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he said in an email.

Since the #MeToo movement emerged last year, evangelical churches have been grappling with allegations of sexual abuse by their pastors. A wave of accusations has begun to hit evangelical institutions, bringing down figures like the Rev. Andy Savage, at Highpoint Church in Memphis, and the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival, a Christian music event.

Ms. Baranowski is not the first to accuse Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing, though her charges are more serious than what has been reported before.

In March, The Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported that Mr. Hybels had been accused by several other women, including co-workers and a congregant, of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades. The allegations included lingering hugs, invitations to hotel rooms, comments about looks and an unwanted kiss.

Aug. 5

Washington Lobbying

ny times logoNew York Times, Steel Giants Tied to Trump Block Tariff Relief for Other Firms, Steel Giants Tied to Trump Block Tariff Relief for Other Firms, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 5, 2018. Two of America’s biggest steel manufacturers — both with deep ties to administration officials — have successfully objected to hundreds of requests by American companies that buy foreign steel to exempt themselves from President Trump’s stiff metal tariffs. They have argued that the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers.

Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary film made by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump, and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel, which has previously employed several top administration officials, have objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the past several months.

To date, their efforts have never failed, resulting in denials for companies that are based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence over the exclusions process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals.

Rioters Swarm Portland

Daily Beast, Armed Trump Supporters March on Portland, Beating Up Opponents and Calling for Hillary Clinton’s Arrest, Corey Pein, Aug. 5, 2018. Led by a fringe Republican candidate, hundreds of far-right militants swarmed into Portland, Oregon to fight ‘evil leftists.’ Cops seemed more concerned with antifa.

Hundreds of armed supporters of President Donald Trump, led by a fringe Republican congressional candidate, marched on Saturday, leaving blood from scattered street fights in their wake.

Ostensibly a campaign event for long-shot U.S. Senate hopeful Joey Gibson, members of his group Patriot Prayer urged the president to lock up his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, and promised violent retribution for anyone who threatened their right to “free speech” or armed self-defense. Groups of Trump supporters swarmed through the streets, singling out people of color to fight, some of whom appeared to belong to small vigilante squads of local anti-fascists, as well as others who appeared to be mere passersby. Police announced four arrests, but gave no estimate of injuries.

“Only when they antagonize do we react. Stand your ground,” Gibson told supporters in a promotional Facebook video. “This is a brotherhood, a sisterhood. To bleed together, that's what's important. To bleed together.”

His supporters flocked from around the West Coast and the country, a contingent of Proud Boys, "Three Percenter" militia members, Trump-supporting bikers, fundamentalist Christians, and college Republicans. Gibson had insinuated that his supporters would bring guns into the city and many apparently did, although to comply with local ordinances, the weapons stayed stowed in backpacks.

Trump-supporting rallygoers will tell you the city suffers from a plague of communists, anarchists, and godless unbelievers, namely because of the large antifa presence.

Aug. 4

Trump Creates Racial Ruckus Before Ohio Vote

djt lebron james file

Basketball star LeBron James, a native of Akron, Ohio, announced on Monday the opening of a model public school for 240 third and fourth graders in his hometown, with funding from his foundation and operation in cooperation with the local public school system. By 2022, the I Promise School is expected to educate children from first to eighth grade from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. President Trump is at right (file photos).

Editor's note: A major dispute arose in advance of President Trump's Saturday visit to Ohio to help an embattled Republican win a special election on Tuesday that is rated as a toss-up for a congressional district outside Ohio's state capitol of Columbus. The seat is the crescent-shaped 12th District that Republicans gerrymandered in 2012 to create for a decade heavily white / Republican districts. These concentrate blacks and Democrats into a district in downtown Columbus. That way, Democrats are likely to win one seat in congressional elections while Republicans win several in a central Ohio region that is evenly divided politically. Courts, including the Republican-majority U.S. Supreme Court, have refused to intervene in such gerrymandered elections in Ohio and elsewhere for the most part, no matter how strangely the districts are configured and no matter what Republicans have been caught saying about their motives for limiting black and Democratic office-holding by such tactics.

But the most recent poll, by Monmouth University, assessed District 12 voter views as statistically tied, 46-45, between the Republican and Democrat.

Below is one report on the Trump-initiated racial dispute, which arose after Trump attacked the Akron native and longtime Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and CNN host Don Lemon, who heard LeBron say that Trump attacks black sports figures for political purposes. Lemon is a black man whom Trump has targeted along with CNN and many black athletes and political figures as supposedly having low intelligence. Some analysts suggest that Trump is seeking to fire up whites in the Ohio district against LeBron and Democrats in advance of Tuesday's election. Trump suggested also that Michael Jordan, known as "Mike" in some sponsor ads, was a better NBA player than LeBron, who has disappointed some Ohio fans by joining the Los Angeles Lakers after a decade in Ohio and many civic projects in his home state:

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has berserk late-night meltdown about LeBron James after everything goes horribly wrong for him, Bill Palmer, Aug. 3, 2018. Here’s what Donald Trump tweeted at 11:37 pm Eastern time: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

We checked several times to make sure that this tweet really did come from Trump, and not from a parody account.

But the real upshot is this:

djt golf in shape customDonald Trump [shown during the 2016 campaign with one of his comments bragging about his own fitness] has spent all day sitting at his golf course while tweeting and retweeting total nonsense aimed at convincing himself he’s somehow doing a good job and that he’s beloved.

He’s in a delusional haze, and it’s growing worse by the hour as his criminal scandals close in on him.

Trump’s tweet about LeBron is a sign that he’s either desperate to distract us from an even uglier Trump-Russia bombshell that’s about to land or he’s just completely snapped altogether.

Update: CNN evening host Don Lemon later tweeted, "Who's the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages? #BeBest."

Charlotte Hornets owner and former NBA great Michael Jordan tweeted "...I support LJ."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, tweeted: "Rather than criticizing (at)KingJames, we should be celebrating him for his charity work and efforts to help kids."

melania trump twitter

Melania Trump in her Twitter photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Melania Trump issues statement in support of LeBron James after president insults him, Alex Horton and T.J. Ortenzi​, Aug. 4, 2018. The president's tweet came after the NBA star told CNN’s Don Lemon that President Trump sought to divide the country by using sports as a wedge. A statement from the first lady's spokeswoman said, “It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, GOP make last-ditch push to avoid another costly special-election defeat, Amy B Wang, Aug. 4, 2018. The vote Tuesday in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in suburban Columbus gives the Democrats another chance to make gains in an area that has been solidly Republican for decades.

Russia-Trump Probes

paul manafort rick gates nbcnews

At right, former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, left, and his longtime business partner and fellow Republican operative Rick Gates (file photos)

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort trial Day 4: Accountant says she went along with alleged tax fraud because she was afraid to confront Manafort, Justin Jouvenal, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky and Moriah Balingit, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). Accountant Cindy Laporta has testified at length Friday about how Rick Gates sent her backdated documents in an effort to help Paul Manafort pay less in taxes and secure loans. In one such effort, Laporta said Manafort turned to her when his bookkeeper wouldn’t help.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Was Deep in Debt and Saw an Opportunity in Trump, Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan and Sharon LaFraniere, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). Prosecutors in Paul Manafort’s bank and tax fraud trial say he was desperate for money. Why, then, did he volunteer to work unpaid in a top post in the Trump campaign?

washington post logomaria butina with gun adWashington Post, Alleged Russian agent Butina cozied up to ex-Trump aide near end of 2016 race, Rosalind Helderman, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). Maria Butina, the Russian gun rights activist accused of being an agent of the Kremlin, socialized with a Trump adviser who anticipated joining the presidential transition team, putting her in closer contact with President Trump’s orbit than was previously known.

Butina, working with well-connected GOP lobbyists and promoted as calling for American-style gun rights in Russia, poses with a gun.

Media Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, Newseum pulls ‘fake news’ shirts after outcry from journalists, Keith McMillan and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Aug. 4, 2018. The Washington attraction “dedicated to the importance of a free press and the first amendment” sold garments with phrases the president popularized. Journalists took it as an affront.

ohio state buckeyes logo#MeToo Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Urban Meyer admits knowing about domestic abuse allegations against former assistant coach, Jesse Dougherty and Jeremy Gottlieb​, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). The Ohio State coach released a statement saying he knew of allegations brought against Zach Smith in 2015 despite claiming otherwise last week.

washington post logojohn conyersWashington Post, House race in Detroit simmers with fury over treatment of a liberal icon, David Weigel​, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). Forced out last year by sexual harassment allegations, John Conyers Jr. (a Democrat shown in a file photo) looms over the contest for his replacement.

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Metro considering separate trains for white nationalists attending ‘Unite the Right’ rally, Martine Powers, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). Washington's Metro is considering providing separate trains for participants of the “Unite the Right” white-nationalist rally Aug. 12, board chairman Jack Evans said Friday.

Evans said the move would be an effort to prevent violence between rally participants and counterprotesters. Plans for the special trains were first publicized by Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which released a statement expressing outrage at the idea that Metro would provide “private” rail cars to “Unite the Right” participants.

Kushners Bailed Out

ny times logoNew York Times, Deal Gives Kushners Cash Infusion for 666 Fifth Avenue, Charles V. Bagli and Kate Kelly, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition).  In a deal that eases the financial pressure on the Kushner Companies, Brookfield Asset Management said on Friday that it had taken a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue, the troubled Midtown tower owned by the family of Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

jared kushner head shotJared Kushner, right, now a top White House adviser, paid a record-setting $1.8 billion for the building in 2007, and it has been a drag on his family’s real estate company ever since.

The deal, in which Brookfield paid the rent for the entire 99-year term upfront, helps remove the family’s biggest financial headache: a $1.4 billion mortgage on the office portion of the tower that was due in February next year. The Kushners have spent more than two years on an international search for new partners or fresh financing that stretched from the Middle East to China.

The deal would enable the Kushners to pay off at least a large portion of what they owe lenders and retain ownership of the land beneath the tower. But they may not make any money from it.

Inside DC

james garfield portrait

Republican President James Garfield, shown above, was assassinated in Washington, DC in 1881 by a GOP campaign worker disappointed that the president failed to appoint him as a diplomat. A GOP-led Congress enacted a merit-based U.S. civil service system of the kind advocated by Garfield within two years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump White House is destroying our civil service, Anne Applebaum, Aug. 4, 2018 (print edition). We take it for granted. Historically, though, the phenomenon of the neutral civil service — apolitical government employees, chosen and promoted on merit, working on behalf of the state rather than a person or party — is vanishingly rare. Take a step back from the other crises of this summer and think about it.

In Europe, the idea of a professional civil service appeared relatively late, around the 18th century. The United States didn’t have a federal civil service for most of its first hundred years. The British seized on the idea of civil service exams only when they faced a sudden need to administer an empire; they may well have been influenced by China, which had been administering such exams for two millennia , and which was widely admired for that reason at the time.

At most other times and in most other places, state employees have been chosen according to systems of patronage, what Americans once called “spoils.” Even now, all around the world, most people get government jobs because they know (or know someone who knows) a person in power. Aside from being inefficient — patronage systems don’t promote people for their competence or knowledge — they are easily corrupted. I was once told of an Asian country in which people pay hefty fees to the foreign minister to become ambassadors.

If we want clean water and safe streets — not to mention more complicated things, like a counterintelligence service that can detect foreign spies — then we should demand that our government appoint people for their qualifications, not their red Make America Great Again hats.

washington post logokris kobach kansas SmallWashington Post, The most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of’: Trump panel found no voter fraud, ex-member says, Eli Rosenberg, Aug. 4, 2018. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the 11 members of the commission formed by President Trump to investigate supposed voter fraud, issued a scathing rebuke of the disbanded panel on Friday, accusing Vice Chair Kris Kobach and the White House of making false statements and saying that he had concluded that the panel had been set up to try to validate the president’s baseless claims about fraudulent votes in the 2016 election.

Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the panel, made the statements in a report he sent to the commission’s two leaders — Vice President Pence and Kobach, who is Kansas’s secretary of state — after reviewing more than 8,000 documents from the group’s work, which he acquired only after a legal fight despite his participation on the panel.

Before it was disbanded by Trump in January, the panel had never presented any findings or evidence of widespread voter fraud. But the White House claimed at the time that it had shut down the commission despite “substantial evidence of voter fraud” due to the mounting legal challenges it faced from states. Kobach, too, spoke around that time about how “some people on the left were getting uncomfortable about how much we were finding out.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Hope Hicks was aboard Air Force One today with Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 4, 2018. Roughly six months after having abruptly announced her resignation in a cloud of Trump-Russia scandal controversy, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was spotted on Air Force One today with Donald Trump. This revelation sent shockwaves, as it was shocking yet not all that surprising. It was also plainly illegal, raising the stakes for what’s really going on here.

hope hicks strategic communications directorEarly this year, it was reported that former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo was willing to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he heard Hope Hicks (shown in a file photo) promising Donald Trump that she would suppress and/or destroy Donald Trump Jr’s emails about the Russia meeting in Trump Tower. Shortly after this surfaced, Trump’s allies on the House Intel Committee hauled in Hicks, in an apparent attempt at figuring out whether she was planning to flip on Trump. The next day, Hicks announced her resignation from the White House. She then disappeared… until now.

The key here is the timing. Just days ago, Mueller called Trump’s bluff on sitting down for an interview about the scandal.

If Trump brought Hope Hicks onboard Air Force One today to try to get his story straight with hers before he testifies, then he committed felony witness tampering – and Mueller will charge him for it. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that when it comes to committing these kinds of crimes, he can’t help himself, even as his attorneys advise him not to do it. Based on the timing, there’s also another realistic explanation.

This kind of “kingpin” interview between Donald Trump and Robert Mueller only happens once everyone else has been interviewed. It’s it’s entirely possible that Mueller is coordinating with Hope Hicks, and Trump doesn’t know it. For all we know, when he invited Hicks aboard Air Force One today to try to conspire with her, Mueller signed off on it, because it’ll give him first hand witness testimony about Trump’s witness tampering.

Keep in mind that if Mark Corallo’s reported claims about Hope Hicks prove to be true, it would mean she committed felony obstruction of justice. If Hicks is still playing for Team Trump, she’s going to prison for several years. However, if she’s playing for Team Mueller behind Trump’s back, she could potentially avoid prison altogether.

maria zakharova feb 14 2018 tass cropSouthFront, Opinion: Russian Foreign Ministry Reacts To Canada’s Plans To Accept White Helmets Members, Staff report, Aug. 4, 2018. During a press briefing on August 3, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (shown at right in a file photo), commented on Canada’s plans to accepts members of the White Helemets evacuated by Israel from southern Syria. Translation:

We regularly comment on anything related to the pseudo-humanitarian organisation the White Helmets. Actually, frankly speaking, they should have changed their name from 'White Helmets' to 'White Masks' a long time ago. Because these people who had for many years pretended to be humanitarians, in reality turned out to be, and this fact has been proved by now, mere foreign agents who worked on the territory of Syria for vast sums of money, advancing anti-Syrian interests and the interests of other nations.

Currently they are being rushed out and stashed away in different countries.

canadian flagAnd so we took note of Canada’s recent decision to harbour the White Helmets. Let me remind you that they just pretended to be humanitarian workers, it was all pantomime. No, it goes beyond that – they had close ties to extremists. The fact that they will be hidden away in Canada now, to be honest, did not surprise us for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is well known that Ottawa alongside with some other western capitals has long been providing this group, let us be specific, both moral and direct financial support. Major sums, millions of dollars.

Meanwhile I will remind you that those supposed humanitarian workers, who are in fact pseudo-humanitarian workers, became notorious for their staged scenes on orders from anti-government groups, they tried to keep the war in Syria going as long as possible, to fuel more and more conflicts, to pit Syrians against each other, and to bring Syria and the Syrian people down rather than render real assistance to the victims.

Aug. 3

Two U.S.Judges Slam Trump Immigration

Politico, A D.C.-based federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to restart in full the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Ted Hesson, Aug. 3, 2018. The decision is the latest legal blow against President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Obama-era program, which offers deportation relief to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

john d. batesThe restart won’t be immediate. U.S. District Judge John Bates (a Republican appointee shown at right) said Friday that the order would be delayed until Aug. 23 to allow the government to appeal, but he denied a Justice Department motion to reconsider his earlier decision, saying there were still deficiencies in the administration's rationale for rescinding DACA.

“The court has already once given DHS the opportunity to remedy these deficiencies — either by providing a coherent explanation of its legal opinion or by reissuing its decision for bona fide policy reasons that would preclude judicial review,” said Bates, “So it will not do so again.”

Bates in April became the third federal judge to order the administration to restart renewals for people previously approved for DACA.

abc news logoABC News, Judge rejects government call for ACLU to bear reunification responsibility, Tom Llamas, Lauren Pearle, Aug. 3, 2018 (1:46 mins. video). A federal judge flatly rejected a Trump administration effort to shift the burden of tracking down hundreds of migrant parents deported without their children to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other non-profits and charities -- saying the government is "100 percent" responsible for the separation and failure to reunite the migrant families.

“For every parent that is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is a hundred percent the result of the administration,” federal judge Dana Sabraw said.

"The reality is there are close to 500 parents that have not been located. Many have been removed from the country without their child," he continued. "All of this is the result of the government’s separation and failure to track and reunite” the families.

us dhs big eagle logo4Sabraw said he plans to file an order in the coming days requiring the government to continue providing information and updates and to assign a competent leader to take charge.

Last night, Trump administration attorneys filed an unusual request in U.S. District Court in southern California, arguing that the ACLU and various charities should carry the burden of finding the 410 migrant parents deported without their children under the government’s zero-tolerance policy.

The ACLU, which sued the government over these family separations, “should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that Defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” government lawyers wrote in Thursday’s filing, employing a common acronym for non-governmental organizations.

Russia-Trump Probes

robert mueller full face file

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort trial Day 3: Bookkeeper testifies about Manafort’s overseas accounts, unpaid bills, Rachel Weiner, Justin Jouvenal and Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). Heather Washkuhn testified that the company made about $400,000 in 2015, contradicting financial documents sent by Paul Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, which indicated the firm made $4.5 million that year.

Attorneys for Manafort, President Trump’s one-time campaign chairman, hope to rebut allegations of his financial wrongdoing by portraying him as the victim of Gates.

Manafort is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.

The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller (shown at right), investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Here is what happened on the third day of the trial.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Threat to Elections ‘Is Real,’ Trump Officials Say, Michael D. Shear and Michael Wines, Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). Top national security officials vowed Thursday to defend American elections against what they called real threats from Russia only weeks after President Trump seemed to accept President Vladimir V. Putin’s denials of interference during a summit meeting in Finland.

After the meeting, Mr. Trump said he had not meant to endorse Mr. Putin’s denial of election meddling, but insisted that the culprit behind the intrusion“could be other people.” A few days later, he asserted that the idea of any meddling by Russia was “all a big hoax.”

But the men and women charged with detecting and defending against any threats to the American political process showed no such ambivalence. They bluntly said that Russia was behind a “pervasive” campaign to weaken America’s democracy and influence the 2018 election.

They also sought to reassure voters that federal, state and local governments were taking steps to guard against what Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, described as a “24-7 365-days-a-year” effort by Russia to sow division as Americans head to the polls in the fall.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Silence on U.S. Meddling Abroad, Jacob G. Hornberger, Aug. 3, 2018. Among the most fascinating aspects of the brouhaha over supposed Russian meddling in America’s electoral system is the total silence in the U.S. mainstream press about U.S. meddling in the political affairs of other countries.

Consider the mass outrage and indignation among the mainstream press that Russia would actually want to help a U.S. presidential candidate who favors normalizing relations with Russia over a candidate that was determined to do the opposite.

Why not the same outrage against the U.S. national-security establishment for helping its favorite people come to office in foreign countries?

By their silence regarding U.S. meddling in foreign countries, one could easily draw the conclusion that the U.S. mainstream press is saying the following: It’s wrong for Russia to meddle in the U.S. electoral system but it’s okay for the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the military, CIA, and NSA) to meddle in the electoral affairs of foreign countries.

Or to put it another way, if it’s wrong in principle to meddle, then why is the U.S. government doing it, and why isn’t the U.S. mainstream press condemning both U.S. meddling and Russia meddling?

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-‘Manhattan Madam’ Meets With Russia Investigators, Kristin Davis, Alan Feuer, Aug. 3, 2018. Kristin Davis, a Manhattan woman renowned for running a high-end New York City escort service a decade ago, met on Wednesday with investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to two people familiar with the matter.

kristin davis roger stone jan 28 2013Ms. Davis, who was known for years in New York City’s tabloids as the Manhattan Madam, told The New York Times last month that she was contacted in late July by Mr. Mueller’s office, which was seeking to serve her a subpoena as part of its investigation into ties between Russia and President Trump’s campaign. Ms. Davis said at the time that she had no idea what Mr. Mueller’s team wanted to know from her, insisting she did not believe it was related to her former prostitution business.

The subject of her interview this week with the special counsel’s office remained unclear, but one possible line of inquiry was her long association with Roger J. Stone Jr., a veteran political consultant and Trump adviser who has become a focal point for Mr. Mueller’s investigators. They are shown in a file photo.

Mr. Stone, a self-described “dirty trickster” with a career in politics reaching back to the Nixon administration, was in contact with Guccifer 2.0, an online figure that Mr. Mueller’s team has said was controlled by Russian military intelligence officers. Guccifer 2.0 was instrumental in helping WikiLeaks distribute stolen emails and other internal political documents that proved damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and to the Democratic Party.

Trump v. Media

ny times logodjt official SmallNew York Times, Trump Devotes Majority of Rally to Bashing News Media, Emily Cochrane, Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). For much of a rally on Thursday night in Pennsylvania, President Trump focused on his multiple grievances with the Washington press corps.

Auto Emissions Rules Chaos?

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Officials Unveil Plan to Weaken Fuel Economy Rules, Coral Davenport, Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration on Thursday formally announced its long-awaited proposal to dramatically weaken an Obama-era regulation on planet-warming vehicle tailpipe pollution. The publication of the proposal sets up a race among opponents of the change — an unusual mix of environmentalists, automakers, consumer groups and states — to temper the plan before it is finalized this year.

epa general logoThe proposal would freeze rules requiring automakers to build cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, including hybrids and electric vehicles, and unravel one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to combat global warming. It would also challenge the right of states to set their own, more stringent tailpipe pollution standards, setting the stage for a legal clash that could ultimately split the nation’s auto market in two.

While the chief executives of auto companies last year asked Mr. Trump to loosen the Obama-era rules, they have since asked him not to pull them as far back as he has sought to do in this week’s proposal.

Since the proposal seeks to revoke states’ rights to set their own pollution standards, the states that do so, led by California, are expected to sue the administration. If that were to happen, the plan could end up tangled in litigation for years, leaving automakers caught in regulatory uncertainty.

U.S. Politics

phil bredesen marsha blackburn

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP gears up to battle popular ex-governor in Senate race in Tenn.; Bill Lee projected to win Republican primary for governor, Sean Sullivan, Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). Republicans braced for a difficult, high-stakes campaign in the heart of Trump country as Tennessee Democrats nominated a popular former governor to run for the state’s open Senate seat.

Phil Bredesen, shown above at left, won the Democratic nomination Thursday, giving his party its best chance of a statewide general election victory in more than a decade. He has presented himself as an affable centrist willing to work with President Trump, and his presence on the ballot forces the GOP to play defense on its home turf as the party seeks to preserve a narrow 51-to-49 Senate majority.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, shown above at right, who is backed by Trump and has largely championed his agenda, won the Republican nomination.

bob corkerThe fall campaign will test the enduring appeal of Trump’s brand of politics in a state that he won handily two years ago but historically has been dominated by more traditional Republicans such as Sen. Bob Corker (right), an outspoken critic of the president whose retirement opened up the seat.

Republicans, who have sought to focus on ousting vulnerable Democrats in pro-Trump states, have grown increasingly worried about a Tennessee letdown.

Bredesen was the last Democrat to win statewide in Tennessee. He finished on top in all 95 counties in the state in a dominant 2006 reelection showing. The last Democrat to be elected to the Senate in Tennessee was Al Gore, who last won reelection in 1990, but then lost his home state in his failed 2000 presidential bid.

U.S. Jobs & Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, China warns it could fire back with tariffs of $60 billion in U.S. goods, Emily Rauhala and Damian Paletta, Aug. 3, 2018. President Trump is considering more than doubling his tariffs on Chinese goods, from an initial 10 percent to 25 percent. A final decision has not been made.

china flag SmallThe Chinese government on Friday threatened to dramatically escalate its economic standoff with President Trump, vowing to impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods if the White House doesn’t halt pending penalties on Chinese imports.

White House officials had hoped Trump’s latest threat would spook Chinese officials into negotiations, but it appears to have instead led Beijing to dig in with more retaliatory measures that experts believe could hurt the economy in both countries.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The U.S. Added 157,000 Jobs in July. Here’s the Takeaway, Nelson D. Schwartz, Aug. 3, 2018. The numbers are below analysts’ expectations but extended a steady run of hiring. The jobless rate dipped to 3.9%.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Stop Calling Trump a Populist, Paul Krugman (right), Aug. 3, 2018 (print edition). From tax cuts to Kavanaugh, he’s been relentless about hurting working-class Americans.

Inside DC

DC Report, OSHA May Make It Worse for Workers Exposed to the Heat, Sarah Okeson, Aug. 2, 2018. While the Nation Melts, Safety Agency Considers Rollback of Its Limited Authority to Protect Employees.

Exactly six years ago, Mark Rainey, 60, was admitted to the hospital with a core body temperature of 105.4 degrees after his first day on a roofing job. He was diagnosed with heat stroke. He died 21 days later.

The Dayton, Ohio, roofing firm that Rainey was working for, A.H. Sturgill Roofing Inc., was fined $8,820, but a commission dominated by Trump appointees could throw out that fine in a case that might make it harder to discipline firms whose workers sicken or die from working when it’s too hot.

James Sullivan Jr., a Trump appointee who previously represented a roofer, questioned OSHA using publications such as a National Roofing Contractors Association safety guide to show that Sturgill knew there was a hazard. “Has this had a chilling effect on employers?” asked Sullivan, one of the two Trump appointees on the three-member Occupational Safety and Heath Review Commission.

OSHA doesn’t have specific regulations for heat which means it is harder to prove that the employer is at fault. Two former OSHA directors and more than 130 advocacy groups have called for OSHA to develop a heat standard. California, Washington, Minnesota and the U.S. military have heat standards.

“There’s no question it will save lives,” said David Michaels, who headed the agency under former President Barack Obama.

From 1992 to 2016, 783 U.S. workers died from the heat, according to a Public Citizen report. Those numbers are likely to increase with climate disruption. Rainey was at his first day on the job as a temporary employee on Aug. 1, 2012. The temperature was expected to reach 89, but conditions were about 10 degrees hotter on the roof of the Miamisburg, Ohio, bank building.

Temporary employees such as Rainey are particularly at risk. The Public Citizen report said 17 of 23 heat deaths studied happened in the employee’s first three days on the job. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends gradually phasing in new employees who work in hot conditions over 7 to 14 days and monitoring employees for problems.

History / Current Events

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, 1943 Harlem Race Riot: What the Hell Happened? Milicent Cranor, Aug. 3, 2018. On the 75th anniversary of the riot in Harlem, we wonder what, if anything, we have learned — and when and where the next riot will be.

Assange / WikiLeaks Update

Lawfare, Analysis: If Assange Leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy, What Next? Hilary Hurd, Aug. 3, 2018.  WikiLeaks founder and CEO Julian Assange might be nearing his final days in Ecuador’s London embassy, where he’s lived and worked since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for rape charges or, potentially, to the United States.

It’s been 13 days since President Moreno arrived in the UK, without any reports that Assange had been turned over. Whether that means he’s off the hook is unclear, but here’s what we know about the current state of play.

Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Democrats to end boycott, plan to meet with Kavanaugh later this month, Seung Min Kim, Aug. 3, 2018. Senate Democrats will begin meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, to press him privately on releasing his papers, a senior brett kavanaughDemocratic aide said Friday, after Democrats had boycotted these sit-downs for weeks amid a document dispute with Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, had held off scheduling the traditional one-on-one sessions as they tussled with Republicans over releasing documents from Kavanaugh’s voluminous paper trail, primarily from his time in the George W. Bush White House.

But Schumer and Feinstein will start meeting with President Trump’s pick to succeed retired justice Anthony M. Kennedy after the Senate returns from its truncated recess Aug. 15, a senior Senate Democratic aide said. They will press Kavanaugh on releasing his papers from his tenure as Bush’s staff secretary — which Republicans argue are irrelevant in assessing his fitness to be a justice — and “question him about their contents.”

Republicans have agreed to release only papers from Kavanaugh’s time as associate White House counsel, which span two of the five years he served under Bush. Democrats made a separate request to the National Archives to release the staff secretary records, but the Archives rebuffed their request in a letter dated Thursday. The Archives said only the chairman of a committee can make such a documents request.

The National Archives has started reviewing Kavanaugh’s documents from his time as associate White House counsel but said it won’t finish going through all of them until late October. Still, Senate Republicans plan to go ahead with confirmation hearings in September, as a private legal team led by Bush’s presidential records representative conducts a separate review of Kavanaugh’s paperwork and provides them to the Senate.

Schumer raised concerns Friday that this separate process means neither the public nor senators outside of those on the Judiciary Committee would be able to see Kavanaugh’s records.

“This unprecedented effort on the part of Republicans to keep hidden Judge Kavanaugh’s records from the American public, and even the large majority of senators, is a new and astonishing level of secrecy,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump Business Conflicts?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s D.C. hotel gets rental credit of $534,000 from federal agency for maintaining tower, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold​, Aug. 3, 2018. The arrangement to support the National Park Service’s tours of the building’s clock tower underscores the unusual arrangement between the president’s company and the federal government, contracting experts said.

washington post logoWashington Post, At Trump’s hotel in N.Y., revenue went up this spring — thanks to a visit from big-spending Saudis, David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell​, Aug. 3, 2018. The visit by travelers accompanying the Saudi crown prince highlights how little is known about President Trump’s business dealings with foreign governments.

Aug. 2

Russia-Trump Probes

washington post logojeff sessions ag oWashington Post, Trump urges end to Russia probe, calls prosecution of Manafort a ‘hoax,’ Rachel Weiner, Rosalind S. Helderman, Justin Jouvenal and Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 2, 2018 (print edition).​ As testimony was set to continue in the federal trial against his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, President Trump escalated his attacks on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation. He called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the probe “before it continues to stain our country any further.” ​

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller offers to limit investigators’ questions for Trump, Carol D. Leonnig​, Aug. 2, 2018 (print edition). The proposal, the special counsel’s latest effort to secure an interview with the president, comes as Trump has stepped up his attacks on the Russia investigation.

Pope Forbids Death Penalties

pope francis 2013 Smallny times logoNew York Times, Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases, Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, Aug. 2, 2018. Pope Francis, right, has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.

Fraud-In U.S. Midterm Elections?

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, As midterms near, fears grow that U.S. is not protected from Russian interference, Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg​, Aug. 2, 2018 (print edition). Experts say the lack of administration leadership on the issue — with President Trump at times questioning conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s disinformation and hacking campaign — renders less effective the efforts of agencies to mount a coordinated government action to protect the nation.

RNC vs. Koch Donors?

Politico, RNC warns donors to steer clear of Kochs, Alex Isenstadt, Aug. 2, 2018. The move escalates the fight between President Donald Trump and the powerful network.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee is sending a warning shot to major GOP donors not to play ball with the powerful Koch political network, escalating a fight between President Donald Trump’s allies and the Kochs. The move follows a weekend retreat in Colorado at which Koch network officials criticized the Trump administration, hinted they would work with Democrats, and announced they would not help a Republican candidate in a key 2018 Senate race.

“Some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel wrote in a memo to party contributors on Thursday afternoon. “This is unacceptable.”

In the memo, McDaniel notes that the RNC has long expressed concerns about the Koch network, which has developed its own data program for Republican candidates to use. The Koch data program rivaled the one that had been created by the RNC.

McDaniel also warns Republican candidates to steer clear of the Kochs. While some GOP contenders have chosen to use the Koch data program over the years, McDaniel argues that decision could come at a cost. If the Kochs decide to help Democrats going forward, she argues, that could include a future opponent.

U.S. Supreme Court: Kavanaugh

supreme court graphic

SCOTUSblog, Thursday round-up, Edith Roberts, Aug. 2, 2018. At CNN, Lauren Fox reports that “Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that he hopes to have President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee [Brett Kavanaugh] confirmed by the Senate by early October and that hearings are most likely to begin sometime in September.”

For The Washington Times, Alex Swoyer reports that “[a] Christian women’s organization announced Wednesday it’s launching a bus tour in eight states to rally support” for Trump’s nominee. Brett Samuels reports at The Hill that “Capitol Police charged 74 people on Wednesday in connection with a protest in the Senate office building against … Kavanaugh.”

At The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin, right, urges liberals wondering “whether it’s even worthwhile … to fight [Kavanaugh’s] nomination” “to remember that fighting Supreme Court nominees, even against formidable odds, can succeed — and produce a better Court than anyone might have expected.”

washington post logojeffrey toobinWashington Post, After investigating Clinton and Vincent Foster’s death, Brett Kavanaugh had change of heart,  Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Michael Kranish, Aug. 2, 2018. Kavanaugh in 1995 argued for expanding the purview of an independent counsel investigating the president. But in 2009, he wrote that civil and criminal investigations hurt presidents’ ability to do their job.

Elsewhere Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, TSA mulls a plan to eliminate security checkpoints at 150 smaller airports, Ashley Halsey III, Aug. 2, 2018 (print edition). Security checkpoints would be eliminated at more than 150 smaller U.S. airports under a plan being considered by the Transportation Security Administration. Passengers would instead be screened when they arrived at larger airports after their initial flight.

us dhs big eagle logo4The idea was first floated by the TSA (a unit of the Department of Homeland Security) two years ago and was seen then by critics as a transparent effort to get Congress to spend additional money on the agency.

“This is completely nuts,” said Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation and an aviation expert. “Perhaps they want an outcry from the public to say ‘Oh, no, no, no, Congress, give them the additional $115 million that they say this would save.’”

The proposal raises questions about whether would-be terrorists could penetrate the nation’s air system at the airports lacking screening or commander smaller shuttle aircraft and use them to damage buildings or other infrastructure.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mixing protest and party, nightly ‘Kremlin Annex’ rally outside the White House reaches its third week, Justin Wm. Moyer​, Aug. 2, 2018. Unlike the Women’s March or March for Our Lives, the modest, day-to-day rally has a different flavor. Organizers welcome those who want to confront President Trump daily, at high volume.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawyers for ex-FEMA official deny misconduct claims amid reports of past complaints, Elise Viebeck and Lisa Rein, Aug. 2, 2018. Corey Coleman, FEMA’s former personnel chief, was investigated over allegations that he created an atmosphere of widespread sexual harassment, according to FEMA officials.

Immigration Politics

ivanka trump in 2011washington post logoWashington Post, Ivanka Trump calls separations of migrant families a ‘low point’ of her time at White House, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez​, Aug. 2, 2018. The first daughter (shown in a file photo) also said that she does not agree with her father’s characterization of the media as “the enemy of the people.”

washington post logo

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk about Ivanka Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2018. More than a month ago, Donald Trump began kidnapping immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages in concentration camps. Since that time the courts have ruled that his actions were illegal, and have ordered him to give his child hostages back to their parents.

But nevermind that families have been destroyed and lives have been ruined and children are being tortured, because Ivanka Trump wants you to know that the real victim in this scandal is her.

That’s right, Ivanka told an interviewer today that her father’s child concentration camps are “low point for me.” She then went on to claim that “I feel very strongly about that. And I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children.”

This comes after she’s spent all this time refusing to publicly speak out against her father’s criminal torture of these children. Somewhere in there, Ivanka also claimed that the media are not the “enemy of the people,” a phrase her father has long used. Again, she waited all this time to finally say something, making it ring hollow.

MSNBC’s Ari Melber said it best when he tweeted this about Ivanka Trump: “You cannot truthfully claim you ‘very vehemently’ oppose something when you literally don’t do anything to oppose it.” In response to the Ivanka controversy, Donald Trump posted this logically incoherent and frankly berserk tweet: “They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!”

Trump v. Media

sarah huckabee sanders screenshotPalmer Report, Opinion: CNN’s Jim Acosta destroys Sarah Huckabee Sanders to her face, Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2018.  Donald Trump has been dishonestly attacking CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta for as long as anyone can remember. That’s because Acosta, along with a handful of other White House correspondents, has been consistently fearless in asking tough questions from day one. This week Trump once again called the media the “enemy of the people” during his rally in Florida. This led Acosta to go on the offensive during today’s White House press briefing.

Jim Acosta asked Trump’s White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose job is to work with the media on a daily basis, to definitively state that the media is not the “enemy of the people.” This led Huckabee Sanders (shownin a file photo) to rattle off a long list of dishonest criticisms of the media, falsely painting Trump as the victim. Acosta was less than impressed, and he let her know as much.

Syrian War / Israeli Border

SouthFront, Russian Military Releases Details Of Operation In Southern Syria: 3,332km2 Liberated, Thousands Of Militants Neutralized, Staff report, Aug. 2, 2018. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies liberated 3,332km2 from militants in southwestern Syria, the head of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said during a press briefing on August 2. He said:

Syria FlagGovernment forces restored control of 146 settlements. 50 of them were liberated by peaceful means after negotiations with local armed groups. Under the surrender deals, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other armed groups handed over 650 pieces of military hardware to the SAA. 9,652 people, including 4,297 fighters of the militant groups, withdrew from the area towards the militant-held part of the province of Idlib.

Rudskoi also noted that a unit of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) escorted by the Russian Military Police made its first in last six years patrol at the separation line between Syrian and Israeli forces. The Russian Military Police established eight observation posts along in front of the UNDOF to prevent provocations.

He also noted that there is a growing group of ISIS members in the areas surrounding the US-held zone of al-Tanf. From this zone, ISIS militants are carrying out attacks on targets in the provinces of al-Suwayda and Damascus as well as trying to organize raid against targets in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor.

urban meyer 2017#MeToo: College Sports

Columbus Dispatch, Urban Meyer and Ohio State: What we know so far, Summer Cartwright, Aug. 2, 2018 (print edition). Ohio State University announced Wednesday that head football coach Urban Meyer (shown in a 2017 file photo) would be placed on paid leave while the school investigates what he knew about allegations of domestic violence involving a former assistant coach.

ohio state buckeyes logoIn a report published online by a former ESPN staffer Brett McMurphy, Courtney Smith detailed the allegations involving her husband Zach Smith. The report came a little more than a week after Courtney Smith filed a civil protection order against Zach Smith. He was fired July 23, three days after the protection order was filed.

The only details released about the investigation are its focus: “supporting our players and on getting the truth as expeditiously as possible.”

During the investigation, Meyer will receive paid leave, an action that he said he agreed upon with Athletic Director Gene Smith, saying in a statement that the time away will allow the team “to conduct training camp with minimal distraction.”

U.S. Elections

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, What Will Happen If Abortion Legislation Is Turned Back to the States? Kirsty Vitarelli, Aug. 2, 2018. Some states’ laws are already cutting access to reproductive health care. What can the rest of the US expect if a conservative SCOTUS tips the balance on Roe v. Wade?

ny times logoNew York Times, Arrested, Jailed and Charged With a Felony. For Voting, Jack Healy, Aug. 2, 2018. Keith Sellars and his daughters were driving home from dinner at a Mexican restaurant last December when he was pulled over for running a red light. The officer ran a background check and came back with bad news for Mr. Sellars. There was a warrant out for his arrest.

As his girls cried in the back seat, Mr. Sellars was handcuffed and taken to jail.

His crime: Illegal voting. “I didn’t know,” said Mr. Sellars, who spent the night in jail before his family paid his $2,500 bond. “I thought I was practicing my right.”

Mr. Sellars, 44, is one of a dozen people in Alamance County in North Carolina who have been charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. All were on probation or parole for felony convictions, which in North Carolina and many other states disqualifies a person from voting. If convicted, they face up to two years in prison.

While election experts and public officials across the country say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, local prosecutors and state officials in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Idaho and other states have sought to send a tough message by filing criminal charges against the tiny fraction of people who are caught voting illegally.

“That’s the law,” said Pat Nadolski, the Republican district attorney in Alamance County. “You can’t do it. If we have clear cases, we’re going to prosecute.”

The cases are rare compared with the tens of millions of votes cast in state and national elections. In 2017, at least 11 people nationwide were convicted of illegal voting because they were felons or noncitizens, according to a database of voting prosecutions compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Others have been convicted of voting twice, filing false registrations or casting a ballot for a family member.

The case against the 12 voters in Alamance County — a patchwork of small towns about an hour west of the state’s booming Research Triangle — is unusual for the sheer number of people charged at once. And because nine of the defendants are black, the case has touched a nerve in a state with a history of suppressing African-American votes.

Media News

Daily Beast, National Enquirer Boss Slinks Away From Trump, Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Dean Sterling Jones, Aug. 2, 2018. Nothing Trump touches ever remains the same, including supermarket tabloids.

david pecker croppedShortly after the feds raided the office of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s now estranged personal attorney and longtime enforcer, National Enquirer publisher David Pecker (shown at right) went into a state of calculated retreat. For years, Pecker’s tabloid had promoted and puffing up Trump’s political rise and his presidency.

But once a regular fixture on the cover of the National Enquirer, Trump hasn’t appeared on it since an issue dated early May. That appearance was for a cover story on the various scandals swirling around... Cohen.

In that same issue detailing Cohen’s dirty work — work in which the Enquirer itself played a key role — there was another story showing how the Enquirer’s “lie detector examination” supposedly absolved Trump of any Russia-related collusion. Since then, the tabloid's approach to the saga has ranged from muted to silent.

The president’s disappearance from the pages of Pecker’s famous, Trump-endorsing supermarket tabloid was no coincidence. It also further demonstrates how so much of what President Trump touches, including the tabloids that relish the drama he produces, seems to suffer under the weight of scandals.

But the dialing-back of Trump content may have come with a cost. The National Enquirer's circulation numbers declined in the first half of the year, according to industry metrics compiled by the Alliance for Audited Media. The tabloid lost about 4,700 paid subscriptions from January through June, about six percent of its total at the beginning of the year.

As Pecker and his team were distancing themselves from Trump publicly, a more surreptitious effort was underway to cleanse the public record of details of Pecker’s involvement in the McDougal scandal and the AMI boss’s relationship with the president.

Over the course of a week last month, an anonymous Wikipedia user repeatedly tried to scrub Pecker’s page of damaging information regarding his alleged links to the McDougal hush-money scandal, removing huge blocks of text describing Pecker’s and AMI’s roles in paying the model for her story. The origin of the edits was even more interesting.

They were made by someone using an I.P. address associated with the high-powered Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor, according to publicly-available web database information. The same I.P. address has been used to edit pages for WME itself, the head of the agency’s literary division, and a number of WME clients.

republican elephant logoThe State (Columbia, South Carolina), Ex-leader of SC Republican Party says he’s Christ and God told him to kill mom’s dog, police say, Noah Feit, Aug. 2, 2018. The former leader of the South Carolina Republican Party was recently arrested after police said he “cruelly” killed his mother’s dog, and told them he did it because he was acting on a command from God — and that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ.

It was the latest in a downward spiral for Todd Kincannon, who was once the general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, per The State.

The Simpsonville Police Department reported that Kincannon killed his mother’s 10-year-old beagle/cattle dog mix July 26 at his parents’ house in Greenville County, where he was also living.

The 37-year-old Kincannon “intentionally, willfully, maliciously, cruelly and needlessly” mutilated Bailey by choking and stabbing the medium-sized dog multiple times with two knives, according to an arrest warrant.
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Responding police officers said Kincannon exited the house wearing only underwear, and he was covered in blood and dog hair. His mother had locked herself inside a bathroom because she said she was “absolutely terrified” of Kincannon who killed her dog “with his bare hands,” according to an incident report.

Aug. 1

Manafort Corruption Trial

paul manafort cnn

Paul Manafort shown in a 2016 cable screenshot when he was Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager

Roll Call, 5 Things You Should Know From the Paul Manafort Trial, Day 2, Griffin Connolly, Aug 1, 2018. President swings at a straw man and prosecutors mull shelving ‘star witness’ Rick Gates. Day Two of the tax evasion and bank fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (shown below in a mug shot) is in the books. The day featured testimony from five witnesses — including Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign chief — and dozens of pages of evidence on Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.

paul manafort mugThe high-powered political consultant is facing 18 counts and a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty. These are the five biggest takeaways from Day Two and how the trial turns from here:

1. thomas ellis iii headshotThe president is tweeting at a ‘no collusion’ straw man. Saying it loud for the people in the back: THIS IS A TAX EVASION AND BANK FRAUD TRIAL. None of the 18 counts against Manafort deal with collusion or conspiracy with a foreign nation, and the word Russia has not been mentioned through the trial’s first two days.

2. The defense may have turned the tables on the prosecution with ‘star witness’ Rick Gates. U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye shocked the courtroom Wednesday when he told Judge T.S. Ellis III, right, that the trial’s supposed star witness, Manafort right-hand man Rick Gates, might not be called to the witness stand. “He may testify, he may not,” Asonye said. “We’re trying to shorten the trial.”

washington post logoirs logoWashington Post, Prosecutors say Manafort’s wealth fueled by lies to IRS and banks, Rachel Weiner, Justin Jouvenal, Rosalind S. Helderman and Devlin Barrett​, ​Aug. 1, 2018 (print edition). In their opening statement at Paul Manafort’s trial on 18 charges of financial fraud, prosecutors said that President Trump’s former campaign chairman failed to pay taxes on some of the millions he made working in Ukraine, and then lied to banks to get loans when those payments stopped.

2018 U.S. Election Tampering?

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook says it has uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, Aug. 1, 2018 (print edition). Facebook has shut down a sophisticated disinformation operation on its platform that engaged in divisive messaging ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, the company said Tuesday, an escalation of what a top executive described as an “arms race” to manipulate the public using its tools.

facebook logoFacebook said it discovered 32 false pages and profiles that were created between March 2017 and this May, which lured 290,000 people with ads, events and regular posts on topics such as race, fascism and feminism — and sought to stir opposition to President Trump. The company informed law enforcement before it deleted the profiles Tuesday morning. It also notified lawmakers of the activity this week, and said it would notify the real Facebook users who were swept up in the operation.

One of the most popular pages had links to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin-backed organization of Russian operatives that flooded Facebook with disinformation around the 2016 election, Facebook said. Yet the operators of the newly banned pages, whom Facebook said it was not in a position to identify, were more clever about covering their tracks. Lawmakers and experts were quick to attribute the activity to Russia.

Trump Probes

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s Tampa circus proves you can’t reason with his base, Jennifer Rubin (right), Aug. 1, 2018. A few observations are in order: First, this is the behavior Trump incites and amplifies with his attacks on the free press. When he says the media is the “enemy of the people” or the worst people or the most dishonest people, his followers take it as license to treat members of the media as something less than human. Trump has defined the press as part of “the other,” and his cult responds with the kind of venom used to keep a foreign body at bay.

We should stop infantilizing Trump supporters, treating them as hapless victims of forces beyond their control. We’ve done them wrong. They come from “real America.”

Bunk. Whatever one’s economic hardships, any threatening, unhinged conduct and crude insults shouldn’t be excused. Trump cultists claim to be injured by the disrespect of “elites”; the only ones showing disrespect in Tampa were those in the mob. (And anyway, what ever happened to personal responsibility for one’s life choices?)

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: The number of Trump’s false or misleading claims climbs sharply in his second year, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Aug. 1, 2018. In his first year in office, President Trump made 2,140 suspect claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total. Overall, the president is averaging 7.6 claims a day, with a tendency to repeat many of his false or misleading statements.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump feud with Koch network exposes rifts in Republican ranks, Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan​, Aug. 1, 2018 (print edition). The network pointedly declined to endorse Trump as a presidential candidate in 2016 and its latest disagreements with administration policy have exposed the rift between a president pushing his party toward populism and establishment Republicans espousing the long-standing policy of free trade.

SCOTUS Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Unprecedented partisan interference’: Senate escalates bitter fight over Kavanaugh’s record, Seung Min Kim​, Aug. 1, 2018 (print edition). Democrats want to review material from the Supreme Court nominee’s time as as an associate White House counsel during the administration of George W. Bush, as well as Brett Kavanaugh’s years as staff secretary. Republicans call it an irrelevant fishing expedition.

Assange Illness, Threats

julian assange august 2014 wRT, Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens – report, Aug. 1, 2018. Julian Assange (shown in a 2014 photo), who has spent more than 2,230 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is expected to leave the building soon with his health deteriorating, sources say.

This latest information about the WikiLeaks founder, who was already expected to leave the embassy “in the coming weeks,” was broken Wednesday by Bloomberg which cited “two people with knowledge of the matter.” The news agency reported that the whistleblower’s health “has declined recently.”

The news comes days after Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno announced that Assange must "eventually" leave the embassy. “Yes, indeed yes, but his departure should come about through dialogue,” the Ecuadorian president said in answer to a reporter’s question on whether he will eventually have to leave.

Newsweek, WikiLeaks: Australia Has 'Obligation' to Protect Julian Assange, Lawyer Says, Jason Murdock, Aug. 1, 2018. Julian Assange is “homesick for Australia” and will need to be protected by the Malcolm Turnbull government if he is expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy, his lawyer has said.

australian flag wavingSpeculation has mounted in recent weeks that Assange’s welcome at the London embassy — where he has lived under political asylum since 2012 — is coming to an end. Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, recently confirmed that discussions with British officials were ongoing about the WikiLeaks chief. “I have never been in favor of Mr. Assange’s activity,” Moreno stated.

jennifer robinsonJennifer Robinson (left, shown in a file photo), Assange’s legal representative in London, told Australian media Wednesday that the situation had become “untenable.” She suggested that Australia should offer aid.

“Julian is still an Australian citizen and they have an obligation — and I think a duty — to exercise rights of protection over an Australian citizen,” Robinson told News.com.au. “They could usefully engage in this to help solve the impasse.” The lawyer said that it was “disappointing” that the Turnbull government had not yet stepped in. “I very much hope that they will,” she stated.

U.S. Politics / Academics

james ryan uva photo

University of Virginia President James E. Ryan. (University of Virginia photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, New U-Va. president supports appointment of controversial former Trump aide to campus center, Nick Anderson, Aug. 1, 2018. In his first day on the job, the University of Virginia’s new president said Wednesday he supports the controversial appointment of a former Trump administration official to a one-year fellowship at a campus center (the Miller Center) that studies the U.S. presidency and public policy.

“I think it was the right call,” U-Va. President James E. Ryan said of the decision to bring Marc Short, President Trump’s ex-director of legislative affairs, to the Miller Center as a senior fellow.

Two U-Va. history professors, Melvyn P. Leffler and William I. Hitchcock, resigned from the think tank Monday — before Ryan took office — saying the appointment was at odds with the center’s “fundamental values of nonpartisanship, transparency, openness, a passion for truth and objectivity, and civility.”

Ryan said Short will bring valuable perspective to U-Va. as a Trump insider — “someone who has been on the front lines of the presidency, who can help us try to understand it.” He said universities benefit from diversity of viewpoints. “I have found, in own academic life in particular, but also in my personal life, that I’ve often learned the most from people with whom I strongly disagree,” he said in a telephone interview.

The 51-year-old Ryan succeeded Teresa A. Sullivan, who had held the position for eight eventful years. He is the ninth president of a 24,000-student university renowned for its founder, Thomas Jefferson, and preparing to celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Ryan was most recently dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, but he knows his way around what locals call the Grounds. He holds a U-Va. law degree and served 15 years on the U-Va. law faculty.

One of Ryan’s first challenges will be to shepherd the community through the first anniversary of a traumatic weekend that drew international attention to Charlottesville. On Aug. 11, 2017, white supremacists marched with torches in a jarring parade through the iconic campus (as shown below). On the next day, violent clashes erupted in the city. One woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, and two state troopers died in a helicopter crash.

charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

Media Mergers: Australia

Reporters Without Borders, Opinion: Fairfax-Nine merger threatens media pluralism in Australia, Staff report, Aug. 1, 2018. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about pluralism and respect for editorial independence in the new Australian media conglomerate which resulted from last week’s merger between the Fairfax Media newspaper chain and the national TV network Nine Entertainment.

australian flag wavingThe merger has endangered journalistic independence and media pluralism in what is, to say the least, an incongruous marriage.

On the one hand, Fairfax has provided quality investigative journalism via a network of representative regional print publications throughout the country since 1831. On the other, Nine is primarily a sports and entertainment broadcaster and its management is regarded as much more concerned about profits and cost-cutting than journalistic ethics allow.

Nine, which will have control of the new entity, has already announced 50 million Australian dollars (32 million euros) in budget cuts, to the alarm of news staff at Fairfax’s publications. They include The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, whose editorial freedom from political or economic interference was summed up in the slogan printed under the newspaper's title: “Independent. Always.”

The Fairfax brand will disappear in the new media group, clearly showing that this “marriage of reason” is an outright takeover. Kept a close secret until announced on July 26 and valued at 4 billion Australian dollars (2,5 billion euros), the merger still has to be approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

malcolm turnbullLike Australia’s other media and advertisement giant, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the future entity controlled by Nine will include national and regional newspapers, radio stations, traditional TV channels, and a string of news websites.

This is now permitted in Australia after the decision by the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) a few months ago to repeal 30-year-old legislation restricting simultaneous ownership of both print and broadcast media.

Observers fear that the Fairfax takeover will open the way to even more ownership concentration. Australia is ranked 19th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The chronic lack of journalistic pluralism is one of the reasons why it is not ranked any higher.

U.S. Media

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, "Whistleblowing Works!" 12th Annual Whistleblower Summit for Civil & Human Rights, Marta Steele (shown at right), Aug. 1, 2018. With a focus on marta steeleissues compelling wronged government employees and others to blow the whistle against all forms of corruption, entangling and often ruining their lives and fortunes thereafter in a maze of legalities and retaliation, the twelfth annual Whistleblower Summit convened for three days on Capitol Hill.

The keynote speaker at the First Plenary was Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA, shown below at left), a strong advocate of empowering and protecting whistleblowers. A bill he sponsored, the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act, was signed into law four days prior to the conference.

July 30, the first day of the conference, was designated National Whistleblower Day by the Senate, to commemorate the first Whistleblowers Law on July 30, 1778, passed unanimously by the founding fathers prior to their signing of the Constitution. So it's an age-old event, still explosive all over the country, wherever "employees are silenced about schools, science, police departments, and all levels of governance," according to seven surveys sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

The Senate also proclaimed July 30 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day to honor whistleblowers, more than 63 of whom attended the conference, many of them featured on panels enabling them to tell their stories in detail.

Beyond whistleblowing in its multiple venues, specific emphasis was on wildlife crime whistleblowing.

A key theme was obstruction of mainstream media (MSM) reporting of the outrages perpetrated against victims of corruption who become whistleblowers. Relevant communications with the MSM, in the last 25 years more than previously, are being obstructed and must be cleared by press and information officers (PIOs), which amounts to censorship — unethical but spreading. Where the officers clear interviews, PIOs dictate what staff can discuss and also bar reporters from specifying whistleblower names and interviewing outside sources. Often officials listen in on interviews.

Wrote Kathryn Foxhall of the SPJ Freedom of Information (FOI) Committee: "Silencing people is a recipe for skewing information and hiding dangerous and critical information. This is a continuous danger to public welfare and we welcome you to join us in this fight."

marta steele coverCo-Hosts of the conference were ACORN 8, LLC, the Justice Integrity Project, The Pacifica Foundation, Project Censored, Coalition for Change (C4C), and Federally Employed Women-Legal Education Fund.

A compelling, harrowing documentary film, Whistleblowers, detailing the stories of the "New York Eight," spanning a wide range of outrages involving abuse of children and disabled populations, was premiered on July 30 in the evening at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC, including two panel discussions — one by the whistleblowers in the film, and the other by the filmmakers.

Marta Steele, a senior editor with OpEdNews, is also the author of Grassroots, Geeks, Pros and Pols (shown at right), documenting electronic election theft in presidential elections.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Rob Kall on "Unleashing the Power of--YOUR--Story" (Whistleblower Summit, July 31, at panel moderated by Michael McCray), Marta Steele, Aug. 1, 2018. OpEd News's own Rob Kall, also host of the "Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show," spoke at the Whistleblower Summit on Monday about "how to do power stories," summing up his message with two guidelines: First tell what you'll say, and then what you've said. Develop an elevator pitch in this process.

rob kallKall, shown at right, turned to the story we all share, the Hero's Journey (and all whistleblowers are heroes), popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces and the PBS series on it narrated by Bill Moyers. There is first the call to adventure, which some reject but ultimately take up when summoned a second time (think about the ruses of Odysseus and Achilles to avoid participating in the Trojan War — their subterfuges didn't work).

The tale of the Hero's Journey is told in thousands of worldwide stories and myths. It should be taught in grade school, Kall said. Mentors are often part of the tale, which originates in a womb of sorts (lack of experience) and leads to a road of trials, along which the Hero acquires new allies, skills, and knowledge. On this voyage the Hero meets with mom and dad, defines his or her gender, meets a god, and then returns home with a magic elixir.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, "STOP THE PRESSES": Andrew Kreig's July 31 Panel at the Whistleblower Summit, Marta Steele, Aug. 1, 2018. "Stop the Presses — Challenging Conventional Wisdom in Newsrooms" was the title of a panel moderated by attorney and investigative reporter Andrew Kreig, also owner of that iconoclastic treasure trove of truth, the Justice Integrity Project.

The panel's focus was "courageous and effective" challenges to the conventional historical wisdom (?) on two major events that occurred 50 years ago, the assassinations of two twentieth-century progressive icons, Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The failure to address these issues fully has brought us to our present impasse, wrote Kreig in his introductory summary.

U.S. Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspect wanted in killing of George H.W. Bush’s former doctor held a 20-year grudge, police say, Erin B. Logan, Aug. 1, 2018. Houston police issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for a man suspected of fatally shooting a doctor of former president George H.W. Bush. Mark Hausknecht was shot on the morning of July 20 while he biked to work, police said.

Police said they searched the home of Joseph James Pappas, the suspect, and are looking for him. Police said Pappas, described as a fit 62-year-old white man, has for more than 20 years held a grudge against Hausknecht after his mother died during a surgery.

U.S. Voter Suppression

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Use It or Lose It — Voter Purges on the Rise, Nina Sparling, Aug. 1, 2018. Voter purging is on the rise in the US, according to a new report. Unfortunately, showing up at the ballot box and exercising your constitutional right is no guarantee that your vote will be counted.

#MeToo: OSU Sports

urban meyer 2017Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State: Urban Meyer placed on administrative leave, Bill Rabinowitz, Aug. 1, 2018. The ex-wife of Zach Smith said she informed Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, in 2015 that the former Ohio State assistant football coach had abused her and believes that the Buckeyes coach knew about it at the time. Courtney Smith acknowledged in an interview, however, that Shelley Meyer did not say she told Urban Meyer (shown in a 2017 file photo) about the abuse.

Thirty-two years ago, Earle Bruce gave Urban Meyer his start in college football as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State. Now, Meyer’s handling of domestic abuse allegations involving Bruce’s grandson has put his stellar career in peril.

Ohio State placed Meyer on paid administrative leave as head football coach on Wednesday after reports surfaced that appeared to contradict his contention he did not know in 2015 that receivers coach Zach Smith — Bruce’s grandson — had been accused by his now ex-wife of abuse.

Meyer, 54, has a 73-8 record at Ohio State, including the inaugural 2014 College Football Playoff championship. He has not had more than two losses in any season.

ohio state buckeyes logoMeyer’s overall record as head coach, which also includes stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, is 177-31, including two national titles at Florida. His winning percentage of .851 ranks behind only Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy among Division I coaches who coached for at least 10 years.

Meyer said at the Big Ten football media gathering last week in Chicago that he was aware of a 2009 incident when both were at Florida in which Zach Smith was charged with aggravated domestic battery. Meyer said last week that he and his wife, Shelley, worked with the couple and encouraged counseling.

Meyer added, however, that he had no knowledge of an October 2015 incident in which Powell police were called to Courtney Smith’s home one day after an alleged assault by Zach Smith. No charges were filed, and two weeks later Courtney Smith filed for divorce, which was finalized in 2016.

“I can’t say it didn’t happen because I wasn’t there,” Meyer said on July 24 of the 2015 incident. “I was never told about anything. Never anything came to light. I never had a conversation about it. So I know nothing about that. The first I heard about it was last night. I asked people back at the office to call and see what happened, and they came back and said they know nothing about it.”

jim jordan cuomo cnn

nbc logoNBC News via KVOA News (Tucson, AZ), Former Ohio State wrestling coach urged Rep. Jim Jordan's accusers to recant, texts show, Staff report, Aug. 1, 2018. Retired Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson reached out to two ex-team members and asked them to support their former assistant coach, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio (shown above), a day after they accused the powerful congressman of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse by the team doctor, according to the wrestlers and text messages they shared with NBC News.

The former wrestlers said their ex-coach made it clear to them he was under pressure from Jordan to get statements of support from members of the team.

Hellickson’s appeal to help Jordan came after the congressman repeatedly said that he had no idea that team doctor Richard Strauss was allegedly molesting the athletes — contradicting three wrestlers who told NBC News that Jordan must have known since the abuse was frequently discussed in the locker room.

“I’m sorry you got caught up in the media train,” Hellickson wrote in a July 4 text to Dunyasha Yetts that the former wrestler shared with NBC News. “If you think the story got told wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”

ohio state buckeyes logoAn NBC article published a day earlier, Yetts recounted how Strauss had tried to pull his shorts down when he went to see him for a thumb injury. Yetts said he told Jordan and Hellickson about what happened and insisted they intervene — an account that was later corroborated by another former Ohio State wrestler who said he had witnessed the conversation.

Yetts said Hellickson also called him later on July 4 and said he was under pressure from Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1986 to 1994, and from Jordan's supporters to make “a bold statement to defend Jimmy.”

“He said, 'I will defend Jimmy until I have to put my hand on a Bible and be asked to tell the truth, then Jimmy will be on his own,'” Yetts said in an interview this week, recalling his conversation with Hellickson. “I told him, 'I’m going to contradict you, coach, because I’m telling the truth.'”

Mike DiSabato, the former Ohio State wrestler whose whistleblowing spurred the university's investigation into the alleged abuse by Strauss, also shared a text message defending Jordan that he got from Hellickson. Out of loyalty to his old coach, he asked that NBC News not quote directly from it.

“He called me after the story broke, too,” DiSabato said of Hellickson. “He said Jimmy was telling him he had to make a statement supporting him and he called to tell me why he was going to make it. “

Yetts, DiSabato and three other former Ohio State wrestlers interviewed recently by NBC News all expressed deep respect for Hellickson but said they believe he has been boxed in by Jordan’s denials and is now caught between wanting to support his former protégé and the wrestlers who have called the congressman a liar.

HuffPost, Kirsten Gillibrand Pays The Price For Speaking Out Against Al Franken, Amanda Terkel, Aug. 1, 2018. But she’s hitting back, saying if Democratic donor George Soros is truly mad at her, “that’s on him.”

kirsten gillibrand oNo one in Congress is more associated with the Me Too movement than Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Long before Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer became infamous creeps, Gillibrand was focusing her attention on sexual assault and harassment in the military, on college campuses and in the workplace.

But the two-term senator cemented her prominence in the movement last year when she called out members of her own party. In November, she said that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. And then the following month, she became the first Democratic senator to publicly call on then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to go after multiple women accused him of engaging in sexual misconduct.

Franken announced his resignation the following day.

Speaking out has consequences. Women who come forward about the abuse they’ve faced are often barred from further job opportunities. And even someone in power like Gillibrand who tries to be an advocate for victims can find themselves facing a negative response from a previously friendly community.