June 2019 News Reports


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

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

June 30

Constitutional Crisis

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atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: Bill Barr’s Dangerous Pursuit of Executive Power, Donald Ayer (Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush), June 30, 2019. Shown in a screenshot above, Barr is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump (shown in a Defense Department photo) disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review.

Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing william barr o 1992his confirmation as attorney general, Barr (shown in a 1992 photo) successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected hold the Trump administration to established legal rules.

Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush Administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true.

But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular, and his handling of the Mueller report suggest something very different—that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

The Indicter Magazine, Opinion: Trump Lied About His Planned Iran Strike, Following A Pattern, Andrew Kreig, June 30, 2019. (Republished Justice Integrity Project column). President Trump’s clumsy explanation on June 21 of his planned military strike against Iran rapidly collapsed. But it falls within a longer tradition of Executive Branch secrecy and deception regarding history-making United States military and intelligence developments.

Trump Visits North Korea

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President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, June 30, 2019 (AP Photo / Susan Walsh).

ABC News, President Trump becomes 1st president to step inside North Korea ahead of meeting with Kim Jong Un, Jordyn Phelps, June 30, abc news logo2019. Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to step into North Korea Sunday, reaching across the demarcation line to shake hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then, at Kim's invitation, stepping across the border and into North Korea -- in a historic moment Trump called "a great honor."

Kim, through a translator, called Trump's decision to meet with him a "courageous and determined act."

"I just want to thank you, it was very quick notice and I just want to thank you," Trump said.

"Good to see you again, I never expected to see you in this place," Kim said as they initially shook hands.

Both leaders spoke, standing side by side, before heading into a bilateral meeting in a nearby building. "Tremendous positivity, really great things are happening" Trump said. "We met and we liked each other from day one and that was very important." See related stories below.

U.S. Justice System

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: The Rule of Outlaws, Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 30, 2019. Let’s stop pretending the US is still a country of laws, because some people are allowed to get away with even the most blatant violations of society’s rules.

The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws, he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their fair share of taxes — if they pay any at all. And they don’t have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the environment, because those are being dismantled.

At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.

U.S. Supreme Courtsupreme court building

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Newest justices shift high court, but with big differences, Robert Barnes, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). Data shows that Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh have disagreed more than any pair of new justices chosen by the same president in decades.

neil gorsuch headshotPresident Trump’s nominees shifted the Supreme Court during their first term together but hardly transformed it, and their differences were on display as much as their famous similarities.

On the big issues, it turned out, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, left, and Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, were ready to move the court as far to the right brett kavanaugh.judgeLas Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would abide — and then some.

Because of them, the court finally and forcefully disavowed any role in policing partisan gerrymandering, a decades-long goal of conservative justices. Both were ready to approve the Trump administration’s desire to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, even as Roberts said, hold up.

U.S.-China Trade 'Deal'

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers in Trump’s big China trade announcement, Heather Long, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). China got china flag Smallexactly what it wanted in the latest meeting of President Trump and President Xi.

Trump offers China concessions to revive trade talks

Dem. Debate Analysis

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ny times logoNew York Times, Liberals Dominated Debates, and It’s Making Moderates Anxious, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). Some came away from the debates fearful that the party was squandering the chance to make the election a referendum on President Trump. The Democratic debates this past week provided the clearest evidence yet that many of the leading presidential candidates are breaking with the incremental politics of the Clinton and Obama eras, and are embracing sweeping liberal policy changes on some of the most charged public issues in American life, even at the risk of political backlash.

Vowing to eliminate private health insurance, decriminalize illegal immigration and provide government health care benefits to undocumented migrants, high-profile contenders like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are wagering that they can energize voters eager to dismantle President Trump’s hard-line policies.

But with moderate Democrats repeatedly drowned out or on the defensive in the debates, the sprint to the left has deeply unnerved establishment Democrats, who have largely picked the party nominees in recent decades. They fear that advocating a government-run health care system could alienate suburban and upper-income voters who are otherwise eager to eject Mr. Trump from office, while the most progressive immigration policies might turn off the working-class white voters who backed Mr. Trump after twice supporting former President Barack Obama.

Liberals point to polls showing that policies like universal health care and tuition-free college are growing in popularity, and argue that victory in 2020 depends in part on inspiring turnout from young voters and progressives. Yet other Democrats came away from the debates fearful that the party was squandering the chance to make the election a referendum on an unpopular president, and staking its fortunes on untested policy promises instead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In the Democratic debates, candidates spouted too many economic fairy tales, Steven Pearlstein, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). The nights were filled with anger, passion and high drama, but policies lacked much economic sense.

dnc horizontal logoAs our best president famously warned — and as our worst president daily reminds us — you can fool some of the people all of the time. Indeed, Donald Trump has so mastered the art of the big lie that I doubt Democrats will be able to evict him from the White House by trying to fool all of the people any of the time. The better strategy will be to follow President Abraham Lincoln’s advice and example and offer honesty, integrity, dignity and civility. Binding up the nation’s wounds will require a candidate willing to level with the American people.

In that respect, the debate this week among 20 Democratic presidential candidates was something of a disappointment. To be sure, the two-night free-for-all offered moments of anger, passion and high drama and did a good job in identifying the serious contenders from the also-rans. And while there was no shortage of plans and proposals, the Democratic program that began to emerge contained far too many economic fairy tales.

Let’s begin with the candidates’ description of the economy, in which all but the richest are described as working two or three jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in college loans and afraid to take their kids to the emergency room. Yes, inequality is a problem and too many people are being left behind. But this is also an economy where unemployment is low, wages are rising, 17 million new cars were sold last year, and the reason the middle class is shrinking is that people are moving up as well as down. Bad diagnoses lead to bad prescriptions.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThere’s no better example of this than proposals for tuition-free college and wiping out all student debt. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg get credit for standing up to the progressive mob and pointing out how regressive it would be for lower-income Americans who do not have college degrees to help pay the tuitions of higher-income Americans who do. But the bigger reason more children don’t complete college isn’t the cost — it is that the K-12 public education system failed to prepare them, which is where the real focus should be. As a former Denver schools superintendent, Sen. Michael F. Bennet might have explained that if he had been given that opportunity. And as successful businessmen, Andrew Yang and John Delaney might have noted the folly of giving universities and colleges an invitation to increase their costs once the federal government agreed to pick up the tab.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic candidates veer left, ditching successful midterm strategy, Michael Scherer, June 30, 2019. Embracing liberal positions on immigration, health care, taxes and abortion, the Democratic presidential field has abandoned the strategy that propelled the party to a landslide victory in the 2018 midterms.

U.S. Racial Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, 2020 Democrats defend Kamala Harris after Donald Trump Jr. tweet about her race, Colby Itkowitz, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). “The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the attacks “racist and vile.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, left, one of only two black candidates in a field of two dozen, had a history-making moment on the debate stage kamala harris portraitThursday night when she challenged former vice president Joe Biden over racial issues.

But as the reaction to her debate performance poured in, so did the racist attacks on social media, where some accused the California Democrat of not being black enough, and others suggested she was not really American.

On Twitter, some commenters suggested Harris was unfairly portraying herself as African American, since she is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother.

By Saturday, Harris’s campaign spokeswoman had retweeted nearly a dozen comments and articles defending her boss, and Harris’s 2020 Democratic challengers forcefully condemned the attacks on social media.

Media: Moguls Cancel Cartoonist

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BoingBoing, Billionaire newspaper monopolist family cancels editorial cartoonist after anti-Trump drawing, Cory Doctorow, ed., June 30, 2019.  Canada's Irving family is one of the richest in the world, owning more land than anyone except the British royals and the Catholic church; they also own virtually all the media in New Brunswick, as well as the industries that those newspapers cover, and they augment their media control over the public discourse with a ruthless approach to their critics.

The Irvings are in the news today due to their role in a massive Canadian scandal that many believe could cost Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party its chance at re-election in October.

Now, the Irvings' newspapers have all canceled Micheal de Adder's editorial strip, after the New Brunswick native drew a comic featuring Donald Trump playing golf over the corpses of Salvadoran asylum-seekers Oscar Alberto Martinez and his two year old daughter, Angie Valeria M, whose bodies were photographed after they washed up on the shores of the Rio Grande.

According to de Adder, none of the Irvings' Brunswick News Inc outlets ran the strip.

De Adder is Canada's most-read cartoonist.

De Adder wrote that despite his sorrow at being cut from the papers in his home province, "I’m not a victim. I just finished a book, that will be out in September and I still freelance for some amazing newspapers. It’s a setback not a deathblow."

In a statement, President Wes Tyrell of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists wrote, "The Irvings have considerable corporate interests in the United States, but why would they care about cartoons potentially offending the American president? ...It’s simple really, J.D. Irving, Limited is not only a privately owned conglomerate headquartered in New Brunswick, its also an international behemoth with global reach. Trade has been an issue since Trump took office, trade that affects the Irvings directly, not to mention a host of other issues. And the President himself is an unknown quantity who punishes those who appear to oppose him...A solid reason why an oil company has no business owning newspapers."

U.S. Religion / Media / Politics

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: Inside Trump's plan to boost the evangelical vote, Staff report, June 30, 2019. President Trump’s campaign plans a well-funded, state-by-state drive to mobilize even more evangelical voters in 2020 than supported him last time, campaign officials tell Axios' Alayna Treene.

• More than two-thirds of white evangelicals still support Trump, along with almost half of white Catholics and white mainline Protestants, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

The goal: Paint Trump as a champion of socially conservative issues and warn evangelical voters that his defeat could destroy progress he's made.

• "African American outreach will be a component of that," a campaign adviser said.

Details: The campaign is hyper-focused on registering evangelicals, conservative Catholics and Mormons.

• "That's why a lot of our efforts are going toward collecting data at rallies [and] collecting data over peer-to-peer texting," a campaign official said.
• The Faith & Freedom Coalition, headed by Trump ally Ralph Reed, pledged this week to spend $50 million on getting out the vote and registering 1 million new evangelical voters in battleground states.

The RNC is launching a similar operation that includes prominent faith-based speakers, and church leaders who can provide guidance on who to meet.

• The party also plans registration drives at churches in battleground states, including Ohio, Nevada and Florida

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Mormon’ No More: Reflecting on Church’s Move to Scrap a Moniker, Elizabeth Dias, June 29, 2019. For the Latter-day Saints faithful, a shift away from a longtime name has meant lighthearted screw-ups, logistical complications and reflections on identity.

Last August, leaders of her faith announced a game-changing divine revelation. Russell M. Nelson, the church’s president, said that God had “impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church.” Church members should no longer call themselves Mormons, or even use the shorthand L.D.S., the church announced.

Instead, they should use the church’s full name and refer to themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Or, if they wanted a shorter version, Latter-day Saints was preferred. As he is revered as a living prophet, the announcement had divine weight.

For the church’s 16 million adherents, the shift has meant lighthearted screw-ups, logistical complications and reflections on an unexpected question: What do you do when a name that has been core to your identity suddenly changes?

The word Mormon has been with the church from the beginning. It comes from the Book of Mormon, the church’s signature text (the main thing associated with the church that is keeping its name), which adherents believe was recorded on gold plates by the prophet Mormon and his son, Moroni.

Honest Elections

OpEdNews, Opinion: Left Forum 2019 EI Panel "Election Integrity: Publicly Verified Elections and Informed Public Fend Off Corruption!" Marta Steele, June 30, 2019. "If elections accomplished something, they wouldn't have them."--Mark Twain.

With this strong and devastating lead-in, moderator, activist, and master photographer Joel Simpson began his panel on "Election Integrity: Publicly Verified Elections and Informed Public Are Key to De-Corrupting Our Democracy!"

The panel was part of the first segment of this year's Left Forum, held at Long Island University in Brooklyn June 28-30.

The first panelist to speak was a familiar name, John Roberts Brakey, the nonstop activist and advocate for EI who travels the country insisting on the priority of TRANSPARENCY in our elections, best provided by a variety of optical scanner, one that produces digital images as well as paper ballots.

The images can be uploaded to the Internet for all of us to recount and also posted precinct by precinct. Audits can be performed via the paper ballotsan ideal system according to this dedicated expert and many other EI advocates.

A famous example is the months-long recount of the 2008 senatorial election in Minnesota, where a most meticulous hand count of all votes, a Gold Standard of this process, put Al Franken into Congress, beating the incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by a bit more than 300 votes out of three million cast.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slam dunks Ivanka Trump, Bill Palmer, June 30, 2019.This week Donald Trump attended the G-20 summit and took his daughter Ivanka Trump with him for no good reason. Ivanka, who hasn’t been elected to anything and isn’t qualified for anything, has garnered zero respect from world leaders. Accordingly, when she tried to nudge her way into a conversation with the likes of Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May, and Justin Trudeau, they basically just ignored her – as captured in a humiliating video that’s since gone viral.

bill palmer report logo headerThis prompted Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to eloquently explain why Ivanka Trump shouldn’t be anywhere near the world stage: “It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification. It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in & the world moves on. The US needs our aoc ivanka headshotsPresident working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.”

In response, bigoted has-been Piers Morgan quipped that it “Could be worse… Ivanka could have been a bar-tender 18 months ago.” It’s not clear why Morgan thought this was supposed to be an insult. Nor is it clear why he thinks the word “bartender” has a hyphen in it. But the idiotic tweet quickly garnered more negative comments than likes, signaling just how badly Piers had swung and missed.

True to form, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ended up delivering the smartest retort: “Actually, that would make government better – not worse."

marianne williamson vox com june28 2019 dcma

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, shown in a Vox screengrab during the June 28 debate.

OpEdNews, Opinion: How Marianne Williamson Won Thursday's Debate (Sunday Homily), Mike Rivage-Seul, June 30, 2019. So, we all watched Thursday's debate in which Marianne Williamson finally participated and showed the country who she is. And she was magnificent. She demonstrated what her spiritual guidebook, A Course in Miracles, calls a refusal to be insane. She embodied that still small voice of conscience the voice for God that today's liturgy of the word distinguishes from the world's madness.

To begin with consider the madness we witnessed Thursday night. It was a perfect reflection of our insane country, of our insane world, of our insane electoral system. There they were: ten of our presumably best and brightest aspiring to occupy what we're told is the most powerful office in the world. They shouted, talked over their opponents, self-promoted, bragged, and put their opponents down.

They offered complicated "plans" that no one (including themselves) seemed to understand. They ignored the rules of the game, recited canned talking points, and generally made fools of themselves and of viewers vainly seeking sincerity, genuine leadership and real answers. Except for that brief exchange about busing between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, it was mostly embarrassing.
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And then there were the so-called moderators who allowed the circus to spin so completely out of control. They issued stern warnings about time limits, frequently set them strictly at "thirty seconds," but then proceeded to allow speakers to go on for three minutes or more. The celebrity hosts were completely arbitrary in addressing their questions unevenly. They repeatedly questioned some of the candidates and ignored others.

Meanwhile, there was Marianne Williamson off in the corner almost completely out of sight and generally ignored by the hosts. When they finally deigned to notice her polite attempts to contribute, no one seemed to know what to do with her comments. There was never any follow-up or request for clarification. Instead, what she said seemed completely drowned out by the evening's "excitement," noise, general chaos, and imperative to change topics. It was as if she were speaking a foreign language. I mean, how do you respond to that "still small voice of conscience" that says:

  • Immigration problems should be understood in historical context; their roots are found in U.S. policy in Central America especially during the 1980s. Such comment invites further discussion. None took place.
  • Removing children from their parents' arms is kidnapping; putting preschoolers in concentration camps is child abuse. Such crimes should be treated accordingly. What retribution did Marianne have in mind? The question went unasked.
  • Health care "solutions" should address environmental questions about chemicals in our foods, water, and air that make Americans sick. The response: "My next question is for Vice-President Biden . . ."

Real Clear Politics, Julian Castro: "Nobody Has Called For An Unlimited Number Of People Coming Into This Country,"
Posted By Tim Hains, June 30, 2019. Sunday during an interview on ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos asked emocratic presidential candidate Julian Castro what his "limiting principle" is when it comes to immigration.

"I agree with people that say, look, in theory can we take everyone who would like to be in the United States? Nobody has called for that," Castro said. "I do believe, however, and I’ve put forward an immigration plan that would accept more people... By statute for the late '70s, early '80s, we can take in 110,000 refugees annually. Right now, we're only taking in between 30,000 and 40,000 refugees, I would like to see that go up to the statutory limit.

Trump's North Korea Visit (Cont.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump becomes first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, Seung Min Kim and Simon Denyer​, June 30, 2019. President Trump crossed the border to shake hands with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, then met with him for close to an hour at the DMZ. The pair agreed to restart negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.

President Trump met Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Sunday, and briefly crossed into North Korea, marking the first time a sitting U.S. president has ever done so.

The two men then held 53 minutes of private talks, and agreed to set up teams to “work out some details” to see if progress could be made in their negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, Trump said.

“Speed is not the object, we want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump said after the talks. “Nobody knows how things turn out, but certainly this was a great day, this was a very legendary, very historic day

washington post logoWashington Post, Beyond ‘Freedom’s Frontier,’ Trump scores his biggest live show yet in North Korea, David Nakamura​, June 30, 2019. A president who often thinks like a director and producer pulls off a historic handshake with Kim Jong Un that played out on live television. It marked another in a series of remarkable set pieces that Trump has used over the past two years.

For President Trump, it was the biggest live show yet: A handshake with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and then a short stroll together — beyond Freedom’s Frontier and into the Hermit Kingdom.

One small step for the 45th president; one giant boost for his television ratings.

Trump billed his third meeting with Kim on Sunday in the Korean demilitarized zone as a “simple handshake,” perhaps to play down the consequences if the get-together ultimately fails to break the deadlock that scuttled their last round of nuclear talks in Hanoi in February.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s press secretary bruised after jostling with North Korea security over media, report says, Hannah Knowles, June 30, 2019. New White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was bruised Sunday in a scuffle between North Korean security and members of the U.S. press pool covering President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Associated Press reported.

The incident, which was partially caught on video, occurred after Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea and days after Grisham took on the job.

The Secret Service intervened as North Korean guards pushed and shoved American reporters to block them from entering the Inter-Korean House of Freedom south of the border, where Trump and Kim were meeting, according to the AP. “The North Korean security was a little overzealous, at times trying to block US reporters’ view,” wrote Jennifer Jacobs, a senior White House reporter at Bloomberg, adding that the clash “came to body blows.”

June 29

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says Trump wouldn’t be president without help from Russia, John Wagner, June 29, 2019 (print ed.). Former president Jimmy Carter said Friday that he believes a full investigation of the 2016 election would show that President Trump prevailed jimmy carter portrait deftnewsbecause of Russian interference on his behalf and otherwise would not be in office.

“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” said Carter, shown in a file photo. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

His made his comments during a panel discussion at a conference in Leesburg, Va., sponsored by the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1982 that focuses on human rights.

Pressed by historian Jon Meacham, who moderated the discussion, on whether he considers Trump to be “an illegitimate president,” Carter replied: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Jimmy Carter just dropped a house on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2019. As Donald Trump has continued to debase and criminalize the presidency, he’s destroyed most of the norms of the office from within. That’s left others in the no-win position of trying to decide whether to ignore the norms of the office from the outside. For instance, the living former U.S. presidents have each taken different and measured approaches to calling out Trump’s horridness. That is, until now.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, President Jimmy Carter – long viewed as one of the highest character people to ever hold the office – flat out stated that Donald Trump isn’t a legitimate president because Russia helped alter the outcome of the election on his behalf. It’s not a big deal for you and me to state this obvious fact. But when Carter said it, his words carried the weight of the office itself, as he’s one of only four people on the planet who have previously occupied and are still around to speak on the office’s behalf.

jimmy carterThe whole thing was even more of a bombshell when you consider that President Carter didn’t merely say that Donald Trump is a bad president or a failed president – he essentially said that Trump is not president. Keep in mind that while Carter has always been known to call it like he sees it, he’s always done it in gentlemanly fashion – he’s a ninety-four year old guy who builds houses for the homeless, after all – so when he comes out swinging like this, it jeff flake omeans a whole lot.

President Carter’s words were met with widespread agreement and praise. Not everyone was happy, though. Retired GOP Senator Jeff Flake, left, tweeted that “This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.” But then Flake’s tweet got hit with about twenty times as many comments as likes – a sign that most people were siding with Carter over Flake.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump carves out section for friends, family and VIPs at July 4 celebration, Peter Hermann, Michael E. Ruane and Juliet Eilperin​, June 29, 2019 (print ed.). The president's rebranding of the annual event now includes a ticketed-access area, stretching from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the midpoint of the reflecting pool.

U.S. Crime, Courts

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washington post logoWashington Post, Florida governor signs bill making it harder for felons to regain voting rights, Lori Rozsa, June 29, 2019. A civil rights group immediately filed a lawsuit to block the law, which requires those convicted of felonies to repay all fines and fees associated with their sentences.

The historic effort to allow more than a million felons in Florida to vote hit a roadblock Friday when Gov. Ron DeSantis (R, shown above in a screengrab) signed a bill limiting which can register.

Voters in the state overwhelmingly passed an amendment in November that restored voting rights to those with felony records — as many as 1.5 million people. The result would have been the largest expansion of voting rights in the country in a half-century.

But the Republican-controlled state legislature, saying that it needed to give “guidance” to elections officials, voted in May to require felons who have served their sentences to pay all court-ordered fines, fees and restitution.

DeSantis, who opposed the felon voting rights amendment, signed the legislation into law late in the day Friday, one day before his deadline to sign passed.

charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

 At the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017, crowds of white supremacists chanting angry slogans clashed violently with counterprotesters for hours. Photos and video of the mayhem, including images of broken bodies propelled in the air by James Fields’s speeding Dodge Challenger, were viewed worldwide, galvanizing public attention on emboldened ethno-fascists in the early months of the Trump administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I regret my actions’: Neo-Nazi sentenced to life in prison after deadly 2017 Charlottesville car attack, Joe Heim and Paul Duggan, June 29, 2019 (print ed.). Heather D. Heyer was killed and 35 others were hurt when James A. Fields Jr. intentionally rammed into a crowd.

james fields jr mugNearly two years after James A. Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white-supremacist rally here, the avowed neo-Nazi and convicted murderer apologized in court Friday as a judge sentenced him to life in prison for 29 federal hate crimes.

“Every day I think about how things could have gone differently, and how I regret my actions,” he said in a packed courtroom. “I am sorry.”

Fields, 22, whose vehicular attack killed one woman and injured 35 other people, pleaded guilty to the 29 counts in April in a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to drop an additional charge that carries a possible death sentence. In a separate case stemming from the deadly incident, Fields was convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes in December by a Virginia jury that voted for a life term plus 419 years in state prison.

Nearly two years after James A. Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white-supremacist rally here, the avowed neo-Nazi and convicted murderer apologized in court Friday as a judge sentenced him to life in prison for 29 federal hate crimes.

“Every day I think about how things could have gone differently, and how I regret my actions,” he said in a packed courtroom. “I am sorry.”

Fields, 22, whose vehicular attack killed one woman and injured 35 other people, pleaded guilty to the 29 counts in April in a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to drop an additional charge that carries a possible death sentence. In a separate case stemming from the deadly incident, Fields was convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes in December by a Virginia jury that voted for a life term plus 419 years in state prison.

Global Economy

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump details revived trade negotiations with China, Damian Paletta, David Nakamura and Simon Denyer, June 29, 2019. President Trump said he will allow U.S. firms to sell technology to Huawei and promised farmers they would win from revived USTR seal Custom 2China talks. Trump expressed hope that the measures would lead to a large trade deal with China, though major issues remain and it’s unclear whether a long-term detente is within reach.

President Trump on Saturday agreed to scale back restrictions on Chinese technology giant Huawei and delay new tariffs from going into effect against Chinese goods as part of an effort to restart trade talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shown above in a file photo).

huawei square logoThe major concessions, which came on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, came after more than a month of acrimonious fighting between two of the world’s largest economies. Trump expressed hope that the measures would lead to a large trade deal with China, though major issues remain and it’s unclear whether a china flag Smalllong-term detente is within reach.

In exchange, Trump said China had agreed to purchase large amounts of farm products from U.S. companies. But he offered no specifics and Chinese officials did not confirm that they had made this offer.

More On U.S. Courts

Associated Press, Ex-prosecutor locked up after guilty verdict in Hawaii, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, June 28, 2019. Two U.S. marshals led a former Honolulu prosecutor out of a courtroom Friday when a U.S. judge ordered her detained after a jury found her guilty of conspiracy and he expressed concern that she could try to obstruct justice before being sentenced.

katherine kealoha unsourcedKatherine Kealoha, shown in a file photo, "lies as easily as she draws breath" and will do anything to avoid consequences, prosecutors said in court documents seeking her detention.

"This defendant is a walking crime-spree," Michael Wheat, a special federal prosecutor, told the judge in court, saying she holds sway with police and has tampered with grand jury witnesses in the past.

Her lawyer said Friday that the judge should consider that the 48-year-old Kealoha had previously complied with all the conditions of her release on bond during the trial.

"That has to count for something," defense attorney Cynthia Kagiwada said. She also said there was no showing that Kealoha had engaged in obstructive behavior.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright interrupted: "We heard from 12 people yesterday." In finding Kealoha and her husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha, 58, guilty of conspiracy Thursday, the jury also determined they obstructed justice.

The jury also convicted two officers in a plot to frame Katherine Kealoha's uncle Gerard Puana for the theft of a mailbox to discredit him in a family financial dispute.

Prosecutors said during the trial that the Kealohas were afraid the uncle would reveal fraud that enriched the couple's lavish life. Maintaining their power and prestige was a motive for the framing, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors didn't oppose allowing Louis Kealoha, police Lt. Derek Hahn and Officer Bobby Nguyen to remain free on bond. The jury acquitted retired Major Gordon Shiraishi.

Louis Kealoha didn't attend his wife's bail hearing. They have appeared hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm when arriving at court since their 2017 indictment and during the trial that began in May.

Media News

WFMJ-TV (Youngstown, OH), Vindicator announces it will stop production, J. Breen Mitchell, June 29, 2019. After more than a century, The Vindicator will permanently cease production. 144 employees and about 250 carriers will lose their jobs on August 31, 2019, after the papers last publication.

According to the Vindicator's General Manager, Mark Brown, he has been trying to find a buyer for the paper since December 2017. "We never thought we would be in this position, being that it was in the family you didn't want to shut it down or lose it but the only way we could see this continue is if we found another buyer," said Brown. Brown adds that most of the revenue comes from the print product. The Vindicator will not be able to keep their website due to Google and Facebook driving down rates for advertising.

The announcement came Friday afternoon, just days after the newspaper marked its 150th anniversary. On Saturday, a letter to readers will be published by Vindicator publisher Betty J.H. Brown Jagnow and general manager Mark Brown explaining the decision. WFMJ is also owned by the same family that owns The Vindicator. In a letter to WFMJ employees dated June 28, Brown said the decision to shut down the newspaper will not affect the television station.

"We have no plans, no intentions, no desire, no thoughts and no interest in selling WFMJ. Period," Brown said. The closing comes at a time when newspapers across the country are struggling for their survival as news consumers increasingly turn to digital options for news and information.

The Vindicator's editorial page editor and Sunday columnists, Bertram de Souza, reflects on his 40-year career and how influential The Vindicator has been within the community.

"I'm losing a part of what has been my life," says Souza. "Politically the Sunday before an election, when we were printing at midnight politicians and their campaign people, would line outside the old building to get the first newspaper off the press and see who we would endorse."

Souza says that the papers General Manager, Mark Brown, supported his column no matter who it may have upset or offended.

tim ryan president buttonValley Congressman Tim Ryan [shown in his 2020 presidential campaign button] recently sent out a tweet about the closing of the Vindicator saying this is a heartbreaking announcement. "This is heartbreaking. The Vindicator has been a pillar in our community, and its reporters and staff have always been unwavering in their commitment to truth and transparency. Local newspapers are critical to our democracy. We need to support them."

The paper has been a fixture in the Mahoning Valley since its first issue was published on June 25, 1869. It would eventually become the only daily newspaper in Mahoning County.

More On July 4 Holiday

White House Chronicle, Opinion: Happy Birthday, America, Still Land of Dreams, Llewellyn King, June 29, 2019. Light the candles, tune the instruments, warm up the vocal cords, a very special day is upon us. It is time to celebrate a birth, a unique birth, and a birth that in many ways has lit human hope, kindled human aspiration and fired up a few revolutions.

Happy birthday, America!

As I was born a Brit, I have no idea how I would have greeted the events of 1776. Would I, like Edmund Burke, the great Anglo-Irish orator and member of Parliament, have seen the emerging difference between the rugged, inventive, self-motivated farmers in the American colonies and the then subservient masses in Britain? Or would I, like Lord North, prime minister of Great Britain, and his monarch George III, have regarded the colonists as traitors?

Slowly in the United States, the idea grew that people who worked with their hands could belong to the middle class, aspire to having their children go to college and move up; to improve on their parents’ station in life. While this did not reach fruition until the last century, the seeds were sown in the 18th century. It was an American evolution.

When I was a boy in faraway Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), we worshipped all things American, although we were devotedly British. My father, who worked with his hands, had read that American artisans could enjoy a middle-class life. Awesome. A local publisher, Bernard Woolf, told me that the United States led the world because, for example, you could study ice cream making in college. I do not know where he got that idea, maybe from something he had read about Howard Johnson’s and its 28 flavors of ice cream.

America is still the place to be if you want to cast off the bonds of limitation which abound around the world, whether they are social, economic or religious. This is the land of opportunity; opportunity to pursue all manner of dreams and to buck the conventional.

Week after week, in my work as a columnist and broadcaster, I criticize something about the United States, from the death penalty to the health care system, to economic unfairness. So much so that you might not know I dearly love the place.

Raw Story, Trump wants to seal off the Lincoln Memorial and hold a private Fourth of July party for family, friends and ‘VIPs’: report, Matthew Chapman, June 29, 2019. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump is planning a special, private celebration in Washington, D.C. on the Fourth of July for his family and friends, as well as ticketed “VIP” guests.

The Secret Service has said that this event will block off an area from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to around the midpoint of the reflecting pool. Trump has long been obsessed with reshaping celebrations of America according to his own plans. He has suggested he wants a military parade in his honor, although that event has been repeatedly postponed in the face of logistical challenges. A miniature version of it is scheduled to take place during the Fourth of July celebrations.

The White House claims that the tickets were free, and merely exist for the purpose of putting people through security screening, but did not offer the Post any information on how they are assigned or how to obtain them.

June 28

Rape Charge Against Trump

ny times logoNew York Times, The Daily, E. Jean Carroll's two confidantes corroborate the account of her alleged sexual attack by Trump, Megan Tuohy hosted by Michael Barbaro, June 28, 2019 [29:35 min. podcast). 

e jean carrollThe writer E. Jean Carroll, left, came forward last week with explosive accusations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Today, the two women she confided in after the alleged attack discuss it publicly for the first time.

Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, spoke with Ms. Carroll, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin. With Jessica Bennett and Alexandra Alter, she has published an investigative profile of Ms. Carroll, in which her friends and confidantes speak publicly for the first time. Related story:

washington post logoWashington Post, Friends of Trump accuser go public with recollections of her description of alleged assault, Colby Itkowitz, June 29, 2019 (print ed.). Two friends of magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll spoke on the record this week about their memories of her telling them that she’d been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

lisa birnbach twitterLisa Birnbach (as shown on Twitter photo) planned to take her friend’s secret to the grave. When E. Jean Carroll called more than two decades ago to tell her that she’d just been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump in a Manhattan department store dressing room, Birnbach said she begged Carroll to go to the police. When her friend resisted, Birnbach swore she’d never tell anyone.

Even after more than a dozen women came forward in 2016 to accuse the then-presidential candidate of kissing and groping them without consent, Birnbach said she didn’t think about the episode again until Carroll told her last year that she had decided to write about it in a new book.

“I know a lot of women he has hassled,” Birnbach said. Trump has vehemently denied the claim by Carroll, a longtime Elle magazine columnist who went public last week with her description of the alleged assault. She is one of 16 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, allegations he says are untrue.

“I told the truth not as a political observer — I told what happened to my friend 23 years ago,” said author Lisa Birnbach, pictured in 2007. (Louis Lanzano/AP)

Birnbach, a New York-based author, was one of two friends who told The Washington Post that Carroll had described the assault to them shortly after it allegedly happened. They both spoke on the condition of anonymity at the time to protect their privacy.

After Trump and his allies attacked Carroll and her account, Birnbach and the second friend, former New York television anchor Carol Martin, decided to come forward this week, first speaking on the record to the New York Times.

“Apparently my validation makes E. Jean more believable, and my only goal is to be an honest person who tells the truth,” Birnbach said. “I told the truth not as a political observer — I told what happened to my friend 23 years ago.”

U.S. Politics: Democratic Debate

democratic 20 debate candidates Small

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Faces Repeated Attacks in Democratic Debate, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, June 28, 2019 (print ed.). Kamala Harris pressed Joseph R. Biden Jr. on race, lacing into his remarks about working with segregationists in the Senate. The exchange highlighted Mr. Biden’s vulnerability and the urgency his rivals feel to start sowing doubts about his candidacy.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. repeatedly found himself on the defensive in the Democratic debate on Thursday over his record as well as his personal views, with the most searing moment of the night, and the primary campaign to date, coming when Senator Kamala Harris confronted him over his comments on working with segregationists in the Senate.

Mr. Biden, the Democratic front-runner who was participating in his first major debate in seven years, was at times halting and meandering, but also forceful in pushing back on criticism of his record. Those attacks included a call for the 76-year-old former vice president to “pass the torch” to a younger generation, as well as questions about his positions on immigration and abortion, and his democratic debate june27 2019 nypost health for illegals Smallenthusiasm for working with Republicans.

The Murdoch-owned New York Post mocked Democrats, at right, in its front page coverage.

But the most dramatic exchange was over not only policy — but also personal history. Peering down the stage to look at Mr. Biden directly, Ms. Harris assailed him for remarks he made this month invoking his work in a Senate that included a pair of notorious segregationists. She then went further, recalling that he had also opposed school busing in the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Ms. Harris said. “And that little girl was me.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic race scrambled after debate, Matt Viser​, June 28, 2019.  Rivals lob attacks at Biden, exposing his vulnerabilities. The high-profile debate exposed decades-old racial wounds and ripped open newfound divisions that moved the 2020 race into uncertain territory.

democratic donkey logoFour hours of debating spread out over two nights has scrambled the Democratic presidential primary race, exposing decades-old racial wounds and ripping open newfound divisions that moved the next phase of the race into uncertain territory.

kamala harris portraitThe high-profile debates in the most crowded presidential primary in history helped clarify the race in several ways. Former vice president Joe Biden, whose standing atop the polls has been the defining characteristic of the first months of the primary, showed how fragile his lead has become as his record, his age and his ideology came under repeated attack in the second session.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), left, had the most personal and captivating performance, delivering a drumbeat of searing lines Thursday that eventually led her to confront Biden as she questioned his 1970s-era stance — one he still holds — opposing federally-ordered busing as a way to integrate schools.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris clarifies answer on abolishing private health insurance, Jeff Stein​, June 28, 2019. The candidate said she misheard a question from NBC moderators and that she does not support outlawing private insurance. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) said Friday that she does not support abolishing private health insurance in the United States, saying she misheard a question from NBC’s moderators about Medicare-for-all during the presidential debate.

Thursday night, Harris alone joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in raising her hand when all of the candidates were asked if they would outlaw private health insurance in favor of a government single-payer plan.

MSNBC via Real Clear Politics, Scarborough: First Round Of Debates Was A "Disaster" For Democratic Party, Tim Hains, June 28, 2019. "I msnbc logo CustomHope People Weren't Watching."  MSNBC's Joe Scarborough warned the top 20 Democratic presidential candidates Friday morning that they blew the first round of debates.

democratic debate june27 2019 nypost health for illegals Small"With apologies to our friends, last night was a disaster for the Democratic Party," the "Morning Joe" host warned. "My only hope is people were not watching and I will tell you why."

"They're lined up in trench warfare, ready to get out of the trenches and charge Donald Trump. Instead, they all turn their guns on each other and shoot each other, and everybody is yelling at each other all night," Scarborough said.

joe scarborough headshot“If you’re an American and this is your introduction to these candidates and the Democratic Party, and all you see are 12 people yelling at each other, trying to interrupt each other, insulting each other, you’re like, ‘You know what. I thought Donald Trump was a clown show. I’m changing the channel.'”

He went on to explain that the unanimous position of the candidates on night one that illegal immigration should not be a crime combined with the unanimous position of the candidates on night two that illegal immigrants deserve free health care is a recipe for losing to Donald Trump. "There is a vast middle ground between Donald Trump's immigration policies and the free-for-all immigration policies that were pushed last night," he said.

... have to say the front-runner, Joe Biden, man, he was off his game. I must say, won't make friends here. It was one of the more disturbing debate performances I have seen since Ronald Reagan's first debate in 1984. It was one of those moments where you're going, my god, is he going to complete his sentence? There were times he said he was going to give us three points. He gave us one and a half. And then did something that Joe Biden has never done, gave back his time. My time is up. No, Joe Biden doesn't do that. Joe Biden runs through stop signs. He did that last night.

Bernie Sanders was yelling all night. Bernie Sanders didn't prepare for the debate. It showed because he basically gave the same debate performances this year that he gave four years ago. And it may have worked when it was Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton. It did not work last night. And I can go on and on.

tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debate

The Hill.com, Drudge instant poll shows Gabbard winning first Democratic debate in landslide, Joe Concha, June 27, 2019. The conservative Drudge Report's instant poll shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii, shown above in a screenshot) as the biggest winner of the first night of the Democratic presidential debates, with nearly 45 percent of the vote just after 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

The unscientific online poll shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at a distant second, with 11.2 percent, followed by former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) at 8.6 percent and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio with 7 percent.

At the bottom of the poll are former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) with less than 4 percent of the vote.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, gained attention for an exchange with rival Rep. Tim Ryan (D) after the Ohio congressman said the Taliban was behind the 9/11 attacks.

“The reality of it is if the United States is not engaged, the Taliban will grow. And we will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts, we have got to have some presence there,” Ryan said.

In response, Gabbard said that the Taliban "was there long before we came in and will be there long after we leave."

"We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban,” she added.

“I didn’t say squash them," Ryan replied. "When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”

“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did,” Gabbard said before they talked over one another.

Gabbard is at just 0.8 percent in the RealClearPolitics index of polls, trailing front-runner Joe Biden by more than 31 points. She was also the most-searched candidate on GoogleTrends during Wednesday night's event in Miami.

donald trump jr croppedPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump Jr takes idiotic swing and miss at Kamala Harris, Bill Palmer, June 28, 2019. When Kamala Harris dominated last night’s Democratic debate and became the candidate with the current momentum, Trump Jr (right) promptly went after her. Predictably, he attacked her in racist fashion. By the time it was over, he’d screwed up so horribly, his spokesperson was left trying to clean up his mess.

bill palmer report logo headerKamala Harris is descended from an Indian immigrant mother and a Jamaican immigrant father. Last night Donald Trump Jr, who is half stooge and half idiot, retweeted someone who insisted that Harris is “not an American Black.” Junior then added his own words: “Is this true? Wow.” This seems like the kind of thing he’d try to research before just retweeting while admitting he didn’t know if it was true, but then again, he’s an idiot. He’s also a blatant racist.

Donald Trump Junior was, in no uncertain terms, accusing Kamala Harris of not being a real American. This is the same racist garbage that Donald Trump Senior spent years doing to Barack Obama. Fortunately, so many people called Junior out for his racism, he ended up deleting his idiotic tweet. But the hits kept coming, so Junior’s spokesman released a statement to the media insisting that Junior was somehow referring to Kamala being half-Indian – even though this had nothing to do with what he tweeted or retweeted.

Major Supreme Court Decisions

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Two Rulings Have Vast Implications for U.S. Politics, Michael Wines, June 28, 2019 (print ed.). The Supreme Court handed Republicans a key victory on gerrymandering and gave Democrats a potential win by delaying the addition of a citizenship question to the census. The two bitterly contested cases addressed a fundamental issue: how the political system allocates power.

The rulings by the Supreme Court on Thursday in bitterly contested battles over partisan gerrymandering and the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census grappled with issues fundamental to the nation’s democracy: How power is allocated, and ultimately, how us census bureaumuch of a voice the American people have in selecting their leaders.

But far from settling these questions, the court has unleashed even higher-pitched and partisan struggles over once-settled aspects of the country’s governance, placing greater pressures on the nation’s political system.

Gerrymandered maps were once part of an unspoken agreement between rivals that pressing for political advantage was, within limits, part of the electoral game. But in recent years Republicans, aided by sophisticated mapmaking software, have given themselves near-unbreakable power across the country.

Now, with a green light from the justices, the party has an opportunity to lock in political dominance for the next decade in many of the 22 states where it controls both the legislature and the governor’s office.
The decision will almost certainly force Democrats, who control 14 statehouses, to reconsider their belated crusade against gerrymandered maps and begin drawing their own — an eat-or-be-eaten response to Republican success in gaming the redistricting process.

“Expect the abuse to be supercharged,” said Justin Levitt, an associate dean at Loyola Law School and a Justice Department official during the Obama administration. “Now the answer will be, ‘It happens everywhere.’ Expect the disease to spread.”

[Read about how states could now make gerrymandering more extreme.]

The justices also did not resolve what to do about adding a citizenship question to the census, which until recently was regarded as a nonpartisan ritual every 10 years for the country to obtain an accurate

ny times logoadam liptakNew York Times, Analysis: Chief Justice Takes Charge, Irking Both Sides, Adam Liptak, right, June 28, 2019. A pair of stunning decisions on Thursday showed that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is the new swing vote. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., below left has sat in the center seat on the Supreme Court bench since his arrival in 2005. But only this term did he assume true leadership of the court.

He made clear his influence in a pair of stunning decisions on Thursday, joining the court’s liberal wing in one and his fellow conservatives in the other. In providing the decisive votes and writing the majority opinions in cases on the census and partisan gerrymandering, he demonstrated that he has unquestionably become the court’s ideological fulcrum after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

john roberts oThe key parts of both decisions were decided by five-justice majorities, and the chief justice was the only member of the court in both.

The two rulings, one a rebuke to the Trump administration and the other a boon to Republicans, was consistent with Chief Justice Roberts’s insistence that politics should play no role in judging. “We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans,” he said in 2016.

Conservatives expressed bitter frustration on Thursday about what they saw as the chief justice’s unreliability, if not betrayal.

“Chief Justice John Roberts disappointed conservatives today — to a degree not seen since he saved Obamacare in 2012 — when he sided with the court’s four liberals to second-guess the Trump administration’s reasons for adding a citizenship question to the census,” Curt Levey, the president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative activist group, said in a statement. “The census decision will surely deepen the impression that Roberts is the new Justice Kennedy, rather than the reliable fifth conservative vote that liberals feared and conservatives hoped for.”

On the horizon next term are significant cases — on the Second Amendment, on whether a federal law prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender workers and very likely on abortion — that will help bring Chief Justice Roberts’s new role into sharper focus. But he may not retain the decisive vote indefinitely.

The court’s two oldest members — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 80 — are members of its liberal wing. If President Trump gets the chance to replace one of them, the court would shift decisively to the right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Roberts said there are no Trump judges or Obama judges. Clarence Thomas didn’t get the memo, Editorial Board, June 28, 2019.  Last November, President Trump, irate at a federal district court ruling contrary to his administration’s attempt to stop some migrants from seeking asylum at the border, blasted the judge, Jon S. Tigar, as a biased “Obama judge.”

Standing up for the integrity of the federal judiciary, of which he is the titular head, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued an extraordinary statement contradicting Mr. Trump, albeit without naming him. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Mr. Roberts said . “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

clarence thomas w new officialSome of Mr. Roberts’s colleagues on the Supreme Court did not get the memo. Or so it would seem from the innuendo Justice Clarence Thomas aimed at U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in an opinion dissenting from the court’s Wednesday ruling that upheld Mr. Furman’s decision to block a Trump administration plan to ask the citizenship of census respondents. Joined by Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Thomas blasted Mr. Furman’s finding — affirmed not only by Mr. Roberts but also four other justices — that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had unlawfully misstated his true reasons for adding the question. Mr. Thomas went well beyond disputing Mr. Furman’s legal reasoning to questioning the district judge’s good faith, accusing him of “transparently” applying “an administration-specific standard.” He portrayed Mr. Furman’s presentation of evidence that Mr. Ross acted on a pretext as akin to “a conspiracy web,” that could be woven by “a judge predisposed to distrust the Secretary or the administration.”

Mr. Thomas’s ill-considered language undermined the defense of the judiciary that the chief justice had previously attempted to mount. And to what end? Mr. Thomas and his two colleagues could have made precisely the same legal argument without it. “The law requires a more impartial approach,” Mr. Thomas protested, referring to Mr. Furman’s ruling and the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of it. Actually, that admonition applies to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court will review Trump effort to end DACA protections for young immigrants, Robert Barnes, June 28, 2019. Lower courts have said that President Trump did not provide a solid rationale for his abrupt 2017 decision to terminate the Obama-era program.

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will take up next term whether the Trump administration illegally tried to end the program that shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

A string of lower courts have said that President Trump’s decision to terminate the Obama-era program was based on faulty legal reasoning and that the administration has failed to provide a solid rationale for ending it.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has become a political football and the object of negotiations — to no end, so far — between Congress and the White House. Initiated in 2012 by a proclamation by President Barack Obama, DACA has protected nearly 700,000 people brought to this country as children, commonly known as “dreamers.”

SCOTUSblog, Video: Tom Goldstein and Sarah Harrington recap OT2018 with Casetext, Jon Levitan, June 28, 2019. Earlier today, Tom Goldstein and Sarah Harrington hosted a webinar with Casetext discussing the major cases of October Term 2018, including yesterday’s decisions in the partisan-gerrymandering and census-citizenship cases. A recording of the webinar is available here .

adam feldmanSCOTUSblog, Analysis: Final Stat Pack for October Term 2018, Adam Feldman, right, June 28, 2019. The Supreme Court term is now complete, resolving cases that had generated months of speculation. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote majority opinions in two of the most anticipated decisions of the term, Department of Commerce v. New York and Rucho v. Common Cause, bringing his total majority-opinion authorship count to seven. Other justices wrote six to eight majority opinions each. The justice who wrote the most total opinions this term was Justice Clarence Thomas with 28, including eight majority opinions, 14 concurrences and six dissents.

Global News

g 20 leaders djt june 2019 oska Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, What Trump has said about each leader at the G-20 summit, Siobhán O'Grady and Anne Gearan, June 28, 2019. Each time world leaders gather for a Group of 20 summit, they pose for a photo op, lining up on stage in a show of collegiality. The resulting image has come to be known as “the family photo.” And, well, family can be complicate

At this year’s meeting in Osaka, Japan, President Trump was positioned in the front row, surrounded by counterparts he has alternately lauded [including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, shown in white and accused of masterminding the the torture-murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi] and insulted. Here is some of what he’s said about them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tells Putin (With a Grin) Not to Meddle in Elections, Peter Baker and Michael Crowley, June 28, 2019. President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met on Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

djt Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump at their meeting Friday in Osaka, Japan. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)For more than two years, friends and foes alike have pushed President Trump to tell President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia not to interfere in American democracy. As the two leaders sat side by side on Friday for their first formal meeting in a year, Mr. Trump obliged — but in his own distinctive way.

The topic did not come up in either man’s opening remarks, which in Mr. Trump’s case were filled with flowery talk about their relationship. Only when a reporter shouted out a question, asking Mr. Trump if he would tell Russia not to meddle in American elections, did the president respond, and then by making light of the matter.

“Yes, of course I will,” Mr. Trump said.

Turning to Mr. Putin, he said, with a slight grin on his face and an almost joking tone in his voice, “Don’t meddle in the election, President.”

As Mr. Putin also smiled, Mr. Trump pointed at another Russian official in a playful way and repeated, “Don’t meddle in the election.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. tells Europe: Choose between us and Iran, Loveday Morris, June 28, 2019. A U.S. envoy spoke on the topic as European countries made a last-ditch effort to prevent Iran from breaching the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, a move which could add to soaring tension in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. special representative for Iran said Friday that European companies have a choice: Do business with the United States, or do business with Iran, as Europe announced that a new system to allow trade with Tehran was in place.

The comments by Brian Hook came as European countries made a last-ditch effort to prevent Iran from breaching the terms of a 2015 nuclear deal, a move that could add to soaring tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Global Political Crime

jared kushner donald trump unsourced

Bloomberg via Yahoo! Deutsche Bank Whistle-Blower Raised Flags About Another Bank, Greg Farrell, June 28, 2019. Tammy McFadden spent most of her career far from Wall Street, in banks and back offices in Jacksonville, Florida. She was let go three times, including last year by Deutsche Bank AG.

deutsche bank logoNow she’s poised to become a bank-compliance celebrity. McFadden is the whistle-blower who went public last month, telling the New York Times she had notified federal officials about her concerns with the Deutsche Bank accounts of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (shown together above).

It’s not her first time accusing a major bank of turning a blind eye to activities in the accounts of rich clients. She made similar allegations more than a decade ago against Bank of America Corp., in litigation that parallels the legal battle she’s pursuing against Deutsche Bank.

Democratic lawmakers are eager to hear more about what she saw at the German lender, with two House committees already digging into its dealings with the president and his family members. The FBI has also expressed interest in her story, her lawyer told the Times. McFadden stands to capture the sort of attention that once went to the accountant who flagged problems in Enron’s books, Sherron Watkins, if she has anything to add.

That’s a significant “if.” McFadden’s utility to lawmakers may hinge on her credibility and motivations, as is often the case with would-be whistle-blowers. Many allegations of corporate wrongdoing emerge from workers who’ve been dismissed, as she was, making it tempting to doubt the purity of their intentions. Their cases often fade away when allegations or legal funding don’t hold up. Few whistle-blowers end up like Watkins, celebrated on the cover of Time magazine.

McFadden’s previous flag-raising episode is detailed in documents filed in a federal court in Jacksonville, Florida, part of the suit she filed against Bank of America in 2006. Calling her 2005 dismissal from the bank’s compliance department a case of wrongful termination, she said bank management ignored her warnings about compliance problems in the accounts of wealthy foreigners. She also expressed frustration, according to her lawyer, at her inability to track the results of so-called suspicious activity reports, which banks file to alert the government of unusual transactions in client accounts.

The filings show that McFadden persisted despite setbacks (her first lawyer insisted on withdrawing) and weathered disclosures about her work history, including the bank’s assertion that she avoided taking phone calls by claiming to have “phone phobia.” Along the way she clashed with bosses at a new banking job she held for less than a year, according to court papers. She ultimately reached a settlement with Bank of America. Terms weren’t disclosed.

jair bolsonaro brazilWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Bolsonaro military aide tried to smuggle 86 pounds of cocaine to G20 summit. Who was it for? Wayne Madsen, June 28, 2019 (subscription required). A Brazilian Air Force non-commissioned officer traveling as part of neo-Nazi Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s official delegation to the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan was arrested during a stopover in Seville, Spain for trying to smuggle 86 pounds of cocaine. Bolsonaro is shown in a file photo.

Italian Foster Child Trafficking

Agence France-Presse via The Guardian, Italian police arrest 18 for allegedly brainwashing and selling, Staff report, June 27, 2019. Children were made to believe they had been sexually abused and were sold to foster parents.

Italian police have arrested 18 people, including a mayor, doctors and social workers, for allegedly brainwashing vulnerable children into thinking their parents had abused them so they could then be sold to foster parents.

italy flagPolice in the northern city of Reggio Emilia made the arrests after an investigation, started in 2018, revealed an alleged network of carers who used methods including electroshock to make the children believe they had been sexually abused.

The network then allegedly gave the children to foster families in exchange for cash, while keeping gifts and letters sent to the children by their real parents hidden in a warehouse that was discovered by police.

The alleged abuse was reported by Italian media and confirmed to AFP by police in Bibbiano, near Reggio Emilia, on Thursday.
Italian 'Satanic panic' case returns to court two decades later

guiseppe conte“These accusations, if confirmed, are frightening and shocking,” said Giuseppe Conte, right, the Italian prime minister, at the G20 meeting in Japan.

The accused include psychotherapists working for a social work association in Moncalieri, near Turin, and the mayor of Bibbiano.

To brainwash the children, those arrested allegedly forged child-like drawings with sexual connotations and used electroshock therapy as a “little memory machine” to create fake abuse memories, while the therapists are accused of dressing up as “wicked” children’s story characters.

The investigation, codenamed “Angels and Demons”, revealed a scheme to “pass off as a model welfare system for abused minors what was in reality an illegal business to the children’s detriment,” La Repubblica newspaper reported.

“According to investigators, the aim of the arrested group was to take children away from families in difficult social situations and to give them, for money, to other parents,” said the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Some of the foster parents have been accused of sexually abusing the children they paid money for, according to La Repubblica. Police declined to say how many children were involved, or of what age. Hundreds of thousands of euros were involved, Italian media reported.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A betrayal’: Inside the bitter rift between Pelosi and Schumer over border bill, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade​, June 28, 2019. The sudden dispute between the two most powerful Democrats in the country is remarkable given their long history of cooperation and could have serious ramifications.

The breakdown between Pelosi and Schumer revealed the extent of the raw divisions among congressional Democrats and raises the possibility of more skirmishes to come as Congress barrels toward funding and debt ceiling deadlines this fall. Democrats in both chambers agree they have to be in strategic lockstep to have any hope of besting President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

washington post logoWashington Post, House Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Gaetz for tweet threatening Michael Cohen, John Wagner, June 28, 2019. In a statement, leaders of the panel said the Florida lawmaker has refused an initial interview about the matter.

matt gaetz o CustomThe House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has launched an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who posted an incendiary tweet on the eve of a high-profile congressional hearing featuring President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

In the late-February tweet in question, Gaetz, right, a staunch Trump ally, suggested without evidence that Cohen, who is married, had “girlfriends,” prompting some legal observers and Democrats to accuse the Republican of engaging in witness tampering.

In a joint statement, the Democratic chairman and top Republican on the Ethics Committee said the committee had received a complaint that Gaetz “sought to threaten, intimidate, harass, or otherwise improperly influence” Cohen ahead of his testimony.

[Trump ally threatens Cohen with unsubstantiated allegation of womanizing]

The statement said Gaetz declined to be interviewed about the matter by the committee. As a result, in keeping with committee rules, an investigative subcommittee was established to review the allegations against Gaetz, the statement said.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Man arrested after missing Utah student’s burned remains found in backyard, police say, Katie Mettler, Marisa Iati and Alex Horton, June 28, 2019. After nearly two weeks of searching for missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, a Salt Lake City man was charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body. The man, Ayoola Ajayi, was arrested Friday morning and now faces four charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pregnant Alabama Woman Who Was Shot Is Charged in Fetus’s Death, Sarah Mervosh, June 28, 2019 (print ed.).
Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when she was shot in the stomach. The police say she started the fight that led to the shooting.

Politico, Judge raises doubts on charge against Flynn partner, Josh Gerstein, June 28, 2019. A federal judge raised repeated doubts Friday about the validity of a criminal charge the former business partner of Gen. Michael Flynn is facing in connection with a lobbying and public relations campaign Flynn has admitted was secretly mounted on behalf of the Turkish government.

Lawyers for Bijan Rafiekian, who is known as Bijan Kian, argued at a court hearing that the indictment filed against him last December and updated last month was legally faulty because it didn't address whether the lobbying and op-ed writing Flynn International Group allegedly did for Turkey was a "legal commercial transaction."

The argument is a technical one, but it could have major ramifications for the case against Kian, which is set to go to trial July 15.
Prosecutors say Kian is free to seek to defend himself by claiming the work was entirely legal, but Kian's lawyers say making him prove that reverses the typical burden of proof where prosecutors must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Women's World Cup

Fox Sports,

, June 28, 2019 (1:46 min. video). 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup™ Highlights  Make it another for Rapinoe! Alex Morgan's perfect ball gave way to Tobin Heath, who found Rapinoe, who buried her second goal of the match to give the United States Women's National Team a 2-0 lead vs. France in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup™.

Megan Rapinoe's Two Goals Lift USA Over France, Into World Cup Semifinals, Avi Creditor June 28, 2019. The match that everyone was anticipating for months did not disappoint. The U.S. women's national team got two goals from Megan Rapinoe and held off a late France rally to reach the semifinals of the Women's World Cup with a 2-1 victory at the Parc des Princes in Paris. With the win, the USA knocked out the hosts and reached the semifinals for an eighth straight Women's World Cup, the only nation to achieve the feat in every edition of the competition.

France will be disappointed with the exit, especially after making a statement in January by the USA 3-1 in a friendly when the U.S. wasn't at entirely full strength. Les Bleues had won two of the last three meetings, though, and didn't appear to be spooked at all by the prospect of taking on the defending champions.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, DeVos Repeals Obama-Era Rule Cracking Down on For-Profit Colleges, Erica L. Green, June 28, 2019.  Education betsy devos oSecretary Betsy DeVos, right, on Friday officially repealed an Obama-era regulation that sought to crack down on for-profit colleges and universities that produced graduates with no meaningful job prospects and mountains of student debt they could not hope to repay.

The so-called gainful employment rule was issued by the Obama administration in 2014, right before huge for-profit chains collapsed, leaving students stranded with debt and worthless degrees. Under the new standards, career and certificate programs, many of which operate in the for-profit sector, would have to prove their graduates could find gainful employment to maintain access to federal financial aid. It also would have required schools to disclose in advertisements a comparison of the student debt load of their graduates and their career earnings.

June 27

Major Supreme Court Decisions

Details below.

U.S. Politics: Democratic Debate

democratic 20 debate candidates Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Harris-Biden clash on race stands out in debate’s 2nd night, Staff report, June 27, 2019. The second night of the debate was the chance for candidates Sen. Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), former vice president Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang to debate one another and address the country.

dnc horizontal logoSee the latest on the debate from the Fact Checker here. Come back for highlights as the candidates speak.

Harris calls out Biden on race: The sharpest exchange of the debate centered on race, when Harris, the only black candidate on the stage, called out Biden for his comments at a recent fundraiser where he bragged about his relationship with segregationist senators early in his career.

“It was hurtful,” Harris said, saying she didn’t think the former vice president was racist. Then she criticized him in personal terms for his opposition to busing, saying that as a little girl in California she was part of only the second class that was integrated due to a policy of transporting black students to mostly white schools.

“On this subject, it can not be an intellectual debate among Democrats,” Harris said.

Biden seemed prepared for the attack and struck back at Harris, saying that early in his career he became a public defender. “I didn’t become a prosecutor,” Biden said, a knock on Harris, whose past as the top prosecutor in California has stirred suspicion from some black voters.

Biden tried to argue that he opposed busing on only the federal level and didn’t want Washington to dictate policy to local governments.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Commentary: Raise Your Hand If You’ve Ever Felt Personally Victimized by This Debate, Ian Bogost, June 28, 2019. Political media have abandoned frankness for dankness.

A tweet reading "Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Regina George" displays a photo of a group of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates all raising their hands.

“We’re not gonna hold back in making sure the candidates stick to time,” the Today Show host Savannah Guthrie threatened at the start of last night’s Democratic debate, the second in as many days. The 60-second constraint the network imposed on the 10 candidates meant that responses would have to be formed from preplanned atoms of ideas, cleverly fused into stable molecules of coherent political appeal.

To succeed in this context—if indeed any successes befell the field, let alone the electorate—requires a precise execution that looks more like internet speech than it does television conversation. The only way to win in this media context is to produce a meme-worthy victory from your own mouth, or to force your opponents to fall into a memeable gaffe. For an idea or action to be real, let alone coherent, it must be created for the express purpose of escaping its original context and living on as a social-media virus.

 Court Permits Extreme Gerrymandering 

supreme court headshots 2019

Roll Call, Supreme Court won’t step in to partisan gerrymandering cases, Todd Ruger, June 27, 2019. Ruling will affect how congressional districts are redrawn after 2020 census.

A divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that federal courts can’t rein in politicians who draw political maps to entrench a partisan supreme court census decision ny daily news june 28 2019 Customadvantage, a decision that will influence the redrawing of congressional districts after the 2020 census.

The justices instead said that was a political question and gave that task to Congress and the states, pointing to efforts from House Democrats to require independent commissions to oversee redistricting in each state, as well as the handful of states where voters did the same through ballot initiatives.

The decision keeps the current congressional maps in North Carolina and Maryland. It bodes poorly for similar partisan gerrymandering challenges in Ohio and Michigan, where lower court judges had ordered new congressional districts.

Critics say the decision gives a green light to the state officials and lawmakers to carve up their states in a way that strips voters of the ability to choose who represents them in Congress or the statehouse.

President Trump with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, a longtime Trump billionaire crony

President Trump with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, a longtime Trump billionaire crony in charge of the disputed census.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Leaves Citizenship Question on Census in Doubt, Adam Liptak, June 27, 2019. In a major setback for the White House, the Supreme Court on Thursday sent back to a lower court a case on whether the census should contain a citizenship question, leaving in doubt whether the question would be on the 2020 census.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by the Trump administration for adding the question — asking whether a person is a citizen — was inadequate. But he left open the possibility that it could provide an adequate answer.

“The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law, after all, is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” the chief justice wrote. “Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”

us census bureauThe practical impact of the decision was not immediately clear. While the question is barred for now, it is at least possible that the administration will be able to offer adequate justifications for it. But time is short, as the census forms must be printed shortly. The decision was fractured, but the key passage in the chief justice’s majority opinion was joined only by the court’s four-member liberal wing.

Government experts predicted that asking the question would cause many immigrants to refuse to participate in the census, leading to an undercount of about 6.5 million people. That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are allocated in 2021 and affect how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are distributed.

The administration’s stated reason for adding the question — to help enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to protect minority voters — has been questioned by three federal judges. Recently discovered evidence from the computer files of a Republican strategist undermined the administration’s rationale and suggested that the true reason for the question was to help “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”

The case — United States Department of Commerce v. New York, No. 18-966 — has its roots in the text of the Constitution, which requires an “actual enumeration” every 10 years, with the House to be apportioned based on “the whole number of persons in each state.”

But the government has long used the census to gather information beyond raw population data. In 2020, for instance, the short form that goes to every household will include questions about sex, age, race and Hispanic or Latino origin. Some of those questions may discourage participation, too.

Trump Watch

President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Washington Post photo)

In 2017, President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Washington Post photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Tillerson says Kushner left him in the dark on talks with foreign nations, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey​, June 27, 2019.In newly disclosed testimony, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson said President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, right, operated independently with powerful leaders around the world without coordination with the State Department, leaving Tillerson out of the loop and in the dark on emerging U.S. policies and simmering geopolitical crises.

In a transcript of his testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tillerson, left, also described the challenge of briefing a president who does not read briefing papers and often got distracted by peripheral topics, noting he had to keep his message short and focus on a single topic.

“I learned to be much more concise with what I wanted to bring in front of him,” Tillerson told the House panel during a seven-hour session in May.

He stood by his previous characterization that Trump does not dive deep into details and said he learned not to give the president articles or long memos. “That’s just not what he was going to do,” he said.

VA Slams Whistleblower

us veterans administrtion logo horizontal

washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower says VA ordered fake appointments to cut waiting list, Joe Davidson, June 27, 2019. The Department of Veterans Affairs moved to fire a psychologist one day before she testified at a hearing about alleged misconduct at the agency. One day before Minu Aghevli testified at a House committee hearing about official Department of Veterans Affairs misconduct, she received a thick packet of documents that shook her life.

It amounted to a pink slip more than 170 pages long, including about 140 pages outlining reasons VA plans to fire her, according to Kevin Owen, her lawyer. The packet arrived on Monday. She testified on Tuesday.

Aghevli, 42, is a District native who has spent her entire 20-year career with VA. She is a clinical psychologist with a department opioid treatment program in Baltimore.

But the moniker that matters now for her is VA whistleblower. Aghevli has made disclosures that she said led department officials to dismiss her, despite her Gold VA Pins for excellent customer service.

Aghevli’s allegations are serious. They include phony-wait-list assertions of the type that have bedeviled VA since it was consumed by a scandal that broke in 2014. She also accused department officials of lying to Congress.

More On Dem. Debate

538.com, Analysis: What Went Down On Night One Of The First Democratic Debates Filed under 2020 Election, Staff reports, June 27, 2019. Micah Cohen: What a night! If you missed it and want to relive all the glory chronologically, just start at the bottom of this live blog and scroll up. If you’re not inclined to do that, though, I’ve got two options for you. First, check back here tomorrow — we’re partnering with Morning Consult to measure how the debates change voters’ views of the race. Second, I asked the live blog team to sum up the night’s events in a newspapery headline.

Laura Bronner: Speaking time — measured here by words spoken by each candidate — wasn’t equally distributed across the candidates. It was moderately correlated with candidates’ polling averages (R=0.55), though candidates like Booker, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Castro spoke a lot relative to their standing in the polls. Warren, who was the polling leader on stage Wednesday night, got fewer words in than her standing would imply.

Who held the floor in night one? Number of words spoken by each candidate during night one of the first Democratic debate

Cory Booker 2181
Beto O’Rourke 1932
Eliz. Warren 1637
Chuck Todd (mod) 1633
Amy Klobuchar 1614
Julián Castro 1588
Tim Ryan 1383
Tulsi Gabbard 1243
Rachel Maddow (mod.) 1163
John Delaney 1060
Lester Holt (mod.) 1001
Bill de Blasio 881
Jay Inslee 875
Savannah Guthrie (mod.) 748
Jose Diaz-Balart (mod.) 377

Word counts exclude words spoken in Spanish

Nate Silver: Looks like Gabbard edged out Booker in search traffic at the end there.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Media And Public Disagree On Tulsi Gabbard's Debate Performance, B, June 27, 2019. The mainstream media tulsi gabbardseem to judge the Democratic primary debate last night quite differently than the general public.

Quartz cites multiple polls which show that Tulsi Gabbard, right, won the debate: "[T]wo candidates seemed to pique a lot of interest among US voters, at least when judged by who Americans searched for on Google: New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. A poll by the right-leaning Drudge Report also found Gabbard to be the breakout of the debate with 38% of the vote, well ahead of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren in second place. Gabbard also topped polls by local news sites including NJ.com and the Washington Examiner."

Now contrast that with the mainstream media.

The Washington Post discusses winners and losers of the debate and puts Gabbard in the second category: "Gabbard was lost for much of the debate. That may not have been her fault — she wasn’t asked many questions — ...."


The New York Times main piece about the debate mentions Gabbard only once - in paragraph 32 of the 45 paragraphs long piece. It does not reveal anything about her actual political position: "There was little discussion of foreign policy until near the end of the debate when two little-known House lawmakers, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio, clashed over how aggressively to target the Taliban."

The New York Times also has some 'experts' discussing winners and losers. Gabbard is only mentioned at the very end, and by a Republican pollster, as a potential candidate for Secretary of Defense.

CNN also discusses winners and losers. Gabbard is not mentioned at all. NBC News ranks the candidates' performance. It puts Gabbard on place 8 and inserts a snide:
"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii: Seized an opportunity to highlight her military experience in Afghanistan and her signature anti-intervention foreign policy views, without being tainted by her past sympathetic comments on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad."

Most of the above media have long avoided to mention Gabbard and to discuss her political positions. It is quite evident that the mainstream media do not like her anti-regime-change views and are afraid of even writing about them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away, David Brooks, June 27, 2019. The dynamic pulling the party leftward. I could never in a million years vote for Donald Trump. So my question to Democrats is: Will there be a candidate I can vote for?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal. The candidates at the debates this week fall mostly within the 26 percent. The party seems to think it can win without any of the 35 percent of us in the moderate camp, the ones who actually delivered the 2018 midterm win.

The progressive narrative is dominating in part because progressives these days have a direct and forceful story to tell and no interest in compromising it. It’s dominating because no moderate wants to bear the brunt of progressive fury by opposing it.

It’s also dominating because the driving dynamic in this campaign right now is not who can knock off Joe Biden, the more moderate front-runner. It’s who can survive the intense struggle between Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others to be the surviving left-wing alternative. All the energy and competition is on the progressive side. Biden tries to bob and weave above it all while the whole debate pulls sharply leftward.

The party is moving toward all sorts of positions that drive away moderates and make it more likely the nominee will be unelectable. And it’s doing it without too much dissent.

First, there is health care. When Warren and Kamala Harris raised their hands and said that they would eliminate employer-based health insurance, they made the most important gesture of the campaign so far. Over 70 percent of Americans with insurance through their employers are satisfied with their health plan. Warren, Harris and Sanders would take that away.

According to a Hill-HarrisX survey, only 13 percent of Americans say they would prefer a health insurance system with no private plans. Warren and Sanders pin themselves, and perhaps the Democratic Party, to a 13 percent policy idea. Trump is smiling.

Second, there is the economy. All of the Democrats seem to have decided to run a Trump-style American carnage campaign. The economy is completely broken. It only benefits a tiny sliver. Yet in a CNN poll, 71 percent of Americans say that the economy is very or somewhat good. We’re in the longest recovery in American history and the benefits are finally beginning to flow to those who need them most. Overall wages are rising by 3.5 percent, and wages for those in the lowest pay quartile are rising by well over 4 percent, the highest of all groups.

Democrats have caught the catastrophizing virus that inflicts the Trumpian right. They take a good point — that capitalism needs to be reformed to reduce inequality — and they radicalize it so one gets the impression they want to undermine capitalism altogether.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is coming true, Bill Palmer, June 27, 2019. The biggest liability for Donald Trump heading into 2020 isn’t his toxic unpopularity, or his criminal scandals. Trump’s hilariously bad poll numbers make clear that he can’t win of his own accord, so his only hope is that the Democratic candidates beat each other up so badly during the primary, the eventual Democratic nominee will be too damaged to effectively take on Trump. In such case, Trump’s worst nightmare is the scenario in which the Democratic candidates don’t beat each other up.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night we saw some isolated sparring among certain Democratic candidates who have never much liked each other. But for the most part the candidates were respectful toward each other, and avoided hurling cheap insults at each other. In particular, no one on last night’s stage tried to win the night by gratuitously attacking the most popular candidate on the stage, Elizabeth Warren. And no one on stage tried to gain in the overall race by gratuitously attacking the frontrunner, Joe Biden. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to be that kind of primary.

We’ll see what happens in tonight’s debate, where losing candidates will be faced with the chance to try to score cheap points by taking cheap shots at Joe Biden to his face. But if last night was any indication, this is shaping up to be precisely the kind of Democratic primary that will do more harm to Donald Trump than to the eventual Democratic nominee.

Inside DC

Roll Call, Former Hill staffer alleges Rep. Duncan Hunter grabbed her behind while drunk, Chris Marquette, June 27, 2019. A former Capitol Hill staffer accused Rep. Duncan Hunter of drunkenly asking for her number and putting his hand on her behind in 2014, an allegation adding to a list of issues the indicted California Republican faces [as reported earlier this week in Duncan Hunter Used Campaign Money for Multiple Affairs, Prosecutors Say].

duncan hunter oRory Riley-Topping told RT Wednesday the incident happened at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner while she was working for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Hunter, right, apparently approached her, and said he wanted to talk about Agent Orange — a topic Riley-Topping said the committee was handling at the time.

Riley-Topping said she would follow up on it and reach out to his staff.

“And he leaned into me very closely and said, ‘No, I want to talk to you,’” Riley-Topping said. “And I felt very uncomfortable and tried to back up and he reached around and put his hand on my behind and said ‘let me give you my cell phone number.’”

republican elephant logoRiley-Topping told RT she then backed up and pushed Hunter away before going to former New Jersey Congressman John Runyan, who helped her leave the situation.

The incident prompted her to leave the job, she said.

“I actually left my position on the committee shortly thereafter because it was not an environment that I felt comfortable working in after that,” Riley-Topping said. She told RT she was coming forward now because she didn’t feel comfortable coming forward five years ago, and feared retaliation.

Hunter is scheduled for trial in September on 60 charges that include conspiracy, theft of campaign funds and wire fraud for allegedly using his campaign committee as a personal fund. The congressman plans to go to trial and fight the charges.

SCOTUSblog, Analysis:  A small win for James Kisor; a big loss for the Constitution, Corbin K. Barthold and Cory L. Andrews (counsel at the Washington Legal Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenger in Kisor v. Wilkie), June 27, 2019. The question in Kisor v. Wilkie is whether a court must defer to an administrative agency’s plausible interpretation of its own ambiguous regulation. Auer v. Robbins says it must. Arguing that agencies shouldn’t be allowed both to write and authoritatively interpret their own rules, Kisor asked the Supreme Court to overrule Auer.

The ambiguous regulation in Kisor’s case is a rule that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to retroactively grant a benefits claim after obtaining “relevant” records that existed, but were never considered, when the claim was denied.

Kisor argued that some papers documenting his combat experience are such “relevant” records. The government contended they aren’t, because whether Kisor partook in combat wasn’t a point of contention when the VA first denied his claim. According to the government, “relevant” doesn’t mean “relevant to an element of the veteran’s claim” but “relevant to the outcome of the dispute.” Concluding that the word “relevant” is ambiguous, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit deferred to the government’s interpretation and affirmed the denial of retroactive benefits.

Raw Story, WATCH: Disgraced anti-gay Republican spotted putting money in underwear of male dancer in Mexico City, Sarah K. Burris, June 27, 2019. Disgraced former Republican Congressman Aaron Schock was recently spotted slipping cash inside of the tight underpants of a Mexico City “go-go dancer” in a gay bar over the weekend.

The Daily Mail reported the incident with photos and videos showing the 38-year-old Illinois politician in Boy Bar, described as an “LGBTQ dive bar” in the Red light District.

Schock was forced to resign in 2015 after using taxpayer dollars to fund lavish vacations with his personal photographer. The issues arose when Schock’s office became famous because he modeled the decor after the popular BBC show “Downton Abbey,” which was also paid for by taxpayer funds.

According to Politico, Schock was charged with “24 felony counts alleging that he fleeced taxpayers and campaign donors through false expense claims, including inflated mileage reimbursements, personal travel expenses and camera gear — and by using campaign funds to buy Super Bowl tickets that he sold online.”

Schock was indicted and set to face the music but in March suddenly prosecutors dropped the charges. The deal had Schock pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

The person who captured the video told the Daily Mail that he was surprised to see Schock there given he was a supporter of anti-gay policies.

“The last person I would expect to see in Boy Bar is a former Republican congressman,” the person said. “I was taking a video of the go-go dancer on stage and all of a sudden I saw him. He looked like he was enjoying himself.” Schock was photographed in Mexico City the day before at the National Museum of Anthropology’s cafe.

U.S. Courts: Alabama

robert bentley rebekak mason stephen collierw wkrg

Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, his former communications aide Rebekkah Mason and formerly Alabama's top law enforcer Stephen Collier, who helped blow the whistle on a sex scandal in the governor's office that toppled the so-called "family values" Republican (WKRG photos, shown left to right). Collier has been arrested JIP Editor's Note: We return our attention to Alabama, whose court system and top office-holders have repeatedly immersed themselves in scandal, sometimes with sinister implications for the justice system, as blogger Roger Shuler has repeatedly documented, most recently in today's column.

Legal Schnauzer, First person legal commentary: Spencer Collier makes clear in deposition that the idea of using government resources against Donald Watkins and me originated with "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley, Roger Shuler, June 27, 2019. Former Alabama Governor Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley stated in a deposition made public last July that it was the idea of former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Spencer Collier to launch a criminal investigation of me, in retaliation for my reporting on Bentley's extramarital affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason ("Home Wrecky Becky"), which ended the governor's 50-year marriage. Collier, in a deposition we published last week (and it's embedded at the end of this post), tells a very different story.

Who is telling the truth? Given Bentley's history of lying repeatedly about the Mason affair and attacking the press in a way that would make Donald Trump blush, our money is on Collier. In a deposition from his wrongful-termination lawsuit against Bentley, Mason, and associates, Collier says it was Bentley's idea to use state and federal resources to seek dirt on me (and Birmingham attorney-Facebook blogger Donald Watkins) for leading the way on a scandal that would end with Bentley's ouster from the governorship after he pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to never again seek public office.

Al.com reports today that the state settled the Collier v. Bentley for $525,000, although that was not the total figure. In fact, the total bill to taxpayers tops $1 million. From the al.com report: "The state of Alabama paid $525,000 as part of a settlement of former Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier’s lawsuit against former Gov. Robert Bentley and others. The state also paid a total of $498,456 in legal defense costs for four defendants in the case, making the total cost to taxpayers $1.02 million."

Global Corruption

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: CIA Finances Another Group of Fraudsters: the Venezuelan ‘Opposition,’ Wayne Madsen, June 27, 2019. Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency has been caught financing a group of grifters and fraudsters at the expense of the venezuela flag waving customAmerican taxpayers.

In the latest case, just another in the agency’s 72-year history, the Trump administration-appointed ad hoc board of CITGO, the US subsidiary of the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, stands accused of steering $70 million of escrowed funds, earmarked for PDVSA’s fiscal year 2020 bond, to the pockets of CIA-supported officials of the Venezuelan opposition “Popular Will” party headed by the so-called “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.

In addition to Guaidó, who is accused by the legitimate Venezuelan government of money laundering, treason, and corruption, other Popular Will leaders under investigation by both the Venezuelan Attorney General and the US Justice Department include Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s envoy in Washington; Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, Guaidó’s emissaries in Cucuta, a Colombian-Venezuelan border town; Sergio Vargara, Barrera’s brother-in-law and a Member of the Venezuelan Congress; Guaidó’s “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, opposition businessman Miguel Sabal; and Guaidó’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero.

Over two dozen other Popular Will leaders are also under investigation for fraud involving money earmarked by the Trump administration, particularly Iran-Contra scandal felon and current Trump special envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams.

Barrera and Rojas are accused of spending money given to the Popular Will by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a longtime CIA financial pass-through, for “humanitarian relief” for alleged massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. The Popular Will grifters reportedly used the aid money, including that which was raised by Virgin Group’s billionaire founder and obvious CIA dupe Richard Branson, for expensive hotels, fancy restaurants, nightclubs, prostitutes, and clothing.

elliot abramsIt comes as little surprise that Abrams, right, with his history of “sticky fingers” around US and foreign assistance money, has played a hand in the Venezuelan opposition fraud. As Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs during the Ronald Reagan administration Abrams was involved in the illegal raising of funds for the CIA-supported right-wing Contras fighting against the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. In 1991, facing a felony perjury conviction for lying to Congress, Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information to Congress about his fundraising activities for the Contras. In 1992, Abrams and other Iran-Contra criminals were pardoned by President George H. W. Bush, one of the unindicted Iran-Contra co-conspirators. Abrams surfaced again in 2001 in the George W. Bush administration. He was involved in the abortive 2002 CIA coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well as in cooking US intelligence to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Abrams’s involvement in any US covert activities in always an indication of massive fraud. Abrams’s backing of Guaidó and his operatives and recent reports of fraud are not much different than the notorious Republican Party neo-con’s sordid record with such Contra leaders as Adolfo Calero, the president of the Nicaraguan Democratic Forces (FDN); Arturo Cruz; Alfonso Robelo; Edén Pastora; and Enrique Bermúdez.

June 26

Fallen Journalists

Fallen Journalists Memorial, Fallen Journalists Memorial Act of 2019 Introduced, Staff report, June 26, 2019. New Foundation to Embark on Planning, Private Fundraising Campaign for Memorial. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to establish a permanent Fallen Journalists Memorial in Washington, D.C. The legislation and the announcement of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, that took the lives of five people on June 28, 2018.

The Fallen Journalists Memorial Act of 2019 (H.R. 3465 and S. 1969) authorizes the newly-established Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation (FJM Foundation) to raise funds and work with appropriate entities to site and build a memorial to pay tribute to the journalists who have died while performing their jobs.

In the House, the legislation is sponsored by Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK). In the Senate, the legislation is sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH). No federal funds will be used to plan or build the memorial.

david dreier ben cardin june 26 2019 img 6423“Today marks the beginning of what will be a long and collaborative process,” said David Dreier (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo clapping his hands as Cardin speaks), Chairman of the Tribune Publishing Company, at an event announcing the FJM Foundation today. “The work of our legislative sponsors to date has been superb. The broad support we have received from the journalistic community and their readers, viewers and listeners from across the country is very inspiring. Journalism is a cornerstone of our democracy. It is important to honor those who have died in pursuit of the truth.”

Also present for today’s event were Senators Cardin and Portman; Congressman Cole; Donald Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post; and Rick Hutzell, Editor, Capital Gazette Communications.

Watch the full press conference, which was covered in person by the Justice Integrity Project. Full story at www.fallenjournalists.org.

 First Democratic Debate

democratic debate june 26 2019

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Biggest threats to U.S.? ‘China.’ ‘Climate change.’ ‘Iran.’ ‘Trump,’ Sean Sullivan, David A. Fahrenthold and Annie Linskey​, June 27, 2019 (print ed.). 10 Democrats tackle key issues and vulnerabilities in first debate. The first Democratic debate of the 2020 presidential election was disjointed and civil — with few moments of true debate between candidates.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic divides on display, Toluse Olorunnipa and Michael Scherer, June 27, 2019. Economy, health care, immigration take center stage. Ten Democrats jousted over the best formula for beating President Trump and fixing the struggles of the middle class in the party’s first debate. Tonight, 10 more candidates will face off.

Deep divides over health care and economic policy dominated the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday, as 10 candidates jousted in Miami over the best formula for beating President Trump and fixing the economic struggles of the middle class.

dnc horizontal logoThe result was a prime-time display — the first national event of the election season — showcasing economic and regulatory differences that have riven the Democratic Party, including transformative plans to eliminate private health insurance, fund free college for most Americans, break up giant corporations and impose sharp tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

The ambitious slate of proposals highlights the Democrats’ leftward shift, a trend Republicans are seeking to take advantage of by linking the party with socialism and government control. The generally sober event also highlighted one of the key dilemmas that Democrats face in their attempt to oust Trump — a bombastic showman whose name was only occasionally mentioned but whose presence loomed large over the proceedings.

Transcript of the debate, annotated

Biden, Sanders among 10 Democrats who will square off tonight in second debate

World News: Iran

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran calls new U.S. sanctions ‘outrageous,’ warns path to diplomacy is closed, Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash​, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). Iranian officials slammed the Trump administration Tuesday for new sanctions targeting the country’s leadership, saying the measures permanently closed the path to diplomacy and that the White House had “become mentally crippled” hassan rouhani fileunder the current president.

In a searing televised address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, called restrictions against Iran’s supreme leader “outrageous and idiotic” and said they showed “certain failure” on the part of the Trump administration to isolate Iran.

U.S. Justice Dept.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The Nazification of the Attorney-General's office, Wayne Madsen, June 26, 2019 (subscription required). The American public is beginning to witness the transformation of the Justice Department into a political police and retribution force eager to carry out the diktats of Trump. Concentration camps for asylum-seekers, including children, from Central America and elsewhere – people considered by Trump to be Untermensch, the Nazi term for inferior people – are now the rule of the day in states across the country.

Roll Call, Mueller to testify before House Judiciary, Intelligence panels July 17, Lindsey McPherson, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). Former special counsel only agreed to testify in open session pursuant to a subpoena. The House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees issued a robert mueller full face filesubpoena Tuesday night for former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to testify in open session on July 17.

Mueller, right, made his first public statement on his two- year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election at the end of May and said he hoped those words would be his final ones spoken to the public. He said if compelled to testify before Congress he would have nothing to say beyond what was in his report, and then he formally stepped down from the special counsel job.

Democrats, however, still wanted Mueller to testify and have been negotiating to get him to do so, resisting his requests to address lawmakers in a closed session.

U.S. Migrant Policies

oscar alberto martínez ramírez valeria matamoros mexico julia le duc
The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, Monday, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Tex. (Julia Le Duc/AP)

ny times logoNew York Times, The Story Behind the Photo of Two Migrants Found Dead in the Rio Grande, Azam Ahmed and Kirk Semple, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Story Behind the Photo of Two Migrants Found Dead in the Rio Grande. The father and daughter lie face down in the muddy water along the banks of the Rio Grande, her tiny head tucked inside his T-shirt. The image represents a poignant distillation of the perilous journey migrants face on their passage north to the United States. Related story below:

washington post logoWashington Post, The father and daughter who drowned at the border were desperate for a better life, family says, Reis Thebault, Luis Velarde and Abigail Hauslohner, June 26, 2019.  A man and his 23-month old daughter, migrants from El Salvador, were swept away in the river waters in Brownsville, Tex., on Sunday. A graphic photo of them shocked the world.

Valeria was a cheery child. Not even 2 years old, she loved to dance, play with her stuffed animals and brush her family members’ hair. Her father, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, was stalwart. Nearly always working, he sold his motorcycle and borrowed money to move his family from El Salvador to the United States. Martínez and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, wanted to save up for a home there. They wanted safety, opportunity.

“They wanted a better future for their girl,” María Estela Ávalos, Vanessa’s mother, told The Washington Post.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Approves $4.6 Billion for Border With Few Restrictions, Emily Cochrane, June 26, 2019. The Senate rejected a House border bill that reined in President Trump’s immigration policies before passing its own version. Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the Senate’s bill even before the vote was taken, setting up a clash over immigration policy.

The Senate on Wednesday approved $4.6 billion in emergency humanitarian aid for the southwestern border, rejecting House legislation approved Tuesday that sought to rein in President Trump’s immigration crackdown by setting significant rules on how the money could be spent at squalid detention facilities.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California rejected the Senate’s bill even before the vote was taken, setting up a clash over immigration policy just days before Congress leaves Washington for a weeklong July 4 recess. Ms. Pelosi called President Trump to discuss how to reconcile the dueling measures in a 15-minute phone call early Wednesday afternoon.

The margin of the Senate vote, 84-8, underscored Senate Republican contentions that only their bill stands a chance of obtaining the president’s signature.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. asylum officers ask federal court to end Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, Maria Sacchetti​, June 26, 2019. The officers, who have been directed to implement the program, say it is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation and our international and domestic legal obligations.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Border Chief Will Step Down as Migrant Children Are Returned to Texas Facility, Caitlin Dickerson and Zolan john sanders acting us customs border patrolKanno-Youngs, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Customs and Border Protection agency’s acting commissioner, John Sanders, will step down in early July as the government’s primary border enforcement executive, a federal official said Tuesday, a development that comes as the agency faces continuing public fury over the treatment of detained migrant children.

The news of the resignation came shortly after agency officials disclosed that more than 100 children had been returned to a troubled Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex., a location where a group of lawyers who visited recently said hundreds of minor detainees had been housed for weeks without access to showers, clean clothing, or sufficient food.

Mr. Sanders announced his resignation in an email to colleagues shortly after it was reported by journalists. He led the agency since President Trump tapped the former Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, to replace Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary. Mr. Sanders specialized in developing technology for national security initiatives and previously served as the chief technology officer for the Transportation Security Administration.

During a court-ordered visit to the facility earlier this month, some children said they had not been allowed to shower in nearly a month, and were so hungry that it had been hard for them to sleep through the night.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates and Analysis From the First Democratic Debate, Staff reports, June 26, 2019. Candidates democratic donkey logoClash Over Guns, Migrants and More. Ten Democrats are facing off in Miami. Three of them are women. Two of them are Texans. There has been occasional shouting.

In talking about immigration, candidates focused on the photo of the father and daughter found dead in the Rio Grande. The Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was a surprise unifying figure: Democrats said they had to seize the Senate from him.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Debates, Night 1: Political Dynamics to Watch, Shane Goldmacher, Alicia Parlapiano and Adriana Ramic, June 26, 2019. Some of the Democratic Party’s strongest orators will be at the center of the presidential debate in Miami tonight. Here’s a guide to help you understand the political dynamics and tension points.

washington post logonra logo Customashington Post, NRA’s top lobbyist resigns amid chaos at the gun rights organization, Katie Zezima and Beth Reinhard, June 26, 2019. The National Rifle Association also shut down its television arm and severed all business ties with its longtime public relations firm.

ny times logoNew York Times, Duncan Hunter Used Campaign Money for Multiple Affairs, Prosecutors Say, Tim Arango, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). The new allegations lay out evidence that the congressman used campaign cash to fund a series of extramarital affairs. Just a few months after taking his seat in Congress in 2009, Duncan Hunter, right, began an affair with a lobbyist and used campaign money to pay for dates, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

duncan hunter oOn one of their first “solo getaways,” according to prosecutors, the pair went on a ski trip to the Heavenly resort near Lake Tahoe and “spent the weekend skiing, ordering room service and enjoying the amenities of the full service resort.” The hotel tab: $1,008. And no expense seemed too small that it couldn’t be paid for with campaign money, not even the $7 Sam Adams he drank at the hotel bar just after checking in, according to the filing.

Mr. Hunter, a Republican, has been accused of spending almost $250,000 of campaign funds on personal expenses. The sprawling indictment issued last year threatened the re-election campaign of Mr. Hunter, an Iraq war veteran, but he won in his conservative district in San Diego County, where many military veterans live. Mr. Hunter has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial scheduled to begin in September. His wife, who was also indicted, recently pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The 47-page indictment last year of Mr. Hunter, a scion of a political dynasty in Southern California where his father was a congressman for almost three decades, accused him of a brazen pattern of financial misconduct, including using campaign money for an elaborate vacation in Italy. Prosecutors also said Mr. Hunter had tried to pass off personal expenses as charitable contributions for veterans, an offense that alienated an important constituency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Mick Mulvaney is a goner, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2019. Not so long ago, Donald Trump seemed mick mulvaney omb Smallto like Mick Mulvaney so much, he gave him the dual role of OMB Director and White House Chief of Staff. In fact, Mulvaney seemed to have the upper hand in this relationship, to the point that he was only willing to take the Chief of Staff job on an acting basis, even though Trump wanted him in the position permanently. But now it looks like Mulvaney is a goner.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump is “tiring” of Mick Mulvaney, right, according to a new story published by Politico, which was obviously leaked by Trump himself. We’ve seen Trump do this before: he starts souring on one of his own top people, so he leaks that he might be done with them, so that no one is surprised when he dumps them, and it’s seen as more inevitable than controversial. But with Mulvaney, we all saw this coming, of course.

Last week Trump filmed an interview with ABC News, and at one point he was seen throwing Mick Mulvaney out of the room for the sin of having coughed. This led to widespread speculation, both sarcastic and serious, that Trump might end up firing Mulvaney over the matter – because Trump really is just that shallow and erratic.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Once the poorest senator, Biden has reaped millions since leaving vice presidency, Matt Viser, June 26, joe biden headshot2019 (print ed.). A book deal and dozens of highly paid speeches placed “Middle Class Joe” Biden in a more rarefied world than he once inhabited.

Biden, right, points out on the presidential campaign trail that he was often the poorest member of the U.S. Senate and, for at least a decade, has referred to himself as “Middle Class Joe.” But since leaving office he has enjoyed an explosion of wealth, making millions of dollars largely from book deals and speaking fees for as much as $200,000 per speech, public documents show.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oregon Republicans in ‘undisclosed locations’ as Senate leader suggests climate bill won’t pass, Joel Achenbach and Maureen O'Hagan, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). Some state leaders fear that the political chaos is a sign that Oregon’s legislative process is descending into toxic partisanship.

More On U.S. Migrant Crisis

ny times logoNew York Times, Meet the Lawyer Who Didn’t Want to Promise a Toothbrush to Migrant Children, Manny Fernandez, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). Sarah Fabian, an immigration lawyer for the Justice Department, has become famous for her defense of the government’s failure to provide supplies to children in custody.

“It’s within everybody’s common understanding that if you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, that’s not ‘safe and sanitary,’” said Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the Ninth Circuit, a former Marine who was imprisoned as a child in a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II. “Wouldn’t everybody agree to that? Do you agree with that?”

“Well, I think it’s — I think those are — there’s fair reason to find that those things may be part of ‘safe and sanitary,’” Ms. Fabian replied.

“Not ‘may be,’” Judge Tashima said. “‘Are’ a part. Why do you say, ‘may be’? You mean there’s circumstances when a person doesn’t need to have a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for days?”

Related article:

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I accept it’: DOJ lawyer defends herself over viral video about providing migrants with soap, toothbrushes, June 26, 2019. It had been a long week for Sarah Fabian, a Justice Department lawyer many Americans now closely associate with the detention of child migrants, and at the end of it, she logged onto Facebook to compose a letter.

“To my friends,” she began. “I am not permitted to make any statements in any official capacity, so this is just a message from me, your friend. It’s not a press release. I’m just hoping to explain myself to a small corner of the universe if I can."

A bigger corner of the universe was demanding answers. Video footage of Fabian arguing in federal court last Tuesday that the federal government was not legally required to provide toothbrushes, soap or adequate sleep to detained migrant children went viral, eliciting outrage.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long, John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, June 26, 2019. During a television interview, the president also seemingly dismissed warnings that limited U.S. military action could spiral into a larger conflict. Iran’s supreme leader vows to resist new sanctions, rejects negotiations with U.S.

His comments come amid increasing tensions between the two countries and personal insults between Trump and Iranian leaders. They also come as some U.S. officials and national security experts warn that an administration can never be sure that a military action will not rapidly expand into a new war.

While military analysts assess that the United States would beat Iran in an all-out clash, Tehran possesses ballistic and cruise missiles, air defenses and proxy forces that could kill U.S. troops.

CNN, Trump's G20 orbits around Xi, Putin and other world leaders, Kevin Liptak, June 26, 2019. President Donald Trump will arrive Thursday at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan -- his third time attending the yearly gathering as President and, in some ways, the most consequential.

He is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for trade talks that could have a lasting impact on the global economy. He is also expected to huddle with Russian President Vladimir Putin for their first face-to-face following the conclusion of Robert Mueller's investigation. And he'll discuss a tenuous Iran situation with other world leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Unlike Trump's recent state visits to Tokyo and London, this stop is not about pageantry -- or really even about him. Instead, it's a gathering of leaders from the world's largest economies meant to discuss pressing economic and geopolitical issues. Though the leaders all meet together several times, the real action takes place on the sidelines when one-on-one talks between countries can produce major announcements.

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel votes to authorize subpoena for Kellyanne Conway, Rachael Bade​, June 26, 2019. The Oversight Committee wants to question the White House counselor over a watchdog’s finding that she violated the Hatch Act and should be fired.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks Mueller, Repeating False Accusations, Eileen Sullivan, June 26, 2019. Mr. Trump repeated false accusations that the special counsel had destroyed text messages by F.B.I. officials critical of the president.

President Trump lashed out at the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators after House Democrats announced that Mr. Mueller would testify publicly next month.

The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mr. Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” Mr. Trump said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”

Mr. Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report that noted 19,000 text messages were lost because of technical problems, not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Key member of Donald Trump’s administration resigns in bizarre scandal, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2019. One of the few constants of Donald Trump’s erratic time in office has been the constant turnover among his key people – with those resignations generally coming amid controversies and scandals. This month Trump has lost his Acting Secretary of Defense to a family scandal, his Press Secretary for still-unstated reasons, and yesterday he lost his Acting Border Chief. Now Trump has lost yet another key person, this time in a bizarre scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerThere’s a guy named Sean Lawler at Donald Trump’s State Department whose job is to tag along on Trump’s overseas diplomatic trips and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. This guy is not only important, he’s obviously supposed to be level headed and – well, diplomatic. But he’s abruptly resigning due to a scandal that’s anything but diplomatic in nature.

Lawler is accused of a pattern of behavior which includes intimidating his staff, being verbally abusive, and – you can’t make this up – “carrying a whip in the office” according to a stunning new report from Bloomberg. Lawler is apparently bailing before an Inspector General probe can look into the matter. That suggests that whatever the truth is here, he doesn’t want it coming out.

UK Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson, Political Escape Artist, Lands in Hot Water. Again, Ellen Barry, June 26, 2019. The front-runner to become the British prime minister is frequently caught in gaffes, oversights and outright lies. But that’s part of his appeal to voters.

Trump & Media

ny times logomelania trump i really dont care jacket twitterNew York Times, Trump Names Stephanie Grisham, Aide to First Lady, as White House Press Secretary, Katie Rogers and Annie Karni, June 26, 2019 (print ed.). Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s loyal and sometimes combative communications director, will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary, the first lady announced on Tuesday.

She will also take on the added role of communications director, a job that has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March, and will keep her role with Mrs. Trump.

Horse Racing Fatalities

ny times logoNew York Times, How Horse Racing Went Horribly Wrong in California, Joe Drape and Corina Knoll, June 26, 2019. Thirty horses have died in six months at Santa Anita Park, Many blame a culture of chasing profits and a racing surface that trainers say was unsafe.

U.S. Crime, Courts

New York Post, Florida man charged in Pinky the Flamingo’s death is fatally struck by truck, Yaron Steinbuch, June 26, 2019. Florida man charged in Pinky the Flamingo’s death is fatally struck by truck. A Florida man who sparked worldwide outrage after being accused of causing the death of Pinky, a popular dancing flamingo at Busch Gardens, has been fatally struck by a truck two months before he was set to go on trial.

joseph corrao pink flamingo mugJoseph Corrao, 48, was killed June 5 as he crossed a busy road near his home in Orlando, the Tampa Bay Times reported, citing the Florida Highway Patrol. He gained notoriety during a visit to the amusement park in Tampa with his mother and daughters in August 2016, when he reached into the Jambo Junction animal viewing area and picked up the 15-year-old Chilean flamingo.

Officials said he violently threw Pinky, one of the theme park’s animal ambassadors, to the ground, badly injuring her and causing one of her legs to be nearly severed. Corrao later told authorities he was just trying to show off to his daughter, claiming he didn’t mean to injure the bird, and apologized when he learned she had to be euthanized.

Word of Pinky’s death enraged animal lovers, who created online petitions calling for stiffer penalties for animal abusers and demanding “Justice for Pinky.” Corrao also was previously arrested on felony animal cruelty charges for shooting his neighbor’s two dogs, according to WTSP.

June 25

Migrant Crisis

 ny times logoNew York Times, House Approves Border Aid, Seeking to Curb Trump’s Crackdown, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Emily Cochrane, June 25, 2019. The House approved $4.5 billion to help migrants after filthy conditions at a border station provoked outrage. But the package faced certain demise in the Senate, where a similar measure with many fewer strings binding President Trump has drawn bipartisan support.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We’ve officially reached the resignation stage of Donald Trump’s child concentration camp scandal, Bill Palmer, June 25, 2019. From a human life and dignity standpoint, Donald Trump’s immigrant concentration camp scandal is a crime against humanity that should result in everyone involved spending the rest of their lives in prison. From a political standpoint, Trump’s concentration camps are finally playing so poorly for him, we’ve reached the resignation stage of the scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerFor months, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has had no Commissioner, and has instead been run by Acting Commissioner John Sanders. But now he’s abruptly resigning, according to the New York Times, just as the true depravity of the Trump regime’s concentration camps is coming to light – where children are being held prisoner in subhuman conditions and are being denied such basic necessities as soap.

It’s not entirely clear if Sanders is resigning because he’s embarrassed that this horror show has been publicly exposed on his watch, or if he’s being forced to resign by the Trump regime because someone has to take the fall. For that matter, if he is being scapegoated, it’s not even clear if the Trump regime is forcing him out because of the bad publicity from the camps, or simply because Sanders hasn’t somehow made all the immigrants at the border disappear, as Trump clearly wants.

Sanders has been Acting Commissioner for two months, so he knew darn well how those kids were being abused, and he clearly did nothing to rectify it – but he’s not the person who needs to resign over this. Donald Trump is 100% to blame for these child concentration camps, and he should be criminally indicted for running them.

Rape Charge Against Trump

donald trump ny daily pussy

Then and Now: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence.

washington post logoe jean carroll headshotWashington Post, ‘Not my type’: Trump denies allegations of woman who said he assaulted her, John Wagner, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s comments came hours after E. Jean Carroll (shown in a file photo from Twitter) voiced frustration that he has not faced consequences for a string of previous misconduct allegations.

Inside DC

washington post logokellyanne conway djtWashington Post, White House to bar Conway from testifying about alleged violations of Hatch Act, John Wagner, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). The White House will block counselor Kellyanne Conway from testifying before a House panel about allegations by a government watchdog that she violated the Hatch Act, increasing the likelihood of another subpoena battle between the two branches of government.

White House lawyers on Monday rejected the House Oversight Committee’s request for Conway to appear at a hearing Wednesday.

In a letter addressed to Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Pat A. Cipollone, counsel to the president, wrote that “in accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Ms. Conway available for testimony before the Committee.”

House Democrats counter, however, that the White House has no right to claim executive privilege or immunity for Conway because the alleged violations deal with her personal actions — not her duties advising the president or working in the West Wing.

ny times logojerome powellNew York Times, Fed Chair Emphasizes Independence as Attacks Persist, Jeanna Smialek, June 25, 2019. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell, right, emphasized the central bank’s independence in a speech. It was a reminder that he and his colleagues answer to Congress, as President Trump continues to criticize Fed policy.

Esquire, Opinion: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Was an Arrogant Liar on Behalf of a Corrupt Administration, Charles P. Pierce, June 25, 2019. With "farewell drinks" on her behalf, the elite political media once again shows it will not stop pretending everything is normal in a time of larval tyranny.

Remember Richard Clarke, in his appearance before the 9/11 Commission, when he prefaced his testimony with an apology? "Your government failed you," he said. Well, in my capacity as spokesman for my entire profession, let me apologize for the following item. Your media has failed you.

From the Washington Post: "Anita Kumar, a Politico White House correspondent who helped put together the farewell drinks, told the Erik Wemple Blog, “I’m actually really happy with the turnout — it’s huge." She added: “And it taught me two things: One, we did the right thing, the thing that we always knew was right that I kind of second-guessed for a minute with all the criticism, which is, we’re meeting with the people that we cover. And it’s important — you have to talk to the people you cover. That’s it.”

The relentless desire of the elite political media to pretend that what we're experiencing is just politics as usual, that it conforms to the usual forms and fashions, and that, you know, the pendulum always swings the other way, (insert mandatory extraneous platitude here) is almost charming in its hopeful and child-like simplicity.

sarah huckabee sanders screenshotFirst of all, this is not a normal administration.* It is a larval tyranny.

Secondly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders (shown in a file photo) was not a normal White House spokesperson. She was an embarrassingly bad liar and an embarrassingly arrogant countrified know-nothing running cover for a criminal gang, and everyone who attended this nightmare with canapes should be fired forthwith and replaced with someone who has covered organized crime for a living.

U.S Courts, Crime

jeffrey epstein sex offender

Law & Crime, Federal Prosecutors Say There’s No Legal Basis to Invalidate Jeffrey Epstein’s Sweetheart Deal, Jerry Lambe, June 25, 2019.  The Department of Justice on Monday rejected efforts by the victims of Jeffrey Epstein (above) to get a sweetheart non-prosecution deal thrown out so that Epstein can be prosecuted for alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls.

In a 35-page motion first reported by the Miami Herald, federal prosecutors claimed that Epstein’s victims have no legal basis to invalidate the non-prosecution agreement — the same agreement the judge in the case previously said broke the law. Many of Epstein’s victims were middle school and high school girls between the ages of 13-16 who were recruited from the local south Florida area.

According to prosecutors, despite a judge’s earlier ruling that the plea deal violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), Epstein’s victims cannot demand that the government take any additional action because the CVRA did not enumerate any mandatory criminal penalties at the time of its passing.

In Monday’s DOJ filing by U.S. Attorney Byung Pak, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, the government admits that the victims were treated unfairly but says that prosecutors were within their rights to do so:

In the filing, federal prosecutors did concede that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida failed to treat Epstein’s victims — most of whom where 13 to 16 years old when they — fairly, but they said that the law gives prosecutors discretion in deciding how to dispose of a case. Victims have a right to confer with prosecutors, but no rights beyond that.

Pak also warned the judge overseeing the case, Kenneth Marra, against taking action to overrule Acosta’s original decision not to prosecute Epstein.

“Courts are not to interfere with the free exercise of the discretionary powers of the [United States attorneys] in their control over criminal prosecutions,’’ Pak said. “The decision whether to prosecute Epstein lies solely within the executive branch, and any order today, by this court, as to what the government must do in the future would be wholly inappropriate.”

The Herald did note, however, that Pak said Epstein’s victims would be given the chance to meet with prosecutors in private and, if they desired, to be heard at a public hearing. He also said he would agree to give federal prosecutors additional training on dealing with victims of crimes of this nature.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, the controversy surrounding Epstein’s plea deal dates back to 2007, when federal prosecutors in Florida, under the leadership of current U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who was then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta’s prosecutors quietly entered into a secretive non-prosecution agreement with the billionaire which ensured that Epstein and his co-conspirators would not be prosecuted federally in exchange for Epstein’s guilty plea to much less serious state prostitution charges. Epstein served only 13 months in a county jail.

Associated Press, WBZ News / CBS Boston, Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s Ex-Brother-In-Law Gets Prison For Rape, June 25, 2019. The ex-brother-in-law of former Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for raping his estranged wife.

Bernard Sigh, of Milton, was sentenced Monday in Norfolk Superior Court. He was convicted earlier this month of two counts of rape and several other charges in connection with the December 2017 attack.

Prosecutors asked for up to 22 years in prison and the victim told the judge she was “terrified” of the 67-year-old Sigh. But the judge, citing Sigh’s Parkinson’s disease, gave him a lighter sentence. Sigh apologized in court, saying he was “selfish and thoughtless.”

In 2014, Patrick fired the head of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board in part because she questioned why Sigh wasn’t required to register for a 1993 spousal rape conviction.

More On U.S. Migrant Policy

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Liberals angry over administration’s treatment of migrant children force House leaders to amend border bill, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). The lawmakers’ rebellion prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to back changes to the measure detailing what constitutes humane treatment for migrant children in U.S. custody.

ny times logoNew York Times, Migrant Children Are Moved Out of Filthy, Crowded Border Station, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). The government transferred hundreds of children who had been living in squalid conditions for weeks on the Texas border.

ny times logoNew York Times, Emergency Aid for Migrants Badly Divides Democrats, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). Congress is trying to rush $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian aid to the southwestern border while placing new restrictions on President Trump’s immigration crackdown, spurred on by disturbing images of suffering migrant families and of children living in squalor in overcrowded detention facilities.

U.S. Supreme Court / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats say new interviews undercut Ross’s defense of census citizenship question, Felicia Sonmez and Tara Bahrampour, June 25, 2019.  House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said evidence “points to a partisan and discriminatory effort” behind the push to add the question to the 2020 Census.

ny times logoNew York Times, Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Citizenship Question Throws Case Into Chaos, Michael Wines, June 25, 2019. The battle over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was thrown into turmoil on Tuesday, just as the Supreme Court was expected to issue a ruling on the dispute this week.

us census bureauBy allowing a district judge to reopen a case related to the origin of the question, a federal appeals court raised the prospect that the federal government might be unable to meet a deadline for completing census questionnaires that include it, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

New hearings in the reopened case would stretch well beyond July 1, which is the deadline for printing the questionnaire and other forms. The Census Bureau has said that meeting that deadline is essential to conducting the national head count on time.

The case had appeared to be on a fast track to a resolution — until documents on the computer backups of a deceased Republican strategist, Thomas B. Hofeller, emerged last month. Those documents revealed new details about the genesis of the question, casting additional doubt on the Trump administration’s rationale for asking 2020 census respondents whether they are citizens.

USA Today, Supreme Court limits access to government records in loss for Argus Leader, part of the USA TODAY Network, Jonathan Ellis and Richard Wolf, June 24, 2019.  The Supreme Court limited public and media access to government records Monday by expanding a federal law's definition of what can be deemed confidential.

At issue was whether confidentiality, as used in a section of the Freedom of Information Act, means anything intended to be kept secret or only information likely to cause harm if publicized. The high court adopted the broader definition.

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 decision, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

A retailers trade group, the Food Marketing Institute, and the federal government had argued for a broad definition that would leave ample room to keep data from the public. Media organizations and public interest groups favored a more narrow definition requiring harm, which would make confidentiality apply to fewer FOIA requests. In 2011, the case began with a request that the Argus Leader newspaper made under the Freedom of Information Act. The Sioux Falls, S.D., newsroom is part of the USA TODAY Network.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Travel Ban Shows What Happens When the Supreme Court Trusts Trump, Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer, June 25, 2019. A cautionary tale for the census case before the Supreme Court.

Mr. Geltzer and Mr. Katyal are law professors at Georgetown. Mr. Katyal argued the travel ban case, Trump v. Hawaii, before the Supreme Court in 2018.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Susan Collins is in trouble, Bill Palmer, June 25, 2019. After Susan Collins cast the deciding vote in favor of putting alleged serial rapist, anti-woman extremist, and unstable rage monster Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, she instantly became one of the most hated Senators in the history of the United States. Her reelection in 2020 has been in doubt ever since. The question has been just who was going to challenge her, and whether that person was going to be high profile enough to get the job done.

bill palmer report logo headerNow that question has been answered. Sara Gideon may not be a household name nationwide. But in Maine, she’s the Speaker of the House, and she’s successfully done battle with Maine’s far-right former Governor Rick LePage. Gideon announced today that she’s running against Susan Collins in the 2020 Senate race, instantly giving the Democratic Party a political heavyweight and local hero to rally behind.

Sara Gideon has her own strong political record to run on. But when it inevitably comes to explaining why Susan Collins needs to be unseated, Gideon won’t have to look far. Collins not only almost single-handedly put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, she gave a deranged speech accusing Kavanaugh’s detractors of being conspiracy theorists. Collins has also continued to vote for the far-right anti-woman judges that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have been nominating. Collins has long tried to paint herself as a moderate, but her record in the Trump era reveals that she’s every bit as much of a horrifying extremist as Trump is.

Personal Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Data brokers are selling your secrets. Some states are trying to stop them. It isn’t easy, Douglas MacMillan, June 25, 2019 (print ed.). Vermont’s new data broker registry highlights the difficulties of regulating dozens of secretive firms that buy and sell the personal information of millions of Americans.

Climate Change: Europe

washington post logoWashington Post, Potentially historic and deadly early summer heat wave to roast Europe, Ian Livingston, June 25, 2019 (print ed.).  Temperatures are expected to be 20 to 30 degrees above normal, with record highs in Austria, France, Germany and Switzerland in danger of being broken.

June 24

Trump Team, Allies

jamal khashoggi entering consulate

Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist, enters the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey last year to process paperwork for his forthcoming marriage as his fiance waited on the street. Saudis chopped him to pieces inside, as documented by a gruesome report by the United Nations last week based in part on audio records of the murder-torture (Surveillance photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia, Michael D. Shear, June 24, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump on Sunday shrugged off the brutal dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, just days after a United Nations report described how a team of Saudi assassins called Mr. Khashoggi a “sacrificial animal” before his murder.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe U.N. report urged an F.B.I. investigation into the slaying. But in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place” and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.

“I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” the president told Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Just days after pulling back from striking Iran for its downing of an American surveillance drone, Mr. Trump also said he was “not looking for war,” but added that if the United States went to war with Iran, “it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”

Erdogan Party Loses In Istanbul

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President Suffers Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo, Carlotta Gall, June 24, 2019 (print ed.). President Recep recep erdogan with flagTayyip Erdogan, right, of Turkey suffered the biggest defeat of his political career on Sunday as his candidate for Istanbul mayor conceded defeat in a repeat election, two months after Mr. Erdogan’s party forced the cancellation of the same vote after it lost. (Longer excerpt below).

More World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt, Paul Schemm, June 24, 2019. (print ed.) The government blamed the attack on a brigadier general who had been imprisoned for his political views by the previous government and recently granted amnesty.

A coup attempt by a renegade general in one of Ethiopia’s largest regional states resulted in the death of four officials, including the national army’s chief of staff and the president of the region, the government announced Sunday.

On Saturday evening, gunmen attacked an executive meeting of the Amhara regional state in the city of Bahir Dar killing its president Ambachew Mekonnen and his top adviser and grievously injuring the regional attorney general. Hours later, in the capital Addis, the bodyguard of army chief of staff Gen. Seare Mekonnen opened fire on him, killing him and an associate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Palestinians won’t show up for Kushner’s Mideast conference. Israel likely to sit it out, too, Anne Gearan, Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris, June 24, 2019. There are doubts the investment conference in Bahrain can raise significant money or political support for the president's effort to strike a Middle East peace deal.

The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, creator of the conference and "peace plan," is shown at right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump adds to his endless parade of corruption and conflicts of interest, Editorial Board, June 24, 2019 (print ed.). Seemingly every day, a new report emerges about the corruption that taints the Trump presidency, and has tainted it from the beginning. The president’s refusal to distance himself from his family business results in an endless parade of blatant conflicts of interest.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)When President Trump visits his clubs, federal officials and Republicans pay to go where he is, which has brought his private businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue.

The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported on Thursday: “About one-third of all the political fundraisers or donor meetings that Trump has attended — 23 out of 63 — have taken place at his own properties. . . . GOP fundraisers say they do that, in part, to increase the chances Trump will attend.”

Moreover, “the actual amount of money Trump has received as a result of his visits and campaign events is probably much higher than the $1.6 million The Post identified. That’s because most of the records available about government spending date to the first half of 2017 — covering just the first few months of Trump’s presidency so far.”

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: There’s No Excuse for Mistreating Children at the Border. Here’s What To Do About It, Editorial Board, June 24, 2019. Speak up. Donate. Educate yourself. Vote.

Vox, Analysis: Chuck Todd’s Trump interview, and the backlash to it, explained, Aaron Rupar, June 24, djt chuck todd june 23 2019 nbc Small2019. President Donald Trump’s pretaped interview on Sunday’s Meet the Press is blowing up — but not for reasons that host Chuck Todd nor NBC News would like. Todd is shown at right in an NBC screengrab at the White House on June 23.

At numerous points throughout the interview, Todd let Trump get away with blatant falsehoods and gaslighting. Todd also teed up a number of softball questions for the president, like “Do you think you’ve been more successful in business or the presidency?” and “Do you speak to any of the former presidents?”

Trump’s interview with Todd comes at the end of a week that began with George Stephanopoulos’s occasionally hard-hitting hour-long interview with Trump and also featured an episode of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show that was devoted almost entirely to a fawning phone call.

While there were a number of newsworthy moments during the Meet the Press interview, Todd was widely criticized for how he dealt with an NBC star turned president who has made a bit of a cottage industry out of bashing his former business partner.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen said the interview “was not public discourse” and compared the proceedings to “feeding English sentences into a wood chipper,” while University College London political scientist Brian Klaas criticized Todd for appearing to be unprepared for Trump’s lies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s lies need to be exposed in real time, Jennifer Rubin, June 24, 2019. President Trump has made more than 10,700 false or misleading claims: Washington Post Fact Checker.

Allowing Trump and his ilk to bluster and flat-out lie their way through interviews might be the path of least resistance when trying to cover a lot of ground. However, if Trump and his teammates are not stopped dead in their tracks, the media become a platform for deceiving voters.

Headlines that echo the president — “Trump says Obama did it first” — are equally reprehensible. (It should be “Trump falsely blames Obama for his own policy.”)

We’re at risk of losing not only a shared set of facts but also a uniform belief that there are such things as facts. That’s straight out of the autocratic playbook — one that the media cannot facilitate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn’s New Lawyer Seeks Security Clearance, Citing Unknown Evidence, Michael S. Schmidt, June 24, 2019. A lawyer Michael T. Flynn recently hired said on Monday that she would most likely need a security clearance to review classified materials that were separate from the documents that prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had already handed over in the case.

The lawyer, Sidney Powell, made the unusual disclosure during a hearing in Federal District Court despite prosecutors’ insistence that they included no classified information in the evidence they shared with the defense. Her remarks heightened speculation that Ms. Powell — who has pushed conspiracy theories about the special counsel’s investigation and sells anti-Mueller T-shirts on her website — may be preparing to accuse the government of wrongdoing in Mr. Flynn’s case.

“There is other information,” she said, but she declined to elaborate.

One of the prosecutors, Brandon Van Grack, said he did not know what she was referring to. “There’s nothing that the government produced that’s classified,” Mr. Van Grack said.

Ms. Powell did not return a telephone message seeking further comment. Another lawyer working with her declined to comment. President Trump and his allies have long contended that Mr. Flynn and others were illegally targeted by the F.B.I. and intelligence community as part of a broad conspiracy to undermine the president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kellyanne Conway has a whole new problem, Bill Palmer, June 24, 2019.  When the U.S. Office of Special Counsel kellyanne conway djtannounced earlier this month that Kellyanne Conway, right, had violated the Hatch Act, Palmer Report pointed out that this alone wasn’t going to directly cause any problems for her. It was a criminal act, but not the kind you go to prison for – and Donald Trump obviously wasn’t going to fire her for breaking the law. But now the game has changed for Kellyanne.

When the House Oversight Committee initially announced that it would hold an investigative hearing into Kellyanne Conway’s Hatch Act violations, the committee implied that it would be up to her whether or not she wanted to show up and defend herself. But now the committee has announced that Kellyanne must show up and answer for her crimes after all – and if she doesn’t agree to show up, the committee will vote on whether to subpoena her. Democrats make up the majority of the committee, so if they decide to subpoena her, it’ll happen.

bill palmer report logo headerThat’ll leave Kellyanne with only two bad options. The first would be to show up and testify before the committee, meaning that she’ll be humiliating herself on live national television at a time when the Trump regime doesn’t need any more humiliating scandals. Her second option would be to try to fight the subpoena in court. That might buy her a bit of time, but in the end the courts would order her to show up to Congress and testify under threat of arrest – and in the meantime, it would simply drag out her scandal out longer in the media.

The trouble for Kellyanne Conway is that if the House Oversight Committee can turn her Hatch Act violations into a big enough scandal, it could turn her into a liability for Donald Trump at a time when he’s taking on water from all sides. We’ve seen him selfishly throw his own people overboard without hesitation in the past – not because they did something unethical, but because it became the wrong kind of distraction for Trump. Will this lead to the end of Kellyanne’s tenure? We’ll see.

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Solution to Trump’s Iran Mayhem, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, June 24, 2019. Undoubtedly, President Trump is fantasizing about the possibility of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for deciding at the last minute to not bomb Iran in retaliation for Iran’s shoot-down of a Pentagon drone. Apparently experiencing a crisis of conscience, Trump called off the strike when he learned that it would kill an estimated 150 people, which he decided would be disproportionate to the downing of an unmanned drone.

Media Transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Ex-Fox Newser Carl Cameron takes his ‘unfinished business’ to progressive startup, Erik Wemple, June 24, 2019. When folks leave Fox News, they quite often pursue projects that align with the worldview of their former employer. They might launch a conservative talk show airing on Sinclair stations, assist with President Trump’s reelection campaign or throw their time into a Trump-sycophancy website.

fox news logo SmallCarl Cameron, who covered politics for Fox News over two decades, is veering from that path. “I have a little bit of unfinished business,” says Cameron. He is teaming up with Joseph Romm, an author and reporter on climate science and climate policy at ThinkProgress, an “editorially independent” arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Their collaboration is FrontPageLive.com, a news site where progressives can find stories that feed their sensibilities. A news release calls the site “the go-to liberal antidote” to the Drudge Report, the aggregator that for more than two decades has been amplifying news reports with a conservative spin. Romm sees FrontPageLive.com as a “viralizing engine” for the other side. It will populate frequently with audience-tested headlines, while pairing stories with links to action campaigns working on the issue at hand.

The concept stems from Romm’s love of Internet metrics. Over 13 years of blogging at ThinkProgress, Romm has tracked the Web prints for his thousands of postings, with a particular focus on traffic sources. Over the years, he has watched as referral engines for his stuff have gone poof. Years ago, the Huffington Post drove good numbers; the modern, rebranded HuffPost doesn’t. Years ago, Yahoo provided helpful aggregation; no more, he says. And when Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018, says Romm, ThinkProgress traffic took a “big hit.”

Explosion In Book Counterfeiting?

ny times logoNew York Times, What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues, David Streitfeld, June 24, 2019 (print ed.). The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy is a medical handbook that recommends the right amount of the right drug for treating ailments from bacterial pneumonia to infected wounds. Lives depend on it.

It is not the sort of book a doctor should puzzle over, wondering, “Is that a ‘1’ or a ‘7’ in the recommended dosage?” But that is exactly the possibility that has haunted the guide’s publisher, Antimicrobial Therapy, for the past two years as it confronted a flood of counterfeits — many of which were poorly printed and hard to read — in Amazon’s vast bookstore.

“This threatens a bunch of patients — and our whole business,” said Scott Kelly, the publisher’s vice president.

amazon logo smallMr. Kelly’s problems arise directly from Amazon’s domination of the book business. The company sells substantially more than half of the books in the United States, including new and used physical volumes as well as digital and audio formats. Amazon is also a platform for third-party sellers, a publisher, a printer, a self-publisher, a review hub, a textbook supplier and a distributor that now runs its own chain of brick-and-mortar stores.

But Amazon takes a hands-off approach to what goes on in its bookstore, never checking the authenticity, much less the quality, of what it sells. It does not oversee the sellers who have flocked to its site in any organized way.

That has resulted in a kind of lawlessness. Publishers, writers and groups such as the Authors Guild said counterfeiting of books on Amazon had surged. The company has been reactive rather than proactive in dealing with the issue, they said, often taking action only when a buyer complains. Many times, they added, there is nowhere to appeal and their only recourse is to integrate even more closely with Amazon.

The scope of counterfeiting across Amazon goes far beyond books. E-commerce has taken counterfeit goods from flea markets to the mainstream, and Amazon is by far the e-commerce heavyweight. But books offer a way to see the depths of the issue.

“Being a tech monopoly means you don’t have to care about quality,” said Bill Pollock, a San Francisco publisher who has dealt with fake versions of his firm’s computer books on Amazon.

An Amazon spokeswoman denied that counterfeiting of books was a problem, saying, “This report cites a handful of complaints, but even a handful is too many and we will keep working until it’s zero.” The company said it strictly prohibited counterfeit products and last year denied accounts to more than one million suspected “bad actors.”

June 23

Trump Team, Allies

mike pompeo state dept photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Pompeo, a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran, Edward Wong and Michael Crowley, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown in a State Department photo), one of the longest surviving members of President Trump’s cabinet, pushed him to launch a missile strike against Iran.

In the days leading up to President Trump’s decision on whether to launch a missile strike against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commanded the stage.

After warning that Mr. Trump was prepared to use force because of Iran’s suspected role in oil tanker attacks, Mr. Pompeo flew to Florida on Monday to strategize with generals at Central Command. Back in Washington, he briefed the foreign minister of the European Union on intelligence. By Thursday, he was pressing the case in the White House Situation Room for a strike.

Mr. Pompeo was steering Mr. Trump toward one of the most consequential actions of the administration. Only at the last minute did the president reverse course and cancel the strike.

The confrontation with Iran has put a spotlight on the extent of Mr. Pompeo’s influence with Mr. Trump. In an administration that churns through cabinet members at a dizzying pace, few have survived as long as Mr. Pompeo — and none have as much stature, a feat he has achieved through an uncanny ability to read the president’s desires and translate them into policy and public messaging. He has also taken advantage of a leadership void at the Defense Department, which has gone nearly six months without a confirmed secretary.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump compares himself to Kavanaugh in latest sexual assault allegation, Colby Itkowitz, Beth Reinhard, David Weigel, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). “You can’t do that for the sake of publicity,” the president says of such accusations, in general. resident brett kavanaughTrump compared himself to Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, on Saturday morning, following a fresh allegation that Trump sexually assaulted a woman in the mid-1990s.

Trump vehemently denied the accusation and said it was akin to the claims of sexual assault that roiled Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court in 2018.

“People have to be careful because they are playing with very dangerous territory,” Trump told reporters outside the White House before departing to Camp David. “When they do that, and it’s happening more and more, when you look at what happened to Justice Kavanaugh and you look at what happened to others, you can’t do that for the sake of publicity.”

e jean carrollE. Jean Carroll, left, a magazine writer and advice columnist, alleges that in 1995 or 1996, she encountered Trump at a high-end department store in Manhattan and agreed to help him shop for a gift for a woman. It was there, she says, that Trump attacked her in a dressing room.

She is telling her story for the first time in a new book, excerpts of which were published in New York magazine.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Let’s make Iran great again’: Trump reaches out to Tehran, still threatens more sanctions, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). Iran has shown no interest in renegotiating a new agreement President Donald Trump officialwith a Trump administration that has worked to strangle its economy and prevent it from selling oil on the international market.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. launched cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems, Ellen Nakashima, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump approved an offensive cyberstrike that disabled Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches, even as he backed away from a conventional military attack in response to its downing Thursday of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, according to people familiar with the matter.

The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months, according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month.

washington post logodjt kim jong un handshake 6 12 18Washington Post, North Korea’s Kim receives ‘excellent letter’ from Trump, state media says, Simon Denyer, June 23, 2019. Earlier this month, President Trump said he got a “beautiful letter” from Kim Jong Un that broke the silence between the two men after a February summit ended in failure. Now, Trump appears to have written back, creating speculation that they may hold a third summit. They are shown in a file photo meeting last year.

U.S. Media / Politics

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Ooops, They’re Doing It Again — Media on Track to Screw Up 2020, Klaus Marre and Donkeyhotey, June 23, 2019. The media totally flubbed the 2016 primary and general election. And that’s being kind. So far, it looks as though corporate news outlets will make the same mistakes again by putting profit over useful information on the candidates.

Memorial To Slain U.S. Journalists

Capital Gazette, A year after Capital Gazette shooting, new foundation aims to build memorial to fallen journalists in D.C., Jennifer Badie, June 23, 2019. Tribune Publishing Chairman David Dreier announced Sunday the creation of a foundation that plans to build a memorial to fallen journalists in Washington, D.C.

The announcement comes the week of the anniversary of one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history. Last June 28, a gunman entered the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. Tribune owns Baltimore Sun Media, the Capital’s parent company.

Dreier, who wrote a column that was published Sunday in the Capital, The Baltimore Sun and other Tribune news sites and papers, said Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, will be among those who will introduce legislation this week to establish the Fallen Journalists Memorial, which “will pay tribute to the journalists who have sacrificed their lives in the name of a free press.”

The Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, Dreier wrote, “will build support and plan for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and preservation of the memorial. …
A snow globe, a poem, a home: Capital Gazette victims revealed, recalled in the things they left behind

“This is a call to action. We must honor the memories of the journalists who have perished so that they can serve as a reminder of the essential value of journalism to our democracy.”

Cardin’s spokeswoman confirmed Sunday that the senator will be introducing legislation, along with Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, this week that would authorize the foundation to build a memorial on federal land.

“We are privileged to have monuments and memorials to honor those who have helped make our nation and our democracy stronger since its founding days. Missing currently from that honor roll are reporters who have sacrificed everything ... in the spirit of the free, open, and transparent societies and governments that Americans — and all people — deserve,” Cardin said in a statement. “This new memorial will honor the brave souls lost in the shooting at the Capital Gazette and others who lost their lives doing their job in defense of our freedoms.”

He added, “This memorial will be a visible symbol of what is at stake.”

The foundation has been founded under the auspices of the nonprofit National Press Club Journalism Institute. Dreier said the Annenberg Foundation and the Ferro Foundation are providing initial funding.

Dreier will serve as chairman of the foundation. The Capital’s editor, Rick Hutzell, will serve on the board’s advisory panel.

This month, the Newseum added the names of journalists Fischman, Hiaasen, Winters and McNamara to its Journalists Memorial. The Newseum announced it would close at the end of this year; the Johns Hopkins University bought the location. The fate of the memorial wall is unknown.

U.S. Courts, Disaster

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court’s liberals, conservatives clash over keeping precedents, Robert Barnes, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). A lengthy back-and-forth between John G. Roberts Jr. and Elena Kagan seemed inspired by the liberal justices’ fear that the court’s increasingly conservative majority is on a campaign to remake the court’s precedents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropod: This security guard discovered the Watergate break-in, but few remember him, Host Mike Rosenwald, June 17, 2019 (3:14 mins). The man who called the police on the Watergate burglars never received the credit he deserved.

Associated Press via ABC News, Bikers, military vets mourn 7 killed in rural highway crash in New Hampshire, Michael Casey and Patrick ap logoWhittle, June 23, 2019. Authorities are seeking help in determining why a pickup truck collided with a group of 10 bikers on Friday evening.

Motorcyclists and military veterans mourned Sunday as authorities sought help in determining why a pickup truck collided with a group of bikers on a rural highway, killing seven of them.

The crash in remote northern New Hampshire involved members of Marine JarHeads MC, a motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses. Authorities said they might begin identifying victims by name as soon as Sunday.

Associated Press via Charlotte Observer, Self-avowed white supremacist asks for mercy in sentencing in fatal Charlottesville attack, Alan ap logoSuderman, June 23, 2019. James Alex Fields Jr., who pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes is seeking a sentence shorter than life in prison.

james fields jr mugA sentencing hearing has been moved up for an avowed white supremacist convicted of federal hate crimes for plowing his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia.

James Alex Fields Jr., right, was originally scheduled to be sentenced July 3. A notice filed in court says the hearing has been moved to June 28.

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, pleaded guilty to 29 federal charges stemming from the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. The charges call for life in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

Inside DC

Axios Sneak Peek, Analysis: Exclusive — Leaked Trump vetting docs, Jonathan Swan, June 23, 2019. Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly donald trump mike pence logo Smalllookahead at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops. The summer finale of this season's "Axios on HBO" aired at 6pm ET/PT. More coming in the fall.

•  We have a ton of breaking news in tonight's episode.... we show Chris Christie the vetting dossier the Trump transition team had on him.
•  "Axios on HBO" is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners' streaming services.

Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to "Axios on HBO" identify a host of "red flags" about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slapdash way Donald Trump filled his Cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.

Some highlights:

scott pruitt nydn resignation 7 6 18 Small• Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting dossier flagging "coziness with big energy companies." Pruitt is shown on a New York Daily News front page the day of his resignation.

• Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging "criticisms of management ability" and "Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee."

• Mick Mulvaney, now Trump's acting chief of staff, had a striking assortment of red flags, including his assessment that Trump "is not a very good person."

rudy giuliani recentThe Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, left, in line for secretary of state, that they created a separate 25-page document titled "Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier" with copious accounting of his "foreign entanglements."

• One red flag for Gen. David Petraeus, then under consideration for secretary of state and national security adviser: "Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture."

Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump's surprise victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as transition chief. The new team outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.

• We obtained the RNC's political vetting dossiers on Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Don McGahn, Laura Ingraham, Elaine Chao, John Bolton, Scott Pruitt and dozens of others — about 100 people.

• President-elect Trump reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and his Bedminster golf club before his interviews, according to a source with firsthand knowledge.

• Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check; a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics; and a deep dive from the president-elect's political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.

• The documents below are from the political vetting category. According to sources on the RNC vetting team, senior Trump officials asked them to do an initial "scrub" of the public record before Trump met the contenders. But in many cases — for example the choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor secretary — this superficial-by-design RNC vetting was the most substantive vetting the Trump team had done by the time he announced his nominees for top government jobs.

More World News

Chicago Tribune, How a WWII relic made its way home to Chicago, Mary Schmich, June 23, 2019. Bill Shanley’s canteen, lost in France during World War II and returned to his daughter, Pat Reidy, has his signature, a naked woman and his Army serial number etched in the metal.

On a Sunday morning last summer, Pat Reidy, who lives near Wrigley Field in Chicago, received an email from a stranger in France.
“I allow me to contact you,” it began. “I am Anthony Paysant a 22-year-old French citizen and I live in the town of Mortain near Barenton, Normandy.”

The stranger went on to say that he and his family were very interested in the Second World War and always participated in local memorial celebrations to show their gratitude to the soldiers who had helped liberate France from the German Nazis.

“May I ask you if M. William “Bill” T. SHANLEY (Army Serial Number: 0-1113438) was your father? If yes, do not hesitate to contact me as I would have some information to give you.”

Reidy eyed the email warily. Was this a scam? She forwarded the message to a couple of her brothers. Should she answer? They decided it was worth the risk.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Unveils Economic Portion of Middle East Peace Plan, Mark Landler and David M. Halbfinger, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). The 38-page plan sets ambitious goals, but there are no concrete dollar commitments from the United States.

The Trump administration said on Saturday that it hoped to raise more than $50 billion to improve the lot of the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, releasing an economic plan titled, “Peace to Prosperity,” that reverses the actual sequence of its peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

The blueprint sets the stage for a two-day economic workshop next week to be convened by the White House in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. That gathering is meant to lay the groundwork for a subsequent diplomatic proposal to end decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

benjamin netanyahu frownBut the political component of the plan has been repeatedly delayed, most recently by the call for new elections in Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to assemble a governing coalition. Some experts question whether President Trump will ever put a peace proposal on the table, given the Palestinians’ vow to reject his efforts and his looming re-election campaign in the United States.

The 38-page plan sets ambitious goals, like doubling the amount of drinkable water in the Palestinian territories and nearly tripling exports as a percentage of the Palestinian economy. With slick graphics and the promotional tone of a real estate prospectus, the plan envisions a variety of funding sources, like grants and private equity.

palestinian flagThe Palestinians swiftly rejected the plan, as they had for all of Mr. Trump’s peacemaking efforts since he announced in 2017 that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“First lift the siege of Gaza, stop the Israeli theft of our land, resources and funds, give us our freedom of movement and control over our borders, airspace, territorial waters etc.,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian negotiator, declared on Twitter. “Then watch us build a vibrant prosperous economy as a free and sovereign people.”

Erdogan Party Loses In Istanbul

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President Suffers Stinging Defeat in Istanbul Election Redo, Carlotta Gall, June 23, 2019. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey suffered the biggest defeat of his political career on Sunday as his candidate for Istanbul mayor conceded defeat in a repeat election, two months after Mr. Erdogan’s party forced the cancellation of the same vote after it lost. (Continued from above).

recep erdogan with flagThe result wrests control over the country’s largest city from Mr. Erdogan, right, ending his party’s 25-year dominance of the city. Opponents say such a loss cracks the president’s aura of invincibility and could be the beginning of the end of his 16-year rule over the country.

Istanbul is Mr. Erdogan’s home as well as political base, where he began his political career as mayor.

And while Mr. Erdogan has acquired sweeping powers under a new presidential system and controls all of the levers of power, a degree of democracy has remained as he has always sought legitimacy through the ballot box and assured citizens of the integrity of the process.

The ANKA news agency reported that with 100 percent of votes counted, the opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, led with 54 percent, compared with 45 percent for Mr. Erdogan’s chosen candidate, Binali Yildirim.

Two hours after polls closed, Mr. Yildirim went on national television and conceded defeat.

“As of now, my competitor Imamoglu is leading. I congratulate him, wish him success,” he said. “I wish our friend Ekrem Imamoglu will bring good services to Istanbul.”

Officials from the main opposition party, the People’s Republican Party, said they did not expect Mr. Erdogan’s party to challenge the result at the High Election Council because Mr. Yildirim had conceded so early.

The vote “shows democracy is resilient and elections still matter,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Imamoglu won with a landslide — a 10-point lead — even though Erdogan mobilized all the state resources in this election.”

June 22

Mueller Sellout?

robert mueller screenshot washington post

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Time to face it: Robert Mueller screwed us all, Bill Palmer (right, Palmer Report editor and publisher), June 22, 2019. When Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, he was supposed to investigate and prosecute any crimes that Donald Trump and his campaign committed while conspiring with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election. Two years later, Mueller’s work is done – and it’s time to admit that he screwed us all by simply not doing his job.

bill palmer report logo headerYes, there are still a dozen Mueller-spawned criminal cases in progress. But so what? We know who they’re not against. Robert Mueller decided that because of a forty year old DOJ memo that most legal experts have dismissed as meaningless, he didn’t even want to try to indict Donald Trump, despite having discovered that Trump committed a double digit number of felonies. Mueller also decided not to indict Donald Trump Jr for the crimes he committed in plain sight, while offering an insulting explanation that Junior was too stupid to have known he was committing a crime. And Mueller decided not to indict any of the dozen or more White House advisers who criminally conspired with Trump to commit obstruction of justice. So what was this guy even doing?

Mueller took down Paul Manafort, right, Rick Gates, and (perhaps) Roger Stone. Fine. Good. They’re all career criminals. But he spent two years doing nothing beyond taking down paul manafort mugthese guys – who are relatively unimportant in the scheme of things – while letting Donald Trump drag the country through the gutter the entire time. For that matter, Mueller gave Michael Flynn a free pass for conspiring with America’s enemies, and in exchange all Mueller got was evidence against Trump that knew all along he wasn’t going to indict Trump for. So what the hell was the point of any of this?

Robert Mueller is the only one who knows for sure why he spent two years farting around and pulling his punches, while leaving us all under the impression that he was investigating Donald Trump’s crimes so he could bring Trump to justice. Even if Mueller were under unfairly tight restrictions from Trump’s corrupt DOJ the whole time, Mueller still failed to warn us that his investigation was going to be a years-long waste of time.

The only solace here – if you can call it that – is that because the Republicans were in charge of the House and Senate for nearly the entire time that Robert Mueller was playing footsie instead of doing his job, it’s not as if the GOP Congress would have used that time to investigate Trump. And yes, while Mueller’s plan to simply release a report was wimpy, the real villain here is William Barr, for flat out lying about what Mueller’s report said.

Middle East Crisis

ny times logoNew York Times, As Confrontation With Iran Intensifies, Trump Sees Few Good Options, David E. Sanger, June 22, 2019. President Trump’s last-minute decision to pull back from a retaliatory strike on Iran underscored a lack of appealing options to counter Tehran’s nuclear program.
The administration is relying first on economic sanctions, but it continues to weigh military or cyberattacks.

Now, with the immediate crisis over the drone abating, Mr. Trump has dispatched envoys to the Middle East to consult with allies as he and his national security team appear focused on a two-tier strategy for confronting the nuclear issue. First, they intend to maintain and intensify the sanctions the United States has used to squeeze Iran’s economy, chiefly by choking off its ability to sell oil to the world.

Some leading members of Congress and current and former diplomats say the bet that sanctions will drive the Iranians to the negotiating table — and force them into a more restrictive deal than they gave Mr. Obama — is a fantasy.

armageddon less you music dcma

Armageddon (Image by Less You Music via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: As We Face Armageddon the Western World Is Leaderless, Paul Craig Roberts, June 22, 2019. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, paul craig roberts head sternoenearthlogoright, was deputy Treasury Secretary under Republican President Ronald Reagan and later associate editor of the Wall Street Journal in charge of its opinion pages. According to news reports, the validity of which cannot be ascertained by the general public, a crazed US government came within 10 minutes of igniting a general conflagration in the Middle East, the consequences of which could have been catastrophic for all.

The moronic warmongers in high office -- Bolton (below at left), Pompeo, and Pence -- and their Israel Lobby masters are determined, and they have not abandoned their campaign for war with Iran. Of course, the liars say that Iran will just accept its john bolton youtube guardianpunishment for defending its territory and there will be no war. But this is not what Iran says. I believe Iran.

Some of the tiny percentage of people in the Western World who are still capable of thought regret that Trump called off the insane plan. They think the consequences would have been the destruction of the Saudi and Israeli governments -- two of the most evil in history -- and the cut-off of oil to the US and Europe, with the resulting depression causing the overthrow of the Western warmonger governments. They believe that catastrophic American defeat is the only way peace can be restored to the world.

In other words, it is not clear whether Trump calling off the attack saved us or doomed us. The Israel Lobby and their neoconservative agents have not been taught a lesson. Trump has not fired Bolton and Pompeo for almost igniting a conflagration, and he has not dressed down his moronic vice president. So, it can all happen again.

And likely will. The lesson that Bolton and Israel have learned is that the fake news about an Iranian attack on a Japanese freighter, denied by the Japanese, was not sufficient to lock Trump into "saving face" by attacking Iran. So be prepared for a larger orchestrated provocation. Bolton and Israel know that the Western presstitutes will lie for them. Watch for a provocation that allows Trump no alternative to an attack.

Washington's use of fake news and false flag attacks to launch military attacks goes back a long way. In the 21st Century we have had a concentrated dose -- Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Assad's use of chemical weapons, Iranian nukes, Russian invasions, Maduro starving his own people, the endless lies about Gaddafi. Yes, I know there are more. I am writing an article, not an encyclopedia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump strikes a friendlier tone on Iran after tense week, Anne Gearan and Erin Cunningham, June 22, 2019.  President Trump told reporters Saturday that he is comfortable with his decision to call off U.S. military strikes, adding that he could imagine a future where the U.S. is Iran’s “best friend.”

iran wants war graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I stopped it’: Inside Trump’s last-minute reversal on striking Iran, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, Karoun Demirjian and Dan Lamothe, June 22, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s abrupt decision to call off retaliation for Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone capped 24 frenzied hours of public inconsistencies and congressional bewilderment over his intentions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A dangerous confusion at the heart of Trump’s foreign policy, Greg Jaffe, June 22, 2019 (print ed.). Publicly, President Trump is determined to appear tough. The problem is that his policy goals have never been murkier. The net result is a president who has proved adept at triggering foreign policy crises, but who seems unable to defuse them.

webster tarpley 2007World Crisis Radio, Opinion: We have gone to the brink of hell in the last 24 hours, Webster G. Tarpley (author, historian, radio host, shown at right), June 22, 2019 (73:52 min. audio). Thanks to this regime, the great "man of peace," the great non-interventionist, the guy who wanted to eschew all of the stupid wars and bring the troops home and take care of the United States, has been toying, has taken us one millimeter away from the worst catastrophe in modern times for the United States.

Worse than Vietnam, worse than Iraq, worse than anything that has been put together. A total debacle, a catastrophe. That is to say, war with Iran over nothing. A drone! A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle..

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: They Backed Off Strikes: Trump in ’19, Obama in ’13, Clinton in ’98, Mark Landler, June 22, 2019. The immediate comparison was to President Barack Obama’s decision not to attack Syria. But the closer one might be to a last-minute choice by President Bill Clinton over a missile strike on Iraq, our reporter writes in an analysis.

The president calls off a missile strike on a Middle Eastern country at the last minute, overruling his national security advisers, confusing allies and adversaries, and provoking criticism from hawks in his own party, who warn that his vacillation could erode America’s credibility in a dangerous world.

That was President Barack Obama facing off against Syria in 2013. It was also President Trump confronting Iran on Thursday night.

The parallels between Mr. Trump’s cancellation of a missile strike on Iran and Mr. Obama’s decision to shelve a strike on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria are so tantalizing that some Republicans lost no time in highlighting them.

liz cheney o“I think it’s important that people recognize that the United States is going to keep its word and not go down the path that President Obama went down,” Representative Liz Cheney, right, Republican of Wyoming and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said on Friday to a reporter for CNN.

But Ms. Cheney’s criticism, which has been picked up by other right-wing commentators, overlooks important differences between Mr. Trump’s decision and that of his predecessor — differences that underscore how Mr. Trump’s foreign policy still remains, to some extent, the antithesis of Mr. Obama’s.

Mr. Obama abruptly pulled back from his planned missile strike on Syria in August 2013 to seek congressional approval for military action, which he believed he would need for potential later operations, perhaps including against Iran. He watched with alarm as an ally, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, went down to defeat in Parliament when he put the operation to a vote.

The Trump administration and its allies have offered varying explanations for why the president blinked, none of which hinge on getting buy-in from the legislative branch. Mr. Trump himself said he called off the strike after one of his generals told him that even a limited missile strike could kill 150 people — a disproportionate response to Iran’s shooting down of an unmanned American drone.

Given that, the better historic analogy for Mr. Trump’s decision might be President Bill Clinton’s last-minute decision in November 1998 to halt a missile strike on Iraq to punish it for refusing to cooperate with United Nations’ weapons inspectors. Mr. Clinton acted after receiving letters from Iraqi officials, assuring him that Iraq would reverse itself and cooperate with the inspectors.

U.S. Migrant Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he will put deportation efforts on hold temporarily, Kayla Epstein​, June 22, 2019. The president's about-face came just a few days after he threatened mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, and just hours after he defended the plan. In his tweet, Trump said “Democrats” had asked him to hold off on the raids. According to a person familiar with the call, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump Friday night and asked him to delay. They spoke for about 10 minutes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Viewing U.S. border cells derided as ‘cages,’ Central American officials pledge more immigration cooperation, Nick Miroff, June 22, 2019 (print ed.).  Programs to combat child smuggling, stop traffickers and redirect asylum seekers are under discussion as top government officials work to contain a humanitarian crisis.

Rape Claim Against Trump

Donald Trump

New allegations echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign.

washington post logogeorge conway twitterWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP believed Juanita Broaddrick. This rape allegation against Trump is more credible, George Conway, right, June 22, 2019. Republicans and conservatives rallied to her cause then, and they did so once again in 2016. Democrats and liberals, not so much — although in the wake of the #MeToo movement, some have since acknowledged the credibility of Broaddrick’s claim.

e jean carroll twitterBut today there’s another woman with a similar allegation, against a different powerful man. Her name is E. Jean Carroll (shown left in a file photo). She, too, says that she was raped — by Donald Trump

Trump called Broaddrick “courageous,” and if Broaddrick was courageous, then certainly Carroll is as well. For Carroll’s story is at least as compelling as Broaddrick’s — if not more so.

And that is because Carroll’s claim, for a number of reasons, actually rests upon a significantly stronger foundation than Broaddrick’s.

For one thing, before she went public with her story, Broaddrick had repeatedly denied that Clinton had assaulted her, even under oath: In an affidavit she had submitted in Paula Jones’s sexual harassment case against Clinton, Broaddrick had sworn that the allegations “that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies … are untrue,” that the press had previously sought “corroboration of these tales,” but that she had “repeatedly denied the allegations.” (Disclosure: I provided behind-the-scenes pro bono legal assistance to Jones’s lawyers.)

Republicans or conservatives who promoted Broaddrick’s charges would be hypocritical if they fail to champion Carroll and condemn Trump.

Trump Watch

felix sater donald trump flickr emilio labrador

Palmer Report, Opinion: The saga of Donald Trump’s Russian money laundering partner Felix Sater takes another surreal turn, Bill Palmer, June 22, 2019. If it weren’t widely documented that Felix Sater (shown above with a Trump cardboard image) is a real person, one could easily mistake his life story for that of a cartoon villain created by a writer who’d spent a little too much time at the punch bowl. Sater was busted for laundering money for the Russian mafia. He was also busted for stabbing a man in the face with a glass. Then he became a government informant. Then he partnered with Donald Trump on a money laundering front called Trump Soho. Now his story has taken yet another surreal turn.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as most of Donald Trump’s associates and former underlings have decided not to testify before the House until the courts inevitably rule that they must testify, Felix Sater went ahead and agreed to show up and testify now. The trouble: he didn’t show up as scheduled yesterday. When he had to explain himself, he claimed that it was because he’d overslept. Because of course he did.

For all we know, perhaps Sater’s sob story about feeling ill and oversleeping might be true. But this is the kind of guy who lost the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. Did he get nervous? Did Trump get to him at the last minute? At least Sater gets credit for coming up with a novel excuse – sort of. This is, after all, the guy who once tried to disguise his identity by briefly changing his name from “Felix Sater” to “Felix Satter.” We’re not making that up.

For his efforts, Felix Sater – or Felix Satter, or whatever his name is now – earned himself a subpoena requiring him to show up and testify. He says that yes, of course he’ll show up next time, and the subpoena wasn’t necessary. Perhaps the House Intel Committee should have skipped the subpoena and sent him an alarm clock.

Politico, Judge declined to toss out racketeering case against Ukrainian Manafort associate, Josh Gerstein, June 22, 2019. A federal judge in Chicago has refused to throw out a foreign bribery and racketeering case against a Ukrainian oligarch with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

U.S. prosecutors indicted the Ukrainian businessman, Dmitry Firtash, in 2013, accusing him of leading a scheme to pay bribes to Indian officials in connection with a titanium mining project there.

U.S. Politics

ny times logodemocratic donkey logoNew York Times, In Full Control, Democrats Transform New York, Vivian Wang and Jesse McKinley, June 22, 2019. Democratic lawmakers took advantage of their new power in Albany to carry out a progressive agenda that had long been thwarted. They rewrote New York City’s rent laws, granted undocumented residents the right to driver’s licenses and unveiled an ambitious climate plan.

The Intercept, I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy, Seth Harp, June 22, 2019.

I should have kept my mouth shut about the guacamole; that made things worse for me. Otherwise, what I’m about to describe could happen to any American who travels internationally. It happened 33,295 times last year.

My work as a journalist has taken me to many foreign countries, including frequent trips to Mexico. On May 13, I was returning to the U.S. from Mexico City when, passing through immigration at the Austin airport, I was pulled out of line for “secondary screening,” a quasi-custodial law enforcement process that takes place in the Homeland Security zone of the airport.

Austin is where I was born and raised, and I usually get waved through immigration after one or two questions. I’m also a white man; more on that later. This time, when my turn came to show my passport, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was more aggressive than usual in his questioning. I told him I’d been in Mexico for seven days for work, that I was a journalist, and that I travel to Mexico often, as he could see from my passport. That wasn’t enough for him, though. He wanted to know the substance of the story I was currently working on, which didn’t sit right with me. I tried to skirt the question, but he came back to it, pointedly.

ny times logoNew York Times, What if People Who Can’t Vote Stop Counting Politically? Emily Badger, June 22, 2019. The resulting maps would tend to shift power to areas with more residents that are white and older.

Three years ago, before the Trump administration moved to add a citizenship question to the census, and before many experts even imagined what that might mean, the Supreme Court considered a case that raised a related question.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedTwo Texas voters had sued the state, saying their votes were diluted by a state redistricting map that gave equal weight to areas with fewer people allowed to vote. Political power, the plaintiffs claimed, should be divided only among the voting population, not among everyone.

us census bureauTheir preferred method, shared by a number of conservative politicians, would erase from state political maps not only noncitizens, but also children — two groups that aren’t evenly distributed across states. The resulting maps would tend to shift power from the places where children and noncitizens are more plentiful to places where there are more older and white residents. At the state level, such maps would also strip from these groups a principle as old as the Constitution: that even someone who cannot vote still deserves representation.

In that 2016 case, Evenwel v. Abbott, the court unanimously ruled that Texas could draw legislative districts by total population, the method every state has long used. But the justices left open the question of whether states must do this, or if — and this is where the citizenship question comes in — they can draw maps that count only voting-age citizens.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Black Vote Is Not Monolithic’: 2020 Democrats Find Split Preferences in South Carolina, Jonathan Martin and Astead W. Herndon, June 22, 2019. Joseph R. joe biden headshotBiden Jr., right, enjoys a sizable advantage with black voters in South Carolina right now, and not just at lunch tables where they discuss candidates over freshly caught shrimp and fried fish. Recent polls have shown him with support from about 50 percent of African-American voters in the state.

It is what elevates Mr. Biden above his 22 Democratic rivals; though he is often portrayed as a champion of the white working class, he is viewed by democratic donkey logomany black voters as the play-it-safe choice who could best recreate the multiracial Obama coalition.

But many young black voters are drawn to Elizabeth Warren and her plan to cancel student debt, while others prefer Bernie Sanders and his calls for systemic change. Some black women like Kamala Harris’s leadership style and her personal story as a graduate of Howard University. And some black men are sizing up Cory Booker, who employs the cadences of the black church in his stump speech.

Refugee Hardship: Lebanon

National Public Radio (NPR), Forced To Demolish Their Own Homes, Syrian Refugees In Lebanon Seek New Shelter, Lama Al-Arian and Ruth Sherlock, June 22, 2019. Lebanon hosts more than 1 million Syrian refugees and only allows them to build shelters made of canvas and wood. But the laws have not been clearly stated. The government doesn't permit the establishment of formal refugee camps. So instead, many refugees live in informal settlements, in makeshift homes, some of which have grown over time into more durable homes with breeze-block walls.

A military decree issued in April now requires the refugees to demolish any concrete walls over 1 meter — about 3 feet — high. The military has given the refugees until July 1 to comply, or else authorities will come in and knock down the structures themselves.

June 21

Another Assault Claim Against Trump

new york magazine logoNew York Magazine, E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” Sarah Jones, June 21, 2019 (excerpted). The cover story New York published today details an encounter the writer E. Jean Carroll had over two decades ago with Donald J. Trump, in which the then–real-estate mogul allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan. Trump is shown in a graphic by A Banana Peeled.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe episode is one of six incidents Carroll details in the article of attacks on her by men over the course of her life. Another episode involves the disgraced former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves. The cover story is an excerpt from her newest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, which will be published on July 2 by St. Martin’s Press.

When Carroll meets Donald Trump in Bergdorf Goodman, the encounter starts as a friendly one. Trump recognizes her as “that advice lady”; Carroll recognizes him as “that real-estate tycoon.” Trump tells Carroll that he’s there to buy a gift for “a girl,” and though we don’t learn the identity of this mystery woman, Carroll places the ensuing incident in late 1995 or early 1996, during which time Trump was married to Marla Maples.

When Trump asks Carroll to advise him on what to buy, she agrees, and the two eventually make their way to the lingerie section. Trump suggests a lace bodysuit and encourages Carroll to try it on; she, deflecting, jokingly suggests that he try it on instead. After they reach the dressing rooms, e jean carroll twitterevents turn violent. In Carroll’s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights, and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”

Carroll, 75 (shown in her Twitter photo), is a venerated Elle advice columnist. At the time of the attack, she was well known in her own right. A frequent feature writer for magazines like Playboy and Esquire, she had her own television show on America’s Talking, the precursor to e jean carroll cover new york magazineMSNBC.

Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and the 14th to accuse Moonves of similar offenses. The incidents, which date from the 1990s, are highly specific and related with dark humor.

Carroll says that she disclosed the Trump incident to two friends at the time. New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story.

New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”

Middle East Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s account of planning, then canceling Iran strikes is facing scrutiny, John Hudson, Missy Ryan and Erin Cunningham​, June 21, 2019. President Trump on Friday described a nail-biting decision to call off an imminent attack on Iran in order to avoid disproportionate casualties, but the account is already facing scrutiny from aides around him and military analysts questioning the sequence of events he laid out in tweets and statements.

Early in the day, the president said he called off the counterattack at the last minute because it would kill 150 people in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned surveillance drone. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” he tweeted.

But administration officials said Trump was told earlier Thursday how many casualties could occur if a strike on Iran was carried out, and that he had given the green light to prepare for the operation Thursday morning.

The decision has divided his top advisers with senior Pentagon officials opposing the decision to strike and national security adviser John Bolton strongly supporting it.

Iran said Friday that the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back, Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, June 21, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

american flagAs late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward.

SouthFront, Trump Confirms: He Ordered Strike On Iran, But Then Called It Back, Staff report, June 21, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump said that he ordered a strike on Iran, but then called it back when he learned that it could lead to a high number of casualties. “We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote on Twitter in the afternoon of June 21.

The New York Times was the first to reveal that Trump had approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, but called off the attacks at the last minute.

While Trump claims that the high number of expected casualties was behind his decision to cancel the strike, other factors may have played a bigger role in that shift. Iran vowed to respond to any attack by the U.S, which means that any strike was going to lead to a serious military confrontation in the Persian Gulf. 

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story -- He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran, B, June 21, 2019. Last night U.S President Trump allegedly pulled back from a military strike against Iran after it had already been ordered. That is the official story but there are doubts that it is true.

After the drone shoot down the price of oil jumped 10%. Trump will have noticed that. He was also already warned by Iran that there is no room for talks and that any strike against it would have deadly consequences. (Excerpt continued below after U.S. news).

iran wants war graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Want War With Iran? Ask Congress First, Editorial Board, June 20, 2019. June 21, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration’s campaign of maximum pressure and minimal diplomacy are bringing the two countries ever closer to blows. From the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 to the U.S.S. Maddox in the iran flag mapGulf of Tonkin in 1964, maritime incidents, shrouded in the fog of uncertainty, have lured the United States into wars on foreign shoals. Which is why cooler heads must prevail — and Congress must be consulted — as American and Iranian forces inch closer to open conflict in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

The downing of an unmanned American surveillance aircraft on Thursday by an Iranian surface-to-air missile is another worrying click of the ratchet between the Trump administration, which unilaterally abandoned the 2015 nuclear accord for a campaign of “maximum pressure,” and an Iranian government suffering from tighter economic sanctions.

The United States has blamed Iran for recent attacks on shipping and pipelines in the Persian Gulf; Iran says it was not responsible. The United States has responded to the tensions by building up forces in the region.

air force p 8 poseidon file

SouthFront, IRGC Commander Says Iran Refrained From Shooting Down Second U.S. Plane, Staff report, June 21, 2019. Iran refrained from shooting down a manned U.S. Navy plane that was accompanying the downed RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Persian Gulf, Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace division, revealed on June 21. “With the U.S. drone in the region there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board. This plane also entered our airspace and we could have shot it down, but we did not,” the Iranian Tasnim news agency quoted Brig. Gen. Hajizadeh as saying.

Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, which was first introduced in 2013, is equipped with an array of signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic warfare (EW) systems.

The IRGC’s aerospace division used the locally-made Khordad-3 air-defense system armed with Sayyad-2C missiles to shot down the RQ-4A. While the Khordad-3 system is designed after the Soviet Buk missile system, the Sayyad-2C is actually an Iranian copy of the US-made RIM-66 Standard missile.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Iran must escape the American chokehold before it becomes fatal, David Ignatius, June 21, 2019 (print ed.). The most important variable in the david ignatiuscurrent Persian Gulf confrontation is time. The Trump administration wants to play a long game, to draw the sanctions tourniquet ever tighter. Iran needs to play a short game, to escape the U.S. chokehold before it becomes fatal.

This inner dynamic helps explain the past month’s events in the gulf — Iran’s steady escalation of deniable strikes and President Trump’s relatively restrained military response. Each side has a different playbook, dictated by its interests, resources and ability to sustain operations.ong Republicans.

Militias Threaten Oregan Police

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Armed Militias Pledge to Fight for Fugitive Oregon GOP Lawmakers ‘At Any Cost,’ Will Sommer, June 21, 2019. Efforts to scuttle the cap-and-trade legislation have taken a remarkable and potentially dark turn.

Right-wing militia groups across the Pacific Northwest are mobilizing to prevent Oregon state police from arresting Republican state senators who went into hiding on Thursday in order to prevent climate change legislation from passing.

All 11 of Oregon’s Republican state senators are currently on the lam, with some leaving for Idaho in an effort to deny the Democrat-controlled state senate a quorum to pass a cap-and-trade bill. In response, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D), citing a provision in the state constitution that allows the state to “compel” absent lawmakers to attend legislative sessions, dispatched state troopers to bring them back.

One of the lawmakers on the lam, Republican Brian Boquist (R), warned that he would resort to violence rather than return to the state, implying in a local television interview that he would attack law enforcement officers sent to retrieve him.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” Boquist said. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

Militia groups in the Pacific Northwest—a hotbed of far-right extremist activism—claim they’ve mobilized to protect those state senators.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Foreign spending in our elections is a threat to our national sovereignty, Ellen L. Weintraub, June 21, 2019 (print ed.). Ellen L. Weintraub, right, is chair of the Federal Election Commission. “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.” That ellen weintraubstatement, which I issued last week, citing this basic precept of election law, drew a surprising amount of attention. It shouldn’t have.

Concerns about foreign attempts to intervene in our political system date back to the founding of our republic. As chair of the Federal Election Commission, I am gravely concerned about ongoing efforts by geopolitical adversaries to undermine our democracy. It is critically important that everyone involved in U.S. politics understands the law, recognizes the threat, and confronts and contains it.

While the ban on foreign national spending in our elections is well established, unequivocal and clear on its face, a lot of people have raised good questions about the law’s scope.

washington post logoWashington Post, NRA sidelines its top lobbyist in latest sign of internal turmoil, Katie Zezima and Beth Reinhard, June 21, 2019 (print ed.). The National Rifle Association has nra logo Customsidelined its top lobbyist, Chris Cox, after accusing him in court documents of participating in what it called a failed extortion scheme to rid the organization of its top executive.

Cox, the NRA’s second-in-command and leader of its powerful political arm, was placed on administrative leave after the organization filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York against former NRA president Oliver North, who resigned in April after accusing the NRA of exorbitant spending. Chief executive Wayne LaPierre has accused North of attempting to extort the group. In its new suit, the NRA accused Cox of participating in a “conspiracy” with North.

The Atlantic, AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence, Peter Beinart (Professor of journalism at the City University of New York), June 21, 2019. Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camps” comment questions an old orthodoxy: that only other countries—and not the U.S. — are capable of evil.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialOn Monday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared in an Instagram video that “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.” The following morning, Liz Cheney tweeted, “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” After that, the fight was on.

On its face, the fight was about using concentration camp outside the context of the Holocaust. In a subsequent tweet, Ocasio-Cortez linked to an Esquire article noting that the term pre-dates World War II. It quoted the historian Andrea Pitzer, who defines concentration camp as the “mass detention of civilians without trial.”

To Ocasio-Cortez’s critics, this was too cute by half. Whatever the term’s historical origins or technical meaning, in American popular discourse concentration camp evokes the Holocaust. By using the term, they argued, the representative from New York was equating Donald Trump’s immigration policies with Nazi genocide, whether she admitted it or not.

But whether you believe Ocasio-Cortez’s terminology was appropriate or offensive, the deeper question is why it provoked such a ferocious debate. The answer: Because for the first time in decades, the left is mounting a serious challenge to American exceptionalism.

The Hill.com, Prosecutors examining whether Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy offered clients access to inauguration: report, John Bowden, June 21, 2019. Federal prosecutors are elliott broidyinvestigating whether Elliott Broidy, the top GOP fundraiser who previously served as the Republican National Committee's (RNC) deputy finance chairman, used his position to improperly offer access to President Trump's inaugural team.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that investigators are looking at whether Broidy,  right, was paid by his clients, including an intelligence firm, for access to inaugural events at his invitation, which would violate campaign finance laws or possibly statutes against money laundering.

According to the Journal, Broidy invited several officials from Angola and Romania to inaugural events, introducing some of them to members of Congress despite not being registered as a lobbyist for foreign countries. Weeks later, his company would be paid $6 million by Angolan officials for his services.

A spokesman for Broidy's company, Cirinicus, told the Journal that the guests were approved by the State Department and did not comment further on the investigation. The Trump inaugural committee reportedly told the Journal that it had responded to a request for information on the case from prosecutors in April.

rnc logoBroidy resigned from the RNC last April after it was revealed that he had paid a woman $1.6 million after she became pregnant with his child. He was also accused late last year of physical abuse by a former Playboy model. He has denied those allegations.

“This person tried to extract money from me by making up false, malicious and disgusting allegations," Broidy said in a statement last year. "I have acknowledged making the mistake of having an affair, and I entered a confidential agreement to protect my family’s privacy.

"I honored my agreement until her lawyer breached it—and then, when I failed to pay her demands, she did what blackmailers do and went public with her lies. I will vigorously defend myself against these false and defamatory allegations, and I will seek all relief available to me under the settlement agreement against her and her attorneys.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal agents search Georgetown home of D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Peter Hermann, Spencer Hsu and Fenit Nirappil, June 21, 2019.​
The raid comes one day after a legal memo became public saying he “knowingly” violated ethics rules to help friends and clients rather than serve the interests of the transit agency.

Evans (D Ward-2) is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into his relationships with clients and questions over whether he used his official positions to solicit business for his private legal and consulting work. He runs a consulting company registered to his home address.

Vox, Democrats are talking a lot about Medicare-for-all. But what exactly do they mean? Sarah Kliff and Dylan Scott, June 21, 2019. Democratic candidates have run — and won — on a promise to fight to give all Americans access to government-run health care. A new Medicare-for-all bill in the House has more than 100 co-sponsors. But there are still real disagreements among Democrats. Some of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates have endorsed single payer, while others prefer more incremental improvements. They’ll soon start hashing out those differences at the debates.

To capture the full scope of options Democrats are considering to insure all (or at least a lot more) Americans, look at the half dozen or so plans in Congress, which all envision very different health care systems.

We spent a month reading through the congressional plans to expand Medicare (and a few to expand Medicaid, too) as well as proposals at major think tanks that are influential in liberal policymaking. We talked to the legislators and congressional staff who wrote those plans, as well as the policy experts who have analyzed them.

The nine plans fall into two categories. There are some that would replace private insurance and cover all Americans through the government. Then there are the others that would allow all Americans to buy into government insurance (like Medicare or Medicaid) if they wanted to, or they could continue to buy private insurance.

We learned these plans are similar in that they envision more Americans enrolling in public health plans. They would all give the government a greater role in everything from setting health prices to deciding what benefits get included in an insurance plan. Experts say all these bills would almost certainly create an insurance system that does better to serve Americans with high health care costs.

“If you’re really sick and have high drug costs, it would be hard not to benefit from these bills,” says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation who co-authored a report comparing the different Democratic plans to expand public coverage.

But the Democrats’ plans differ significantly in how they handle important decisions, like which public health program to expand and how aggressively to extend the reach of government. Some would completely eliminate private health insurance, moving all Americans to government-run coverage, whereas others still see a role for companies providing coverage to workers.

Some bills require significant tax increases to pay for the expansion of benefits — while others ask those signing up for government insurance to pay the costs.

U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Excluding Black Jurors Violated Constitution, Supreme Court Rules, Adam Liptak, June 21, 2019. A white Mississippi prosecutor violated the Constitution by excluding black jurors from the sixth trial of Curtis Flowers. Mr. Flowers, a death row inmate in Mississippi, has been tried six times by a white prosecutor with a record of striking black potential jurors.

A white Mississippi prosecutor violated the Constitution by excluding black jurors from the sixth trial of Curtis Flowers, a black man who was convicted of murdering four people in 1996 in a furniture store, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

brett kavanaughJustice Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, writing for a seven-justice majority, said the prosecutor, Doug Evans, had run afoul of the court’s 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky.

“Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “Enforcing that supreme court graphicconstitutional principle, Batson ended the widespread practice in which prosecutors could (and often would) routinely strike all black prospective jurors in cases involving black defendants.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts’s decision to assign the majority opinion in a high-profile case to the court’s newest member may have been prompted by Justice Kavanaugh’s longstanding interest in race discrimination in jury selection. When he was a law student at Yale, Justice Kavanaugh wrote an article in Yale Law Journal calling for vigorous enforcement of the Batson decision.

That ruling carved out an exception to the centuries-old rule that peremptory challenges during jury selection — ones that do not require giving a reason — are completely discretionary and cannot be second-guessed.

The New Yorker, Analysis: Clarence Thomas’s Astonishing Opinion on a Racist Mississippi Prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, June 21, 2019.  Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion new yorker logoon the Flowers v. Mississippi case, regarding its racially biased prosecutor.

clarence thomas w new officialA Mississippi prosecutor went on a racist crusade to have a black man executed. Clarence Thomas thinks that was just fine.

That’s the message of an astonishing decision today from the Supreme Court. The facts of the case, known as Flowers v. Mississippi, are straightforward.

As Justice Brett Kavanaugh put it, in his admirably blunt opinion for the Court, “In 1996, Curtis Flowers (shown below left) allegedly murdered four people in Winona, Mississippi. Flowers is black. He has been tried six separate times before a jury for murder. The same lead prosecutor represented the State in all six trials.”

Flowers was convicted in the first three trials, and sentenced to death. On each occasion, his conviction was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court, on the grounds of misconduct by the prosecutor, Doug Evans, mostly in the form of keeping African-Americans off the juries. Trials four and five ended in hung juries. In the sixth trial, the one that was before the Supreme Court, Flowers was convicted, but the Justices found that Evans had again discriminated against black people, and thus Flowers, in jury selection, and they overturned his conviction. (The breathtaking facts of the case and its accompanying legal saga are described at length on the American Public Media podcast “In the Dark.”)

curtis flowersAs Kavanaugh recounted in his opinion, Evans’s actions were almost cartoonishly racist. To wit: in the six trials, the State employed its peremptory challenges (that is, challenges for which no reason need be given) to strike forty-one out of forty-two African-American prospective jurors. In the most recent trial, the State exercised peremptory strikes against five of six black prospective jurors. In addition, Evans questioned black prospective jurors a great deal more closely than he questioned whites. As Kavanaugh observed, with considerable understatement, “A court confronting that kind of pattern cannot ignore it.“

But Thomas can, and he did. Indeed, he filed a dissenting opinion that was genuinely outraged — not by the prosecutor but by his fellow-Justices, who dared to grant relief to Flowers, who has spent more than two decades in solitary confinement at Mississippi’s notorious Parchman prison. Thomas said that the prosecutor’s behavior was blameless, and he practically sneered at his colleagues, asserting that the majority had decided the Flowers case to “boost its self-esteem.” Thomas also found a way to blame the news media for the result. “Perhaps the Court granted certiorari because the case has received a fair amount of media attention,” he wrote, adding that “the media often seeks to titillate rather than to educate and inform.”

ny times logoadam liptakNew York Times, The Supreme Court’s Biggest Decisions in 2019, Adam Liptak, right, and Jason Kao, June 21, 2019. The Supreme Court was transformed this term by the departure of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, its longtime swing vote, and the arrival of his more conservative successor, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Here are some of the term's most important cases, ones that will help chart the future of a court in transition.

U.S. v. Iran (Continued)

Moon of Alabama (continued from above), Opinion: White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story - He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran, B, June 21, 2019. Last night U.S President Trump allegedly pulled back from a military strike against Iran after it had already been ordered. That is the official story but there are doubts that it is true.

After the drone shoot down the price of oil jumped 10%. Trump will have noticed that. He was also already warned by Iran that there is no room for talks and that any strike against it would have deadly consequences: 

DUBAI (Reuters):  Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent....The second official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision ... However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

The whole storyline of "a strike was ordered but Trump held back and saved the day" might well be fake.

Unusual High Frequency radio traffic pointed to strike preparation, says the open source analyst IntelCrab. There is also a different plausible explanation why an imminent strike might have been called back. From the Wall Street Journal: "Saudi Plant Struck by Missile, Apparently From Yemen; Senior U.S. officials called back to White House after desalination facility in kingdom hit."

This must have come as a shock for the Saudis. Some 75% of the water the Saudis use comes from desalination plants. Their people will die of thirst when those get destroyed. Did the Saudi King call the White House and urge it to call off the strike against Iran because he feared for his water resources? Was this the real reason why the White House called back its advisors and canceled the strike?

tucker carlson djtYesterday evening Tucker Carlson, a FOX News host with a direct line to the White House, had two strong anti-war segments on his show (vid). In the second segment Carlson (shown in file photos with the president) talks with retired army Colonel Douglas McGregor. Both argue for pulling back on sanctions. This was likely a preplanned exchange (at 9:56 min) designed to give Trump cover for his decision.

Trump may well want some diplomatic exchange with Iran. But Iran will not talk to him as long as the sanctions against it are kept in place. It will continue its maximum pressure campaign by creating new incidents that will again increase the price of oil. The easiest way out for Trump is to abolish sanctions against Iran. He at least should issue waivers for China and others to allow them to again buy Iranian oil.

Unless he does so Iran will hit again and again against those who press for war against it. Yesterday it was a U.S. drone and a Saudi desalination plant that were the targets. The next incident could be in some oil facility in the United Arab Emirates or a symbolic strike against Israel.

wayne madsen newerWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: What caused Trump to call off an attack on Iran? Wayne Madsen, right, June 21, 2019 (subscription required). Without a full-time Secretary of Defense, opposition to Trump’s military move would have largely rested with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Slouching Toward War With Iran Is a Disgrace, Roger Cohen, June 21, 2019. The last-minute calling-off of military action is the first wise decision on Iran the president has taken.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is a crackhead playing with matches, Bill Palmer, June 21, 2019. Over and over and over again, Donald Trump keeps making clear that he doesn’t actually want a military conflict with Iran – he just wants everyone to think he’s going to do it, because it serves as a distraction from his scandals and the end stage of his failed presidency. The trouble is, that doesn’t mean we’re in any way safe.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the New York Times reported that Donald Trump ordered a military strike against Iran, and then after the planes were in the air, changed his mind and called it off. If this were true, it would mean that Trump is so far gone mentally, he needs to be ousted immediately on mental competence grounds. The thing is, it’s obviously – laughably – untrue. Trump ordered the military strike just so he could call it off, then leaked the story so everyone would think he’s considering actually going through with it. This is basic Trump psychopathy 101.

The trouble is, even though Donald Trump obviously doesn’t want a war with Iran – and Iran obviously doesn’t want a war either – Trump’s reckless antics and deranged bluffs could end up unintentionally starting a war. Trump is mentally unstable to begin with, and he’s not the only deranged lunatic with fingerprints on this debacle.

john bolton youtube guardianJohn Bolton’s deep connections to Russian sock puppet Cambridge Analytica are obviously the reason Trump hired Bolton, right, which by the way took place just days after Cambridge Analytica’s data theft scandal was exposed.

But even though Trump does not want a war with Iran, the mere presence of a racist warmonger like Bolton – who was surely only given his job to keep him from cutting a plea deal – means that war is certainly possible. Bolton is the kind of monster who wouldn’t hesitate to try to illegally order military action behind Trump’s back. Yet Trump and Bolton are both Kremlin puppets, and Putin keeps saying he doesn’t want the U.S. to attack Iran, so the whole thing just keeps getting more absurd.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Iran goes for “maximum counter-pressure,” Pepe Escobar, right, June 20, 2019. Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would pepe escobar recentinevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”. Sparks are ominously bound to fly. For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters.”

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed, “even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.” And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words, “Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel

As Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches, “war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war, though, are barking mad.

As it stands in Trumpland, former CIA Mike “We lied, We cheated, We stole” Pompeo – America’s “top diplomat” – is virtually running the Pentagon. “Acting” secretary Shanahan performed self-immolation.

Yet even before sparks start to fly, Iran could declare that the Persian Gulf is in a state of war; declare that the Strait of Hormuz is a war zone; and then ban all “hostile” military and civilian traffic in its half of the Strait. Without firing a single shot, no shipping company on the planet would have oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf.

Religious Politics: Catholics

pope francis 2013 SmallLa Croix International, International Catholic Journalism Opinion: Pope Francis or Steve Bannon? Catholics must choose, Robert Mickens, June 21, 2019. American alt-right leader enlists Catholic allies to turn people against the pope Among all the world's political and social leaders. Pope Francis, right, stands increasingly alone as the most powerful force for global peace and stability. Thank God – and the cardinals who elected him in March 2013 – that the Argentine Jesuit is the current Bishop of Rome.

In an age when alt-right populists are masquerading as Christians and using religious symbols to scare believers into embracing racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and ultra-nationalism – all so starkly at odds with the Gospel, by the way – Francis has played an indispensable role in preventing a dangerous spiral into a full-blown clash of civilizations.

This is because there are people as crazy as the populists in other currents, as well.

stephen bannon cropped npc 2013Another pope may not have had the courage, fortitude or deep and genuine faith to stand against all this and not allow himself to be co-opted to the Christian sovereigntists' cause.

And while the 82-year-old Francis has not been able to convince enough voters to reject the populists, he has kept most bishops, cardinals and other Catholic leaders from publicly endorsing them. This is no small matter.

Populists state that their intention is to defend the Judeo-Christian heritage of the Western world. And, unfortunately, this is quite enticing to those for whom Catholicism is, in essence, a Eurocentric philosophical ideology and moral code.

And the man who has enlisted them is Steve Bannon (shown at left in a file photo).

Saudi Failures

SouthFront, Analysis: Saudi Arabia's String Of Failures, Staff report, June 21, 2019. Saudi Arabia appears to be undergoing a very apparent string of failures in recent weeks. The situation is quite precarious and complicated.

Yemen: Starting from June 7th onward, the Ansar Allah movement (the Houthis) have had significant success in clashes with the Saudi-led coalition and attacks on Saudi infrastructure.

jamal khashoggi western suitJamal Khashoggi: A UN report blamed Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (right).

Weapons Issues: On June 20th, US Senate voted to block US President Donald Trump’s Saudi arms sale deal.

Keeping in mind the situation in the Middle East and the tension between the US and Iran: If push comes to shove, the US would need both Israel and Saudi Arabia to back it up, but Mohammed bin Salman’s Kingdom may fall short.

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Murder in the Atlas Mountains, Greg Miller and Souad Mekhennet, June 21, 2019. In a crime apparently intended to impress the Islamic State, two Scandinavian women were brutally slain in Morocco. The killings were seized on by the far right to attack Islam. Their screams must have carried for miles in the thin air of the Atlas Mountains, anguished sounds of a terrorist attack that no one was there to hear, see or stop.

Maren Ueland, 28, and Louisa Jespersen, 24, Scandinavian students who revered the outdoors, were descending North Africa’s highest peak in December when they encountered four men searching for Westerners to kill.

The men waited until after nightfall, then approached the women’s tent with knives and misplaced hopes of becoming Islamist heroes. They attacked Ueland, a Norwegian, and her Danish friend, Jespersen, in their sleeping bags, stabbed them until their bodies went limp and severed their heads in a ghastly sequence recorded on a cellphone.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Judge in InfoWars Case Says She’s Been Notified of Death Threats by The FBI, Will Sommer, June 21, 2019. The Connecticut judge presiding over Sandy Hook families’ lawsuit against InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said on Friday that she had been targeted by death threats posted on the InfoWars website.

Judge Barbara N. Bellis revealed in a court filing that she had been notified by the FBI and the Connecticut State Police that people had posted “threats” about her on InfoWars. Bellis is presiding over the case involving the Sandy Hook families lawsuit against Jones for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in which their children were killed was an elaborate hoax.

In a statement, InfoWars attorney Norm Pattis suggested the threats weren’t serious.

“The fact that no law enforcement agent has contacted us for further information suggests the threats are not serious,” Pattis said. “Even so, we are now searching Infowars website to see what all the fuss is about.”

alex jones headshotJones, right, attacked Bellis on-air on Tuesday, describing the judge as “ignorant” and suggesting that she was part of an organized effort to destroy him.

The death threat revelation comes just days after Sandy Hook attorneys in the case asked the court to take action to protect them from Jones’s on-air rants. Last week, Jones, without evidence, accused the Sandy Hook attorneys of planting child pornography on the InfoWars servers after his own lawyers accidentally sent the plaintiffs’ attorneys child pornography during the discovery process. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said they received so many death threats after Jones’s broadcast that they had to hire security.

Global Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Scammers reportedly used silicone mask and Skype to impersonate a French minister and steal millions, Tamer El-Ghobashy, June 21, 2019. Investigators are looking into a caper that netted $90 million by convincing heads-of-state, business figures, charities and others that they were working with France’s defense minister to free hostages, according to a report.

French investigators are probing whether a conman who became known as the “Fake Chairman” for scamming banks out of millions of dollars by posing as a top-ranking executive gave himself a promotion — to government minister.

Gilbert Chikli, a 53-year-old French-Israeli citizen, is at the center of an investigation into a caper that may have netted some $90 million by convincing heads-of-state, clergy, business figures, large charities and other luminaries that they were working with France’s defense minister to free French citizens kidnapped by Islamists in the Middle East and Africa, according to the BBC.

The alleged ruse was as outlandish as it was elaborate: According to French prosecutors, Chikli or someone else in his crew would don a custom-made silicone mask of France’s then defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and sit behind an impressive desk in a room decorated to look like a ministerial office, complete with a large French flag and a portrait of the nation’s president, and conduct a video-chat with the target of the scam.

The suspects arrested in Israel have denied involvement in the scam and are awaiting trial in Israel. But the case has once again focused attention on Chikli, who shot to fame in 2015 when he was convicted in France for impersonating bank CEOs to steal some $9 million from 33 institutions. He is currently in prison in France after being extradited from the Ukraine in 2017. He had hid in Israel following his 2015 indictment.

washington post logoWashington Post, ICE raids targeting migrant families slated to start Sunday, Nick Miroff, June 21, 2019. President Trump has directed ICE logoU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to conduct a mass roundup of migrant families that have received deportation orders, an operation that is likely to begin with predawn raids in major U.S. cities on Sunday, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of the plans.

The “family op,” as it is referred to at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, is slated to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and other major immigration destinations, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the law enforcement operation.

Talking Points Memo (TPM), Court Unseals Manafort Docs, Revealing Texts With Hannity, Tierney Sneed and Josh Kovensky, June 21, 2019. Court documents previously filed under sean hannity profileseal with the government’s sentencing recommendations for Paul Manafort were made public on Friday. The documents include a months-long text exchange between Manafort and a “Sean” who appears to be Fox News host Sean Hannity, right,.

The texts show Manafort apparently complimenting Hannity on his coverage, with the Fox host telling Manafort to stay strong throughout the early stages of the Mueller investigation. “I appreciate what you tried to do,” Manafort wrote in one August 2017 message.

“Mueller is trying to intimidate me,” he wrote. “The raid is just one example.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in an order that the exhibit was initially redacted due to privacy concerns. In one late November 2017 exchange, Manafort appears to express interest in working on Trump’s 2020 campaign.

 robert bentley rebekak mason stephen collierw wkrg

Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, his former communications aide Rebekkah Mason and formerly Alabama's top law enforcer Stephen Collier, who helped blow the whistle on a sex scandal in the governor's office that toppled the so-called "family values" Republican (WKRG photos, shown left to right). Collier has been arrested JIP Editor's Note: We return our attention to Alabama, whose court system and top office-holders have repeatedly immersed themselves in scandal, sometimes with sinister implications for the justice system, as blogger Roger Shuler has repeatedly documented, most recently in today's column.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Donald Watkins: Spencer Collier settled lawsuit for $700,000, but others proceeded with "Luv Guv" Bentley's dirty work when Collier refused to do it, Roger Shuler, right, June 21, 2019. Spencer Collier settled his wrongful-termination lawsuit against former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for $700,000, and other state employees roger shuler outdoorsproceeded with criminal investigations of Birmingham attorney/Facebook blogger Donald Watkins and me after Collier refused to take such unlawful action in retaliation for our reports about Bentley's affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

That is from a Watkins post yesterday in the wake of our report about a Collier deposition, where the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said Bentley asked multiple subordinates to make unlawful use of state and federal databases to launch baseless criminal investigations against the two online journalists (Watkins and me) who drove the reporting on the Mason scandal, which led to Bentley's ouster from office and guilty pleas to two criminal charges.

Bentley's use of state resources for a personal vendetta is a criminal act, and Watkins cites events from Alabama history that prove it. From Watkins' June 20 post:

Deposition testimony from former Gov. Robert Bentley and former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Chief Spencer Collier in a recently settled lawsuit between the two men confirmed that Bentley viewed me as a “political enemy" and asked Collier to investigate me for criminal wrongdoing as a means of discrediting me.

The other online journalist who was targeted for destruction is Roger Shuler. Shuler and I published a series of articles in 2015 that exposed Gov. Bentley’s secret love affair with his mistress and lover, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

The publication of my “Forbidden Love” and “Executive Betrayal” series of investigative articles in September/October 2015 infuriated Bentley.

Once First Lady Dianne Jones Bentley confirmed that Rebekah Mason was her husband’s paramour, she sued Gov. Bentley for a divorce and exited their marriage. Gov. Bentley had already exited the marriage, emotionally and otherwise. He was hopelessly in love with Rebekah Mason, a married mother of three children who served as his senior political advisor. Mason's sexual seduction of Bentley gave her complete control of the governor’s office.

Watkins makes clear that Bentley's efforts to retaliate against the two of us because of our reporting on his administration goes beyond political skulduggery and slides into criminal territory.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to survive this.’ Some once-loyal farmers begin to doubt Trump, Annie Gowen, June 21, 2019. While President Trump’s poll numbers remain high in rural areas, farmers hurt by weather and trade disputes worry the president won't live up to his promises.

The sky had finally cleared after weeks of record-setting rain, and now farmer Ray Martinmaas was facing a time crunch. He was out in his white Ford F-150 Raptor pickup, searching his family’s 15,000 acres for areas dry enough to plant corn in time to mature by fall harvest, passing places where new bodies of ruinous water glittered.

Martinmaas, whose family homesteaded this land in 1888, said his farm operation lost more than $700,000 last year. He’s had to put a moratorium on buying new equipment, and he’s stuck with grain bins full of soybeans, because China isn’t buying. Other farmers can’t pay their bills for the hay and grain they bought from him.

Politico, Judge may shut down Twitter fight against surveillance secrecy, Josh Gerstein, June 21, 2019. Twitter's legal campaign to disclose more information about surveillance twitter bird Customrequests it receives from the federal government appears to be running aground after a federal judge signaled that she is prepared to dismiss the nearly five-year-old lawsuit. In 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Rogers turned down the Justice Department's bid to defeat the suit, but she said in an order Friday that new, secret information she received recently from the FBI has left her inclined to hand the government the victory it sought.

The judge's change of heart follows Attorney General Bill Barr's decision in March to assert the state secrets privilege in the case to block Twitter lawyers from receiving access to an earlier classified filing in the suit.

Barr's move, first reported by Politico, was his first invocation of the privilege since returning to the attorney general's post earlier this year.

Twitter's 2014 lawsuit accused the government of violating the firm's free speech rights by restricting its ability to publish a transparency report providing greater detail about the surveillance-related court orders and administrative subpoenas it receives from the FBI, formally known as national security letters.

UK Prime Minister

llewellyn king photo logo

White House Chronicle, Opinion: Flamboyant, Scandal-Plagued Boris Set to Be U.K. Prime Minister, Llewellyn King, June 22, 2019. Barring the political equivalent of an act of God, Boris Johnson becomes leader of the British Conservative Party and prime minister on July 22. Johnson is a man who fails upward. So much so that he has said, “As I have discovered myself, there are no disasters just fresh opportunities. And, indeed, fresh opportunities for fresh disasters.”

boris johnson july 2015Johnson, right, has been sacked by an editor, a publisher and by his party leader. He sins, gets caught, wriggles out and comes back emboldened.

His first recorded transgression was when he got the heave-ho from The Times of London for fabricating quotes — usually a career killer. Instead, he was hired by The Daily Telegraph and sent to Brussels to cover the European Union. He covered it by minting tales of bureaucratic excess. Later, some of Johnson’s suspect reporting entered the mythology that has powered Brexit.

One fib was that the European Commission was laying down requirements for the shape of bananas imported into Europe. Another was that there were plans for the Brussels bureaucrats to build themselves a luxurious skyscraper. He was accused of fake news long before that term was in wide use.

united kingdom flagJohnson — as journalists like to say among themselves — wasn’t one to let the facts stand in the way of a good story. His Brussels colleagues named him as the proprietor of the “mendacious smirk.” He had a way of looking to the side and down, sniggering away the evidence when his facts were challenged.

On the upside, Johnson is articulate and adept at turning disaster into, if not triumph, something that is funny or so outrageous that the blow is diverted.

For five years, Johnson was editor of The Spectator, a conservative political and literary magazine. His staff there accused him of being late, disorganized and not showing up at all, charges that have clung to him everywhere he’s worked. But he was a successful editor and presided over a rise in circulation, as well as moving the content toward his own brand of liberal conservatism.

As a member of parliament, which overlapped with his editorship, Johnson never reached the heights in oratory that had been expected. He described his own parliamentary speeches as “crap.”

Fun and games also have, it might be said, pervaded Johnson’s private life. When he was married to his second wife, Johnson acknowledged a child out of wedlock. When he was editor of The Spectator, the magazine was rocked with scandal. Johnson was having an affair with the top columnist; the publisher, a woman, was involved with a member of the government; and an editor was involved with a secretary. Cupid was not a spectator at The Spectator.

Now the premiership is almost his and Britain, going through turbulent times, faces an unsteady, cartoonish hand at its helm.

The Guardian, Police called to loud altercation at Boris Johnson's home, Jim Waterson, June 21, 2019. Neighbour records shouting and banging at flat potential PM shares with Carrie Symonds. Police were called to the home of Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, in the early hours of Friday morning after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging.

The argument could be heard outside the property where the potential future prime minister is living with Symonds, a former Conservative party head of press.

A neighbour told the Guardian they heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging”. At one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to united kingdom flag“get off me” and “get out of my flat”.

The neighbour said that after becoming concerned they knocked on the door but received no response. “I [was] hoping that someone would answer the door and say ‘We’re okay’. I knocked three times and no one came to the door.”

The neighbour decided to call 999. Two police cars and a van arrived within minutes, shortly after midnight, but left after receiving reassurances from both the individuals in the flat that they were safe.

U.S. Media News

djt fake time covers composite

President Trump created fake Time Magazine covers to enhance his image, as shown above and as reported by David Farthenhold in the Washington Post. Time's actual cover featuring actress Kate Winslow on March 1, 2009 is shown at left, with Trump's fake cover for that date displayed in his golf clubs. But Trump shows scant affection for the magazine's staff in an interview this week for a cover story, as indicted below.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatens reporter with prison time during interview, Colby Itkowitz, June 21, 2019. In answer to a question about the Mueller report, President Trump lashed out over a photographer's attempt to take a photo of a letter that Trump showed reporters. President Trump, in an interview this week and on Twitter on Friday morning, again suggested criminal action against American journalists.

During a sit-down interview with Time magazine, Trump showed the reporters a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. When a photographer tried to snap a photograph of the letter, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told him he couldn’t.

time logo ogLater in the interview, the subject turned to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and a reporter asked about sworn testimony that Trump tried to limit the investigation to only “future election meddling.”

Rather than answer, Trump lashed out about the photographer’s attempt to take a shot of the letter from Kim, according to a transcript of the interview that Time released Thursday night.

“Well, you can go to prison, instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you . . . ” Trump started.

When the Time reporter interjected to continue his line of questioning, Trump went on, “confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it — so don’t play that game with me.”

Trump has been so enamored with his own appearance in the national publication that he had a fake Time cover with his portrait and the headline: “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” framed and hung in several of his golf clubs.

Mediaite, April Ryan Kicks Sarah Sanders on the Way Out: I’m Not Coming to Your Party, ‘Girl, Bye!’ Caleb Ecarma, June 21, 2019. CNN analyst and White House correspondent April Ryan dismissed outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ sendoff party hosted by members of the media, as she instead took to Instagram on Friday to tell Sanders, “Girl, bye.”

“I’m on a cross country flight and very disturbed that in the midst of these serious issues, of possible strikes against Iran, there was no briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders in over a 100 plus days,” Ryan began in her video condemning Sanders as she leaves. “The day she should of had a briefing she didn’t. Serious issues of life and death, serious issues of war, and this administration chooses not to brief the American public. Shame.”

“There was potential war, and no stood at the podium to explain to the American public what was going on but we see it in a tweet we deserve better,” she added. “Sarah Huckabee, have your party. I won’t be there. Girl, bye!”

See related story: HuffPost, Some White House Reporters Are Throwing Sarah Huckabee Sanders A Goodbye Party, Maxwell Strachan, June 20, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Product Review: Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch, Geoffrey A. Fowler, June 21, 2019.Our latest privacy experiment found Google Chrome ushered more than 11,000 tracker cookies into our browser — in a single week. Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than 11,000 tracker cookies into our browser — in a single week. Here’s why Firefox is better.

google logo customYou open your browser to look at the Web. Do you know who is looking back at you?

Over a recent week of Web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends. Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the Web.

This was made possible by the Web’s biggest snoop of all: Google. Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software.

Lately I’ve been investigating the secret life of my data, running experiments to see what technology really gets up to under the cover of privacy policies that nobody reads. It turns out, having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most popular Web browser was about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop.

It made me decide to ditch Chrome for a new version of nonprofit Mozilla’s Firefox, which has default privacy protections. Switching involved less inconvenience than you might imagine.

My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality.

June 20

U.S. Pounds War Drums Against Iran

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Shoots Down a U.S. Drone, Escalating Tensions, Daniel Victor, David D. Kirkpatrick, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, June 20, 2019. Iran shot down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, both nations said, but they differed on the crucial issue of whether the aircraft had violated Iranian airspace, in the latest escalation of tensions that have raised fears of war between the two countries.

iran flag mapIranian officials said the drone was over Iran, which the American military denied — an important distinction in determining who was at fault — and each side accused the other of being the aggressor.

Both said the downing occurred at 4:05 a.m. Iranian time on Thursday, or 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Mr. Trump repeated his assertion from earlier in the day, saying “Iran made a very big mistake,” in brief remarks to reporters on Thursday afternoon. He also dismissed Iran’s assertion that the unmanned drone was flying in Iranian air space. The drone, Mr. Trump said, was flying over international waters, which has been “scientifically documented.”

Iran's Strategy?

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Iran’s Gambit: Force the World to Rein In Trump, Max Fisher, June 20, 2019. The Trump administration has portrayed Iran’s recent moves, including its threat to resume stockpiling low-enriched uranium in violation of the nuclear agreement, as proof that Iran is an implacable rogue state, bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, that can be contained only through the threat of military force.

Iran has indeed often acted as a regional provocateur, but in this case some nonpartisan experts on Iran and on United States policy in the Middle East see something different.

iran flag mapThey say Iran appears to be pursuing a provocative but calibrated strategy to counter what its leaders see as a potentially existential American threat — as severe economic sanctions strangle the economy and cut off vital oil revenues — as well as to preserve the nuclear agreement.

In doing so, Iran is falling back on tactics associated with its reputation as a rogue state, including asymmetric military escalation, like threatening oil shipments, though Iran denies American accusations that it attacked tankers last week, or the downing of an American drone on Thursday (in disputed circumstances), and nuclear blackmail. It is doing so, analysts say, because such tactics are part of the basis of Iranian power and because the United States has closed off other avenues for responding.

The result, the experts say, is an Iranian strategy, rational but risky, that increases the likelihood of the nuclear agreement’s collapse and even of outright war in the hopes of compelling the world to avert both.

“Iran lashing out is a way for it to show the rest of the world, ‘Look, we’ve been acting in a relatively restrained manner in the year since Trump pulled out of the deal. But now we can’t,’ ” said Dina Esfandiary, a Harvard University expert on Middle Eastern security issues.

She said Tehran had settled on a “two-prong strategy of showing that they, too, can apply pressure by being a pain but also saying, ‘We’re willing to talk.’

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: This is what happens when you have an unfit commander in chief, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 20, 2019. The Senate repudiating a president of the majority party on a matter of national security would be unusual under any circumstances. That it comes at a time when tensions with a major international foe are boiling over is nothing short of astonishing, a sign of how far President Trump has fallen as commander in chief.

President's 126th Visit To Trump Holdings

washington post logoWashington Post, Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O'Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee​, June 20, 2019. President Trump’s trips have brought his businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue, according to a Washington Post analysis. When President Trump finished the first official rally of his reelection campaign this week, he got on Air Force One. But he didn’t go home to Washington. Instead, he flew 190 miles in the opposite direction — to visit his own Doral golf resort, outside Miami.

The resort’s profits have fallen since Trump took office. But it had a major event planned for the next day, a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection campaign.

It would be his 126th visit to one of his properties since taking office. And this visit — like more than a dozen before it — would bring paying customers, allowing Trump to play a double role. The president would be the headliner and the caterer.

Trump has bigger designs for the Doral club: He has suggested holding next year’s Group of Seven meeting — a gathering of world leaders — at Doral or another of his luxury resorts, current and former White House staffers said.

New Military Trial for 9/11 Defendants

ny times logoNew York Times, New Judge in the 9/11 Trial at Guantánamo Inherits a Complex History, Carol Rosenberg, June 20, 2019. When he took over this week as the judge in the military trial of the five defendants charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Col. W. Shane Cohen inherited 23,039 pages of public and secret transcripts; a vault with secret evidence withheld from defense lawyers by prosecutors invoking a national security exception; approximately 500 substantive legal case motions, some awaiting rulings; and more legal arguments and filings in the pipeline.

shane cohen judgeHe is the third person since 2012 to preside over the complex, slow-moving proceedings, which have been bogged down over how to handle what the United States did to the terrorist suspects from 2002 to 2006 in the C.I.A.’s secret network of black sites.

More than 17 years have passed since the attacks by Al Qaeda — and seven since Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the plot, and four accused accomplices were arraigned in the case, which carries the death penalty — and Colonel Cohen, right, could be the first judge to set a trial date.

On his first day on the bench, he described himself to lawyers in the case as a Mormon with “a very Jewish name” who felt shock but no anger over the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11.

Abortion / Custody Case History

Legal Schnauzer, Investigative commentary: Missouri GOP lawyer Douglas L. Healy refers to his son as a "bastard child in Poplar Bluff," but he then threatens to take the boy, age 4, from the only parent he's known after failing to pay child support for 3 years, Roger Shuler, June 20, 2019.  A prominent Republican lawyer in Missouri, who has a biological son in Butler County, refers to the boy in an email as a "bastard child," and -- despite making no attempt to see the boy (now 4 years old) and paying zero child support for three years -- has threatened to take the child from his mother.

douglas healyDouglas L. Healy, the proprietor of Healy Law Offices LLC -- which has locations in Springfield and Jefferson City, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas -- even refers to himself as "the unwilling sperm donor . . ., not the dad." Almost in the same breath, Healy threatens to "do whatever it takes to gain sole custody."

In a 2014 email, Healy refers to his "girlfriend and soon to be wife," be we can find no public records that indicate he is married. Did the girlfriend vanish? That's not clear, but she was a major part of Healy's communication with DeAnna Kelley, his son's mother, who refused Healy's request to have an abortion and is raising the child on her own in Poplar Bluff, MO.

What are Healy's feelings toward his own son -- and he has acknowledged in court documents that the child is his? They are somewhat short of loving, downright nasty perhaps. From the 2014 email (which is embedded at the end of this post):

From the email:

You seem to be insisting that I have a relationship with both you and the child. I have been very clear that is not going to happen. I have also been clear that I am not starting a family here, and also maintaining one in Poplar Bluff. You have ignored my advice and wishes, and now seemingly want to guilty me into supporting your bad decisions. Your disrespect and disregard for me is harming my relationship with my girlfriend, and soon to be wife. She reads all of your texts, and is convinced that the only reason you are keeping this pregnancy is in a hope of having a relationship with me; she sees you as a selfish person intent on destroying the happiness we have, and in embarrassing me publicly, and as a threat to her.

Healy seems to have no sense of obligation toward his son or the child's mother -- and his decision to skip out on three years of child-support payments appears to reflect that ; he has been making court-ordered child-support payments for roughly the past year.

With that, Healy's tone turns ugly, threatening, and vindictive:

If you do continue to seek my involvement, in any manner, either by telling other people that I am the father, through the courts, or through attempts to contact me directly, I will do whatever it takes to gain sole custody. I will do whatever it takes to make sure you never see it again, and me and my wife will raise it without it ever knowing it wasn't ours.

U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court Is Showing an Instinct for Self-Preservation, at Least Until Next Year’s Election, Linda Greenhouse, June 20, 2019. The court has passed on contentious cases about abortion and the rights of same-sex couples. Will it now drop the census case?

As the world knows, the deeply contested question of the validity of the Trump administration’s plan to ask about citizenship has become even more fraught with revelations us census bureaufrom the computer files of a recently deceased Republican redistricting specialist, Thomas Hofeller.

The documents appear to validate the conclusion reached by Federal District Judge Jesse Furman, whose ruling against the Trump administration is before the justices, that the administration’s purported good-government reason for adding the citizenship question was a pretext.

The real reason, the documents indicate, was to provide a statistical basis for entrenching Republican power by disregarding noncitizens in the population counts for future redistricting

U.S. Politics

roy moore 8 accusers Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Roy Moore announces bid for U.S. Senate in Alabama despite GOP opposition to his candidacy, Colby Itkowitz​, June 20, 2019. The former judge fell short in his 2017 race amid allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1970s, losing to Democrat Doug Jones in a solidly Republican state.

Roy Moore, the Alabama judge whose Senate bid fell short over allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls in the 1970s, announced Thursday that he will run again for the seat, ignoring President Trump and top Republicans who argue he can’t win.

“I will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020,” Moore said, kicking off his campaign in Montgomery, Ala. “Can I win? Yes, I can win. They know I can. That’s why there’s so much opposition.”

Moore lost a Senate race in the solidly Republican state to Democrat Doug Jones in a 2017 special election to fill the vacancy created when Trump tapped Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

About a month before that election, The Washington Post published accounts from four women who said Moore pursued them romantically in the 1970s when they were between the ages of 14 and 18. Moore has acknowledged contact with the women but denied any sexual contact.

Moore lost to Jones by a little more than 1 percent of the vote — becoming the first Democrat in 27 years to win a U.S. Senate seat in the state — and has been eyeing a rematch since.

Hoyer-Israeli Pressure On House Dems

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu file unsourced

U.S. House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-MD), listens at right to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Intercept, Analysis: An Invitation You Can’t Refuse: How Rep. Steny Hoyer Makes Sure AIPAC’s Israel Junket Is Well Attended, Akela Lacy and Ryan Grim, June 20, 2019. Mary Jo Kilroy was elected to Congress at the height of the financial crisis, in November 2008, to represent Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding area. She landed a seat on the Financial Services Committee, where she had a chance to address the foreclosure crisis ripping through her state, as well as to push for tougher regulation of Wall Street.

As she learned to navigate Washington during her first term, one of the more unexpected pressures she faced was about a foreign trip. It wasn’t just any congressional sojourn, but rather a trip to Israel organized by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and sponsored by the nonprofit arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. “I would say that I was ‘strongly encouraged’ to take the Steny Hoyer AIPAC trip. ‘Everyone’ is going except you,” recalled Kilroy, who resisted the pressure, telling AIPAC that she didn’t want to go on a one-sided tour of the region.

AIPAC, which for years had strong support from both political parties, has seen its influence dip in the Democratic Party as its increasingly hard-line approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pushes it in an ever more aggressive direction.

Even in 2009, when Kilroy was invited, AIPAC was known for its hard-edged politics. “I told them that I would like to visit Israel sometime, but that I wanted a more objective view of the complex issues, and more inclusive meetings with knowledgeable people in Israel and Palestine, not one just from the AIPAC point of view,” she said. Aside from Hoyer and AIPAC’s Washington representatives, she got visits and phone calls, she said, from AIPAC supporters in Columbus “who also conveyed their desire to have me go on this trip.”

Ultimately, she did take a congressional trip to Israel, but it was the first one organized by a rival pro-Israel group, J Street, which takes a more moderate approach to the region’s politics. They visited Ramallah, a city in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, she recalled, but Israel blocked the congressional delegation from entering the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory that has been under siege by Israel for more than a decade.

“I think people should go being comfortable with who they go with, and not everybody should have to go on the AIPAC trip.”

Ten years later, pressure on the incoming freshman class to sign up for Hoyer’s Israeli adventure has only grown more intense, particularly as AIPAC is determined to prove its continued relevance. A Democratic base increasingly wary of unchecked U.S. support for Israel has become more critical of the group, which has been unable to push through its signature piece of legislation, a bill that would criminalize or otherwise officially condemn participation in a boycott of Israel for its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate votes to block Trump’s emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Karoun Demirjian​, June 20, 2019. The House is expected take up the measures next, but it will be challenging for either chamber to overcome an expected veto from the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign felt ‘relief’ from WikiLeaks information damaging to Clinton, Hicks says, Rachael Bade, Rosalind S. Helderman and Devlin Barrett​, June 20, 2019. White House lawyers blocked the former aide to President Trump from answering 155 questions from the House Judiciary Committee. A former top aide to President Trump told House investigators that officials on the 2016 campaign felt “relief” when WikiLeaks released hacked information damaging to rival Hillary Clinton, reaffirming Robert S. Mueller III’s conclusion that Trump associates welcomed Russia’s interference in the election.

hope hicks djtDuring a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Hope Hicks defended the Trump campaign’s use of private Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails that were hacked by Russia, then released by WikiLeaks. Hicks, a close confidante of the president who was mentioned more than 180 times in the Mueller report, argued they were “publicly available information.”

“I think that ‘happy’ is not — I don't think that's a fair characterization,” Hicks told one lawmaker who asked if the campaign was happy to see the WikiLeaks emails released. “I think ‘relief that we weren't the only campaign with issues’ is more accurate.”

The committee released a transcript of the interview on Thursday.

The question was among the few Hicks would answer during the seven-hour session. The White House barred her from answering 155 questions related to her time working in the Trump administration, claiming that Hicks had immunity since she worked in the White House.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There’s no hope for Hope Hicks, Daniel Cotter, June 20, 2019.  Hope Hicks appeared for more than seven hours behind closed doors yesterday before the hope hicks descending airplaneHouse Judiciary Committee. All reports are that she gave no information whatsoever about her time in the White House, not even where her office was or where she sat. The posturing by this administration, which more and more acts and speaks as if it is a dictatorship rather than accountable, is not surprising.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Tuesday, June 17, 2019, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler: “Ms. Hicks is absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President. Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the President, the President has directed Ms. Hicks not to answer questions before the Committee relating to the time of her service as a senior adviser to the President.”

One main problem with Cipollone’s letter and assertion: there is no such thing as absolute immunity. There is absolutely no hope for Hicks that she can shield herself from investigation and potential legal exposure through asserting an immunity that does not exist for her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: New Hope Hicks fiasco shows how dangerous a risk Democrats are taking, Greg Sargent, June 20, 2019 (print ed.). The White House’s ongoing campaign to render any and all oversight efforts by House Democrats a dead letter continued apace with a full-blown fiasco involving the testimony of Hope Hicks, a former communications director to President Trump.

Democrats had hoped to press Hicks on matters related to Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct the Russian election interference investigation, including Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and his anger at former attorney general Jeff Sessions, a longtime target of Trump’s rage over his refusal to protect him from the investigation.

But Democrats made little to no headway with Hicks. As The Post reports, the White House’s assertion of immunity “even extended to simple questions about where her office was located, according to lawmakers in the room.”

Multiple legal experts have insisted that an impeachment inquiry might strengthen Democrats’ hands in these court battles. As Michael Stern, a former counsel to the House of Representatives, has argued, although Democrats currently have a good case to compel testimony, it would be even more “absurd” for the courts to rule that former White House aides “are somehow immune from testifying in an impeachment proceeding as fact witnesses to alleged high crimes and misdemeanors.”U.

U.S. Politics / Religion


Liberty University

Rolling Stone, The Saga of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Bizarre Relationship With a Miami Beach Pool Boy, Explained, Ryan Bort, June 20, 2019. The Liberty University president who shepherded much of Trump’s evangelical support is at the center of a controversy involving blackmail, a hostel, and Tom Arnold.

jerry falwell jr wIn 2012, Falwell, left, and his wife Becki visited the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. While there, they befriended a 21-year-old pool attendant named Giancarlo Granda. Granda soon began traveling with the Falwells, both to their home of Virginia to hike and water ski, according to the Times, and to the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys, according to the Herald. The latter paper published photos of the trip to the Keys, with Granda smiling next to Falwell, the two looking like father and son. Just months after the friendship commenced, the Falwells offered to help Granda, who had practically no business experience, set up a venture in Miami. After consulting with his friend Jesus Fernandez Jr. and Fernandez’s father, they agreed to open a hostel. Falwell ponied up $1.8 million.

Why did Falwell (who was nearly 50 at the time) and his wife invite a 21-year-old hotel pool boy to travel with them on multiple occasions, and then put up seven figures for him to open up a hostel in Miami Beach that Politico described as a “cesspool of vice”?


What about the salacious photos?

The relationship between the Fernandez family and the Falwells and Granda eventually went sour, and the Fernandezes sued, claiming they were being muscled out of a deal in which they were promised a controlling stake. The lawsuit, and many of the details of the Falwells’ relationship with Granda, were not know until Buzzfeed News reported on it in May 2018. Though it was not included in the lawsuit or Buzzfeed’s report, multiple compromising photos of the Falwells became a central element of the legal battle, according to the Times, which spoke to several people involved in the case.

Falwell has denied the existence of the photos — or at least that they’re of him — but the Herald reviewed three of them, which show Falwell’s “wife in various stages of undress.” When they were taken or by whom is not known, but, according to the Herald, two of them appear to have been taken at the Falwells’ farm in Virginia, and one at the Cheeca Lodge.

The lawsuit that gave rise to the photos has led both Fernandezes to change their names, the son to Gordon Bello and the father to Jett Bello. Why they did this is unclear. “We felt it was very important for us to find a different path,” the father told the Herald. “There were obviously major concerns. And they were based on threats.”

Later in 2012, after the Falwells befriended Granda, Trump was invited to speak at Liberty University. Michael Cohen accompanied him, and the Apprentice star and his fixer developed a relationship with Fallwell. (Granda was in attendance, as well; the Times published a photo of him holding a copy of The Art of the Deal on a private jet.) In 2015, as the potential release of the compromising photos was becoming a problem for Falwell, he enlisted the help of Cohen, a revelation reported by Reuters last month. Cohen reportedly then flew to Florida to meet with the attorney of the mystery figure who possessed the photos. The issue was resolved, and the attorney told Cohen that the photos were destroyed.

Evangelical Christians love President Trump. They voted for him in 2016 by a staggering margin — 80% to 16% — and a Pew Research poll released in March found that 69% of white evangelicals approve of the job Trump is doing as president. The fact that Trump is a lewd, twice-divorced former casino magnate who has bragged about grabbing women by their genitals does not seem to bother the nation’s most devout Christians. Jerry Falwell Jr. is a big reason why.

The son of prominent televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. (naturally), Falwell’s January 2016 endorsement of Trump shocked religious leaders while essentially giving evangelicals wrestling with Trump’s not-so-Christian behavior permission to vote for him. Falwell’s support for the president hasn’t wavered since. He even defended him after Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, arguing on ABC that the president had “inside information” that could have informed the equivocation. More recently, Falwell tweeted that because the Russia investigation turned out to be a “corrupt failed coup,” Trump should receive “reparations” in the form of two years being tacked onto his first term.

Media News

chuck todd djtPalmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Chuck Todd made those asinine remarks about Trump’s concentration camps, Bill Palmer, June 20, 2019. This week, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez somehow managed to create a controversy in the media by merely stating a fact that most of the mainstream media has been afraid to say in exact words: Donald Trump is running “concentration camps” full of immigrant children.

bill palmer report logo headerMeet The Press host Chuck Todd, who routinely tries to make himself look “balanced” by hitting strong Democrats harder than he hits weak Republicans so they’ll look equally bad, acknowledged on-air this week that Ocasio-Cortez was correct. But Todd insisted that she was somehow doing a great disservice to the kids in Trump’s concentration camps by accurately calling them “concentration camps.”

sarah huckabee sanders screenshot

HuffPost, Some White House Reporters Are Throwing Sarah Huckabee Sanders A Goodbye Party, Maxwell Strachan, June 20, 2019. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (shown in a file shot) and the reporters who cover the White House haven’t always had the smoothest relationship. But that isn’t stopping some of those journalists from organizing a goodbye party for the outgoing White House press secretary next week.

On Wednesday, two White House correspondents, Politico’s Anita Kumar and DailyMail.com’s Francesca Chambers, invited fellow reporters and some Trump staffers to “farewell drinks” for Sanders at an upscale D.C. restaurant on June 24, according to a copy of the email invitation obtained by HuffPost.

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter last week that Sanders plans to step down at the end of the month after more than three years with the Trump administration.

“She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job!” the president tweeted. “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas ― she would be fantastic.”

The decision to plan the casual shindig is notable, considering Sanders’ often adversarial relationship with the press. During Sanders’ tenure as press secretary, the once-regular White House briefings became increasingly rare. In April, the Trump administration set a White House record when it went 43 days without hosting a press briefing. Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said then that he had been pushing Sanders for more regular briefings to little avail.

That same month, the long-awaited report from special counsel Robert Mueller provided hard evidence that Sanders lied at a White House press conference in 2017 when she claimed the administration had “heard from countless members of the FBI” who’d lost faith in former FBI Director James Comey.

Sanders later told Mueller’s office that the comment had been a “slip of the tongue” and that the assertion, which she’d supposedly heard from “rank-and-file FBI agents,” was “not founded on anything,” according to the special counsel’s report.

Kumar is a member of the WHCA’s board, and Chambers is the organization’s treasurer. But Knox told HuffPost the WHCA had “nothing to do” with the upcoming event.

Abortion / Custody Case History

Legal Schnauzer, Investigative commentary: Missouri GOP lawyer Douglas L. Healy refers to his son as a "bastard child in Poplar Bluff," but he then threatens to take the boy, age 4, from the only parent he's known after failing to pay child support for 3 years, Roger Shuler, June 20, 2019.  A prominent Republican lawyer in Missouri, who has a biological son in Butler County, refers to the boy in an email as a "bastard child," and -- despite making no attempt to see the boy (now 4 years old) and paying zero child support for three years -- has threatened to take the child from his mother.

douglas healyDouglas L. Healy, the proprietor of Healy Law Offices LLC -- which has locations in Springfield and Jefferson City, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas -- even refers to himself as "the unwilling sperm donor . . ., not the dad." Almost in the same breath, Healy threatens to "do whatever it takes to gain sole custody."

In a 2014 email, Healy refers to his "girlfriend and soon to be wife," be we can find no public records that indicate he is married. Did the girlfriend vanish? That's not clear, but she was a major part of Healy's communication with DeAnna Kelley, his son's mother, who refused Healy's request to have an abortion and is raising the child on her own in Poplar Bluff, MO.

What are Healy's feelings toward his own son -- and he has acknowledged in court documents that the child is his? They are somewhat short of loving, downright nasty perhaps. From the 2014 email (which is embedded at the end of this post):

From the email:

You seem to be insisting that I have a relationship with both you and the child. I have been very clear that is not going to happen. I have also been clear that I am not starting a family here, and also maintaining one in Poplar Bluff. You have ignored my advice and wishes, and now seemingly want to guilty me into supporting your bad decisions. Your disrespect and disregard for me is harming my relationship with my girlfriend, and soon to be wife. She reads all of your texts, and is convinced that the only reason you are keeping this pregnancy is in a hope of having a relationship with me; she sees you as a selfish person intent on destroying the happiness we have, and in embarrassing me publicly, and as a threat to her.

Healy seems to have no sense of obligation toward his son or the child's mother -- and his decision to skip out on three years of child-support payments appears to reflect that ; he has been making court-ordered child-support payments for roughly the past year.

With that, Healy's tone turns ugly, threatening, and vindictive:

If you do continue to seek my involvement, in any manner, either by telling other people that I am the father, through the courts, or through attempts to contact me directly, I will do whatever it takes to gain sole custody. I will do whatever it takes to make sure you never see it again, and me and my wife will raise it without it ever knowing it wasn't ours.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court rules that ‘Peace Cross’ honoring military dead may remain on public land, Robert Barnes​, June 20, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a 40-foot cross erected as a tribute to war dead may continue to stand on public land in Maryland, rejecting arguments that it was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The vote was 7 to 2, but the ruling prompted an outpouring of individual opinions as the court struggled to explain what should be done with public displays that feature religious imagery.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the main opinion and said history and tradition must be taken into account when judging modern objections to monuments on public land.

“The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent,” Alito wrote. “For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our Nation. For others still, it is a historical landmark.

Media / 9//11 Evidence

ae911 truth continuing education photo AIA

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), Opinion: American Institute of Architects Terminates AE911Truth’s Continuing Education Provider Status, Staff report, June 20, 2019. On May 31, 2019, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) was notified by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) that it was terminating our status as an AIA continuing education provider. (A previous seminar is shown above, led by AE911Truth President Richard Gage, at the screen in front.)

AE911Truth was first approved as an AIA continuing education provider in June 2016. This enabled architects to take our courses and receive the continuing education credits they needed to maintain their AIA membership and architecture license.

During our nearly three years as a provider, we offered six live and on-demand courses, each of which was approved by the AIA prior to being introduced. Between September 2017 and April 2018, the AIA conducted an audit of one of our six courses, during which we made a number of minor revisions that brought the course into full compliance with AIA guidelines. The AIA was planning to audit our remaining courses after completing the audit of the first course, but the auditor never contacted us again.

According to the AIA’s managing director of professional development and resources, Stephen Martin, the AIA conducted a more recent review of our courses and, based on the results of that review as well as “past audit concerns,” determined that the “content of the courses and mission of [our] organization [were] incompatible with the mission and intent of the AIA’s continuing education program.” The AIA provided no explanation for its determination and did not respond when asked to provide the results of its review.

In the wake of the AIA’s silent refusal to provide any basis for its determination, we are left to conclude that the abrupt termination of our provider status was motivated not by any incurable deficiencies in our courses but by the AIA’s apparent bias against our mission and against the fundamentally sound analysis contained in our courses. If the mission of AE911Truth and the content of our courses are incompatible with the mission and intent of the AIA’s continuing education program, then something is clearly wrong with the AIA’s continuing education program.

Paradoxically, the AIA’s termination of our provider status comes at the same time as our relatively new outreach program to the engineering profession, known as Project Due Diligence, is beginning to take off. Of the hundreds of engineers we have presented to at local chapter meetings and at state and national conferences, not one has expressed confidence in the official reports issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology after hearing our critique of them. Indeed, the response to our presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

In our decade of outreach to the AIA and its membership, we have done the very job that the AIA has neglected to do: educate thousands of AIA members about the three worst structural failures in modern history. That the AIA is now making it even harder for us to educate architects — after barring us in 2017 from exhibiting at its national conventions, which we had done from 2009 to 2016 — and will no longer award continuing education credits to architects who take our courses, marks a sad day for the profession.

Nevertheless, we are confident in our ability to disseminate knowledge of the WTC evidence to the architecture and engineering professions. And we know that, in time, organizations like the AIA will be forced to face the truth of the World Trade Center’s explosive demolition and reckon with the fact that they did nothing — or worse — when given the opportunity to be on the right side of history.

For further discussion of this development, we invite you to tune in to this week’s episode of 9/11 Free Fall with AIA members Richard Gage and Henry MacLean and civil engineer Roland Angle, who is the leader of AE911Truth’s Project Due Diligence.

Inside DC

Roll Call, These 103 House Democrats have a message for the presidential candidates, Simone Pathé, June 20, 2019. New Democrat Coalition wants to talk with hopefuls about issues important to their voters. More than 100 House Democrats, including many of the freshmen who won in moderate districts, want to talk to the Democratic presidential candidates.

democratic donkey logoThe New Democrat Coalition, the largest ideological group in the House Democratic caucus, is sending a letter to all the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday requesting individual meetings with them.

The coalition hasn’t yet decided if it will make an endorsement in the presidential primary. But with 103 members, the coalition carries significant weight in Congress.

U.S. House logoNew Democrats won 32 of 40 seats that Democrats flipped from red to blue last fall as the party took control of the House.

“Our coalition was the majority makers,” Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer, the chairman of the coalition, said in an interview in his office on Thursday morning. “It’s important that we have candidates that are able to talk to the issues impacting the districts that we won to take back the House.”

Kilmer said he hoped the meetings would be a two-way discussion between the members and the presidential candidates.

The meetings could provide members who won in tough districts a chance to impart advice that could be useful on the national stage. They also would be able to remind presidential candidates of what kinds of national conversations are less useful in the districts Democrats must hold onto next year.

Members of the New Democrat Coalition come from all across the country and include one presidential candidate — Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who failed to qualify for next week’s debate stage. A few other presidential candidates, such as former Beto O’Rourke of Texas, John Delaney of Maryland and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, were members of the coalition when they were in the House.

“One of the big common denominators is our focus is on trying to grow the economic pie and make sure everybody can earn a slice of it. And that may look different in Oklahoma and South Carolina and Iowa, than it does in New York and Washington,” Kilmer said.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, New documents revisit questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar's marriage history, Patrick Coolican and Stephen ilhan omar oMontemayor Star Tribune, June 22, 2019. New investigative documents released by a state agency have given fresh life to lingering questions about the marital history of Rep. Ilhan Omar, right, and whether she once married a man — possibly her own brother — to skirt immigration laws.

Omar has denied the allegations in the past, dismissing them as “baseless rumors” first raised in an online Somali politics forum and championed by conservative bloggers during her 2016 campaign for the Minnesota House. But she said little then or since about Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, the former husband who swept into her life in 2009 before a 2011 separation.

The questions surfaced again this month in a state probe of campaign finance violations showing that Omar filed federal taxes in 2014 and 2015 with her current husband, Ahmed Hirsi, while she was still legally married to but separated from Elmi.

Dan Macy.org, ‘Intelligence’ Doubts on Gulf Attacks Cloud the Real Problem, Says Schiff, Dan Macy, June 20, 2019. The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., dismissed any doubt that last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were the work of Iran, and said despite demands for more evidence from some United States allies, the matter is “not an intelligence matter.”

adam schiff official“I have to say, as someone who spends so much of the time working on intelligence and working with intelligence agencies, I’m astonished at how much discussion of Iran has revolved lately around intelligence,” Schiff, right, said to an audience of reporters and members of the public at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

The statement is somewhat surprising because two of America’s closest allies — Germany and Japan — have in recent days questioned the veracity of grainy video footage released by U.S. intelligence services that purport to show Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of two ships attacked last week in the Strait of Hormuz, putting the quality of the intelligence at the center of debate and perhaps more problematic, calling into question the credibility of President Donald Trump in the eyes of American allies. Schiff stands out, even among Democrats, as a vocal and consistent critic of Trump.

“To me, the issues raised by Iran are really not intelligence issues,” Schiff said. “I think there’s no question about Iran’s responsibility for the attacks on shipping, and I don’t really think that the heart of the concern that our allies have is over the quality of intelligence, which is very strong. I think the problem is really that we [ought] to be surprised that we didn’t find ourselves in this situation, that this was eminently predictable.”

Egypt's Morsi Dies In Courtroom

Real News Network via OpEdNews, Opinion: Morsi's Death Represents the Demise of Hope for Democracy in Egypt, host Marc Steiner, June 20, 2019 (17:58 min. video interview).

MARC STEINER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Marc Steiner. Great to have you all with us. Mohamed Morsi was the only popularly-elected president of Egypt. He died in a courtroom where he was being tried. After speaking, he collapsed and while the Egyptian government vehemently denies these allegations, most of the witnesses said Morsi was left slumped to the floor for up to a half an hour before given any medical attention. People can critique Morsi's time in office. He was elected with 51 percent of the vote on the heels of the Arab Spring, but his death comes to symbolize for many the demise of hope for democracy in Egypt. Members of his Muslim Brotherhood, and abdel fattah al sisi un croppedsecularist activists and leaders alike, are languishing in the jails of the current president, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (right).

The fear runs so deep, we could not find any Egyptians in Egypt to join us today out of fear of retaliation. Morsi's body was buried quickly and quietly with only a handful of family members present, as the Egyptian government feared a nationwide uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood claims that Morsi was murdered, and Egyptian security forces are on high alert, anticipating Friday prayers and see what will happen then. Talaat Fahmi, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke at a symbolic funeral service held in Istanbul, Turkey in honor of Mohamed Morsi. This is what he said.

TALAAT FAHMI, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD SPOKEMAN: Those coup leaders have killed Dr. Mohamed Morsi. They have implemented an incremental killing process throughout six years. They refused him medicine, refused him treatment. They did not allow him to see a doctor or go to the hospital. They refused him contact with his family, refused him contact with lawyers. He said that at the court, he was served poisoned food. He was experiencing loss of consciousness from diabetes. He was held in solitary detention for six years. The government, those coup leaders, have killed more than 800 people throughout the past six years in prison. People don't eat, they don't drink, and they do not receive any treatments. It is not unusual for those coup leaders to kill this man.

June 19

Sudden DoD Change

pentagon dc skyline dod photo.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper, June 19, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump on Tuesday pulled the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan, right, to be the permanent defense secretary, saying on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan would devote more time to his family.

patrick shanahan oThe move leaves the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the explosions that damaged the two tankers.

raytheon logoMr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position.

At the Pentagon, officials were internally discussing that a routine F.B.I. investigation for cabinet nominees was dragging on for Mr. Shanahan because of his divorce, which included an allegation from his ex-wife — denied by Mr. Shanahan — that he punched her in the stomach. Mr. Shanahan said that his ex-wife started the fight, and his spokesman said that she was arrested and charged with domestic violence, charges which were eventually dropped.

According to court documents viewed by The New York Times, in 2011 Mr. Shanahan’s son, who was 17 at the time, hit his mother repeatedly with a baseball bat, and she was hospitalized.

Department of Defense SealIn an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Mr. Shanahan said that “bad things can happen to good families.” He called the episode “a tragedy,” and said that dredging it up publicly “will ruin my son’s life.”

During his tenure, Mr. Shanahan was criticized for slighting Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s chief competitor, for its mismanagement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft that is years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.

He was widely viewed as acquiescing to the White House and other government officials, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. Mr. Shanahan famously said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: There's much more to the Shanahan resignation story, Wayne Madsen (author and former defense contracting executive and Navy intelligence officer), June 19, 2019 (subscription required). There is much more to the sudden decision of acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to withdraw his name from consideration for Senate confirmation as Secretary of Defense in order to “spend more time with his family.”

Trump Team Pounding War Drums?

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Has Ties to Al Qaeda, Trump Officials Tell Skeptical Congress, Edward Wong and Catie Edmondson, June 19, 2019. Administration officials are briefing Congress on what they say are ties between Iran and Al Qaeda, prompting skeptical reactions and concern on Capitol Hill that the White House could invoke the war authorization passed in 2001 as legal cover for military action against Tehran.

mike pompeo state dept photoAs tensions between the United States and Iran have surged, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shown in a State Department photo, and Pentagon officials have told members of Congress and aides in recent weeks about what they suggest is a pattern of ties between Iran and the terrorist group going back to after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said.

They have stopped short of telling lawmakers or aides in large group settings that the 2001 authorization for the use of military force from Congress, which permits the United States to wage war on Al Qaeda and its allies or offshoots, would allow the Trump administration to go to war with Iran. President Trump has said he does not want a war, but he ordered 2,500 additional troops to the region in the last month in response to what American officials said was a heightened threat.

Climate Change Impact

ny times logoNew York Times, With Surging Storms and Rising Seas, Which U.S. Cities Should Be Saved? Christopher Flavelle, June 19, 2019. After three years of brutal flooding and hurricanes, there is a consensus that coastal areas will require significant spending to ride out future storms. There is also a growing realization that some communities, even sizable ones, will be left behind.

New research offers one way to look at the enormity of the cost as policymakers consider how to choose winners and losers in the race to adapt to climate change. By 2040, simply providing basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents will require at least $42 billion, according to new estimates from the Center for Climate Integrity, an environmental advocacy group. Expanding the list to include communities smaller than 25,000 people would increase that cost to more than $400 billion.

“Once you get into it, you realize we’re just not going to protect a lot of these places,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the group, which wants oil and gas companies to pay some of the cost of climate adaptation. “This is the next wave of climate denial — denying the costs that we’re all facing.”

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump vows mass migrant arrests starting next week, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, June 19, 2019 (print ed.). In tweets, President Trump appeared to reference a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities. President Trump said in a tweet ICE logoMonday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

donald trump twitter“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Related story: Washington Post, Juarez scrambles before U.S. sends thousands of migrants back to Mexico, June 18, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s threat of mass arrests stinks of weakness and failure, Greg Sargent, June 19, 2019 (print ed.). Trump keeps making threats. Then nothing happens. Perhaps it’s entirely a coincidence that President Trump announced that he’s unleashing his deportation force only hours before he’s scheduled to kick off his reelection campaign with a rally in Florida.

But, coincidence or not, Trump undoubtedly sees this announcement as a show of fearsome political strength. Trump plans to run in 2020 on the notion that he represents law and order on our southern border, while painting Democrats as weak and in favor of open borders.

What better way to dramatize this contrast than to crank up the deportations, displaying Trump’s toughness while provoking Democrats into squealing about their squishy, pointy-headed, elitist humanitarian concerns?

But this latest threat is better understood as a grand expression of weakness and failure on Trump’s part — political weakness, rooted to no small degree in his abject failure on immigration, his signature issue.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House bars former Trump aide from answering questions about her work in administration, Rachael Bade and Hailey Fuchs, June 19, 2019. The White House is barring a former top aide to President Trump from answering dozens of questions about her time in the administration, angering House Democrats and raising the prospect of lawmakers asking the courts to settle the issue.

hope hicks djtDuring a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a White House attorney and Justice Department lawyer kept Hope Hicks, shown in a file photo, from answering questions about her tenure in the West Wing, claiming immunity for the executive branch — although Hicks is a private citizen.

Democrats immediately countered that the immunity assertion was made up, accusing the White House of trying to stonewall their investigations.

“I’m watching obstruction of justice in action,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a committee member, emerging from the hearing room. “What are they trying to hide from the American people?”

adam schiff officialNational Press Club, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, right, discussed the Committee’s updated priorities and investigations at a National Press Club Headliners event on June 19, 2019 (62 min. video).

Washington Post, Opinion: State Department official didn’t disclose ties to the boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina, Josh Rogin, June 19, 2019. The State Department official in charge of U.S. arms control negotiations with Moscow and her husband had a years-long friendship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina — ties this official did not disclose to her superiors or to Congress during her confirmation process in the spring of 2018.

Erickson officiated the June 2017 wedding of Andrea Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, and David Gillian, a former senior Australian army officer, three administration officials and Erickson’s lawyer have confirmed. At the time, Thompson was serving as national security adviser to Vice President Pence. Four months before the wedding, Gillian had transferred Erickson $100,000, which federal officials allege Erickson stole from Gillian, FBI and court documents show. Thompson never disclosed these ties to her superiors until approached this week by this columnist, the three administration officials said.

The wedding took place about six months before Erickson and Butina were publicly identified as being connected to Russian influence operations inside the United States. But by the time of Thompson’s confirmation, allegations of the couple’s influence activities had been widely reported.

felix saterPolitico, Felix Sater set to testify before House Intel panel on Friday, Andrew Desiderio and Natasha Bertrand, June 19, 2019. Felix Sater, who served as the chief negotiator for the Trump Tower Moscow project, will testify on Capitol Hill later this week. The Russian-born businessman confirmed to Politico that he will appear behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

Sater, right, was initially scheduled to testify in March, but the imminent release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election prompted the panel to postpone the interview. Lawmakers had initially said the interview — which is expected to focus on the negotiations surrounding the failed Moscow real estate project — would be public.

But the panel decided to make it private because the subjects are extremely sensitive and concern national security issues, including Sater’s previous work as an undercover asset for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Russia issues, said a person familiar with the matter.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration threatens furloughs, layoffs if Congress blocks plan to eliminate personnel agency, Lisa Rein​, June 19, 2019. The warning of staff cuts at the Office of Personnel Management is the administration’s most dramatic move yet in an escalating fight over the fate of the agency that manages the civilian federal workforce of 2.1 million.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe Trump administration is threatening to furlough — and possibly lay off — 150 employees at the federal personnel agency if Congress blocks its plan to eliminate the department.

The Office of Personnel Management is preparing to send the career employees home without pay starting on Oct. 1, according to an internal briefing document obtained by the Washington Post. The employees could formally be laid off after 30 days, administration officials confirmed.

The warning of staff cuts is the administration’s most dramatic move yet in an escalating jujitsu between Trump officials and Congress over the fate of the agency that manages the civilian federal workforce of 2.1 million.

Even as House Democrats and some Republicans signal that Congress is not going to break up the 5,565-employee department, the administration is moving forward in defiance. Trump appointees paint a dire picture of a corner of the government in financial free fall and failing to carry out its mission. They want a commitment from Congress by June 30 to agree to disband the agency — or they say they’ll be forced to trim staff.

washington post logoWashington Post, EPA rolls back key Obama climate rule targeting coal plants, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis​, June 19, 2019.  The agency’s new carbon reduction target requires less than half of what experts say is needed to avert catastrophic warming of the planet.

The Trump administration finalized its biggest climate policy rollback Wednesday, requiring the U.S. power sector to cut its 2030 carbon emissions 35 percent over 2005 levels — less than half of what experts calculate is needed to avert catastrophic warming of the planet.

epa general logoThe Affordable Clean Energy rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, demands much smaller carbon dioxide reductions than the andrew wheeler oindustry is already on track to achieve, even without federal regulation. As of last year, the U.S. power sector had cut its greenhouse gas emissions 27 percent compared with 2005.

Addressing an audience of supporters, including coal miners from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, right, said the new policy will overturn a climate policy that would have imposed higher costs on low- and middle-income Americans.

Trump's 2020 Campaign Kickoff

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s 2020 Kickoff Rally Echoes Familiar Anger and Passion, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni and Michael D. Shear, June 19, 2019 (staff report). President djt maga hatTrump delivered a fierce denunciation of the news media, the political establishment and what he called his radical opponents on Tuesday as he opened his re-election campaign in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters by evoking the dark messaging and personal grievances that animated his 2016 victory.

Almost four years to the day since he announced his first, improbable run for public office from the basement of Trump Tower in Manhattan, Mr. Trump mocked and disparaged Democrats, calling them the leaders of an “angry, left-wing mob” and declaring that the 2020 election will be a “verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, undermine you.”

Orlando Sentinel, Editorial, Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump, Editorial Board, June 19, 2019 (print ed.). For the 2020 election, the Orlando Sentinel will not endorse President Donald Trump for re-election. The nation must do better. Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump. Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoBecause there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is. It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it. There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.

According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office. Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

Global Intrigues, Deaths

washington post logojamal khashoggi western suitWashington Post, ‘Joints will be separated’: U.N. report details discussion before Khashoggi killing, Carol Morello and Kareem Fahim​, June 19, 2019.​ A special U.N. investigator on Wednesday called for further investigation of high-level Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shown at right.

Agnes Callamard, a human rights expert who is a special rapporteur for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a 101-page report on her months-long inquiry into Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

washington post logoWashington Post, Four to face murder charges in downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed 298, Anton Troianovski, June 19, 2019.  A Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 wreck over Ukraine named four suspects, including a former leader of Russian-backed separatists in the region.

malaysia wreckageThe Dutch-led investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 named its first suspects on Wednesday — among them three Russian nationals close to Russian intelligence services.

Investigators have long suspected a missile from Ukraine’s battle zones was responsible for bringing down the jetliner, killing all 298 passengers and crew on the flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Some of the wreckage is shown in a file photo at right.

But the charges against the four suspects brings a tighter focus on the alleged decision-making and Russian involvement in the July 2014 disaster.

The suspects are believed to be located in Russia or separatist-held Ukraine, meaning they are out of the reach of Western law enforcement and unlikely to show up at trial scheduled for March.

For a different view, see: SouthFront, “Where Is the Evidence?”: Malaysian PM slams MH17 investigation as not impartial and politically motivated, Staff report, May 31, 2019. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the investigation into the 2014 crash of the Malaysia Airlines-operated Boeing in Ukraine was not conducted in an impartial manner, but was rather focused on simply pinning the blame on Russia for political reasons.

More On U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen, Frances Robles and Jim Rutenberg, June 19, 2019 (staff report). Jerry Falwell Jr., a son of the co-founder of the modern religious right, defied expectations when he supported Donald J. Trump in 2016. Now details are emerging about behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the months before the endorsement.

jerry falwell jr wSenator Ted Cruz was running neck and neck with Donald J. Trump in Iowa just before the caucuses in 2016, but his campaign was expecting a last-minute boost from a powerful endorser, Jerry Falwell Jr.

Mr. Falwell, left, was chancellor of one of the nation’s largest Christian colleges, Liberty University, and a son of the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the televangelist and co-founder of the modern religious right.

Months earlier, Mr. Falwell had provided Liberty’s basketball arena for Mr. Cruz’s formal presidential announcement and required that the student body attend, giving the Texas Republican a guaranteed audience of thousands of cheering young religious conservatives.

With the caucuses now fast approaching, the senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, an evangelical pastor who had taken the lead in wooing Mr. Falwell, alerted the campaign that Mr. Falwell had pledged to endorse his son.

But when the time came for an announcement, Mr. Falwell rocked the Cruz campaign and grabbed the attention of the entire political world. He endorsed Mr. Trump instead, becoming one of the first major evangelical leaders to get behind the thrice-married, insult-hurling real estate mogul’s long-odds presidential bid.

washington post logoWashington Post, Meet the New York couple donating millions to the anti-vax movement, Lena H. Sun and Amy Brittain, June 19, 2019. A wealthy Manhattan couple has emerged as significant financiers of the anti-vaccine movement, contributing more than $3 million in recent years to groups that stoke fears about immunizations online and at live events — including two forums this year at the epicenter of measles outbreaks in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have long donated to organizations focused on the arts, culture, education and the environment. But seven years ago, their private foundation embraced a very different cause: groups that question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

How the Selzes came to support anti-vaccine ideas is unknown, but their financial impact has been enormous. Their money has gone to a handful of determined individuals who have played an outsize role in spreading doubt and misinformation about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The groups’ false claims linking vaccines to autism and other ailments, while downplaying the risks of measles, have led growing numbers of parents to shun the shots. As a result, health officials have said, the potentially deadly disease has surged to at least 1,044 cases this year, the highest number in nearly three decades.

The Selz Foundation provides roughly three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, a three-year-old charity that describes its mission as promoting drug and vaccine safety and parental choice in vaccine decisions.

Lisa Selz serves as the group’s president, but its public face and chief executive is Del Bigtree, a former daytime television show producer who draws big crowds to public events. Bigtree has no medical credentials but holds himself out as an expert on vaccine safety and promotes the idea that government officials have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to cover up grievous harms from the drugs. In recent weeks, Bigtree has headlined forums in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., both areas confronting large measles outbreaks.

Thanks largely to the Selzes’s donations, ICAN is now the best-funded among a trio of organizations that have amplified concerns about vaccines. ICAN brought in $1.4 million in revenue in 2017, with just over $1 million supplied by the Selz Foundation, according to tax filings.

U.S. Race Relations: History

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropod: Oregon was America’s first and only state to begin as ‘whites-only,’ Mike Rosenwald, June 19, 2019 (4:53 mins). Oregon’s original constitution banned black people from the state, and the law stayed in the constitution for well over 100 years. Retropod is a show for history lovers, featuring stories about the past, rediscovered. Host Mike Rosenwald introduces you to history’s most colorful characters - forgotten heroes, overlooked villains, dreamers, explorers, world changers.

Propaganda & George Orwell

george orwell at bbc mike public domain

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Orwellian nightmare takes an even uglier turn for America, Robert Harrington, June 19, 2019. If you should visit the gravesite of George Orwell, as I have, you might notice three things: the humble simplicity of its surroundings, the absence of other people (by which I mean, of course, “living” people), and the simplicity of his marker, which is inscribed with his birth name, Eric Arthur Blair (shown above at a BBC broadcast).

That the final resting place of planet earth’s greatest prophet should remain so uniquely unrewarded by glitz and fame in its own way makes the place all that more powerfully moving. I do not know Kim Kardashian and I mean her no harm, but that she should be significantly more famous than Eric Arthur Blair’s nom de plume may serve as a deserving epitaph for a species ultimately condemned to a stupid finish – if we don’t heed his warning.

bill palmer report logo headerI cannot think of a single instance in all his writings where George Orwell raised a polemic against totalitarianism. He didn’t have to. Instead, he showed us what it looked like, how it justified itself and how it took over. He didn’t need to call it evil, he merely showed us why and how it was evil, by exposing us, in his fiction, to life at the unendurably wrong end of the barrel of a gun. He exposed the triple follies of the 20th century – imperialism, fascism and Soviet communism – as aspects of the same idiocy, the belief that if you surrender your rights – to the white man, to the nation, to the good of the proletariat – the end will be predictably dystopian.

The justifications vary but they always amount to the same thing, “the good of the state,” “civilization for your own good,” “make America great again.” On closer inspection one realizes these are placards not merely in the literal sense, but the symbolic sense as well. Two dimensions with nothing on the other side. How does one make America great again? No one really knows, no one bothers to explain it in anything like detail, because it’s an unexamined assumption that is only understood in the uselessly abstract. Every era is some future somebody’s “good old days,” and America’s fuzzy past is a standard held up to disguise an underlying darker rationale.

Orwell understood that darker rationale for what it was and he exposed it mercilessly: power for its own sake. Power because some people like telling other people what to do, what to think, whom to love. Power because some people enjoy hurting other people.

The subtext of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Donald Trump is, clearly, that Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing because he doesn’t need to know what he’s doing. That is not why he’s in power. He’s in power for the sake of power, for the ugly relentless pursuit and exercise of power, for himself and for his Republican cronies.

Occasionally they do public good, just for the sake of form. For example, Mitch McConnell’s recent promise to extend the benefits paid to 9/11 first responders is a bone he reluctantly tosses us to hide the one and a half trillion dollar tax cut he gave to his rich friends, or to distract from the rapist he recently husbanded onto the bench of the Supreme Court. But one does get the impression Mitch is getting tired of the pretence. He, like Donald Trump, looks forward to a time when they can murder democracy right out in the open, and laugh at us as we are forced to watch.

Little by little the American people are being gaslighted by slogans: “no collusion,” “the enemy of the people,” “make America great again.” Or, in Orwellian terms, “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.” And if you think there are not enough of them to pull it off, think again. The Nazis did it with just one third of the German people behind them.

June 18

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has left the building, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2019. Last month, even as the Trump regime was scrambling to hide the USS John McCain from Donald Trump’s sight during an overseas trip, Trump’s longtime Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan did the right thing by publicly speaking out against such antics. At the time, Palmer Report predicted that it would eventually lead to the demise of Shanahan’s nomination to become permanent Secretary of Defense. Sure enough, that day has arrived.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump just posted this tweet: “Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family. I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark mark esperEsper, (shown below at right) to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

To be clear, whenever an office holder abruptly says that they’re quitting in order to spend more time with their family, it’s nearly always a way of covering for something else. It couldn’t be much more clear that either Trump dumped Shanahan over his response to the McCain incident, or Shanahan quit in disgust over the incident.

The United States has not had a permanent Secretary of Defense since late last year, when James Mattis reigned in protest of Donald Trump’s antics. Trump is now about to be on his second Acting Secretary of Defense. Mark Esper is a former corporate lobbyist for the military industrial complex, and is precisely the wrong kind of person to be in charge of the U.S. military.

U.S.-Iran-China Tensions

mohammad javad zarif iranian foreign minister meets chinese state councillor foreign minister wang yi may 13 2018 reuters

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China May 13, 2018. Image source: Reuters

Zero Hedge via SouthFront, China Warns: US About To Open “Pandora’s Box” In Middle East, Staff report, June 18, 2019. Just after the Pentagon announced late Monday it is sending 1,000 additional US troops to the Middle East in response to soaring tensions with Iran over last week’s tanker attack incident, China has urged the world to stand down from opening “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East.

A top Beijing official, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, specifically called on the United States to cease its “extreme pressure” campaign against Iran. Notably, this came after he met Syria’s foreign minister in the Chinese capital.

“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said. “In particular, the U.S. side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said.

“Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis,” the Chinese State Councillor said.

Wang voiced Beijing’s fear that a coming clash in the Persian Gulf would set the whole region on fire, a sentiment also recently echoed by Russian officials, and advanced the nuclear deal as the only legitimate and feasible path forward.

“We understand that relevant parties may have different concerns but first of all the comprehensive nuclear deal should be properly implemented,” he continued. “We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement.”

Wang called on Iran to exercise prudence amid the growing crisis, while also noting Tehran has “legitimate lawful rights and interests,” according to Reuters.

Crucially, China and Iran maintain close energy ties, and China has been a key power helping Tehran to attempt to circumvent US sanctions by importing Iranian oil, and ignoring Washington’s pressure on international players to abide by its ban. The foreign ministers of both countries have met frequently within the past years since the P5+1 nuclear deal, of which China is a signatory, including already twice in 2019.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump vows mass migrant arrests starting next week, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, June 19, 2019 (print ed.). In tweets, President Trump appeared to reference a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities. President Trump said in a tweet ICE logoMonday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

donald trump twitter“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Related story: Washington Post, Juarez scrambles before U.S. sends thousands of migrants back to Mexico, June 18, 2019.

ken cuccinelliken cuccinelliWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The guy who hates other peoples' kids now in charge of interning them, Wayne Madsen, June 18, 2019 (subscription required). Donald Trump has installed far-right Christian fundamentalist stalwart Ken Cuccinelli, right, as acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, On eve of critical Fed meeting, Trump suggests he might want to remove chairman, Heather Long​, June 18, 2019. The president's remarks on Jerome H. Powell constitute an almost unprecedented attack on the central bank just as top Federal Reserve leaders are meeting to decide what to do on interest rates.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist? Paul Krugman, right, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). He seems determined to betray his base.“I love the poorly educated.” So declared Donald Trump back in February 2016, after a decisive win in the Nevada primary. And the poorly educated love him back: Whites without a college degree are pretty much the only group among whom Trump has more than 50 percent approval.

But in that case, why has Trump been unwilling to do anything, and I mean anything, to help the people who installed him in the White House?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump plans to turn the Fourth of July into a political rally in honor of himself, Eugene Robinson, June 18, 2019.  The Fourth of July celebration in Washington has long been a grand pageant of democracy, a family-friendly event that transcends ideology and partisanship. President Trump intends to turn it into a cult-of-personality political rally in honor of himself.

No, I’m not surprised, but what Trump is doing makes me angry. And it makes me sad to see one of our very best traditions being trampled and dishonored.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell just picked a fight he can’t win, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2019. There’s a reason Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has survived in politics for decades despite being one of the most corrupt criminals in politics: he generally has a sense of which battles he can win. That said, in the Trump era, McConnell has become increasingly brazen with the corrupt risks he’s been taking – and now he’s picked a fight he definitely can’t win.

bill palmer report logo headerSince leaving the Daily Show, Jon Stewart has been somewhat hesitant to remain involved with politics – with the notable exception of his tireless work in getting the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund reauthorized. Last week Stewart testified about the issue before the House, which ended up passing the legislation. But it’s far from clear whether Mitch McConnell will allow it to be voted upon in the Senate, because he never shows any interest in legislation unless it’s aimed at benefiting the wealthy.

Mitchell McConnellIn a sign of his own defensiveness, McConnell, right, lashed out at Jon Stewart, telling Fox News that he didn’t know why Stewart was “all bent out of shape” over the legislation. McConnell then went on to insist that it’ll get passed in the Senate – though based on his track record, McConnell is probably lying.

This prompted Jon Stewart to fire back, saying “I’m bent out of shape for them … These are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror” according to CNN. So now Mitch McConnell has backed himself into a corner. If he doesn’t put the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund up for a vote, he’ll be seen as the villain who blocked it. And if he does put it up for a vote, the money will go where it should, instead of to McConnell’s wealthy donors.

Pro-Life GOP Pol Sought Sought Abortion?

Legal Schnauzer, Local Investigation: Missouri GOP lawyer Douglas L. Healy got a female acquaintance pregnant and repeatedly pushed her to have an abortion, despite his apparent "pro life" stance, roger shuler and murphyRoger Shuler, shown at right, June 18, 2019. A prominent Republican attorney in Missouri got a female acquaintance pregnant and pressured her to have an abortion in 2014, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. The mother refused to terminate the pregnancy and is raising her son (now almost 5 years old) on her own in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but the attorney has hired multiple private investigators to track her and has threatened court action to seek custody, even though he never has seen the child.

Douglas L. Healy is the proprietor of Healy Law Offices LLC, which has locations in Springfield and Jefferson City, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Healy firm specializes in work with utility companies and regulatory agencies, including the Missouri Public Service Commission. Doug Healy is a member of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) and is active with the Greene County Republicans, especially with the county's Young Republicans.

Healy reportedly has political ambitions, and his story surfaces as Missouri recently passed one of the strictest anti-choice abortion laws in the country. His biography suggests he is conservative and strongly "pro life"; his twin brother, David Healy (also a lawyer) serves on the board of directors of the Springfield Pregnancy Care Center (PCC), even though he has been a paying subscriber to the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site.

Which of the Healy brothers is the biggest hypocrite? That appears to be a close call, but we might have to give the "honor" to Doug Healy. He seems to be "pro life" only as long as an unplanned pregnancy doesn't hit close to home for him personally. According to public records, Doug Healy, 42, has never been married.

DeAnna Kelley, 41, of Butler County, Missouri, is the mother of Healy's child. She said he repeatedly encouraged her to have an abortion -- or to give the child up for adoption. This is from an email that Healy wrote on August 18, 2014: (The full email is embedded at the end of this post.)

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Paul Manafort seemed to be heading for Rikers Island. Then the Justice Department intervened, William K. Rashbaum and Katie Benner, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). The decision came after Attorney General William Barr’s top deputy sent a letter to state prosecutors. Mr. Manafort will now be held in a federal lockup while he faces state charges.

paul manafort mugPaul J. Manafort, right, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex this month to await trial on a separate state case.

But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York. He will await his trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for wide-ranging financial schemes, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Maryland man got nine years in prison after his secret nuclear bunker project ended in a worker’s fiery death, Jacey Fortin, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). A
Maryland man was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison after his secret project — the excavation of a nuclear bunker underneath his home — ended with the death of a worker he had hired to dig the tunnels.

The man, Daniel L. Beckwitt, did not testify during his trial, in which he was convicted in April of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. But he made emotional statements at his sentencing and apologized to the parents of Askia Khafra, the worker who died while digging the tunnels on Sept. 10, 2017.

Mr. Khafra, 21, had been carving out hundreds of feet of passageways under Mr. Beckwitt’s home in Bethesda, Md., northwest of Washington, when a fire broke out.

ap logoAssociated Press via CBS News, "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook" publisher apologizes to dad of murdered boy, Staff report, June 18, 2019. "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook" publisher apologizes to dad of murdered boy. A judge in Wisconsin on Monday issued a summary judgment against authors James Fetzer and Mike Palacek. The father of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that claimed the shooting never happened — the latest victory for victims' relatives who have been taking a more aggressive stance against conspiracy theorists.

The book, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook" has also been pulled to settle claims against its publisher filed by Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed in the shooting.

"My face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son," Dave Gahary, the principal officer at publisher Moon Rock Books, said Monday. "I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family."

Pozner has been pushing back for years against hoaxers who have harassed him, subjected him to death threats and claimed that he was an actor and his son never existed. He has spent years getting Facebook and others to remove conspiracy videos and set up a website to debunk conspiracy theories.

Lately, the fight has been joined by others who lost relatives in the Dec. 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. After quietly enduring harassment and ridiculous assertions for years, some have changed their approach, deciding the only way to stop it is to confront it. Their efforts have turned the tables on the hoaxers, including Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy-driven Infowars website.

Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter Emilie was among 20 first-graders and six educators killed at Sandy Hook, spent years ignoring people who called him a crisis actor. His family moved to the West Coast, but still the harassment didn't stop. He would get letters from people who found his address. He was once stopped in a parking garage by a man who berated him and said the shooting never happened.

"You are taught when you are young that you ignore bullies and eventually they will leave you alone," Parker said. "But as time went on, and my other girls were getting older, I realized they weren't stopping and some of this was getting worse and getting more personal."

Parker is now part of a lawsuit against Jones, has testified before Congress and pushed for changes on social media platforms, such as YouTube, which announced this month it will prohibit videos that deny the Sandy Hook shooting and other "well-documented events."

alex jones headshotPozner is the lead plaintiff in several of at least nine cases filed against Sandy Hook deniers in federal and state courts in Connecticut, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin. In the case against Jones, right, the families of eight victims and a first responder say they've been subjected to harassment and death threats from his followers. A Connecticut judge ruled in the defamation case that Jones must undergo a sworn deposition, which is scheduled for July in Texas.

Wisconsin's Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington ruled Monday that Pozner had been defamed by Fetzer and Palacek, whose book claimed, among other things, that Noah's death certificate had been faked, according to Pozner's lawyer, Jake Zimmerman. A trial to decide damages has been set for October.

"If Mr. Fetzer wants to believe that Sandy Hook never happened and that we are all crisis actors, even that my son never existed, he has the right to be wrong. But he doesn't have the right to broadcast those beliefs if they defame me or harass me," Pozner said. "He doesn't have the right to use my baby's image or our name as a marketing ploy to raise donations or sell his products. He doesn't have the right to convince others to hunt my family."

Before the case went to a judge, Fetzer had said "evidence clearly shows this wasn't a massacre, it was a FEMA drill." "If you believe otherwise, then you are being played," Fetzer said at the time.

U.S. Foreign Policy

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ny times logocarol giacomoNew York Times, Opinion: A New Trump Battleground: Defining Human Rights, Carol Giacomo, right, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). The State Department says the nation has departed from its founding principles, but won’t say how. Some fear a rollback of rights.

After the horrors of World War II, the United States led in adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, recognizing the “inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights” of all people to life and liberty. For three-quarters of a century it has stood for the protection of human rights by the rule of law.

Now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is establishing a Commission on Unalienable Rights to “provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” according to a notice in the Federal Register.

Fresh thinking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But tampering with a legacy built over decades raises serious questions, especially when the State Department’s human rights bureau and Congress have so far been excluded from the process.

Trump vs. Iran

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Adds Troops After Iran Says It Will Breach Nuclear Deal, Edward Wong, Helene Cooper and Megan Specia, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East as he again vowed that Iran would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump characterizes alleged attacks by Iran on tankers as ‘very minor,’ John Wagner and Paul Sonne, June 18, 2019. In an interview with Time magazine, the president said he would “certainly” go to war over nuclear weapons but left open the question of taking action to protect oil supplies.

Trump’s assessment in Time magazine reflected a softer posture than that of senior administration officials at the Pentagon and the State Department, as well as some congressional Republicans, as tensions between the United States and Iran have flared recently.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: ‘Wagging the Dog’ While Lying About It, Wayne Madsen (Author of 16 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer), June 18, 2019. The Donald Trump administration, aided and abetted by the Republican congressional conference, will go down in history as a regime of liars, grifters, dime store propagandists, common criminals, and schoolyard bullies.

The evidence that “Team Trump” can and probably will lie the United States into a war with Iran, just as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied America into a war with Iraq, is seen in the latest tomfoolery regarding recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The attacks follow by almost a month similar suspicious attacks on four ships at anchor in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates sheikhdom of Fujairah. Although Iran was blamed by members of the Trump administration for the May 12 attacks, no evidence was provided to bolster such claims.

john bolton youtube guardianTrump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, a cartoon character-type war monger who could have served as a role model for the fictional film “Wag the Dog” about a US war against Albania based on concocted falsehoods and a steady stream of televised propaganda, strongly appears to have had his fingerprints all over the June 13 attack on two ships transiting outbound from the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman.

No sooner than had the story broken worldwide about the attack did Bolton’s partner-in-crime Secretary of State Mike Pompeo go before cameras a cast blame on Iran for attacking the ships with mines. Pompeo declared that “intelligence” determined that Iran carried out mine attacks on the mike pompeo cheated graphicJapanese-owned and Panamanian-flagged M/V Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned and Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Front Altair. But whose intelligence?

Pompeo (shown in a graphic from his time as CIA director) did not claim that US intelligence concluded that Iran was responsible. Given Pompeo’s and Bolton’s close ties with the far right and uber-nationalist regime of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the “intelligence” being relied on by Pompeo strongly appears to have been from Mossad and its team of video propagandists in Herzliya; Washington, DC; and Los Angeles.

Ironically, on the very same day the House Intelligence Committee was hearing evidence about the threat of “deep fake videos” during the upcoming presidential election campaign, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) released a grainy forward-looking infrared (FLIR) video, along with photographs, purporting to show a boat belonging to the IRGC removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous. The Pentagon provided the video as “proof” of Iran’s culpability. However, the Pentagon was caught in a major Trump-grade lie when Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, the company that owns the Kokuka Courageous, said the attack on his firm’s vessel did not come from a mine, but from a “flying shell.” The explosion was too far above the water line to have been from a mine, Katada told the press in Tokyo.

Race / College Admissions

ny times logoNew York Times, Racist Comments Cost Conservative Parkland Student a Place at Harvard, Patricia Mazzei, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). Harvard rescinded its offer of admission to Kyle Kashuv, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and an advocate for gun rights. Of the many student activists who emerged from the tragic shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Kyle Kashuv stood out as a conservative defender of the Second Amendment, surrounded by classmates who were mobilizing for sweeping new controls on guns.

He used that distinction to get meetings with the likes of President Trump and successfully push for what he believed would be more effective federal legislation to improve school security and help detect potential threats of violence at schools, as he proudly related in his admission essay to Harvard College.

In the essay, he described hiding in a classroom closet during the February 2018 rampage in which 17 people were killed. He said he learned about the deaths of his classmates one by one and chose to devote himself to activism afterward.

“While I support a conservative viewpoint on the Second Amendment, I know that finding common ground is the path to protecting our students,” he wrote. “I still believe that from the pits of despair, goodness can and will prevail.”

Harvard accepted him into its freshman class — briefly.

On Monday, Mr. Kashuv revealed on Twitter that the university this month rescinded its admission offer over a trail of derogatory and racist screeds that it turns out Mr. Kashuv, 18, wrote as a 16-year-old student, months before the shooting that would turn his high school into one of the most famous in the country.

Mr. Kashuv, who had apologized for the comments when they became public last month, did so again on Monday as he announced Harvard’s decision on Twitter. It followed, he said, a campaign against him organized by political opponents and former classmates who long ago stopped being his friends.

Media, Money, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Plans Global Financial System Based on Cryptocurrency, Mike Isaac and Nathaniel Popper, June 18, 2019. Facebook unveiled an ambitious plan on Tuesday to create an alternative financial system that relies on a cryptocurrency that the company has been secretly working on for more than a year.

facebook logoThe effort, announced with 27 partners as diverse as Mastercard and Uber, could face immediate skepticism from people who question the usefulness of cryptocurrencies and others who are wary of the power already accumulated by the social media company.

The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will also have to overcome concern that Facebook does not effectively protect the private information of its users — a fundamental task for a bank or anyone handling financial transactions.

Trade Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, India slaps back at U.S. with tariffs, lobbing small but strategic strike ahead of G-20 summit, Taylor Telford, June 18, 2019. The penalties run as high as 70 percent and affect agricultural goods such as apples, almonds and walnuts, as well as chemical and finished metal products.

June 17

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says supporters might ‘demand’ that he serve more than two terms as president, Felicia Sonmez, June 17, 2019 (print ed.). The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Sunday floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.”

The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits the presidency to two terms.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoIn tweets Sunday morning, Trump also voiced dissatisfaction with recent news coverage of his administration, calling both The Washington Post and The New York Times “the Enemy of the People.”

He added: “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: How to successfully remove an American dictator from power, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), June 17, 2019 (subscription required). Donald Trump has, once again, hinted that he may not leave office after completing a second term as president.

If Trump violates the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution on term limits or the 25th Amendment on the removal of a madman president and either of these scenarios are coupled with Trump loyalists in the federal courts ruling that Trump may remain in office regardless of the Constitution, another option is most certainly available.

washington post logoWashington Post, Push to impeach Trump stalls amid Democrats’ deference to — and fear of — Pelosi, Rachael Bade​, June 17, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi democratic donkey logo(D-Calif.) has demonstrated the firm grip she wields over her caucus — quashing impeachment efforts, at least for now.

• Washington Post, ‘There’s no accountability’: Trump, White House aides signal a willingness to act with impunity in drive for reelection.

 U.S. Supreme Court Credibility

 washington post logoWashington Post, After assuring that the Supreme Court is apolitical, chief justice faces major test, Robert Barnes, June 17, 2019 (print ed.). Chief Justice John Roberts will play a pivotal john roberts orole in two of the most politically consequential decisions in years. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, began the Supreme Court’s term last fall seeking to assure the American public that his court does not “serve one party or one interest.”

He will end it playing a pivotal role in two of the most politically consequential decisions the court has made in years.

us census bureauOne initiative is to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which has fueled a partisan showdown on Capitol Hill. The other could outlaw the partisan gerrymandering techniques that were essential to Republican dominance at the state and congressional level over the past decade.

The politically weighted decisions, by a court in which the five conservatives were chosen by Republican presidents and the four liberals were nominated by Democrats, threaten to undermine Roberts’s efforts to portray the court as independent.

Howe on the Court via SCOTUSblog, Analysis: Opinion analysis: Court throws out legislators’ appeal in racial-gerrymandering case, Amy Howe, June 17, 2019. Last week Virginia held its primary election for the state’s House of Delegates. It used a new map, which had been drawn with the help of a court-appointed expert after a federal court threw out the old one. The lower court ruled that 11 districts were the product of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering – that is, the legislators who drew the districts relied too heavily on race. Today a divided Supreme Court left that decision in place, ruling that the state’s legislature did not have a legal right – known as “standing” – to appeal the district court’s decision to the Supreme Court. The decision means that the state’s general election in November will likely go forward using the same new map.

The lawsuit that led to today’s decision was filed five years ago by residents of 12 different legislative districts in Virginia. They argued that by creating districts in which 55 percent of the voters were African-American, the legislature had diluted the strength of African-American voters in neighboring districts, giving Republicans an advantage there. A federal district court rejected the residents’ argument, but the Supreme Court sent the case back for the lower court to take another look at 11 of the 12 districts.

When the case returned to the lower court, the district court struck down the old map. Race, the district court concluded, had been the primary factor behind the design of each district, and the legislature had not shown that each district needed to have a voting-age population that was 55-percent African-American. When Virginia’s attorney general declined to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, the state’s House of Delegates did so instead, and the justices heard oral argument in March.

More On Trump

nbc news logoNBC News, Supreme Court declines to change double jeopardy rule in a case with Manafort implications, Pete Williams, June 17, 2019. Trump's former campaign manager might have been helped if the case involving an Alabama man on gun and robbery charges had been overturned. The Supreme Court declined on Monday to change the longstanding rule that says putting someone on trial more than once for the same crime does not violate the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy — a case that drew attention because of its possible implications for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The 7-2 ruling was a defeat for an Alabama man, Terance Gamble, convicted of robbery in 2008 and pulled over seven years later for a traffic violation. When police found a handgun in his car, he was prosecuted under Alabama's law barring felons from possessing firearms. The local U.S. attorney then charged Gamble with violating a similar federal law. Because of the added federal conviction, his prison sentence was extended by nearly three years.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Abuse of Executive Privilege Is More Than a Present Danger, Neal K. Katyal (shown at right and former U.S. Solicitor General), June 17, neal katyal o2019. He’s probably making it harder for future presidents to govern. President Trump has been on an executive privilege extravaganza. In the past month, he’s asserted it to block Congress from obtaining documents about the census citizenship question, invoked it to try to bar the full Mueller report from being given to Congress, and used it to bar his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from providing documents to Congress.

Executive privilege has a legitimate core, but Mr. Trump’s attempts are going to wind up undermining that core, and make it harder for future presidents to govern. He is essentially saying that he will not turn over information to Congress about potential wrongdoing — the absolute weakest claim to executive privilege along the spectrum of possible claims.

Our constitutional system is defined by a balance between the public’s need for transparency and the government’s need to have a zone of secrecy around decision making. Both are important, yet they are mutually exclusive. The Constitution erred on the side of transparency, with no mention whatsoever of executive privilege in its original text. But the experience of constitutional government (what some might call a “living Constitution”) is that presidents over time have found a need for their advisers to give them frank information without fear of embarrassment, and the privilege has been used for these sorts of routine matters, by both Democratic and Republic presidents alike.

djt golf in shape custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Author Profile: The Life of Reilly: From celebrity sportswriter to Internet punchline to Trump antagonist, Ben Strauss, June 17, 2019 (print ed.). Rick Reilly was between bites of a samosa during a recent dinner on H Street, pondering his career. He was an 11-time national sportswriter of the year during his heyday at Sports Illustrated rick reilly djt commander in cheat(SI), a celebrated long-form writer and ultimately the country’s most influential and highest-paid columnist during a career that spanned three decades.

And then? The downslope of Reilly’s career after he left SI for ESPN in 2008 was both sudden and jarring. He was caught recycling old material; his father-in-law, a Native American, accused Reilly of misquoting him in a column defending the Redskins’ team name; the puckish humor that once defined his writing lost its edge.

In April, Rick Reilly released Commander in Cheat, an exposé on President Trump’s alleged rampant golf cheating. The book hit the bestseller list and thrust Reilly, 61, back into the media spotlight. He did a slew of cable news hits and was excerpted by Politico. “These political guys can’t get enough,” he said. “I got reviewed by the New Yorker!”

Reilly’s old sports buddies, he said, have been less interested. “Maybe it’s too political,” he offered. “A lot of them don’t want to touch it.”

An hour before dinner, Reilly gave a talk at Solid State Books in Northeast Washington. “Golf is the best game,” Reilly said. His reedy voice cracked and rose and his eyes welled as he talked about Trump. “Somebody’s got to call him on these lies!”

Reilly choked back tears as he explained that his father taught him to play the game. “If a sportswriter can stand up to Trump, why can’t a Republican senator?” he asked.

Reilly’s book is filled with vivid allegations about Trump’s cheating — how he once threw broadcaster Mike Tirico’s ball off the green during a round, how he manipulates the value of his courses to get tax breaks, how he exaggerates his golf scores.

Reilly said he isn’t much concerned about his legacy. But if there is something he would like to be remembered for, he said, it’s for standing up for the little guy — which is why his Trump book is a genuine throwback to his old muckraking days.

“I wanted to write columns that made small people feel big and big people feel small,” Reilly said. “Trump’s a bully, and I think it could really change the way people vote. My dad was a lifelong Republican, but I don’t know if he’d vote for this guy knowing how he cheats at golf.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has berserk meltdown after Fox News reports bad news about him, Bill Palmer, June 17, 2019. For years, Donald Trump and Fox News have had a mutually beneficial relationship. Fox airs misleading and disingenuous stories that benefit Trump, because it’s what Fox’s audience wants to hear. Trump returns the favor by propping up Fox. The trouble is that as Trump becomes more toxic, a growing number of Fox viewers have become sick of him – so Fox has had to go incrementally more negative about him.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Fox News has reported more and more bad news and negative commentary about Donald Trump, we’ve seen Trump increasingly criticize the network – even as he’s sought solace in obscure competing networks like OANN that are still willing to air wall to wall pro-Trump propaganda. Things came to a head this evening when Fox reported its own in-house poll numbers for the 2020 election, and let’s just say they’re not pretty for Trump.

Trump posted this tweet: “Fox News Polls are always bad for me. They were against Crooked Hillary also. Something weird going on at Fox. Our polls show us leading in all 17 Swing States. For the record, I didn’t spend 30 hours with @abcnews, but rather a tiny fraction of that. More Fake News.” This came after Fox reported that Trump is behind Joe Biden by ten points, and is also behind every other viable 2020 Democratic nominee.

For the record, all major public polls are showing numbers similar to what Fox News is reporting. Donald Trump’s own leaked internal poll numbers also have him losing badly. Trump is lost in a haze of delusion, and now that even Fox News is reporting how screwed he is, he’s decided that Fox is “fake news” as well.

U.S. Courts, Crime: Alabama

robert bentley rebekak mason stephen collierw wkrg

Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, his former communications aide Rebekkah Mason and formerly Alabama's top law enforcer Stephen Collier, who helped blow the whistle on a sex scandal in the governor's office that toppled the so-called "family values" Republican (WKRG photos, shown left to right). Collier has been arrested JIP Editor's Note: We return our attention to Alabama, whose court system and top office-holders have repeatedly immersed themselves in scandal, sometimes with sinister implications for the justice system, as blogger Roger Shuler has repeatedly documented, most recently in today's column.

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Roger Shuler, Was curious arrest of former ALEA head Spencer Collier driven by lawsuit-generated dirt on "Luv Guv" Bentley and perhaps donors to his "Girlfriend Fund"? June 17, 2019. 

Spencer Collier, former chief of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), was arrested last Friday in Baldwin County on a charge of filing a false report with law-enforcement authorities. Coming just two days after Collier announced a settlement in his wrongful-termination/defamation lawsuit against former Governor Robert Bentley, the arrest emits all kinds of noxious fumes.

Collier stated in a lawsuit deposition that, while working for Bentley, he learned the governor had a fondness for misusing law-enforcement resources to target perceived enemies. (More on that in upcoming posts.). Does that help explain Collier's arrest on charges that would have to improve to be flimsy? Our guess is yes.

Collier, once a personal friend and political ally of Bentley's, likely landed on the enemies list after helping reveal Bentley's extramarital affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason and challenging his termination as unlawful. The story of Bentley's affair with Mason, which we broke here at Legal Schnauzer, led to Bentley's resignation in April 2017 after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and agreed never to hold public office again. The Mason affair, which ended Bentley's marriage of 50 years, helped earn him such nicknames as "Luv Guv" and "Horndog Governor." Mason became known as "Home Wrecky Becky."

Collier addressed the arrest and his family situation in a statement.

“My adult son, who is a recovering addict and multiple felon, used my bank card without my permission,” said Collier in a message to AL.com. “I filed a police report, being this is the second time in a year that he has done this. I was unaware that my wife (we are currently estranged) gave him permission. He pressed charges because I listed him as the suspect.”

Let's consider some questions this press account raises:

1. Collier plainly states that he was unaware his estranged wife had given his son permission to use the credit card. What does this say about Collier's "culpable mental state"? It suggests he didn't have one....

alex jones radio logo

Connecticut Post, Lawyers: Alex Jones sent child porn to Sandy Hook families, Daniel Tepfer, June 17, 2019. Conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones sent child pornography to the lawyers for the families of the Sandy Hook tragedy, their lawyers said.

The law firm representing the families of the 2012 mass shooting, stated in court documents filed Monday they have contacted the FBI after discovering child porn in electronic files Jones recently turned over to the Sandy Hook families as a result of their lawsuit against him for calling the tragedy a hoax.

Jones publicly responded on a broadcast of his show that he is being framed by Chris Mattei, the lawyer for the Sandy Hook families and went on making what Mattei and his law firm, Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder claim are threats against them.

You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’ll get your ass,” Jones states on the broadcast. “One million dollars, you little gang members. One million dollars to put your head on a pike.” Jones then pounds a photograph of Mattei and goes into a rant at one point stating, “I’m gonna kill…”

Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, denied his client was threatening Mattei or the Sandy Hook families and urged people to watch the broadcast for themselves.

Radar, Three Shooters! New Documentary Reveals The True Masterminds Behind Assassination Of JFK, Staff report, June 17, 2019. Lee Harvey Oswald was framed, and a self-described “patsy.” More than 40 years after the New York Times best-selling Rush to Judgment hit bookshelves and movie theaters, challenging serious flaws in the conclusions of assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a new documentary, Rush to Judgment II will attempt to uncover the conspiracy of powerful men that resulted in the assassination of JFK, and a carefully planned incriminating trail leading to frame the self-described “patsy,” Lee Harvey Oswald.

jfk portrait w CustomStephen S. Jaffe, a former investigator for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison – the man who led a probe into the assassination, will executive produce the contemporary version, along with documentarian Dylan Howard.

“Most importantly, the film will explain why the president was murdered, as well as how it was done,” Jaffe, below at left, said in an exclusive interview about the documentary.

stephen jaffe“The new Rush to Judgment documentary builds on the historic work of the late attorney Mark Lane, who meticulously examined the witnesses who were deliberately ignored by multiple levels of law enforcement,” Jaffe says. “Lane coined the phrase ‘Magic Bullet’, to summarize the ludicrous assertion that Oswald was an expert marksman, in the strained assembly of ballistic evidence put forth by the Warren Commission.

“The new evidence shatters the government’s conclusions. It shows that there were at least three shooters.”

The update of the documentary also will be the first disclosure of highly classified CIA and FBI documents, released in 2017, and related to the assassination of Kennedy. The release of those documents was forced by a law passed following the impact of Oliver Stone’s international hit film, “JFK”, which was based on DA Jim Garrison’s probe.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s plan for more China tariffs sparks business uproar, David J. Lynch, June 17, 2019. Hundreds of U.S. companies have lined up to testify before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over seven days of hearings starting Monday, and to protest the president's trade strategy, warning of higher prices for consumers. Related story: Huawei says U.S. ban will cost it $30 billion in sales.

Trump's 'Deal of the Century'

jared kushner ivanka trump wilbur ross rex tillerson Custom

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and cabinet members Wilbur Ross and Rex Tillerson wer among those shown above networking on White House planning and deals, Below at right U.S. Ambaassador to Isael David Friedman, a former attorney for Donald Trump, is shown in Nazareth in a State Department photo.

Consortium News, Opinion: Trump’s Bipartisan Support for Eradicating the Palestinian Cause, Jonathan Cook, June 17, 2019. The U.S. is now formally supporting Israel’s efforts at economic pacification. The White House’s prolonged financial bullying of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting, has reached the point where there are now credible warnings that it is close to collapse. The crisis has offered critics further proof of the administration’s seemingly chaotic, often self-sabotaging approach to foreign policy matters.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials charged with resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have demonstrated ever more blatant bias, such as the recent claims by David Friedman, the ambassador to Israel, that Israel is “on the side of God” and should have the “right to retain” much of the West Bank.

Critics view the Trump administration’s approach as a dangerous departure from the traditional U.S. role of “honest broker.”

david friedman visit to nazareth us embassy CustomSuch analyses, however common, are deeply misguided. Far from lacking a strategy, the White House has a precise and clear one for imposing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century.” Even without publication so far of a formal document, the plan’s contours are coming ever more sharply into relief, as its implementation becomes observable on the ground.

Repeated delays in announcing the plan are simply an indication that Trump’s team needs more time to engineer a suitable political environment for the plan to be brought out of the shadows.

Further, the Trump administration’s vision of the future for Israelis and Palestinians – however extreme and one-sided – has wide, bipartisan support in Washington. There’s nothing especially “Trumpian” about the administration’s emerging “peace process.”

Choking Off Aid

Paradoxically, that was evident last week, when leading members of the U.S. Congress from both sides of the aisle introduced a bill to boost the ailing Palestinian economy by $50m. The hope is to create a “Partnership Fund for Peace” that will offer a financial fillip to Israelis and Palestinians seeking to resolve the conflict – or, at least, that is what is being claimed.

This sudden concern for the health of the Palestinian economy is a dramatic and confusing U-turn. Congress has been an active and enthusiastic partner with the White House in choking off aid to the PA for more than a year.

The Trump administration has concluded that “conflict management” is no longer in U.S. interests. It needs to isolate and dispose of the Palestinian splinter. Once that encumbrance is out of the way, the White House believes it can get on with forging a coalition with Israel and most of the Arab states to reassert its dominance over the Middle East.

No doubt the Trump White House is suffering from a serious case of hubris in trying to eliminate the Palestinian cause for good. But that hubris, however dangerous, we should remember, is shared by much of the U.S. political establishment.

June 16

War Mongering iran wants war graphic

iran flag mapwashington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s criticism of Iran pushes U.S. to point of potential conflict, Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, June 16, 2019 (print ed.). The president, who insists he wants to avoid a Middle East war, faces a difficult choice: step back to reduce tensions or act unilaterally and risk conflict.

One constant in President Trump’s malleable foreign policy has been his fierce criticism of Iran and what he described as a weak and dangerous nuclear compact the United States and other countries negotiated with Tehran. Threats and sanctions, and lots of them, have been his go-to response, lately leavened with vague offers of future negotiations.

Hong Kong's Protests On Justice

ny times logoNew York Times, Hong Kong’s Leader Apologizes for Handling of Bill, Staff reports, June 16, 2019. The statement from Carrie Lam wasn’t enough for thousands of protesters, carrie lam hong kong wwho converged on the streets and the grounds of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. The demonstrations on Sunday capped a week of heated protests and questions about the city’s ability to maintain autonomy from mainland China.

Hong Kong’s chief executive apologized to the public on Sunday after a surprisingly large and defiant crowd poured onto the streets and converged on government offices. Organizers said nearly 2 million people joined the rally that capped a week of heated protests and soul-searching questions about the city’s ability to maintain some semblance of autonomy from mainland China.

Many opponents of an unpopular bill, slated to allow extraditions to mainland China, focused their anger on the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, who insisted on pushing through the legislation despite a public outcry that grew into a series of massive protests. On Saturday, Mrs. Lam backed down and indefinitely suspended the bill but refused to apologize.

ny times logoxi jinping with flag CustomNew York Times, Hong Kong’s Retreat Chips Away at Xi’s Iron Image, Steven Lee Myers, June 16, 2019. The suspension of legislation to extradite suspects to China was the biggest political reversal of Xi Jinping’s years in leadership. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, right, was in Tajikistan on Saturday, celebrating his 66th birthday with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, when the political crisis in Hong Kong took a dramatic turn with an unexpected retreat in the face of mass protests.

Mr. Xi’s trip fortuitously gave him some distance from the events in Hong Kong, where the leadership on Saturday suspended its push for legislation to allow extraditions to mainland China. But the measure had been backed by Beijing, and there was no mistaking that the reversal was a stinging setback for him.

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York Times drops the hammer on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 16, 2019. Last night the New York Times published a bombshell story revealing that the United States government has been preemptively hacking Russia as a way of fending off potential 2020 election interference, and that the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence community have been hesitant to discuss it with Donald Trump due to his loyalty to Russia. See: U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth. This naturally sent Trump into a rage.

bill palmer report logo headerThe New York Times fired back by posting this reply directly under Donald Trump’s tweet, thus ensuring that those in his timeline saw it: “Accusing the press of treason is dangerous. We described the article to the government before publication. As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

To be clear, Donald Trump has still provided no evidence to support his claim that the New York Times story is “not true.” Nor has he even tried to explain why an American newspaper would be committing “treason” by offending Russia – though it does explain quite a bit about Trump’s own allegiances.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP in disarray as budget impasse threatens shutdown, deep cuts and even federal default, Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim, June 16, 2019 (print ed.). Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoRepublican leaders have spent months cajoling President Trump in favor of a bipartisan plan that would fund the government and raise the limit on federal borrowing this fall, but their efforts have yet to produce a deal.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Trump, McConnell, Roberts — Who Will Be Russia’s Favorite Pawn? Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 16, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is doing everything in his power to make sure that US elections remain vulnerable. He is just the latest Republican to play into Russia’s hands — and he likely won’t be the last.

U.S. Crime, Courts: Baltimore

washington post logoWashington Post, Officers tackled a bystander they said was ‘combative.’ Then videos told a different story, Alex Horton, June 16, 2019. Lee Dotson saw two  Baltimore officers force a man to sit on a rain-drenched curb and decided to speak up.

“That ground wet, man,” Dotson said on May 30, as he passed the scene and walked away, down Ashton Streetin southwestern Baltimore. Sgt. Ethan Newberg described Dotson as “combative” in initial reports. But video footage released Friday tells a radically different story.

Newberg broke into a run, grabbed Dotson by the arm and tried to take him down before another officer tackled the passerby to the pavement and locked handcuffs around his wrists, according to footage from the officer’s body camera.

That video challenged the sequence of events Newberg described in his reports, leading to the arrest of the veteran officer in an incident among others that have plagued the department with what Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison has called a “horrible culture” of excessive force.

More On Trump / Russia

Palmer Report, Opinion: The thing everyone is missing about Donald Trump’s Russia confession, Cheryl Kelley, June 16, 2019. Donald Trump’s ABC News interview is widely seen as a disaster, because he admitted that he has no problem with taking campaign help from foreign governments. Pundits and most Democratic politicians assumed Trump had made a mistake. This theory seemed to be confirmed when Trump’s surrogates and then Trump himself, tried to walk his confessional statements back.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two important things people are missing. First, Trump is becoming increasingly comfortable and confident that there will be no immediate consequences for making confessional statements or for bringing his criminal activity into the open. Donald Trump is a career criminal who seems to thrive when he is actively trying to keep one step away from being caught. He clearly enjoys feeling as if he is outmaneuvering law enforcement. Breaking laws “out in the open” is one of his standard defensive tactics, and he believes it is working for him.

More importantly, Donald Trump clearly knows he has to win the 2020 election in order to avoid prosecution for financial crimes and obstruction of justice; and, he knows he is losing “bigly” in all of the current polls.

Add those two points together, and you get Donald Trump going on air to ask any and all interested foreign powers to help him out in 2020. Donald Trump knows he will be prosecuted for his crimes if he is out of office in 2020, and he believes he is not likely to face consequences for cheating, or getting election help from foreign powers. That is what we all witnessed in Donald Trump’s ABC News interview, and the governments of Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates all witnessed it too. This is a very dangerous combination. I just hope someone at the FBI is paying attention.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just flat out admitted he’s a Russian asset, Bill Palmer, June 16, 2019. Last night the New York Times did its job by reporting that the United States is doing its job by finding new ways to push back against Russia’s cyber attacks. It seemed pretty straightforward. The only controversial part was the revelation that the Pentagon and the U.S. intel community hesitated to tell Trump about the tactics, due to his notorious personal allegiance to Vladimir Putin over the United States. Suffice it to say that when Donald Trump learned about the New York Times story, he didn’t exactly respond well.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump posted this deranged tweet in response: “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country. ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tassWow. Where do we even start? Why would the New York Times be committing treason by reporting a true story? How could Trump know it’s supposedly false? Why would the word “treason” even be involved in a story about the United States taking active measures against a foreign government? Trump is literally claiming that if the United States is being disloyal to Russia, then it’s treason.

It’s more obvious than ever that Donald Trump views himself as a subject of the Russian government, and not a subject of the United States government. His tweet alone tonight should be enough to disqualify him from office, as he flat out admitted he’s a Russian asset. That’s before getting to the stunning reality that the U.S. military and the U.S. intel community are having to hide things from Trump because they know he’s a Russian asset. (Trump is shown at a 2017 White House meeting with Russian diplomats from which American media were barred, but which was photographed by the Russian outlet TASS).

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama’s defense secretary explains his big decisions and major frustrations, Dan Lamothe, June 16, 2019 (print ed.). Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in a meeting at the White House when a National Security Council staff member shoved a surprise his way. Amid debate over the future of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the staffer handed out a proposed timetable that would force Carter to make a decision on the transfer of a detainee within a finite number of days.

“This tactic of springing a document on people without warning or vetting — known as ‘table dropping’ — had always been offensive to me,” Carter writes in his memoir of his time at the Pentagon. “It violates all the rules of good process and fair treatment. I picked up the paper, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it at the White House staffer who had given it to me, saying, ‘Don’t table-drop s---.’ ”

The anecdote — reported previously in less colorful terms — is one of several revealing stories that Carter includes in his book, Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons From a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon.

Carter, now director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, said he wrote the book as a “user’s guide” for understanding the Defense Department. Carter also airs his frustrations about Congress and the media, praises some of the senior officials who worked with him, and explains the background of some of the most significant decisions he made.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Borders Scramble With Influx of Migrants From Central Africa, June 16, 2019.The newcomers, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, have arrived in both San Antonio and Portland, Me. Their numbers have puzzled immigration authorities and overwhelmed local officials and nonprofit groups.

ny times logoNew York Times, Power Cut Hits Argentina and Uruguay, Affecting Tens of Millions, Daniel Politi, June 16, 2019. A widespread power failure early Sunday morning left a large section of South America, including all of mainland Argentina and Uruguay, without power — and an energy company official called the blackout “unprecedented.”

The blackout affected Argentina’s transportation system, halting trains, knocking out traffic lights and affecting some water supply, according to local reports. Social media users said parts of Chile, Paraguay and southern Brazil were also affected. Argentina’s interconnection system “collapsed” at 7:07 a.m., cutting electricity in the entire country and affecting Uruguay, the Argentine Secretariat of Energy said in a statement.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign to Purge Pollsters After Leak of Dismal Results, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, June 16, 2019. President Trump’s campaign has decided to purge some of its pollsters after a leak of dismal internal polls for the president that he denied existed. Just two days before President Trump is set to kick off his campaign, his team was cutting ties with three pollsters, hoping to prevent further leaks.

Just two days before the president is set to kick off his bid for re-election, a top adviser said on Sunday that the campaign was cutting ties with three of its five pollsters to prevent further disclosure of survey data.

The polling showed Mr. Trump behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in several key battleground states, including by double digits in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The results were confirmed to The New York Times by advisers to Mr. Trump, but when they became public, he called them “fake polls.”

The resulting furor led to an effort by the campaign manager, Brad Parscale, to tighten control. By removing several pollsters, the campaign hopes to shrink the circle of outside operatives who have access to information that could leak, according to the presidential adviser, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The rupture of the team came even as the president and his advisers were preparing for a large and elaborate rally in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night to formally open his campaign for a second term. Mr. Trump was hoping for a show of strength as Democrats had drawn increasing attention before their first debates on June 26 and 27.

Some aides to the president appeared to be using the episode to undermine one of his closest advisers, Kellyanne Conway, who was Mr. Trump’s final campaign manager in 2016 and is now his White House counselor. Ms. Conway’s relationship with Mr. Trump, and the praise he has given her for his 2016 victory, have long stirred envy among other advisers to the president. Her former firm, the Polling Company, was one of the ones to be ousted. Ms. Conway no longer has any formal ties to the company, which was sold in 2017 to CRC Public Relations, a well-known conservative advocacy firm.

In addition to Ms. Conway’s former firm, the Trump adviser said the campaign would cut ties with Adam Geller, a pollster for former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Michael Baselice, a pollster for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, both late additions to Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016.

June 15

How Young Trump Bullied

djt 1980s screenshot oprah winfrey show

Donald Trump shown in a 1980s screenshot from an Oprah Winfrey show.

Raw Story, New documents reveal how a young Trump bullied the press for years as he hid his actual wealth, Matthew Chapman, June 15, 2019. On Friday, journalist Jonathan Greenberg published a stunning exposé of how Donald Trump, in his younger years, managed to maintain his brand of success and fortune — and keep attracting investors to his projects — even in the face of devastating business losses and incompetence.

The short answer: he threatened, intimidated, and bullied reporters out of telling the truth about his business empire.

“I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion,” wrote Greenberg (in How Donald Trump silenced the people who could expose his business failures). “We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he’d tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos’ ability to pay off their debts.”

In the late 1980s, Trump reportedly put out inflated estimates of his business assets and profitability that were perfectly timed to get him onto the coveted “Forbes 400” list of richest people in America — even though, behind the scenes, his real estate empire was bleeding money and floating junk bonds. But in 1990, when Forbes Senior Editor Richard Stern and writer John Connolly prepared a story on this, Trump bullied them into gutting the story.

“On the Monday of the week the story was to be published, Stern met with Trump to seek a comment he could include in the article,” wrote Greenberg.

“The mogul exploded, threatening to sue Forbes. On Tuesday, ‘orders came from on high’ to change the story’s estimate of Trump’s net worth to $500 million, Stern recalls. ‘I got into a shouting match with [Jim] Michaels,’ Forbes’s powerful top editor, Stern says. ‘Forbes bent. We had to jigger the numbers to give Trump a positive net worth.’ (Michaels died in 2007.) Connolly says the cover line was also changed, from ‘Is Trump Broke?’ to ‘How Much Is Donald Really Worth Now?,’ which is how it appeared on May 14, 1990.”

Election Chair v. Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, FEC chairwoman warns candidates not to accept help from foreign governments, Colby Itkowitz, June 15, 2019 (print ed.). Federal Election Commission ellen weintraubChairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a statement Thursday making clear that candidates for public office may not receive help from a foreign government, in what appeared to be a warning to President Trump, who said he would consider taking information about an opponent from another country.

Tweeting her statement, Weintraub wrote, “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.” The head of the agency responsible for campaign finance laws, appointed in 2002 by President Bush and shown at right in her Twitter photo, clarified that any campaign that accepts help from a foreign government “risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.”

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office,” Weintraub wrote. “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”

washington post logokellyanne conway gage skidmoreWashington Post, Trump says he won’t fire Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations, John Wagner and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, June 15, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said Friday that he will not fire White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, right, for repeated violations of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity in the course of their work. “Well I got briefed on it yesterday, and it looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech, and that’s just not fair,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News.

U.S. Attack On Russian Electric Grid

vladimir putin djt g 20 2017

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, June 15, 2019. The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin (shown above meeting with President Trump in 2017) and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

As Washington’s strategy shifts to offense, officials say, it is placing malware inside Russia’s system with a new aggressiveness.
The move is both a warning and a push to be prepared to conduct cyberstrikes if conflict were to break out with Moscow.

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

john bolton youtube guardianBut in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton (shown in a screengrab), said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort “to say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”

Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years.

New Flynn Hearing -- Trouble? michael flynn flickr gage skidmore phoenix 10 29 2016

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here we go with the Michael Flynn debacle, Bill Palmer, June 15, 2019. Michael Flynn (shown in a 2016 campaign rally photo by Gage Skidmore) managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this week when, on the verge of being given little to no prison time as part of his plea deal, he decided to hire a new anti-FBI attorney whose likely goal is to blow up Flynn’s plea deal. Donald Trump publicly praised Flynn’s move, which means it can’t have been a smart one. So what’s really going on here? We’re about to find out.

bill palmer report logo headerEarlier this year, Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan took a look at the Michael Flynn court filings, and then asked aloud in court if Flynn had committed treason. Sullivan also made clear that he thought it was ridiculous that Flynn had tried to paint himself as a victim of the FBI. Sullivan told Flynn that if he wanted a emmet sullivan 2012lenient sentence, he would need to come back with evidence of additional cooperation with the authorities. Now Flynn is coming back with a new lawyer who’s trying to paint him as – shocker – a victim of the FBI.

You see where this is going, right? Judge Sullivan has ordered Michael Flynn to show up in court on Wednesday and explain what all is going on. All along, Sullivan has been demanding contrition from Flynn, and instead he’s about to come into court with a whole new load of hostile anti-FBI nonsense.

fbi logoSo, to recap: we’ve got a judge who has been looking for an excuse to hand out a harsh sentence. We’ve got a defendant who now inexplicably appears intent on landing a harsh sentence. We’ve got a new lawyer who literally sells t-shirts claiming that the defendant has been framed, even though the defendant has already pleaded guilty. And we’ve got a criminal President of the United States openly cheering for the whole thing to combust. What could possibly go wrong?

Hong Kong Backs Down

ny times logoNew York Times, Hong Kong’s Leader, Yielding to Protests, Suspends Extradition Bill, Keith Bradsher and Alexandra Stevenson, June 15, 2019. Backing down after days of huge street protests, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China. It was china flag Smalla remarkable reversal for Mrs. Lam, the leader installed by Beijing in 2017, who had vowed to ensure the bill’s approval and tried to get it passed on an unusually short timetable, even as hundreds of thousands demonstrated against it this past week.

But she made it clear that the bill was being delayed, not withdrawn outright, as protesters have demanded. “I believe that we cannot withdraw this bill, or else society will say that this bill was groundless,” Mrs. Lam said at a news conference.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, As war fears loom, Trump’s Iran policy, arms deals face challenges in Congress, Karoun Demirjian, June 15, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers are planning moves to iran flag maprestrain the president’s options when it comes to challenging Iran militarily and arming Tehran’s regional enemies, but they face significant political hurdles. Fears that President Trump could be laying the groundwork for a war with Iran are fueling a wave of congressional initiatives to restrain him, but significant political hurdles could complicate lawmakers’ chances of success.

Most of the backlash has been driven by Democrats wary of Trump’s moves to spurn Tehran — such as ripping up a nuclear deal and labeling the country’s elite military unit as a terrorist group — while he declares an emergency to expedite arms sales to its regional nemesis Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom’s role in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its continued attacks on civilians in Yemen’s civil war.

A cadre of Republicans — including Sens. Todd C. Young (Ind.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), a Trump ally — have joined the clamor to limit the president’s authority, inspired by what they see as end runs around Congress that could exacerbate regional instability, even if they otherwise support Trump’s stance against Iran.

washington post logonra logo CustomWashington Post, Inside NRA finances: Deepening debt, more spending on legal fees — and cuts to gun training, Carol D. Leonnig, Katie Zezima and Tom Hamburger, June 15, 2019 (print ed.). The gun rights group’s 2018 financial report reveals that the longtime political powerhouse spent faster than its revenue rose. Together, the NRA and five affiliated groups ended the year $10.8 million in the red.

CBS News, Trump's announced border czar says he is not taking the job "as of right now," Grace Segers, June 15, 2019. Trump's announced border czar says he is not taking the job "as of right now." The day after President Trump announced that Tom Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was returning to the administration as a "border czar," Homan said that he was not taking the position "as of right now."

In an interview with Fox News, Homan said that Mr. Trump's announcement was "premature." Mr. Trump said that Homan would be the new border czar in his own interview with Fox News Friday morning. "He'll be a border czar, he'll be very much involved in the border, he'll be reporting directly to me," Mr. Trump said.

Global Elections: EU

ny times logoeuropean union logo rectangleNew York Times, Russia Sought to Use Social Media to Influence E.U. Vote, Report Finds, Adam Satariano, June 15, 2019 (print ed.). The preliminary review by the European Commission and the bloc’s foreign policy and security arm found that Russian-linked groups and other nonstate actors had worked to undermine credibility in the European Union through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Officials said new regulations might be needed to force internet platforms to do more to stop the spread of deliberately false information.

June 14

More Of Trump Watch

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Trump to America: Who’s Going to Stop Me? Michelle Goldberg, June 14, 2019. In a new interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, parts of which were released on Wednesday evening, Donald Trump announced his willingness to betray and subvert American democracy, again. Asked what he would do if he were offered foreign dirt on an opponent in 2020, he said he’d take it, and pooh-poohed the idea of calling federal law enforcement.

“Oh, let me call the F.B.I.,” he said derisively. “Give me a break, life doesn’t work that way.”

That Trump has no loyalty to his country, its institutions and the integrity of its elections is not surprising. That he feels no need to fake it is alarming.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Donald Trump silenced the people who could expose his business failures, Jonathan Greenberg, June 14, 2019. How did Donald Trump, a self-serving promoter who lost billions of dollars for his investors, convince the world that he is a financial genius? It wasn’t just by fabricating tales of his success. It was also by bullying and silencing people who could have stopped those deceits — particularly reporters and Wall Street analysts — forcing all but a very few into a conspiracy of silence.

These tactics, which form a core element of his politics, were something I saw him hone firsthand in the 1980s and 1990s as Trump’s company was imploding.

I was the lead real estate wealth estimator for the Forbes 400 list in its early years. Trump called me twice in 1984, posing as his fictional “VP of finance” John Barron and professing the kind of riches that ought to land him on the list, despite failing to document them. So when a New York Times exposé last month showed that Trump had lost $1.1 billion between 1985 and 1994, I looked back at my archives and began calling old colleagues to compare these figures with what Trump was telling journalists three decades ago.

First, I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion. We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he’d tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos’ ability to pay off their debts.

Jonathan Greenberg a freelance investigative journalist, is author of “America 2034: Utopia Rising.”

U.S. Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, A St. Louis Prosecutor Took On the System. She Made Enemies, Richard A. Oppel Jr., June 14, 2019. Kimberly Gardner was one of a wave of prosecutors who promised to challenge the establishment. Now she is being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected prosecutor.

kimberly gardnerKimberly Gardner, right, was elected chief prosecutor by a wide margin in 2016, one of two dozen district attorneys across the country who campaigned to overhaul the criminal justice system.

Like a lot of them, she made quick enemies. She angered the powerful police union in St. Louis, saying repeatedly that she would hold officers more accountable. She indicted the sitting governor, Eric Greitens, shown below at left with Vice President Mike Pence and a rising star in national Republican politics.

Now her adversaries have turned the tables: Ms. Gardner’s professional actions are being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected eric greitens mike penceprosecutor.

In the Greitens case, she has become a focus of a special prosecutor who was appointed to investigate a former F.B.I. agent. The prosecutor has had her office’s email server seized by the police, giving them access, her lawyers say, to active criminal investigations of the department itself. He has been fishing for incriminating information on her administration, according to an affidavit by the agent’s lawyer. Her aides have been called before a grand jury.

The investigation has been conducted in secrecy, with a gag order on the parties involved. But that has not stopped allegations that it is riddled with serious conflicts of interest. Nor has it stifled a sense, among Ms. Gardner’s supporters, that the police and the city’s clubby legal establishment have joined forces in an attempt to embarrass one of the few black officials with truly independent power in St. Louis.

National advocates of remaking the criminal justice system have watched as like-minded prosecutors in places like Boston, Chicago and Dallas won the support of voters but ran headlong into opposition from police unions and other local powers. Though all of them have been criticized, Ms. Gardner’s situation — facing possible criminal charges — is the most extreme.

See related story, St. Louis American, Under attack, Kim Gardner fights back, Rebecca Rivas, March 13, 2019. Police, special prosecutor take, then return, circuit attorney’s server.

ny times logokeith raniere nxivmNew York Times, How a Sex Cult Leader Seduced and Programmed His Followers, Colin Moynihan, June 14, 2019. Former members of the group Nxivm testified that they were brainwashed, branded and assigned to have sex with the group’s leader, Keith Raniere, right,. Their remarks provide a window into how the group indoctrinated people, undermined their beliefs and convinced them to blindly follow Mr. Raniere.

Trump Watch

elaine chao owsj logoWall Street Journal, Elaine Chao Sells Vulcan Stock Holdings, Ted Mann and Brody Mullins, June 14, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of Transportation earned the shares while serving on board of the paving-materials supplier. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has sold her shares in a paving-materials supplier after a Wall Street Journal report that she hadn’t fulfilled a pledge to relinquish the shares, agency documents show.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Elaine Chao hits the panic button, Bill Palmer, June 14, 2019. This week a profoundly ugly scandal came to the surface involving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, right, who just happen to be husband and wife. It turns out Chao has been using her position to inappropriately earmark an outsized amount of federal funds for McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, in a blatantly corrupt effort at getting the increasingly unpopular McConnell reelected. Now Chao is hitting the proverbial panic button.

bill palmer report logo headerElaine Chao has finally sold her stock in a company called Vulcan Materials in order to settle a conflict of interest, after she had long made repeated false promises to do so, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. It turns out she sold them on June 3rd and it’s just being reported now. But with the long lead time on major investigative newspaper stories, and newspaper reporters’ propensity to ask for comment in advance of the story, it’s not difficult to parse that Chao sold the stock as a way of trying to cover her tracks after she learned that her corruption was about to come front and center.

transportation dept logoThis isn’t going to work, however. House Democrats are already talking about holding investigative hearings into Elaine Chao’s corrupt antics as Secretary of Transportation. Mitch McConnell will likely try to argue that the Democrats are targeting her simply because she’s his wife. But in reality, the House has oversight authority when it comes to anything that a cabinet member does – and Chao’s scandal certainly falls under that purview.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. memo backs Mnuchin’s refusal to give Trump’s tax returns to Congress, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, June 14, 2019.
The legal opinion is the latest salvo in larger fights between Congress and the Trump administration over access to documents and witnesses.

irs logoTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to hand the documents over early last month, writing in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) that the committee’s demand was “unprecedented” and could “have lasting consequences for all taxpayers.” After getting legal advice from the Justice Department, Mnuchin said he had determined the request should be refused.

Iran Denies Bomb Claim

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran dismisses U.S. claim that it was behind attacks on tankers, Erin Cunningham​​, June 14, 2019. Iranian diplomats called the allegations alarming and accused the Trump administration of “economic terrorism” hours after the U.S. military released a video and timeline suggesting that it observed Iranian vessels retrieving an unexploded mine from one of the tankers that was attacked.

iran flag mapIran on Friday dismissed U.S. claims that its forces attacked two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, calling the allegations “alarming” just hours after the U.S. Central Command released a video it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving an unexploded mine from one of the damaged ships.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran — [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence and accused the Trump White House of “economic terrorism” and “sabotage diplomacy.”

The U.S. Central Command late Thursday made public a dark, grainy video and corresponding timeline suggesting that U.S. military assets in the region observed the Iranian vessels approaching the tanker and removing the device.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Wagging Bolton's dog, Wayne Madsen, June 14, 2019 (Subscription required). While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo still shrugs his shoulders about who murdered Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, he claimed in a June 13 press statement at the State Department that “intelligence” determined that Iran carried out mine attacks on the Japanese-owned and Panamanian-flagged M/V Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned and Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Front Altair.

CraigMurray.com, Opinion: The Gulf of Credibility, Craig Murray (historian, former ambassador, human rights activist), June 14, 2019. I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in Tehran on economic cooperation that can help Iran survive the effects of US economic sanctions.

That Iran would target a Japanese ship and a friendly Russian crewed ship is a ludicrous allegation. They are however very much the targets that the USA allies in the region – the Saudis, their Gulf Cooperation Council colleagues, and Israel – would target for a false flag. It is worth noting that John Bolton was meeting with United Arab Emirates ministers two weeks ago – both ships had just left the UAE.

The USA and their UK stooges have both immediately leapt in to blame Iran. The media is amplifying this with almost none of the scepticism which is required. I cannot think of a single reason why anybody would believe this particular false flag. It is notable that neither Norway nor Japan has joined in with this ridiculous assertion.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Flying Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a Mine, Ben Dooley, June 14, 2019. One of the tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman was struck by a flying object, the ship’s Japanese operator said on Friday, disputing at least part of the account of United States officials who had blamed Iran for the attack.

“Our crew said that the ship was attacked by a flying object,” said Yutaka Katada, the president of the operator, Kokuka Sangyo.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies had concluded that Tehran was behind the disabling of two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital conduit for much of the world’s oil. Senior American officials had already blamed Iran for similar attacks last month against four tankers in the same area. Iranian officials denied any involvement in the events, which have escalated tensions in the region.

Mr. Katada said that the holes in Kokuka Courageous were well above its waterline. “There is zero possibility that they were torpedoes,” he added.

 Mexican Border

washington post logomexico flag1Washington Post, Threatened with tariffs, Mexico is trying to reinforce its southern border ahead of Trump’s deadline, Kevin Sieff, June 14, 2019. U.S. pressure has prompted tighter checks in the south but also more confusion. After all, the United States spent decades building its border security apparatus. Mexico now has just weeks.

More than 144,000 migrants were apprehended at the U.S. border in May, a 13-year high. Most of them came up through Mexico’s porous border with Guatemala, a vast stretch of jungle, river and mountains that Mexico has never seriously tried to secure.

June 13

Trump Watch

June 13

Media Matters, Opinion: Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn’s new attorney, is an anti-Mueller conspiracy theorist and Fox regular, Staff report, June 13, 2019. President Donald Trump sidney powellpraised former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s decision to replace his legal team with Sidney Powell, right, a conservative attorney, conspiracy theorist, and harsh critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe who has made dozens of appearances on Fox News and Fox Business in recent years.

“General Michael Flynn, the 33 year war hero who has served with distinction, has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!”

After pleading guilty to charges of lying to the FBI in December 2017, Flynn began cooperating with Mueller’s team. Last week, he fired his legal team, a move that “triggered speculation in legal and political circles that he’s considering backing out of his plea deal with the government in a play for a presidential pardon,” according to Politico.

Powell’s hiring should bolster that conjecture. She is a former federal prosecutor who specializes in federal appeals in commercial litigation, but has carved out a sideline as a fox news logo SmallFox pundit. According to her website, “Sidney the Media Figure is highly sought to comment on current legal issues and government investigations—especially the special investigation lead by Robert Mueller and his chief lieutenant Andrew Weissmann,” who the site describes as the “true villain” of her 2014 book, Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

Indeed, Powell is one of a handful of lawyers that Fox’s pro-Trump hosts have relied upon to put a legal gloss on their alternative narrative that Mueller’s investigation was the result of an illegal anti-Trump conspiracy by the “deep state.” She has used Fox’s platform to claim the probe “was set up, basically, to impugn this presidency and to make it as hard as possible for Mr. Trump to carry out his duties” and to describe investigators as “creeps on a mission to destabilize and destroy this president.”

While Powell has a lower profile than more regular legal commentators like Alan Dershowitz or Victoria Toensing, the former federal prosecutor has still made more than two dozen appearances on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show, and at least nine additional weekday interviews on Fox News, since January 2018.

Powell has an extremely active presence on Twitter, where she has argued that Flynn’s prosecution is a “horrific injustice” and that Mueller’s team engaged in “obstruction” by “hiding evidence that exonerates him.” As part of a pattern of frequently amplifying conspiratorial rants about the Mueller probe, Powell has also repeatedly retweeted major accounts that promote the QAnon conspiracy theory and shared articles from Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website, Infowars (in October 2017, Powell was also interviewed by then-Infowars Washington bureau chief Jerome Corsi.).

Powell’s conspiratorial Twitter musings are not limited to the Mueller probe. She has repeatedly tweeted about George Soros, the Jewish billionaire philanthropist who is regularly targeted with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In December, she accused the Federal Reserve of deliberately trying to “#crash the market” as part of a deliberate plot to destroy Trump “and enrich #Soros & themselves. #Soros has done it before.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s been a really bad day for Donald Trump’s pals, Bill Palmer, June 13, 2019. Things rarely end well for Donald Trump’s allies, loyalists, underlings and henchmen in general. He promises to take care of them if they give him cover for his crimes, or if they commit crimes on his behalf. Then when push comes to shove, he selfishly kellyanne conway gage skidmoreleaves them twisting because he only cares about protecting himself. Today has turned out to be one of those days where Trump’s allies are taking it on the chin even more than usual.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst we’ve got Kellyanne Conway (Gage Skidmore portrait at right). Her violations of the Hatch Act have led a federal government oversight entity to formally recommend that Donald Trump fire her. That won’t happen. But House Democrats have announced a June 26th public hearing into her Hatch Act violations, which will make her enough of a liability that for all we know, Trump might feel compelled to cut her loose.

sarah huckabee sanders 2017 05 05Then we’ve got Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left,. Donald Trump tweeted today that she’s resigning as of the end of the month. Why? No reason given. But we do know that she’s leaving Washington DC with her reputation forever destroyed, thanks to her endless lies aimed at protecting Trump from his crimes and scandals.

We’ve also got Duncan Hunter, right, one of the first House Republicans to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 race. Hunter’s wife cut a plea deal against him duncan hunter otoday, which likely means that he’s going to prison, and all but certainly means that his political career is over.

Finally there’s Michael Flynn, who appears to have been cajoled by Trump into hiring the kind of grandstanding lawyer whose antics will land Flynn a long prison sentence. Flynn must be counting on a pardon. There won’t be one coming.

michael flynn state department Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel issues subpoenas to Flynn, Gates, Karoun Demirjian​, June 13, 2019.  The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to two former Trump officials who served as key witnesses in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe as part of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into election interference and the president’s alleged foreign ties.

The summons for Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, left, require them to furnish documents to the panel by June 26 and appear for testimony on July 10.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kellyanne Conway should be removed from post, federal watchdog says, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Lisa Rein and Josh Dawsey, June 13, 2019.  An agency said the White House counselor violated the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic 2020 hopefuls while speaking in her official capacity. The decision about whether to remove Conway is up to Trump. A senior White House official said Thursday the president is unlikely to punish Conway and instead will defend her. The White House counsel immediately issued a letter calling for the agency to withdraw its recommendation that Conway be removed — a request the Office of Special Counsel declined.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sarah Sanders leaving White House at end of the month, Trump says, Paul Farhi and Colby Itkowitz, June 14, 2019. The combative White House press secretary’s tenure was marked by controversy and questions about her credibility.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats rebuke Trump for saying he’d consider taking foreign opposition research, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim​, ​June 13, 2019. The president said in an interview that he didn’t think it was always necessary to contact the FBI when foreign government offer dirt on political opponents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump open to accepting opposition research from foreign powers, Colby Itkowitz and Tom Hamburger, June 13, 2019. President Trump told ABC News that he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if a foreign country approached his campaign with information about a challenger.

 washington post logoWashington Post, As Democrats deepen probes, Trump accuses them of being ‘totally out of control,’ David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and John Wagner​, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump lashed out Wednesday against a widening web of congressional probes that demonstrated the limits of his strategy to declare victory and try to move past the 22-month special counsel investigation into Russian interference that has consumed much of his presidency.

donald trump twitterYet Trump’s latest efforts to defend himself ran into new obstacles as a House panel moved to hold two Cabinet officials — Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — in contempt of Congress over the administration’s efforts to shield documents related to its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The committee vote came several hours after Trump asserted executive privilege over the material related to the 2020 Census.

By day’s end, there was more potential bad news for the White House as Hope Hicks, the president’s longtime adviser who left last year, agreed to become the first former aide to testify next week for a House Judiciary Committee probe into whether the president sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.

washington post logogeorge conway twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Trump just invited Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, George T. Conway III, shown at right in his Twitter portrait, and Neal Katyal, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). George T. Conway III is a lawyer in New York. Neal Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University, previously served as the acting solicitor general of the United States. Much ink has been spilled about whether President Trump committed a criminal and impeachable offense by obstructing justice. That question deserves extensive debate, but another critical question — the ultimate question, really — is not whether he committed a crime but whether he is even fit for office in the first place. And that question — the heart of an impeachment inquiry — turns upon whether the president abuses his power and demonstrates an unfitness to serve under the defining principles of our Constitution.

On Tuesday, Trump gave us direct evidence of his contempt toward the most foundational precept of our democracy — that no person, not even the president, is above the law. He filed a brief in the nation’s second-most-important court that takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president, except possibly in impeachment proceedings. It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office. Trump’s brief is nothing if not an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that, for reasons set out in the Mueller report, should have already commenced.

The case involves a House committee’s efforts to follow up on the testimony of Trump’s now-incarcerated former attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump had allegedly committed financial and tax fraud, and allegedly paid off paramours in violation of campaign finance laws. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed Trump’s accountants in mid-April for relevant documents, and Trump tried to block the move, only to be sternly rebuked in mid-May by a federal judge in Washington.

The appeals brief filed Monday by Trump attacks that decision. But to describe Trump’s brief is to refute it. He argues that Congress is “trying to prove that the President broke the law” and that that’s something Congress can’t do, because it’s “an exercise of law enforcement authority that the Constitution reserves to the executive branch.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Hope Hicks’ testimony against Donald Trump is such a big deal, Bill Palmer, June 13, 2019. Yesterday, House Democrats scored by far their djt hope hicksmost important victory to date in their investigation into Donald Trump’s scandals. Unfortunately, because we’re in such overwhelmingly cynical times, quite a few members of the Resistance were unable to process that this was a victory at all.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat happened yesterday is that Hope Hicks, right, who officially served as Donald Trump’s White House Communications Director and unofficially served as his closest political confidant, has agreed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about his obstruction of justice crimes next Wednesday. This is huge. There are a few key witnesses the House Democrats were trying to land – Hicks, Don McGahn, Annie Donaldson – and now they’ve got one. In fact they’ve arguably landed the most important of the three. But observers were quick to crap all over this good news.

The bottom line is this: none of the caveats matter. Hope Hicks knows most of Donald Trump’s campaign secrets and most of his White House secrets, and she’s agreed to testify before Congress about his obstruction crimes. If she were playing for Team Trump, she’d be refusing to testify at all, like McGahn did. She’s clearly not trying to protect Trump here. Nor is she particularly interested in whatever retaliation he might try against her.

Trump Probe Of CIA

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. in Its Own Russia Investigation, Julian E. Barnes, Katie Benner, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). The interview plans suggest a focus in part on the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened in 2016 on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Justice Department officials intend to interview senior C.I.A. officers as they review the Russia investigation, according to people briefed on the matter, indicating they are focused partly on the intelligence agencies’ most explosive conclusion about the 2016 election: that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened to benefit Donald J. Trump.

The interview plans are the latest sign the Justice Department will take a critical look at the C.I.A.’s work on Russia’s election interference. Investigators want to talk with at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior C.I.A. analyst, the people said. Both officials were involved in the agency’s work on understanding the Russian campaign to john durhamsabotage the election in 2016.

While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny. Attorney General William P. Barr, who is overseeing the review, assigned the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, to conduct it.

[The attorney general is reviewing the Russia inquiry. Here’s what we know about its origins.]

The Justice Department has not submitted formal written requests to talk to the C.I.A. officers, but law enforcement officials have told intelligence officials that Mr. Durham will seek the interviews, two of the people said. Communications officers for both the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr taps U.S. attorney to review origins of Russia probe, Matt Zapotosky and Felicia Sonmez, May 14, 2019 (print ed.). The investigation is designed to ensure the U.S. government’s “intelligence collection activities” related to the Trump campaign were “lawful and appropriate.” Attorney General William P. Barr has tapped John H. Durham, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

john durhamBarr picked Durham, right, in recent weeks to work on the review, which is designed to ensure the U.S. government’s “intelligence collection activities” related to the Trump campaign were “lawful and appropriate,” a person familiar with the decision said.

Barr had confirmed the review publicly, though the person leading it was not previously known. Durham’s selection was first reported by the New York Times.

Durham was confirmed as a U.S. attorney in February 2018 and had previously earned a reputation as a dogged career prosecutor tapped by previous attorneys general for other high-profile roles.

ny times logoNew York Times, Scrutiny of Russia Investigation Is Said to Be a Review, Not a Criminal Inquiry, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos, May 14, 2019. The federal prosecutor assigned to the review, John H. Durham, has no subpoena power and cannot compel witnesses to testify. The federal prosecutor tapped to scrutinize the origins of the Russia investigation is conducting only a review for now and has not opened any criminal inquiry, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The prosecutor, John H. Durham, the United States attorney for Connecticut, is broadly examining the government’s collection of intelligence involving the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians, the person said. The additional details about the scope and limits of his role emerged a day after The New York Times reported that Attorney General William P. Barr had put Mr. Durham in charge of scrutinizing the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation during the 2016 election.

While Mr. Durham has conducted criminal investigations into allegations of high-level wrongdoing by law enforcement and national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s handling of organized crime informants and the C.I.A.’s torture of detainees, his new review does not rise to that level, the person said.

The distinction means that Mr. Durham for now will not wield the sort of law enforcement powers that come with an open criminal investigation, such as the ability to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify. Instead, he will have the authority only to read documents the government has already gathered and to request voluntary witness interviews.

Climate Change Warning

climate change photo

Strategic Culture Foundation, Report: Prepare for the Climatic Collapse of Civilization, Wayne Madsen, June 13, 2019 (representational graphic via Wikipedia). Two authoritative Australian experts, backed up by a retired admiral of the Royal Australian Navy, recently issued a dire report that warns of an impending collapse of civilization from human-caused climate change.

The report, titled “Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach,” is not the product of alarmists, but of two authors with expertise in their professional areas. Only one of the authors is an environmental expert. He is David Spratt, a Research Director at the Australian National Center for Climate Restoration in Melbourne. The other, Ian Dunlop. Is an unlikely harbinger of environmental doom. Dunlop comes out of the executive ranks of the coal, oil, and gas industries – the usual opponents of climate science. Dunlop is a member of the Club of Rome and the former chairman of the Australian Coal Association, not places where one would normally discover climate change proponents.

Backing up the authors is retired Admiral Chris Barrie, the Chief of the Australian Defense Force from 1998 to 2002. It is no longer unusual to find military services warning about the impending catastrophic effects of climate change. In January 2019, the US Department of Defense’s

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment issued a report to the US Congress, “Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense,” without the usual fanfare accompanying such an alarming finding. The Pentagon report, which forecasts US military bases susceptible to recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost, was introduced in a low-key fashion due to the anti-science dogma of Donald Trump and key members of his administration. The Pentagon’s study sees 79 military bases to suffer from the effects of climate change. They include bases in Virginia, California, New Mexico, Utah, Florida, Colorado, Washington DC, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Hawaii, Guam, and even the National Security Agency (NSA) complex in Maryland and the Pentagon building, itself, in Virginia.

Although the Pentagon report avoided the global aspects of climate change, the Australian report was stark in its predictions for the immediate future.

The Australian report’s conclusions are sobering. It states: “Climate change now represents a near-to mid-term existential threat to human civilization.” Predicting the advent of a “hothouse Earth” by 2050, the report’s authors foresee devastating weather extremes, including wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and massive flooding. The loss of the Asian monsoons, glacial and polar ice, slowing of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, and collapse of the Amazon and other eco-systems will result in massive population shifts. The report states that such conditions will result in “outright chaos” and the “end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it.”

Although the report calls for a “Marshall Plan” on a national security level to immediately deal with the threat of civilization collapse, we have seen critically important nations elect political buffoons, all climate change deniers, to their leadership. These include Mr. Trump in Washington; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who disregards climate science and plans to massively develop the Amazon Basin, known as the “lungs of the planet;” Argentine President Mauricio Macri; and Australia’s recently- reelected Prime Minister Scott Morrison; with the possibility that either “Mr. Brexit,” Nigel Farage, or climate change erratic skeptic Boris Johnson ending up as British prime minister.

It is the collapse of food production that spells the onset of civilization collapse, according to the Australian report. The disruption of the human food supply will be brought about by heat waves, floods, storms, and the decline in beneficial insect populations. Food and water shortages will lead to social upheaval on a scale virtually unknown in modern times. Oceanic flooding of some of the world’s agriculturally-important river deltas – including, the Mekong, Ganges and Nile – will result in massive population movement to areas where there is food and clean water.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, USDA research agencies will move to Kansas City region, despite opposition, Ben Guarino, June 13, 2019. Current employees, congressional Democrats and a bipartisan coalition of former USDA leaders contend that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's decision will harm the two agencies.

Global Tensions

washington post logoWashington Post, Two more tankers attacked, U.S. Navy says, amid U.S.-Iran tensions, Erin Cunningham and Simon Denyer, June 13, 2019. A Japanese-owned ship was targeted just as the country’s prime minister wrapped up a high-stakes visit to Tehran to help cool hostilities in the region.

June 12

Big Tech U.S. Regulation

ny times logoNew York Times, House Opens Tech Antitrust Inquiry With Look at Threat to News Media, Cecilia Kang, June 12, 2019 (print ed.). Local journalism has been pushed “to the verge of extinction,” said a member of a committee that plans 18 months of hearings and other scrutiny of the big technology platforms. A congressional investigation into the power of big tech companies began on Tuesday with bipartisan concern from lawmakers that the government’s lax oversight of the industry may be doing more harm than good.

google logo customIn its first hearing about the power held by Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, lawmakers focused on the decline of the news industry. They said they were troubled that the online digital advertising market, which is dominated by Google and Facebook, had siphoned off too much revenue from news organizations.

“Concentration in the digital advertising market has pushed local journalism to the verge of extinction,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

us house logoThe hearing was the start of the House Judiciary Committee’s inquiry into possible anticompetitive behavior by big tech companies, part of a rising wave of federal scrutiny of the industry.

amazon logo smallThe House committee plans several hearings, depositions and interviews with competitors over the next 18 months. In addition, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the two top antitrust agencies, recently divided antitrust oversight over Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.

The close reviews could lead to years of troubles for the companies, through lawsuits or new laws. European regulators have already taken a tough stance against the companies, investigating how they handle user data, police speech and limit competition.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fake Zuckerberg Video Challenges Facebook’s Rules, Cade Metz, June 12, 2019 (print ed.). Last month, the social media company would not remove a doctored video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Facebook said the video of Mr. Zuckerberg will get the same treatment. Two weeks ago, Facebook declined to remove a doctored video in which the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, seemed to drunkenly slur her speech. Over the weekend, two British artists released a doctored video of Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, as a sly comment on the spread of false information online.

facebook logoPosted to the Facebook-owned social network Instagram, the video shows Mr. Zuckerberg speaking directly into the camera, boasting of nefarious motives behind his online empire.

“Imagine this for a second: one man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures,” he appears to say. “I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data controls the future.”

The video is easily recognizable as a fake, in part because the voice paired with the image sounds only marginally like Mr. Zuckerberg. And Spectre is a reference to a fictional, evil organization in James Bond lore. But it serves both as a piece of digital commentary and as a test of the way Facebook handles the spread of false information on its social network.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, A ‘Loser.’ An ‘Existential Threat.’ Trump and Biden Trade Personal Barbs, Katie Glueck and Annie Karni, June 12, 2019 (print ed.). An exchange between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. underscored the extent to which the men were already fighting with each other. President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. repeatedly ripped into each other on Tuesday as unfit to lead the country as they both traveled to the battleground state of Iowa, giving voters a preview of what a general election matchup between the two men might look like.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosIn the most ferocious day of attacks in the six-month-old presidential campaign, Mr. Trump resorted to taunts and name-calling over several hours, saying Mr. Biden was “a loser,” “a sleepy guy” and “the weakest mentally,” and claiming that “people don’t respect him.” Mr. Biden took a different tack, laying out ways Mr. Trump was “an existential threat” to the country, its international standing and its values.

Mr. Biden, who leads in early polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, also brought up subjects he had previously avoided with reporters, such as Mr. Trump siding with the North Korean state media’s insults on Mr. Biden’s I.Q.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bon voyage, Howard Schultz, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2019. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz has spent months running a terrible unofficial 2020 campaign for president, and despite an outsized amount of media coverage, he’s gained almost no traction during that time. Now he’s basically dropping out of the race – and his explanation is potentially revealing.

bill palmer report logo headerHoward Schultz announced today that he’s suspending his campaign and laying off nearly his entire staff. He’s citing three recent back surgeries as the reason. Back surgery is a serious matter and can lead to a lengthy recovery period, so it would be unfair for us to merely assume that Schultz is using it as an excuse to end his failing campaign – if not for the caveat he added onto his explanation.

Schultz may decide to get back in the 2020 race later, but only if someone other than Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, according to Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post. Wait, what? You don’t suspend your campaign strictly for medical reasons, if you’re also preemptively admitting that you only plan to reactivate your campaign if the current frontrunner falls by the wayside.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Census citizenship question challengers ask Supreme Court to delay ruling, Robert Barnes​, June 12, 2019. ACLU lawyers said a lower court should consider new allegations that the question was added to benefit the Republican Party. Organizations challenging the decision to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census form asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday night to put off a ruling on whether the Trump administration may do so.

us census bureauLawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said if justices are not prepared to affirm lower court rulings keeping the question off the census form, they should send the issue back to a lower court to consider new allegations that the question was added at the behest of a Republican operative to benefit the party and white voters in general.

“If ever there were a case that should be decided on the basis of a true and complete record, it is this one,” ACLU lawyer Dale Ho wrote in the brief. “Even an appearance that the government has manipulated the census for partisan and racially discriminatory purposes would undermine public confidence in our representative democracy.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, After emotional testimony from 9/11 responders, House panel votes to replenish victims fund, Devlin Barrett, June 12, 2019. Anger over the fund had been growing since it was announced that future payouts for those who are sick or dying from illnesses linked to their work amid the toxic debris at the 9/11 attack sites would be cut as much as 70 percent.

washington post logolindsey graham judiciary chairmanWashington Post, Trump ally Lindsey Graham ready to revoke president’s emergency power on arms sales, Karoun Demirjian, June 12, 2019. Several lawmakers want a rule change after the White House cited an unspecific threat from Iran to expedite weapons sales benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. One of President Trump’s closest congressional allies is ready to strip him of certain emergency powers in response to the administration sidestepping lawmakers to secure 22 arms sales benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Do away with the emergency exception,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), right, said Wednesday. Doing so, he added, would prevent the executive branch from repeating such a move in the future. “I would not have agreed to that before, but after this maneuver by the administration, count me in.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Emmet Flood abruptly quit on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2019. Earlier this month, Donald Trump announced that White House lawyer emmet flood djtEmmet Flood,far right, was resigning. No reason was given, but Palmer Report pointed out that the timing couldn’t have been any more suspicious. Flood is an expert on executive privilege, but he was suddenly making his exit just as Trump was gearing up to fight the executive privilege battles that Flood was supposed to lead. Now things have become more clear.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump and his Department of Justice informed Congress today that they’re going to try to invoke executive privilege over subpoenaed documents related to Trump’s census scandal. To be clear, this is not a questionable exertion of executive privilege – it’s a laugh out loud nonsensical gibberish exertion of executive privilege. It’s like trying to get out of a speeding ticket by claiming you have international diplomatic immunity when you’re clearly just some random doofus. It’s not going to succeed, but it may succeed in getting the officer to roll his eyes.

Inside DC

CIA and North Korea

washington post logoWashington Post, From casino playboy to slain CIA informant: The rise and fall of Kim Jong Un’s half brother, John Hudson and Anna Fifield​, June 12, 2019. Kim Jong Nam is believed to have met with an American intelligence agent a few days before he was killed, according to a Malaysian official. Before the half brother of Kim Jong Un, below, was killed in a brazen nerve agent attack at a Malaysian airport in 2017, he was known as a playboy and a hustler — not a secret CIA informant.

kim jong un uniformedKim Jong Nam, the exiled firstborn son of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, lived among the gamblers and gangsters of the Chinese enclave of Macau.

Because he was the only high-profile member of the Kim dynasty living outside the territory and employment of the regime, Japanese and South Korean reporters would flock to him on sight. He was a bon vivant who enjoyed expensive watches, wine and cigars. On Facebook, he posted photos of himself outside various casinos and resorts. “Living Las Vegas in Asia,” he captioned one.

But behind the veneer of a high-rolling North Korean card shark was a man supplementing his income with a job as an informant to the CIA, said two people familiar with his activities. Kim Jong Nam provided information to the intelligence agency, often meeting his handlers in Singapore or Malaysia, the people said.

More On Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Hope Hicks sells out Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2019. House Democrats have spent weeks seeking a cooperating witness to get things started in the pre-impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, and now they’ve finally landed a very big fish. Even as former White House Counsel Don McGahn and his former Deputy Annie Donaldson have refused to obey House subpoenas at the risk of their own freedom, Hope Hicks has decided today to protect herself by fully selling Trump out.

bill palmer report logo headerThe first hint of this came last week when the Trump regime illegally ordered Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson not to turn over any documents to Congress, but Hicks went ahead and began turning over documents anyway. At the time, Palmer Report took this as a sign that Hicks might be willing to go all the way by showing up and testifying against Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump Jr. to appear for second Senate Intelligence Committee interview Wednesday, Karoun Demirjian and Carol D. Leonnig​, June 11, 2019. The closed-door interview is part of a deal the president’s son struck last month.

Texas Abortion Ban

The Hill.com, Texas city council unanimously votes to ban abortions, Owen Daugherty, June 12, 2019. The city council of a small town in Texas voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban abortions within city limits, declaring itself a "sanctuary city of the unborn." Waskom, Texas's, five-member city council said it passed the ordinance to prevent abortion clinics from opening in the city, according to KTSA. There is currently no abortion provider in Waskom. The city's mayor and attorney reportedly cautioned council members that the ordinance is unconstitutional, according to KTSA.

Air Safety

ny times logoNew York Times, Pilot Was Lost Before Helicopter Crashed Onto Manhattan Building, Patrick McGeehan and William K. Rashbaum, June 12, 2019 (print ed.). The helicopter lifted off in a damp fog and raced down the East River. But within minutes, the pilot was trying to return to the heliport he had just left. The pilot, an experienced flier named Timothy McCormack, told the heliport he could not find his way.

Global Corruption News

ny times logoNew York Times, The wife of Israel’s prime minister accepted a plea deal to settle accusations that she misused public funds, David M. Halbfinger, June 12, 2019. Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, accepted a plea bargain on Wednesday morning and will pay about $15,000 in fines and restitution to settle accusations that she misused about $100,000 in public funds in managing the couple’s official residence.

israel flagProsecutors said that Ms. Netanyahu, whom they charged with fraud, had concealed that a cook was on the payroll so that she could order hundreds of catered meals from expensive restaurants and charge them to the state.

Under the deal with the State Attorney’s Office the amount of public money at issue was halved to about $50,000, and Ms. Netanyahu agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of trickery, specifically that she deliberately exploited another person’s mistake. She is due to pay about $2,800 in fines and $12,500 in restitution.

Ms. Netanyahu, 60, was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust a year ago in the case, which covered the years 2010 to 2013. Prosecutors accused her of “exploiting her status as the wife of the prime minister” and colluding with a top aide in a “planned, ongoing and systematic” scheme to break government rules and conceal it from state accountants.

June 11

9/11 Responders Hearing

Former late night host and 9/11 first responders advocate Jon Stewart chokes up and slams Congress over health care for the 9/11 first responders during the hearing for reauthorizing the 9/11 victim compensation fund (8:52 min. CNN video).

 washington post logoWashington Post, ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves’: Jon Stewart tears into Congress over 9/11 victims fund, Marisa Iati​, June 11, 2019. “I am angry, and you should be too,” the former “Daily Show” host said, blasting the House Judiciary Committee for its low attendance at a hearing to discuss reauthorizing the fund.

• Washington Post, Tears, anger at congressional hearing seeking extension of victim fund for 9/11 responders, June 11, 2019.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, House authorizes going to court to force Barr, McGahn to obey subpoenas, Mike DeBonis, June 11, 2019. The vote was the strongest step yet by the Democrat-led House in its effort to get President Trump to cooperate with ongoing congressional investigations.

washington post logojohn dean manafort plea screengrabWashington Post, Former White House counsel Dean describes Trump-Nixon parallels, Rachael Bade, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis​, June 11, 2019.  “In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard Nixon,” John W. Dean III said.

The hearing underscored the problems Democrats face in trying to draw attention to Mueller’s findings as Trump repeatedly blocks his former White House aides from testifying and cooperating with requests for documents. Unlike Dean (shown in a file photo), who turned on Nixon and testified in the 1970s, Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn has refused to appear because the White House instructed him not to testify.

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr finds a whole new way to lose, Bill Palmer, June 11, 2019. All along, Attorney General William Barr’s words have given the appearance that he’s william barr new owilling to stand his ground and protect Donald Trump at all costs. But Barr’s actions have given away that he really, really doesn’t want to be held in contempt. Sure enough, last night, on the eve of a full House contempt vote against him, Barr, right, caved by giving House Democrats immediate access to underlying Mueller report materials. Then the House Democrats decided to make his nightmare come true anyway.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Democrats won’t be sending the Sergeant-at-Arms out today to arrest William Barr and lock him in the tiny jail in the basement. But they are voting today to take de facto civil contempt measures against Barr – which is precisely what he was trying to avoid. It’s too late for Barr to take the Mueller report materials off the table, because he already let House Democrats have access to them last night.

The kicker is that House Democrats are going just soft enough today on William Barr so that he might be motivated to continue caving to them, while just hard enough on Barr to send a message to others about Barr having dared to defy them to begin with. Today won’t see the kind of dramatic takedown of Barr that so many Americans have been hoping for. But it’s instead the kind of takedown in which Barr had to give House Democrats want they wanted, and now they’re still going to spank him anyway. That’s a whole new way for Barr to lose.

Inside DC

washington post logonancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, ‘My stock goes up every time he attacks me’: Pelosi says Trump’s criticisms strengthen her politically, John Wagner, June 11, 2019.  Appearing at a conference, the House speaker, right, also said that “not even close” to a majority of Democrats favor launching impeachment proceedings against the president.

U.S. Sports / Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, David Ortiz remains in intensive care in Boston following second surgery, Dave Sheinin​, June 11, 2019. Authorities in the Dominican Republic were still searching for one of the assailants and a motive in Sunday night's shooting of the former Boston Red Sox slugger.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Earth is entering a new heat wave epidemic intensified by global warming, study says, Jason Samenow​, June 11, 2019. There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer — signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.

Simultaneous heat waves scorched land areas all over the Northern Hemisphere last summer, killing hundreds and hospitalizing thousands while intensifying destructive and deadly wildfires.

A study published this week in the journal Earth’s Future concludes that this heat wave epidemic “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change.”

The alarming part? There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer — signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.

In the past few days, blistering, abnormal heat has afflicted several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including major population centers.

New Delhi, India’s capital, soared to 118.4 degrees (48 Celsius) Monday, its highest temperature ever recorded in June. Some parts of India have seen the mercury eclipse 122 degrees (50 Celsius) in recent days, not far off the country’s all-time high.

Critique of Dean-Woodward 'Watergate' Story

The Hard Question Show via WCGO 1590 AM / 95.9 FM (Chicago) and Soundcloud, Remember John Dean?, host Blanquita Cullum (former Republican-appointed member of the len colodny croppedBroadcasting Board of Governors, parent of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, etc.), June 11, 2019 (36:40 mins). Silent Coup author Len Colodny, right, challenges the credibility of June 10 House Judiciary Committee expert witness John Dean regarding the Watergate scandal. The challenge is based on Colodny's decades of research, two co-authored books (Silent Coup and The Forty years War). Colodny's scores of tape-recorded interviews with key Watergate figures, including with Dean and former President Gerald Ford, are now housed at The Colodny Collection at Texas A & M University.

Colodny praises the new book Haig's Coup authored by former USA Today investigations editor Ray Locker, published in May by the University of ray locker haigs coupNebraska Press and Potomac Press.

Colodny tells Cullum: "I plead with the American people. Don't be fooled. What you saw yesterday was 'Fools Gold' -- and the Democrats should know better....Somebody needs to tell the president [Trump] to stop what's going on in the sense that we're in this fictitious war between the president and the media. I don't support this president. I wouldn't vote for this president. I have real problems with him. But I don't have probelms with telling the American people the truth."

Background: The "Colodny Collection" has in it the often-suppressed Nixon/Dean tape (March 16,1973), available for listening remotely by clicking len colodny silent coup coverhere. Anyone can hear Nixon and Dean as they lay out a plot to cover up White House involvement (via White House aide Gordon Strachan) in the Watergate break in. Dean would suggest to Nixon a number of ways to cover up the crime, including blaming the campaign's dirty trickster Don Segretti for the crime. Nixon quickly agrees.

At the very end of the tape, Dean assured Nixon that "We will win." The tapes were produced in 1996 under a lawsuit protective order. "What is intriguing," Colodny has said, "is that the mainstream media has no interest in playing or reporting the contents of this tape, with one exception at the New York TImes."

"John Dean's book Nixon's Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It," Colodny has written, "deliberately leaves out this tape and others in this series. Dean made sure we would not know everything Nixon knew, especially everything that Dean told him. The Nixon on this tape is saying things that are so incriminating that the Nixon Library's 'Watergate' exhibit does not contain it. The one place that it is featured is in The Colodny Collection, donated to Texas A & M University."

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, As America Grows More Divided, the Mood Turns Tense, Timothy Williams, June 11, 2019. It’s the first time in more than a century that all but one state legislature is dominated by a single party. As each state’s majority party pushes its agenda, the weaker one has grown more combative.

When J.B. Pritzker took over as the governor of Illinois this year, Democratic lawmakers, who had spent four years at an impasse with his Republican predecessor, vowed that their party’s new grip on the State Capitol would bring immediate change. The pace has been startling. In recent months, Illinois legislators have moved sharply to the left, deeming abortion a fundamental right for women no matter what the Supreme Court might decide, raising the minimum wage, taking steps to legalize recreational marijuana and introducing a graduated income tax.

Some 700 miles to the south, the Alabama State Capitol, dominated by Republicans, has raced in the opposite direction.

Media: Fake News, Pelosi, Facebook

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Deepfakes Are Coming. We Can No Longer Believe What We See, Regina Rini (Dr. Rini teaches philosophy at York University in Toronto), June 11, 2019 (print ed.). It will soon be as easy to produce convincing fake video as it is to lie. We need to be prepared.  On June 1, 2019, the Daily Beast published a story exposing the creator of a now infamous fake video that appeared to show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drunkenly slurring her words. The video was created by taking a genuine clip, slowing it down, and then adjusting the pitch of her voice to disguise the manipulation.

nancy pelosi twitterJudging by social media comments, many people initially fell for the fake, believing that Ms. Pelosi, right, really was drunk while speaking to the media. (If that seems an absurd thing to believe, remember Pizzagate; people are happy to believe absurd things about politicians they don’t like.)

The video was made by a private citizen named Shawn Brooks, who seems to have been a freelance political operative producing a wealth of pro-Trump web content. (Mr. Brooks denies creating the video, though according to the Daily Beast, Facebook confirmed he was the first to upload it.)

We live in a time when knowing the origin of an internet video is just as important as knowing what it shows.

Digital technology is making it much easier to fabricate convincing fakes. The video that Mr. Brooks created is pretty simple; you could probably do it yourself after watching a few YouTube clips about video editing. But more complicated fabrications, sometimes called “deepfakes,” use algorithmic techniques to depict people doing things they’ve never done — not just slowing them down or changing the pitch of their voice, but making them appear to say things that they’ve never said at all.

Facebook Attack On Pelosi

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Facebook’s Zuckerberg reached out to Pelosi after distorted video. She hasn’t called him back, Robert Costa and Elizabeth Dwoskin​, June 11, 2019. The impasse highlights broader tensions within the Democratic Party about the social media company.

 Trade Wars / Migrant Controls

washington post logoWashington Post, Mexico talked Trump out of tariffs with extensive migrant crackdown, Nick Miroff, Kevin Sieff and John Wagner, June 11, 2019. Mexican negotiators agreed to an unprecedented immigration pact and preemptively accepted broader measures if initial efforts don’t deliver quick results, according to officials and related documents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Financial Commentary: Donald and the Delusion Discount, Paul Krugman, June 11, 2019 (print ed.). Markets are treating Trump as crazy but harmless. The events of the past few weeks destroyed whatever credibility Donald Trump may still have had on economic policy. And investors are celebrating. At this point, evidence that Trump tweets are sound and fury signifying nothing is, in effect, good news.

Israel's Religious / Political Divide

washington post logoWashington Post, A battle of bra-baring waitresses and ultra-religious protesters explains Israel’s crisis, Loveday Morris and Miriam Berger, June 11, 2019. Israel was founded by secular Zionists, but it now has an ultra-Orthodox population growing in size and influence that is resisting attempts to assimilate their cloistered communities.

israel flagThe ultra-Orthodox, a catchall for a religious community that includes a wide range of sects, choose largely to segregate themselves from the wider Israeli society to lead a life in which religious observance is paramount. Outside influences such as films, the Internet and mixing with secular Israelis are discouraged, if not forbidden.

But in Israel’s fragmented parliamentary democracy, the political parties representing the ultra-Orthodox have become kingmakers in recent years, elevating their agenda and carving a fault line in Israeli society that is expected to grow.

U.S. Courts / School #MeToo

Radar, ‘I Want You’: Arizona Teacher Pleads Guilty To Sexually Molesting 13-Year-Old Boy, Staff report, June 11, 2019. Sixth-grade educator texted teen she wanted to have sex with him 'every day. An Arizona middle school teacher accused of repeatedly sexually molesting a 13-year-old student has pled guilty to the crime, RadarOnline.com has learned. brittany zamoraBrittany Zamora, right, a sixth-grade teacher at Las Brisas Academy in the Phoenix Opens a New Window. suburb, Goodyear, pleaded guilty to sexual conduct with a minor, molestation of a child and public sexual indecency, after the boy’s parents discovered the explicit relationship and contacted authorities.

Records obtained by The Arizona Republic describe how Zamora, 27, and the boy had sex several times in her car and even in her classroom — once with another male student in the room. The two even sexually touched each other during class, while other students watched a video, records showed. Zamora is also accused of sending naked pictures of herself to the student.

According to reports, the boy’s step-mother became suspicious after the teen spent time at home with his door shut. After installing a parental monitoring app Opens a New Window. on his phone, she discovered several inappropriate and sexually graphic texts from the educator. In one exchange, the boy texted Zamora, saying that he wanted to have sex with her. “I know baby!” she responded, according to court records. “I want you every day with no time limit.”

In another exchange, she texted him, “If I could quit my job and [have sex with] you all day long, I would,” according to records. Zamora is set to be sentenced on July 12. The boy’s parents are seeking $2.5 million in damages, according to a civil lawsuit filed in January against Zamora, her husband and the Liberty Elementary School District.

June 10

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ny times logoNew York Times, People Are Trying to Figure Out William Barr. He’s Busy Stockpiling Power, Sharon LaFraniere, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). Is he the operator who spun the then-secret Mueller report? Or the straight shooter who later disclosed portions that were damaging to President Trump?

His rising power over the intelligence community has been accompanied by swelling disillusionment with Mr. Barr among former national security officials and ideological moderates. When he agreed late last year to take the job, many of them had cast him as a Republican straight shooter, steeped in pre-Trump mores, who would restrain an impetuous president.

Now they see in him someone who has glossed over Mr. Trump’s misdeeds, smeared his investigators and positioned himself to possibly declassify information for political gain — not the Bill Barr they thought they knew.

“It is shocking how much he has echoed the president’s own statements,” said Mary McCord, who led the Justice Department’s national security division at the end of the Obama administration and the start of the Trump era. “I thought he was an institutionalist who would protect the department from political influence. But it seems like everything he has done so far has counseled in the opposite direction.”

An examination of his record, coupled with interviews of more than two dozen associates, suggests elements of both: He is neither as apolitical as his defenders claim, nor as partisan as his detractors fear. Instead, he is a complex figure whom the right cannot count on to be a Trumpland hero and whom the left cannot dismiss as nothing more than a political hack.

Mexico Denies Secret Trump Deal

ny times logoNew York Times, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Denies Trump’s Claim of Secret Immigration Deal, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, June 10, 2019. The United States and Mexico will review immigration figures in 45 and 90 days, but Marcelo Ebrard directly contradicted the president’s claim of a signed deal.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City that there was an understanding that both sides would evaluate the flow of migrants in the coming months. And if the number of migrants crossing the United States border was not significantly reduced, he said, both sides had agreed to renew discussions about more aggressive changes to regional asylum rules that could make a bigger impact.

Trump Watch

justice department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Agrees to Turn Over Key Mueller Evidence to House, Nicholas Fandos, June 10, 2019. The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to provide was not immediately clear, though the committee signaled that it could be a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling over those materials and others that the Judiciary panel demanded under subpoena. The Trump administration’s blockade of the material had ground the Democratic investigations of Mr. Trump’s possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power to a halt.

“These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the president by the special counsel,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, the committee chairman, said in a statement.

Mr. Nadler said he expected the department to begin sharing some of the material Monday afternoon and that all members of the committee would be able to view it privately.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The takedown of Donald Trump is finally underway, Bill Palmer, June 10, 2019. Donald Trump declared today that he’s not going to resign from the presidency – which of course is something you’d only feel compelled to say if you’re feeling pressure to resign from the presidency. There’s a reason why Trump is now talking like this. After months of tedious grunt work by the House Democrats to line things up, they’re now finally in motion to finish Trump off.

bill palmer report logo headerToday’s public House Judiciary Committee hearing, which featured John Dean explaining why Donald Trump’s crimes were Nixon-esque, and a pair of respected prosecutors explaining why Trump’s actions were indeed criminal, was the de facto opening ceremony for Trump’s impeachment. It was a way of setting the stage for everything that comes next – and we’re now going to see those “next” things happen on a daily basis.

Today, Attorney General William Barr essentially sold out Donald Trump in order to try to save himself from being held in criminal contempt, when he gave House Democrats instant access to underlying Mueller report materials. Then House Democrats announced that they’re going to take civil contempt action against Barr tomorrow anyway – and they’re going to come down hard on Don McGahn as well. Then on Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings into the Trump-Russia counterintelligence probe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump attacks John Dean ahead of his congressional testimony on the Mueller report, John Wagner​, June 10, 2019. The president attacked the former White House counsel whose 1973 testimony was key to President Richard Nixon’s demise. Dean is scheduled to speak at a House hearing Monday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Give Trump an ultimatum on his stonewalling, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 10, 2019. Democrats should publicly time-limit their forbearance. Give the Trump administration a set amount of time — say, 60 days — to respond to subpoenas for witnesses and documents and end the blockade on testimony from current and former officials. Make clear that if the stonewalling continues, an impeachment inquiry will start.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Watergate-era accountability isn’t feasible right now. The reasons should make us grieve, Margaret Sullivan, June 10, 2019. As the anniversary of the Watergate scandal’s beginning comes around again — the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters was on June 17, 1972 — investigative journalism’s effectiveness is weakened. The reporting may be every bit as skilled, but the results are greatly diluted because so much has changed in the nation, including its media.

NRA Financial Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors, Beth Reinhard, Katie Zezima, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig​, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). In all, 18 members of the 76-member board of directors collected money from the National Rifle Association during the past three years, public filings and internal correspondence show.

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years to members of its board — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.

The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members.

The NRA, founded in 1871 to promote gun safety and training, relies heavily on its 5 million members for dues. Some supporters are rebelling publicly and questioning its leadership.

nra logo Custom“I will be the first person to get in your face about defending the Second Amendment, but I will not defend corruption and cronyism and fearmongering,” said Vanessa Ross, a Philadelphia-area bakery owner and lifetime NRA member who previously worked at the Virginia headquarters managing a program for disabled shooters.

Among the revelations that have burst into public view: CEO Wayne LaPierre racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique and on foreign travel, invoices show. Oliver North, forced out as president after trying to oust LaPierre, was set to collect millions of dollars in a deal with the NRA’s now-estranged public relations agency, Ackerman McQueen, according to LaPierre. And the NRA’s outside attorney reaped “extraordinary” legal fees that totaled millions of dollars in the past year, according to North, shown below in a file photo regarding his 2018 appointment.

oliver north fox nra

“In 25 years of working in this field, I have never seen a pattern like this,” said Douglas Varley, a Washington attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who specializes in tax-exempt organizations and reviewed the NRA’s federal and state filings from 2016 through 2018 for The Washington Post. “The volume of transactions with insiders and affiliates of insiders is really astonishing.”

Trump Family Finances

The Guardian, Company part-owned by Jared Kushner got $90m from unknown offshore investors since 2017, Jon Swaine, June 10, 2019. Overseas investment flowed to Cadre jared kushner head shotwhile Trump’s son-in-law works as US envoy, raising conflict of interest questions. Jared Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration. Jared Kushner, right, who is married to Donald Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration.

A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.

Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US, according to corporate filings and interviews. The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration, while selling other assets. His holding is now valued at up to $50m, according to his financial disclosure documents. Cadre’s foreign funding could create hidden conflicts of interest for Kushner as he performs his work for the US government, according to some ethics experts, who raised concerns over the lack of transparency around the investments.

Rapists' Custody Rights Protected

washington post logoWashington Post, In Alabama — where lawmakers banned abortion for rape victims — rapists’ parental rights are protected, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). Alabama is one of only two states that doesn’t bar rapists from having custody of children conceived by their assaults.

When a young woman came to the Family Services of North Alabama office last year for help with trauma, saying she had been raped by her step-uncle when she was 15, rape crisis advocate Portia Shepherd heard something that “killed me, shocked me.”

The step-uncle, who was getting out of jail after a drug conviction, wanted to be a part of their child’s life. And in Alabama, the alleged rapist could get custody.

“It’s the craziest thing I ever heard in my life,” said Shepherd. “On the state level, people were shocked. How could Alabama even be missing this law?”

Alabama is one of two states with no statute terminating parental rights for a person found to have conceived the child by rape or incest, a fact that has gained fresh relevance since its lawmakers adopted the nation’s strictest abortion ban in May. That statute even outlaws the procedure for victims of sexual assault and jails doctors who perform it, except in cases of serious risk to the woman’s health.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoelizabeth warren o purpleWashington Post, Warren’s nonstop ideas reshape the Democratic presidential race — and give her new momentum, Michael Scherer, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). Some state-level surveys show Warren near Biden at the top of the field. A poll by the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, which published over the weekend, combined probable caucusgoers’ first choice, second choice and candidates they are “actively considering” to show that Biden and Warren, right, are evenly matched by this measure with 61 percent each.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Sanders remains an untrustworthy Trotskyist, Wayne Madsen, June 10, 2019  Bernie Sanders is caught in a time warp. There is a good reason why Sanders fails to connect with progressive women and ethnic minorities.  Sanders believes that the old Trotskyist applause lines, punctuated with impassioned calls to the "comrades," from Socialist Worker’s Party rallies in New York can catch fire today. But make no mistake about it. Trotskyists have been selling out labor, students, and the intelligentsia ever since Leon Trotsky, aka Lev Bronstein, betrayed the Russian Bolshevik Revolution and its leader, Vladimir Lenin.

After Joseph Stalin exiled him from the Soviet Union, Trotsky began conspiring with all sorts of political interests in an attempt to bring down the Soviet government established by Stalin in the wake of Lenin’s death. Yet, Trotsky still considered himself a Communist without being a party member in good standing. We see this same Trotskyist affliction with Sanders, who insists on claiming the Democratic Party’s nomination to be president of the United States without being a member of the Democratic Party.

Rather than just leave alone the presidential nominating process of a party that he does not even want to join, Sanders has become the perennial “shit thrower” in Democratic Party primary politics. The contentious Democratic primary race in 2016 wounded Hillary Clinton just enough that she lost three reliabily Democratic states, thus ushering in the Trump presidency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pelosi and Schumer Are Playing Too Nice, Jamelle Bouie, June 10, 2019. Maybe they are right to be cautious, but keeping the base at a distance could make it easier for Trump to win again.

If the triumph of Trumpism is the most important recent development in American political history, then the second most important is the mobilization of liberal and left-wing voters to challenge the president’s authoritarian politics.

If Democrats can be confident ahead of 2020, it’s because of grass-roots activists who have strengthened the party’s political position time and time again. And yet key Democratic leaders are still reluctant to follow their lead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Homeland Security watchdog retires early after his office was forced to retract ‘feel-good’ audits of disaster response, Lisa Rein and Kimberly Kindy​, June 10, 2019. In an emailed statement, John V. Kelly (a different person than former Homeland Security Secretary and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly) wrote that he “accelerated my retirement because I feel it’s in the best interest of the organization and its employees.”

Crime, Courts: India

washington post logoWashington Post, Six men convicted in the rape and murder of 8-year-old girl that shocked India, Niha Masih and Joanna Slater, June 10, 2019. After the girl’s murder last year, India passed legislation making the rape of girls under the age of 12 punishable by death. An Indian court convicted six men for their involvement in the abduction, rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in a case that sparked a nationwide furor and inflamed tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Prosecutors asked for the death penalty for three of those convicted. A defense lawyer said Monday that the verdict would be appealed.

U.S.-Mexico Deal

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end as his Mexico tariff scam falls apart, Bill Palmer, June 10, 2019. Donald Trump thought he could pull a fast one on djt smiling fileAmericans. He got Mexico to secretly agree to a sham immigration deal which didn’t require Mexico to do a single thing it wasn’t already doing. Then he threatened ludicrous tariffs if Mexico didn’t give him something. Then he unveiled the prearranged sham deal and claimed that it meant he’d won.

bill palmer report logo headerPredictably, everyone outside Trump’s idiot base rolled their eyes and laughed at this two-bit con artistry. Even after Republican leaders in Congress tried to help give Trump’s scam credibility by congratulating him for the laugh-out-loud phony victory, the media was busy confirming what normal Americans already instinctively knew: the whole thing was a fraud. This sent Trump off the deep end.

Trump posted a long and rambling multi-part tweet today in which he claimed that Mexico has also agreed to other unspecified concessions that were somehow “not mentioned” in the press release that the Trump regime sent out about the deal. Trump seemed so unsure in his ability to sell this load of crap, he changed course mid-sentence and claimed USTR seal Custom 2that there was only “one [concession] in particular” – while still declining to say what it supposedly is.

But really, most of Donald Trump’s deep-end rant was aimed at the news outlets that helped expose his tariff scam: “The Failing NY Times, & ratings challenged CNN, will do anything possible to see our Country fail! They are truly The Enemy of the People!” Tellingly, this came just minutes after Trump demanded that his supporters had an absolute right to “freedom of speech” on Twitter, even if they were violating Twitter’s rules in the process. Of course when you’ve shoveling this kind of crap to crap addicts, none of it has to make sense.

Catholic Critic

carlo maria vigano bo 2011

washington post logoWashington Post, This archbishop called on the pope to resign. Now he’s in an undisclosed location, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, June 10, 2019. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, shown above with President Obama as the Vatican's representative in Washington, gave his first extended interview since going into self-imposed exile, continuing his role as the fiercest critic of the Pope Francis era.

Media: Celebrity Profiles

washington post logoWashington Post, Madonna's furious response to her New York Times profile raises questions about what stars expect from journalists, Sonia Rao, June 10, 2019 (print ed.).  With celebrity journalism, negotiating access can be akin to playing tug of war. The profile might be pegged to a celebrity’s new project, whether a film, album or some sort of charitable undertaking. In such a case, his or her team might grant access on the basis of that project being the article’s central focus. The journalist, however, might prefer to use the project as a jumping-off point to examine the celebrity’s contributions to society. As when writing about any subject wielding a great deal of power — social influence, in this case — the journalist’s ultimate goal is to paint a fair and accurate portrait.

Sometimes that means including details the celebrity might consider unflattering or too personal, but which the journalist deems vital to a truthful and meaningful story. That last bit is where there can be a disconnect between the two points of view, most recently highlighted by one of the most influential pop stars in American history.

In a lengthy Instagram post Thursday morning, Madonna expressed how upset she was by a New York Times Magazine cover story titled “Madonna at Sixty,” published days before the release of her upcoming album, “Madame X.” She wrote that the piece, which centers on how she has navigated the pop-music world she helped shape years ago, fixates on her age and “makes me feel raped.” (She also uses this analogy in the story, after which writer Vanessa Grigoriadis wonders whether to tell her that “women these days were trying not to use that word metaphorically.” On Instagram, Madonna stated that, as a rape survivor, she is “allowed to use that analogy.”)

Privacy Protections?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Your face is now your boarding pass, Geoffrey A. Fowler, June 10, 2019. And that’s a problem, What’s face recognition at the airport really about? Immigration policy and efficiency. You won’t need to pull out your ticket to board the flight to Cancun at JetBlue’s Gate 18 at John F. Kennedy Airport. Put away your passport, too.

All this convenience costs is your face. You get only one of those, so I hope it’s worth it.

Facial-recognition technology is unproven and largely unregulated — yet it is already arriving at airports all over the United States. At JetBlue “e-gates” and earlier prototypes, the airline has scanned 150,000 faces in the past two years to verify international travelers before they board.

In Atlanta, Delta has an entire “biometric terminal” that uses your face at check in, bag drop, security and boarding. It says the scans help board international flights nine minutes faster, saving 2 seconds per passenger.

This has all the makings of a convenience trap. That’s how privacy-invading technology — the stuff of China’s police state — creeps into American life. Mostly in the name of efficiency, airlines and the U.S. government are, at a large scale, scanning the faces of people who aren’t suspected of crimes. It’s America’s biggest step yet to normalize treating our faces as data that can be stored, tracked and, inevitably, stolen.

News Media / Propaganda

SouthFront, Witness Testimonies Reveal Gorgon Face Of White Helmets ‘Humanitarian Activities,’ Staff report, June 10, 2019. It seems that Russia has started apparently late, but still important efforts to counter the White Helmets propaganda narrative in Syria.

syrian white helmetsThe Director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, Maxim Grigoriev, presented the 250-page study “White Helmets: Terrorist Accomplices and a Source of Disinformation,” on April 25th, 2019. He initially presented his research at event held by the Russian Mission to the UN on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 12th.

According to the aurthor, the research is primarily based on witness testimonies and concludes that the White Helmets NGO is in no way a group of volunteers upholding human rights. He did so by travelling to Syria and interviewing residents and former White Helmets members in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and other locations

Grigoriev said that nearly everyone on the staff of the White Helmets were salaried personnel with monthly food rations. Organizationally, the White Helmets is a centrally managed paramilitary organization with a system of punishment for personnel if they fail to comply with the orders of their group leaders.

He said that researchers from his foundation spent over three months in Syria interviewing Syrians, who “talked with them openly, giving names and indicating the sites where the footage of the White Helmets’ staged rescue operations was made.”

The research says that many known members of militant groups were working for the White Helmets and were even chairing some of the group’s local centers in Syria.

SCOTUSblog, Analysis: FAQs -- Announcements of orders and opinions, Amy Howe, June 10, 2019. This post — which is an updated version of posts that we have published in supreme court graphicearlier terms — addresses some of the questions about orders and opinion announcements that we have commonly received during our live blogs. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, please feel free to ask it during today’s live blog.

Question: What opinions will the court issue today?

Answer: Unlike some other courts, the Supreme Court doesn’t announce in advance which cases will be decided on a particular day. So normally, we don’t know which opinions we will get on a particular day. The only time we have a good sense is the very last day, when the court issues its final rulings.

Question: How many opinions will the court issue?

Answer: The court also does not announce in advance how many opinions it expects to release on any particular day.

Question: What’s the last day the court will issue opinions?

Answer: We don’t know what the last day of the term will be. Monday, June 24, is currently the last day that the justices are scheduled to sit on the bench, but if they haven’t released all of their opinions by then, they could add additional decision days.

NYC Helicopter Crash

ny times logoNew York Times, Helicopter Crashes on Roof of Manhattan Building, Killing Pilot, James Barron, June 10, 2019. A fire broke out on the roof of the building, officials said. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said there was no indication the accident was linked to terrorism. The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft, city officials said. The police characterized the incident as a “hard landing.”

June 9

Brazilian 'Justice' Amok?

The Intercept, Investigation: How and Why The Intercept Is Reporting on a Vast Trove of Materials About Brazil’s Operation Car Wash and Justice Minister Sergio Moro, Glenn glenn greenwald hsGreenwald (shown at right), Leandro Demori, Betsy Reed, June 9, 2019 (Leia em português). 

Secret Brazil Archive, Part 1: A massive archive of previously undisclosed materials reveals systematic wrongdoing among powerful officials — and the public has a right to know.

The Intercept Brasil today published three explosive exposés showing highly controversial, politicized, and legally dubious internal discussions and secret actions by the Operation Car Wash anti-corruption task force of prosecutors, led by the chief prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, along with then-Judge Sergio Moro, now the powerful and jair bolsonaro brazilinternationally celebrated justice minister for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left.

These stories are based on a massive archive of previously undisclosed materials — including private chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, court proceedings, and other documentation — provided to us by an anonymous source. They reveal serious wrongdoing, unethical behavior, and systematic deceit about which the public, both in Brazil and internationally, has the right to know.

These three articles were published today in The Intercept Brasil in Portuguese, and we have synthesized them into two English-language articles for The Intercept. Given the size and global influence of Brazil under the new Bolsonaro government, these stories are of great significance to an international audience.

This is merely the beginning of what we intend to be an ongoing journalistic investigation, using this massive archive of material, into the Car Wash corruption probe; Moro’s actions when he was a judge and those of the prosecutor Dallagnol; and the conduct of numerous individuals who continue to wield great political and economic power both inside Brazil and in other countries.

Beyond the inherent political, economic, and environmental importance of Brazil under Bolsonaro, the significance of these revelations arises from the incomparably consequential actions of the yearslong Car Wash corruption probe. That sweeping scandal implicated numerous leading political figures, oligarchs, Bolsonaro’s predecessor as president, and even foreign leaders in corruption prosecutions.

lulu de silva customMost importantly, Car Wash was the investigative saga that led to the imprisonment last year of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (shown in a file photo). Lula’s conviction by Moro, once it was quickly affirmed by an appellate court, rendered him ineligible to run for president at a time when all polls showed that Lula — who was twice elected president by large margins in 2002 and in 2006 before being term-limited out of office in 2010 with an 87 percent approval rating — was the frontrunner in the 2018 presidential race. Lula’s exclusion from the election, based on Moro’s finding of guilt, was a key episode that paved the way for Bolsonaro’s election victory.

brazil flag wavingPerhaps most remarkably, after Bolsonaro won the presidency, he created a new position of unprecedented authority, referred to by Brazilians as “super justice minister,” to oversee an agency with consolidated powers over law enforcement, surveillance, and investigation previously interspersed among multiple ministries. Bolsonaro created that position for the benefit of the very judge who found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, and it is the position Moro now occupies. In other words, Moro now wields immense police and surveillance powers in Brazil — courtesy of a president who was elected only after Moro, while he was a judge, rendered Bolsonaro’s key adversary ineligible to run against him.

The Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have been highly controversial in Brazil and internationally — heralded by many as anti-corruption heroes and accused by others of being clandestine right-wing ideologues masquerading as apolitical law enforcers. Their critics have insisted that they have abused and exploited their law enforcement powers with the politicized goal of preventing Lula from returning to the presidency and destroying his leftist Workers’ Party, or the PT. Moro and the prosecutors have, with equal vehemence, denied that they have any political allegiances or objectives and have said they are simply trying to cleanse Brazil of corruption.

But, until now, the Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have carried out their work largely in secret, preventing the public from evaluating the validity of the accusations against them and the truth of their denials. That’s what makes this new archive so journalistically valuable: For the first time, the public will learn what these judges and prosecutors were saying and doing when they thought nobody was listening.

Trump Accountability

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Mueller Is No Match for Trump’s Shamelessness and Indecency, Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 9, 2019. President Donald Trump’s complete lack of shame and total disregard for the truth help him when he goes up against anybody with honor and a sense of duty.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Democrats, Trump impeachment question is a struggle transcending politics, Mike DeBonis, Rachael Bade and Paul Kane​, June 9, 2019 (print ed). Conversations with 45 Democrats spanning the caucus’s ideological, racial and generational divides revealed the highly personal nature of the debate among members, often in private, and how some were responding in surprising ways.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s impeachment turns crucial corner, Bill Palmer, June 9, 2019. Impeachment polling is influenced by how the question is phrased and which options are presented, so various major polling outlets have recently pegged the pro-impeachment number as being anywhere from 41% to 49%. It’s less important whether the low end or high end of that range is accurate; it’s more important that each of these polls is seeing the number climb from one month to the next.

bill palmer report logo headerThis brings us to the new NPR / PBS / Marist poll, which says that 52% of Americans want impeachment right now, or want investigations into Trump’s crimes, or want punishment against Trump for his crimes. If you want to lump all of those categories loosely into the “pro-impeachment” category, then you could argue that – for the first time – we have a poll that says the majority of Americans are leaning in the direction of impeachment. That’s a big deal.

It’s been frequently and widely misreported that Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders don’t want impeachment – but that’s not at all what they’ve said. They’ve been clear that they don’t want to do impeachment unless and until they can do it in such a way that it can have a productive outcome. To that end, one of the keys is to reach the point where a majority of Americans want impeachment, as this would erase the fear that impeaching Trump might end up giving him majority support. So we’ve turned a corner with this new polling – so this week’s House obstruction hearings and contempt hearings will be crucial.

U.S. Mass Murderers

washington post logoWashington Post, He always hated women. Then he decided to kill them, Steve Hendrix, June 9, 2019 (print ed) and Washington Post, Convicted murderer linked to more than 60 deaths may be most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, Alex Horton, June 9, 2019 (print ed.). See excerpts from both stories below.

Trump's Mexican Deat A 'Fraud?'

ny times logoNew York Times, Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, June 9, 2019 (print ed.). The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions djt smiling filewith the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.

Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.

The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen, left, announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

kirstjen nielsen oAnd over the past week, negotiators failed to persuade Mexico to accept a “safe third country” treaty that would have given the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

Mr. Trump hailed the agreement anyway on Saturday, writing on Twitter: “Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!” He thanked the president of Mexico for “working so long and hard” on a plan to reduce the surge of migration into the United States.

It was unclear whether Mr. Trump believed that the agreement truly represented new and broader concessions, or whether the president understood the limits of the deal but accepted it as a face-saving way to escape from the political and economic consequences of imposing tariffs on Mexico, which he began threatening less than two weeks ago.

Having threatened Mexico with an escalating series of tariffs — starting at 5 percent and growing to 25 percent — the president faced enormous criticism from global leaders, business executives, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and members of his own staff that he risked disrupting a critical marketplace.

After nine days of uncertainty, Mr. Trump backed down and accepted Mexico’s promises. ut there remains deep skepticism among some American officials — and even Mr. Trump himself — about whether the Mexicans have agreed to do enough, whether they will follow through on their promises, and whether, even if they do, that will reduce the flow of migrants at the southwestern border.

In addition, the Migrant Protection Protocols already face legal challenges by immigrant rights groups who say they violate the migrants’ right to lawyers. A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from implementing the plan, but an appeals court later said it could move forward while the legal challenge proceeds.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump’s new “deal” with Mexico was a fraud, Bill Palmer, June 8, 2019. Yesterday, Donald Trump announced that Mexico had caved to his immigration demands at the last minute, meaning he wouldn’t have to go ahead with punitive tariffs on Monday that would crippled the economies of Mexico and the United States. Last night Palmer Report pointed out why this was obviously a fraud from top to bottom, that there was no new deal, that Trump hadn’t gained anything, and that Mexico had essentially called his bluff. Now that’s been confirmed.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Trump regime and Mexico actually agreed on this new deal months ago, according to a new expose today from the New York Times. In other words, Trump’s threat of tariffs was every bit as much of a bluff as we all knew it was. He was simply staging a phony conflict so he could then falsely claim that he won the standoff.

USTR seal Custom 2Moreover, this prearranged “deal” doesn’t appear to require Mexico to actually do anything about immigration that it wasn’t already doing. So Trump has indeed gotten literally no concessions from Mexico of any kind. He struck this phony deal in secret so he could then make a phony threat about tariffs, so he could then announce the phony deal and claim that he won.

This kind of fraudulent garbage is what we’ve come to expect from Donald Trump. Here’s what may be different this time. With this phony deal, he’s basically declared that he’s “fixed” immigration. Yet most of his political rhetoric is based on overhyping the situation at the border and demonizing immigrants. If he’s selling his base on the idea that immigration is no longer a problem because he’s magically fixed it, how will he be able to turn around and campaign on the premise that immigrants are still coming to ruin the lives of his racist voters? Trump may have backed himself into a corner with this one.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends migration deal, says tariff threat remains if Mexico falls short on pledges, Mike DeBonis, Felicia Sonmez and Juliet Eilperin, June 9, 2019.  President Trump and his acting Homeland Security secretary struck back at Democratic critics amid accusations that some parts of the deal predated the recent tariff threats.

Hong Kong Political Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong protest bill on Chinese extraditions, Gerry Shih and Timothy McLaughlin, June 9, 2019.  Many fear a proposed extradition law would finally break the dam holding back China’s surging influence over the political haven. The city has been shaken by the growing reach of Chinese security forces, which have abducted dissident publishers and businessmen off the streets.

U.S. Mass Murderers

washington post logoWashington Post, He always hated women. Then he decided to kill them, Steve Hendrix, June 9, 2019 (print ed). Scott Paul Beierle’s 2018 attack on a Florida yoga studio was fueled by male scott paul beierlesupremacy, a movement with ties to other hate groups. The first thing Kate Pierson did after unlocking the yoga studio that November afternoon was set the mood, plugging in the soothing waterfall, selecting a cheery lemongrass oil for the scent diffuser. The thermostat was turned up to 98 for the 5:30 class.

Hot Yoga Tallahassee was styled as a calming haven for a mostly female clientele. The men who practiced there, Pierson said, were men at ease with the “light and love” mission of the place.

But the man who walked in about 5:15 that Friday was different. Pierson was still alone in the lobby when he entered, a big guy whose maroon Florida State University T-shirt was stretched over a paunchy belly, the wrapper still on the yoga mat under his arm. A black Planet Fitness bag was strapped across his chest. Inside, she would learn soon, was a Glock 9mm pistol.

samuel little two mugs

Ohio native Samuel Little, shown in two mug shots, escaped a murder conviction until 2014 but has confessed to some 93 murders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Convicted murderer linked to more than 60 deaths may be most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, Alex Horton, June 9, 2019 (print ed.). Authorities believe Samuel Little, already in prison for three slayings, may ultimately be responsible for 93 killings. Samuel Little drew their portraits in paint and in pencil, filling out the contours of the faces of women he said he killed over nearly four decades.

Little, 79, in failing health and already serving three consecutive life sentences in California for killing three women, has confessed to dozens of murders across the United States.

His details and confessions have so far proved true, prosecutors have said, leading authorities to a grim conclusion: With more than 60 killings linked to him, Little may be the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Ohio prosecutors said Friday that information obtained from Little in prison, part of a stream of confessions extracted by a Texas Ranger, led to a grand jury indictment against Little in the 1981 slaying of Anna Stewart and another woman still unidentified.

Little grew up in Ohio and is linked to at least five murders there, the Associated Press reported, part of a string of slayings between 1970 and 2005 he said he committed.

Middle East Wars, Strategies

Strategic Culture Foundation via Southfront, Opinion: Russia’s Middle East Brinkmanship vs. Acquiescence to Trump’s Greater Israel Plan, Alastair Crooke,June 9, 2019. Secretary sergey lavrovof State Pompeo was in Sochi on 14 May for talks with his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, right. And in his opening address, Lavrov observed: “The fact that we are meeting for the second time in the past two weeks inspires certain optimism. Let’s give it a try and see what happens.”

Why this Trump initiative – managed by two foremost US war hawks – precisely now? 

The region stands at a crucial juncture: the pendulum of power has shifted northwards, as a result of Syria’s defeat of the ‘Wahhabist’ campaign against it. Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon now are both mobilised and energised. And there is something of a common thread of political understanding now linking these states, too. By contrast, Syria’s Gulf adversaries are enervated, weakened, and mired in their own internal crises.

Yet this new balance of power is not consolidated. Trump wants Putin to act as policeman on Syria and Iran, so that he can unfold his grand peace plan: “”Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” Trump tweeted in August 2018: “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”.

Is this it? He wants the fall-out from his unremittingly belligerent hostility to Iran (viewed as principal obstacle to the realization of Greater Israel) to be contained, so that he can bring US involvement in unnecessary wars to an end – as an empowered and stabilized Greater Israel and Russia together take over the heavy lifting of stabilizing the Middle East? It looks very much that way, with news of a new strategic summit between Israel, the US and Russia being instantiated, to manage “regional security.”

The ‘Deal of the Century’ may well be delayed on account of new elections to be held in Israel in September, but in fact, components of the ‘Deal’ structure (the Jerusalem Embassy move; Golan sovereignty for Israel; the cuts to UNWRA; annexation of settlements, etcetera) are being unfolded, piece-by-piece as ‘facts,’ even as the grand ‘blueprint’ remains unpublished – if it was intended ever to be published, that is.

Plainly, Russia wants to see a political settlement for Syria soon, and Moscow says it has noted something of a change in western rhetoric on Syria. Yet, a premature push on the Syrian government to accept unpalatable terms either coming from Turkey, in favour of a weighty participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Constitutional Council, or from the West for the easing out President Assad, may lead to a rupture of Syrian confidence in Moscow. Some in Moscow might consider this a lesser consideration in the bigger strategic balance, yet a bad breach with Damascus could threaten Moscow’s standing across a much wider regional constituency.

Greater Israel is not just about shifting Palestinians around and exchanging real estate, plus a few minor frontier adjustments. It is not some delimited institutional project that needs to ‘breath out’, as it were, and to occupy a bigger space. It is much more than this: Greater Israel was always a biblical project to actualise progress towards Israel’s redemptive destiny, and was also always a Judeo-Christian ideological project. If it were neither, Trump’s Evangelical base would not be making such a fuss for Trump to achieve the biblical Greater Israel. There is a close synergy between Israeli Zionists and American Christian Zionists on this point.

All those ‘added complications’ facing Russia go back to this latter point: Greater Israel is a meta project that must succeed in the Evangelical view. Any opposition to it must be vitiated, which means, first and foremost, dismantling Iranian opposition (and Syria’s longstanding resistance).

June 8

Trump Calls Off Mexican Tariff War

ny times logoPresident Donald Trump officialNew York Times, Trump Calls Off Plan to Impose Tariffs on Mexico After Reaching Deal on Migrants, Michael D. Shear and Ana Swanson, June 8, 2019 (print ed). President Trump said that the United States and Mexico had reached an agreement to reduce the flow of migrants to the southwestern border. The outcome prevents a trade war that experts had warned could have been an economic catastrophe on both sides of the border.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi accuses Trump of ‘threats and temper tantrums’ in Mexico negotiations, Colby Itkowitz, June 8, 2019. While Republicans celebrated news of the White House deal with Mexico, Democrats denounced it as another example of the president fixing a crisis of his own making.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, White House blocked aide’s testimony saying climate change could be ‘possibly catastrophic,’ Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Brady Dennis, June 8, 2019 (print ed.). Officials sought to excise the State Department’s comments on climate science, saying it clashed with the administration’s stance.

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr is even more sick and twisted than we thought, Bill Palmer, June 8, 2019. In the few months that William Barr has been Attorney General, he’s committed numerous acts of felony obstruction of justice in the name of trying to protect Donald Trump. Barr has revealed that he’s a liar, a criminal, and a guy who lies about criminals. So is there a way Barr could sink to an even filthier low? As it turns out, yes.

bill palmer report logo headerWilliam Barr gave a speech this week which was captured on video and published by The Hill among others. Barr was referring to his recent return to the Department of Justice, after a multi-decade absence, when he made this remark: “As we’ve been watching the coverage of June 6, 1944 D-Day, I had the thought that my arrival this time felt a little bit, I think, like jumping into Sainte-Mère-Église on the morning of June 5, trying to figure out where you could land without getting shot.”

That’s right, William Barr just compared his own white collar crime spree to the plight of the World War II heroes who risked their lives by parachuting into enemy-held territory so they could fight against the Nazis. You can’t get much lower than that.

William Barr gave a speech this week which was captured on video and published by The Hill among others. Barr was referring to his recent return to the Department of Justice, after a multi-decade absence, when he made this remark: “As we’ve been watching the coverage of June 6, 1944 D-Day, I had the thought that my arrival this time felt a little bit, I think, like jumping into Sainte-Mère-Église on the morning of June 5, trying to figure out where you could land without getting shot.”

That’s right, William Barr just compared his own white collar crime spree to the plight of the World War II heroes who risked their lives by parachuting into enemy-held territory so they could fight against the Nazis. You can’t get much lower than that.

Recalling 1967 Israeli Attack On U.S.S. Libertyuss liberty day after june 8 1967 attack

ray mcgovern hsConsortium News, Opinion: A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing, Ray McGovern, June 8, 2019 (originally published in 2014 on the occasion of Halbardier’s death). On the 52nd anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty, Ray McGovern focuses on Terry Halbardier, who sent the SOS that saved the ship from Israeli destruction.

Terry Halbardier, who as a 23-year old seaman in 1967 thwarted Israeli attempts to sink the USS Liberty, died on Aug. 11 in Visalia, California. It took the U.S. government 42 years after the attack to recognize Halbardier’s heroism by awarding him the Silver Star, a delay explained by Washington’s determination to downplay Israeli responsibility for the 34 Americans killed and the 174 wounded. Were it not for Halbardier’s bravery, ingenuity, and technical expertise, the USS Liberty would surely have sunk, taking down much if not all of the crew.

On June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Israeli military attacked the USS Liberty, an American spy ship which had been monitoring Israeli transmissions about the conflict. Intercepted Israeli communications indicated that the goal was to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

June 7

Trump Watch

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Seven Myths about the Path Forward, Bill Yeomans, June 7, 2019. It’s time to take on some of the myths that permeate discussion of how to proceed in bill yeomans afj cropped Customsubjecting Donald Trump to the rule of law. The list is not exhaustive.

1. The House needs to conduct oversight to obtain more facts to decide whether to open an impeachment inquiry. Nope – the Mueller report is more than enough. 1,000 former federal prosecutors. Trump resistance – diffuse investigations tied up in court. Public not following. By saying it needs to investigate further to know whether to open an inquiry, the majority minimizes the gravity of the facts already in the public record. It undermines any sense of urgency.

2. Because a majority of the public does not support impeachment, the House should back off. No. The public doesn’t understand impeachment. Many think it means removal from office, rather than the first step in a two-part process. Also, Nixon’s poll numbers when the Watergate process started were much better than Trump’s are now. Nixon’s approval hovered in the mid-60’s and support for impeachment was in the teens. Trump is historically unpopular. His approval rating hovers around 40 percent and about the same percentage think he should be impeached. Also, the impeachment process can change minds. Very few people have plowed through the alliance for justice logoentire Mueller report. But, they will watch impeachment hearings on TV. If the House majority handles the process well, the portrait of Trump will be devastating.

3. Impeachment inevitably will lead to exoneration in the Senate, which will boost Trump. Nothing is certain. If the House makes a referral, will McConnell even hold a trial, or will he treat the referral like the second coming of Merrick Garland? If he does convene a trial, it will consume a lot of Senate floor time that would otherwise be spent confirming judges who refuse to express their support for Brown v. Bd. of Education. Even if Trump is not removed, the trial will bombard the public with Trump’s misdeeds. Prof. Larry Tribe has suggested the possibility that the House could impeach Trump without making a referral to the Senate for a trial. The House could decide after all of the evidence is in whether it is worthwhile to send the case to the Senate. It could decide simply to let the impeachment stand without a trial.

washington post logoelijah cummings oWashington Post, House likely to hold Barr, Ross in contempt after subpoena demands are rejected, Colby Itkowitz, June 7, 2019. The Department of Justice informed Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, right, it won’t comply with a request for more documents about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at Pelosi after she said she’d like to see him in prison, John Wagner​, June 7, 2019. In an interview with Fox News, the president made his first public comments about recent remarks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made while trying to quell impeachment talk among Democrats.

donald trump twitter“I think she’s a disgrace,” Trump said on Fox News. “I actually don’t think she’s a talented person. I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She’s incapable of doing deals. She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.”

The interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham was conducted at the site of a solemn ceremony in France commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Against the backdrop of a cemetery where nearly 10,000 American war dead are buried, Trump also called Senate Minority Leader robert mueller full face fileCharles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “jerk” and former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, a “fool.”

Trump’s tirade about Pelosi (D-Calif.) came in response to a question about comments she made during a meeting Tuesday night with five of her committee chairmen. Trying to tamp down impeachment talk about Trump, Pelosi said she would rather “see him in prison” after leaving office, according to two Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Beware the 'Trump Trump Macoute,' Wayne Madsen (above, syndicated columnist, former National Security Agency analyst), June 7, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). For anyone who does not believe that Trump has the motive and the means to command a network of vigilantes capable of carrying out political assassinations, torching opposition campaign offices, beating up opposition political campaign volunteers, and attacking journalists, think again, because we have already witnessed the advent of such operations.

ap logoAssociated Press via Huffpost, Trump Supporter Arrested After Allegedly Threatening To Kill Members of Congress, Brady McCombs, June 7, 2019. A Utah man has been arrested on accusations he threatened to kill members of Congress during a three-year stretch with more than 2,000 phone calls to the U.S. Capitol and profanity-laden tirades about Democrats threatening the presidency of Donald Trump.

scott havenIn one call last month, Scott Brian Haven, right, dialed the office of an unnamed U.S. representative and purported to be standing right behind him and ready to “shoot him in the head” because “the Russians want him taken out because he is trying to remove a duly elected President,” according to charging documents unsealed Wednesday.

Haven, 54, said, “I’m going to do it now, are you ready?” before hanging up, prosecutors allege.

He was arrested Tuesday in his hometown of Kaysville, Utah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City. He is charged with interstate transmission of threats to injure. State online records indicate he has no criminal history in Utah.

republican elephant logoAt his initial hearing Wednesday, a magistrate judge ordered Haven to remain jailed pending the outcome of the case, calling him a danger to the community.

Haven commonly alluded to him and other gun owners taking matters into their own hands, charging documents show. He told a staffer for an unnamed senator in September 2018 that there were “far more Second Amendment people than whiny, crying liberals,” the documents said. He called back the next month to the same office and said, “We will exercise our Second Amendment rights to address Democrat mobs that threaten conservatives,” according to the documents.

Haven threatened to cut off the heads of two senators in another call and in yet another one identified himself as Hitler and yelled repeatedly he would “put a bullet” in the head of the senator, the documents said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races, Bill Palmer, June 6, 2019.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi upped her war of nancy pelosi djt 2 olderwords with Donald Trump this week, stating that she wants him to go to prison for his crimes, setting off all kinds of alarms in the process. But it turns out Pelosi is doing more than just getting inside Trump’s head. She just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races when it comes to cracking down on non-cooperating individuals.

In TV pundit land, and in certain corners of social media, impeachment is a magic wand that can send Donald Trump instantly through a trap door – and House Democrats are refusing to wave that magic wand because they’re wusses. But back in the real world, that’s not how anything works, of course. With or without the word “impeachment” attached, House Democrats are currently facing the same grueling process of fighting legal battles in court to obtain the testimony and evidence they need in order to move against Trump. That process just got sped up quite a bit.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening Pelosi gave Democratic House committee chairs the power to go after non-cooperators and obstructors in court, without having to circle back and get the full House’s approval each time they need to take a step forward with it. This means that not only will the committee chairs sue people like William Barr, Don McGahn, Wilbur Ross, and Annie Donaldson, the chairs are now in position to hire private attorneys to go into court and help speed that process along.

The TV pundits who are claiming that yelling the word “impeachment” will magically cause Trump to instantly be ousted, are the same pundits who are insisting that any court battles over evidence and testimony will take years. But as we’ve seen from the multiple court rulings the Democrats have already won against Trump over his financial records, nothing actually takes that long, because the courts are prioritizing these cases. Now the process just became a swifter one.

Trump's Global Patrons, Enemies

djt saudi medal may 20 2017 afp

Saudi Arabia's king bestowed a medal on President Trump in May 2017 during the new president's first overseas trip, signifying the core relationship between the wealthy feudal monarchy and the new U.S. administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Allows High-Tech U.S. Bomb Parts to Be Built in Saudi Arabia, Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich, June 7, 2019. Tucked into an emergency order to sell arms to Saudi Arabia is the approval for a defense company to team with the Saudis to build bomb parts there. It raises concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them make versions of American precision-guided bombs.

When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds.

raytheon logoIt also raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago.

The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. That provision, which has not been previously reported, is part of a broad package of information the administration released this week to Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: President Trump’s twists on Iran have confounded Europe, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, June 7, 2019. President Trump and his aides have sent a dizzying, seemingly conflicting set of messages to Iran in recent weeks, ordering more troops to the Middle East and a carrier to the Arabian Sea as military threats even iran flag mapwhile declaring that Washington is seeking new negotiations, not war.

European allies, still trying to save a 2015 deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear program that Mr. Trump abandoned a year ago, are trying to make sense of the administration’s strategy.

And the government in Tehran, humiliated by Mr. Trump’s hard-line policies, has all but frozen diplomacy with Washington. “Standing and resisting the enemy’s excessive demands and bullying is the only way to stop him,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Barnes & Noble was sold to a hedge fund after a tumultuous year, Alexandra Alter and Tiffany Hsu, June 7, 2019. Barnes & Noble has been acquired by the paul singerhedge fund Elliott Advisors for $638 million. JIP editor's note: Elliott Advisors is the UK-based affiliated of Elliott Management Corp., whose New York-based parent company was founded by Paul Singer, right, a financially successful investor sometimes described as a ruther "vulture fund" tycoon dealing in distressed properties.

The sale was announced Friday morning following months of speculation over the future of Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United barnes nobleStates and a critical retail outlet for publishers and authors.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble follows its purchase of the British bookstore chain Waterstones in June 2018. James Daunt, the chief executive of Waterstones, will also act as Barnes & Noble’s C.E.O. and will be based in New York. Waterstones has pursued a strategy that many analysts say is the only way to compete in a marketplace dominated by online sales, by allowing individual Waterstones booksellers to tailor each store to acommunity’s needs and interests. Mr. Daunt, who took over in 2011, has said that Waterstones operates more like a constellation of independent stores, rather than a homogeneous chain.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, New Election Security Bills Face a One-Man Roadblock: Mitch McConnell, Nicholas Fandos, June 7, 2019. A raft of election-security measures were proposed after what the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, called a “sweeping and systematic” Russian attack in 2016.
But even bipartisan coalitions have begun to crumble in the face of the majority leader’s blockade.

washington post logoWashington Post, How a watchdog whitewashed its oversight of FEMA’s disaster response, Lisa Rein and Kimberly Kindy, June 7, 2019 (print ed.). The Homeland Security inspector general has since retracted 13 “feel good reports.”  After catastrophic floodwaters submerged wide stretches of southern Louisiana in 2016, displaced homeowners and officials fema logo Custom 2criticized the federal recovery effort as dangerously slow, leaving thousands of people homeless for months.

Auditors in the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office confirmed problems with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s performance in Louisiana — and 11 other states hit over five years by hurricanes, mudslides and other disasters.

But the auditors’ boss, John V. Kelly (a different person from former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly), instead directed them to produce what they called “feel good reports” that airbrushed most problems and portrayed emergency responders as heroes overcoming vast challenges, according to interviews and a new internal review.

trump family london june 2019

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump family’s trip to Europe raises questions, David Nakamura, Toluse Olorunnipa and Amanda Ferguson, June 7, 2019 (print ed.). As parties go, it’s hard to top a state dinner with the queen of England, but President Trump’s sons — Donald Jr. and Eric — tried to keep the revelry going during an impromptu pub crawl in Doonbeg, Ireland, where they bought rounds of Guinness for the locals and reveled in the adoration of a village where the Trump family owns property.

jared ivanka london june 2019“It’s exciting when Trump comes into town, isn’t it?” Eric Trump declared Wednesday evening amid the festivities.

Not just Trump, but the Trumps — decidedly plural. As the president has hopscotched on official duties between three European nations this week, his four adult children — also including daughters Ivanka and Tiffany — have been prominently involved in many high-profile moments. Three of the children are shown below in a file photo.

If the display sought to project the Trumps as global goodwill ambassadors for the United States, it has also raised questions given the president’s refusal to draw strict boundaries between his official duties and his private business.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chaos erupts within Donald Trump’s legal team and Michael Flynn’s legal team in the same day – and it can’t be coincidence, Bll Palmer, June 7, 2019. Donald Trump’s former lawyer just became screwed, because of something he did to Michael Flynn’s lawyer. Michael Flynn’s lawyer then became unemployed. Donald Trump’s other lawyer then announced he was about to become unemployed, only to quickly change his mind. If all of the above sounds like it can’t be mere coincidence, consider that it all just happened on the same day.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, the DOJ complied with Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order and publicly released the voicemail that Trump’s then lawyer John Dowd left for Michael Flynn’s lawyer. Everyone knew this was coming, as the transcript of the voicemail had already been released. But it demonstrated that Dowd committed felony obstruction of justice for Trump’s benefit.

Then suddenly out of nowhere, Flynn’s lawyer issued a court filing announcing that Flynn was replacing him with a new, unnamed legal team. Yep, Flynn fired the lawyer who was on the receiving end of the voicemail that had just been released.

Too many potential explanations come to mind to list them all, and none of them come across as particularly logical. One of the key rules of Donald Trump’s scandals is that when something strange happens that doesn’t make sense, it ends up being really important later.

Associated Press via Moline Dispatch & Rock Island Argus, 'Free hugs' and margarita machine in office? Navy probing claims against war college leader, Jennifer McDermott and Michelle R. Smith, June ap logo7, 2019. The military is investigating the president of the U.S. Naval War College amid allegations that he spent excessively, abused his hiring authority and otherwise behaved inappropriately, including keeping a margarita machine in his office.

Multiple current and former college employees told the Associated Press they have raised serious concerns for over a year about Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley's conduct at the helm of the elite school that grooms future admirals and generals.

Dozens of emails and other documents obtained by the AP show the college has struggled to make payroll under Harley's leadership and spent about $725,000 annually on raises while facing an annual shortfall of $5 million or more.

Harley has also sent a series of emails to hundreds of students, faculty and staff that raised eyebrows, including offers of "free hugs" and games of Twister in his office. In an interview with the AP last month, Harley blamed the fiscal strain on the Navy not fully funding new missions the college has taken on. And he said the emails merely reflected his lighthearted leadership style.

A small group of longtime college employees filed an anonymous complaint in April 2018 with the Navy's office of the inspector general. The group members said they "hold no ill-will" toward Harley but that "his destructive and ethically challenged leadership style is destroying the college," according to a copy shared with the AP by two of the workers.

Two of them told the AP that they and others were interviewed by investigators in September, but nothing happened. The group contacted the inspector general again in January with additional allegations of Harley flouting Navy rules and norms. "The drinking continues. Morale is at an all-time low," the employees wrote in a January email. "Your biggest concern should be, however, the financial situation at the college."

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Joe Biden reverses position on federal funding of abortion after Democratic outcry, Colby Itkowitz, June 7, 2019 (print ed.). Many 2020 rivals had pounced on tjoe biden ohe former vice president’s view that poor women shouldn’t get federal funding for abortions.

In a dramatic reversal, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, right said Thursday he no longer supports a ban on federal funding for abortions, known as the Hyde Amendment, a move he announced after a day of sharp criticism from campaign rivals and key Democratic interest groups.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Amy Klobuchar comes out swinging, Isabel Stamm, June 7, 2019. Minnesota Senator and presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar recently took to Twitter to warn about a problem that has riddled the 2016 election and is likely to affect the next general election as well: “The evidence is clear: Russia planned a deliberate attack on our democracy … We must act now to secure our elections, protect our national security and hold Russia accountable.” Attached to her tweet was an article by NBC’s Ken Dilanian which summed up the latest findings regarding the activities of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency.

bill palmer report logo headerResearch done by cybersecurity firm Symantec – based on a large data set that was released by Twitter in October last year – indicates that the influence campaign conducted on Twitter by what has become known as “Putin’s troll factory” was larger, more sophisticated and had far more reach than was previously known. These findings complement what has already been revealed by the Mueller probe and the efforts of investigative journalists about the activities of fake Russian accounts on Facebook as well as Instagram. What emerges is the picture of a massive disinformation and manipulation effort that went on across all social media platforms, big and small.

In the lead up to the 2016 election, the paid trolls of the Internet Research Agency were instructed to create and operate social media accounts and group pages designed to attract specific U.S. audiences while posing as American citizens, activists and sometimes local news outlets. They addressed divisive political and social issues to create engagement and were in many cases so successful that they were able to communicate with genuine American users, celebrities or members of the Trump campaign. In a number of instances, the Russian trolls were convincing enough to have their posts quoted by major U.S. news outlets or to mobilize hundreds of people for real-life pro-Trump rallies.

There is still a general lack of awareness and often a considerable degree of disbelief in the threat online interference efforts may pose to the integrity of elections. Much of this is due to the fact that the strategy of micro-targeting makes a lot of the ongoing activity invisible to the average person. If you are not a member of the target audience, chances are that you are never going to see the posts or the tailor-made ads aimed at users that have been identified as politically undecided potential voters in contested areas. This may lead people to lend credence to a comment made by Jared Kushner in early May in which he dismissed Russian online activity in the context of the 2016 election as “just a few Facebook ads”. This comment, of course, is deceiving. Kushner was deeply involved in his father-in-law’s digital election campaign and he is very well aware of the power of social media.

Supreme Court Cases In June

Huffpost, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Talks Census Case, Suggests 5-4 Supreme Court Rulings To Come, Antonia Blumberg, June 7, 2019. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested on Friday that the high court would soon be announcing several close rulings. In prepared remarks delivered at the Second Circuit Judicial Conference, Ginsburg discussed several prominent cases argued this term in which decisions have yet to be released, including one on the hotly contested 2020 census.

us census bureauThe census case revolves around the Trump administration’s effort to add a question on the 2020 form asking every American household to identify the citizens and non-citizens among them. The administration has argued it needs to ask the question in order to compile better data to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Ginsburg noted that the high court has yet to announce its rulings in 27 cases, all of which will likely be coming out this month.

Among the other closely watched cases will be the court’s ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, a practice by which lawmakers set boundaries for electoral districts to ensure their party’s candidates win more races.

#MeToo / Central Park Jogger Case

ny times logoNew York Times, Linda Fairstein Dropped by Her Publisher After TV Series on the Central Park 5, Elizabeth A. Harris and Julia Jacobs, June 7, 2019. A Penguin Random House imprint ended its relationship with the prosecutor-turned-novelist after “When They See Us” drew attention to her role in the case. Ms. Fairstein called her portrayal “grossly and maliciously inaccurate” and threatened legal action.

Linda Fairstein, below at left, a prominent sex-crimes prosecutor who became a successful crime novelist, was dropped by her publisher this week after a Netflix mini-series renewed focus on her role in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers for a brutal rape.

linda fairstein 2009Since the series, “When They See Us,” premiered last week, Ms. Fairstein, 72, has been the target of tremendous public outrage, including online petitions and a #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag. This week, she resigned from a number of prominent boards, including that of Vassar College, her alma mater.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Dutton, the Penguin Random House imprint that published Ms. Fairstein, said that she and Dutton “decided to terminate their relationship.” A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential, said that Dutton was buying out Ms. Fairstein’s contract.

In 1989, a white woman was savagely raped and beaten in Central Park, where she had been out for a jog. Five black and Latino teenagers — Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam, who became known as the “Central Park Five” — were convicted based on confessions that were full of contradictions and lacking in crucial information, and which the boys said were coerced. No forensic evidence connected them to the crime, and DNA evidence that was collected did not match any of the five.

In 2002, a man named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, an admission confirmed by DNA, and he said that he had acted alone. The convictions against the other men — each of whom had already served several years in prison — were overturned.

Associated Press via Moline Dispatch & Rock Island Argus, 'Free hugs' and margarita machine in office? Navy probing claims against war college leader, Jennifer McDermott and Michelle R. Smith, June ap logo7, 2019. The military is investigating the president of the U.S. Naval War College amid allegations that he spent excessively, abused his hiring authority and otherwise behaved inappropriately, including keeping a margarita machine in his office.

Multiple current and former college employees told the Associated Press they have raised serious concerns for over a year about Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley's conduct at the helm of the elite school that grooms future admirals and generals.

Dozens of emails and other documents obtained by the AP show the college has struggled to make payroll under Harley's leadership and spent about $725,000 annually on raises while facing an annual shortfall of $5 million or more.

Harley has also sent a series of emails to hundreds of students, faculty and staff that raised eyebrows, including offers of "free hugs" and games of Twister in his office. In an interview with the AP last month, Harley blamed the fiscal strain on the Navy not fully funding new missions the college has taken on. And he said the emails merely reflected his lighthearted leadership style.

A small group of longtime college employees filed an anonymous complaint in April 2018 with the Navy's office of the inspector general. The group members said they "hold no ill-will" toward Harley but that "his destructive and ethically challenged leadership style is destroying the college," according to a copy shared with the AP by two of the workers.

Two of them told the AP that they and others were interviewed by investigators in September, but nothing happened. The group contacted the inspector general again in January with additional allegations of Harley flouting Navy rules and norms. "The drinking continues. Morale is at an all-time low," the employees wrote in a January email. "Your biggest concern should be, however, the financial situation at the college."

June 6

d day coast guard photo june 6 1945 national archives 71 243

Scene from Allied landing on Normandy Beach on June 6, 1945 (U.S. Coast Guard photo via National Archives, No. 71 243).

Truth & Reconciliation Committee, Opinion: D-Day and RFK, Libby Handros (filmmaker and Truth & Reconciliation Committee treasurer and board member), June 6, 2019. Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig also is a board member of the non-partisan, non-profit group that is organized under 501-C-3 of the IRS code.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy for the final assault on Hitler's armies. Thousands of American soldiers arrived on the battered coast of Europe that day, carrying with them the hope of a new world, free from want and fear.

On June 6, 1968, the last American leader to embody that hope died, the victim of assassination. Robert Francis Kennedy had announced his presidency on a platform that would seem bizarre to us today: "I run to seek new policies –– policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old –– in this country and around the rest of the world. I run for the presidency because I want the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation...instead of the growing risk of world war."

jfk mlk rfk malcolm x kennedys and king logo

Three months later he would be dead, the last in a series  of four history-distorting assassinations that began with his brother, the president, and carried on through human rights champions Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X (shown above, left to right, with Robert Kennedy second from the left)

The spirit that stormed the beaches of France in 1944 had grown sick. Dwight D. Eisenhower had led the United States to victory against the Nazis; by 1961, he felt compelled to warn his fellow countrymen that a “military-industrial complex” had actually won the day and now posed a mortal threat to democracy.

Seven years and a string of political murders later, up to our necks in the bloodbath of Vietnam, the inner-cities in rebellion, the needs of millions of poor Americans ignored, Robert Kennedy tried to shake us out of our sickness: "We cannot continue to deny and postpone the demands of our own people, while spending billions in the name of truth and reconciliation logofreedom elsewhere around the globe"

This June 6th, remember the spirit of hope that won in Europe and in its defense at home, Robert Francis Kennedy. Go to AmericanTruthNow.org, sign the petition, and help revive the spirit.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Forget impeachment. Tee up prosecution, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 7, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has surmised that polls showing overwhelming opposition to President Trump’s impeachment may reflect a misunderstanding as to what “impeachment” means. At her weekly press conference jennifer rubin new headshoton June 5, she said: “Do you know that most people think impeachment means you’re out of office? Did you ever get that feeling or are you just in the bubble here? They think if you get impeached, you’re gone, and that is completely not true.”

In fact we’ve never removed a president after impeachment and trial in the Senate. Although Richard M. Nixon resigned before a full House vote, the case laid out by the Senate Watergate hearings and then by the House Judiciary Committee was so powerful that Nixon’s guilt was definitively established, and Nixon resigned before the Senate could convict him. In doing so, Congress reaffirmed red lines — obstruction of justice, defiance of subpoenas — upholding our democratic and constitutional norms.

Writing in The Post, constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe argues [in Impeach Trump. But don’t necessarily try him in the Senate] that the current Congress can achieve the same result. “The House, assuming an impeachment inquiry leads to a conclusion of Trump’s guilt, could choose between presenting articles of impeachment even to a Senate pre-committed to burying them and dispensing with impeachment as such while embodying its conclusions of criminality or other grave wrongdoing in a condemnatory ‘Sense of the House’ resolution far stronger than a mere censure.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ending trip to Europe by staying at his money-losing golf course threatened by climate change, David A. Fahrenthold, June 6, 2019 (print ed.). Democratic-Republican Campaign logosPresident Trump arrived at his golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, on Wednesday for a two-night stay — pausing between official events in Europe to visit a business that has cost him $41 million and never reported turning a profit. Despite the odd geography of the schedule — which requires flying hundreds of miles west to Ireland, then hundreds more miles back east to France — the president said he stayed at Doonbeg for convenience.

Trump, coming off an official state visit to Britain, met briefly with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before flying to Doonbeg, about 40 miles away.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: A 75th anniversary U.S. presidential commemoration that will live in infamy, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), June 6, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Since last November, Trump has managed to insult the memories of America’s valiant military heroes and heroines from two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam.

For America to have such a self-centered individual representing this nation on hallowed ground will forever be an indelible stain on the history of the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Wealthy Iraqi sheikh who urges a hard-line approach to Iran spent 26 nights at Trump hotel, Joshua Partlow, David A. Fahrenthold and Taylor Luck​, June 6, 2019. The stay by Nahro al-Kasnazan shows how the hotel attracts foreigners who have an agenda to pursue with the administration.

Church Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, W.Va. bishop gave gifts to clergy, spent millions on himself before his ouster, Michelle Boorstein, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., June 6, 2019 (print ed.). In the years before he was ousted for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave cash gifts totaling $350,000 to fellow clergymen, including young priests he is accused of mistreating and more than a dozen cardinals in the United States and at the Vatican, according to church records obtained by the Washington Post.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account over more than a decade, and the West Virginia diocese reimbursed him by boosting his compensation to cover the value of the gifts, the records show. As a tax-exempt nonprofit, the diocese must use its money only for charitable purposes.

U.S. v. Venezuela

washington post logoWashington Post, In secret recording, Pompeo says keeping Venezuelan opposition united is ‘devilishly difficult,’ John Hudson, 2019 (print ed.). The secretary of state’s remarks provide a rare window into the challenges the Trump administration faces as the momentum to oust President Nicolás Maduro stalls.

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, A nurse pushed patients to the brink of death for sport. He was just convicted of 85 murders, Lindsey Bever, June 6, 2019. For Niels Hoegel, it was all a game, it seemed — a life-or-death game. The former German nurse would push his patients to the edge of death’s door, injecting them with drugs to induce cardiac arrest, then resuscitate them and relish in the praise.

But in dozens of cases, he could not bring them back, prosecutors say. Hoegel, accused in 100 patient deaths from 2000 to 2005 while he worked at a clinic and then a hospital in northern Germany, apologized Wednesday to the families of his victims.

On Thursday, a court in northwestern Germany convicted the 42-year-old of 85 counts of murder and sentenced him to life in prison, citing the “seriousness of the crimes.” Hoegel has admitted to 55 of those 85 killings.

trenton garmonAl.com, Roy Moore’s lawyer Trenton Garmon arrested on drug charges, Ivana Hrynkiw, June 6, 2019. Trenton Garmon, 39, right, was booked into the Etowah County Jail. He was arrested by Gadsden police and charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances, second-degree possession of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. Garmon worked as an attorney for Moore during his failed campaign bid for the U.S. senate last year.

ny times logoNew York Times, Linda Fairstein, Once Cheered, Faces Storm After ‘When They See Us,’ Elizabeth A. Harris and Julia Jacobs, June 6, 2019. A Netflix series about the Central Park jogger case has led to intense criticism of the famous prosecutor-turned-novelist who oversaw the investigation. For much of her life, Linda Fairstein was widely viewed as a law enforcement hero.

linda fairstein 2009As one of the first leaders of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit, later the inspiration for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she became one of the best known prosecutors in the country. She went on to a successful career as a crime novelist and celebrity former prosecutor, appearing on high-profile panels and boards.

But since last Friday and the premiere of When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series about the Central Park jogger case, Ms. Fairstein (shown in a 2009 photo) has become synonymous with something else: The story of how the justice system wrongly sent five black and Latino teenagers to prison for a horrific rape.

Ms. Fairstein ran the sex crimes division when, in 1989, a white woman jogging in Central Park was viciously raped, beaten, and left for dead. In the four-part series, Ms. Fairstein’s character is shown as the driving force in the case, urging on a prosecutor who had doubts and finding ways to explain away facts that pointed to the teens’ innocence.

In the last few days, online petitions and a hashtag, #CancelLindaFairstein, have called for a boycott of her books and her removal from prominent board positions. After a barrage of criticism directed at her on Twitter, she took her own account down. And she resigned this week from the boards of several organizations including Safe Horizon and the Joyful Heart Foundation, which aid victims of sexual violence, and Vassar College, her alma mater.
Back in 1993, Glamour named her one of its women of the year. But on Tuesday, it published a letter from the editor saying, “Unequivocally, Glamour would not bestow this honor on her today.”

Ms. Fairstein’s conduct during the case has been a matter of intense debate and criticism since a man named Matias Reyes surfaced in 2002 to confess that he committed the crime. Ms. Fairstein continued to write books and serve on important boards even after the convictions were overturned, as the case faded into memory for many.

But the Netflix series has placed the prosecution back on center stage, where the power of television’s narrative focus, the lightning speed of online reaction and the villainous characterization of Ms. Fairstein have made her a target of public outrage.

U.S. Media News: Local Outlets

KCUR, These KU Students Are Helping Revive Journalism In Eudora, Kansas, Elle Moxley, June 5, 2019. For more than 100 years, Eudora had a weekly newspaper. “We were able to have a sports reporter, somebody that would come out when we had a structure fire and report on it,” said Mayor Tim Reazin, who moved to Eudora in 1997. “We had somebody that sat through the city commission meetings with us.” But since 2004, more than 1,800 newspapers have folded, a third of them in rural communities. Eudora residents lost their paper in 2008. Reazin says the result is citizens are less informed – and starved for coverage.

“Every once in a while we get a mention in the Lawrence Journal-World,” Reazin said. “One of my sons was a starting quarterback this year, and you know, you get this little blurb, a few sentences that say what they did. It’d be great to have those newspaper clippings you don’t get.” That’s why city officials were so enthusiastic when a journalism professor at the University of Kansas [KU] approached them about having student reporters cover the town.

It was Teri Finneman’s first year teaching at KU  and she wanted to make sure her students were graduating with the clips and hands-on practice employers want.  “I’m a really big proponent of my students having real-world experience. I do not like doing canned exercises,” Finneman said.

She said a city as large as Eudora – population 6,500 – should have someone covering it. Her students started small, sharing photo galleries on Facebook. When they immediately got likes and shares, Finneman decided her students could do more. She created a website called the Eudora Times and started assigning stories to her reporting. students.

U.S. Media News: African Coverage

National Press Club, UN security enables NBC story on Central African starvation threat, Lorna Aldrich, June 6, 2019.  NBC News Senior Correspondent Cynthia McFadden credited protection by U.N. peacekeepers and support from NBC News for enabling a story on children threatened by starvation in the Central African Republic (CAR) at a National Press Club event Thursday.

McFadden appeared with UNICEF-USA President Caryl Stern, and U.N. Foundation Vice President Peter Yeo on a panel moderated by Carmen Russell-Sluchansky of the Club's International Correspondents Committee, which sponsored the event.

nbc news logoA seven-minute clip of the story preceded the panel discussion. The clip called CAR the worst country in the world for hunger, with 1.5 million children in danger of starvation and where 14 different warlords control 80% of the country. It showed Stern and McFadden visiting a clinic where children, two to a bed, were on the verge of starvation. A worker told them that they don’t turn any child away.

The clip also showed the same children much improved after they received nutrition via a product called “plumpy nut” that contains a days’ worth of nutrition and costs 50 cents a package, which looked somewhat like a granola bar. The children were seen holding the packages and feeding themselves from them.

Somewhat older children were seen playing games laughing and smiling. The clip revealed Stern and McFaddens’ dependence on U.N. security forces for protection and transportation. Images taken through bullet proof glass showed bystanders angry at their presence. They traveled in U.N. vehicles with armed U.N. peacekeepers and by plane rather than taking the dangerous roads.

After the story aired on NBC, “American people donated in 48 hours $1.6 million,” McFadden said. Sluchansky asked McFadden how she got the story. She said Christine Romo, an NBC producer told her the CAR story which would have the lead, “What is the most dangerous place in the world for children?”

Responding to a question on why the story didn’t go deeper into the causes of the CAR crisis and explain why a resource-rich country is so poor, McFadden said the role of TV could only be to direct attention to the crisis, hoping that longer print stories and books would tell the deeper story. TV does make Congress members’ constituents aware and receptive to foreign issues, she said.

Stern and McFadden shared their personal reactions to the story. Remembering the children playing, Stern said, “You are prepared for the pain but you are not prepared for the joy.”

“You have to be able to do your job. If you feel too much, you’re not doing your job. If you feel too little you’re not doing your job,” McFadden said.

June 5

Election Rigging

 washington post logoWashington Post, Federal investigators to examine equipment from 2016 N.C. election amid fears of Russian hacking, Neena Satija​, June 5, 2019. A single phrase in the special counsel’s report touched off a new scramble for answers about what hackers might have achieved during the last presidential election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosIt was a single phrase, offered without elaboration, in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report: In August 2016, hackers working for Russian military intelligence “installed malware on the company network” of an unnamed voter registration technology vendor in the United States.

The claim amounts to one of the first indications that Russians successfully executed a cyberattack against a private company supporting American election infrastructure. And it has set off a scramble for answers in North Carolina, where officials have long been concerned about the security of a voting technology company called VR Systems — so much so that the state tried to halt the use of its electronic poll books, equipment used to check in voters.

Problems checking in voters on Election Day 2016 in Durham County, one of the largest counties in the state, made national headlines. Later, leaked documents revealed that Russians had tried to hack VR Systems shortly before the election. After the Mueller report, state officials wanted to know: Was VR Systems the company referenced? What effect, if any, did the malware have? And how could they prevent it from happening in 2020?

Trump Watch

washington post logolaurence tribeWashington Post, Opinion: Impeach Trump. But don’t necessarily try him in the Senate, Laurence H. Tribe, June 5, 2019. Laurence H. Tribe, right, is the University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard and the coauthor, most recently, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”

The House, assuming an impeachment inquiry leads to a conclusion of Trump’s guilt, could choose between presenting articles of impeachment even to a Senate pre-committed to burying them and dispensing with impeachment as such while embodying its conclusions of criminality or other grave wrongdoing in a condemnatory “Sense of the House” resolution far stronger than a mere censure. The resolution, expressly and formally proclaiming the president impeachable but declining to play the Senate’s corrupt game, is one that even a president accustomed to treating everything as a victory would be hard-pressed to characterize as a vindication. (A House resolution finding the president “impeachable” but imposing no actual legal penalty would avoid the Constitution’s ban on Bills of Attainder, despite its deliberately stigmatizing character as a “Scarlet ‘I’ ” that Trump would have to take with him into his reelection campaign.)

The point would not be to take old-school House impeachment leading to possible Senate removal off the table at the outset. Instead, the idea would be to build into the very design of this particular inquiry an offramp that would make bypassing the Senate an option while also nourishing the hope that a public fully educated about what this president did would make even a Senate beholden to this president and manifestly lacking in political courage willing to bite the bullet and remove him.

By resolving now to pursue such a path, always keeping open the possibility that its inquiry would unexpectedly lead to the president’s exoneration, the House would be doing the right thing as a constitutional matter. It would be acting consistent with its overriding obligation to establish that no president is above the law, all the while keeping an eye on the balance of political considerations without setting the dangerous precedent that there are no limits to what a corrupt president can get away with as long as he has a compliant Senate to back him. And pursuing this course would preserve for all time the tale of this uniquely troubled presidency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Next Tuesday is going to be completely bonkers, Bill Palmer, June 5, 2019. Yesterday, House Democrats revealed that they’re planning to hold a full House william barr new ovote to formally hold Attorney General William Barr, right, in contempt of Congress. Right around the same time, the House Oversight Committee revealed that it’s also planning to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt. Palmer Report took this as a sign that the House was lining up one big contempt ceremony for numerous Trump officials and associates across the board. Sure enough, that’s what’s happening.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressman Steny Hoyer, the number two ranking House Democrat behind Nancy Pelosi, is now hinting that next Tuesday’s contempt hearing could include “every name who has either refused to respond to a congressional subpoena or request for documents, or who has been instructed by the president not to respond.” While he didn’t drop specific names, the presumed list is staggering.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Articles of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump: A Draft, Ian Prasad Philbrick, June 5, 2019 (print ed.). We edited the articles against Richard President Donald Trump officialNixon and Bill Clinton, and came up with articles against President Trump.

What might impeachment articles against Mr. Trump look like? To find out, we reviewed the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Then we edited them — by removing and adding passages — to match the president’s conduct as described in the Mueller report and elsewhere.

Impeachment is often said to be a political process. But when you assess Mr. Trump’s conduct by the bar for impeachment set by past Democratic and Republican lawmakers for past presidents of both parties, the results are striking. The pathway to a possible Trump impeachment is already mapped out in these historical documents.

ny times logoNew York Times, A bipartisan group of senators will try to force votes to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Catie Edmondson, June 5, 2019 (print ed.). A bipartisan group of senators will try to force nearly two dozen votes rebuking the Trump administration’s decision to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and sell billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

us senate logoThe legislation, led by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Trump ally and once a staunch defender of the kingdom, underscores lawmakers’ fury at the administration’s support for the Saudis after the killing of the dissident Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And it could grind business in the Senate to a crawl while allowing rare public criticism of President Trump’s administration from members of his own party.

Politico Magazine, Judge OK without public release of Flynn-Kislyak transcript, Darren Samuelsohn, June 4, 2019. A federal judge reversed course on Tuesday and absolved the Justice Department of a demand to make public transcripts of recorded phone calls between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian official. In a one-paragraph order, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said he accepted the argument recently made from federal prosecutors who defied his earlier request to release any recordings from December 2016 between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, who at the time was the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak, and the general contours of what they discussed are described in the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report released in May. That includes Flynn asking for Russia not to escalate tensions between the two countries after the outgoing Obama administration-imposed sanctions for Kremlin-orchestrated interference in the 2016 election.

But a full transcript of the Flynn-Kislyak calls remains under wraps, and Sullivan last month ordered Mueller’s prosecutors to place the material on the public docket. The judge, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, also asked for the public release of an unredacted version of the Mueller report with any other blacked-out information tied to the Flynn case.

Last Friday, federal prosecutors declined to release the Flynn-Kislyak transcripts, arguing that the government “is not relying on any other recordings, of any person, for purposes of establishing the defendant’s guilt or determining his sentencing, nor are there any other recordings that are part of the sentencing record.”

The Justice Department prosecutors also said in their filing to Sullivan that all of the material related to Flynn that he’d provided to Mueller as part of his cooperation agreement had been unredacted, as well as information in the final report that others provided about Flynn. The government attorneys explained that “limited” redactions do remain in the Mueller report tied to its sourcing of information, including references to grand jury subpoenas.

Washington Post, Trump to speak at Lincoln Memorial during July 4 celebration, Fenit Nirappil, Peter Hermann and Peter Jamison, June 5, 2019. The U.S. Park Police confirmed that the agency has been notified that the president plans to speak at the memorial.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Jerry Nadler to William Barr: bite me, Bill Palmer, June 5, 2019. Yesterday, Palmer Report spelled out that, for reasons known only to him, Attorney General William Barr is trying really hard to convince House Democrats not to formalize the contempt of Congress charges against him. Barr has quietly begun offering Democrats all kinds of things in return. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is telling Barr to go take a hike.

bill palmer report logo headerWilliam Barr offered to resume negotiations with the House Judiciary Committee over redacted Mueller report materials, if the committee revoked its vote to hold Barr in contempt, which would prevent the full House from formalizing contempt charges next Tuesday. But last night Nadler sent this message back to Barr: “The pace with which we are proceeding is consistent with the exceptional urgency of this matter: an attack on our elections that was welcomed by our President and benefited his campaign, followed by acts of obstruction by the President designed to interfere with the investigation of that attack.” Translation: bite me.

Immigration, Trade Wars, Jobs

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Senate Republicans Warn White House Against Mexico Tariffs, Catie Edmondson and Maggie Haberman, June 5, 2019 (print ed.). In a contentious meeting, senators told senior White House officials that they opposed plans to impose tariffs on Mexican imports. Hours earlier, President Trump said that lawmakers would be “foolish” if they tried to stop him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arrests along Mexico border surged 32 percent in May, Nick Miroff​, ​June 5, 2019. More than 100,000 family members and children were detained, leaving holding cells “bursting at the seams.”

ICE logo

 washington post logoWashington Post, HHS cancels English classes, legal aid for unaccompanied child migrants in shelters, Maria Sacchetti, June 5, 2019. In an email obtained by The Post, U.S. officials said the program is running out of money and must focus on “essential” services. Officials are also ending recreational programs like soccer.

The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide, saying the immigration influx at the southern border has created critical budget pressures.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun discontinuing the funding stream for activities — including soccer — that have been deemed “not directly Donald Trump and Mike Pence logonecessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation,” said U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber.

Federal officials have warned Congress that they are facing “a dramatic spike” in unaccompanied minors at the southern border and have asked Congress for $2.9 billion in emergency funding to expand shelters and care. The program could run out of money in late June, and the agency is legally obligated to direct funding to essential services, Weber said.

Trump In United Kingdom

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid London protests, Trump appears in denial over his standing abroad, David Nakamura and Toluse Olorunnipa, June 5, 2019. President Trump’s efforts to united kingdom flagminimize the opposition to his presidency while in London show his refusal to come to grips with his low popularity around the globe, critics say.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says There’s a ‘Chance’ of Military Action Against Iran, Maggie Haberman, June 5, 2019. In a wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan in London, Mr. Trump also cast his ban on transgender people in the military as an economic decision. Mr. Trump made the remarks on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” to Piers Morgan, the show’s co-host who was the winner of “The Celebrity Apprentice” in the United States in 2007-8 and someone Mr. Trump considers a friend. They were aired during the third and last day of his state visit to Britain.

ny times logoNew York Times, At two events in London, Mr. Trump made inaccurate claims. We’ve fact-checked his visit, Linda Qiu, June 5, 2019 (print ed). President Trump, at two events on Tuesday in London, made inaccurate claims about trade, protests against him, Brexit and his approval rating.

What TRUMP Said

“We are your largest partner. You’re our largest partner.”
— Business round table in London

False. When it comes to international trade, the United States’ top partners so far this year are Mexico, Canada and China, with total trade amounting to $150.6 billion, $146.6 billion and $132 billion. Britain ranked seventh at $33.1 billion. Last year, top trading partners were China ($659.8 billion), Canada ($617.2 billion) and Mexico ($611.5 billion), and Britain placed seventh ($127 billion).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump attends D-Day commemoration, William Booth and Karla Adam​, June 5, 2019. President Trump joined 15 world leaders for the event in Portsmouth, the launch point for the invasion of Nazi-occupied France 75 years ago.

U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: The GOP feud between Donald Trump and Roy Moore gets even uglier, James Sullivan, June 5, 2019. Despite an embarrassing loss in a deep red state and a party that’s desperate to avoid him, Roy Moore somehow manages to stay in the news. He has yet to announce whether he’s running again for the U.S. Senate in 2020, but all signs suggest he’s not getting out of politics anytime soon, disgraceful as his past may be.

bill palmer report logo headerMoore is expected to make an official announcement in June over whether or not he’s running again for Doug Jones’ current seat – and not many Republicans are thrilled about that, including Donald Trump himself, who tweeted last week that Roy Moore won’t be able to win in November and urged him not to run. It’s interesting to note that neither Trump nor Republicans at large are touching on why Moore is so toxic, with Trump even saying that he had nothing against Moore besides his unelectability. The unsaid part of that tweet is that Trump and most of his fellow Republicans are perfectly fine with the fact that nine women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct – they just wish it didn’t hurt their chance of keeping the Senate.

roy moore 38 specialMoore (shown in a campaign photo) has an entirely different idea of why he lost, still claiming that his seat was stolen. After Moore lost in 2017, right-wing media spread a bunch of nonsensical racist theories about minorities being bussed into Alabama to vote for Doug Jones. Moore still blames voter fraud for the loss, but he thinks all these warnings about his candidacy are evidence that the Republican Party itself is behind his failure, not Jones or even the Democrats.

Moore ranted accordingly on a local right-wing talk show, saying establishment Republicans fear him because he won’t join their club in the Senate – that they’ll rig the election in favor of anyone but him. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same harebrained nonsense Donald Trump screamed through 2016 about the election being rigged against him. Whether or not Moore runs, Republicans are still feeling the effects of their failure to stop Trump in 2016 – candidates who are even more reprehensible and dimwitted than he is, inspired by the nonsense Trump tweets freely. It may have been what helped them win in 2016, but now it’s quickly chiseling the party apart.

Inside DC

washington post logoDepartment of Defense SealWashington Post, Trump says increased defense spending is his way of ‘making up for’ not serving in Vietnam, Alex Horton​, June 5, 2019. The president was asked during a British interview whether he “wished” he had served in the military, and particularly in Vietnam.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration imposes new restrictions on fetal tissue research, Amy Goldstein, June 5, 2019.  The administration ended a multimillion-dollar HIV research contract, as well as funding for National Institutes of Health projects using fetal tissue.

Media News Roundup

washington post logoWashington Post, YouTube to remove thousands of videos in new fight against hate speech, hoaxes, Elizabeth Dwoskin​, June 5, 2019. The Google-owned video site, along youtube logo Customwith its Silicon Valley peers, is starting to take a broader view of hate speech in the face of criticism that it has failed to prevent the spread of harmful videos that distort world events, hurt children or promote discriminatory ideologies. On Tuesday, for instance, Vox Media called out YouTube for failing to remove homophobic and racist videos attacking one of its reporters.

While YouTube, which has over 1.8 billion daily users, has long prohibited videos that promote violence or hatred against people based on their age, religious beliefs, gender, religion, immigration status, sexual orientation and other protected categories, the new hate speech policy will go further. The policies will specifically ban videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation, or exclusion,” based on those categories. That would include groups that “glorify Nazi ideology,” the company said in its announcement, because such beliefs were “inherently discriminatory.”

washington post logoyoutube logo CustomWashington Post, A right-wing YouTuber hurled racist, homophobic taunts at a gay reporter. The company did nothing, Eli Rosenberg​​, June 5, 2019. YouTube said the videos didn’t violate its policies, and that it would leave them on the site. The decision drew a torrent of criticism as concerns grow about YouTube’s resolve to moderate its content.

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Opinion: Google and Facebook sucked profits from newspapers. Publishers are finally resisting, Margaret Sullivan, June 5, 2019. Bipartisan support in the House and Senate may allow papers — most of them local — to band together as they bargain with the tech giants.

BBC, ABC raid: Outcry as Australian police search public broadcaster, Staff report, June 5, 2019. A police raid on Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) has drawn fire from bbc news logo2broadcasters and rights groups. Officers arrived at the public broadcaster's Sydney headquarters with search warrants naming two reporters and the news director. The ABC has protested over the raid.

australian flag wavingPolice searched the home of a News Corp journalist on Tuesday, sparking alarm. The BBC said it was "deeply troubling" for a broadcaster to be searched.

The leading journalists' union in the country said the two raids represented a "disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom". Other unions and human rights groups also condemned the actions.

In a statement ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the police raid "raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press".

"The ABC stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest." ABC News director Gaven Morris defended the two journalists who were named along with him in the search warrant.

The police action is related to articles about alleged misconduct by Australian forces in Afghanistan. According to the ABC, Wednesday's search is about the 2017 investigative series known as The Afghan Files which "revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan".

The broadcaster said the series was "based off hundreds of pages of secret defence documents leaked to the ABC." The Australian Federal Police said the warrant was in relation to "allegations of publishing classified material" and that it "relates to a referral received on 11 July 2017 from the Chief of the Defence Force and the then-Acting Secretary for Defence."

washington post logoWashington Post, Meet the GOP operatives who aim to smear the 2020 Democrats — but keep bungling it, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Beth Reinhard, June 5, 2019. It matters little whether Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl's claims are proved — they hardly ever are. But in an era when notions about truth and fiction have been upended, it's now a more dangerous game.

Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl — a pair of boundlessly eager, profoundly unrepentant aspirants to the dankest depths of political chicanery — were watching television together the other day when something caught Burkman’s eye.

There on the screen was Don McGahn, President Trump’s former White House counsel.

It was at that very moment when Burkman remembered that McGahn had connected the unlikely duo — Burkman, the 53-year-old Washington lobbyist, and Wohl, a 21-year-old robert mueller full face fileCalifornian trailed by investment scandals.

Yes, it was McGahn, they agreed, who had put them together a year ago by sharing Wohl’s cellphone number with Burkman. That was before their spree of bungled smears — including a disappearing sexual assault accuser against special counsel Robert Mueller (announced at a news conference that Burkman conducted with his pants zipper down) and a botched attempt last month to paint Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as a sexual predator.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, This ‘good Christian’ prosecutor won’t use domestic violence laws to protect same-sex couples, Deanna Paul​, Craig Northcott, June 5, 2019.  the chief prosecutor in Coffee County, Tenn., ensured that same-sex partners would not be afforded the protections of domestic violence laws. “There’s no marriage to protect with homosexual relationships, so I don’t prosecute them as domestic,” he said.

Chocolate's Child Laborers

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Cocoa’s child laborers, Peter Whoriskey and Rachel Siegel, Photos by Salwan Georges, June 5, 2019. Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor. Five boys are swinging machetes on a cocoa farm, slowly advancing against a wall of brush. Their expressions are deadpan, almost vacant, and they rarely talk. The only sounds in the still air are the whoosh of blades slicing through tall grass and metallic pings when they hit something harder.

Each of the boys crossed the border months or years ago from the impoverished West African nation of Burkina Faso, taking a bus away from home and parents to Ivory Coast, where hundreds of thousands of small farms have been carved out of the forest.

These farms form the world’s most important source of cocoa and are the setting for an epidemic of child labor that the world’s largest chocolate companies promised to eradicate nearly 20 years ago.

Abou says his back hurts, and he’s hungry.

“I came here to go to school,” Abou says. “I haven’t been to school for five years now.”

June 4

New House Strategy Probing Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The House Judiciary Committee gets it, we hope, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the jennifer rubin new headshotMueller report — but the report’s author will not attend. The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

Former U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice.

This seems to comport with the suggestion that fights over process (who must appear, which redacted portions of the report must be revealed) have unnecessarily swamped the House, to the detriment of the much-needed task of educating the public as to what is in the special counsel’s report.

One would hope, however, that former White House counsel Donald McGahn is subpoenaed to provide a firsthand account of the president’s persistent directives to fire Robert S. Mueller III.

jerrold nadler o SmallRep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), left, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies.” He added, “Given the threat posed by the President’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report.”

Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah told me, “This is a good and smart first step to get the public’s focus back onto the devastating facts and evidence in the Mueller Report.” She explained, “Having non-partisan former prosecutors explain how Trump’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice in ways that Mueller felt he could not makes total sense.” See more on House oversight of Trump Administration below.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What did Judge Emmet Sullivan just do? Daniel Cotter, June 4, 2019. On May 16, 2019, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered prosecutors to make public a michael flynn djttranscript of phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak made late in 2016. The judge also ordered that the Flynn-related parts of the Mueller Report be unredacted.

On June 4, via minute order (one that is entered by the judge and made available in a notice), Sullivan wrote: “On May 16, 2019, the Court issued multiple Minute Orders that ordered the government to file on the public docket certain materials and information. Upon consideration of the government’s submissions in response to those orders, the government is not required to file any additional materials or information on the public docket pursuant to the Court’s Orders of May 16, 2019.”

bill palmer report logo headerThe nature of the minute order from June 4 is much different from what Sullivan demonstrated in prior minute orders and prior statements from the bench regarding the Flynn case. It is unclear what exactly the government submitted that changed Sullivan’s mind, but this is a major shift in his jurisprudence. What we do know is that the Justice Department attorneys filed a statement on Friday claiming that the recordings were not used in establishing Flynn’s guilt or in the sentencing of Flynn.

There are a few possibilities in all of this. One is that whatever is in that recording would put national security at risk if released, including the methods used to capture the call. The more likely possibility is that the Trump administration knows that the actual words contained in the exchange between Kislyak and Flynn would significantly damage Trump because it would show knowledge and coordination with Russia. It is surprising that Judge Sullivan took the government’s word on things and reversed course. The mission to get this transcript revealed in a court of law must continue unabated.

Trump In Britain

A Trump supporter deflated a "Baby Trump" baloon during an anti-Trump protest and screamed for "help" from America when she was questioned by London police. The Sun newspaper published an account and the video,

, June 4, 2019 (1:56 min. witness video).

Separately during the state visit, Trump personally insulted London's mayor again. Also, Trump brazenly lied to reporters and fellow dignataries when he claimed at a news conference that tens of thousands of London protesters against him were actually his supporters, despite clear video evidence of the mass marches. See more below about Trump's state visit, which "has prompted a ring of steel" placed for protection outside the US Ambassador's residence in Regent's Park in London. 

Former Trump Advisor Charged With Kiddie Porn

washington post logoWashington Post, Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography, Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). A key witness in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been charged with transporting child pornography last year, according to court documents. Geor

World News   wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Election 2016 manipulation involved same players as 9/11, Wayne Madsen, June 5, 2019 (subscription required). A growing collection of evidence indicates that three nations directly involved in coordinating the planning and carrying out the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States – Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – were also jointly involved in “hacking” the 2016 U.S. presidential election to bring about Donald Trump’s victory.

palestinian map

ny times logoNew York Times, Palestinian Premier Warns of a ‘Very Hot Summer,’ David M. Halbfinger, June 5, 2019. The Palestinian Authority could collapse if a financial standoff with Israel isn’t resolved, Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Over 1,400 Civilian Deaths in Raqqa Remain Unacknowledged, Donatella Rovera, June 5, 2019. The U.S. and its allies say 180 civilians were killed in military operations between June and October of 2017. A new Amnesty International investigation finds the number is actually over 1,600.

The United States, British and French militaries were successful in pushing ISIS out of Raqqa, Syria. But at what cost? Western forces have failed to acknowledge the extent of civilian deaths they caused and have yet to make a long-term commitment to help the survivors rebuild. They must further investigate what happened: If so may civilians died, clearly something went terribly wrong.

Donatella Rovera (@DRovera) is a senior crisis response adviser with Amnesty International, investigating war crimes and abuses in conflicts and crises

FBI Sex Claims Against Dr. King

david garrow thomas burr npc 5 11 17

Historian David Garrow, left, discusses his 2017 biographry "Rising Star" of Barack Obama with National Press Club President Thomas Burr on May 11, 2017 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig)

ny times logoNew York Times, His Martin Luther King Biography Was a Classic. His Latest King Piece Is Causing a Furor, Jennifer Schuessler, June 5, 2019 (print ed.). David Garrow found F.B.I. documents alleging King stood by during a rape. But some scholars question whether to trust records created as part of a smear campaign.

When David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sat down last spring to dig through a trove of previously unreleased martin luther king injustice quotegovernment records, it was business as usual for a researcher known for prodigious reporting and doorstop books.

“There’s this weird ability I have of complete recall with regard to what I already know and don’t know,” Mr. Garrow said, describing the experience of wrestling with some 54,000 separate web links posted by the National Archives and Records Administration. “I was just scrolling through the PDFs, looking for new little factoids.”

Mr. Garrow found factoids aplenty, about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s infamous surveillance of Dr. King — and, most controversially, about alleged sexual misconduct by the civil rights leader.

In a 7,800-word article published last week by the British monthly magazine Standpoint, which teased the piece on its cover as “Martin Luther King and #MeToo,” Mr. Garrow nara logoprovides new details about the F.B.I.’s tactics alongside graphic descriptions from documents recounting alleged group sex in bugged hotel rooms. He also names some of Dr. King’s purported lovers, including fellow activists who have never been publicly identified as such.

While Dr. King’s infidelities have long been known in broad outline, Mr. Garrow concludes by saying that the new material — including an explosive allegation that he witnessed, and even encouraged, a rape committed by a fellow minister — “poses so fundamental a challenge to his historical stature as to require the most complete and extensive historical review possible.”

The revelations have sparked a heated reaction. But so far, it has been as much about the ethics and evidentiary standards of Mr. Garrow’s article as it is about Dr. King.

Some fellow historians credit Mr. Garrow with finding potentially important new information about both Dr. King and the F.B.I. attempts to discredit him. But others are denouncing him for publishing incendiary claims generated as part of an F.B.I. smear campaign, without offering any corroborating evidence. And some are accusing him of running roughshod over the privacy of the women with whom Dr. King was allegedly involved.

Related Commentary:

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Black Feminist’s Response to Attacks on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy, Barbara Ransby (history professor, June 3, 2019. We should not become historical peeping Toms by trafficking in what amounts to rumor and innuendo.

As a black feminist and a civil rights historian, I do not need to be persuaded that many black male ministers during the civil rights era were morally duplicitous, felt sexually entitled and slept around. So did many Catholic priests, politicians, Hollywood celebrities and some award-winning male academics.

Many historians have already argued that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have been no different. However, David Garrow’s essay published last week in Standpoint, a conservative British magazine — goes much further, making the serious allegation that Dr. King may have witnessed and encouraged a rape. Absolutely any allegation of rape has to be taken seriously. However, this irresponsible account, drawn from questionable documents, has serious shortcomings and risks turning readers into historical peeping Toms by trafficking in what amounts to little more than rumor and innuendo from F. B.I. files.

fbi logoRape, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual assault are very serious accusations in our own time, and all too often women making those charges are doubted, dismissed or simply not believed as in the cases of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford, who bravely came forward with credible stories, and the R. Kelly accusers who for many years told of their own nightmarish ordeals. The voices of these survivors must be heard and taken seriously, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. The F.B.I. allegations, funneled through Mr. Garrow’s essay, have nothing to do with this effort. It is not a woman’s voice we are being asked to believe here, but the F.B.I.’s — a source with blatantly ulterior motives.

Let me underscore a critical line to draw in our assessment of this new reporting. It is a point that feminist scholars and L.G.B.T.Q. activists have insisted upon for some time. Consenting sexual activity, even activity that mainstream public opinion might not condone, is the prerogative of the adults involved. Rape, on the other hand, is a violent crime. A major problem with Mr. Garrow’s essay, questionable evidence aside, is that he fails to adequately distinguish between the two.

Where is the evidence? And whose story is this? Mr. Garrow has not seen a transcript or listened to the tape of this alleged incident himself. Both are sealed until 2027. The documents he has reviewed were made available inadvertently through the release of the John Kennedy assassination papers by the National Archives. The mention of Dr. King’s having been in the room during an alleged rape “appears only as an annotation,” one handwritten sentence added to the typed summary. Mr. Garrow ascribes the scribble to either William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division, whose personal file was the source of the document containing the rape allegation, or one of his associates. In other words, we don’t even know who the author is.

Mr. Garrow goes on to speculate that the prudish Mr. Sullivan, who may or may not have written the damning sentence, and his aides were unlikely to have embellished this account and had no “apparent motive” to do so. Really? Who knows what motivated them, but the motives of their boss, the notorious F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover, are well known: to destroy and discredit Dr. King and later other black freedom movement leaders. Cointelpro, the counterintelligence program of the F.B.I. that later spied on and subverted the work of groups like the Black Panther Party, was even implicated in an assassination.

Barbara Ransby (@BarbaraRansby), a professor of history, gender and women’s studies and African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom MovementEslanda and Making All Black Lives Matter.

Who Killed Bobby? Book Review: A Lie Too Big to Fail, Shane O'Sullivan, right, shane osullivan headshotJune 5, 2019. Lisa Pease’s recently-published book, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Feral House) is well-researched and digs up plenty of interesting new leads, but is undermined by implausible theories and conclusions based on a very selective interpretation of the evidence.

Lisa recently endorsed my book Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy (2008) on Black Op Radio but said it “didn’t go far enough” and inspired her to write her own. While she conducts an exhaustive survey of the witness testimony, some of her theories go too far, in my opinion, and may be damaging to our hopes of getting the case reopened. I feel obliged to point out the shortcomings of these theories, so that readers new to the case can get a more balanced view of the evidence and make up their own minds.

lisa pease rfk coverAs two of the handful of surviving authors on the case, we share some common ground. We agree that convicted Palestinian assassin Sirhan Sirhan did not kill Robert Kennedy; that Sirhan was a hypnotically programmed patsy; and that a second gunman fired the fatal shot which killed the senator. But Lisa’s book goes well beyond the second gun theory espoused by other authors on the case. Where Phil Van Praag’s analysis of the Pruszynski recording (the only known recording of the shooting) suggests thirteen shots were fired in the pantry, Lisa suggests there may have been seventeen. Where most authors believe there were two shooters in the pantry. Lisa believes there may have been four or five. While it’s generally accepted that Sirhan fired eight shots from his .22-caliber revolver, injuring Paul Schrade and four other bystanders, Lisa argues Sirhan didn’t shoot anybody as he was firing blanks.

The firearms examiners concluded that the bullet which lodged in Kennedy’s neck and the bullets recovered from victims Ira Goldstein and William Weisel were fired from the same gun. The panel also agreed that the bullet recovered from shooting victim Irwin Stroll was a CCI Mini-Mag with the same rifling characteristics as the Sirhan weapon and all four of these victim bullets were consistent with the .22-caliber CCI long rifle ammunition used by Sirhan.

sirhan sirhan 2016The leaded condition of Sirhan’s barrel prevented a positive identification but, as Bradford concluded, a second gun needed to have the same rifling characteristics as Sirhan’s weapon. Phil Van Praag’s tests are based on this. Lisa seemingly ignores it....

Sirhan (shown in a 2016 mug shot) is still in prison, in the desert just outside San Diego, having served more than fifty years for a crime he cannot remember committing and which the evidence shows he did not commit. While I agree with Lisa that he has served his time and should be freed, these implausible theories will not help that cause.

While I disagree with Lisa’s conclusions, the new research in her book is a welcome addition to the small library on the case and I hope we can work together through the new Truth and Reconciliation Committee to seek justice for Sirhan and Bobby Kennedy with the best and most credible evidence available.

Shane O'Sullivan is an Irish writer and filmmaker based in London and best known for his work on the assassination of Robert Kennedy. His works include the feature documentary "RFK Must Die." His book on the case, "Who Killed Bobby?," was published in 2008. This essay is adapted from a presentation that he gave at the “Political Assassinations of the 1960s” conference at Olney Central College, IL on April 7, 2019.

Media News: SPJ Dispute

Columbia Journalism Review, A disastrous conference call for SPJ, followed by a call for impeachment, Andrew McCormick, June 5, 2019. On Saturday, the board of directors for the Society of Professional Journalists met in a video conference call. The organization’s executive director, Alison Bethel McKenzie, had resigned from her paid position in April, and the 18-member board of directors, which is elected and serves on a voluntary, part-time basis, was set to discuss the search for a new one. What should have been a fairly dry, procedural discussion instead devolved into the Zoom meeting equivalent of a reality-show fight, with shouting, veiled personal attacks, and bickering over board bylaws. It was enough to prompt one board member to launch a campaign to impeach SPJ’s president, J. Alex Tarquinio.

society of professional journalists logoEarly in the call, Tarquinio, who is also a freelance journalist, sparred with Patti Newberry, the organization’s president-elect and Tarquinio’s current number-two, who teaches journalism at Miami University in Ohio. The rub, essentially, was that Newberry wanted to lead the committee that will search for a new executive director—a desire which she had shared with fellow board members prior to the meeting as well as Tarquinio—but Tarquinio had appointed someone else, without consulting board members on the decision. During the meeting, Tarquinio accused Newberry of going behind her back.

“It’s very disappointing, and I hope nobody does it in your term,” she told Newberry, giving an exasperated laugh. Newberry, who will replace Tarquinio as president in September at SPJ’s annual conference, visibly scoffed. “Do not chastise me publicly,” she said in response. Newberry attempted to go on, but Tarquinio spoke over her interjection.

Board members attempted several times to raise Tarquinio’s decision and her lack of consultation for discussion. Tarquinio repeatedly dismissed those motions as “out of order.” (Per SPJ’s bylaws, it is the prerogative of the president to appoint the head of the committee.) As the meeting continued, other board members were unable to get a word in edgewise. Tarquinio often failed to recognize members who kept their hands raised. Of those who did manage to speak, many were swiftly shut down. Circumscribed in their tiny video boxes—set against far-flung backgrounds that included home offices and one backyard porch—the board members shook their heads, threw up their arms, and laughed, seemingly in spite of the situation. Tarquinio remained by turns defiant and condemnatory.

“This board is a problem,” Tarquinio said at one point. She repeated herself: “This board is a problem.” And later: “I’m telling you, this board needs to start being supportive, not only of this president but of this [SPJ] staff. You’ve done several things recently that have upset the staff.”

“So have you!” Michael Koretzky, SPJ’s longest serving board member and the editor of Debt.com, answered.

June 4

New House Strategy Probing Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The House Judiciary Committee gets it, we hope, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the jennifer rubin new headshotMueller report — but the report’s author will not attend. The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

Former U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice.

This seems to comport with the suggestion that fights over process (who must appear, which redacted portions of the report must be revealed) have unnecessarily swamped the House, to the detriment of the much-needed task of educating the public as to what is in the special counsel’s report.

One would hope, however, that former White House counsel Donald McGahn is subpoenaed to provide a firsthand account of the president’s persistent directives to fire Robert S. Mueller III.

jerrold nadler o SmallRep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), left, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies.” He added, “Given the threat posed by the President’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report.”

Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah told me, “This is a good and smart first step to get the public’s focus back onto the devastating facts and evidence in the Mueller Report.” She explained, “Having non-partisan former prosecutors explain how Trump’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice in ways that Mueller felt he could not makes total sense.” See more on House oversight of Trump Administration below.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What did Judge Emmet Sullivan just do? Daniel Cotter, June 4, 2019. On May 16, 2019, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered prosecutors to make public a michael flynn djttranscript of phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak made late in 2016. The judge also ordered that the Flynn-related parts of the Mueller Report be unredacted.

On June 4, via minute order (one that is entered by the judge and made available in a notice), Sullivan wrote: “On May 16, 2019, the Court issued multiple Minute Orders that ordered the government to file on the public docket certain materials and information. Upon consideration of the government’s submissions in response to those orders, the government is not required to file any additional materials or information on the public docket pursuant to the Court’s Orders of May 16, 2019.”

bill palmer report logo headerThe nature of the minute order from June 4 is much different from what Sullivan demonstrated in prior minute orders and prior statements from the bench regarding the Flynn case. It is unclear what exactly the government submitted that changed Sullivan’s mind, but this is a major shift in his jurisprudence. What we do know is that the Justice Department attorneys filed a statement on Friday claiming that the recordings were not used in establishing Flynn’s guilt or in the sentencing of Flynn.

There are a few possibilities in all of this. One is that whatever is in that recording would put national security at risk if released, including the methods used to capture the call. The more likely possibility is that the Trump administration knows that the actual words contained in the exchange between Kislyak and Flynn would significantly damage Trump because it would show knowledge and coordination with Russia. It is surprising that Judge Sullivan took the government’s word on things and reversed course. The mission to get this transcript revealed in a court of law must continue unabated.

Trump In Britain

A Trump supporter deflated a "Baby Trump" baloon during an anti-Trump protest and screamed for "help" from America when she was questioned by London police. The Sun newspaper published an account and the video,

, June 4, 2019 (1:56 min. witness video).

Separately during the state visit, Trump personally insulted London's mayor again. Also, Trump brazenly lied to reporters and fellow dignataries when he claimed at a news conference that tens of thousands of London protesters against him were actually his supporters, despite clear video evidence of the mass marches. See more below about Trump's state visit, which "has prompted a ring of steel" placed for protection outside the US Ambassador's residence in Regent's Park in London. 

Former Trump Advisor Charged With Kiddie Porn

washington post logoWashington Post, Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography, Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). A key witness in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been charged with transporting child pornography last year, according to court documents. George Nader, who had a previous criminal record on such charges, was charged in federal court in Virginia, and is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York.

george nader djtNader (shown with Trump) played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017.

Officials said Nader, 60, was charged by criminal complaint over material he was traveling with when he arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport on Jan. 17, 2018, from Dubai. At the time, he was carrying a cellphone containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, officials said. The charges were unsealed after his arrest Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

If convicted, Nader faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, officials said.

Nader was known to Trump associates as someone with political connections in the Middle East who could help them navigate the diplomacy of the region.

[New court documents offer new details about witness in Mueller probe]

He helped arrange a meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 between Erik Prince, a Trump supporter who founded the private security firm Blackwater, and a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The purpose of the meeting was of particular interest to Mueller’s investigators, and some questions about it remain unanswered, even after Mueller issued a 448-page report on his findings.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: American Workers, Trump Is Not Your Friend, Editorial Board, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). The administration is making life easier for business owners and harder for workers. President Trump ran for office as a champion of American workers and a friend of labor unions, but his administration has systematically favored Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoemployers at the expense of workers.

In recent months, the administration has moved to tighten qualifications for who must be paid the minimum wage and who must be paid overtime. It is asking the Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers on the basis of sexual orientation. The number of workplace safety inspectors employed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fallen to the lowest level in the agency’s half-century of operation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Franklin Graham’s blasphemy, idolatry and heresy — not bad for one Sunday, Michael Gerson, June 4, 2019. I pray for President Trump at least once a week. “Grant to the president of the United States,” says the Book of Common Prayer, “and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will.”

Yet the Rev. Franklin Graham’s declaration last week for a “special day of prayer for the President, Donald J. Trump” on Sunday had a very different theological flavor. Graham made clear that the real purpose of the event was not to pray for the president, but to pray in his political favor.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Republicans are leaving Democrats in the dust on judicial confirmations, Deanna Paul, June 4, 2019. Democrats seeking the presidency barely even mention the courts, much less who they would nominate to be on the bench.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fills the judiciary with conservatives, and does so boldly and volubly, Republicans campaign on federal and Supreme Court nominations. Meanwhile, Democrats have been largely passive about the courts, rarely mentioning them, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote in the New Yorker last week.

“Consider, for example, the Web sites of three leading contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Each site has thousands of words outlining the candidates’ positions on the issues — and none of them mentions Supreme Court nominations, much less nominations for lower-court judges,” Toobin wrote.

The reason, many political analysts believe, is twofold: Democratic voters are motivated not by the Supreme Court but by political issues, such as women’s rights, climate change or abortion, and liberals have never organized voters around the court as an institution to win.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump said Russia was getting out of Venezuela. The Kremlin says that’s not true, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Anton Troianovski, June 4, 2019. Moscow denied a Monday tweet by the president in which he said, “Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Stacey Abrams to huddle with Hollywood executives as a potential boycott meets calls to ‘Stay and Fight,’ Hamza Shaban, June 4, 2019. Abrams, the Democrat from Georgia who earned national attention after narrowly losing her bid for governor last year, has warned that an economic boycott of the state over its new abortion law may fail to meet its intended aim.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House instructs Hope Hicks and former McGahn aide not to comply with subpoenas, Rachael Bade and Carol D. Leonnig, June 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee had sought documents from Hicks, one of President Trump’s closest staffers, related to her service in the administration.

U.S. Gun Control / Safety

washington post logoralph northam file headshotWashington Post, Virginia governor calls for special session on gun control, Gregory S. Schneider, June 4, 2019. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said tighter gun safety policies are needed in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach. We must do more than give our thoughts and prayers,” said Northam, who intends to bring lawmakers back to Richmond at the end of June. Northam was joined by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, all Democrats, at a news conference with other Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans who control the General Assembly and have repeatedly stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Former sheriff’s deputy who did not confront Parkland shooter arrested, charged with neglect, Mark Berman​, June 4, 2019. Scot Peterson was charged with 11 counts related to his actions that day, including seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury, authorities said.

U.S. Supreme Court / Census / Elections

Howe on the Court, Government responds in census citizenship case, Amy Howe, June 4, 2019. Last week the challengers in the dispute over the decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census notified the Supreme Court about new evidence. The new evidence, the challengers argued, indicated that a Republican redistricting strategist played a key role in the decision, which was intended to create an advantage for whites and Republicans in future elections. Yesterday the Trump administration pushed back, calling the challengers’ accusations “meritless” and an “eleventh-hour” effort to “derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of this case.”

us census bureauThe government’s contentions came in its response to the challengers’ motion, made in a federal district court in New York, suggesting that the government should be sanctioned because the new evidence contradicts testimony and representations by government officials in the case. The response was attached to a letter sent to the Supreme Court yesterday by Noel Francisco, the U.S. solicitor general.

In the five-page, single-spaced response, the government dismisses as “false” the challengers’ claim that a senior Department of Justice official, John Gore, relied on a 2015 study by the Republican strategist, Thomas Hofeller, when Gore drafted a 2017 letter asking the Department of Commerce to include the citizenship question. “There is no smoking gun here,” the government stresses; “only smoke and mirrors.”

If the 2017 letter resembles anything, the government suggests, it is “friend of the court” briefs filed in a 2016 case in which the Supreme Court had been asked to decide whether total population or the number of eligible voters should be used to determine whether state legislative districts have equal populations. (Nathaniel Persily, the Stanford law professor who was the author of one of the briefs cited by the government, described himself as “outraged” that his work was “being misrepresented” by the government.)

More About Trump In Britain

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump humiliates himself in the UK while everything goes wrong for him back home, Bill Palmer, June 4, 2019. Donald Trump is over in the UK right bill palmer report logo headernow, picking a fight with the Mayor of London, having a meltdown because CNN was too mean to him, and insisting that the large crowds of anti-Trump protesters in his vicinity don’t exist. But this is just the beginning of his problems. For instance, George Nader, a close ally of his 2016 campaign, was arrested yesterday on child pornography charges. Not only does this point to Nader fully flipping on Trump, it points to additional sealed indictments being in place against Trump’s various allies. But that’s just the half of it.

donald trump twitterYesterday the House Judiciary Committee announced that key Watergate figure John Dean will publicly testify next Monday as an expert witness with regard to Donald Trump’s felony obstruction of justice. Then the full House announced it’ll vote to hold Trump’s Attorney General William Barr in contempt next Tuesday. Then the House Oversight Committee announced it’s also holding Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt. Somewhere in there, the House Majority Whip – whose job is to count the votes on these things – confirmed that Trump will end up being impeached.

Every time Donald Trump goes overseas, his criminal scandals go poorly for him back home. In fact his criminal scandals go poorly for him even when he’s not overseas. But something about this trip, and these past twenty-four hours in particular, feels different. House Democrats are rolling out their strategy against him. Mueller still has far more up his sleeve than anyone knew. And Trump is stuck in London, where he can’t even calm himself by watching the propaganda on Fox News.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Praises May, Saying He Believes Brexit Will Happen, Staff report, June 4, 2019. The second day of President Trump’s state visit is focused more on work than ceremony. He held a joint news conference with Prime Minister Theresa May, where both spoke highly of their countries’ “special relationship.” Follow our updates here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns GOP would be ‘foolish’ to try to stop tariffs on Mexico, Erica Werner, Mary Beth Sheridan, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner​, June 4, 2019. President Trump said he plans to go ahead with 5 percent tariffs on goods from Mexico set to take effect next week. Republicans have discussed plans to block the levies.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, Trump: U.S. is committed to a ‘phenomenal’ trade deal with Britain, William Booth and Anne Gearan​, June 4, 2019. After spending Monday with the royal family, President Trump turned to business on the second day of a state visit to Britain. This story will be updated through the day.

● At a joint news conference with Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said the United States was committed to a “phenomenal trade deal” with post-Brexit Britain.
● Even while protesters congregated in the streets of London, Trump said “a lot of it is fake news.”
● He said he “would have sued” the E.U. over Brexit, but granted that May is “probably a better negotiator than I am.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, House Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on Mueller report, without Mueller, Felicia Sonmez and Rachael Bade, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). The report is my testimony': Mueller would not provide Congress new information. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Mueller report — but the report’s author will not attend.

The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

john dean manafort plea screengrabFormer U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice. He is shown at right in a screenshot from one of his many cable news appearances as a commentator.

But Robert S. Mueller III, the now-former special counsel who led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, is not expected to testify, according to the committee.

“Given the threat posed by the president’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Global Trump Probes

ny times logoNew York Times, A Former Business Partner Alleges the Trumps Evaded Taxes in Panama, Ben Protess and Steve Eder, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). The owners of a luxury hotel in Panama City that ousted the Trump Organization as property managers last year accused it on Monday of evading taxes in Panama and creating a “false light” around the hotel’s finances.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThe accusations, made in a legal filing in Manhattan federal court, are fraught with potential diplomatic and legal complexities for President Trump. They essentially assert that his family business cheated a foreign government, a claim the Trump Organization characterized in a statement as “completely false.”

The president’s company, the filing alleges, “also made fraudulent and false claims to the Panamanian tax authorities” to “cover up its unlawful activities.” This was originally detected during an audit last year by that country’s tax agency, according to the filing.

It was not possible to immediately verify accusations in the filing that the Trump Organization did not fulfill its obligation as managers to ensure all the hotel’s taxes were paid, including those related to the Trumps’ management fees. Panamanian law imposes a tax on commissions paid to foreign businesses, but the Trumps’ management fees may have qualified for an exemption.

Manafort Prosecutions

ny times logoNew York Times, Paul Manafort to Be Sent to Rikers, Where He Faces Solitary Confinement, William K. Rashbaum, June 4, 2019. Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, is expected to be transferred as early as this week to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, where he will most likely be held in solitary confinement while facing state fraud charges, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mr. Manafort was convicted last year on federal bank fraud, tax and conspiracy charges in two related cases and is serving a seven-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence in Pennsylvania. The Manhattan district attorney obtained an indictment of Mr. Manafort on state mortgage fraud charges in an effort to ensure he would still face prison if Mr. Trump pardoned him for his federal crimes.

paul manafort mugMr. Manafort, 70, shown in a mug shot, will most likely be arraigned on the new charges in State Supreme Court in Manhattan later this month and held at Rikers, though his lawyers could seek to have him held at a federal jail in New York, the people with knowledge said.

High-profile inmates are generally held in protective custody on Rikers Island, a network of nine jails with a total of 7,500 inmates, including pretrial detainees and convicts serving sentences of a year or less. Inmates in protective custody are isolated from the general population under heavy guard.

Rikers Island has been plagued by violence and mismanagement over the years prompting efforts to close the jail complex. On March 13, a Manhattan grand jury handed up an indictment charging Mr. Manafort with 16 state felonies, including residential mortgage fraud, and accusing him of a yearlong scheme in which he allegedly falsified business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The new case was brought by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

U.S. Immigration / Education

washington post logoWashington Post, A teacher asked Trump to round up ‘illegal students’ in tweets she says she thought were private, Alex Horton, June 4, 2019. The very public messages have now embroiled the Fort Worth school district in scandal — and they could get the high school English teacher fired. Georgia Clark, a veteran high school English teacher in Fort Worth, had an urgent request for President Trump: She needed help pulling undocumented immigrants from her school.

“Mr. President, Fort Worth Independent School District is loaded with illegal students from Mexico,” Clark wrote May 17 on her now-deleted Twitter account, @Rebecca1939. “Anything you can do to remove the illegals from Fort Worth would be greatly appreciated,” she wrote in another tweet.

Clark was careful in her approach, she believed, and told the president she needed guarantees her identity would be protected when action was taken. “Texas will not protect whistle blowers. The Mexicans refuse to honor our flag,” she wrote.

Clark says she didn’t mean for everyone to see her thoughts and requests on immigration. She says she believed the tweets were private between her and the president

June 3

Swamp Watch


GQ, The Political Costs of Not Impeaching Trump, Adam Jentleson (former deputy chief of staff to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid), June 3, 2019. Democrats are ceding legitimacy to Trump’s claims of exoneration by giving him a pass. It is a long way from June 2019 to November 2020. And as they say in Boston, you can’t get there from here. Hoping everything turns out well while giving Trump free space to wield his power is unlikely to end well.

The fight will be hard for House Democrats and the appeal of dodging it is strong. But like the monsters in “It Follows,” this fight will find you. It already has. There is no way over, under, or around impeachment — only through.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedOn February 13, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. Before his body was in the ground, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, announced he would block anyone President Barack Obama nominated to fill Scalia’s seat. The next week, Jeb Bush dropped out of the Republican primary, quickly followed by Marco Rubio, and eventually Ted Cruz, leaving Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. Polls showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump by solid margins, with forecasters pegging her chances of victory from 71 to 85 percent, and Democrats favored to take back the Senate.

I was working for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid at the time. Being in the minority limited our options for overcoming McConnell’s blockade. But whenever we started to contemplate more aggressive tactics, they were dismissed on the theory that the upcoming election would sort everything out. Why rock the boat, we told ourselves. We’re on a glide path to victory in November, and then President Clinton will submit her Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate.

The rest is history. McConnell’s decision to block Garland consolidated Republican support behind Trump and helped him pull off a narrow victory. Instead of a Democratic president appointing a liberal justice to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, Trump has appointed two justices to entrench a conservative majority for a generation.

Republicans wielded their power while we hoped for the best. And the course of history was altered forever.

There are two lessons here for House Democrats as they debate whether to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

First, polling can change. I don’t know how else to say this: getting impeached is bad. It is not something you want to happen to you, especially if you’re president. You do not want to go down as one of only four presidents in history to be impeached. This is a bad thing. Only Democrats, bless our hearts, could convince ourselves that it is good for a president to be impeached.

richard nixon wRichard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent. Former president Bill Clinton survived because he was popular and the man pursuing him, Independent Counsel Ken Starr, was not. The public rightly thought Starr was on a fishing expedition. By contrast, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is popular and the public thinks he is fair, while Trump is historically unpopular. Even though Clinton survived, his heir apparent lost the next election—which he had been heavily favored to win—while Republicans gained seats in Congress.

The second lesson from the Garland experience is that like nature, power abhors a vacuum. The decision not to impeach is not a decision to focus on other things, it is a decision to cede power, control, and legitimacy to Trump. Trump is not a master chess player, he just bluffs his opponents into forfeiting their moves — and that is exactly what he is doing to House Democrats.

ny times logoelaine chao oNew York Times, A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet, Michael Forsythe, Eric Lipton, Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). Elaine Chao, right, the transportation secretary, has repeatedly used her connections in China to boost the profile of her family’s shipping company. Her proximity to Foremost Group has raised ethics questions, as the firm benefits from policies in China that are roiling the White House.

In China, the Chaos are no ordinary family. They run an American shipping company with deep ties to the economic and political elite in China, where most of the company’s business is centered.

The email arrived in Washington before dawn. An official at the American Embassy in Beijing was urgently seeking advice from the State Department about transportation dept logoan “ethics question.”

Ms. Chao’s office had made a series of unorthodox requests related to her first scheduled visit to China as a Trump cabinet member, according to people with knowledge of the email. Among them: asking federal officials to help coordinate travel arrangements for at least one family member and include relatives china flag Smallin meetings with government officials.

The trip was abruptly canceled by Ms. Chao after the ethics question was referred to officials in the State and Transportation Departments and, separately, after The New York Times and others made inquiries about her itinerary and companions.

ny times logogeorge h w bush mitch mcconnell 1991 elaine chaoNew York Times, The Chao family has deep ties to the world’s two largest economies. Here are five takeaways, Michael Forsythe and Eric Lipton, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). The family of Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader (shown together in a 1991 photo with President George H. W. Bush), has high-level political connections not only in the United States but also in China. That gives the family unusual status in the world’s two largest economies.

james chao elaine chao fatherThrough interviews, industry filings and government documents from both countries, The New York Times found that the Chaos, and by extension Mr. McConnell, prospered as the family’s shipping company developed deeper business ties in China.

Along the way, one of the company’s boosters was Ms. Chao, who now oversees efforts to promote America’s own maritime industry, which is in steep decline as China’s shipping sector rises in global dominance. Here are five takeaways.

china flag SmallJames S.C. Chao, 91,above left, Ms. Chao’s father, studied navigation at a university in Shanghai before fleeing the mainland ahead of the Communist takeover in 1949. His schoolmate for a time was Jiang Zemin, who would become China’s president.

Perception Management

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What was William Barr’s fleece vest trying to tell us? Monica Hesse,June 3, 2019 (print ed.). He could have worn a suit for his TV interview. But the attorney general picked a folksier vibe for floating conspiracy theories.

William Barr showed up to his CBS This Morning interview looking like he was prepared to discuss not the investigation into possible Russian coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign but rather how to bait a fishing hook. The attorney general was working a distinctly “River Runs Through It” cosplay vibe: a tan half-zipped fleece vest over a checked button-down shirt, and in the background, a roaring fire.

cub scout webelos badgeTo be fair, the interview, which aired Friday, did take place in Alaska, where Barr was traveling. But there are business suits available in Alaska; Barr had worn one earlier on the trip, during a meeting about rural law enforcement issues. his decision to skip a suit as he held forth on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seemed like an attempt to communicate a message.

And that message was: I am a man of the people, and I am here to speak truths and help you earn a [Cub Scout] Webelos badge.

Trump In Britain

bo djt uss john mccain

Sample protests against Trump on his visit to the United Kingdom: image of the ship named after his hated rival, the late Sen. John McCain, and a showing of UK approval ratings showing Trump's as less than a third of former President  Obama's.

CBS News, Anti-Brexit group taunts Trump with images of USS John McCain and Obama's approval rating projected onto London landmarks, Caitlin O'Kane, June 3, 2019. cbs news logoLondoners are making quite the effort to taunt Donald Trump during his U.K. visit. The anti-Brexit group "Led by Donkeys" appears to be going above and beyond simple protests by using large-scale images projected onto London landmarks.

The group typically protests Brexit by plastering tweets and comments made my British leaders on buildings and billboards. On Monday night, they turned their attention towards Mr. Trump, who arrived that day in London with the first lady.

A red hat featuring the USS John McCain appeared on the facade of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum that evening. "Hey @realDonaldTrump, we read the story about the sailors on a US warship being ordered to hide from you because you're triggered by the name on their hats," Led by Donkeys tweeted. "So we turned Madame Tussaud's into a giant USS John McCain baseball cap. Welcome to London!"

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, in Britain for a state visit, criticizes London mayor, Toluse Olorunnipa, William Booth and Anne Gearan​, June 3, 2019. Trump is visiting Queen Elizabeth II as part of three days of pomp and circumstance. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has objected to plans to fete Trump, who responded on Twitter by criticizing Khan’s record and his height.

Even before President Trump arrived in London on Monday for three days of planned pomp and circumstance, his state visit had already become dominated by insults and political intrigue.

sadik kahn djt

Hours before he was scheduled to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, the president launched a Twitter attack against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has publicly objected to the plan to fete Trump with a ceremonial state visit. Trump responded by criticizing Khan’s record as mayor and attacking him over his height. Khan and Trump are shown in separate file photos.

“@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” Trump wrote on Twitter as Air Force One was about to land in Britain. “Kahn [sic] reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job - only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!”

washington post logoatt logoWashington Post, Trump urges customers to drop AT&T to punish CNN over its coverage of him, Taylor Telford​, June 3, 2019. The president has repeatedly taken aim at the network and its top on-air personalities. President Trump raised a familiar complaint — “unfair” coverage by CNN — in a pair of Monday morning tweets. But this time he called on supporters to boycott the cable news network’s corporate parent, AT&T, to drive the point home.

“I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to AT&T, they would be forced to make big changes at CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway,” Trump tweeted. “It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News!”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Dear Robert Mueller: Your report can’t speak for itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 3, 2019. I was struck by a line in a Politico article about your public statement last week: “Mueller all but said Congress’ only recourse to hold Trump accountable is impeachment.”

FBI logoI’m sorry, Mr. Mueller. “All but said” is not good enough. Do you say it, or do you not?

You are dealing here with a president happy to tear the law and the truth — and, for that matter, you — to pieces. Do you feel no responsibility to set the record straight when Trump distorts it day after day? You claim that, under the rules, it would have been wrong for you to say Trump broke the law. But that’s not what your boss, the attorney general, says.

andrew wheeler oNational Press Club, EPA Administrator Wheeler refutes 'consistent' media errors during Press Club Luncheon, Wesley G. Pippert, June 3, 2019. Environmental images/epa-general-logo.jpgProtection Administrator Andrew Wheeler, right, laid out a broad array of what the Trump administration is doing for clean water and air, but also told the National Press Club Monday how he thinks some media consistently err in covering these things,

Wheeler, who was confirmed earlier this year as the EPA's 15th administrator, concluded his prepared remarks at a Luncheon in the NPC's Holeman Lounge by listing five ways "some of the media are consistently wrong."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Rudy-Ukraine scandal takes an even uglier turn, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2019. Last month Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani conspired joe biden owith a rogue Ukraine prosecutor to manufacture a phony scandal about Trump’s 2020 opponent Joe Biden, right. The New York Times ran a ridiculous article which gave credibility to the phony scandal, but then thankfully the rest of the mainstream media quickly exposed it for the phony scandal that it was. Now the whole thing has taken a disturbingly ugly turn.

bill palmer report logo headerThe bogus New York Times article was listed as having been written “by Kenneth P. Vogel and Iuliia Mendel.” Why is that a problem? Today, Iuliia Mendel posted this tweet: “Thanks everyone for your congratulations. There were 4000 applications. It is a big honor and big responsibility to become a spokesperson for the President of Ukraine @ZelenskyyUa. The Administration will be as transparent as possible.Let’s start today 4pm.”

That’s right, one of the two New York Times authors who promoted the phony Biden-Ukraine scandal has now taken a job as the spokesperson for the President of Ukraine. Are you kidding? There’s no known evidence that any of this was prearranged on the part of anyone involved – but it raises so many ugly questions. Was this author seeking the Ukraine government job at the time she co-wrote the article? If so, was the New York Times aware? Again, this particular NY Times article was the only instance of a respected major news outlet giving any credence to the phony Biden-Ukraine scandal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects House suit to block transfer of billions of dollars for border wall, Spencer S. Hsu​, June 3, 2019. A federal judge in Washington on Monday rejected a House lawsuit to block spending on President Trump’s plan to build a wall at the border with Mexico. U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden, below right, of the District denied a House request to temporarily stop spending on the wall saying the House lacked legal standing to sue the president for allegedly overstepping his power by diverting billions trevor mcFadden Customintended for other purposes to pay for it.

“While the Constitution bestows upon Members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the Executive Branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority,” McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee, wrote in a 24-page decision. “The Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims and will deny its motion.”

The decision is at odds with a May 24 ruling by a federal judge in California that temporarily blocked part of the plan because it was using money Congress never appropriated for that purpose.

NBC News, House Oversight Cmte. is moving to hold AG Barr and Sec. Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas for documents related to the Trump admin.'s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Alex Moe and Dareh Gregorian, June 3, 2019.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s downward spiral costs him yet another key White House adviser, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2019. For the second time in as many days, Trump has lost yet another key White House adviser at an inopportune time.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, Trump tweeted that his prized White House attorney Emmet Flood was resigning as of June 14th. This was shocking, considering that Flood is one of the foremost experts at invoking executive privilege, at a time when Trump’s executive privilege battles with Congress are heating up. Flood is bailing just as the thing he was brought in to handle is unfolding. That means something went very wrong between Trump and Flood behind the scenes.

But now it turns out Flood isn’t the only one running for the hills. Last night Donald Trump posted this tweet: “Kevin Hassett, who has done such a great job for me and the Administration, will be leaving shortly. His very talented replacement will be named as soon as I get back to the U.S. I want to thank Kevin for all he has done – he is a true friend!”

You may not be familiar with Kevin Hassett, but he’s Donald Trump’s handpicked Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Considering the timing, it’s not difficult to parse that his departure is likely related to Trump’s decision this week to abruptly roll out disastrous tariffs on Mexican goods as part of his ongoing war on immigration. Trump just keeps losing key people at an accelerating rate. The worse his downward spiral gets, the more people are bailing on him.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who threw a boy off a mall balcony after ‘looking for someone to kill’ gets 19-year sentence, Reis Thebault, June 3, 2019. The man who walked into the Mall of America in Minnesota “looking for someone to kill” and then threw a 5-year-old boy off a third-floor balcony was sentenced Monday to nearly 20 years in prison.

Emmanuel Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty last month to attempted first-degree murder in the April attack. The child, identified only as Landen, survived the 40-foot fall but suffered massive head trauma and fractured bones in his arms and legs. His family has said he’s still recovering.

Landen’s parents didn’t attend the hearing, but they said in statements addressed to Aranda and read aloud in court that they forgive him and are praying for him.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Trump administration Middle East interlocutor charged with possession of child porn, Wayne Madsen, June 4, 2019 (subscription required).

washington post logous veterans administration sealWashington Post, A whistleblower says there’s a secret wait list for care at Veterans Affairs. The department says that’s not true, Joe Davidson​, June 3, 2019. The department's press secretary said the list "has nothing to do with waits for medical treatment and tracks routine actions, such as facility and provider transfer requests."

Jereme P. Whiteman rose quickly through the Department of Veterans Affairs, reaching the top grade on the main employee classification scale in only seven years.

But his future within VA appears stymied. He’s become a rebel within the department’s establishment — a whistleblower who says the scandals that shamed the department during the Obama administration haven’t stopped.

Whiteman, VA’s national director of clinic practice management and a former Marine, has accused the department under President Trump of having “a secret VA wait list” for veterans seeking health care.

It’s starkly reminiscent of the tsunami-level scandal that broke in 2014 over the coverup of long patient wait times. That coverup included falsifying records to indicate the wait for medical service was shorter than it really was. Congress went ballistic, and the controversy drove then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a former Army general and chief of staff, from office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon tells White House to keep politics away from the military, Alex Horton, June 3, 2019. The request from the acting defense secretary, Patrick patrick shanahan oShanahan, came amid backlash over an administration request to hide the USS John S. McCain warship during President Trump’s visit to Japan last month.  Shanahan, right, and Navy officials have faced intense scrutiny over a White House request to hide the USS John S. McCain warship during President Trump’s visit to Japan last month — a moment, among others, some defense officials and analysts have said is a sign of decay in the civilian-military relationship, which has been traditionally immune to partisan rancor.

Amid the backlash, Shanahan directed his chief of staff to tell the White House not to put the military in political situations, Shanahan’s spokesman, Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, told The Washington Post.

Sweden Blocks Assange Extradition

Consortium News, More Good News for Assange: Swedish Court Blocks Extradition; US Says No Vault 7 Indictment, Joe Lauria, June 3, 2019. A Swedish court has blocked prosecutors’ request for a European Arrest Warrant forcing an interview with Assange in London, and Politico reports there will be no indictment of Assange on Vault 7. Imprisoned sweden flagWikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange scored two legal victories on Monday when a Swedish court refused prosecutors’ request to have Assange arrested and extradited from Britain to Sweden, while the U.S. Justice Dept. said it would not prosecute Assange for the publication of the CIA Vault 7 files, according to a report in Politico.

The Uppsala District Court rejected a request for a European Arrest Warrant for Assange based on a reopened 2010 investigation into sexual assault allegations that has been twice dropped before. Without the warrant Assange cannot be extradited to Sweden to be questioned.

eva marie persson deputy public proecutorEva-Marie Persson, left, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, who last month announced the reopening of the probe and Sweden’s extradition request to Britain, said she is deciding whether to appeal the ruling. In the meantime, Persson said she’d seek a European Investigation Order, which would allow her to travel to Belmarsh prison in London and interview Assange there.

per samuelsson w“I think it is a big victory for Julian Assange, the first one in a long time, and a well-deserved one,” said Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, right. “It is also a victory for Sweden, who upheld the rule of law and it’s a defeat for the prosecutors, who were once again punished for not having conducted the case in a correct way. It’s a step in the right direction.”

The pressure is now fully back on Britain alone to decide whether to extradite Assange to the United States to face espionage charges for the conduct of investigative journalism, as the U.S. indictment itself describes.

The sexual assault allegations against Assange, which followed months after the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War diaries were released, were first dismissed in 2010 by then Swedish chief prosecutor Eva Finne, just a day after the allegations were made on Aug. 20, 2010.

An arrest warrant was canceled on Aug. 21. Finne said that day: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Assange then left Sweden for Britain with Sweden’s permission in September. When he arrived in Britain an international arrest warrant was issued for him on Nov. 18, 2010.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers.

 U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Liberals go after Biden, trying to blunt his candidacy and a recent centrist surge among Democrats, Sean Sullivan, June 3, 2019. The former vice president’s bernie sanders buttonstanding hasn’t ebbed as some liberals hoped, so he and other moderates are now targeted in a fight for Democratic Party control.

Some of the most scathing, if veiled, admonitions came Sunday from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), shown at right in a 2016 campaign button, who repeatedly condemned “middle ground” policy ideas and appeared to criticize Biden for not attending a Democratic gathering where Sanders and 13 other White House.

Exclusive On Pompeo's Jewish Briefing

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo delivers unvarnished view of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, John Hudson and Loveday Morris, June 3, 2019. “I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown above in a file photo) said in an audio recording of a private meeting with Jewish leaders obtained by The Post, adding that the proposal “may be rejected.”

The remarks are the most unvarnished comments to date from a U.S. official about President Trump’s “deal of the century,” an effort to resolve the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute he has entrusted to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former lawyer Jason Greenblatt.

More On Trade Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, Mexican official warns tariffs could cause dire consequences, Kevin Sieff, June 3, 2019. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said officials hope to persuade the White House to not follow through with the tariffs, but also said the threat would have no impact on Mexico’s immigration policy. Marcelo Ebrard, who spoke at a news conference in Washington, said the threat would have no impact on Mexico’s immigration policy.

china flag SmallWashington Post, China warns students about ‘risks’ of going to U.S., a twist in trade war, Anna Fifield, June 3, 2019. China warned students on Monday to think about the “risks” associated with attending college in the United States, an apparent sign that the authorities in Beijing are expanding the boundaries of the trade war to include educational exchanges.

The warning comes as the Chinese government looks for ways to retaliate against the Trump administration for the tariffs it has imposed on $250 billion worth of goods from China, including fish and tungsten.

Global Human Rights

indicter logo sloganThe Indicter Magazine: Monthly review on geopolitical & human rights issues, Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr, Edited by Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder and editor of The Indicter Magazine, with article by Andrew Kreig (Editorial Board member and associate editor at The Indicter Magazine, published in Stockholm, Sweden), June 3, 2019 (originally published by Justice Integrity Project).

In protecting President Trump, Attorney General William Barr is meeting the president’s demand for a loyal legal fixer in the radical right mold of the canny, connected and immoral Roy Cohn. That is the not-so-hidden backstory of the radical gutting of American constitutional government now underway to expand and cover up Team Trump’s corruption..

June 2.

GOP Census / Vote Rigging?

thomas hofeller c span Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court can’t ignore damning new evidence on Trump’s census manipulation, Editorial Board, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Revelations offer another reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 count. There was already little doubt that the Trump administration acted in bad faith when it moved to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

us census bureauFor those still  convinced — including Supreme Court justices resistant to examining the administration’s nakedly partisan motivations — the revelation of new evidence Thursday made such willful blindness even less tenable. The court cannot let the Trump administration get away with manipulating the census in a barely disguised partisan power play.

Opponents of the citizenship question provided in federal court on Thursday documents elaborating on the partisan inspirations for the change. According to the New York Times, the daughter of Thomas B. Hofeller (shown above), a recently deceased Republican gerrymandering expert, discovered files on her late father’s hard drives suggesting that GOP operatives hoped to do more than simply depress the census count. They also wanted to give themselves an edge in legislative line-drawing.

Mr. Hofeller had concluded in 2015 that switching the way states distribute political representation — basing it on where eligible voters are, rather than on total population, whether voting-eligible or not — would benefit Republicans. Many Hispanics and their children would be excluded from consideration as legislative lines were drawn. Democratic districts would have to expand in order to encompass the same number of people. The result would be districts that skewed less Democratic. But Mr. Hofeller concluded that Republicans would need better data on the voting-age population — from, say, the census — in order to make the switch.

It is unclear whether the Supreme Court would consider evidence submitted in federal district court at this late stage in its pending ruling on the move to add the citizenship question. Ideally, it should not matter much; the justices were already offered a crystal-clear picture of an administration searching for excuses to meddle with the census for partisan ends, over the concerted objections of government experts about what the shift would do to the accuracy of the count.

Related story: New York Times, Thomas Hofeller, Republican Master of Political Maps, Dies at 75, Michael Wines, Aug. 21, 2018. Thomas B. Hofeller, a political consultant whose mastery of redistricting strategy helped propel the Republican Party from underdog to the dominant force in state legislatures and the House of Representatives, died on Thursday at his home in Raleigh, N.C.

Warren Fights Trump Immunity

Medium via OpEdNews, Opinion: No President Is Above the Law, Elizabeth Warren (right, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, 2020 presidential candidate and former Harvard Law elizabeth warren cfpbSchool professor), June 2, 2019. When Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was released on April 18, I sat down and read it. All 448 pages of it. I started reading it that afternoon, and I read all through the night and into the next morning. And when I got to page 448, three things were clear to me.

First, a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help candidate Donald Trump get elected. Second, candidate Donald Trump welcomed that help. Third, when the federal government tried to investigate, now-President Donald Trump did everything he could to delay, distract, and otherwise obstruct that investigation.

democratic donkey logoThat's a crime. If Donald Trump were anyone other than the President of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted. Robert Mueller said as much in his report, and he said it again on Wednesday.

"The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider."

djt gage skidmoreMueller's statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew: He's referring President Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait) for impeachment, and it's up to Congress to act.

That's why I came out in favor of impeachment after reading all 448 pages of Mueller's report. This is not about politics -- it's our constitutional duty as members of Congress. It's a matter of principle.

But impeachment isn't supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime. That's why I've got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law.

Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I'm President, I'll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability. Donald Trump believes that he can violate the law, and he believes that the role of the Department of Justice is to help him get away with it. That's not how our country is supposed to work.

Yes, Congress has a constitutional obligation to impeach the President when he violates the law. But lawyers for previous presidents have used this constitutional duty to argue that the only way the President can be held accountable for criminal behavior is through impeachment.

This argument hasn't always been accepted by the federal government, and it's been criticized by scores of constitutional experts, but it's still the official policy of the Department of Justice.

Black U.S.Voters Support Biden

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why do black voters support Biden? They just want to beat Trump, Theodore R. Johnson (senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy). Joe Biden has a past that threatens his prospects with black voters — from his long-ago stance against busing to his mismanagement of Anita Hill’s testimony about Clarence Thomas to his onetime support of the 1994 crime bill. Now he’s running for president in a crowded 2020 Democratic field that includes three black candidates, all of whom will need strong African American support to secure the party nomination.

joe biden oSo far, though, polling shows Biden with a dominant share of black Democrats’ support. An average of two Quinnipiac polls of Democratic-leaning voters, one taken right after Biden, right, declared his candidacy and another released in late May, found him well ahead of the other candidates, with 46 percent among African Americans nationally. Compare that with an average of 10 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 7 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and 11 percent for the three black candidates combined.

Biden certainly owes some of this early success to his tenure as Barack Obama’s vice president. But a fuller explanation has to do with the politics of pragmatism. When it comes to presidential races, black voters, perhaps more than any other demographic, vote not for what might be gained but according to what might be lost.

None of this reflects poorly on other candidates’ appeals to black voters. (For instance, Warren’s policy-heavy pitch tackling racial disparities in housing, health care and education is starting to show positive results, especially with black female voters, as recently reported by the Associated Press.) And there’s no guarantee that Biden will hold his advantage once the debates and primaries begin.

Mass Murder Aftermathvirginia beach victims

washington post logoWashington Post, After mass shooting, Virginia Beach mourns and searches for answers, Laura Vozzella, Ian Shapira, Justin Jouvenal and Gregory S. Schneider, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Officials could offer no clear motive or explanation for what Police Chief James A. Cervera called a “horrific event of unbelievable proportion.” Authorities identified DeWayne Craddock as the shooter who killed 12 people, and said the guns he used had been legally purchased.

washington post logoWashington Post, Neighbors describe shooter as a reserved person who tended to keep to himself, Michael E. Miller, Lynh Bui and Julie Zauzmer, June 2, dewayne craddock headshot2019 (print ed.). Investigators on Saturday combed through DeWayne Craddock’s life and interviewed city employees to try to explain why the 40-year-old (shown right) so violently lashed out, killing 12 people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia GOP blocked bill to ban sales of large-capacity magazines, Robert McCartney, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Each year, Democrats propose multiple gun-control measures. Each year, Republican legislators vote them down.

Trump Visits Britain On Monday

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Britain is in crisis. So why is President Trump coming to visit? Anne Applebaum, une 2, 2019 (print ed.). Hint: It’s all about the pictures. Britain is in united kingdom flagthe grip of an unprecedented political meltdown, a crisis on a scale that was unthinkable even six months ago.

The prime minister has resigned and is leaving office within days. Support for the two historic political parties, Labour and Conservative, is at an all-time low. In hastily planned European Parliament elections last week, the brand new Brexit Party came in first, while two anti-Brexit parties, the tiny Liberal Democrats and the even tinier Greens, came in second and fourth. The ruling Tory party finished a distant fifth.

Global Power, Wealth

ny times logouae embassy sealNew York Times, The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z., David D. Kirkpatrick, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, left, grew the mohammed bin zayedpower of the United Arab Emirates by following America’s lead. He now has an increasingly militaristic agenda, and his legendary Washington influence appears to be extending to President Trump.

Mueller Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mueller went out like a lamb when the country needed a lion, David Ignatius, June 2, 2019 (print ed.). He was so deferential robert mueller full face fileWednesday that, in practical terms, he ceded the ground to President Trump and his apologists.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emmet Flood, White House lawyer brought on to help navigate Russia investigation, to depart June 14, Trump says, Matt Zapotosky, June 1, 2019. Flood’s departure had been expected after Mueller concluded his investigation in March, as his main role was helping manage the White House’s responses to Mueller’s work. But even after the inquiry concluded, Flood had played a key role in decisions about how the White House handled requests from Congress for investigation-related documents.

emmet flood djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning at the most suspicious time possible, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019. This afternoon, even as his Meghan Markle and USS John McCain scandals were exploding around him, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere on Twitter this afternoon that his prized White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning.

Considering Flood’s expertise and the timing, suffice it to say that something suspicious is afoot.

bill palmer report logo headerSome news outlets are framing this as Flood (shown above at right with Trump in separate file photos) resigning because he was brought in to protect Trump during the Mueller investigation, which is now over.

But that’s not the correct story. Flood is an expert at defending a president’s use of executive privilege – something that Flood did for Bill Clinton decades ago. Now that the Mueller probe is over and the House probes are ramping up, Trump is about to get knee deep into legal battles over whether he can use executive privilege to prevent people like Don McGahn and Hope Hicks from testifying before Congress. There has to be more to this story.

Crisis Monday For Trump On Court Defiance?

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: If the administration defied a court order, all bets are off, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 2, 2019. Criminal prosecution exacts punishment; impeachment upholds the Constitution and prevents further assaults on it. Many Americans, but far from a majority, think President Trump has committed impeachable acts but are wary of impeaching without hope of removal. However, if there is an indication that severe damage to the Constitution will occur unless Trump is removed, the House must act, and then engage public opinion to pressure the Senate.

emmet sullivan 2012On Friday, we might have reached that breaking point. On Friday, we might have reached that breaking point. The Post reports: “Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.” The Justice Department argued that the documents need not be released because “it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.” Moreover, “Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.”

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me, “Even if the district court’s order to release the Flynn-Kislyak transcripts goes further than justified by the sentencing matter before the court, I would’ve thought that, in a government of laws, the only way to avoid compliance is to take an appeal to a higher court.”

Boeing Crash Probe

ny times logoboeing logoNew York Times, Investigation: Boeing Built Deadly Assumptions Into 737 Max, Blind to a Late Design Change, June 2, 2019. Jack Nicas, Natalie Kitroeff, David Gelles and James Glanz,  A system that doomed two flights was expected to engage only rarely and originally used two sensors. Critical decisions were based on those factors even when they no longer applied, employees said.

U.S. Political Musical Parody

Billboard, Randy Rainbow Channels Ariana Grande, Begs Nancy Pelosi to Impeach Trump in New Parody Video: Watch,

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, Randy Rainbow’s Witty World, Margaret Engel, Photos by Marvin Joseph, May 28, 2019 (for print publication June 2). How a musical theater nerd reinvented political satire for the YouTube age.

In a topsy-turvy era, is it surprising that a political commentator should dress in sequins, feather boas and pink cat-eye glasses? Because that’s Randy Rainbow (yes, it’s his given name). In real life, the 37-year-old leads a solitary existence in an orderly apartment adorned with oversize photographs of Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. But millions share his splashy, over-the-top digital life: Since 2016, Rainbow, a Broadway hopeful who fled from cattle-call auditions, has found his own spotlight through the Internet, emerging as a YouTube sensation who dispenses musical-comedy salve for a divided nation.

Hundreds of thousands watch the short videos he produces every 10 days or so, featuring show tunes and pop songs he has refashioned with biting new lyrics. These DIY productions are funny and oh-so-topical and include clever video manipulation of news footage to create sassy mock interviews with prominent political players — mostly of the Trumpian variety — topped off with costumes ordered online.

Billboard, Randy Rainbow Channels Ariana Grande, Begs Nancy Pelosi to Impeach Trump in New Parody Video: Watch, Stephen Daw, May 30, 2019 (435 min. video). On Tuesday (May 28), Rainbow released his latest video titled “Just Impeach Him,” a parody of Ariana Grande’s Sweetener single “Breathin."

At the video’s outset, Rainbow does a faux interview with the president following his decision to storm out of a meeting with Democrats last week. When he continues to sniffle and inhale sharply, Rainbow tells the president to “just keep wheezing, seething, panting, screaming” amid the cries for impeachment.

As the video continues, Rainbow continuously changes costumes, paying homage to Grande. He transitions into another interview, this time with Pelosi, where he gives her some sage advice about what to do regarding the president’s misconduct: “Impeach him, impeach him, impeach him, impeach him,” he sings. “You know it’s what they want/ Just impeach him.”

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Insurgent Democrats, Many of Them Women, Worry a New Party Policy Will Block Them, Jennifer Steinhauer, June 2, 2019. Democratic primary challengers are often female, young and nonwhite. Many fear a recent move by House Democratic leaders will prevent them from being elected.

A move by House Democratic leaders to thwart party members from mounting primary challenges to incumbents, even in safe Democratic districts, could have the unintended consequence of arresting the party’s shift toward a more female and racially diverse caucus, one of its most striking achievements of the last election.

This past week, a Democratic political consultant with longstanding ties to the party’s campaign committees quit a senior-partner position at the firm Deliver Strategies after it, like most dominant campaign outfits, agreed to comply with a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee policy barring it from conducting business with a primary opponent of a sitting Democrat.

The D.C.C.C. is ostensibly out to protect sitting Democrats from having to worry about primaries, and instead focus their energy and money on fighting off Republicans. Some female and minority candidates did well in open primaries and beat Republican incumbents last year, even in majority-white districts. They will benefit from the new policy, even as many of them are critical of it.

Alternet via Raw Story,  Woman who ran against Matt Gaetz in 2016 charged with battery after allegedly throwing a milkshake at him, Elizabeth Preza, June 2, 2019. Taking a cue from protestors in the UK, a 35-year-old woman in Pensacola, FL was arrested on Saturday after allegedly throwing a milkshake at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

In video of the incident. Gaetz can be seen exiting a town hall even at Brew Ha Ha in Florida when he appears to be struck by what police are saying was a milkshake.

matt gaetz o CustomThe move follows similar incidents in the UK; last month, Brexit leader Nigel Farage was struck by a banana and salted caramel milkshake in Newcastle. Following the attack, Farage refused to get off a campaign bus in Rochester when protester dressed in black carried milkshakes to the event.

“There are a couple of guys… with milkshakes, they were going to throw them over him. But the police are there, we’ve spotted them and now Nigel isn’t getting off the bus,” Farage’s bus driver Michael Botton told Kent Live.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., police arrested 35-year-old Amanda Leigh Kondrat’yev and charged her with battery. As weartv.com reports, Kondrat’yev ran against Gaetz, right, in 2016 for the congressional seat.

On Twitter, Gaetz responded to the attack, claiming it “takes more than a drink to slow down our great team.” Although, for what it’s worth, you can clearly see the congressman “slow down” after being hit with a milkshake as he tries to identify the perpetrator — apparently with success.

June 1

Barr Defies Flynn Judge

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 1, 2019. (print ed.)  The Justice Department also declined to give an unredacted version of parts of the Mueller report related to Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn (shown below left in a file photo) and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.

michael flynn state department CustomIn a court filing Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.

Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.

Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.

emmet sullivan 2012The government’s unusual response came after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, right,  in Washington ordered earlier in May that the Justice Department make public various materials related to the case, including transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials.

Prosecutors provided one item that Sullivan ordered be released: a transcript of a voice mail left by an attorney for Trump, much of which had already appeared in Mueller’s report. It is unclear how the judge will react to the government’s noncompliance with other elements of his order. Late last year, Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing after angrily lambasting the former national security adviser for his actions, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s Michael Flynn scandal just took an even uglier turn, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019.  Yesterday, William Barr and his DOJ informed Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan that they were refusing his order to turn over transcripts of the phone calls between Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador. Even as we wait for the judge to dish out what are likely to be very harsh contempt of court penalties, Donald Trump’s Flynn scandal just took another ugly turn.

New documents confirm what’s long been suspected about Michael Flynn: he was on the take from numerous foreign governments, for dollar amounts big and small, while he bill palmer report logo headerwas a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Based on the documents posted last night by Politico, Flynn took a half a million dollars from the government of Turkey during the election – and at one point Turkey complained to Flynn that Donald Trump hadn’t publicly taken enough of a pro-Turkey stance.

michael flynn djtAgain, this was while Donald Trump was running for president, and while Michael Flynn was one of his most trusted campaign advisers. If Turkey was being so blatant as to complain to Flynn in writing that Trump wasn’t playing his part, are we really supposed to believe that Trump wasn’t in on it? In fact this may paint a new light on another Flynn-related development from yesterday.

William Barr and his DOJ were willing to turn over a transcript of a Michael Flynn voicemail yesterday, even though it severely incriminated Donald Trump’s former attorney John Dowd. It’s clear that Barr is willing to throw Trump’s people under the bus as needed. But Barr refused to turn over transcripts of Flynn’s transition period phone calls with Russia, risking contempt of court in the process. This suggests that Flynn’s Russia phone calls directly incriminate Trump.

More On Mueller Probe

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emmet Flood, White House lawyer brought on to help navigate Russia investigation, to depart June 14, Trump says, Matt Zapotosky, June 1, 2019. Flood’s departure had been expected after Mueller concluded his investigation in March, as his main role was helping manage the White House’s responses to Mueller’s work. But even after the inquiry concluded, Flood had played a key role in decisions about how the White House handled requests from Congress for investigation-related documents.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning at the most suspicious time possible, Bill Palmer, June 1, 2019. This afternoon, even as his Meghan Markle and USS John McCain scandals were exploding around him, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere on Twitter this afternoon that his prized White House lawyer Emmet Flood is resigning. Considering Flood’s expertise and the timing, suffice it to say that something suspicious is afoot.

bill palmer report logo headerSome news outlets are framing this as Flood resigning because he was brought in to protect Trump during the Mueller investigation, which is now over. But that’s not the correct story. Flood is an expert at defending a president’s use of executive privilege – something that Flood did for Bill Clinton decades ago. Now that the Mueller probe is over and the House probes are ramping up, Trump is about to get knee deep into legal battles over whether he can use executive privilege to prevent people like Don McGahn and Hope Hicks from testifying before Congress.

There has to be more to this story.

U.S. Mass Shootings

washington post logoWashington Post, Police identify gunman, victims in Va. Beach mass shooting, Jim Morrison, Peter Hermann and Justin Jouvenal, June 1, 2019. Gunman and nearly all of the 12 slain were city workers, authorities say,

• Authorities said DeWayne Craddock, 40, was responsible for the shooting Friday, which also injured several others.
• The attacker was killed after a gun battle with police through the hallways of the public works building, authorities said.

dewayne craddock headshotThe man who shot and killed 12 people at a government building Friday was identified as a 15-year employee of the city Department of Public Works and all but one of his victims were city employees, authorities announced Saturday.

DeWayne Craddock, right, of Virginia Beach, was an engineer who served as a project manager and contact for a number of utility projects, according to posts on the Virginia Beach web site.

Authorities solemnly read the names of each of the victims at the outset of a press conference on Saturday morning, saying all worked for the Department of Public Works and the Department of Public Utilities, except for one contractor. The gunman “fired indiscriminately” with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun on several floors of the building, one of many in the complex.

More On Justice Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats tell intelligence chiefs they must help monitor Barr’s review of Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, June 1, 2019. (print ed.). The House Intelligence Committee chairman sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security.

mark warnerIn a separate letter, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), right, asked the spy chiefs to “immediately” inform the panel “if you see signs” that Barr’s inquiry risks compromising intelligence-gathering sources and methods, affecting relationships with foreign liaisons, or adversely impacting the intelligence community’s workforce.

He also asked that they notify the panel of any “selective declassification” that appeared politically motivated.Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demanding in-person briefings to discuss what materials the attorney general has sought thus far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department is preparing antitrust investigation of Google, Tony Romm​, June 1, 2019. (print ed.) The move marks a new chapter in the tech giant’s war with regulators around the world who contend the company is too large and threatens rivals and consumers. The Justice Department has taken early steps toward opening a federal antitrust investigation into Google, according to three people familiar with the matter, marking a new chapter in the tech giant’s troubles with regulators around the world who contend the company is too large and threatens rivals and consumers.

google logo customThe move thrusts Google back under the regulatory microscope in the United States roughly six years after another federal agency probed the search and advertising behemoth on grounds that its business practices threatened competitors — though the government spared the company from major punishment at the time.

[Inside the private Justice Department meeting that could lead to new investigations of Facebook, Google and other tech giants]

The exact focus of the Justice Department’s investigation is unclear. The department began work on the matter after brokering an agreement with the government’s other antitrust agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to take the lead on antitrust oversight of Google, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.

DHS Agents To Guatemala

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration to send DHS agents, investigators to Guatemala-Mexico border, Nick Miroff and Kevin Sieff, June 1, 2019. (print ed.) Dozens of Homeland Security agents and investigators will deploy to Guatemala as part of the Trump administration’s desperate attempt to slow unauthorized migration to the United States from Central America, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the plans.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Department of Homeland Security personnel will work as “advisers” to Guatemala’s national police and migration authorities, and they will aim to disrupt and interdict human smuggling operations, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe a plan that has not been made public. U.S. authorities hope that the effort will cut off popular routes to the United States and deter migrants from beginning their journeys north through Mexico.

Plans call for at least several dozen DHS agents and investigators, and one DHS official briefed on the plans said about 80 U.S. law enforcement personnel will deploy as part of the mission. Another DHS official said Immigration and Customs Enforcement will send 18 Homeland Security Investigations agents and intelligence analysts, along with six agents from the Enforcement and Removal Operations division.

While the scale of the deployment and the location — the Guatemala-Mexico border — would be unusual, there are precedents for U.S. law enforcement presence in Central America. Armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents conduct operations in the region, and CBP advisers work with Mexican officials to improve immigration screening procedures and to upgrade technology.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Doctor Who Stayed Behind to Save Babies in His Long-Suffering Homeland, Dionne Searcey; Photos by Ashley Gilbertson, June 1, 2019. In the Central African Republic, which ranks next to last in the world on quality of life indicators, a peace accord allows a pediatrician and his trainees to build a future.

Nearly seven years ago, Muslim rebels fed up with a lack of government services in rural areas — basics like schools, roads and hospitals — invaded the capital and clashed with Christian militias that formed to beat them back in fighting that slid toward genocide, the United Nations said at the time. Armed groups have been battling over turf ever since in this mineral-rich nation, which has suffered regular upheavals since independence from France in 1960.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Is Netanyahu Toast? Ronen Bergman, June 1, 2019. Benjamin Netanyahu has rebounded from so many political defeats that he is called a magician. benjamin netanyahu frownThis time, the Israeli prime minister, right, may not have another rabbit in his hat. On Thursday, the day Parliament dissolved, setting in motion a new election, “the countdown to the end of the Netanyahu era began,” the veteran political columnist Yossi Verter wrote in the liberal newspaper Haaretz.

Amit Segal, the chief political analyst of Israel’s Channel 12 News, said that the dissolution of Parliament and the new election “created a real danger that he will not be able to escape prosecution.”


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