July 2019 News

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

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

July 31

Second Dem. Debate

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Put Harris and Biden on the Defensive, Staff report, July 31, 2019. Biggest Clash So Far: Booker and Biden. Joe Biden and Cory Booker engaged in an intense exchange over criminal justice as both men slammed each other’s record. The debate over busing was resurrected and Michael Bennet asserted schools are just as segregated now as they were 50 years ago. Kirsten Gillibrand joined support for firing the police officer involved in Eric Garner’s death. Join our reporters for live updates.

washington post logojoe biden headshotWashington Post, Biden takes heat from rivals over immigration, criminal justice, Staff report, July 31, 2019. Ex-vice president (shown in a file photo) becomes the focus of the second night,The 10 candidates showed they were ready for a fight on the second night of the debate. The night’s early action focused on health care.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Tracking Each Candidate’s Speaking Time During the Democratic Debate, Weiyi Cai, Jasmine C. Lee, Juliette Love and Alicia Parlapiano, July 31, 2019. We’re tracking the speaking time of the ten Democratic presidential candidates who are debating tonight in Detroit. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders got the most speaking time during night one of this week’s debates.

ny times logoNew York Times, And Tonight, Round 2: What to Expect as More Democrats Face Off, Katie Glueck and Shane Goldmacher, July 31, cnn logo2019. Everything you need to know about the presidential primary debate starting Wednesday at 8 p.m. E.T. Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden will face each other again. Other contenders will need breakout moments to stay in the race. The second round of Democratic debates is tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

July 30 Debate

washington post logoWashington Post, Deep divisions on health care separate liberals and moderates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Matt Viser and Amy B Wang, July 31, 2019. ‘I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas,’ Sanders says. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders faced a barrage of challenges from candidates vying to make a name for themselves.

Ambitious proposals for health care, climate change and other policies backed by liberal Democratic presidential contenders came in for sharp critiques from a cadre of moderate candidates jousting for prominence in the second round of debates here Tuesday night.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), positioned at the center of the stage at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, faced a barrage of challenges from other candidates vying to make a name for themselves while pushing back against the party’s leftward shift.

Warren and Sanders are promoting “bad policies” and “impossible promises,” said former congressman John Delaney (Md.), the first candidate to mention them by name in what would become a string of attacks throughout the night.

democratic debate july 30

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Opinion: Dems Blow It Again, Making No Case for Beating Trump, Michael Tomasky, July 31, 2019. Nobody Tuesday night had the imagination to realize that the moment was perfect for an imperishable line about his unfitness for office.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThe lead story line of tonight’s debate is the way it highlighted the left versus centrist candidates. That’s a fight the party needs to have, and there were several bracing moments, notably the face-offs between Elizabeth Warren and the improbably oft-questioned John Delaney.

But I was watching for something else, too. Every poll shows that what voters care about is electability. Who can beat Donald Trump? I would have thought therefore that one of these people would have attempted to use tonight to scream: “Me. Look at me. I’m the electable one, and here’s why.” But none of them did.

They all took a stab at it here and there, and some of them had pretty good lines. But nobody said anything memorable.

Election Integrity

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Activists to Congress: Secure Elections or Risk a Repeat of 2016, Gabriella Novello, July 31, 2019. The 2020 election could be vulnerable to another attack by hostile foreign actors if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to block election security legislation.

Election integrity activists are urging Congress to take action after a bombshell report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found widespread attacks by the Russian government in the 2016 election.

Trump Scandals

wayne madesen report logo

fred trump donald trump

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Historical analysis: Trump's father spent time in jail, unlike than any other POTUS dad, Wayne Madsen, below right, wayne madsen newerJuly 31, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Donald Trump holds another rather ignoble distinction among America’s 45 presidents.

Trump’s father, Fred Trump (shown above at left), spent time in jail, unlike the fathers of any other past presidents.

washington post logoWashington Post, 8 big moments from Night 1 of the second Democratic debate, Staff report, July 31, 2019. The first night of the second Democratic debate showcased more moderate candidates directly challenging their more liberal and better-known rivals on core issues including health care, immigration and border security, climate, and trade.

Winners and losers from Night 1 | Fact-checking the second debate | Evolution or revolution? Ideological divisions break into the open

democratic donkey logoOn stage Tuesday, with highest-polling candidates in the middle, were author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former congressman Beto O’Rourke; former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper; former Maryland congressman John Delaney; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

1) The health-care fight: A fiery exchange erupted early over health care, as the centrists charged that Sanders and Warren would lead Democrats into likely defeat by embracing a Medicare-for-all system.

Presidential Racism Revealed

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis (The Past, Rediscovered): Reagan called Nixon to slur Africans. Of course there are tapes, Morgan Krakow and Tim Elfrink​, July 31, 2019. It was October 1971, and the United Nations had just voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China.

Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan (shown as president in 1981 at left) was infuriated that delegations from Africa did not align themselves with the U.S. position — that ronald reagan 1981 wthe U.N. should recognize Taiwan as an independent state — and wanted to get President Richard Nixon on the phone. He was apparently disgusted after watching delegates from Tanzania celebrate the U.N. decision to support Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan said.

Nixon (shown below at right) replied with a big laugh.

The conversation between Reagan and Nixon was published in The Atlantic. Tim Naftali, a history professor at NYU and the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, worked to get the tape released and wrote the subsequent article for The Atlantic.

richard nixon headshot CustomThe National Archives withheld the racist comments in the recording’s first release in 2000, which Naftali says was apparently in protection of Reagan’s privacy. But after Reagan’s death in 2004, and amid continued review process by the National Archives, Naftali was successful in getting the full conversation released.

“It was worse than I expected,” Naftali told The Washington Post, referring to the audio on the tape. “It was the combination of the slur by Reagan and then Nixon’s repeating it, not once but twice in later conversations. This was not just revealing about what Ronald Reagan thought about Africans in 1971, and arguably later, it was also a reminder of how Nixon could hold racist views but not think of himself as a racist.”

Media News: JFK Evidence Suppression

jfk baldwin indicter graphic

Photo-graphic by The Indicter Magazine, founded and edited by Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder also of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights.

The Indicter: Monthly European review on geopolitical & human rights issues, New NBC Attack On Alec Baldwin, JFK Research Is Attack On indicter logo sloganTruth, Democracy, Andrew Kreig (J.D., M.S.L., attorney and journalist. Director of JIP. Member of the Editorial Board and Associate Editor at The Indicter Magazine), July 31, 2019 (August 2019 issue).

An NBC News column smearing actor and social critic Alec Baldwin as a “conspiracy theorist” this month because of his views on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy constituted an attack, in effect, on NBC’s consumers, particularly those who care about truth and other democratic values.

That is because the July 19 column, "From Trump to Alec Baldwin, conspiracy theories, narcissism and celebrity culture go hand in hand," provided no evidence whatsoever that anything Baldwin had said was untrue or otherwise dubious.

Trump Security Nominee In Trouble

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s new DNI nominee John Ratcliffe is in deep trouble, Bill Palmer, July 31, 2019. When Donald Trump announced this weekend that he was replacing his Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats with Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe, john ratcliffe headshot Customright, the widespread assumption was that the Republican Senate would simply rubber stamp the whole thing.

But if you’ve paid close attention, GOP Senators have actually killed off a number of Trump’s most idiotic nominations before they could even get to a vote. Now it looks like we may be on track for that to happen again.

The GOP Senate loves to rubber stamp Donald Trump’s terrible nominees when it can. But when Trump picks a nominee bill palmer report logo headerlike John Ratcliffe, who’s so hilariously inept he could end up harming the entire party’s 2020 chances, the GOP Senate usually finds a way to let Trump know that he needs to withdraw the pick. The first sign of trouble came on Monday when various Republican Senators began hinting on the record to the Washington Post that they weren’t thrilled with the Ratcliffe nomination. But then things got ugly.

On Tuesday, the New York Times turned around and exposed a scandal. John Ratcliffe has claimed repeatedly that he put terrorists in prison when he was a federal prosecutor – but it turns out that never happened. This is the kind of objectively ugly scandal that prompts the media to obsessively focus on it, until Trump and/or the GOP Senate decide they need to pull the nomination in order to make the bad headlines go away.

Trump Watch / Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ben Carson crashes and burns – and gets kicked out – while trying to defend Donald Trump’s racism, Bill Palmer, July 31, 2019. Donald Trump only has one black person in his cabinet, and it’s Ben Carson, who spent the entirety of the 2016 presidential ben carsonelection demonstrating that he’s hilariously unqualified for any job in politics.

We all know that Trump only chose Carson as his HUD Secretary because he wanted the cover of having one black cabinet member who was willing to be publicly loyal to him. Sure enough, Trump called Carson out of the bullpen today in order to defend Trump’s racism. It went about as poorly – and unintentionally humorously – as expected.

bill palmer report logo headerBen Carson, who was a genius as a pioneering brain surgeon, but who can’t seem to so much as tie his shoelaces these days without incompetently screwing it up, tried to hold a press conference this morning in Baltimore. Carson was supposed to insist that Donald Trump’s racist tweets about Elijah Cummings and Baltimore weren’t racist.

The trouble: Carson tried to hold his press conference on church property, and CBS Baltimore says that the church kicked him out of the property without thinking twice. You’d think Carson would have made sure in advance that the church was going to let him do it, but again, he’s arguably the most incompetent man in the world.

2020 Debate Commentary

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The first CNN debate night showed how fractious the primary fight may get, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 31, 2019. It ej dionne w open neckwas the Detroit Donnybrook. Tuesday’s Democratic debate was choppy but passionate, opening up wide philosophical divisions within the party’s presidential field and providing sound bites critical of progressive ideas and candidates that Republicans are certain to use in 2020.

Moderate candidates trailing in the polls went in determined to upend Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), the two strongest candidates on the stage and leaders of the party’s left. Warren and Sanders were still standing at the end. Warren was consistently crisp, displaying the mastery-on-the-run that has lifted her in the polls. Sanders pushed back again and again against rivals he cast as insufficiently open to change.

But several of those running behind — South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock — broke through the noise, of which there was a lot. CNN’s moderators kept trying to stop candidates from speaking, and the candidates did their best to ignore them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sanders and Warren got crushed on health care, finally, Stephen Stromberg, July 31, 2019. The intellectual rot at the center of Sanderscare was exposed.

bernie sandersTuesday was a bad night for the left-wing candidates at the top of the Democratic presidential primary race. In night one of the July Democratic presidential debate, a spectrum of Democrats from across the country, including governors, mayors and members of Congress — living proof that the Democratic Party is more ideologically diverse than Democratic activists on Twitter — practically begged Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), left, and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) not to define progressivism within the narrow ideological boundaries they have constructed around the term.

They responded with insults, hyperbole and misleading claims about what they stand for — and, for once, they were called out on it.

Warren dismissed these warnings as “small ideas and spinelessness.” Sanders insisted that Democrats should settle for nothing short of “an unprecedented grass-roots movement to not only defeat Trump but to transform our economy and our government.”

As though merely defeating the worst president in U.S. history were not the chief and overriding goal.

bernie sanders elizabeth warren july 3 2019 dem debate intros screengrab cnn

U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet one another before the July 30, 2019 presidential debate in Detroit (screengrab).

ny times logoNew York Times, Marooned Together on Fantasy Island, Frank Bruni, July 31, 2019. These two progressives are in a bold — but awfully risky — place. They came into the debate in Detroit on Tuesday night not just as the highest-polling candidates among the 10 on the stage, but also as the most ardent progressives, with plans more expansive and expensive than their rivals’. That gave those rivals both the motivation and the means to attack.

elizabeth warren o purpleSo they did, portraying Sanders and Warren, right, as fantasists peddling policies — single-payer health care, the decriminalization of illegal border crossings, the elimination of all or most college debt — that were poorly conceived pipe dreams and, worse yet, recipes for President Trump’s re-election.

You were expecting the two of them to fight each other, because they have overlapping fan bases and because both of them want the progressive mantle? Hah. They were too busy doing battle with the candidates flanking them.

I was amused by John Hickenlooper. I mean that genuinely and kindly. He participated in the night’s most entertaining exchange, when he mocked Sanders’s grand plans by saying that they won’t come to pass just because Sanders wishes for them or throws his arms up in the air.

Hickenlooper began the evening with the observation that while Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House in the 2018 midterms, not one Democrat who flipped a district from red to blue did so by running on the kind of agenda that Sanders and Warren are pushing now. It’s a crucial point and a powerful argument against either Sanders or Warren as the Democratic nominee. But neither of the two of them ever directly addressed or specifically rebutted it.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Marianne Williamson won’t be president. But her 2020 competitors should take note, Dana Milbank, right, July 31, 2019. Again and again on Tuesday, she broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. Marianne Williamson for president!

marianne williamson screen shot 2019 07 31 CustomIt is perhaps not the best sign for Democratic prospects in the 2020 election that on a stage packed with senators, governors and the odd congressman and mayor, the one who repeatedly soared above the others Tuesday night was the New Age author and spiritual adviser to Cher.

But, again and again, this impossibly youthful 67-year-old, shown in a screenshot from the debate, with a comical patrician accent broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. She kept pushing her higher-profile competitors to think, and talk, in deeper perspective and sweeping context.

Politico, Tulsi Gabbard borrows from Trump's tech bashing playbook, Cristiano Limo, July 31, 2019. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is amping up her censorship allegations against the tech industry, adopting one of President Donald Trump’s favorite lines of attack before going on Wednesday night’s debate stage.

tulsi gabbard newGabbard, right, a Hawaii congresswoman running an unorthodox bid for the Democratic nomination, accused Google in court last week of violating her free speech by blocking her campaign’s ad account in the hours after the first Democratic presidential debate. During a prime-time appearance Monday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” she said her lawsuit was “about taking action on behalf of the American people” against tech titans like Google.

"This is really about the unchecked power these big tech monopolies have over our public discourse and how this is a real google logo customthreat to our freedom of speech and to our fair elections," she told Carlson during an interview, one of several recent appearances she has made on the president’s favorite TV network.

Such attacks echo longstanding accusations by Trump and other Republicans that Silicon Valley giants suppress political viewpoints they don't like. But they set Gabbard apart from most other Democrats, who dismiss Republicans’ censorship claims while slamming tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter for their huge size, alleged anti-competitive behavior and failure to stop the spread of disinformation and hate speech.

Google has disputed the accusations. A spokesperson said in a statement last week that the Gabbard ad suspension was brief and triggered automatically, and that the company moderates content "without bias toward any party or political ideology."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Warren and Delaney had a good night. CNN had a terrible one, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 31, 2019. At the top of Tuesday’s Democratic debate, CNN wasted 25 minutes by, among other things, playing the national anthem, taking jennifer rubin new headshota commercial, reciting the rules and introducing the candidates. It was time that should have been spent questioning cnn logocandidates, and worse, pushed the debate into overtime beyond the 2½-hour mark.

Likewise, spending valuable minutes asking candidates to explain why they are electable does nothing to enlighten voters about the views of these candidates. One has to wonder who made these bizarre choices and why.

Let's Try Democracy, Opinion: Poor Wittle CNN, David Swanson, right, July 31, 2019. CNN gears its questions toward conflict which it imagines is david swanson headgood for ratings. But taking sides with the furthest right candidates is only one way to generate conflict, and not a very successful one. Here are some other ways:

• take sides with the furthest left candidates,
• take sides with nobody,
• ask questions nobody’s likely to have prepared for,
• include moderators who don’t all agree with a plutocratic militarist perspective,
• ask the candidates with 1% support why they don’t quit.

cnn logoWhen I worked for Dennis Kucinich, and it was the more progressive candidates who were lower in the polls and marginalized in the debates, the moderators of these debates actually did what people are now suggesting they could do, namely encouraged the lower polling candidates to get out of the race. They spent significant debate time on that.

Prior to this debate, FAIR and RootsAction.org proposed that CNN add a progressive journalist as a questioner for the Democratic debates. For Republican debates, CNN includes rightwing questioners not normally on CNN. For Democratic debates it does not include leftist questioners traditionally banned from U.S. airwaves. Why?

The fact is that CNN is biased. Aren’t you shocked to hear that? Why do we have to constantly point it out? CNN acts on behalf of its owners, its advertisers, and those it wants access to. There are exceptions. Sometimes it challenges certain entrenched interests, but not usually.

We should not be surprised. But we should never be complacent. We should never accept CNN as it is.

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Presidential Candidate Joe Sestak Slams Trump’s Iran Policy, Peter B. Collins, July 30, 2019. Former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak recently announced he’s running for president, joining more than 20 Democrats who are vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

In this WhoWhatWhy podcast, Sestak, who won a congressional seat in a red district, explains why he’s running, focusing on military and foreign policy. He doesn’t embrace a military solution to the tensions with Iran, and questions why Trump breached the six-nation nuclear agreement. He details the consequences of an attack on Iran, noting that “militaries never fix a problem.” He also comments on Trump’s efforts to force regime change in Venezuela, another place where Sestak opposes a military intervention.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If Boris Johnson gets his Brexit, it may break the United Kingdom, Ishaan Tharoor, July 31, 2019. The 55th prime minister of Britain could end up being the “first of England.”

For two days in a row, the prime minister, Boris, Johnson, right, was greeted by jeering boris johnson july 2015crowds of protesters as he embarked on a tour of the United Kingdom’s home nations. On Monday, he received an icy welcome from Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, and was compelled to leave her residence in united kingdom flagEdinburgh through a back door to avoid the angry demonstrations.

On Tuesday, the British pound dropped to its lowest level in two years, a reaction to growing alarm over the likelihood of Johnson’s government crashing Britain out of Europe in a “no-deal” Brexit. His cabinet is packed with hard-line Brexiteers who, like Johnson, want to see Brexit achieved at almost any cost.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Violent 'Color Revolution' In Hong Kong Fails Despite Strong NYT Support, B, July 31, 2019. When the U.S. instigates its so called 'color revolutions', the transatlantic main stream media are usually supportive.

But the support is rarely as extreme as the extraordinary one the New York Times gives to the rioters in Hong Kong. After an extraordinary run of 16 opinion pieces on the issue in just 38 days, the NYT opinion pages went suddenly quiet on Hong Kong.

U.S.-China Trade Wars, Talks

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S.-China Trade Talks End With No Deal in Sight, Alexandra Stevenson, July 31, 2019. Negotiators left Shanghai on Wednesday with little immediate sign of progress as both sides appear to be settling in for a long economic clash. It was the first formal resumption of talks after negotiations fell apart three months ago, with each side pointing fingers at the other for derailing a deal.

steven mnuchin wAmerican and Chinese negotiators finished talks on Wednesday with little progress toward ending a trade war that has shaken the world’s economic confidence and rattled markets.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, and Robert E. Lighthizer, the Trump administration’s top trade negotiator, were seen leaving trade talks on Wednesday, the Chinese state news media said. Another round of high-level talks will take place in the United States in September, CCTV reported.

U.S. Crime / Media

Associated Press via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ex-Pa. AG Kathleen Kane released from jail, Staff Report, July 31, 2019. A former ap logoPennsylvania attorney general who was convicted of leaking grand jury material and lying about it is out of jail, walking free Wednesday after serving eight months behind bars.

kathleen kane oKathleen Kane (shown at right in a file photo while in office) left the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in the Philadelphia suburbs about 8:20 a.m. When asked by a reporter how she felt, Kane replied “grateful.”

Kane resigned after being convicted in 2016 of perjury, obstruction and other counts for leaking grand jury material to a Philadelphia newspaper and lying about it.

The Scranton native (shown below in a mug shot after arrest) was a little-known former assistant county prosecutor when she ran for attorney general with a campaign largely financed by her then-husband, who helped run a family-kathleen kane mugowned trucking and warehousing business. Kane won in a landslide in 2012, becoming the first woman and first Democrat to win the office.

Democrats embraced her as a rising star and her name began floating in political circles as a potential U.S. Senate candidate.

However, the state Supreme Court appointed a special counsel to investigate Kane’s office in 2014 after former prosecutors with the attorney general’s office complained that a Philadelphia Daily News story had contained information from a grand jury investigation that was protected by secrecy laws. She was charged in 2015.

Prosecutors contended that Kane had leaked the information to smear two former state prosecutors, who she believed had provided information for an earlier story in The Philadelphia Inquirer that revealed her decision not to pursue charges against Democratic state lawmakers in a separate corruption case.

Kane had argued that she had been the victim of selective and vindictive prosecution after clashing with some of the office’s former prosecutors. During her campaign for the attorney general’s office, she raised questions about how it had prosecuted the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.

After the special counsel began investigating, Kane revealed the exchange of pornographic emails by members of the attorney general’s office and judges. She had also argued that she was wrongly turned down in an effort to keep all Montgomery County judges from handling her case and that evidence against her was illegally obtained.

After appeals failed, she turned herself in to the jail in the Philadelphia suburb of Eagleville at the end of November and began serving a 10- to 23-month term. She eventually had a couple months shaved off for good behavior.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's note: Some commentators have written that she was selectively prosecuted, as she unsuccessfully argued, for persistent efforts to investigative pedophile scandals in Pennsylvania involving powerless youths (as in the Penn State scandal) and powerful perpetators.

More On Jeffrey Epstein

jeffrey epstein hands handsOver the years, Jeffrey E. Epstein, right, surrounded himself with many prominent scientists, including several affiliated with Harvard (Photo Credit: Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA, James B. Stewart, Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, July 31, 2019. Over the years, Jeffrey E. Epstein surrounded himself with many prominent scientists, including several affiliated with Harvard.

Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.

Mr. Epstein over the years confided to scientists and others about his scheme, according to four people familiar with his thinking, although there is no evidence that it ever came to fruition.

Mr. Epstein’s vision reflected his longstanding fascination with what has become known as transhumanism: the science of improving the human population through technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Critics have likened transhumanism to a modern-day version of eugenics, the discredited field of improving the human race through controlled breeding.

djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studios

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein partied together. Then an oceanfront mansion came between them, Beth Reinhard, Rosalind S. Helderman and Marc Fisher, July 31, 2019. Trump has not said why his relationship with Epstein ruptured, only that it happened about 15 years ago. At the time, the two men were squaring off over an oceanfront Palm Beach mansion being sold at bankruptcy.

• Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking trial could last a month or more, attorney says

Fed Cuts Interest Rate

jerome powell fed rate graphic.jpg AAqKDh

washington post logoWashington Post, Fed cuts interest rates, a move Trump criticizes as insufficient, Heather Long, July 31, 2019. Wall Street investors and President Trump have been calling for large interest-rate cuts by the end of the year. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell refused to promise that and left unclear how much more stimulus the Fed is willing to inject.

July 30

U.S. 2020 Politics

democratic debate july 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Sanders and Warren Battle Accusations of ‘Free Everything,’ Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, July 30, 2019. A group of moderate underdogs sought to dent the momentum of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential primary.

ny times logoNew York Times, Which candidates are getting the most speaking time during the debate? We’re tracking it live, Weiyi Cai, Jason Kao, Jasmine C. Lee and Alicia Parlapiano, July 30, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats prepare for an explosive Round 2 of debates. For some, it could be their last stand, Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, July 30, 2019. Twenty candidates are sharpening memorable lines and crafting strategies for butting into the conversation for the debate, which will be split over two nights.

The Hill, 5 things to watch in first night of Democratic debate, Max Greenwood, July 30, 2019. The top match-up of Tuesday night’s Democratic Democratic-Republican Campaign logospresidential debate will be between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), two of the primary field’s most prominent liberals vying for the support of the party’s progressive base.

But with eight other candidates on stage, there will be plenty to watch for when the second round of presidential debates kicks off in Detroit this week. Here are five things to watch for during the Tuesday night showdown.

Trump's Racial Strategy

washington post logoelijah cummings head and shoulders oWashington Post, ‘Looking for a reason to attack’: Trump seized on a Fox News report to go after Cummings, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa, July 30, 2019 (print ed.). The president was already seething over the role of House Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md., shown at right) in investigating him and in criticizing his administration’s squalid migrant detention centers.

djt elijah cummings Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump spent all weekend going berserk about Elijah Cummings, Bill Palmer, July 30, 2019. After Donald Trump first began ranting and raving about House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings in overtly racist fashion, the whole thing felt like one of Trump’s patented racist distractions. But as Trump’s attacks on Cummings went on and on and on, stretching across days and becoming almost manic in nature, it became clear that another shoe was about to drop.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the other shoe finally dropped. In fact it’s fair to say that Elijah Cummings dropped the other shoe on Donald Trump’s head. Cummings released a report detailing the money trail running from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to Donald Trump, and the personal allegiance running from Trump to those two nations. We’ve all long known that Saudi Arabia and UAE are Trump’s personal puppet masters, but this report spelled it out in the kind of manner which was nothing short of stunning.

Donald Trump must have known that Elijah Cummings was about to drop this bombshell.

Trump's Father Was Arrested

fred trump donald trump

Raw Story, Donald Trump’s father was once arrested over deplorable conditions of Maryland apartment buildings, Travis Gettys, July 30, 2019. President Donald Trump’s father (shown above at left) was once arrested over the deplorable conditions at his Maryland apartment project.

The president has spent the week attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) over poverty in the city of Baltimore, which Trump has called “disgusting” and a “rat and rodent infested mess,” but his own father was taken into police custody for neglecting his property not far away, according to a 1976 report by the Washington Post.

Fred Trump failed to pay for repairs mandated by local officials in Prince George County, where he owned apartment buildings in Seat Pleasant — and his housing license was revoked, preventing him from signing leases with new tenants.

ny times logoNew York Times, Over 900 Migrant Children Separated From Families in Past Year, Miriam Jordan, July 30, 2019. More than a year after President Trump officially ended migrant family separations at the southern border, immigration authorities continue to routinely separate families for reasons as minor as a parent not changing a baby’s diaper or having a traffic citation for driving without a license, according to new ICE logodocuments filed Tuesday in federal court.

More than 900 children have been removed from an adult — usually a parent — with whom they arrived at the southern border since June of 2018, according to tallies provided by the Department of Justice to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the separations.

Trump Impeachment?

Palmer Report, Opinion: The impeachment of Donald Trump will turn a huge corner within hours, Bill Palmer, July 30, 2019. On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee used a court filing to initiate a impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, thus kicking off the impeachment process, albeit in low key fashion. Even as that legal impeachment process plays out in court, the made-for-television portion of impeachment – the part that the public pays attention to – is about to turn a major corner. And it’ll happen very soon.

bill palmer report logo headerBefore Friday’s impeachment court filing, and before Donald Trump went nuclear with his racism over the weekend, fewer than a hundred House Democrats were publicly in favor of impeachment. But as the weekend unfolded, we saw that number begin to climb in accelerating fashion. Just now, Congresswoman Judy Chu became the 116th House Democrat to come out in favor of impeachment. Why does this matter?

When that number hits 119, the majority of House Democrats will be publicly in favor of Donald Trump’s impeachment. They’ll hit that number tonight or tomorrow. This matters, because it’s the kind of symbolic milestone that prompts the media to jump all over it, and thus causes average Americans at home to sit up and pay attention.

Trump Watch

Vice, Saudi Arabia Edited a Trump “America First” Campaign Speech. Manafort Helped Them Do It, Alex Lubben, July 30, 2019. A Trump campaign aide and Paul Manafort let Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates edit a stump speech delivered by Trump in May 2016.

With the help of Thomas Barrack Jr., a longtime Trump friend and a major Republican campaign donor who led the inaugural committee, the campaign sent a draft of the energy-policy speech to officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Barrack then worked with campaign manager Manafort to make sure some of the changes were made — all in what appears to be an attempt to allow nuclear-tech sharing that could have led to a lucrative deal for Barrack, to finance the construction of nuclear power plants in the Middle East.

The revelation comes from a report, based on 6,000 pages of new documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee, that suggests Trump could be susceptible to the influence of a foreign interest when convenient for his biggest supporters.

Anti-Trump Suit Dismissed

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Judge Dismisses DNC Lawsuit Against Trump Campaign Over 2016 Election Interference, Marianne Dodson, July 30, 2019. A federal judge has dismissed the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit brought against President Trump’s campaign, WikiLeaks, and the Russian government.

john koeltl o“The primary wrongdoer in this alleged criminal enterprise is undoubtedly the Russian Federation, the first named defendant in the case and the entity that surreptitiously and illegally hacked into the DNC’s computers and thereafter disseminated the results of its theft,” wrote U.S. District Judge John Koeltl (right, a Clinton nominee).

“The Russian Federation cannot be sued in the courts of the United States for governmental actions... just as the United States government generally cannot be sued in courts abroad for its actions.” Koeltl ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects the non-Russian entities named in the suit from being liable for disseminating the information, as long as the non-Russian actors did not conspire with Russia to obtain the information in the first place.

The multimillion-dollar suit was filed in April 2018 and alleged that top Trump campaign officials conspired with Russia to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “To the extent not specifically addressed, the arguments are either moot or without merit,” Koeltl wrote in the filing Tuesday. The DNC’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice, and the Trump campaign’s motion for sanctions was denied. The suit was dismissed in the Southern District of New York.

Guns Laws / Mass Shootings

ny times logoNew York Times, How Strict Gun Laws Are Often Neutralized by Those Next Door, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Tim Arango, July 30, 2019. The gun used by the suspect at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday was legally purchased in Nevada. But the weapon is banned in California.

The shooting illustrated a familiar issue for states that toughen their gun laws, only to see them neutralized by those of neighboring states.

Epstein Scandal

CNBC, Jefffrey Epstein got court documents claiming he raped15-year-old girl day before he was injured in jail cell, Kevin Breuninger and Dan Mangan, July 30, 2019. A day before Jeffrey Epstein, an accused child sex trafficker, was found mysteriously injured in his jail cell, the wealthy jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019financier was served legal documents detailing a woman’s claims that he raped her in his New York City mansion when she was just 15 years old.

The accuser, Jennifer Araoz, plans to sue Epstein, right, next month for claims of sexual assault, battery and rape, which she alleges he started committing when she was a New York high school student in 2001, according to a court filing earlier this month.

But first, Araoz is asking a judge to order Epstein to submit to a deposition, where he can be asked by Araoz’s lawyers the identity of a female “recruiter” who allegedly conspired with him to identify her “as a potential sexual abuse victim” and “facilitated the grooming” of Araoz.

“Upon identification of the recruiter, she will be added as a defendant to” Araoz’s planned suit against Epstein, the filing says. “Further, the recruiter possesses critical evidence of [Araoz’s] sexual assault claims.”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Ratcliffe, Trump’s pick for spy chief, might not sail smoothly to confirmation, Shane Harris, July 30, 2019 (print ed.).  john ratcliffe headshot CustomThe nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) drew opposition from Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans.

Current and former intelligence officials also said Ratcliffe, right, is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies and questioned whether he would use the position to serve Trump’s political interests.

• Washington Post, Trump’s plan to nominate ally viewed as bid to subdue spy agencies

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: As a novice is chosen for DNI, unlikely wars loom on the horizon, Wayne Madsen, July 30, 2019 (subscription required). While Donald Trump is attempting to pack the senior ranks of the U.S. intelligence community with his sycophants – the latest being the nomination of Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe to succeed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats – war looms on the horizon in two strategic parts of the world.

'Moscow Mitch' Meme

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell defends blocking election security bill, rejects criticism he is aiding Russia, Paul Kane, July 30, 2019 (print mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppeded.). The Senate majority leader, shown in a file photo, invoked “McCarthyism” in singling out an opinion column in The Post, which defended the piece as a “legitimate exercise in commentary.”

McConnell was responding primarily to an opinion column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, published Friday under the headline “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.” Milbank described how Republicans, including McConnell, had blocked bills designed to counter cyberattacks, by Russians or other foreign agents, against U.S. elections.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell, Carl Hulse, July 30, 2019. Senator Mitch McConnell has typically embraced nasty nicknames. But criticism of his role in blocking election measures has taken hold in an unusual way.

More U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, California Requires Trump Tax Returns Under New Election, Jennifer Medina and Annie Karni, July 30, 2019. The law requires that all presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to be placed on the ballot for the state’s primary next year.

President Trump will not be eligible for California’s primary ballot unless he releases his tax returns, under a new law signed by Gov. irs logoGavin Newsom on Tuesday.

The law requires that all presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to be placed on the ballot for the state’s primary next year, in a move that will almost certainly lead to legal challenges. Mr. Newsom’s decision to sign the legislation seemed designed to escalate a running feud between the White House and California.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Taunts China as Trade Talks Resume, Ana Swanson and Jeanna Smialek, July 30, 2019. President Trump took credit for weakening China’s economy and downplayed the likelihood of a trade deal before the 2020 election. His comments came as his top negotiators were sitting down to dinner with their counterparts in Shanghai.

ny times logoNew York Times, General Accused of Sexual Assault Is Defended by Two Prominent Woman, Helene Cooper, July 30, 2019. Senator Martha McSally and the former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Gen. John Hyten, left, was falsely accused.

With the female accuser looking on, two prominent women on Tuesday exerted their considerable influence on matters relating to sexual john hytenassault and the military, saying that they do not believe that President Trump’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sexually assaulted a subordinate multiple times in 2017.

Both Heather A. Wilson, the former Air Force secretary, and Senator Martha McSally, right, Republican of Arizona and kathryn spletstosera self-described survivor of sexual assault in the military, strongly and unequivocally defended Gen. John E. Hyten of the Air Force during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Seated several rows behind the general was Col. Kathryn A. Spletstoser, shown in a file photo at right, a 28-year Army officer with four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview last week with The New York Times, she described numerous instances of unwanted touching by the general, culminating in what she described as an assault in her hotel room in December 2017. Air Force officials said an investigation found no evidence to corroborate Colonel Spletstoser’s accusations. (Investigators also said they found no evidence that she lied.)

“Sexual assault happens in the military,” Ms. McSally, right, said. “It just didn’t happen in this case.” Ms. McSally — who said this year that martha mcsally oshe had been raped when she was a cadet at the Air Force Academy — also described the case against General Hyten as not even “a jump ball” or a “he said, she said” situation.

Ms. Wilson, a former Republican House member, was equally adamant. Introducing the general at the start of the hearing, and serving as a character witness for him, she declared that “General Hyten was falsely accused, and this matter should be set aside as you consider this nomination.”

She then suggested that Colonel Spletstoser, who is still on active duty in the Army, “is a wounded soldier who believes what she is saying is true even if it is not.”

Colonel Spletstoser said she found the assertions of the two women devastating. Of Ms. Wilson in particular, Colonel Spletstoser said she was “disgusted and offended that she would insinuate that my combat service would make me a liar.”

With a handful of exceptions, the people who spoke Tuesday — Colonel Spletstoser said her offer to testify at the public hearing was declined — made clear they believed General Hyten over his accuser. Ms. Wilson, Ms. McSally and others cited the Air Force investigation into the case, with its more than 1,000 pages of records and interviews with over 50 people.

Sports / Integrity

washington post logorobert kraft twitterWashington Post, Opinion: The NFL’s Roger Goodell doesn’t care about integrity or consistency. The Robert Kraft case proves it, Jerry Brewer, July 30, 2019. When players get in trouble, the NFL commissioner will punish them as much or as little as he desires based on public opinion. But he doesn’t have the spine to challenge Kraft, right, the New England Patriots owner charged in a messy solicitation case. Not this time.

U.S. Fed Rate Gamble

washington post logoWashington Post, With economy on the line, Fed prepares for its biggest gamble in years, Heather Long, July 30, 2019 (print ed.). jerome powellThe Federal Reserve this week is all but certain to cut interest rates despite unemployment being at historic lows, a highly unusual action that is shaping up to be the biggest gamble of Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell’s brief tenure as leader (shown right) of the world’s most powerful economic institution.

Many economists say the Fed is acting prudently to prolong the economic expansion, which this month became the longest in U.S. history. Yet the support is far from unanimous.

U.S. Crime, Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, 100 Million Hit in Data Breach at Capital One, Emily Flitter and Karen Weise, July 30, 2019 (print ed.).  A software engineer hacked into a server holding customer information and stole millions of credit card applications, federal prosecutors said.
It is one of the largest thefts of data from a bank.

Global Human Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Yazidi women raped as ISIS slaves face brutal homecoming choice: Give up their child or stay away, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim, July 30, 2019. “We know that they’re just children, and that they have no guilt,” a Yazidi spokesman said. “But in this case religion and society just cannot accept them.”

Media Commentary: Wikipedia Bias?

 wikipedia logo

lila tretikov benjamin netanyahu 2015 israel

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu meets Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov in 2015. Photo | Israel GPO

MintPress News, Investigation / Commentary: The Spin War: How a Small Group of Pro-Israel Activists Blacklisted MintPress on Wikipedia, whitney webbWhitney Webb, right, July 30, 2019 [Investigation excerpted. Click link for full story]. For over ten years, Wikipedia has been a key focus of right-leaning, pro-Israel groups that have effectively weaponized the online encyclopedia as a means of controlling the narrative when it comes to the state of Israel’s more than 50-year-long military occupation of Palestine.

For over a decade, pro-Israel and ultra-nationalist Israeli settler groups have sought to weaponize the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, through concerted covert editing campaigns, offering Wikipedia editing courses to West Bank settlers and even formal alliances between Israel and Wikipedia to allow Israelis to create and edit content in a variety of languages.

In recent years, this alliance between pro-Israel partisans and Wikipedia has stepped up, largely in response to the growth of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law with respect to occupied Palestine and the blockaded Gaza Strip. As a consequence, news outlets that consistently report on the success of BDS, such as MintPress News, have been targeted on Wikipedia by such partisans, who recently succeeded in blacklisting MintPress as a “reliable source” on the online encyclopedia.

In early June, a small number of partisan Wikipedia editors privately voted to blacklist MintPress News from use as a source on the online encyclopedia website at the behest of a Wikipedia editor who took issue with MintPress’ coverage of current events in Venezuela and Syria. At no point was MintPress ever asked to comment or allowed to respond to any of the allegations made and MintPress is unable to appeal the decision.

wikipedia logoOf the Wikipedia editors who voted to discredit MintPress, several were self-listed as experts in video games, computer science and anime, not geopolitical events, while others had previously gained notoriety for partisan promotion of pro-Israel perspectives and/or the U.S.-funded Venezuelan Popular Will political party, of which the U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is a member.

The involvement of pro-Israel partisans in the blacklisting of MintPress on Wikipedia is notable in light of the well-documented and unprecedented efforts of the Israeli government to promote the partisan editing of Wikipedia and to subsequently incorporate the online encyclopedia into its national educational curriculum.

The successful effort to blacklist MintPress News on Wikipedia began on June 1 and was initiated by Wikipedia user “Jamesz42,” a Wikipedia editor from Venezuela who has written several English-language Wikipedia articles on the wives of Popular Will politicians as well as on protest leaders and journalists who are aligned with Popular Will.

MintPress is one of several news organizations that have reported extensively on Popular Will’s U.S. government funding, its lack of popular support in Venezuela, and its history of engaging in violence. Yet MintPress is the only independent outlet that has been blacklisted on Wikipedia for reporting these facts. TeleSur, which is partially funded by the Venezuelan government, was also recently blacklisted by Wikipedia and some of the same users that targeted MintPress, including Jamesz42, were involved.

When his claims against MintPress were challenged by another editor, “R2”, Jamesz42 claimed his reason for starting the query as to MintPress’ credibility was that “MintPress News has been used several times as a source in articles about the Syrian Civil War and the Venezuelan crisis, among other controversial topics, which is the reason why I started this RfC [request for comment].”

However, apparently unable to find a factual inaccuracy in MintPress’ Venezuela or Syria coverage, Jamesz42 cited the accidental incorrect placement of a single hyperlink in a recent MintPress article about Microsoft’s Pentagon-funded election software, ElectionGuard, that was the result of a (now-fixed) copy-and-paste error made by the article’s author.

Jamesz42 stated:

The article accuses Microsoft of “price gouging for its OneCare security software,” and links that text to “Microsoft accused of predatory pricing of security software,” an article from The Guardian (RSP entry) that describes the exact opposite: “Incredibly, Microsoft has priced themselves almost 50% below the market leader.” (See Predatory pricing for a definition of the practice.)

The MintPress News article then uses its own false claim to assert that Microsoft’s ‘offering of ElectionGuard software free of charge is tellingly out of step for the tech giant and suggests an ulterior motive behind Microsoft’s recent philanthropic interest in “defending democracy.”'”

The sentence of the article from which Jamesz42 is quoting began by stating: “Considering that Microsoft has a long history of predatory practices, including price gouging …” The link that was originally attached to the text “price gouging” was the Guardian article referenced by Jamesz42, but was originally meant to link to the text reading “predatory practices.”

As noted, this was a copy-and-paste error on the part of the author and the article intended to link to the term “price gouging” — an article from The Verge titled “Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe attempt to justify ‘price gouging’ to Australian hearing” — was fixed when the error was brought to MintPress’ attention. Such corrections are common practice, undertaken by all reputable news organizations and indicative of high standards of integrity and accountability.

Notably, Jamesz42 claims that Microsoft’s predatory practices that include price gouging were invented by MintPress, even though the original version of the article with the copy-and-paste error based this on the claim that Microsoft was known to engage in predatory practices, with price gouging listed as an example, and citations we provided to back the claim, as even Jamesz42 noted.

This  copy-and-paste hyperlink error was the main justification for the blacklisting of MintPress on Wikipedia by Jamesz42, along with the fact that MintPress has previously republished content from the websites ZeroHedge and the Free Thought Project — notably in spite of the fact that all content republished on MintPress contains the following disclaimer:

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.”

Evidence-free name-calling and piling-on

After Jamesz42 made these initial claims, another user, “PaleoNeonate,” said that he confirmed his suspicion that MintPress’ reporting was “strange” with a “pro-Israel source” that referred to MintPress as “fringe.” PaleoNeonate then claimed that MintPress is unreliable for republishing “Russian state media” and reporting on “conspiracy theories” on chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian conflict. MintPress has been accused of promoting “conspiracy theories” about well-known, alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria on several occasions and MintPress reports on the subject were later corroborated by award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk. Notably, this user, PaleoNeonate, is an expert in computer science, not geopolitics.

These caims were followed by user “Alsee,” who was also involved in the effort to blacklist TeleSur. This user stated: “It’s unclear whether MintPress is part of the Russian fake news engine or merely a bunch of ‘useful idiot’ nutters participating in the same content-sharing web of alternative ‘news’ sites,” and also claimed that MintPress “is widely considered unreliable.” Alsee’s evidence for the latter was that Google and Facebook’s censorship of MintPress was proof that the site is “fake news.” Alsee’s comment was responded to by the anonymous moderator account “Newslinger,” who stated that MintPress “clearly has no ambition to be a reliable source.”

Another user, “TheTimesAreAChanging,” without providing evidence, called MintPress “a cesspool of conspiracy theories and misinformation,” and is notably an editor of Wikipedia articles related to video games. The user “IceWhiz” stated that MintPress should be blacklisted “for propagating non-mainstream viewpoints (which are usually UNDUE),” but also provided no further explanation for this assertion.

An additional user, “Bobfrombrockley,” cited the fact-checking organization Newsguard and its rating of MintPress. That rating came several months after MintPress authored a viral exposè of Newsguard’s connections to neoconservatives and former government officials, including former CIA director Michael Hayden. MintPress later authored an in-depth response showing that Newsguard’s rating of MintPress was clearly biased and possibly influenced by our critical reporting on their operations.

“Unreliable” blacklisting seems to mean anti-Israel

Several of the Wikipedia users involved in blacklisting MintPress News have gained varying degrees of notoriety for their pro-Israel partisanship on the online encyclopedia.

The user Icewhiz, who stated that MintPress should be blacklisted for “propagating non-mainstream viewpoints,” has lobbied to delete the entire Wikipedia article on the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, which Icewhiz refers to as the “Israeli military administration in the West Bank.” Prior to lobbying for the article’s removal, Icewhiz had edited the article on the military occupation of the West Bank by removing the entire section about settler violence targeting Palestinians and most of the section about how the military occupation affects Palestinian children, among other pertinent information.

In addition to his efforts to remove information from Wikipedia articles that paint Israel’s military occupation of Palestine in a critical light, Icewhiz also attempted to alter the article on Palestinian nurse Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper during the Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip last year, despite clearly wearing a vest marking her as a medic. Icewhiz added a video of al-Najjar that was later found to have been heavily edited and promoted by the Israel Defense Force as a means of justifying her death and subsequently re-edited the article to promote the IDF interpretation of the video after another editor included information critical of the IDF’s use of the doctored video. Icewhiz also edited the article on Razan al-Najjar to claim that she was “allegedly shot” by the IDF, despite the fact that there has been no disputing the IDF’s responsibility for her death, even from Israel’s government.

Per other threads of Wikipedia, two other users who voted to blacklist MintPress — users “Shrike” and “Stefka Bulgaria” — collaborate or have collaborated with Icewhiz and have defended Icewhiz from accusations of editing with an extreme pro-Israel bias. The user Shrike, who called MintPress “clearly unreliable,” has co-authored articles on historical leaders of the Zionist movement with Icewhiz and currently lives in Israel.

Notably, Shrike was involved in allowing the neoconservative pro-Israel think tank, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), to edit Wikipedia articles with “protected status,” according to information posted by another user on his profile page. The current president of JCPA is Dore Gold, a former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, and the Center receives large amounts of funding from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Netanyahu and a top donor of U.S. President Donald Trump.

jimmy wales facing tomorrow conference israel 2009 AP photo 09102109924 1 Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales speaks at the ‘Facing Tomorrow’ conference in Israel in 2009 (Tara Todras-Whitehill | Associated Press)

Wales has long made it no secret that he is pro-Israel, having visited the country more than ten times per his own count, leading The Times of Israel to note in 2015 that “While Wikipedia strives for objectivity on Israel, Wales is unabashedly pro.” Years prior, in 2011, when Wales attended the Israeli Presidential Conference, he told Israeli media that “I’m a strong supporter of Israel, so I don’t listen to those critics.”

whitney webbWhitney Webb, right, is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets, including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

July 29

New Trump Security Chief

Roll Call, Dan Coats leaving post as Director of National Intelligence, Niels Lesniewski, July 29, 2019 (print ed.). Dan Coats, right, is leaving the post as dan coats headshotDirector of National Intelligence on August 15, President Donald Trump announced Sunday. “I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly,” Trump tweeted.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who serves on the House Intelligence Committee but has less experience than Coats or previous national intelligence directors in that role, is Trump’s choice to be nominated to be the next DNI.

“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump tweeted. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves.”

john ratcliffe headshot CustomMultiple reports said Trump had been talking up Ratcliffe as a possible replacement for Coats in recent weeks, and the announcement of his pending departure came as no surprise.

Coats, a former senator from Indiana and ambassador to Germany, was long viewed as a steady hand, particularly by Republican senators concerned about the Trump administration’s foreign policy. He served on the Intelligence Committee during his time in the Senate and had good professional relationships with members of both parties.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, New spy chief pick made his name during Trump inquiries by backing the president, Karoun Demirjian, July 29, 2019 (print ed.). Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), who is firmly pro-Trump, is a more polarizing figure than outgoing Intelligence Director Daniel Coats.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform, New Documents Show Corporate and Foreign Interests Seek to Influence U.S. Nuclear Policy, elijah cummings head and shoulders oJuly 29, 2019. WH, Agencies Still Refuse to Produce Documents in Committee’s Investigation. Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform (right), issued a second interim staff report in the Committee’s investigation into efforts to transfer U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Chairman Cummings issued the following statement:

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistleblowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. The American people deserve to know the facts about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s personal friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.”

The Committee’s second interim report is based on more than 60,000 pages of new documents produced to the Committee in response to requests that Chairman Cummings made to a host of outside companies about their involvement with plans to transfer U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. The report states:

mohammad bin salman cropped file smallNew documents and communications show that IP3, the private company lobbying the White House to transfer U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, repeatedly sought a $120 million investment from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [right]. It is unclear if the company ultimately received the investment.

Documents show that IP3 is currently pushing the Trump Administration not to require Saudi Arabia to agree to the “Gold Standard,” which is a commitment not to use U.S. nuclear technology to make nuclear weapons. Documents show that IP3 officials repeatedly urged White House and Trump Administration officials to abandon the “Gold Standard” in any future 123 Agreement with Saudi Arabia, complaining that it would lock them out of lucrative nuclear contracts with the Saudis.

Mass Shooting in California

washington post logoWashington Post, 3 killed, 12 wounded in shooting at California food festival, Faiz Siddiqui, Allyson Chiu and Meagan Flynn, July 29, 2019 (video). One gunman was killed by officers at the scene, and police were searching for a possible second suspect in the shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif. A 6-year-old boy was among the dead.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats will have a better chance if they take a page from Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, Karen Tumulty, July 29, 2019 (print ed.). It is not by happenstance that this week’s Democratic presidential debates are being held in Detroit.

democratic donkey logoThere were plenty of surprises on the earthshaking election night of 2016 but few as big as Donald Trump’s squeaker of a victory in Michigan. No Republican presidential contender had won the state since 1988, and Democrats in the years since had become so confident there that they counted Michigan as part of their “blue wall.”

The 2018 midterm elections have given Democrats ample reason to hope they can put the state and its 16 electoral votes back in their column. But their chances to do so will be better if they take a page from the playbook of Michigan’s new governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Pete Buttigieg went from war protester to ‘packing my bags for Afghanistan,’ Steve Hendrix, Josh Partlow, July 29, 2019. Months before he launched his first political campaign, he joined the Navy Reserve, adding a valuable credential to his résumé: Veteran. They don’t get a lot of officer material through the Navy recruiting center here {in South Bend, Indiana), a one-room office next to a vape shop on the outskirts of town. Those headed for a commission are more likely to enter the ranks through ROTC programs or Annapolis.

pete buttigieg croppedBut one day in 2009, a rare prospect did walk in: Buttigieg, Peter (right), 27-year-old Harvard grad. Polyglot Rhodes scholar. McKinsey management consultant. Nordic poetry fan. Hometown boy.

A decade later, Buttigieg, P., is better known as South Bend’s Mayor Pete, a first-name-only pol thanks to his tongue-twister surname (BOOT-edge-edge). Mayor Pete is finishing his second term as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. He remains one of the few luminaries to start military service at this modest recruiting outpost.

“We got Mayor Pete and we had an admiral once — that’s pretty much it,” said Zach Blakeman, the recruiter on duty on a recent summer day, sitting at a desk stacked with the high school diplomas of his more typical enlistees. Because of his pedigree, Buttigieg glided straight into the Navy Reserve’s direct-commission officers program, bypassing the more time-consuming training route of other branches.

“We can tell within two hours whether you’re qualified or not,” Blakeman said.

It took Buttigieg far longer to figure that out.

The moment he stepped up on that white Health O Meter scale was a pivot point for him personally and politically. As he was weighed and measured, a process began that would not only put him in potential danger but force him to confront a lifelong conflict at the center of his identity — his sexuality. It would allow him to yield to a revered family calling of military service. And, just months before he launched a career in electoral politics, it would let him add a valuable new credential to his résumé: veteran.

Today, in a crowded field, Buttigieg is one of only four Democratic candidates with experience in uniform. He would be the first presidential candidate with overseas military service elected in three decades. And he has already foreshadowed how he could wield his dog tags in a race against President Trump, who used medical deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. “I was packing my bags for Afghanistan while he was working on Season 7 of ‘The Apprentice,’ ” he said in May.

Shooter Was Nationalist

newsweek logoNewsweek, Gilroy Gunman Cited White Supremacist Manifesto on Instagram Just Before Shooting, Jessica Kwong, July 29, 2019. A gunman who killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday evening posted about a white supremacist book on Instagram before firing into the crowd, according to screenshots of an account that has since been taken down.

The gunman, identified by police as 19-year-old Santino William Legan, injured 15 people and killed three others, including a 6-year-old boy being he was shot and killed by Gilroy police. In the aftermath, screenshots began circulating on social media of the Instagram account @santino_williamlegan, which has been removed by Instagram.

Writer and actress Amanda Duarte tweeted a screenshot of a post apparently by Legan of Smokey Bear and promoting a white supremacist book from 1980.

"His Instagram was just taken down, but before it was, I saw a post from the festival right before the shooting that said 'Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard,' which is a misogynist white power manifesto," Durate tweeted in part.

U.S. Justice System

washington post logoWashington Post, She delivered $200 worth of drugs. Police seized her $53,000 car, Justin Jouvenal, July 29, 2019 (print ed.). A Fairfax County case shines a light on the murky world of drug stings and police seizures.

Leslie Mayo’s ex-husband called in 2017, telling her he had bumped into an old friend from the ’90s named Moe who wanted to hang out. The call was forgettable but for the fact that Mayo couldn’t recall the man.

It turns out there was a good reason: Court documents show that her ex-husband is a paid informant for local police and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Moe was really an undercover Fairfax County police detective.

Mayo was being set up.

Media Criticism

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just played the media like a fiddle, Bill Palmer, July 29, 2019. To hear certain mainstream media pundits tell it, Donald Trump pulled off an evil genius coup yesterday when he fired Dan Coats, a brilliant saint who all this time had been heroically and single-handedly stopping Trump from carrying out Very Bad Things, and replaced him with John Ratcliffe, which will magically allow Trump to instantly get away with Very Bad Things.

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s talk about the facts here. Dan Coats seemed to be, relatively speaking, one of the good guys. If nothing else, he occasionally spoke out against Donald Trump’s love of Russia, albeit in the kind of tepid way that allowed Coats to remain on the job this long. Trump clearly wasn’t relying on Coats for anything, or allowing Coats to do anything, and it had clearly been this way for some time. The notion that Coats was somehow stopping Trump from conspiring with Russia these past couple years is laughable.

john ratcliffe headshot CustomMore to the point, John Ratcliffe,left, is an incompetent idiot. In fact he just spent the Mueller hearing proving to everyone watching at home that he’s an incompetent idiot. William Barr is a fairly smart and competent guy who was able to come in and get some evil things done for Donald Trump, while screwing up some of it due to his hubris. But Ratcliffe is the kind of buffoon that you and I wouldn’t put in charge of guarding a ham sandwich for fear he’d find a way to screw it up.

Donald Trump did accomplish what he set out to do yesterday when he replaced Coats with Ratcliffe, which was to bait the media into spinning doomsday fantasies about a nothing story, thus wiping out media’s coverage of Trump’s racist attacks on Baltimore, and the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry. Trump’s one and only talent in the political realm is that he knows how to feed the media the kind of ratings-friendly nonsense it feasts on.

Epstein Defender Profiled

jeffrey epstein alan dershowitzThe New Yorker, Alan Dershowitz, Devil’s Advocate, Connie Bruck, July 29, 2019 (August 5 & 12, 2019 issue). The noted lawyer’s long, controversial career — and the accusations against him. He is shown with one of his clients, Harvard donor and accused pedophile and mass sex traffickerJeffrey Epstein, at left with Dershowitz.

Dershowitz says, “Every honest criminal lawyer will tell you that he defends the guilty and the innocent.”

“A lie is a lie is a lie,” Whoopi Goldberg said. It was May 2nd, and she was on the set of “The View,” the daytime talk show that she co-hosts. The subject was Attorney General William Barr, who had argued that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was not as alarming as it seemed—endorsing Donald Trump’s claim that there had been “no collusion, no obstruction” in the Russia case. Goldberg was incredulous. “Our parents taught us, if you lie, there are consequences,” she said. “When are consequences coming back?”

new yorker logoHer guest, the attorney Alan Dershowitz, offered an answer that combined legal analysis and political handicapping. “They come back in November of 2020, when we all go to the polls and we vote against people that we think lied,” he said. “But it would be a terrible thing”—he held up a finger for emphasis—“to criminalize lies.”

Dershowitz is a frequent guest on shows like “The View”; for decades, he has been a frequent guest just about everywhere. If you are a television producer putting together a segment about a celebrated criminal case, Dershowitz is an ideal booking. Intellectually nimble and supremely confident, he is an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School but also an occasional reader (and subject) of the tabloids. Over the years, he has written thousands of newspaper articles, magazine columns, and Web posts. With help from research assistants, he has published three dozen books—including “The Best Defense,” “Chutzpah,” and “Sexual McCarthyism”—that recount his cases and advance his opinions.

After a commercial, the next segment began, with images of several controversial Dershowitz clients: Claus von Bülow, O. J. Simpson, Mike Tyson. The lineup included Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy money manager who had been accused of sexually abusing underage girls. Starting in 2005, investigators had traced a sex-trafficking operation that extended from mansions in New York and Palm Beach to a Caribbean island, Little St. James, that Epstein owned. As charges became public, press accounts enumerated his famous acquaintances—including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and Kevin Spacey—and described trips to the island on his plane, the so-called Lolita Express.

Despite sworn accounts from more than a dozen women, Dershowitz and his team secured a deal in which Epstein pleaded guilty to minor charges and served only a brief sentence. On “The View,” which was hosted by four women, Dershowitz described the experience as fraught: “It’s a case that was very, very difficult, and very, very painful for me, because I saw real victims out there. I’m a very strong supporter of the MeToo movement.”

But, he said, an attorney is obligated to defend the rights of the accused: “I think of myself like a doctor or a priest. If they wheel Jeffrey Epstein into the emergency ward, the doctor is going to take care of him.” (Dershowitz put it differently to me, in one of a series of conversations this spring and summer: “Every honest criminal lawyer will tell you that he defends the guilty and the innocent.”)

July 28

Trump's Race Grievance Strategy 

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, Trump campaign sees advantage in divisive appeal to working-class whites, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ashley Parker, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). As condemnations have poured in over the past two weeks accusing President Trump of bigotry, his campaign has tried to turn his offensive remarks into a political plus with his base.

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland hits back at Trump over tweets attacking Baltimore and congressman, Fredrick Kunkle and Hannah Natanson, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). The state's political leaders and residents reacted with outrage, with some saying the troubled city could use help from the president, not insults.

elijah cummings headshotMaryland’s political leaders and residents reacted with outrage — and sometimes resignation — to President Trump’s tweetstorm Saturday attacking Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), right, and his Baltimore district as a “rodent infested mess” where “no human” would want to live.

Some said Trump’s language describing a majority black city represented by an African American lawmaker demonstrated his predilection for degrading political opponents.

“This is an example of the racist bully we have as a president, lashing out at Elijah Cummings for speaking the truth and for standing up to the president and his policies,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in an interview. “And the president just can’t take that and lashed out in a way that clearly had racial overtones.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Assails Black Congressional Critic, Calling His District a ‘Mess,’ Peter Baker, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” who represents a Baltimore-based district that has become a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Mr. Trump’s attack on Representative Elijah E. Cummings, right, a Democrat from Maryland and leading donald trump twittercritic of the president, parroted a segment that aired earlier in the morning on “Fox & Friends.”

elijah cummings head and shoulders oThe president suggested that the congressman was a hypocrite for criticizing conditions in migrant detention centers at the southwestern border when his own district is blighted. Mr. Trump also made a vague and unsubstantiated insinuation of corruption.

Related story: Palmer Report, Opinion: Elijah Cummings fires back at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2019. The profoundly racist nature of Trump’s attack gave away why Trump chose to target Cummings.

U.S. Election Corruption, Meddling

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The U.S. government needs to protect against 2020 election meddling, Editorial Board, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers do not need to listen to Robert S. Mueller III to know that Russians mounted a sweeping and systematic campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. They need only to listen to their own colleagues. A new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee offers bipartisan confirmation of Moscow’s meddling — and the imperative to protect against it.

The report, released Thursday, adds an alarming coda to a story already familiar to many Americans: Russians likely scanned voting systems in every state to assess whether they were vulnerable to manipulation. Officials have found no evidence that any results were changed or machines compromised, but the authors admit that conclusion is an uncertain one. Russia might have intended to lay the groundwork for a future strike, perhaps in 2020. Or it merely might have sought to sow doubt about the election’s legitimacy by proving its ability to interfere.

Justice Department log circularThe report confirms the need for a whole-of-government approach to combatting foreign interference in U.S. elections. A woeful lack of coordination crippled authorities from detecting and deterring incursions three years ago, and it continues to do so today.

The warnings about Russian activity that the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation gave election officials were not only too little; they were also too general, offering localities no reason to see the threat as a systematic assault by a hostile nation. Some of those warnings did not even go to the right people.

Amazon Deforestation

ny times logoNew York Times, In Brazil, Amazon Protections Are Slashed and Forests Fall, Letícia Casado and Ernesto Londoño, July 28, 2019.  brazil flag wavingWhen the populist leader Jair Bolsonaro became the country’s president, his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining. Protecting the Amazon was policy in Brazil for much of the last 20 years. Cutting down trees at the current rate could lead to runaway deforestation.

U.S. Media News

Rolling Stone, The 24/7 Fight Against Fox News, Brian Hiatt, July 28, 2019. On the front lines with Media Matters — the conservative network’s worst nightmare If you believe former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, right, Media Matters for America is the nation’s “most dangerous bill oreilly 2010organization,” which would be quite a feat for a modestly funded nonprofit whose 80 employees spend a lot of their time quietly watching cable news at their desks.

The 15-year-old, left-leaning news-watchdog group’s mission of combating “conservative misinformation” extends to minute-by-minute scrutiny of right-wing media — Fox News, in particular — and its stars, who do not, as a rule, enjoy the attention. Sean Hannity accused MMFA of “liberal fascism,” and said it’s pressuring his advertisers to drop his show; the second part is entirely accurate.

fox news logo SmallIn addition to monitoring broadcasts in real time, Media Matters has a history of unearthing damning past comments by conservatives. Fox’s Tucker Carlson became the latest target in March, when MMFA published his early-2000s sexist and racist on-air banter with shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge (in one clip, Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys”). He’s been losing advertisers ever since, which was the goal.

Media Matters has been at war with Fox News since May 2004, when the watchdog was founded by David Brock — the singular D.C. fixture who went from right-wing anti-Clinton muckraker to left-wing Clinton insider. He envisioned MMFA as a fact-based, progressive counterweight to the Media Research Center, the conservative group that spent decades claiming to find liberal bias in the media.

Working the refs paid off for the right in credulous coverage of everything from the Iraq War to Paul Ryan’s purported policy prowess: “The right wing…has dominated the debate over liberal bias,” Brock said at the time. “They’ve moved the media itself to the right and therefore they’ve moved American politics to the right.”

Brock stepped back in the wake of the 2016 election and accusations that Media Matters had transformed itself into a Hillary Clinton fan site, to the point of bringing on James Carville as a guest columnist.

But the organization’s core battle is more urgent than ever, to say the least. The Trump presidency is arguably the end result of years of reality manipulation by Fox News and its ilk, with Trump’s supporters convinced he’s rescued them from migrant caravans, Obama’s assault on American values, and the war on Christmas, while any contrary information is, of course, fake.

Trump, once a supposed Democrat, seems to have reshaped much of his worldview over the past decade to conform to Fox News’ opinion hosts, even as they now adapt some of their views to match his heterodox ideas. (Talking to dictators without preconditions, for instance, is now double-plus-good.)

Turkey: Some ISIS Children Return

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey Repatriates Children of ISIS Followers, Carlotta Gall, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). The country is allowing some of the wives and children of the terror group’s loyalists to return home from Iraq.

turkey flagSitting on a chair swinging her legs, 9-year-old Nisa flashes a rare smile at the memory of her mother kissing her the last time they saw each other. Barely a month back from a prison camp in Iraq, where her mother remains incarcerated on a life sentence for aiding terrorism, her short life has been one of untold trauma and upheaval. She is one of more than 200 Turkish children the government has repatriated from Iraq. She was handed over to her maternal grandparents in Istanbul, who know only snippets of what she has been through.

The reluctance to repatriate these loyalists has extended to family members as well, such as wives and children. But under pressure from anxious relatives — some of them grandparents who have never even met their grandchildren — Turkish officials have changed their tune.

Epstein: Cosmo 'Bachelor'

jeffrey epstein cosmo bachelor of month stephen ogilvy photo

Jeffrey Epstein as Cosmo Magazine 'Bachelor of the Month' in July 1980 (Stephen Ogilvy Photo).

daily beast logoDaily Beast, When Epstein Was Cosmo’s Bachelor of the Month, Kate Briquelet, July 28, 2019. In July 1980, the predatory financier was featured as the magazine’s “Bachelor of the Month" seeking a "cute Texas girl."

Long before Jeffrey Epstein boasted of his billionaires-only client list — and long before his arrests for molesting underage girls in Florida and New York — the perverted financier was an eligible bachelor in the glossy pages of Cosmopolitan.

In July 1980, Epstein was featured as the magazine’s “Bachelor of the Month,” a tiny section advertising successful single men across the country. At the time, the future sex-offender was a Bear Stearns trader and asked potential dates to write him at the investment bank's former headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

Epstein also claimed to speak only to millionaires, a prelude to his high-rolling lifestyle that included hobnobbing with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, and amassing a collection of posh homes in Palm Beach, New York, Paris, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The personals ad, which included a photo of Epstein in a suit, portrayed him as a “New York dynamo” seeking “a cute Texas girl.”

anthony weiner“Financial strategist Jeffrey Epstein, 27, talks only to people who make over a million a year!” the listing declared. “If you’re ‘a cute Texas girl,’ write this New York dynamo at 55 Water St., 49th floor, N.Y.C. 10041.”

In December 2003, Page Six declared Epstein, then 50 years old, one of New York City’s “most eligible guys” under the headline “Singling Out Apple’s Top Studs.” The list of bachelors included Donald Trump, Jr., modeling agent Paolo Zampolli, and disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, at right.

Trump Watch: More

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just completely short circuited, Bill Palmer, July 28, 2019. It was sometime after midnight. Donald Trump tweeted a twenty-second video which zoomed in on Jerry Nadler while Nancy Pelosi was speaking, and ended with a cutaway to Trump insisting that the Democrats had nothing on him. It was as strange as it was incoherent as it was stupid. It was the second time he’d posted the idiotic clip in a day and a half. And it was the moment in which Trump finally went fully around the bend.

donald trump twitterIt wasn’t that Donald Trump posted this embarrassingly dumb video clip in isolation. He’d spent all day tweeting one increasingly depraved thing after another. He went on and on about how much he hated Congressman Elijah Cummings. He kept hurling racist stereotypes and thinly veiled Nazi language at the city of Baltimore. He repeatedly attacked Robert Mueller. At no point did Trump come close to a rational thought.

bill palmer report logo headerAs the evening went on, Trump just kept ramping up his absurd behavior, like a psychologically unstable employee who just figured out he’s eventually going to get fired, and has decided to let go of what little effort he had been making at behaving himself. In fact that’s pretty much what happened. The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry on Friday seems to have sent a signal to Trump that he’s not long for this presidency anyway, and that there’s no longer any reason for him to listen to those around him who have been telling him to keep his psychotic behavior tamped down.

This impeachment inquiry comes even as Donald Trump’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal gets uglier by the day, as Mueller reminds us that Trump will be indicted on federal charges the minute he’s out of office, and as the New York Attorney General keeps hinting that state level charges may be coming before that. No wonder Trump is tweeting like he’s already lost. Even in his broken psychology, he knows where this is headed for him.

More On Mueller

washington post logoWashington Post, Some lawmakers have misgivings over decision to push Mueller to testify, Matt Zapotosky and Rachael Bade, July 28, robert mueller full face file2019 (print ed.). Those familiar with Robert S. Mueller III’s work say he was an attentive leader throughout the special counsel investigation. But after his sometimes halting testimony, some lawmakers are privately worrying about his acuity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre — unless you watch Fox News, Nicole Hemmer, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). Treating right-wing conspiracy theories as smoking guns shows that Republicans are mostly speaking to their base.

Trump's Plan Sparks Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Guatemala’s migrant pact with the U.S. threatens to unleash a political crisis, Mary Beth Sheridan, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). In pressuring Guatemala to accept a deal to absorb vast numbers of asylum seekers, the Trump administration has embarked on a dramatic and risky strategy to slash the number of Central Americans flooding the U.S. border.

ICE logoThe accord — which was negotiated in secret and signed at the White House on Friday — could plunge Guatemala’s young democracy into a constitutional crisis, analysts warn. It could also saddle one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries with tens of thousands of Salvadoran and Honduran migrants who would be barred from making their claims in the United States.

The agreement is one of the boldest steps yet taken by President Trump to stanch the flow of migrants to the U.S. border. It aims to close off the U.S. asylum system to the migrants who have crossed through Guatemala en route to the United States. They would instead have to seek protection in Guatemala.

But the agreement is built on a fragile political and legal base. The Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that President Jimmy Morales needed approval from the Guatemalan Congress to sign the accord, something he has not received. Morales has sharply criticized the court decision, saying Friday that “as far as we understand, this doesn’t have to go before Congress.”

U.S. Politics

Axios Sneak Peak, 1 big thing: How Robert Mueller shielded Trump's budget deal, Jonathan Swan, July 28, 2019. Before President Trump agreed to support a 2-year budget deal that would inflate the national debt and allow $320 billion in new spending, he monitored Fox News for signs of rebellion. But instead of bringing up fiscal responsibility and the national debt, all his favorite hosts were talking about Robert Mueller.

Behind the scenes: Trump liked what he saw (or rather, what he didn't see), according to two administration officials familiar with the president's thinking. His favorite hosts had little to say about the big-spending, Democrat-friendly, deal — a welcome contrast from last March, when they almost convinced him to veto a similarly spendy deal. (Trump vowed at the time he'd never sign another deal like it.)

joe biden headshot2). Dems prepare 'Kill Biden' strategies for this week's debates. They don't want to talk about it, but the struggling Kirsten Gillibrand campaign appears to have spent a lot of time Googling Joe Biden, right, as of late. The New York senator has publicly — and cryptically — alluded to unnamed Democratic candidates who "do not believe necessarily kirsten gillibrand headshotthat it's a good idea that women work outside the home." The remark, which she's declined to clarify, has generated fervid speculation.

Why this matters: Gillibrand, left, appears to be adopting a 'Kill Biden' strategy that's popular among Democrats preparing for the second round of debates in Detroit this week. Several campaigns and strategists told Axios' Alexi McCammond they see an opportunity to damage Biden and boost their own fortunes as Harris did when she hit Biden on desegregation in the first debate.

July 27

Impeachment Inquiry

ny times logoNew York Times, Raising Prospect of Impeachment, House Seeks Mueller’s Secrets, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats said they need access to secret grand jury evidence because they are weighing whether to recommend impeaching Mr. Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked a federal judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, using the court filing to declare that lawmakers have already in effect launched an impeachment investigation of President Trump.

U.S. House logoIn a legal maneuver that carries significant political overtones, the committee told a judge that it needs access to the grand jury evidence collected by Mr. Mueller as special counsel — such as witness testimony — because it is “investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment” against the president.

“Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions,” the filing told the judge, Beryl A. Howell, who supervised Mr. Mueller’s grand jury.

Referring to the part of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to impeach and remove a president, the filing continued: “To do so, the House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise all its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — approval of articles of impeachment.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the House Democrats just did to Donald Trump is genius, Bill Palmer, right, July 27, 2019. When it comes to bill palmerimpeaching Donald Trump, the House Democrats face a number of tricky factors. Democrats have to use the impeachment process to build up public demand for Trump’s ouster, so GOP Senators might be forced to go along with it for fear of losing their own seats. Democrats have to pull this off without prompting Trump’s existing supporters to reflexively rally around him. And Democrats can’t do any of this until they win their court battles over the relevant testimony and evidence.

bill palmer report logo headerSomehow, the House Democrats just managed to thread that needle in one fell swoop – at least in terms of getting the ball rolling. The House Judiciary Committee made a court filing yesterday which confirms that they’re seeking the evidence and testimony in question because they’re trying to determine whether Donald Trump needs to be impeached. This court filing is an impeachment inquiry, meaning the impeachment process has begun.

But because the House Democrats are kicking off impeachment with a Friday afternoon court filing instead of firing it out of a T-shirt cannon, they’re not giving Donald Trump much of a rallying point just yet. He can run his mouth all he wants, but he’ll have a difficult time firing up his base by whining about a mere impeachment court filing. After all, his supporters tend to view politics through a lens of “wall good, immigrant bad” and have no interest in the legal nuances of the impeachment process.

democratic donkey logoThat means House Democrats have managed to start the impeachment process in a way that helps fire up their base, while making it difficult for Donald Trump to fire up his base, even while continuing to focus on the court battles over testimony and evidence that they’re going to need to win first before they can file the actual articles of impeachment anyway.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Europe’s heat wave is about to bake the Arctic, Andrew Freedman, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). The heat is shifting toward Scandinavia, and eventually into the Arctic, where it could supercharge the sea and land ice melt season.

NY Fire Board Seeks New 9/11 Probe  ny fire commissioners franklin square munson 9 11 philip malloy dennis lyons kerry santina joseph torregrossa kenneth gray

Franklin Square Munson Fire District Commission 768, from left to right: Commissioner Philip F. Malloy, Jr.; Commissioner Dennis G. Lyons; District Secretary Kerry Santina; Commissioner Joseph M. Torregrossa; Attorney Kenneth Gray; Commissioner Christopher L. Gioia; Commissioner Les Saltzman.

Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth, New York Area Fire Commissioners Make History, Call for New 9/11 Investigation, Ted Walter, July 27, ae 911 truth logo horizontal2019. They started off by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Ten minutes later, they were reading the text of a resolution claiming the existence of “overwhelming evidence” that “pre-planted explosives . . . caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings.”

911 world trade center creative commonsAnd so it was, on July 24, 2019 — nearly 18 years after the horrific attacks that traumatized a nation and changed the world forever — the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District became the first legislative body in the country to officially support a new investigation into the events of 9/11.

911 Commission ReportThe resolution, drafted and introduced by Commissioner Christopher Gioia, was unanimously approved by the five commissioners. Members of the audience — including the families of fallen firefighters Thomas J. Hetzel and Robert Evans, both Franklin Square natives — joined in solemn but celebratory applause after the fifth “ay” was spoken.

Conversing with guests after the meeting, Commissioner Dennis Lyons remarked on the enormous and lasting toll that 9/11 has taken on the Franklin Square community. “We have a memorial — a piece of steel from the World Trade Center with 28 holes where the nuts and bolts used to go,” Lyons explained. “Every year on the 11th, we put a rose in each hole for the 24 Nassau County firefighters and four Franklin Square residents who died on 9/11.”

“We have a memorial — a piece of steel from the World Trade Center with 28 holes where the nuts and bolts used to go. Every year on the 11th, we put a rose in each hole for the 24 Nassau County firefighters and four Franklin Square residents who died on 9/11.”
— Commissioner Dennis Lyons

The impact of 9/11 on the community extends well beyond the victims and their grieving families. On September 12, 2001, the Franklin Square Fire Department was called in to assist with the massive rescue and recovery effort that was just getting underway. Countless members of the department, including Gioia and Commissioner Philip Malloy (then rank-and-file firefighters), spent weeks on the pile searching in vain for civilians and fellow responders who might still be alive. Today, Malloy is one of thousands suffering chronic health effects.

Besides the commissioners’ desire to see justice done for their fallen brothers and deceased neighbors, the driving force behind the resolution was a petition filed last year with United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, outlining the evidence of the World Trade Center’s explosive demolition on 9/11.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office notified the Lawyers’ Committee in November that it would indeed comply with the federal statute requiring the U.S. Attorney to present the petition to a special grand jury. The news set off a wave of hope, among those paying attention, that the wheels of justice were finally beginning to move in the right direction.

Adding a surge to that wave of hope, the Franklin Square resolution declares the fire district’s full backing of the (presumably) ongoing grand jury investigation in Lower Manhattan, while also proclaiming the district’s support for “any and all efforts by other government entities to investigate and uncover the full truth surrounding the events of that horrible day.”

Epstein, Israeli Unmasked?

Narativ, Building Big Brother: Jeffrey Epstein’s investment in an Israeli start-up reveals a myriad of links to Donald Trump and Israeli spies, Zev Shalev and Tracie McElroy, July 27, 2019.

What we found:

  • Jeffrey Epstein is an Israeli spy.
  • He is an investor in a start-up with ties to Israeli Intelligence.
  • Two Putin-linked oligarchs are his partners.
  • The start-up poses a privacy risk.
  • Ties to Erik Prince, Michael Cohen, George Nader and Peter Thiel.

It’s been thirty-two years since the “Pollard Affair” pierced the seemingly impenetrable facade of U.S.-Israeli relations. Now, two suspected Israeli agents are in jail – indicted on separate charges of sex trafficking of minors.

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on July 6 and charged with trafficking minors across state lines. George Nader – a key witness for Robert Mueller – was arrested last month for possession of child porn and transporting a minor for sex from Europe.

Epstein and Nader share a personal network that includes Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Erik Prince, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his UAE counterpart, Mohamed Bin Zayed.

But their association goes further than powerful friends and proclivities for teenage boys and girls. Epstein and Nader are believed to be agents for Israeli Intelligence. Narativ has independently confirmed Epstein was indeed working for the Israelis.

Both men also have ties to a burgeoning Israeli tech sector which is bringing Mossad-style military intelligence to the private sector and endangering the global balance of power.

The Haaretz newspaper has previously reported that Epstein, who was Donald Trump’s friend through the ’80s and ’90s, partnered in an Israeli start-up alongside former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Barak is seeking to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli Prime Minister in the upcoming re-run elections scheduled for September. Since 2015, he has been the front-man for Carbyne, an Israeli start-up which purports to be a high-tech solution for 911 emergency call centers, but the platform’s architecture and investors raise serious privacy concerns.

Narativ undertook an extensive investigation into Carbyne, and can now reveal a myriad of troubling connections between the start-up and people connected to Donald Trump.

U.S. Politics

nancy pelosi djt sotu feb 6 2019 doug mills nytimes via ap feb 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strikes a pose in applauding President Trump at the State of the Union Address on Feb. 6. 2019 (Doug Mills / New York Times via Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, With a month of victories, Pelosi shows who holds the reins in a fractious House, Mike DeBonis, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats began July in a shambles. Now, even with the divide over impeachment, they are leaving for recess on remarkably better footing.

The House was already well on its way to passing a crucial budget agreement Thursday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled aside Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer in a hallway outside the chamber.

U.S. House logoDemocrats had already cast 216 votes for the bill, Pelosi told Hoyer. But two more votes would send a message: that the party was so united, it could pass a compromise negotiated with President Trump and Republicans with an absolute majority of the House.

democratic donkey logoMoments after Hoyer walked onto the floor, three more Democrats voted for the bill — including two members of the liberal “Squad” of newly elected women — vividly demonstrating that despite the frequent turmoil in their ranks, Pelosi and her leadership team stand in firm control of House Democrats.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters afterward that she wanted to make a statement about her caucus’s unity, and at a news conference Friday, she held forth on her leadership of a rambunctious group.

Border Wall

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Lets Trump Proceed on Wall Plans Amid Legal Fight, Adam Liptak, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to build a wall along parts of the Mexican border while litigation over paying for it proceeds.

A trial judge had prohibited the administration from transferring $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s budget to fund the effort, and an appeals court had refused to enter a stay while it considered the administration’s appeal.

The Supreme Court entered a stay, allowing construction to proceed while the litigation continues.

The court’s four more liberal justices dissented. One of them, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, wrote that he would have allowed preparatory work but not construction.

In February, President Trump declared a national emergency along the Mexican border. The declaration followed a two-month impasse with Congress over funding to build his long-promised barrier wall, one that gave rise to the longest partial government shutdown in the nation’s history.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Wall Gets America Nowhere on Border Security, Editorial Board, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). Immigration reform is long overdue, but it must be based on inclusion and humanity, not on cruel posturing.

SCOTUSblog, Academic highlight: The quiet doctrinal shift (likely) behind the border-wall stay, Stephen I. Vladeck (Professor of law at the stephen vladek university of texas CustomUniversity of Texas), July 27, 2019. By what was effectively a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court yesterday agreed to fully stay a California district court’s injunction against President Donald Trump’s repurposing of appropriated funds to build part of his “border wall.”

The Supreme Court’s summary order in Trump v. Sierra Club offered one sentence of explanation: “Among the reasons is that the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary’s compliance with Section 8005.” But the decision is part of a larger, emerging trend that I explore in a new paper, a draft of which I’ve posted to SSRN — one in which the solicitor general has been unusually aggressive in seeking emergency or extraordinary relief from the justices, and the court, or at least a majority thereof, has largely acquiesced.

As I wrote back in December, the Supreme Court has broad constitutional and statutory authority to issue emergency relief (such as stays of lower-court rulings pending appeals) or extraordinary relief (such as writs of mandamus or certiorari “before judgment”).

Justice Department log circularHistorically, however, the justices have been loath to do so — preferring to follow regular order whenever possible, and requiring showings of true exigency and imperative to justify departures from “normal appellate practice.” And perhaps respecting and reflecting that skepticism, the solicitor general has generally been reluctant to invoke the court’s emergency and extraordinary authorities. Over the 16 years of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, for example, the government sought a total of eight stays from the Supreme Court, asked for certiorari before judgment in four cases, and sought no extraordinary writs.

In sharp contrast, the Trump administration has repeatedly asked the court to depart from regular order. In two and a half years, the solicitor general has applied for at least 20 stays; has sought certiorari before judgment in 10 different cases, and has sought extraordinary writs against three different district court judges. Numerically, the government’s success rate is something of a mixed bag. Including yesterday’s decision, the Supreme Court has granted nine of the government’s stay applications in full (and three in part); it has granted certiorari before judgment in six of the 10 cases; and it has not granted any of the applications for extraordinary writs.

But the numbers don’t tell the full story. When the government has lost, its applications have often been denied without prejudice, or through orders that have nevertheless nudged the lower courts toward the government’s position. Whether directly or indirectly, the government has generally ended up getting most of what it has wanted — and no justice has identified any impropriety in the frequency with which the government has asked the Supreme Court for such unusual interventions.

Simply put, even if the court hasn’t expressly approved of the government’s aggressive litigation tactics, its actions have largely acquiesced in them — and have left at least the impression that it has no objection.

Where has this uptick come from?

[T]he paper suggests a related but distinct explanation: That, quietly but steadily, the court’s doctrinal standard for emergency relief has more generally shifted toward a view first espoused by then-Justice William Rehnquist — that anytime a government policy is enjoined by a lower court, the government suffers irreparable harm regardless of the other equities involved (and regardless of the scope of the injunction). Rehnquist traced this idea to the “presumption of constitutionality” — the idea that, all things being equal, courts assume the government is acting lawfully, and the burden should be on the plaintiffs to prove otherwise. (Rehnquist was arguably overstating things; the presumption is about statutes, not all executive branch conduct, and is supposed to give way in any event to individual constitutional rights.)

On that view (whatever its merits), the government’s applications for emergency relief in these cases would turn entirely on whether the government has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of the entire case—and on the justices’ own predictive judgments of how the court is likely to rule if and when the full case reaches the court. And on that view, it wouldn’t (and doesn’t) matter if, as Justice

The harder question is whether this development is a salutary one. The paper offers four potential objections.....

Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, the court’s conduct gives rise at least to the appearance of inequity — that the court is willing to suspend regular order whenever the government asks (or, worse, when certain administrations ask), but almost never in any other case, regardless of the circumstances.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he has deal with Guatemala to help stem flow of migrants, Seung Min Kim, Kevin Sieff and Abigail Hauslohner, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump on Friday said he has struck a deal that would designate Guatemala as a safe third country for people seeking asylum in the United States — a plan that is facing significant legal hurdles in the Central American country as the Trump administration continues to struggle with the high number of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border.

ICE logoThe White House did not immediately release details of the agreement, and it is unclear how it would be implemented considering Guatemala’s constitutional court has ruled any safe third country agreement would require legislative approval and the proposal has been widely criticized there.

Trump announced the arrangement in a previously unscheduled appearance in the Oval Office with Enrique Degenhart, the Guatemalan minister of government, and acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan.

2 U.S. Teens Accused In Italian Police Killing

washington post logoWashington Post, Italy: U.S. teens arrested in connection with death of police officer, Hannah Knowles, July 28, 2019. As law enforcement mourns the Rome killing of Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, that has sparked outrage in Italy, more numbers have been added to the picture: two Americans arrested Friday on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted extortion, according to the Carabinieri, the Italian military police force where Cerciello Rega served.

Prosecutors have identified the two as 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder, both born in San Francisco and vacationing in Italy without family, the Associated Press reported. Elder is accused of stabbing the officer Friday, and Natale Hjorth is alleged to have struck the officer’s partner, who was not seriously injured, with his hands. Italian authorities say the teens have confessed.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called the officer’s killing a “deep wound for the State,” while the Italian army, state police and a host of other agencies, politicians and Italian citizens shared their condolences online.

Authorities say the tragedy started when the Americans attempted to buy drugs. After realizing they had received fake product, they looked for the seller, police told the New York Times. Unable to locate him, the teens pursued the man who had pointed them toward the alleged drug-peddler earlier and stole his bag with his cellphone inside.

When the man called his phone, the teens demanded 100 euros and a gram of cocaine for the bag’s return, according to the Carabinieri. Police say the Italian agreed over the phone to meet for the exchange but then alerted the authorities of the theft. The Carabinieri responded, and Cerciello Rega was attacked, police said. One of the officer’s eight stab wounds was in his heart, Italian state media outlet ANSA reported.

Cerciello Rega and his partner were wearing plainclothes, according to the AP. Police say the Americans “didn’t hesitate to engage in a struggle” even though the officers identified themselves as members of the Carabinieri.

But the American suspects are divided on whether police made their identity clear, NBC reported. A detention order indicates that Natale-Hjorth, who knows Italian, agreed that Rega said he was a Carabiniere officer, while Elder — who does not speak Italian — denied this.

Trump Watch

jared kushner head shotWawashington post logoshington Post, Adviser, son-in-law and hidden campaign hand: How Kushner is trying to help Trump win in 2020, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). Jared Kushner, right, age 38,  is rarely seen in the Northern Virginia campaign headquarters, but behind the scenes he signs off on everything from spending to digital initiatives.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Assails Black Congressional Critic, Calling His District a ‘Mess,’ Peter Baker, July 27, 2019. President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” who represents a Baltimore-based district that has become a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Mr. Trump’s attack on Representative Elijah E. Cummings, right, a Democrat from Maryland and leading donald trump twittercritic of the president, parroted a segment that aired earlier in the morning on “Fox & Friends.”

The president suggested that the congressman was a hypocrite for criticizing conditions in migrant detention centers at the southwestern border when his own district is blighted. Mr. Trump also made a vague and unsubstantiated insinuation of corruption.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Elijah Cummings fires back at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2019. Earlier today Donald Trump responded to an impeachment inquiry from the House Judiciary Committee by somewhat surreally attacking the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings. The profoundly racist nature of Trump’s attack gave away why Trump chose to target Cummings.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump slammed Elijah Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore, all but labeling it a hellhole, and making the Nazi-like declaration that “No human being would want to live there.” Even as Trump faced condemnation from pretty much everyone who isn’t a congressional Republican, Cummings decided to fire back at Trump in a fierce but dignified manner.

elijah cummings headshotCongressman Cummings, right, posted this on Twitter: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents. Just yesterday, I held a hearing on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the financial hardships that families across the nation, and in Baltimore, are facing.”

Elijah Cummings then went on to explain that two years ago, Donald Trump promised to work with him on prescription drug prices, and that Trump has since dropped the ball entirely. Trump weakly fired back in response, insisting that Cummings “spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through ‘Oversight.'”

Consumer Protection

sprint tmobile logos

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If You Own a Cell Phone, You Should Worry About the T-Mobile-Sprint Deal, Editorial Board, July 26, 2019  In allowing the merger, the Justice Department is prioritizing corporate profits over the public interest.

The Justice Department apparently thinks that Americans will benefit from competition among at least four major mobile phone companies. That is the clear logic of its decision on Friday to bless the marriage of T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the four existing mobile phone giants, on the condition that they clear the way for the rise of a new competitor.

It’s a little hard to understand, however, why the government wants to pursue that goal by allowing Sprint to be swallowed and then hoping a new company emerges in its place. Surely it would be more sensible to preserve Sprint as an independent company.

Opioid Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Obscure makers of generic drugs played central role in opioid crisis, records show, Aaron C. Davis, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, July 27, 2019. Though Purdue Pharma has long borne the brunt of criticism for its role in the crisis, newly unsealed court records thrust a spotlight on a handful of little-known drug manufacturers that by 2006 — as the death rate was still accelerating — were selling the bulk of opioid pills flooding the country.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Unless Democrats wake up, history could repeat itself, Colbert I. King, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). “Repulsive though he is, nominee Trump’s character defects aren’t what makes him a threat. What does sicken and alarm, and what democratic donkey logoought to concentrate African American minds, is the thought of Trump with the powers of the presidency in his hands.”

Those words of desperation appeared in a column I wrote a few weeks before the polls opened in November 2016. I repeat them today in quiet despair. We seem, once again, to be concentrating on the wrong things.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThree years ago, too few African Americans — no, make that too few Americans — in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Wisconsin gave serious thought to what turned out to be one of the most consequential presidential elections in modern history.

They apathetically stayed at home, thus helping to hand the White House to a man whose monumental defects were staring them in the face — a danger they either refused or were too blind to see.

Wwashington post logoashington Post, Sweden caught in Trump crossfire over arrest of rapper A$AP Rocky, David Nakamura, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, on vacation in her hometown, had already been on the phone with a congressman from New York outraged about the treatment of jailed American rapper A$AP Rocky when her phone buzzed with a notification.

sweden flag was a new tweet from the president of the United States declaring that he had spoken with another celebrity rapper, Kanye West, and would be calling Sweden’s prime minister to intervene in Rocky’s case.

donald trump twitter“So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!” Trump wrote on July 19.

For Olofsdotter, the implications of Trump’s social media missive were clear: A high-profile case involving a celebrity and two companions — arrested after a street fight in a case that already included sensitive issues of race, nationality and the rule of law — was now threatening to turn into a bilateral flash point with a leader who has made sowing divisions over those issues a centerpiece of his presidency.

World News: UK

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: We're wrapping up a well-nigh cataclysmic week for the Trump Regime, Webster G. Tarpley, July 27, 2019 (73 mins.). And at the same time we are confronted with a new and very threatening situation in the Western Alliance, in particular in NATO.

He is unfit, of course, to be prime minister in the same way Trump has pioneered staying in the presidency even though he is unfit.

boris johnson july 2015Now we're facing the threat of dictatorship. The danger is that the British Parliament, probably the first continuous specimen of its type...now risks being turned literally into a rubber stamp, some group of toadies, rowdies and bounders that you can literally send home when they get in the way.

And that's where we're headed with "BoJo," right. We're getting Anglo-American fascism. There is strong opposition but in each case the opposition is wretched.

July 26

Mueller Testimony Follow Up

robert mueller fox july 24 2019 Custom

Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, testified on Capitol Hill on July 24 (Fox News screenshot). 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here we go: the House Judiciary Committee just initiated the impeachment process against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 26, 2019. This morning, Palmer Report told you that we were closer to the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment than ever. This was based on reports that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had privately pressured Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to begin the impeachment process, and that Pelosi had merely said that the timing was “premature.” Now this afternoon, Nadler has begun the impeachment process after all – and Pelosi is tacitly on board with it.

bill palmer report logo headerNadler and his committee are now making the formal argument in court that they need the grand jury proceedings from Robert Mueller’s investigation, so they can use it to make a determination on whether to impeach Donald Trump. If this sounds like an impeachment inquiry to you, it’s because it is one. When CNN’s Manu Raju asked Nadler if this was jerrold nadler o Smallindeed an impeachment inquiry, Nadler responded “in effect” that it is. This means the impeachment process has begun.

It’s clear that Nancy Pelosi privately signed off on this, or Jerry Nadler, right, wouldn’t be doing it. This means Pelosi is tacitly on board with this de facto impeachment inquiry. If you don’t want to rely on our interpretation alone, Harvard Law Professor and foremost constitutional expert Laurence Tribe tweeted this: “People who’re describing this as merely an inquiry into ‘whether’ to begin an impeachment inquiry are totally wrong. This IS the ‘impeachment inquiry’ that anyone who knows what’s up has been calling for. Neither more nor less.”

So here we go. The impeachment process against Donald Trump has begun – not with the bang that some were fantasizing about – but it’s nonetheless begun. House Democrats are not yet locked into bringing articles of impeachment. But as Palmer Report has long explained, that phase is not going to happen until the Democrats have finished winning their court battles over evidence and testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mueller didn’t fail. The country did, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 26, 2019 (print ed.). I worry that we — the media, voters, Congress — are dangerously unserious when it comes to preservation of our democracy.

jennifer rubin new headshotTo spend hours of airtime and write hundreds of print and online reports pontificating about the “optics” of Mueller’s performance — when he confirmed that President Trump accepted help from a hostile foreign power and lied about it, that he lied when he claimed exoneration, that he was not completely truthful in written answers, that he could be prosecuted after leaving office and that he misled Americans by calling the investigation a hoax — tells me that we have become untrustworthy guardians of democracy.

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

robert mueller fox july 24 2019 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What the Mueller Hearings Did Not Tell Us, Caroline Fredrickson (president of the American Constitution Society), July 26, 2019 (print ed.). There’s a lot more to the case against Mr. Trump and his associates. On Wednesday, in sworn congressional testimony, Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly confirmed 100 percent of the devastating findings of his report, and made clear that his inquiry does not exonerate the president.

Within 24 hours, though, the conversation has coalesced around a few superficial observations: Mr. Mueller underperformed and the Republicans overplayed their hand, but in the end, this is just about the end of the road for investigations around President Trump, let alone talk of impeachment.

Justice Department log circularNot so fast. Cooler heads in Congress and the news media are pressing forward on the material presented by Mr. Mueller’s team, especially the possibility that the president attempted to obstruct justice. But there’s something else to keep in mind: There’s a lot more to the case against Mr. Trump and his associates than what came up in Wednesday’s hearings.

First, while Mr. Mueller’s inquiry generated 37 criminal indictments and has secured at least seven guilty pleas or convictions, some of these cases, including the prosecution of the longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, are ongoing, and were not fully addressed in the redacted Mueller report.

Second, the extent of Mr. Trump’s past or continuing business dealings with Russia remains a mystery. Mr. Mueller confirmed that it was outside the scope of his investigation to address whether Russians laundered money through Trump businesses, and declined to discuss whether he reviewed Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

The Atlantic, Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment: Our Constitution requires it. Our democracy depends on it, July 26, 2019. Mary Gay Scanlon (Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee), Rep. David Cicilline (Rhode Island); Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Washington State); and Rep. Veronica Escobar (Texas).

Three months ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into Russian election interference and President Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice. When the redacted report finally became available to Congress and the American people, it painted a damning picture of a corrupt president who welcomed and encouraged an attack on our country, capitalized on it, and then tried to cover up what he had done.

During his press conference announcing the end of his investigation, Mueller pointed out that the Department of Justice believes “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal-justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” He was referring, without using the word, to impeachment—a process by which the U.S. House indicts, and the Senate convicts, a sitting president.

Congress has patiently tried to work within traditional means to get to the bottom of this extraordinary situation. Committees have called witnesses and requested evidence, only to be stonewalled by Trump and his associates. The president’s refusal to comply with the

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats struggle to figure out next move against Trump after Mueller hearing, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, July 6, 2016 (print ed.). Several Democrats wondered whether they erred in having Robert S. Mueller III to testify in public, and his appearance aggravated divisions in the party over impeachment.

democratic donkey logoHouse Democrats are struggling to figure out their next move against President Trump after their highly anticipated hearing with Robert S. Mueller III fell flat, forcing some Democrats to second-guess their strategy while aggravating divisions in the party over impeachment.

Several centrist Democrats seized on the absence of a major revelation to argue it was time to end House investigations into whether Trump tried to obstruct the former special counsel’s probe and pivot to legislation.

“Anyone who was looking for the smoking gun yesterday didn’t get it,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), who ousted a Republican incumbent by fewer than 500 votes in last year’s midterm elections. “It’s time to move on and focus on getting some bills passed here that can get signed into law.”

But that plea had no effect on the pro-impeachment Democrats, who dug in, insisting that House oversight of Trump and his administration has been ineffective and pressed for launching proceedings.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, ‘BORING!’ Stephen Colbert Rips Into CNN, MSNBC Hosts for ‘Panning’ Mueller, Matt Wilstein, July 26, 2019.The “Late Show” host is fed up with pundits focusing on style over substance when it comes to Robert Mueller. Stephen Colbert has spent a lot of time going after Fox News over the years, but it’s far more rare that he takes aim at CNN or MSNBC.

But that’s what he did Thursday night after hosts on those networks focused more on the optics of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s hearing this week than on the substance of his testimony.

“At the hearings, Mueller confirmed that the president of the United States was not ‘totally exonerated,’” as Trump has repeatedly claimed, the host explained. “Mueller also agreed that Trump obstructed the investigation multiple times, Russia tampered with the election in Trump’s favor. And that the president welcomed that help, lied about welcoming it and encouraged others to lie about it.”

“In short: BORING!” the Late Show host added. “I assume it must have been because the critics have decided. And they’re panning Mueller’s performance.”

Colbert was referring not only to headlines from The New York Times and the AP—”and he’s only got 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes,” he joked—but also cable news anchors like CNN’s Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for calling Mueller less than “sharp” and saying he “persistently seemed old.”

“And if we learned one thing from watching movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it’s that we should always ignore the dire warnings of the old guy,” the host said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Sarah Huckabee Sanders finds a whole new way to humiliate herself, Bill Palmer, July 26, 2019. Sarah Huckabee Sanders resigned as Donald Trump’s White House Press Secretary last month, providing no explanation for why she was bailing on the sarah huckabee sanders screenshotadministration, and ended up moving back to Arkansas. Of the many bottom-feeders who have bailed on Trump since he took office, some of them have since come around and started to make sense and tell the truth, while others have had the sense to simply disappear.

Unfortunately for Sanders, right, she’s just as much of a mess as ever.

bill palmer report logo headerThis week Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly testified about his investigation into Donald Trump’s crimes. Sarah Huckabee Sanders had a personal vested interest in this, as the Mueller probe forced her to admit that she lied to the public in order to protect Trump from his criminal scandals. It turns out Sanders had something to say about Mueller’s testimony.

Sarah Sanders tweeted this after Robert Mueller testified: “Didn’t take long for Mueller to once again vindicate President Donald Trump. No collusion. No obstruction. And now Mueller all but admits it was all along a total witch hunt.” This was pretty hilarious, considering that Mueller specifically stated in his public testimony that his report did not exonerate Trump, and that Trump can be indicted after he gets out of office. Mueller also stated that his investigation was not a “witch hunt.”

Suffice it to say that the responses to Sarah Huckabee Sanders aren’t kind. Her tweet received six times as many comments as retweets, and the vast majority of the comments were negative. Pulling off that kind of negative ratio on Twitter is a rare and impressive feat. It’s clear that Sanders is as intent on humiliating herself as ever.

Inside DC

Common Dreams, McConnell Dubbed 'Moscow Mitch' for Blocking two bills that would protect our election security, Julia Conley, July 26, 2019. "Moscow Mitch should be the focus of everyone who cares about America. Forget the current occupant of the White House, he is irrelevant without Mitch providing his safety net."

mitch mcconnell2Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earned the nickname "Moscow Mitch" Friday after blocking lawmakers from taking action to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections just as the legislature he leads concluded that Russians meddled in the 2016 elections in all 50 states.

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" anchor, Joe Scarborough, coined the name on his show Friday morning, condemning the Kentucky Republican for refusing to defend the country's electoral system when McConnell blocked the Senate from considering a House bill which would invest nearly $800 billion in strengthening election systems across the country, mandate the use of paper ballots to prevent election results from being hacked, and require all campaigns to notify authorities if they are offered assistance from a foreign country.

Daily Kos, Opinion: There is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much later than you think, Mark Sumner, July 26, 2019.  The news that Donald Trump is openly feeding classified information to Devin Nunes should be upsetting. It not only represents a complete upending of the standard relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch, but it’s just one aspect of a threat that Trump has set down brick by brick, until it has America poised on the edge of a cliff that many don’t even seem to realize is looming: the absolute inability to get at the truth due to a gross disparity in the availability of information. That may sound technical. Or even picayune. It’s not.

djt justice liberty truth metooIn any conflict, there is one factor that is certain to destroy any possibility of a fair resolution: asymmetrical information. Asymmetrical information is just what it sounds like, It's when one side of a conflict has more or better information than the other. That information gives that side an advantage in both tactics and strategy. Now look at what Trump and Attorney General William Barr are doing, and have been doing, step by step, for months.

Trump hasn't voluntarily provided a witness to Congress since Democrats took control of the House in January. He hasn’t turned over one page of documentation. Instead, Trump has ordered witnesses not to obey requests. Then to ignore congressional subpoenas. Then to ignore contempt citations. He has even extended this denial to former members of his staff, to members and former members of other areas of the executive branch far removed from direct contact with his office, and to members of his transition team.

In addition to denying Congress witnesses, or documents subpoenaed along with those witnesses, Trump has sued Congress to prevent the release of his personal information. He has continued to challenge the outcomes of those lawsuits. And he has ordered members of his Cabinet and their staff to ignore plain law in refusing to hand over information.

Should the situation ever reach the point where the Supreme Court orders Trump to produce the information, there is little doubt about what he will do. After all, this week has been a vivid reminder that, according to the Department of Justice, Donald Trump cannot be indicted. So why should he listen to any court? Should any of the witnesses Congress is seeking to interview ever be found in contempt, Trump has an answer for that. He can pardon them, just as he has his other friends and political supporters. Or Barr can claim privilege. In any case … no one is talking.

The net result is that Congress is absolutely starved for information. Does the House seem indecisive and confused? Is there a frustrating schism within the Democratic Party? Yes. That’s because they are walking around in the dark, absolutely unable to get the information that usually fuels their decisions. Cautious representatives, used to checking every box in triplicate before making a move, feel suffocated by the lack of data, and frightened by the willingness of others to jump forward. In short, they’re afraid it’s all a trap. And it could be—both because they don’t have the information they want, and because Barr can create any information he wants.

washington post logoWashington Post, While crossings at the southern border are dropping, the White House has vowed to continue its fight to tighten U.S. asylum rules, David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and Maria Sacchetti, July 26, 2016 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Sprint, T-Mobile get approval for $26 billion merger from Justice Dept.,Tony Romm​, July 6, 2016.  The green light from sprint tmobile logosthe government’s antitrust watchdogs removes a significant federal hurdle that had been standing in the way of the two telecom giants.

To win the DOJ’s blessing, the telecom giants must sell critical lines of business to Dish Network, which stands to become a new player in the wireless market

washington post logoWashington Post, The IRS turned over Nixon’s tax returns the same day a congressional panel asked for them, Jeff Stein, July 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Internal Revenue Service turned President Richard Nixon’s tax returns over to a congressional committee the same day in 1973 that the panel requested them for a review, according to letters released by House Democrats on Thursday.

The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the richard nixon headshot Custompresident’s tax returns are “unprecedented,” and suggest a split between this administration and past IRS officials over the interpretation of the law.

Congressional Republicans denied any similarity between the two episodes, pointing out that Nixon, left, requested the investigation into his returns while Trump has not.

On Dec. 13, 1973, Laurence N. Woodworth of the Joint Committee on Taxation asked the IRS commissioner to review Nixon’s tax returns from 1969 through 1972, according to the documents. Nixon had asked the congressional committee to review the documents amid the widening Watergate scandal.

djt hoax presidential seal clubs

washington post logoWashington Post, Meet the man who created the fake presidential seal — a former Republican fed up with Trump, Reis Thebault and Michael Brice-Saddler, July 6, 2016 (print ed.). Charles Leazott hadn’t thought about the seal in months.

The 46-year-old graphic designer threw it together after the 2016 presidential election — it was one part joke, one part catharsis. He used to be a proud Republican. He voted for George W. Bush. Twice.

But Donald J. Trump’s GOP was no longer his party. So he created a mock presidential seal to prove his point.

He substituted the arrows in the eagle’s claw for a set of golf clubs — a nod to the new president’s favorite pastime. In the other set of talons, he swapped the olive branch for a wad of cash and replaced the United States’ Latin motto with a Spanish insult. Then, his coup de grace: a two-headed imperial bird lifted straight from the Russian coat of arms, an homage to the president’s checkered history with the adversarial country.

the modified symbol was loaded with jabs at the president — subtle and overt. The Russian eagle, an allusion to accusations that he embraced the Kremlin, and the Spanish script, a reference to Trump’s controversial border policies and his denigration of Latin American immigrants. Instead of E pluribus unum — “out of many, one” — Leazott wrote “45 es un títere,” or “45 is a puppet,” a callback to a viral exchange between Trump and Hillary Clinton in a 2016 debate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Colonel Accuses Top Military Nominee of Assault, Helene Cooper, July 26, 2019. Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser described being sexually assaulted in her hotel room at a defense forum by Air Force Gen. John Hyten, an accusation he has denied.

john hytenGeneral Hyten, left, was nominated by President Trump to be the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the country’s No. 2 military post.

Army Col. Kathryn A. Spletstoser, right, says she had returned to her hotel room and was putting on face cream on the night of Dec. 2, 2017, after a full day at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California, when her boss, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, the commander of United States Strategic Command, knocked on her door and said he wanted to talk to her.

kathryn spletstoserThe military’s itinerary of General Hyten’s movements that day in Simi Valley, which was viewed by The New York Times, said he was having “executive time.” Colonel Spletstoser said in an interview this week that her boss “sat on the bed in front of the TV and asked me to sit down next to him.”

According to her account, General Hyten reached for her hand. She became alarmed, and stood back up. He stood up too, she said, and pulled her to him and kissed her on the lips while pressing himself against her, then ejaculated, getting semen on his sweatpants and on her yoga pants.

In April, President Trump nominated General Hyten to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If confirmed, he would become the country’s No. 2 military officer, helping to oversee the 1.2 million active-duty American troops at home and deployed around the world.

A Defense Department official who on Friday discussed the investigation only on condition of anonymity maintained that the Air Force’s investigation into the allegations did not unearth any emails, text messages or other supporting evidence, except for the fact that the two were together at each time that she alleges abusive sexual contact took place.

The official said that General Hyten, who oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal as the head of the Strategic Command, is one of the most heavily guarded officers in the American military and is frequently escorted by a security detail.

The official said it would be difficult, though not impossible, for the general to have entered Colonel Spletstoser’s room without his security guards noticing. None of the guards, the official said, reported anything amiss.

Epstein Attack Probed

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein's unit mate had an illegal burner phone in his possession, Wayne Madsen, July 26, 2019 (subscription required). Officials of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan are being mum about how Nicholas Tartaglione, Jeffrey Epstein's unit mate who is charged with a quadruple homicide and faces the death penalty, obtained in the highly-secure facility a voice only "mini phone," commonly known as a "burner phone."

Corrections officers discovered Epstein nearly unconscious in his cell during the night of July 23. There were marks around Epstein's neck that authorities claimed were consistent with attempted suicide. However, they could have also been the result of an attempted strangulation.

Media News

InStyle.com, In Conversation with Julie K. Brown and Jane Mayer, Two Reporters Exposing Corruption All the Way to the Top, Sarah Cristobal, July 26, 2019. Jane Mayer and Julie K. Brown are two of the most influential investigative reporters in the country. As they continue to expose corruption and abuse at the highest levels, there’s no disputing the power of the press.

How does one define “determination”? It’s spending years chasing a story that you believe in when no one else does. It’s cold-calling leads, knocking on the doors of strangers, and traveling to obscure destinations to try to coax a witness or a victim who doesn’t want to talk to do just that. It’s spending your days poring over a decade’s worth of legal documents that are stacked in comically high piles in your guest room. It’s arranging clandestine meetings with federal marshals in a parking garage using code words like “Charlie” and “low-jane mayer cspankey.” It’s missing family vacations so you can write, without distraction, a story that attempts to balance the scales of justice.

Determination is in the DNA of Jane Mayer, the New Yorker’s chief Washington correspondent, and Julie K. Brown, a senior investigative reporter at the Miami Herald.

Mayer *shown in a C-SPAN screenshot) has written four best-selling books tackling the issues of money, corruption, and power in politics. She’s taken on influential big-donor billionaires (the Koch brothers), contributed to the reporting that led to the televised Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and then–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and established the through line from President Donald Trump’s office to Fox News HQ.

jeffrey epstein julie brown cnn screenshot CustomBrown  spent four years investigating and uncovering the abusive conditions in the Florida prison system, spurring a federal civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice. In November 2018 the Herald published “Perversion of Justice,” Brown’s staggering three-part article about financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (with whom she is shown on CNN in separate screenshots).

perversion of justice miami herald logoFor the piece, Brown tracked down around 80 alleged victims of Epstein’s abuse (eight of whom went on record). The story also detailed Epstein’s sweetheart plea deal arranged by Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, who went on to become Trump’s secretary of labor.

New Plan Against African Ebola

ny times logoNew York Times, In Congo, a New Plan to Fight Ebola Follows a Government Power Struggle, Donald G. McNeil Jr., July 26, 2019. After the resignation of the country’s health minister, the president will take over the response to the epidemic and distribute a new vaccine. Faced with a lethal Ebola outbreak threatening eastern Africa, public health officials are conceding that their battle plan is failing and have proposed a comprehensive new strategy for containing the virus.

It envisions reframing the epidemic as a regional humanitarian crisis, not simply a health emergency. That may include more troops or police to quell the murders and arson that have made medical work difficult, as well as food aid to win over skeptical locals.

The Democratic Republic of Congo also plans to deploy a second vaccine to form a protective “curtain” of immunity around outbreak areas.

The outbreak, which began a year ago in Congo and was declared a global health emergency this month, is now the second-biggest in history, with more than 2,600 cases and more than 1,750 dead. It has persisted in part because of a fierce but hidden power struggle within Congo’s government for control of the response, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with Ebola experts.

July 25

Mueller Testimony

U.S. House logowashington post logoWashington Post, Mueller pushes back in a testimony unlikely to change political dynamic, Ashley Parker, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, July 25, 2019 (print ed.).The former special counsel spent more than two years ignoring taunts — tweeted and barked — from President Trump.

At two House hearings, he finally responded to the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats now have one option to end Trump’s presidency: The 2020 election, Dan Balz, democratic donkey logoJuly 25, 2019. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s congressional testimony on the Russia probe didn’t deliver the spark the Democrats wanted. That puts the onus on House leaders and heightens the stakes for next year’s presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A performance full of stumbles shakes a sterling Washington image, Marc Fisher, July 25, 2019 (print ed.). In what was likely to have been his final act on the national stage, Mueller’s halting testimony was at times painful to watch.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Five shaky or misleading claims made by lawmakers at the Mueller hearings, Salvador Rizzo and Glenn Kessler, July 25, 2019. Here’s a guide to some questionable claims, including a Republican talking point that crossed the line from spin to fiction.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nadler says he’s going to court in bid to enforce Mueller-related subpoenas, John Wagner, July 25, 2019. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that he is going to court Friday and again next week in bids to enforce subpoenas seeking grand jury information associated with the special counsel investigation and testimony from former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

Nadler said favorable court orders on those matters would “open the floodgates” for enforcement of other subpoenas that he considers key to ongoing investigations of President Trump that have been stymied by White House’s refusal to cooperate.

Nadler said he will go to court later Friday in an effort to secure the grand jury information that was generated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible obstruction by Trump. The Justice Department has resisted turning over that material.

New UK PM: 'Cabinet Massacre'

boris johnson guardian cabinet massacre

Guardian, 'Cabinet massacre': what the papers say about Boris Johnson's arrival in No 10, Kate Lyons, July 25, 2019. Some titles can’t resist focusing on new PM’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, who arrived in Downing Street wearing pink.

The front pages all lead with Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, with the [Daily] Mail reporting that Johnson has started his tenure as prime minister with “All guns blazing”.

The paper calls it a “cabinet massacre” from “Barnstorming Boris” and also features a picture of Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s girlfriend, who was pictured outside No 10, with the caption: “And look who was tickled pink to be at No 1o” in a reference to her pink dress.

united kingdom flagThe Sun calls it “Night of the blond knives.” The paper says that Johnson “executed the bloodiest reshuffle ever seen to build a war Cabinet to deliver Brexit” and highlights the fact that Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s rival for the job, was axed. It features a large picture of Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s girlfriend who was at No 10 yesterday.

The Guardian reports: “Ruthless Johnson takes his revenge,” with the paper saying his decision to sack more than half of May’s cabinet and appoint “Vote Leave veterans and rightwing free marketeers” signals his “ruthless determination to deliver Brexit and stoked speculation about an early election”.

There is also talk of an election in the Times, whose splash is: “Johnson’s afternoon of cabinet carnage”. The paper calls it “the most brutal cabinet purge in modern political history” and says that the scale of the sackings “has put Westminster on election alert”.
The Telegraph splashes with a quote from Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister: “The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts”.

As well as recapping his speech, the paper details Johnson’s cabinet cull, which it likened to Johnson’s espoused favourite film moment: the retribution scene from The Godfather.

The Mirror, not a fan of the new prime minister, reports on Johnson’s apparent “first gaffe as PM”, after he discussed the content of his private chat with the Queen when he went to see her to seek permission to form government. She apparently told him: “I don’t know why anyone would want the job”, which is the paper’s headline.

Barr Reinstitutes Death Penalty

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. to Resume Executions of Death-Row Inmates, Katie Benner, July 25, 2019. The federal government will resume executions of death-row inmates after a nearly two-decade moratorium, Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday.

The announcement reverses what had been essentially a moratorium on the federal death penalty. The federal government has not executed an inmate since 2003, though prosecutors still seek the death penalty in some cases, including for Dylann S. Roof, an avowed white supremacist who killed nine African-American churchgoers in 2015, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber.

william barr new o“Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals,” Mr. Barr,right, said in a statement. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Mr. Barr said that Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, has scheduled executions in December and January for five men convicted of murder. They will take place at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., and additional executions will be scheduled later, Mr. Barr said.

U.S. Pollution Controls

ny times logoNew York Times, Automakers, Rejecting Trump Pollution Rule, Strike a Deal With California, Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi, July 25, 2019. Four of the world’s largest automakers struck a deal with the nation’s largest auto market to reduce tailpipe pollution. The move is a blow to the Trump administration, which is preparing to roll back national vehicle pollution standards and revoke states’ rights to set their own such rules.

Puerto Rican Protests

washington post logopuerto rico flagWashington Post, Puerto Rico governor to resign amid intense pressure on and off island, Arelis R. Hernández, July 25, 2019. Ricardo Rosselló, 40, faced mass protests after a series of chat messages denigrating his opponents and Hurricane Maria victims were leaked. Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez Garced will succeed him after he steps down Aug. 2.

Opioid Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Opioid makers say there is no proof they are responsible for the epidemic’s harms, Lenny Bernstein and Katie Zezima, July 25, 2019 (print ed.). In a filing for an enormous federal court case, drug manufacturers rejected a link between legal production of painkillers and death and addiction on U.S. streets.

U.S. Politics

djt hoax presidential seal clubs

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump basked in the glow of young supporters. The presidential seal behind him was fake, Michael Brice-Saddler and Reis Thebault, July 25, 2019. The doctored image resembled the bird on the Russian coat of arms and it was clutching golf clubs and cash in its talons.

At first glance, there was nothing unusual about President Trump’s introduction Tuesday at Turning Point USA’s student summit. In many ways, it mirrored the production style that has become synonymous with Trump’s campaign rallies.

Following a 12-minute video illustrating Trump’s rise to the presidency, music blared as the president’s name flashed across a giant screen in a bold shade of red. Trump took the stage and soaked in the raucous cheers from hundreds of young supporters packed inside the Marriott Marquis in Washington.

Charlie Kirk, Turning Point’s outspoken founder and executive director, was on his left. But the image on the screen to Trump’s right — captured in dozens of photos and videos from the event — is less familiar.

The image almost resembles the official seal of the president, but a closer examination reveals alterations that seem to poke fun at the president’s golfing penchant and accusations that he has ties to Russia. Neither the White House nor Turning Point knows how it got there or who created it.

The Al Franken Question

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We can’t let go of the Al Franken question. There’s good reason, Monica Hesse, July 25, 2019 (print ed.). We lack a template for addressing behavior that’s not criminal but bad nonetheless.

al frankenThanks to a 12,000-word New Yorker article this week (The Case of Al Franken), we now have a new vehicle to think about Al Franken, perhaps more deeply than anyone ever thought about Al Franken (shown in an official photo).

The “Saturday Night Live” star-turned-U.S. senator resigned in 2017 after eight women accused him of inappropriately jane mayer cspantouching or kissing them at various points in his career.

But according to the article, written by the renowned political investigative reporter Jane Mayer (shown in a C-SPAN photo), his resignation was a railroading. Facts about the initial accusation were misrepresented, she writes. She quotes sources who see Franken as a “cautionary tale,” a blundering but decent man whose propensity for “social kissing” swept him up along with genuine villains.

It’s worth reading.

Ethics: GOP Gadfly Slammed

washington post logoWashington Post, Ethics panel of D.C. bar seeks to suspend conservative attorney Larry Klayman for 33 months, Spencer S. Hsu, July 25, 2019. The panel reported “egregious” misconduct in his representation of a woman who refused his romantic advances in 2010.

A legal ethics panel for the District of Columbia bar has recommended suspending conservative attorney Larry Klayman from practicing law for 33 months for “egregious” misconduct in 2010 while representing a woman who refused his romantic advances.

A report made public Wednesday by a hearing committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s disciplinary arm recommended that Klayman be required to prove his rehabilitation and fitness to gain reinstatement.

larry klayman file circa 2012Klayman, 68, a Washington fixture whose active cases include lawsuits against Trump confidant Roger Stone and Infowars founder Alex Jones on behalf of writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, denied the allegations and can appeal the panel’s findings, which were contained in a 185-page report.

“It’s just a recommendation by a hearing committee,” Klayman, shown in a file photo, said in an interview, adding that his appeal to the Board on Professional Responsibility and, if necessary, the court would take three to five years to resolve. He accused the review panel of partisan bias, saying, “It was a very politicized hearing committee, and I’m confident of success in the end.”

The panel ruled on a complaint brought by Elham Sataki, who retained Klayman in 2010 to file a sexual harassment suit against her former employer, Voice of America. That case was ultimately dismissed. Sataki could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

The panel concluded that the extent and “extreme nature” of Klayman’s misconduct abused the attorney-client relationship, including his fiduciary duty and obligation to consult with and abide by Sataki’s litigation decisions.

When she refused to enter a romantic relationship, he allegedly increased his compensation demands and exploited her “precarious financial position and his position as her attorney,” the report stated.

Despite her desire to pursue her case “simply and quietly,” Klayman, allegedly for his own political agenda, named unnecessary and high-profile defendants including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and attacked the judge hearing Sataki’s case as politically biased, the report stated.

Klayman allegedly refused to withdraw from her case after Sataki fired him, then published several articles about it without her knowledge or consent in WorldNetDaily, a right-wing news aggregator site.

The report cited excerpts of communications from Klayman to his client after she rejected him, such as a text from April 23, 2010, in which he stated, “When someone u deeply care for tells u stuff like, ‘you’ll never be my Boyfriend . . . how would u feel?’ ”

Klayman is a notably combative litigant whose no-holds-barred tactics and robust use of the Freedom of Information Act have made him a dreaded — and sometimes loathed — inquisitor.

Epstein Found Hurt

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Is Epstein the target for a mob hit? Wayne Madsen, July 25, 2019 (subscription required). It really does not matter whether the presiding federal judge in the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex trafficking case, Richard Berman, opposed bail for the Wall Street hedge fund mogul because Epstein represents an extreme flight risk or not.

What matters is that Berman failed to make adequate provisions for Epstein’s safety inside the Manhattan Correctional Center (MCC).

NBC News New York, Jeffrey Epstein Found Injured in NYC Jail Cell After Possible Suicide Attempt: Sources, Jonathan Dienst, Tom Winter nbc news logoand Sarah Fitzpatrick, updated July 25, 2019. Epstein was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck, sources said and investigators are jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019trying to piece together exactly what happened.

Accused pedophile and wealthy Manhattan financier Jeffrey Epstein (shown in a mug shot) was found injured and in a fetal position inside his cell at a New York City jail, according to sources close to the investigation.

Epstein, who is being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center during his trial for conspiracy and sex trafficking, was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck, two sources told News 4. Investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened, saying details remain murky.

nicholas tartaglione facebook CustomTwo sources tell News 4 that Epstein may have tried to hang himself, while a third source cautioned that the injuries were not serious and questioned if Epstein might be using it as a way to get a transfer.

A fourth source said an assault has not been ruled out, and that another inmate was questioned.

The inmate who investigators have talked to in Lower Manhattan facility has been identified as Nicholas Tartaglione, according to two sources.

Tartaglione (shown in a Facebook photo) is a former police officer in Westchester County who was arrested in December 2016 and accused of killing four men in an alleged cocaine distribution conspiracy, then burying their bodies in his yard in Otisville in Orange County, according to court records.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Visited Clinton White House Multiple Times in Early ’90s, Emily Shugerman and Suzi Parker, July 25, 2019 (updated). A Daily Beast investigation has uncovered ties between Epstein and the Clinton administration that date back to the president’s earliest days in the White House.

Days after Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest on sex-trafficking charges in New York, Bill Clinton distanced himself from the high-flying financier and convicted sex offender. The former president owned up to just six encounters with Epstein, starting in 2002: four flights on the billionaire’s private jet, a single trip to his Harlem office, and one “brief visit” to his New York apartment, all with staff and security detail in tow.

bill clinton wNow, a Daily Beast investigation has uncovered ties between Epstein and the Clinton administration that date back to the president’s earliest days in the White House, casting doubt on the oft-circulated narrative that the two only began associating after Clinton (shown in a White House photo) left office.

As early as 1993, records show, Epstein donated $10,000 to the White House Historical Association and attended a donors’ reception hosted by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Around the same time, according to a source familiar with the connection, Epstein visited presidential aide Mark Middleton several times at the White House. Two years later, businesswoman Lynn Forester de Rothschild wrote a personal letter to Clinton thanking him for their talk about the financier.

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” Clinton’s spokesperson, Angel Ureña, told The Daily Beast. “Any suggestion to the contrary is both factually inaccurate and irresponsible.”

Epstein: The Big Picture

MintPress News, Government by Blackmail: Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era (Part II), Whitney Webb, July 25, 2019 (Excerpted; Click link for full story]. Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the U.S. from the Prohibition Era right up through the Age of Trump.

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who now sits in jail on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors, has continued to draw media scrutiny in the weeks after his arrest on July 6. Part of the reason for this continued media interest is related to Epstein’s alleged relationship to the intelligence services and new information about the true extent of the sexual blackmail operation Epstein is believed to have run for decades.

As MintPress reported last week, Epstein was able to run this sordid operation for so long precisely because his was only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive operation that began in the 1950s and perhaps even earlier.

Starting first with mob-linked liquor baron Lewis Rosenstiel and later with Roy Cohn, Rosenstiel’s protege and future mentor to Donald Trump, Epstein’s is just one of the many sexual blackmail operations involving children that are all tied to the same network, which includes elements of organized crime, powerful Washington politicians, lobbyists and “fixers,” and clear links to intelligence as well as the FBI.

This report, Part II of this series titled “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big To Fail,” will delve into Cohn’s close ties to the Reagan administration, which was also closely tied to the same organized crime network led by the infamous mob figure Meyer Lansky, which was discussed in Part I. Of particular importance is the “Iran Contra” network, a group of Reagan officials and associates who played key roles in the Iran Contra scandal. Though it has remained relatively unknown for years, many key figures in that same network, and several fronts for the CIA that were involved in funneling money to the Central American Contra paramilitaries, were also trafficking minors for their sexual exploitation and use in sexual blackmail rings.

Several of these rings made headlines at one point or another over the years — from the “call boy ring” run by Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, to the Franklin child-sex and murder ring run by Republican operative Larry King, to the scandal that enveloped the Catholic charity Covenant House in the late 1980s.

Yet, as this report will show, all of these rings — and more — were connected to the same network that involved key figures linked to the Reagan White House and linked to Roy Cohn — revealing the true scope of the sordid sexual blackmail operations and sex rings that involved the trafficking of children within the U.S. and even in Central America for their exploitation by dangerous and powerful pedophiles in the United States.

Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the United States from the Prohibition Era right up to the present day and the Age of Trump, a fact made increasingly clear as more and more information comes to light in relation to the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Algae Closes Mississippi Beaches

Nosy Media, All Mississippi Beaches Close Due To Toxic Algae Bloom, Edwin Santos, July 25, 2019. All general public beach locations along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have been requested closed for swimming and fishing amid a sweeping bloom of harmful blue-eco-friendly algae that authorities alert can sicken individuals and animals upon get hold of.

The order imposed Sunday affects 21 general public seashores.

The blue-inexperienced algae, truly a micro organism known as cyanobacteria, grows on the area of water and can bring about rashes, belly cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting in human beings. The outcomes are even a lot more critical for other animals, and an infection can switch lethal inside hrs or times, in accordance to the Centers for Disease Command and Prevention.

The sand parts of the shorelines stay open. Damaging algal blooms, or HABs, have been noted in every U.S. coastal state. The recent Mississippi bloom is linked to freshwater getting into the gulf shoreline through the Bonnet Carre spillway. The spillway has been opened twice this yr to relieve flooding together the Mississippi River adhering to an exceptionally wet winter season, the Clarion-Ledger documented.

Feel Good News

washington post logoWashington Post, A 6-year-old was swept out to sea, and a group of brothers dove in after her, Marisa Iati, July 25, 2019. The girl on the pink flamingo-shaped raft was floating away quickly when the brothers — who were visiting Ireland from the D.C. area — sprang into action, swimming 25 minutes before getting close to her.

The girl on the pink flamingo-shaped raft was floating away quickly, screaming as her father yelled for a lifeguard who didn’t appear.

Four brothers, who were visiting Ireland from the D.C. area, had just unpacked their towels after arriving at Portmarnock Beach near Dublin, where they had expected to spend a relaxing afternoon Monday. Before they could think about it, they were sprinting into the sea and swimming toward the girl as fast as they could during the almost hour-long rescue.

“I knew we were getting deep, but I didn’t care,” Declan Butler, 18, said Wednesday in an interview. “I just didn’t want to give up on her.”

One stroke, then another in the cold, sometimes choppy water as they raced toward the girl in the distance. They had a moment of panic when the 6-year-old was still far away and fell off the raft and briefly dipped under the water, then popped back up.

July 24

Mueller Testimony

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Russian interference threatens 2020 election, Mueller warns, July 24, 2019. At a House committee hearing, Robert S. Mueller III (shown in a file photo) offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.”

• At a separate hearing this morning, Republicans sharpened their attacks on Mueller, who declined some questions and gave terse answers to others. Former special counsel says he did not subpoena Trump because he knew it would delay probe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: What We Learned From Mueller’s 7 Hours on Capitol Hill, Nicholas Fandos, July 24, 2019.  After months of anticipation, Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, on Wednesday delivered nearly seven hours of dry, sometimes halting testimony before Congress. Republicans and Democrats sparred over his conclusions, but in back-to-back hearings, Mr. Mueller mostly reiterated the findings of his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election without offering any significant new disclosures.

Here are seven takeaways. 1) Mr. Mueller batted down President Trump’s claims about his report and threw a few barbs.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Rejects Trump’s ‘Witch Hunt’ Claims in Long-Awaited Testimony, Mark Mazzetti, July 24, 2019. Special Counsel Warns Russia Will Meddle Again.

djt mueller cnn youtubeRobert Mueller (shown in a CNN photo) publicly rejected President Trump’s criticism of his Russia investigation and defended his report’s conclusions during two hearings.

The partisan war over the inquiry reached a climax during Mr. Mueller’s testimony, even as lawmakers extracted little beyond what was in his report. But he occasionally offered opinions, including an assessment of whether the president’s written answers were truthful.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller says he could’ve subpoenaed Trump but declined because he knew Trump would fight it and prolong the Russia investigation, Staff report, July 24, 2019. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified publicly before two separate congressional panels Wednesday and for the first time addressed questions about his investigation of President Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), took place in the morning, and the second, before the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), took place in the afternoon.

This story is being reported by Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Shane Harris, Devlin Barrett, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Rachel Weiner.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller, in occasionally halting testimony, points to foreign interference and offers some sharp criticism of Trump, Devlin Barrett​, July 24, 2019.​ The former special counsel tried to avoid offering any new information as lawmakers peppered him with questions and statements. Related stories:

• Who is Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor mentioned at the hearing?
• Analysis: All the times Mueller objected to Congress’s interpretations of his report
• At a House committee hearing, Robert S. Mueller III offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.”
• At a separate hearing this morning, Republicans sharpened their attacks on Mueller, who declined some questions and gave terse answers to others.

 washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: So this is why Mueller didn’t want to testify, Dana Milbank, right, July 24, 2019. For two years, he was the silent man behind the curtain, all-knowing and all-powerful, revered by Democrats, feared by President Trump.

But when he finally sat before Congress for nearly seven hours on Wednesday, the former special counsel seemed remarkably weak. He looked dazed and confused as he listened, mouth agape, to his questioners, often struggling to identify who was talking. He stammered, licked his lips, consulted his aide and begged forbearance.

Maybe the 74-year-old former FBI director had lost something off his fastball. Or maybe he simply felt hemmed in by so many restrictions — real and imagined — applied to his testimony by the Justice Department and by himself, that he couldn’t say anything at all. Whatever the reason, Republican lawmakers eviscerated him, assaulting his integrity and his ethics, questioning his political motivations, disparaging the FBI and even casting doubt on Russia’s interference in the election. Mueller offered little by way of defense and frequently absorbed the blows in silence.

Inside DC

djt twain quote on fooling people indicter Custom

washington post logojamal khashoggi western suitWashington Post, Trump vetoes Congress’s attempt to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Karoun Demirjian and Colby Itkowitz, July 24, 2019.​ The sales would replenish part of an arsenal that lawmakers say has been used against civilians in Yemen’s civil war. Many lawmakers also object to the idea of rewarding Saudi leaders after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, For Facebook’s Zuckerberg, FTC settlement could bring a new era of accountability, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin​, July 24, 2019.​ Mark Zuckerberg’s power within Facebook is virtually unchallenged as the co-founder, CEO and largest stockholder. A deal that requires him to personally attest to the firm’s privacy practices may bring an end to that.

Hong Kong Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, China Hints Its Troops Could Be Used to Quell Hong Kong Protests, Steven Lee Myers, July 24, 2019. China delivered its most explicit warning to date that it was prepared to use military force if protesters there threatened the central government’s authority. The warning was a stark reminder of Beijing’s ultimate control over the fate of Hong Kong.

More On Mueller Hearing

djt 2019 press conference white house via flickr Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump sounds like he needs his diaper changed tonight, Bill Palmer, July 24, 2019. We’re now just hours away from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s public testimony about his investigation into Donald Trump’s crimes. Trump (shown above at an unrelataed news conference via a White House Flickr photo) seemed to think he’d snookered Mueller by having the DOJ demand that Mueller limit his testimony to strictly what’s in his redacted report. But now it turns out Mueller is the one who’s outfoxed Trump, and now Trump sounds like he needs his diaper changed.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday it was revealed that Robert Mueller is planning to have his chief of staff Aaron Zebley testify alongside him. That way, if Mueller is asked a question that he’s not allowed to answer, Zebley can answer it instead. While it’s not yet clear just how far Zebley will be willing to go when it comes to answering questions, it’s clear that Mueller is planning to put him to good use. Last night NBC News confirmed that House Democrats will swear in Zebley and allow him to testify under oath, over the objections of House Republicans.

Suffice it to say that Trump didn’t take the news well. When it first broke, he tweeted: “Just got back only to hear of a last minute change donald trump twitterallowing a Never Trumper attorney to help Robert Mueller with his testimony before Congress tomorrow. What a disgrace to our system. Never heard of this before. VERY UNFAIR, SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. A rigged Witch Hunt!”

Then three hours later, he posted a strangely similar tweet: “So Robert Mueller has now asked for his long time Never Trumper lawyer to sit beside him and help with answers. What’s this all about? His lawyer represented the “basement server guy” who got off free in the Crooked Hillary case. This should NOT be allowed. Rigged Witch Hunt!”

Trump Watch: Taxes

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York Attorney General Tish James sticks it to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 24, 2019. When Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly testified before Congress today, he not so subtly stated that based on the findings in his report, Donald Trump can be criminally indicted at the federal level the minute he’s no longer in office. But Trump has more immediate legal problems, as the New York Attorney General just reminded us.

bill palmer report logo headerThis week Donald Trump filed suit in court to try to stop New York State from handing over his state-level income tax returns. This effort will go nowhere, because the state just passed a law specifically allowing state-level returns to be turned over. Trump is simply trying to stall things a bit before his suit gets thrown out of court, and we all know why: New York State is gunning for him.

Letitia James 150x150After Trump filed the suit, New York Attorney General Tish James,right, promptly stuck it to him, tweeting this: “President Trump has spent his career hiding behind lawsuits, and is now suing to hide his taxes. As NY’s chief law enforcement officer, I can assure him no one is above the law. I’ll vigorously fight to provide the much needed transparency the American people want & deserve.”

This serves as a reminder that New York State is aggressively going after Donald Trump for his crimes. It’s worth noting that while Trump’s Department of Justice policy prevents him from being charged at the federal level while he’s still in office, that policy does not apply to state level charges, meaning New York can charge Trump whenever it sees fit.

Tories Elect Johnson As PM

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson Is Set to Become Britain’s Prime Minister, Stephen Castlem, July 24, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Johnson (right), the boris johnson tiecountry’s former foreign secretary, won the Conservative Party’s leadership contest to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May. Upon taking office, he would immediately face the challenge of managing Britain’s exit from the European Union by Oct. 31.

New ny times logoYork Times, Opinion: Boris Johnson Is About to Collide With Reality, Editorial Board, July 24, 2019 (print ed.). He has thrived on theatrics. As prime minister, he faces Brexit’s final act. 

Throughout history, chaos has often been a crucible of great leadership. Yet with Britain in the throes of its biggest political crisis since World War II, it will be surprising if that turns out to be the case this time. Boris Johnson prepared to become prime united kingdom flagminister on Tuesday after the Conservative Party chose him as its leader.

A rumpled master of political theater and the quotable quip, he is idolized by rank-and-file Tories determined to quit the European Union no matter what the consequences. Yet his record as journalist, legislator, London mayor and foreign secretary displays far more bluster than achievement, and a consistent disdain for hard work, probity or the truth.

Historian On Dystopia

Consortium News, Commentary: The Great Reckoning, Andrew J. Bacevich, July 24, 2019. From a vantage point in the not-too-distant future Andrew J. Bacevich looks back on 2019 as a year when, in retrospect, it was clear the United States had passed a point of no return.

american flag upside down distressScholars will undoubtedly locate the origins of the Great Reckoning well before 2019. Perhaps they will trace its source to the aftermath of the Cold War when American elites succumbed to a remarkable bout of imperial hubris, while ignoring (thanks in part to the efforts of Big Energy companies) the already growing body of information on the human-induced alteration of the planet, which came to be called “climate change” or “global warming.” While, generally speaking, the collective story of humankind unfolds along a continuum, by 2019 conditions conducive to disruptive change were forming. History was about to zig sharply off its expected course.

This disruption occurred, of course, within a specific context. During the first two decades of the 21st century, American society absorbed a series of punishing blows. First came the contested election of 2000, the president of the United States installed in office by a 5-4 vote of a politicized Supreme Court, which thereby effectively usurped the role of the electorate. And that was just for starters. Following in short order came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which the world’s (self-proclaimed) premier intelligence services failed to anticipate and the world’s preeminent military establishment failed to avert.

More On Epstein

Vigilent Citizen, Opinion: Jeffrey Epstein: The True Ugly Face of the Occult Elite, Vigilant Citizen, July 24, 2019.  Described as an “asteroid poised to hit the elite world,” the case of Jeffrey Epstein could bring lots of people down. However, this story goes way deeper than most news sources currently let on. Indeed, everything about it is pure occult elite child exploitation.

The arrest of Jeffrey Epstein for child trafficking has explosive potential and (if important information is revealed to the public) could expose the true face of the elite to the world. The list of powerful people linked to Jeffrey Epstein and his infamous “Lolita Express” is as long as it is staggering. Combined with the systematic recruiting and exploitation of minors for the pleasure of powerful people, the case could convince lots of people that “pedogate” is all too real.

Due to the potentially explosive nature of this case, both sides of the political spectrum are already hard at work spinning the story to favor their side. However, this case has absolutely nothing to do with “conservative” and “liberal” and everything to do with the “elite”. From heads of state to members of royal families while not forgetting, celebrities, socialites and CEOs of large companies, members from all branches of the elite gathered to celebrate extreme depravity. But now Epstein is under arrest and the parties stopped. Now, one question remains: Will the entire disgusting truth Epstein’s parties come to light or will the elite cover its tracks while throwing Epstein under the bus?

LewRockwell.com, Who Was Epstein Working For? The Swamp Gets Deeper, Eric S. Margolis, July 20, 2019.  I’ve had many strange experiences in my decades of covering intelligence affairs. These run from being invited to KGB HQ in Moscow, Chinese intelligence in Beijing, US intelligence in Virginia, Libyan intelligence in Tripoli, South African intelligence, and even Albanian intelligence in Tirana.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University But none was odder than the day I was invited to lunch in New York City with the by now notorious figure Jeffrey Epstein, right. The golden boy of Manhattan and Palm Beach society now sits in a grim jail cell accused of having sex with underage girls. He’s been doing this in plain view since the early 1990’s but, until recently, he seemed bullet-proof.

Soon after I walked into the entrance of Epstein’s mansion on E 71st Street, said to be the city’s largest private home, a butler asked me, ‘would you like an intimate massage, sir, by a pretty young girl?’ This offer seemed so out of place and weird to me that I swiftly declined.

More important than indelicacy, as an old observer of intelligence affairs, to me this offer reeked of ye old honey trap, a tactic to ensnare and blackmail people that was old when Babylon was young. A discreet room with massage table, lubricants and, no doubt, cameras stood ready off the main lobby.

I had arrived with Canada’s leading lady journalist who was then close to Epstein’s sometime girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell and, it was said, procuress – something Maxwell denies. Bizarrely, Maxwell believed that I could get KGB Moscow Center to release satellite photos that showed the murder on his yacht of her father, the press baron Robert Maxwell, who was a well-known double agent for Israel and KGB, and a major criminal.

Also present was the self-promoting lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who had saved the accused murderer Claus von Bulow, as well as a titan of the New York real estate industry (not Trump) and assorted bigwigs of the city’s elite Jewish society. All sang the praises of Israel.

Epstein reportedly had ties to Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and repeatedly flew them about in his private jet, aka ‘the Lolita Express.’ All guests deny any sexual activity. I turned down dinner with Prince Andrew.

Epstein’s residence in Manhattan and Palm Beach, both of which I visited, were stocked with young female ‘masseuses.’ All were working class girls making big money in their spare time. I did not see any interactions between these girls and the guests.

Epstein and Maxwell became too big for their britches. They flaunted their sexual adventures and laughed at New York society. Everyone wondered about the source of Epstein’s lavish income but no one knew its origins. He claimed to be an exclusive money manager for a group of secretive millionaires. But the only one identified was billionaire Leslie Wexner, the owner of L Brands and Victoria’s Secret. Wexner denied any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes.

Besides sexual frolics, Epstein and Maxwell were up to many odd things. The FBI found diamonds, cash and a fake passport when raiding his mansion and documents showing his net worth at $559,120,954.00. The IRS tax people will be eager to review the sources of this income.

It seems likely that political influence was brought to bear on then US attorney Alexander Acosta (he just resigned under fire last week) to make a sweetheart deal with Epstein, who had been charged by Florida with child molestation. Epstein got off with a token, 13-month jail sentence that allowed him to work from his office much of the day.

Were Trump or Clinton involved? How much did they ‘party’ with Epstein and revel in his fleshmart? There was talk of some sort of ‘intelligence’ angle to the affaire Epstein that spared him a harsh sentence.

A respected former CIA official, Phil Giraldi has come right out and accused Epstein of being an Israeli agent of influence. Epstein was let off with a slap on the wrist on his first child abuse charge, says Giraldi, because of his powerful Israel connections. To Giraldi and this writer, the Epstein ‘massage’ operation was a classic intelligence operation designed to blackmail men of influence into doing Israel’s bidding. Clinton had reportedly already fallen into this trap years earlier while still president.

Transitions

JoBlo Videos, RIP Rutger Hauer -- A Tribute, July 25, 2019 (7:59 mins.). We pay tribute to the late Rutger Hauer, who passed on July 19, 2019 at the age of 75 (and in the same year that his character from Blade Runner dies). Hauer intrigued and entertained us for decades, from Blade Runner to The Hitcher to Flesh + Blood to Split Second to Ladyhawke to Batman Begins to Wanted: Dead or Alive to Blind Fury to Hobo with a Shotgun and more! Enjoy our tribute to the legendary performer!

Actor Rutger Hauer, shown on the cover of his memoir, "All Those Moments," whose title is drawn from iconic "Tears In the Rain" dialogue in his film "Blade Runner." Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig interviewed the actor for the radio show "Washington Update" in May 2007 upon publication of the memoir after organizing a speaking presentation for Hauer at the National Press Club.rutger hauer all those moments

Hollywood Reporter, Rutger Hauer, 'Blade Runner' Actor, Dies at 75, Mike Barnes and Ryan Parker, July 24, 2019. The Dutch star improvised his famous speech in the Ridley Scott classic and was memorable in 'Turkish Delight,' 'Nighthawks,' 'The Hitcher' and 'Batman Begins.'

Rutger Hauer, the rugged Dutch actor who starred as renegade replicant leader Roy Batty in Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, has died. He was 75. Hauer died Friday at his home in the Netherlands of an undisclosed illness, his agent, Steve Kenis, told The Hollywood Reporter. His family did not want the news revealed until his funeral, which was held Wednesday. "He was a wonderful man and terrific actor," Kenis said.

Hauer made his Hollywood debut opposite Sylvester Stallone in Nighthawks (1981) and went on to appear on the big screen in such films as The Osterman Weekend (1983), Ladyhawke (1985), The Hitcher (1986), Wanted — Dead or Alive (1986), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Batman Begins (2005), Sin City (2005), Hobo With a Shotgun (2011), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) and The Sisters Brothers (2018).

Born Rutger Oelsen Hauer on Jan. 23, 1944, in Breukelen, just south of Amsterdam, he was the son of actors. He began his career in 1969 on the Dutch TV series Floris, directed by countryman and director Paul Verhoeven, who then cast him in Turkish Delight (1973) and Soldier of Orange (1977).

In Germany, Turkish Delight "played next to Cabaret and Last Tango in Paris, and it outplayed them!" Hauer told THR's Scott Roxborough in February 2018.

"At first, I couldn't understand it. Looking back, it was the start of the sexual revolution, and I was on the cusp of that. I'm naked for three quarters of the film. In Hollywood, they called it pornography. I saw it 25 years later, in the Directors Guild [theater]. And the audience was still shocked. I come from Holland. We're not shocked."

Hauer played a sculptor in the film, which was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar.

He really made a name for himself with his turn as Batty and the character's "Tears in the Rain" speech — which he improvised — in the original Blade Runner.

"Rutger read that speech and then went on with a couple of lines about memories in the rain," co-screenwriter David Webb Peoples told THR in 2017. "And then he looked at me like a naughty little boy, like he was checking to see if the writer was going to be upset. I didn't let on that I was upset, but at the time, I was a little upset and threatened by it.

"Later, seeing the movie, that was a brilliant contribution of Rutger's, that line about tears in the rain. It is absolutely beautiful."

Hauer said he turned down a role in Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (1981) to work on Blade Runner, which he noted "wasn't about the replicants, it was about what does it mean to be human?" The late Philip K. Dick, whose novel served as the basis for the film, called the actor "the perfect Batty — cold, Aryan, flawless."

Hauer also won a Golden Globe in 1988 for his work on the TV film Escape From Sobibor and recurred as the supernatural creature Niall Brigant on HBO's True Blood.

He was known as an environmentalist and AIDS awareness activist. Survivors include his wife, Ineke; they met in 1968 and were married in 1985.

July 23

robert mueller testifying flickr

Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, will testify on Capitol Hill on July 24. Getting an answer out of him is sometimes tricky, as past hearings have shown.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department tells Mueller to not answer a wide swath of questions, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). The instructions are a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information about the former special counsel’s investigation when he testifies.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election — a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information or insights about the high-profile investigation when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in Monday’s letter that he was responding to a request earlier this month from Mueller for guidance on how to handle questions “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with” subpoenas for Mueller’s congressional testimony.

The letter also notes that Mueller had resisted testifying and that “the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances.”

Mueller Testimony

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes, Neal K. Katyal (shown at right, an acting solicitor general neal katyal oin the Obama administration), July 23, 2019 (print ed.). For those who have read it, the special counsel’s report speaks for itself. For those who haven’t, he can speak for it in Congress. There are just three simple yes-or-no questions Congress should ask Robert Mueller:

Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”

  • First, did your report find there was no collusion?
  • Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?
  • Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

That’s it. That’s the ballgame.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: 19 Questions We Have for Mueller, Sharon LaFraniere, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). Many questions lingered after Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Before his highly anticipated congressional testimony this week, we pose some of our own questions.

U.S. House logoWere Robert S. Mueller III ever to tell the inside story of his investigation, much of America would likely come to a standstill to hear what he had to say. There is virtually no chance that will happen when he testifies for about five hours before two congressional committees this week.

It took weeks of negotiations just to persuade him to show up. He has already said that his testimony won’t go beyond what is in the 448-page report he delivered, and he urged people to read it.

Media / Mueller

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: The media is getting a second chance to cover Robert Mueller’s findings — and this time get it right, Margaret Sullivan, right, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). Wednesday’s hearing allows the press a rare do-over after taking William Barr at his word.

Senate Confirms DoD Secretary 90-8

ny times logoNew York Times, Mark Esper Is Confirmed as Defense Secretary, Helene Cooper, July 23, 2019. Mr. Esper, a former soldier and lobbyist for Raytheon, is taking over at the Pentagon after its longest period without a permanent leader. He replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned in December during a dispute over pulling American troops out of Syria.The Senate confirmed Mark T. Esper as secretary of defense on Tuesday, ending the longest period by far that the Pentagon has been without a permanent leader at its helm.

mark esperMr. Esper, an Army infantryman who fought in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 before becoming a lobbyist for the military contractor Raytheon, replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned in December during a dispute over pulling American troops out of Syria.

In receiving the Senate nod, Mr. Esper has succeeded where Patrick M. Shanahan, President Trump’s original pick to replace Mr. Mattis, did not; Mr. Shanahan abruptly resigned last month, before his Senate confirmation hearing was even scheduled, after news reports revealed details of his 2011 divorce.

Mr. Esper now takes control of the country’s 1.2 million active-duty troops and one of the largest militaries in the world as the Trump administration is wrestling with the results of its so-called maximum pressure campaign of economic sanctions on Iran, which has prodded the two adversaries closer to military confrontation.

Puerto Rican Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The People Can’t Take It Anymore’: Puerto Rico Erupts in a Day of Protests, Frances Robles and Alejandra Rosa, July puerto rico flag23, 2019. Hundreds of thousands of people marched on Puerto Rico’s capital, paralyzing much of the city in the latest protest over the island’s embattled governor. Demonstrations continued late into the night, when the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and attempted to clear the streets.

Trump Nuke Comment Riles Afghans

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I just don’t want to kill 10 million people’: Trump’s comments reverberate in Afghanistan, Jon Gerberg, July 23, 2019.  ​
Afghan officials were startled by President Trump’s comments that if he “wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.”

Afghans were startled to hear President Trump’s remarks that he could end the war in Afghanistan “in a week” but that it would cause the deaths of millions of people.

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionThe office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday immediately asked for “clarification” about Trump’s statement “via diplomatic means and channels.”

“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth,” Trump said Monday. “It would be over in literally, in 10 days.” He did not elaborate on how that would be done.

Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore in a favored Mussolini-like pose) made the seemingly offhand comments during a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in which the two discussed a number of bilateral issues, including ending the war in Afghanistan.

“We’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves. Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we’re policemen right now. And we’re not supposed to be policemen,” he said.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion, Emily Cochrane, Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). White House and congressional negotiators reached a deal on a two-year budget that would raise spending caps and lift the government’s debt ceiling.

ny times logoICE logoNew York Times, More Than 2,000 Migrants Were Targeted in Raids. 35 Were Arrested, Miriam Jordan, July 23, 2019. President Trump had touted the recent raids as a show of force in response to an influx of Central American families across the southern border. But the publicity of the large-scale operation may have prompted many of those who had been targeted to evade arrest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration proposal would push 3 million Americans off food stamps, Laura Reiley, July 23, 2019. Trump administration officials say the proposal would result in an annual budgetary savings of $2.5 billion and restrict less needy individuals from qualifying for benefits.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Police Officers Are Fired Over Facebook Post Saying Ocasio-Cortez ‘Needs a Round,’ Jacey Fortin, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). One police officer from Gretna, La., referred to the congresswoman (shown right) as alexandria ocasio cortez officiala “vile idiot” and suggested she should be shot. Another officer liked the post.

Chief Arthur Lawson of the Gretna Police Department announced the terminations, saying that Charles Rispoli, the officer who wrote the Facebook post, and Angelo Varisco, who liked the post online, had violated the department’s social media policy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Biden and Sanders, Behaving Badly, Paul Krugman (right), July 23, 2019 (print ed.). A bad-faith debate over health care coverage. Health care was a key factor in Democrats’ victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a paul krugmanbig plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position — that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status — is immensely popular. T

The de facto Republican position — that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don’t come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can’t get insurance — is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.

But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party’s chances.

Epstein Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Moved Money Overseas in Transactions His Bank Flagged to U.S., David Enrich and Jo Becker, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Epstein, who is charged with sex trafficking, had dozens of accounts at the bank. As Deutsche Bank officials this year scrambled to extricate themselves from a yearslong relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier charged this month with sex trafficking, they uncovered suspicious transactions in which Mr. Epstein had moved money out of the United States.

deutsche bank logoDeutsche Bank reported the transactions to a federal agency in charge of policing financial crimes, according to people familiar with the bank’s internal processes. The report came as the bank started looking for signs that Mr. Epstein was using his financial resources for the purposes of sex trafficking.

The bank’s relationship with Mr. Epstein has been another black eye for Deutsche Bank, which is laying off thousands of employees as it struggles to return to profitability. The bank has been dogged by repeated financial scandals. It is under federal criminal investigation for potential money laundering, an investigation that has raised questions about Deutsche Bank’s handling of suspicious activity reports.

djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studios

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

Unz Review, Philip Giraldi: “Israel’s Agents of Influence,” Philip Giraldi, philip giraldiJuly 23, 2019. Some journalists in the Jewish media are starting to complain that President Donald Trump is “loving Israel” just a little too much since he keeps citing his concern for the Jewish state as the driving force behind some of his erratic behavior. It is a viewpoint that I most definitely share, though I would describe the apparent White House lovefest with the Israel as a “lot too much.” When the President of the United States calls a congresswoman an anti-Semite and demands that she apologize to him personally and also to Israel it is definitely a lot too much.

So Israel is always in the news, or so it seems, though it is often not in the news when the story might be derogatory. The story disappears from sight as soon as it is determined that Israel might be involved, as is currently the case with Jeffrey Epstein, or Israeli activity is excised completely as was the case with the Mueller investigation where Russiagate should have really been called Israelgate as it was Israel that was seeking favors from the incoming Trump Administration, not Russia. As Noam Chomsky put it, Israeli interference in American politics “vastly overwhelms” anything Russia has done.

The most visible Israeli tool for generating contacts with Americans that might prove useful is the all- expenses-paid VIP junkets that are arranged for Congressmen. New Congressmen routinely travel to Israel for a dog-and-pony show within months of their taking office.

Which brings us to the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein story and how it is being handled by government and covered in the media since the story exploded two weeks ago. No one outside the alternative media seems to be interested in the possibility, or rather likelihood, that Epstein was working for a foreign intelligence service, which would most likely be Israel. In the media the Epstein story died almost immediately, submerged in the tale of Donald Trump telling several congresswomen to go back where they came from.

It is unlikely that the spying aspect of Epstein’s alleged crimes will even be investigated both because it involves the Jewish state and also becomes it appears to include participation by leading politicians from both parties and other public figures. The Deep State will make the story die, which just might also be what happens to Epstein in jail.

alexander acostaThe evidence that Epstein was involved in intelligence work most likely bribing or blackmailing prominent individuals to act on behalf of Israel, derives both from the statement made by former U.S. Attorney for Miami Alexander Acosta, left, that “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone” and from other external evidence. Epstein was making videos of his guests having sex with his young girls, which is a version of a classic intelligence entrapment technique referred to as a “honey trap” that is employed by every major spy agency worldwide. And the Acosta quote – will it ever be fully investigated? Who told him that Epstein was “intelligence” and what were the circumstances?

Jeffrey’s sources of income have also been questioned. Epstein’s sole identified business connection was Ohio billionaire Les Wexner, who maintained very close ties to the upper echelons of the Israeli diplomatic and intelligence establishment. Epstein served as Wexner’s trustee when the latter was forming the Mega Group, created by Wexner and Edgar Bronfman to generate positive views of Israel as a cover for Israeli propaganda dissemination in America.

Epstein’s lack of an identifiable income stream rather suggests that he might have been supported by a government agency of some kind. He had hidden in his Manhattan house a great deal of cash, diamonds and an Austrian passport. The diamonds might have represented payment in kind from Israel, which is capital of the world diamond trade, and the existence of the passport is intriguing. It has been described in the media as “fake” but that can mean anything. The passport, dating from the 1980s, was apparently authentic with a photo of Epstein and a fake name inserted in it, but it might plausibly be the product of a government document forgery lab. Why Austria? Because Austria was at the time politically neutral and the passport would be a good one for traveling anywhere. It would be much preferred by spy agencies or by agents who wanted to travel anonymously.

robert maxwell with papers fileThat Epstein would be linked to Israel rather than to some other intelligence service is due to his relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, whose father Robert, right, a Czech Jew who became a naturalized British citizen, was believed by C.I.A. and other intelligence services to be a long-time agent of Mossad. After he died under mysterious circumstances, he was given a state funeral in Israel that was attended by every current and former head of the Jewish state’s intelligence service as well as by the country’s prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. Ghislaine was reportedly Epstein’s close friend and a procurer of his young girl victims.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Deep Ties to Top Wall Street Figures, Kate Kelly, Matthew Goldstein, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and James B. Stewart, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). A prominent banker, a top private-equity executive and a hedge-fund billionaire did business with Jeffrey Epstein even after his prostitution conviction.

jeffrey epstein hands handsMr. Epstein, who was charged this month with sex trafficking of teenage girls, liked to portray himself as a financial wizard, but there is little evidence to support that notion.

When Jeffrey Epstein (shown in a photo on his foundation site) was serving time in Florida for soliciting prostitution from a minor, he got a surprising visitor: James E. Staley, a top JPMorgan Chase executive and one of the highest-ranking figures on Wall Street.

Mr. Staley had good reason to maintain his relationship with Mr. Epstein, who received him at his Palm Beach office, where he had been permitted to serve some of his 13-month sentence in 2008 and 2009. Over the years, Mr. Epstein had funneled dozens of wealthy clients to Mr. Staley and his bank.

Mr. Epstein, who was charged this month with sex trafficking of teenage girls, liked to portray himself as a financial wizard, someone whose business and investing acumen made him indispensable to corporate executives and other leaders. But there is little evidence to support that notion. The financial services that Mr. Epstein dispensed appear to have been mostly pedestrian, and his list of clients small.

Mr. Epstein nonetheless managed to affix himself to a handful of prominent Wall Street veterans, including Mr. Staley, who is now chief executive of the British bank Barclays.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Mr. Epstein [shown at right in his mug shot this month] provided personal tax services to Leon D. Black, whose Apollo Global Management is one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. He discussed a major investment idea with and entrusted millions of dollars to Glenn Dubin, who ran the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management. And, with Mr. Staley, he laid some of the early groundwork for JPMorgan to make a major acquisition — one that would vault Mr. Staley’s career to a higher plane.

Mr. Black, Mr. Dubin and Mr. Staley were not Mr. Epstein’s biggest business relationships: That distinction belongs to Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of the L Brands retail empire, which included Victoria’s Secret and The Limited. He gave Mr. Epstein broad powers to invest his fortune for nearly two decades.

Yet starting in the 1990s, Mr. Epstein — whose Wall Street experience consisted of a five-year stint at the investment bank Bear Stearns — managed to build a small but powerful finance network.

Mr. Black, the Apollo founder, was a widely respected figure on Wall Street when he met Mr. Epstein in the late 1990s. Before long, Mr. Black had entrusted Mr. Epstein with periodically providing a variety of tax and estate-planning services, according to a person close to Mr. Black. It was an unlikely assignment: Armies of lawyers and accountants have expertise in those fields; Mr. Epstein did not.

Over the next 15 or so years, including after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in 2008, Mr. Black met with Mr. Epstein at his palatial townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to people who were there.

More Global News

washington post logoindia flag mapWashington Post, We have liftoff! India launches moon mission on second attempt, Niha Masih​, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). The Chandrayaan-2 probe will try to land on the uncharted lunar south pole region, carrying the hopes of a nation. ·

Privacy Protection

ny times logoequifax logoNew York Times, Equifax Will Pay at Least $650 Million for Data Breach, Stacy Cowley, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). The credit bureau could wind up paying significantly more to end claims over a breach two years ago that exposed the data of more than 148 million people. The settlement, which still needs court approval, would be the largest ever paid by a company over a data breach.

Child Protection

djt michael jackson

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Donald Trump and Michael Jackson: what they had in common is the obvious, Wayne Madsen, July 23, 2019 (subscription required). In 1989, a frequent guest at Donald and Ivana Trump’s residence in Trump Tower in Manhattan was pop star and notorious pedophile Michael Jackson (shown above with Trump)....According to Ivana Trump’s book, Raising Trump, published in 2017, Jackson often had “playdates” with the Trump children, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, in the residence.

July 22

The New Yorker, The Case of Al Franken, Jane Mayer (shown right during a C-SPAN appearance), July 22, 2019.  A close look at the accusations jane mayer cspanagainst the former senator. When Franken was asked if he regretted his decision to resign from the Senate, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.”

Last month, in Minneapolis, I climbed the stairs of a row house to find Al Franken, Minnesota’s disgraced former senator (shown below in an official photo), wandering around in jeans and stocking feet. It was a sunny day, but the shades were mostly drawn. al frankenTakeout containers of hummus and carrot sticks were set out on the kitchen table. His wife, Franni Bryson, was stuck in their apartment in Washington, D.C., with a cold, and he had evidently done the best he could to be hospitable. But the place felt like the kind of man cave where someone hides out from the world, which is more or less what Franken has been doing since he resigned, in December, 2017, amid accusations of sexual impropriety.

Franken had experienced one of the most abrupt downfalls in recent political memory. He had been perhaps the most recognizable figure in the Senate, in part because he’d entered it as a celebrity: a best-selling author and a former writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live.” Now Franken was just one more face in a gallery of previously powerful men who had been brought down by the #MeToo movement, and whom no one wanted to hear from again. America had ghosted him.

July 22

Mueller Testimony Wednesday

ny times logoNew York Times, In 88 Trips to Capitol Hill, Mueller Grew Weary of Partisanship, Noah Weiland, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). A review of Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony since 1990 offers insight into what kind of witness he will be at two House hearings this week. Over decades of congressional appearances, Mr. Mueller showed little patience for the politics and partisanship that came with legislative oversight.

Justice Department log circularDays after he was appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III visited the Capitol to meet with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was conducting its own Russia investigation and needed to coordinate with his. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee’s chairman, came with a wisecrack.

You did well keeping the country safe as F.B.I. director, he told Mr. Mueller at the end of the meeting, a senator in the room recalled. But you never answered mail from us, Mr. Grassley said of a Congress that conducts much of its business on paper.

Mr. Mueller laughed. Just keep sending those letters, he replied. The lighthearted exchange hinted at a tension that has made Mr. Mueller a reluctant witness for two highly anticipated House hearings on the Russia investigation on Wednesday.

Budget, Debt-Limit Deal Reported

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump backs two-year budget deal that boosts spending, suspends debt limit, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, July 22, 2019. The bipartisan deal, which still must be passed through Congress, would clear a debt ceiling crisis later this year but would continue Washington’s borrowing binge for at least the next two years.

The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reached a tentative two-year budget deal Monday that would raise spending limits by $320 billion and suspend the federal debt ceiling until after the 2020 presidential election.

The agreement, which still must be passed by Congress, probably would prevent a debt-ceiling crisis later this year but also would continue Washington’s borrowing binge for at least two years.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills,” President Trump tweeted Monday. “This was a real compromise to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

Transitions: Famed NYC Prosecutor Dies

robert morgenthau jfk

President John F. Kennedy, left, greets Robert Morgenthau, a JFK-nominated prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. Below at right, Morgenthau and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet in 1962 (file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Morgenthau, Longtime Manhattan District Attorney, Dies at 99, Robert D. McFadden, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). robert morgenthau mlk 1962 croppedMr. Morgenthau waged war on crime for more than four decades as the chief federal prosecutor for Southern New York State and as Manhattan’s longest-serving district attorney. From 1975 to 2009, he was the face of justice in Manhattan, a liberal Democrat elected nine times in succession.

In an era of notorious Wall Street chicanery and often dangerous streets, Mr. Morgenthau was the bane of mobsters, crooked politicians and corporate greed; a public avenger to killers, rapists and drug dealers; and a confidant of mayors and governors, who came and went while he stayed on — for nearly nine years in the 1960s as the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and for 35 more as Gotham’s aristocratic Mr. District Attorney.

Jeffrey Epstein's Image Rehab

Daily Mail, Jeffrey Epstein partied with Trump's closest advisers including Wilbur Ross, Rudy Giuliani, and Steve Mnunchin at dinner hosted by David Koch just TWO MONTHS after his release from prison, July 22, 2019 (updated from July 21).

  • Jeffrey Epstein, 66, attended a screening and dinner party back in August 2010 for the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in Southampton.
  • The dinner was at the home of David and Julia Koch, and Epstein can be seen in photos chatting with attendees after Peggy Siegal put wilbur rosshim on the guest list
  • 'He was chatting to Jonathan Farklas, Leon Black and Wilbur Ross [right]. He was sitting right near Rudy Giuliani,' wrote Page Six at the time
    Steve Mnuchin was also present, as were designers Tory Burch and Tamara Mellon and billionaires Steven Schwarzman and Henry Kravis
  • Epstein should have been registered as a sex offender in New York at the time but it is unclear if he was as his hearing was not until 2011

Jeffrey Epstein hobnobbed with high-profile guests from the worlds of politics, banking, Hollywood and philanthropy at a Hamptons party just two months after his release by the state of Florida for soliciting a minor. Photos from a 2010 dinner party at the home of David and Julia Koch obtained by DailyMail.com show Epstein as he chats with guests after a screening of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

steven mnuchin wAmong those guests were two men who currently serve in President Trump's cabinet and his most trusted legal adviser.

Steve Mnuchin,left, and his then-wife Heather, Rudy Giuliani, right, and his then-wife Judith and Wilbur Ross all attended the rudy giuliani recentscreening and dinner that followed at the Koch's.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about those who attended the event a few days later, and in the piece noted that Giuliani 'walked out of the theater around the same time as Jeffrey Epstein, leading one observer to remark on the "beautifully done meeting of the prosecutor and the felon."'

Media: Promoting Epstein

Accused mass pedophile trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, left, is shown in a photo with Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, one jeffrey epstein alan dershowitzof his defense attorneys.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Pitched a New Narrative. These Sites Published It, Tiffany Hsu, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). After Jeffrey Epstein got out of the Palm Beach County jail in 2009, having served 13 months of an 18-month sentence resulting from a plea deal that has been widely criticized, he began a media campaign to remake his public image.

The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost. (More details below and on Justice Integrity Project #MeToo subsite.)

michael fisten

Daily Mail, 'Once the girls lost their braces, they were too old for him': Private investigator who spent a DECADE tracking Jeffrey Epstein claims he 'met with one 13-year-old victim who looked like she was aged NINE,' Andrew Court, July 20, 2019. Private investigator Michael Fisten, shown above on CNN, spent ten years tracking Jeffrey Epstein.

  • He says he met with numerous underage girls who claimed to have been victims of the billionaire, including one who was aged 13
  • Fisten says Epstein began losing interest in his alleged victims once they reached their late teenage years
  • He believes it's 'inconceivable' that those in Epstein's social circle didn't suspect he was a pedophile because his female companions looked so young

A private investigator who spent a decade tracking Jeffrey Epstein has given new details about the disgraced billionaire's predilection for underage girls.

In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Detective Michael Fisten claims he met with many of Epstein's victims, included one who looked like she was just nine years old.

The former homicide detective was first hired to trace Epstein back in 2009 by attorney Brad Edwards, who was representing alleged victims of the businessman in various civil suits.

Fisten told CNN that one of the most difficult moments of his investigation came when he met with a 13-year-old girl who said she had been abused by Epstein.

Epstein Web Included Weinstein, Rose

Daily Mail, Predatory lender: Jeffrey Epstein had a network of female assistants he would suggest to pals including Charlie Rose - who hired three of these women and 'sexually harassed at least one,' Chris Spargo, July 22, 2019.

• New York magazine looked at Jeffrey Epstein's call logs between 2005 and 2006, which revealed he made dozens of calls to Charlie Rose (shown in a 2014 photo)
charlie rose 2014• He suggested five women to Rose, including the 'world’s most perfect assistant -- she used to work for Harvey Weinstein -- he’s lucky if he can get her'
• One of the three women who worked for Rose did not know the details of her hiring until now, and said: 'I was being offered up for abuse'
• Another candidate went on to work as an intern, and a fourth got a job with the Clinton Global Initiative
•' Jeffrey Epstein from time to time recommended various candidates for open positions at the Charlie Rose Show,' said a rep for Rose
• Epstein would have been trying to place the girls at the same time law enforcement were closing in on him and his band of madames

Jeffrey Epstein was not just providing underage girls to his friends, according to a new report.New York magazine examined the convicted pedophile's black book, and learned that Epstein maintained a list of female assistants he recommended to pals including Charlie Rose and Bill Clinton.

Written call logs reveal that Epstein recommended five women that Rose should hire in a two-year span, and that three of those women then went to work for the disgraced newsman, who at the time was the host and executive producer of his eponymous talk show on PBS.

Of those three, at least one would later accuse Rose of sexual harassment. 'I was being offered up for abuse,' said that woman, who was just 22 when she was hired by Rose on Epstein's recommendation. Epstein and his assistant Sarah Kellen called Rose dozens of times in that two-year period.

harvey weinsteinAt the same time, Epstein was being probed by officials in Palm Beach and the FBI following allegations of sexual battery involving minor females. One of the candidates Epstein named was said to be the 'world’s most perfect assistant she used to work for Harvey Weinstein [left] he’s lucky if he can get her.'

It is Irin Carmon who learned the details of Epstein's calls with Rose. She was also one-half of the Washington Post team who abck in 2017 first detailed Rose's years of sexual misconduct with young female employees.

Her relationships with those victims allowed her to reach out and contact the ones named in call logs. At least one of the women said she was learning the details of how she was hired for the first time.

A representative for Rose did not deny the fact that Epstein called to suggest possible candidates for employment, stating: 'Jeffrey Epstein from time to time recommended various candidates for open positions at the Charlie Rose Show.'

U.S. Politics

ny times logoricardo rosselloNew York Times, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico said he would not seek re-election in 2020, but refused to resign after protests, Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). Facing an angry public uprising against his puerto rico flagadministration, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced on Sunday evening that he would not seek re-election in 2020, and would step down as president of his political party.

But Mr. Rosselló, right, did not resign the governorship, as tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have demanded.

Remembering Muckraking Hoosier

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), WMR editor's email exchange with "suicided" Indiana political blogger Gary Welsh, Wayne Madsen, (right, author and syndicated columnist), July wayne madsen newer22, 2019 ($30 annual subscription required, excerpted here with permission). Indiana’s most well known political blogger, Gary Welsh, left, who had uncovered scandal after scandal in Indianapolis, was said to have committed suicide on May 1, 2016.

gary r welshIt was very odd timing. The Indiana Republican primary, which was a last presidential gasp for Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign, was on May 3. Indianapolis was crawling with national media, which rarely ever treads in the capital of the Hoosier State.

Although Welsh’s popular website, Advance Indiana, had a conservative bent, that did not dissuade Welsh, an attorney, from going after corruption wherever it was found, including the Republican-dominated state legislature and governor’s office. On April 29, two days before Welsh’s death, he posted the results of last-minute polling in Indiana on the campaigns of Donald Trump, Cruz, and Governor John Kasich from the neighboring state of Ohio.

WMR has recovered some of the emails the editor exchanged with Welsh. Our exchanges were similar to those I had with Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Gary Webb, right, just prior to his “suicide” in California in 2004.

gary webb with articleFor the first time the emails with Welsh are being revealed.

...

Muckraking reporters like Welsh were once the rule and not the exception in American journalism. Although nationally-syndicated investigators like Drew Pearson, Jack Anderson, and H. L. Mencken received all the kudos, it was the local and state reporters, those like Welsh and Webb, who actually helped clean up public and corporate corruption.

Trade War U.S. Impact

ny times logoNew York Times, Chinese Money in the U.S. Dries Up as Trade War Drags On, Alan Rappeport, July 21, 2019. For years, Chinese china flag Smallinvestment into the United States had been accelerating, with money pouring into autos, tech, energy and agriculture and fueling new jobs. But growing distrust between the two countries has sent Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office.

More Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq from Syria over the past eight months, bolstering a low-level insurgency after the caliphate’s collapse, security officials say.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet with President Trump this week, Asfandyar Mir, July 22, 2019. These 5 big issues will probably come up. Strained relations or not, there's a lot at stake for both countries.

washington post logovolodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotWashington Post, Ukrainian president’s party well ahead in parliamentary elections, exit polling shows, David L. Stern, July 22, 2019. Volodymyr Zelensky, right, called the snap elections to gain the support he needs for his new party.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Ukraine Election -- Voters Defeat Second Color Revolution, B, July 22, 2019. The Ukraine, translated as 'the borderlands, lies between core Russia and the Europe's western states. It is a split country. Half the population speaks Russian as its first language. The industrialized center, east and south are culturally orthodox Russians. Some of its rural western parts were attached to the Ukraine only after World War II. They have historically a different culture.

The U.S., supported by the EU, used this split - twice - to instigate 'revolutions' that were supposed to bring the Ukraine onto a 'western' course. Both attempts were defeated when the Ukrainians had the chance of a free vote.

ukraine flagOne can watch the full story of the above in UKRAINE ON FIRE - The Real Story (vid), a just released 90 minutes long Oliver Stone documentary. An updated version of the documentary was supposed to run on the Ukraine TV station of pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk. The TV stations was forced to cancel it after right-wing groups mortared its its building in Kiev.

On March 31 new elections were held. Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV comedian who played a teacher who accidentally became president, won the first round. Zelensky is of Jewish heritage and from the east Ukraine. He speaks Russian, not Ukrainian.

The April run-off vote between Zelensky and Poroshenko was a disaster for the later. Zelensky received 73% of the votes. The only districts where Poroshenko won were in Galicia, where the descendants of the fascists who fought in World War II on the Nazi side still follow their forefathers ideology.

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Japan: Abe Falls Short of Seats Needed To Change Constitution, Staff report, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). Japanese media say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc will not reach the two-thirds majority in the upper house needed to propose a constitutional revision even if joined by supporters from another party and independents.

japan flag stdAbe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito have so far won 69 seats, securing the majority of the 124 seats up for grabs in Sunday’s upper house election. The less powerful of Japan’s parliamentary chambers does not choose the prime minister.

Abe had hoped to win enough seats to increase his chances of a revision to Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow Japanese forces a greater role in international disputes. Constitutional reform has already been a challenge because voters are more concerned about jobs, economy and social security.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mob Descends in Hong Kong Station, Apparently Targeting Protesters, Austin Ramzy, July 22, 2019. A brazen overnight attack by men with sticks and metal bars left dozens injured. The violence followed clashes earlier in the evening between the police and protesters near a Chinese government building.

china flag SmallA brazen overnight attack by a mob of men with sticks and metal bars who were apparently targeting antigovernment protesters raised tensions in Hong Kong to new levels on Monday after weeks of demonstrations, prompting fears of violence spiraling beyond the authorities’ control.

Dozens of people, including journalists and a pro-democracy lawmaker, were injured in the assault in and around a train station in Yuen Long, a satellite town in northwestern Hong Kong near the border with mainland China.

Global News: Iran

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Iran’s Press TV shared video July 19 showing drone images of warships it said disproved President Trump’s claim the U.S. had "destroyed" an Iranian drone, Liz Sly and William Booth, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). A British warship tried but failed to prevent Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week, intercepted radio

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran claimed it arrested 17 nationals on charges of spying for the United States, but offered few details, David D. Kirkpatrick, July 22, 2019. Iran said on Monday that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States and had already executed some of them, Iranian and Western news media reported. The latest claim comes at a moment of rising tensions between Iran and the West.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo denies Iran claims it broke up U.S. ‘spy ring,’ Erin Cunningham, July 22, 2019. Iran said Monday it had arrested 17 Iranians for alleged spying for the CIA on the country’s military and nuclear sites.

Public Health: Opioids

washington post logo Washington Post, The biggest civil trial in U.S. history will start with two Ohio counties, Jordan Heller and Lenny Bernstein, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). Cuyahoga County and Summit County soon will be at the center of the most important legal test of how much responsibility drug companies bear for the opioid epidemic. A drugstore in one Cleveland suburb received millions of pain pills, more than any other in Cuyahoga County, over a seven-year period.

U.S. Police, Crime, Politics

New York Post, Louisiana cop says AOC ‘needs a round,’ as in should be shot, Tamar Lapin, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). A Louisiana police officer is under fire for suggesting in Facebook comments that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (below at left) “needs a round.” Charlie Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the Gretna Police Department on Thursday called the Democratic lawmaker a “vile idiot” who “needs a round, and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” nola.com reported.

The officer was apparently implying that Ocasio-Cortez should be shot and referencing her past gig as a bartender.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialRispoli posted the since-deleted missive as a caption to a story he shared from the satirical Web site tatersgonnatate.com, with the headline: “Ocasio-Cortez on the Budget: ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much,’ ” according to a screenshot captured by nola.com.

Though the photo on the post is marked as “satire” and was labeled “false” by the Web site Snopes.com, it appears Rispoli was upset by the story. The post was taken down by Friday afternoon and Rispoli’s page appeared to be deactivated by Saturday, nola.com reported.

Police Chief Arthur Lawson said he was disturbed by the post. “I will tell you this: This will not go unchecked,” he told the Web site. “I’m not going to take this lightly and this will be dealt with on our end. It’s not something we want someone that’s affiliated with our department to make these types of statements. That’s not going to happen.”

Lawson said the comment appeared to violate the department’s social media policy, but said he didn’t think it rose to the level of being a threat. “Whether you agree or disagree with the message of these elected officials and how frustrated you may or may not get, this certainly is not the type of thing that a public servant should be posting,” he said.

Promoting Epstein (Continued)

jeffrey epstein alan dershowitzAccused mass pedophile trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, left, is shown in a photo with Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, one of his defense attorneys.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Pitched a New Narrative. These Sites Published It, Tiffany Hsu. July 22, 2019 (print ed.). The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost.

The Forbes.com article, posted in 2013, praised him as “one of the largest backers of forbes magazine l Customcutting-edge science around the world” while making no mention of his criminal past. The National Review piece, from the same year, called him “a smart businessman” with a “passion for cutting-edge science.”

The HuffPost article, from 2017, credited Mr. Epstein for “taking action to help a number of scientists thrive during the ‘Trump Era’,” a time of “anti-science policies and budget cuts.”

All three articles have been removed from their sites in recent days, after inquiries from The New York Times.

The articles in praise of Mr. Epstein came about partly because of an online publishing model adopted by some news organizations that relied on outside contributors who often wrote for little or no pay, with little or no input from editors.

The article on the Forbes website was attributed to Drew Hendricks, a contributing writer. As The Times revealed in an article last week, he was not the author of the piece. Instead, it was delivered to him by a public relations firm, and he said he was paid $600 to attach his byline and post it at Forbes.com.

A staff of roughly 200 employees produces Forbes’s in-house journalism, but most of the 100 articles the site publishes each day come from a group of nearly 3,000 outside writers. More content means more readers, and the number of unique visitors to Forbes.com has surged nearly 70 percent over the last four years, to 60.9 million last month, according to comScore.

While the number of views has gone up, the limited editing of contributors at Forbes has come in for criticism, with some noting huffington post logoproblematic posts like one in 2014 headlined “Drunk Female Guests are the Gravest Threat to Fraternities.”

Between 2005 and 2018, more than 100,000 contributors took advantage of HuffPost’s open-door model. At the time it was shut down, the HuffPost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen wrote, “Open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy. When everyone has a megaphone, no one can be heard.”

The article on Mr. Epstein published by National Review, the conservative publication founded in 1955 by William F. Buckley Jr., was also national review logoremoved on Friday. It was credited to Christina Galbraith, who identified herself in her bio as a science writer who had published at Forbes and HuffPost.

Ms. Galbraith was also a publicist for Mr. Epstein, according to several news releases promoting Mr. Epstein’s foundations and initiatives in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that included her as a contact. Ms. Galbraith did not respond to requests for comment. In the article that appeared on the National Review site, she described him as having “given thoughtfully to countless organizations that help educate underprivileged children.”

Related Story From 2014

NewMediaWire, Hedge Funder Jeffrey Epstein Rewards Harvard's Legendary Hasty Pudding Institute, Christina Galbraith [emphasis added] March 4, 2014. Over the past year, the well-known science and Harvard philanthropist, Jeffrey Epstein [shown in a photo from the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation], has put his substantial support behind Harvard’s famous and oldest theatrical troupe, the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770.

jeffrey epstein hands handsUp to now, the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation has put its funds behind strictly science endeavors at Harvard, notably the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics with a $35 million dollar gift. The foundation has been a growing admirer of the Hasty Pudding’s role in supporting public education and the arts in the Cambridge and Boston communities.

Founded in 1770, by an erudite group of Harvard students as a secret society, "to uphold friendship and patriotism," The Hasty Pudding Institute evolved into a theatrical troupe and Harvard’s oldest. Much is written about Hasty’s theatrical performances, its a cappella singers, the Harvard Krokodiloes, its wit, roast dinners, illustrious guests from Grace Kelly to Elizabeth Taylor and the fun and glamorous awards given to various actors of the year such as Dame Helen Mirren in January 2014.

For example, the Hasty Pudding gives thousands of dollars and support each year to the West End House Boys and Girls Club, which supports low income families with programs in leadership, life skills, academia, sports, nutrition, the arts and free hot meals. Page to Stage, another Hasty Institute program, supports low income children through the playmaking process from conception to performance. In addition to funds for sets, costumes and production, the Hasty Pudding also mentors young students through each aspect from dramatic coaching to light direction.

"The Hasty Pudding Institute had typical beginnings as a secret society in a dorm room," Jeffrey Epstein remarked. "But they have evolved into a theatrical company that uplifts the young community of Cambridge and Boston."

The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation is known for supporting cutting edge science research around the world but it plays an active role in supporting education and youth programs for underprivileged youth across the country from Head Start programs to sports initiatives for juvenile offenders.

Christina Galbraith
Jeffrey Epstein Foundation
(917) 573-76XX

How U.S. Rules the World

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Ruler of the World, Jacob G. Hornberger (foundation president, book publisher, author, shown at jacob hornberger newright), July 22, 2019. Recently released secret documents from Chinese company Huawei provide insights into how the U.S. Empire rules the world. According to the Washington Post, the documents reveal that Huawei secretly helped North Korea “build and maintain the country’s commercial wireless network.”

What’s wrong with that? you ask. It violates U.S. sanctions against North Korea!

huawei square logoWhat do U.S. sanctions have to do with commercial relations between a Chinese company and North Korea? Well, as the ruler of the world — or, in common parlance, as the world’s sole remaining empire — the U.S. Empire’s rules and regulations apply to everyone in the world. If anyone anywhere in the world is caught violating them, he will be summoned to the United States to face criminal and civil prosecution.

What about President Trump’s lovefest with North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-Un?

Irrelevant! Just because the president of the United States has fallen in love with North Korea’s communist dictator and salutes his communist generals, that still does not relieve foreigners from complying with the Empire’s edicts prohibiting commercial ties with North Korea without the official permission of U.S. officials.

That’s how the Empire works — its rulers are free to fall in love with anyone they want but that still doesn’t relieve foreign governments and foreign companies of their duty to comply with and obey the rules and regulations of the U.S. Empire.

american flag upside down distressAnyway, everyone is supposed to know that North Korea is a communist regime and that communism is bad. That’s in fact why the Empire has maintained a harsh economic embargo against the Cuban people for more than 50 years. Since the Cuban people have refused to oust their communist regime with a coup or a violent revolution, the U.S. Empire has continued to target them with impoverishment and death through economic sanctions, the same thing they are doing to the North Korean people and, well, for that matter, the Iranian people.

Like Huawei’s helping North Korea to build and maintain a wireless commercial network, woe to the foreigner who does business with communist Cuba in violation of the U.S. embargo. He will be prosecuted, fined, and imprisoned for daring to violate the rules and regulations of the Empire.

In fact, woe to the American citizen who travels to Cuba and spends money there without the official permission of his rulers. He too will be viciously prosecuted, fined, and imprisoned by the Empire.

United Nations

 un security council

Strategic Culture Foundation, A Few Keystrokes Can Eliminate a UN Member State, Wayne Madsen, July 22, 2019. One of the renovations of the United Nations headquarters in New York commissioned by then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was the replacement of the iconic plastic country name plates used for decades in the General Assembly with digital displays.

Although the old-school name plates continue to be used in the 15-member Security Council and other specialized agencies of the world body, for example, the World Health Assembly in Geneva and UNESCO in Paris, a few keystrokes can now eliminate a member of the General Assembly. Of course, such an action takes the agreement of the Security Council but considering the number of UN member states that have disappeared entirely or have undergone name changes since 1945, the process has been made much easier by digitization.

July 21

The Opioid Files

washington post logoWashington Post, Data shows crisis worsened in full view of officials unwilling or unable to stop it, Joel Achenbach, Lenny Bernstein, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg​, July 21, 2019 (print ed.). Newly released data from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows a trend in pill distribution that, according to plaintiffs suing the drug industry, can’t be passed off as reasonable therapeutic medical treatment.

The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug industry — the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers — found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable communities in America with billions of painkillers. They continued to move their product, and the medical community and government agencies failed to take effective action, even when it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.

This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the more precise details became public for the first time in a trove of data released after a legal challenge from The Washington Post and the owner of the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia.

• Drug company executives told Congress they didn’t contribute to the epidemic

Global News: UK

washington post logoWashington Post, To understand Britain’s probable next prime minister, read his work, William Booth and Karla Adam, July 21, 2019 boris johnson tie(print ed.). Boris Johnson has learned to combine high-brow classicism with everyman populism.

The key to understanding Johnson, right, say his biographers, lifelong observers, friends and enemies in a dozen interviews with The Washington Post, is to see him first as a hack — a hack being the self-deprecating but not pejorative Britishism for a working journalist shoveling reams of copy to his masters on deadline.

united kingdom flagJohnson was fired from his first job, at the Times of London, for making up a quote about Edward II’s catamite lover and attributing it to his godfather, the Oxford historian Colin Lucas.

But he would go on to find his voice, and develop his shtick, during his years as a Brussels-based foreign correspondent — racing around in his lipstick-red Alfa Romeo, speaking intentionally bad French and banging out outrageous and only semi-true dispatches.

Trump Watch

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, ‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker and Seung Min Kim, July 21, 2019 (print ed.). As is often the case, President Trump acted alone last Sunday when he fired off a trio of racist tweets — impulsively following his gut to the dark side of American politics, and now the country would have to pick up the pieces.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sets the Terms on Racial Division. Do Democrats Know What to Do? Astead W. Herndon and Jennifer Medina, July 21, 2019. Until this past week, the 2020 field has generally tried to ignore the President Trump’s incendiary language on race. But his rally this week made it clear that this will be an election focused on race, identity and Mr. Trump’s brand of white-grievance politics.

U.S. 2020 Politics

democratic 20 debate candidates Small

Democratic 2020 presidential candidates in the first two debates last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Is there any candidate who doesn’t have something to prove at CNN’s Detroit debate? Dan Balz, July 22, dnc horizontal logo2019 (print ed.). July 21, 2019 (print ed.). CNN found a smart system to assure relative balance between upper- and lower-tier candidates, creating dynamics that will differ from those in the previous debate.

Gay Bias: Poland

washington post logoWashington Post, Polish towns advocate ‘LGBT-free’ zones while the ruling party cheers them on, Rick Noack​, July 21, 2019. The attacks on gay rights have replaced rhetoric against migrants. Upbeat ’80s pop music accompanied about 1,000 rainbow-draped activists as they embarked on this city’s first LGBT rights march, on July 13. But the music could barely drown out the boos from bystanders.

polish flag wavingThe marchers proceeded past banners that compared gay people to pedophiles. They pressed on in the face of counterprotesters making threatening gestures and Catholics praying on the sidewalks in silent protest.

The scene reflected a growing tension in this country — between a burgeoning rights movement and a conservative backlash. It’s a tension that the Polish ruling party has been accused of fueling and exploiting.

Ahead of parliamentary elections this fall, Law and Justice has thrown the full weight of its party apparatus behind a campaign that is marginalizing Poland’s LGBT community, its critics say.

#MeToo Cultural Overview

Channel One Russia, The #MeToo Movement in the United States, Washington DC Bureau Yuliya Olkhovskaia interviewed Justice Integrity russia one logoProject editor Andrew Kreig i a segment anchored by Vitaly Eliseev, July 21, 2019 (8:18 min. video). Channel One Russia surveyed the harvey weinstein#MeToo movement and its consquences, including the impact on celebrities Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, below at right. The segment provided a view on how the U.S. legal system resolves such allegations. It  touched also on accusations against President Trump and, separately, disputes over the web application FaceApp.

Kreig, who edits the project's daily #MeToo News daily update, defended the rise of the #MeToo movement in general. The lawyer-editor has expressed the view on the show and more extensively elsewhere that:

"Presumption of innocence” is the standard only in criminal cases. Rightly or wrongly, it is ignored by the public quite often in other venues, including in conversation or social media. Hopefully the courts are not deterred in either #MeToo or other cases from the presumption of innocence concept.

The Kevin Spacey case could be interpreted to show that the court system worked last week. He was absolved of one set of charges that had serious problems with the evidence. But there are other accusations pending, not all in court. No, it doesn’t restore his career, but many actors and others suffer reverses that destroy their careers. In fact, one joke is that an actor’s union is one of the only ones in which 90 percent of the members are unemployed at any one time.

To clarify, we have several “courts of opinion” – some like “gossip” go back in time almost forever. Tabloid journalism and social media operate also largely outside the realm of defamation law. Criminal law carries a presumption of innocence for criminal cases in the United States and a “preponderance of evidence,” or 51 percent for civil cases. All of these come into play when a famous person is accused.

First among Russia's country-wide channels, Channel One has more than 250 million viewers worldwide, according to its description on Wikipedia.

July 20

Trump's Race-Baiting

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls rally crowd ‘patriots,’ a day after distancing himself from chant, John Wagner​, July 20, 2019 (print ed.).  Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThe president stepped back from yesterday's claim that he was unhappy with the crowd's chant of "Send her back!" — a message nearly identical to one of his own tweets — and returned to criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

• Washington Post, Analysis: The lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with her father

Trump's Regime

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes attacks on four legislators, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, July 20, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should criticize the United States while he is president, part of a renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has targeted as un-American.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, “Send her back!,” a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, ­Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd “incredible patriots” — a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.

Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling the racism practiced by hate groups “evil,” but the next day he spoke of “very fine people on both sides.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s pretty obvious, Monica Hesse, July 20, 2019. In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become a woman who should be locked up or sent back.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Yazidi woman from Iraq told Trump that ISIS killed her family. ‘Where are they now?’ he asked, Colby Itkowitz, July 20, 2019 (print ed.). When President Trump this week met human rights activist Nadia Murad, an Iraqi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about her agonizing torture and rape while in Islamic State captivity, he seemed unaware of her story and the plight of her Yazidi ethnic minority.

For several minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Murad stood beside a seated Trump, who mostly avoided eye contact with Murad, and implored the president to help her community return to Iraq. She explained that the Islamic State, or ISIS, may be gone but that Iraqis and Kurds are fighting for control over Yazidi lands.

“If I cannot go to my home and live in a safe place and get my dignity back, this is not about ISIS,” she said, her voice breaking. “It’s about I’m in danger. My people cannot go back.”

Murad, who lives in Germany, told Trump that she never wanted to be a refu­gee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.K. Warns Iran of ‘Serious Consequences’ for Seizing Oil Tanker, David D. Kirkpatrick and Stephen Castle, July 20, 2019 (print ed.). Britain on Saturday threatened Iran with “serious consequences” for seizing a British-owned oil tanker the previous evening as the government warned ships to avoid the crucial shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.

united kingdom flagThe British government said in a statement after an emergency meeting that it had “advised U.K. shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.”

The crisis has caught Britain at a singularly vulnerable moment. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to resign on Wednesday. A leadership contest within the governing Conservative Party to determine her successor has all but paralyzed the government. And now the uncertainty about Britain’s internal direction is compounding the problem of forming a response iran flag mapto Iran’s seizure of the tanker.

The British defense minister, Penny Mordaunt, said in a television interview on Saturday that the ship had been intercepted in Omani, not Iranian, waters and called the seizure “a hostile act.” By Saturday afternoon, Britain had summoned the Iranian ambassador to register its protest, and a second emergency cabinet meeting was set to begin.

Opioid Trafficking

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Ship, ship, ship’: Drug firms’ emails show indifference to crisis, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich, July 20, 2019 (print ed.). A court filing unsealed in a landmark case contends the drug industry failed to control the diversion of opioids into the black market. Washington Post,

washington post logoWashington Post, New opioid data spurs widespread condemnation, Colby Itkowitz​, July 20, 2019. Democratic presidential candidates were among those calling for action after The Post published a massive database tracking the distribution of opioids in the United States.

Epstein / Acosta Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, For ‘client’ Jeffrey Epstein, an unlocked cell in a Florida jail, Lori Rozsa, July 20, 2019 (print ed.). Documents shed new light on the apparent deference granted to the financier, below left, while in the custody of Palm Beach County.

In 2008, a supervisor at the county jail here alerted staff members to the needs of an inmate serving an 18-month sentence for sex crimes involving a minor. Jeffrey Epstein, he wrote in a memo, was a first-time offender “poorly versed in jail routine,” and “his adjustment to incarceration will most likely be atypical.”

jeffrey epstein at harvard university“For the time being, I am authorizing that his cell door be left unlocked and he be given liberal access to the attorney room where a TV will be installed,” Capt. Mark Chamberlain wrote in August of that year.

The memo does not indicate how long the cell door was to be left unlocked, but it and other documents obtained through public-records requests shed new light on the apparent deference granted to the wealthy financier while in the custody of Palm Beach County, as well as on the conditions of his confinement

During much of his sentence, Epstein was allowed to leave the county’s minimum-security stockade 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a work-release program, a job at a nonprofit foundation he had created. Sheriff’s deputies assigned to monitor the multimillionaire on these outings allowed him to enter his Palm Beach estate on at least nine occasions toward the end of his sentence, at least once unattended and for four hours, according to the deputies’ reports.

July 20

jeffrey epstein island

Vanity Fair, “The Girls Were Just So Young”: The Horrors of Jeffrey Epstein’s Private Island, Holly Aguirre, July 20, 2019. Locals say Epstein was flying in underage girls long after his conviction for sex crimes — and authorities did nothing to stop him. “It was like he was flaunting it,” says an employee at the airstrip on St. Thomas. “But it was said that he always tipped really well, so everyone overlooked it.”

Epstein was arrested on July 6 on charges of sex trafficking, the media have been scrambling to make sense of what happened on Little St. James, his 70-acre private island in the Caribbean. But on nearby St. Thomas, locals say Epstein continued to bring underage girls to the island as recently as this year — a decade after he was forced to register as a convicted sex offender — and that authorities did nothing to stop him.

Two employees who worked at the local airstrip on St. Thomas tell Vanity Fair that they witnessed Epstein boarding his private plane on multiple occasions in the company of girls who appeared to be under the age of consent. According to the employees, the girls arrived with Epstein aboard one of his two Gulfstream jets. Between January 2018 and June 2019, previously published flight records show, the jets were airborne at least one out of every three days. They stopped all over the world, sometimes for only a few hours at a time: Paris, London, Slovakia, Mexico, Morocco. When they left St. Thomas, the employees say, they returned to airports near Epstein’s homes in Palm Beach and New York City.

 Daily Beast, Private Investigator Says He Shared Two Epstein Female Fixer Names with Feds, Barbie Latza Nadeau, July 20, 2019. A private daily beast logoinvestigator who has chased Epstein’s antics for more than a decade says he gave the feds the names of two women who allegedly procured underage girls for the financier.

Private investigator Michael Fisten first started digging into financier Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking crimes more than a decade ago when attorney Brad Edwards hired him. After Epstein signed a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in 2008, Edwards had sued Epstein in civil court on behalf of a number of alleged victims who had been blindsided by the plea deal (which a judge later ruled to cnn logohave violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act). Fisten was tasked with finding as much incriminating information on the financier as he could.

Fisten, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, said he was shocked and disgusted by what he uncovered. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN, the P.I. said that he was able to identify two young women who have arranged access to girls for Epstein in recent years. He and Edwards have handed over the names and “associated information” over to federal authorities, he said, though he did not name the alleged fixers to CNN.

July 19

Court Approves Convict Abuse

washington post logoWashington Post, Female inmates were forced to expose their genitals in a ‘training exercise.’ According to a court ruling, that was legal, Adapted from a story by Meagan Flynn, July 19, 2019. The women were ordered to strip. Those on their periods were asked to remove their tampons and pads.

The women did not understand why this was happening. Early one March morning inside an Illinois prison, a tactical unit armed with batons and shields stormed two women’s housing units to round up about 200 handcuffed inmates and march them to a gymnasium.

Once in the gym, they stood facing the wall for more than an hour, still unsure why, until the guards started taking groups of four to 10 into the adjoining bathroom and beauty shop. There, they were ordered to strip. Standing shoulder to shoulder, women on their periods were asked to remove their tampons and pads. Some stood bleeding on themselves or the floor. They were ordered to lift their breasts and hair, to cough and squat, and then, finally, to bend over and spread open their vaginal and anal cavities.

The bathroom had no doors and was visible from the gym, and the beauty shop’s door was open too, allowing male guards to see the naked prisoners whenever they walked past, or as they deliberately stared at them from afar, according to a federal complaint.

Later, the women discovered why the Lincoln Correctional Center guards had ordered the humiliating mass strip search: It was just a training exercise for incoming cadets.

Now, after eight years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled in a divided 2-1 opinion that the entire 2011 episode was legal, citing binding precedent within the circuit. Because the guards didn’t physically probe the women while conducting the visual body cavity searches, the judges ruled, the women’s Fourth Amendment rights to privacy weren’t violated.

The dissenting judge, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee, an Obama appointee, said the case illustrated a need for high courts to re-examine prisoners’ bodily privacy rights, especially when they are forced to reveal not only their naked bodies, but the inside of them — and the purpose is not for security.

“Surely a ‘training’ justification need not be treated with the same level of deference as a search conducted due to concerns over smuggled weapons or other contraband?” he questioned. “It is rationales like this — that fall somewhere between legitimate security concerns and unjustified harassment — that suggest the continuing need for the Fourth Amendment even in prisons.”

Circuit judges Frank H. Easterbrook and Daniel A. Marion, both Reagan appointees, ruled in the majority.

Mueller Hearings

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Hearings Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats, Nicholas Fandos, July 20, 2019. For more than two years, Democrats have hoped that Robert S. Mueller III would show the nation that President Trump is unfit for office — or at the very least, severely damage his re-election prospects. On Wednesday, in back-to-back hearings with the former special counsel, that wish could face its final make-or-break moment.

U.S. House logoLawmakers choreographing the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees warn that bombshell disclosures are unlikely.

FBI logoBut over about five hours of nationally televised testimony, they hope to use Mr. Mueller, the enigmatic and widely respected former F.B.I. director, to refashion his legalistic 448-page report into a vivid, compelling narrative of Russia’s attempts to undermine American democracy, the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Kremlin assistance and the president’s repeated and legally dubious efforts to thwart investigators.

For a party divided over how to confront Mr. Trump — liberals versus moderates, supporters of impeachment versus staunch opponents — the stakes could scarcely be higher.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Prepare for Showdown and Counsel a Light Touch, Nicholas Fandos, July 20, 2019. House Republicans have attacked Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but when it comes to his testimony, many are advocating a gentler approach.

July 19

DOJ's Whitewash of Trump's Election Scandal?

Palmer Report, Analysis: Michael Cohen sounds the alarm, Bill Palmer, July 19, 2019. Yesterday, the Feds at the SDNY unsealed court documents showing that Donald Trump was indeed behind the criminal conspiracy to have Michael Cohen illegally pay off Stormy Daniels during the election. The documents also stated that Trump adviser Hope Hicks, and people in the Trump Organization, were deeply involved in the conspiracy. Yet the SDNY also announced that it’s not bringing further criminal charges.

bill palmer report logo headerIf this sounds confusing and fishy to you, it turns out you’re not the only one. Michael Cohen (below right), who is currently in prison after having pleaded guilty to his role in the campaign finance scandal, released this statement, as relayed by NBC News: “The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice.”

michael cohen ap file croppedMeanwhile, MSNBC is reporting that the Department of Justice is refusing to say whether or not Attorney General William Barr was involved in the decision not to bring any criminal charges. Trump’s DOJ has a standing policy that a sitting president can’t be indicted. But there’s more than enough in the court filing to convince a grand jury to indict Hicks (though she’s insisting today that she wasn’t involved), and to bring indictments against various others.

One school of thought is that because the SDNY isn’t allowed to indict Donald Trump at this time, it’s waiting until he’s out of office before charging everyone involved, due to the greater odds of achieving conspiracy convictions when the charges are brought simultaneously. The other school of thought is that Trump and/or Barr is forcing the SDNY not to bring charges against Trump’s people that it wanted to bring. Michael Cohen is right to sound the alarm.

Trump's Race-Baiting

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant as G.O.P. Frets Over Ugly Phrase, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Maggie Haberman Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoand Michael Crowley, July 19, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump was urged by senior Republicans and Ivanka Trump to repudiate the chant that his supporters directed at Representative Ilhan Omar. Mr. Trump said he was “not happy” with the behavior and claimed that he had tried to contain it, an assertion contradicted by video.

New York Times, Here’s what Mr. Trump has claimed about Ms. Omar, and what we know.

U.S. 2020 Politics

New York Times, Tom Steyer plans to spend $100 million of his own money to take on Mr. Trump, whether anyone wants him to or not, Nellie tom steyer twitterBowles, July 19, 2019. Tom Steyer is a former hedge fund investor and a billionaire. Those things could be a liability for a man running for president as a progressive. But Mr. Steye (shown on Twitter0r, who this month joined a field of — what is it now? — 24 people, argued this was a selling point.

“Now you know, I know everybody always describes me as being rich. That is not how I see myself,” he told an audience at a bookstore here Wednesday night. “But I can tell you this, the one thing it does give me is the right to say nobody owns me. I mean I will do exactly what I think is right.”

Fighting inequality is one of his priorities, he said, and his wealth is a sign of his ability to finance that fight. He plans to spend $100 million of it on the race.

A little more than a week after officially announcing that he is running to be the Democratic presidential nominee, Mr. Steyer chose a progressive bookstore and event space for his first campaign stop in his hometown.

Consumer Protection: Bank Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe, Stacy Cowley, July 19, 2019.  When Philip Poniz opened Box 105 at his local Wells Fargo, he discovered it was empty — and that he was totally unprotected by federal law.

In the early 1980s, when Philip Poniz moved to New Jersey from Colorado, he needed a well-protected place to stash his collection of rare watches. He had been gathering unusual pieces since he was a teenager in 1960s Poland, fascinated by their intricate mechanics. His hobby became his profession, and by the time of his relocation, Mr. Poniz was an internationally known expert in the history and restoration of high-end timepieces.

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Anxious Democratic Governors Urge Candidates Not to Veer Left, Jonathan Martin, July 19, 2019. They are especially concerned about some presidential contenders’ proposals to eliminate private health insurance. After claiming governorships from Republicans in seven states last year, including in crucial presidential battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan, Democratic governors should have good reason to celebrate.

democratic donkey logoBut there was as much anxiety as optimism when the governors gathered for their annual fund-raising retreat on Nantucket last weekend and grappled with why a party that won with a pragmatic message in 2018 is now veering sharply to the left.

Some governors are alarmed that their party’s presidential candidates are embracing policies they see as unrealistic and politically risky. And they are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Nate Cohn, July 19, 2019. Re-election looks plausible even with a bigger loss in the national popular vote. President Trump’s approval ratings are under water in national polls. His position for re-election, on the other hand, might not be quite so bleak.

His advantage in the Electoral College, relative to the national popular vote, may be even larger than it was in 2016, according to an Upshot analysis of election results and polling data.

That persistent edge leaves him closer to re-election than one would think based on national polls, and it might blunt any electoral cost of actions like his recent tweets attacking four minority congresswomen.

For now, the mostly white working-class Rust Belt states, decisive in the 2016 election, remain at the center of the electoral map, based on our estimates. The Democrats have few obviously promising alternative paths to win without these battleground states. The president’s approval ratings remain higher in the Sun Belt battlegrounds than in the Rust Belt, despite Democratic hopes of a breakthrough.

Trump Aide Indicted On Kiddie Porn Charges

george nader c span

Politico, Businessman who testified in Mueller probe indicted on child pornography charges, Josh Gerstein, July 19, 2019. A wealthy Lebanese-American businessman and Middle East expert who was a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation has been indicted on charges of importing child pornography and traveling with a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

George Nader, 60, made a brief appearance Friday morning in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to be arraigned on the new george nader djtindictment, which was returned July 3 and unsealed Friday.

Nader (a Trump-Pence 20`16 campaign advisor shown in file photo with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago) was involved in various meetings and discussions related to the Trump presidential transition which drew the FBI logoattention of Mueller investigators, including a meeting that Erik Prince, the founder of private military contractor Blackwater, held with a Russian ally of President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January 2017.

When Nader flew into Dulles Airport outside Washington in January 2018, he was questioned by agents working for Mueller. A search of three iPhones seized from him that day via a search warrant allegedly turned up child pornography.

rnc logoProsecutors filed a criminal complaint against Nader over the images in April 2018, but kept the charges under seal and never told his attorneys about them even as he continued to cooperate with Mueller's probe, lawyers said.

Nader was arrested on the criminal complaint early last month at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York as he flew in from overseas. Magistrate judges in New York and Alexandria denied his requests for release.

Nader was wearing an Alexandria jail jumpsuit Friday for the five-minute hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema Friday morning. She set a trial date of Sept. 30.

A defense attorney for Nader, Jonathan Jeffress, urged Brinkema to reconsider the earlier orders to detain Nader pending trial. "This is not a typical child pornography case," Jeffress told Brinkema. However, the judge said she wasn't inclined to let Nader out.

"I think the decision to detain your client was appropriate," Brinkema said, noting Nader's extensive overseas connections, the type of conduct at issue and the potential for a lengthy prison sentence.

Trump Threatens $10b Amazon.com Bid

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He May Intervene in Huge Pentagon Contract Sought by Amazon, Scott Shane and Karen Weise, July 18, 2019. President Trump said on Thursday that he was looking “very seriously” at intervening in the hard-fought commercial battle for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract for which Amazon, a company he has frequently attacked, is seen as the leading contender.

amazon logo smallFor the president to weigh in on the award of a major government contract would be highly unusual, raising questions of improper political influence, but the stakes are high and Amazon’s competitors have been lobbying aggressively. Mr. Trump has long carried on a one-sided feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, over some of the company’s business washington post logoactivities and also over what the president refers to as “The Amazon Washington Post,” though Mr. Bezos owns the newspaper personally, not as a corporate asset.

Asked by reporters about the contract known as JEDI, for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, Mr. Trump said he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon.”

“They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” he said.

In fact, the contract has not yet been awarded and has been the subject of a monthslong competition involving Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. Pentagon officials decided in April that only Amazon and Microsoft had the capacity to meet the military’s requirements, and they have said they expect to choose the winner in late August.

jeffrey bezos washington postJeff Bezos, shown in a file photo and the founder of Amazon, which has been competing with Microsoft, Oracle and IBM for the Defense Department contract. Mr. Trump called JEDI “a very big contract, one of the biggest ever,” and noted that he had heard “complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM.”

“Great companies are complaining about it,” he said, “so we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.” He did not repeat his longstanding criticism of Amazon or Mr. Bezos.

As part of his regular attacks on the news media, Mr. Trump has often targeted The Post by lumping it with Amazon. He has also claimed that Amazon has unfairly exploited the United States Postal Service and has not paid its fair share of taxes.

Steve Kelman, a former federal procurement official now at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said it would be improper for any president to influence the contracting process. “It’s not appropriate and it’s definitely not typical for a president to intervene on a contract,” he said. “That should be left to the Civil Service.”

Kaepernick, Nike Abetting Tea Party's Racism?

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Useful idiots and provocateurs, Wayne Madsen (synicated columnist, author, shown at left in a file photo), July 19, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). During a period when Donald Trump colin kaepernick nike ad Customwayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedis bringing back the old jingoistic and xenophobic “America: Love it or Leave It” mantra, it is awkward to criticize a person of color for besmirching American history, but trying times call for brutal honesty.

Former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick (at right)...showed himself to either be a useful idiot or a willful tool for elements, not all of which are based in the United States, that are trying to blemish and stain the historical icons of the United States.

Scalia Labor Nominee

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump to Name Justice Scalia’s Son as Labor Secretary, Maggie Haberman, Noam Scheiber and Michael Crowley, July eugene scalia screenshot19, 2019 (print ed.). Eugene Scalia, right, a former top lawyer for the Labor Department, is expected to bring stability and a pro-business approach to the job. The position would give him vast responsibility over the American work force. Mr. Scalia’s father served on the Supreme Court until his death in 2016.

labor department logoPresident Trump said Thursday that he would name Eugene Scalia as his next secretary of labor, tapping the longtime labor lawyer and son of the former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia for a position with vast responsibility over the American work force.

The appointment is likely to be contested by Democrats and labor unions because Mr. Scalia has a long record of representing Walmart and other companies that pushed back against unions and tougher labor laws. He was a top lawyer for the Labor Department in the George W. Bush administration and is currently a partner in the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a prominent corporate law firm.

In a post on Twitter, Mr. Trump said Mr. Scalia “has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected.”

Trump Defenders

sebastian gorka twitter

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Defenders of a Racist President Use Jews as Human Shields, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 19, 2019. Trump’s michelle goldberg thumbbigoted attack on four congresswomen of color has nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism.

Sebastian Gorka (shown above in a file photo), a onetime adviser to Donald Trump, wore a medal from the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group historically aligned with Nazism, to one of Trump’s inaugural balls. Gorka was reportedly a member of the group, whose founder, the Hungarian autocrat Miklos Horthy, once said, “For all my life, I have been an anti-Semite.”

Max Berger is a Jewish social justice activist who has long been deeply involved in Jewish communal life. It was Gorka who called Berger an anti-Semite, for having once joined in an internet in-joke about a nonexistent group called “Friends of Hamas.”

If this were just Gorka, you could dismiss it as trolling. But his tweets were only a particularly brazen example of how right-wing gentiles are wrapping themselves in a smarmy philo-Semitism to attack the left, even when that means attacking either individual Jews or the political interests of most Jewish Americans.

Impeachment Politics

House Votes To Table Resolution To Impeach President Trump (Image via YouTube and NBC News).

oenearthlogorob kallOpEdNews, Opinion: Impeachment is a Chess, Not a Checkers Game, Rob Kall, right, July 19, 2019. People who believe that impeachment is not worth doing because it will fail in the Senate are thinking checkers. But this is a chess game. It's not about removing Trump from office. It's about having access to the full power of impeachment hearings to investigate Trump.

The way I think about impeachment is the way I think about life-- it's the road, not the destination. Once the impeachment process is started, the revelations about Trump's corruption and criminality will start to emerge. The idea should be to keep the impeachment going as long as possible, with new testimonies and new releases of disclosures of corruption and treason on a regular basis.

Looking at impeachment as a process for removing the president is a top-down way of thinking about it. Looking at it as a key that gives access to investigative tools is the smarter, more strategic, bottom-up way of looking at it.

FBI logoIdeally, it will get so bad for Trump that the Republicans will end up putting up someone else to run in the general election. They'll have to do it on relatively short notice. If that happens, it will totally neutralize Joe Biden's campaign. It will neutralize the DNC's main narrative. The candidates who focus on Trump will be neutralizes. The candidates who bring issues to the table will be the ones with the best chance of winning.

If Trump stays as the Republican candidate, the impeachment will damage him and persuade some of the people who voted for him not so much because they were voting for Trump as because they voted against Hillary. I think there are plenty of those people. Of course if the Democratic leadership goes top-down again and rigs the election, for example, through the influence of superdelegates, then they may not be able to convert the anti-Hillary voters to come back to the Democratic party.

Perhaps Pelosi is keeping impeachment off the table because she knows that it could end up producing a different candidate to run against instead of Trump. But Pelosi has a terrible history. With Hillary, Pelosi decided that Trump was the candidate that Hillary SHOULD run against. That didn't turn out as planned.

The 2020 presidential election is in the hands of the Democratic leadership. They can win or lose it. They have a bad history. Perhaps they should trust in the people and let go of their top-down control addiction. Bernie Sanders has said that change happens from the bottom-up. Election success does too.

More On Epstein Scandal

VISUP, Epstein's Little Black Book, Staff (non-public), July 19, 2019. A reader kindly provided me with a link to disgraced financier and alleged pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's "little black book" on the recent post I did concerning the parapolitics behind this latest scandal. The contents of this little black book were originally posted on Gawker by the great Nick Bryant (author of The Franklin Scandal). That post can be found here while a more legible list of the names can be accessed here.

Through these links I was able to determine that Edgar Bronfman Jr. did in fact appear in Epstein's black book, as was briefly discussed in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Bronfman Jr. is the brother of the two Bronfman heirs implicated in the NXIVM cult overseen by now-keith raniere nxivmconvicted pedophile Keith Raniere, left.

Naturally, Bronfman is but one of several interesting names to appear in Epstein's little black book. As such, I shall provide a brief assessment of several of the most noteworthy names and briefly address the significance behind them in this particular post. While many of these names are hardly surprising, several appear to provide a glimpse into the networks behind Epstein's pedophile ring. Several trace back to an early sex scandal from nearly six decades ago that appears to be one of the crucial deep events of the past century.

And with that in mind, on to the names.....

And then there is the enigmatic Maxwell family. Ghisliane Maxwell has frequently been described as Epstein's madam and implicated in robert maxwell with papers filesexual abuse along with the billionaire financier. And yet, she was not faced any charges as yet. Her father, Robert Maxwell, right, appears to have had a decades-spanning association with multiple intelligence services, including MI6, the KGB, the CIA, and especially the Mossad.

....

And then there's Trump and Cohn. Both men are closely linked to the old American Security Council (ASC) network. Throughout the Cold War, the ASC was essentially Le Cercle's American counterpart. Virtually every major American defense contractor contributed to the ASC, while its membership rolls were loaded with former high ranking military and intelligence officers. Like Le Cercle, it was both a think tank and a private intelligence network. Much more information on the ASC can be found here.

djt roy cohn youtube screenshotWhile Roy Cohn (at right of Trump in file photo) never joined the ASC, he was a member of the Western Goals Foundation, a private intelligence foundation that tracked the Left in the United States. Western Goals was closely aligned with the ASC and there was much overlap in the membership. As such, it should come as little surprise that Trump's political rise has been greatly aided by the old ASC network (noted here and here).

Even less surprising is that there was much overlap between the ASC and Le Cercle as well. While Britons and Americans were not officially allowed into the group until the late 1960s (Le Cercle was initially a German and French venture), the Cercle complex already appears to have established overtures with the ASC network by the early part of that decade. It was around this same time that the ASC network also began to forge ties with many of the future Cercle Britons (noted before here).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Is Denied Bail in Sex Crimes Case, Benjamin Weiser and Ali Watkins, July 1919, 2019 (print ed.) A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges, rejecting his request to await trial under home detention at his Upper East Side mansion.

The judge, Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said Mr. Epstein, who owns property in Paris and has a private plane, would be detained in jail until his trial on charges that he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Judge Berman emphasized Mr. Epstein’s danger to the others, particularly his accusers and “prospective victims as well.” The judge cited what he called “compelling testimony” by two of the accusers — Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild — who said at a hearing on Monday that they feared for their safety and the safety of others if Mr. Epstein were to be released.

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers had proposed allowing him to post a substantial bond and remain in his mansion guarded around the clock by private security guards, whom he would pay. Prosecutors vigorously opposed that proposal, saying he was seeking “special treatment” and trying to build his own private jail — a “gilded cage.”

Judge Berman said that Mr. Epstein’s proposed bail package was “irretrievably inadequate,” and that he would not entertain any other bail proposals from the financier’s legal team. “I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” the judge said.

Prosecutors had also argued that Mr. Epstein’s fortune, said to be more than $500 million, would make it possible for him to flee the country if he were not detained.

The judge agreed, pointing to Mr. Epstein’s “great wealth and his vast resources,” including private planes and a residence in Paris.

Ever since his July 6 arrest at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after a flight from Paris, Mr. Epstein, 66, has been detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a highly secure jail in Manhattan that has housed accused terrorists, mobsters and even the Mexican cartel leader known as El Chapo.

In seeking Mr. Epstein’s detention, prosecutors also sharply disputed his lawyers’ argument that for more than a decade he had lived a law-abiding life. They noted, for example, that he had tried to influence possible witnesses against him as recently as last year.

The prosecutors said Mr. Epstein had wired $350,000 to two people close to him who were potential witnesses just days after The Miami Herald revealed details last November about his deal to avoid federal prosecution in Florida.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is the tall guy in that Epstein-Trump video? Marylanders remember, Erin Cox, July 19, 2019. Tom McMillen, a former congressman and U.-Md. basketball star, was at the Mar-a-Lago party in 1992.

Inside DC: EPA

ny times logoNew York Times, E.P.A. Won’t Ban Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems, Lisa Friedman, July 19, 2019 (print ed.). The decision not to prohibit the pesticide, which has been linked to developmental disabilities, comes after years of legal wrangling.

Global Atrocity News: Japan

ny times logojapan flagNew York Times, Japan Fire Killed Mostly Women, at Studio Known for Hiring Them, Eimi Yamamitsu, Motoko Rich and Makiko Inoue, July 19, 2019. Women made up almost two-thirds of the 33 people who were killed on Thursday in an apparent arson in Kyoto, Japan. The police identified a 41-year-old as the suspect, but they said he had not been arrested.

Media News / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A random group of ‘Republicans’? CNN doesn’t tell the whole story about a Trump-loving panel, Paul Farhi, July 19, 2019 (print ed.). Members of a Trump booster group have appeared on the network twice before, also without disclosure. There’s no question that the panel of women CNN interviewed about President Trump liked him a lot and don’t think he’s a racist, despite a congressional resolution to the contrary on Tuesday. And no question the women are, as CNN identified them, “Republicans.”

But the network missed telling its viewers a few other things about the women it put on the air Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon in a segment surveying their reaction to criticism of Trump.

cnn logoThe seemingly random group of eight women were, in fact, members of an organized group dedicated to promoting Trump. The group calls itself the Trumpettes of America 2019 Palm Beach Team, although CNN and correspondent Randi Kaye didn’t mention anything about such a group. Nor did the anchors, including Anderson Cooper, who introduced Kaye’s report.

The network also didn’t mention that the Trumpettes have been interviewed on CNN twice before, and that they came up reliably in support of Trump on those occasions, too.

As a result, the segment left the impression that CNN had assembled a panel reflecting a cross-section of opinion from Republican women about the crossfire between Trump and four freshmen Democratic congresswomen of color, whom Trump told to “go back” to their own countries in his Sunday tweets despite all four being American citizens.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, A Celebration of Truth: Whistleblowers Will Gather In The Nation's Capital, Tanya Ward Jordan,  To further encourage brave individuals to stand together to achieve human rights for all, Acorn8 will convene the 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival. The theme for this year's conference is True North Persevering in the Pursuit of Justice.

All whistleblowers as well as the entire civil-rights community are invited to attend the "free" conference. The gathering will take place from July 25, 2019, thru August 1, 2019, in Washington, DC.

ACORN 8, The Coalition for Change, Inc. (C4C), Project Censored, Justice Integrity Project and Federally Employed Women Legal Education Fund (FEW-LEF) will co-host the 2019 Summit on Capitol Hill.

Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblower Center, Deidre Gilbert of the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association, and Tanya Ward Jordan, Author of 17 Steps: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination and President of C4C, will join the whistleblowers' assembly.

"Whistleblowing is something that should be celebrated," says Marcel Reid, who became the first whistleblower liaison in major media. She now organizes the annual event with Michael McCray, Esq, author of RACE, POWER & POLITICS--the Inside Story of ACORN.

Marcel Reid (at mic) with Michael McCray and Andrew Kreig,

"The upcoming summit will feature panels as well as films that shine a light on courageous stories of perseverance in the face of injustice," says McCray, who became a federal whistleblower while working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival will hold a variety of panel discussions covering such topics as Whistleblowing in Medicine, Surviving Whistleblowing, Working More Effectively With Congress, Dying For Dialysis, Is There a Book in Your Story?, Economic Apartheid: Blackballing Minority Financial Institutions, and Facing the No FEAR Factor (Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act).

To see schedule and register via Eventbrite button, visit the link whistleblowersummit.com

U.S. Politics

Daily Beast, How the Ilhan Omar Marriage Smear Went From Fringe to Trump, Will Sommer, July 19, 2019. The curious journey of the unproven rumor that Omar married her brother to get him citizenship — from an obscure Somali diaspora forum to the president. When Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) once married her own brother in an immigration fraud scheme, he demonstrated the remarkable degree to which even the most far-off corners of the right-wing internet can launch unproven, anonymous claims into the national political discourse.

The president had been asked by a reporter from the pro-Trump One America News Network about whether his administration was investigating Omar “for possibly marrying her brother.” In response, Trump hinted that “somebody” in the government was looking into the matter.

“There’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother,” Trump said. “I know nothing about it. I hear she was married to her brother.”

The remarks were the first Trump had ever uttered on Omar’s marriage. And they represented a remarkable—if not depressing—capstone for the unproven rumor, which has gained steam in the fever swamps for three years as Omar became one of the country’s most outspoken and controversial lawmakers.

The claim that Omar married her own brother as a way for him to gain a green card has been embraced by a number of conservative pundits with ties to the president, including commentator Dinesh D’Souza, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, and One America host Jack Posobiec. On Thursday, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson discussed it on his show.

Omar, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, has denied that her ex-husband is her brother. And for good reason. What many of the smear’s promoters never reveal to their audience is both the evidence Omar has provided to disprove their conspiracies and the fact that the completely unproven idea that she married her brother is based entirely on a single, anonymous, unsourced allegation initially made on an obscure internet forum.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration planning changes to U.S. citizenship test, Abigail Hauslohner, July 19, 2019.  Officials gave few us dhs big eagle logo4details about the changes to the test, which is required of everyone who applies to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. The exam was last revised in 2008.

Hundreds of thousands of people become naturalized U.S. citizens every year. Last year, USCIS naturalized more than 750,000 people, a five-year high. Immigration attorneys have said there is an increasingly long application processing time, and there is a record backlog that has grown dramatically since 2016. A foreign national has to be a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least five years before applying for citizenship.

Palmer Report, Opinion: ESPN host Dan Le Batard rips Donald Trump to pieces on air, Bill Palmer, July 19, 2019. Leading sports news television network ESPN has largely tried to keep politics out of its sports coverage. Whenever Donald Trump has launched racist attacks on black athletes, or whenever athletes have called out Trump’s racism, ESPN’s on-air personalities have reported on this, but have generally avoided adding their own commentary. That all changed in a big way today.

bill palmer report logo headerDan Le Batard is best known as a humorous and affable ESPN host with something of a goofball streak. But when he was speaking on his radio show today – which is broadcast on several ESPN radio affiliates – he took things in a very serious direction. Le Batard addressed the “send her back” chant that broke out during a Donald Trump rally, in reference to Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is an immigrant. Le Batard called it “un-American” and said that “There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president.” But he was just getting started.

Le Batard didn’t merely rip Donald Trump for being a racist. He criticized his own network ESPN for ignoring Trump’s racism, which he called “cowardly.” He added that “this isn’t about politics, it’s about race. What you’re seeing happening here is about race. It’s been turned into politics, and we only talk about it around here when [Golden State Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr or [San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg] Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what’s going on around here unless there’s some kind of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.” He went on to point out that athletes like Muhammed Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were fighting these same battles several decades ago.

Thus far Donald Trump hasn’t yet attacked Dan Le Batard on Twitter. Come to think of it, we doubt Trump can figure out how to spell “Le Batard.” But this isn’t funny. Trump has pushed his racism and xenophobia to the point that even sports commentators are finding themselves compelled to call it out, even in instances when it doesn’t directly relate to sports. You can follow Le Batard on Twitter here.

NSA Contractor Sentenced

washington post logoWashington Post, NSA contractor sentenced to nine years in theft of massive amounts of classified material, Dan Morse and Tom Jackman​, July 19, 2019. A National Security Agency contractor who committed a massive theft of classified government material but did not share it with anyone, according to prosecutors, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison.

Harold T. Martin III, 54, has already been in jail for nearly three years since the FBI raided his home in Glen Burnie, Md., on Aug. 27, 2016. Investigators had been searching desperately for the person responsible for the leak of a cache of high-value hacking tools developed by the NSA, which was stolen from the NSA and had been offered online just weeks earlier by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

In the three years since the raid, the government has not alleged in court filings that Martin leaked any of that information, and prosecutors confirmed Friday that nothing Martin took had been disseminated. The identity of the Shadow Brokers, and the source of their stolen tools, has not been publicly disclosed, if it was ever discovered.

What agents found in the small home Martin shared with his wife amazed them — at least 50 terabytes of data, the equivalent of 500 million pages of material, much of it highly classified and related to hacking, gathered over 20 years, court records show.

[Government alleges former NSA contractor stole ‘astonishing quantity’ of classified data over 20 years]

Martin apologized during his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett and said he recognized that taking the data was wrong. Bennett said the case “has given me great pause,” but he agreed to impose the nine-year term agreed upon by the defense and prosecution, the maximum recommended under federal sentencing guidelines.

The home, shown in October 2016, where Harold T. Martin III stored classified materials he stole from his workplace, according to court filings. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Martin pleaded guilty in March to one count of willful retention of national defense information. U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said then that the sentence would be the longest ever imposed on a willful retention charge. Martin will receive credit for the three years he has already served, the judge said.

Martin was an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, the same company that employed Edward Snowden, who shared vast amounts of classified NSA data with journalists in 2013 about U.S. spying programs. Booz Allen struggled to deal with a second security embarrassment, hiring former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to investigate the leak and revising its hiring and supervision protocols.

About two weeks before Martin’s arrest, hackers had started selling the tools developed by the NSA to exploit software vulnerabilities in large programs used by governments, businesses and hospitals. Then, a Russian cybersecurity firm notified the NSA that it had received cryptic Twitter messages from Martin seeking to speak with the lab’s founder, The Washington Post reported in January.

[Russian firm that was barred from U.S. networks as a spy threat helped NSA nab suspect in massive breach]

Martin, who had cycled through several contracting jobs, worked in the Tailored Access Operations unit of the NSA, designed to create ways to secretly hack into computers.

When the agents arrived, they found “an astonishing quantity” of classified digital data, much of it lying open in his home office, in the back seat of his car or in a backyard storage shed, the government said in court filings.

“The large volume of hard-copy and digital documents,” prosecutors wrote, “included information from the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, the National Reconnaissance Office and the Central Intelligence Agency.”

One document contained “specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States,” the government said, and a Cyber Command document discussed “capabilities and gaps in capabilities of the U.S. military and details of specific operations.”

Martin’s lawyers said he had no nefarious intent in taking the documents home. He was simply a hoarder who dealt with “undiagnosed autism” and believed that having the data close would make him a better employee.

A sentencing memorandum filed by federal public defender James Wyda quotes from a report written by neuropsychologist David Black, who said Martin’s hoarding disorder resulted from “a constellation of largely undiagnosed and untreated mental health challenges that have plagued Mr. Martin his entire life.”

Over time, Black said, as Martin collected stacks of information in his home, he “developed the belief that the material he worked with could fill the loneliness and emptiness he felt from a lack of social connection and the perpetual sense of rejection he felt at work.”

Black said Martin, who moved through seven government contracting jobs over 23 years after leaving the Navy, was convinced that “possessing it would make him more competent and more valued at his next contracted position, because he would carry institutional knowledge with him, thereby having a unique capacity to safeguard the United States.”

Wyda noted that “the government never uncovered any evidence that he was a traitor or a danger to our nation.”

In its own sentencing memo, the government responded: “Possession of this information outside of authorized secure facilities and channels puts the United States at risk.”

There is no question that Martin knew removing documents marked “Top Secret” from the NSA was illegal, prosecutors wrote. Martin acknowledged that in quiet remarks he made while reading from a sheet of paper in court Friday.

 July 18

Trump Impeachment Vote

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Bid Fizzles as Trump Escalates Attack on Democrats, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Nicholas Fandos, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). The House on Wednesday killed an attempt to impeach President Trump for statements that the chamber condemned this week as racist, turning aside an accusation that he had brought “ridicule, disgrace and disrepute” to his office.

U.S. House logoThe move split Democrats, underscoring the divisions within the party over whether they should use their majority al green congressmanto charge Mr. Trump and try to remove him from office, with 95 signaling their support for at least considering the question further, and 137 moving to stop the current effort in its tracks.

The 332-to-95 vote to table the impeachment article drafted by Representative Al Green, left, Democrat of Texas, constituted the first action by the House since Democrats took control in January on a measure to impeach Mr. Trump, a significant move that Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other party leaders have toiled to avoid.

By agreeing to table the article, Ms. Pelosi and the Democrats put off — at least for now — a prolonged and divisive debate over whether Mr. Trump’s conduct warrants his expulsion.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, At Rally, President Accuses Liberal Critics of Seeking the Nation’s ‘Destruction,’ Michael Crowley, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump road-tested his attacks on four Democratic congresswomen on Wednesday, casting them as avatars of anti-Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionAmerican radicalism and reiterating his call for them to leave the country, in a preview of a slash-and-burn re-election strategy that depicts Mr. Trump as a bulwark against a “dangerous, militant hard left.”

“These left-wing ideologues see our nation as a force for evil,” Mr. Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo) told a packed arena. To roaring applause, he railed against what he called “hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down.”

“They don’t love our country,” he said. “I think, in some cases, they hate our country. You know what? If they don’t love it, ilhan omar otell them to leave it.”

In recent days, similar comments by Mr. Trump have been met with repugnance across the country. But the capacity crowd in an arena at East Carolina University seemed to savor them.

After Mr. Trump reeled off several controversial comments made by one of the four congresswomen, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, right, including ones that he depicted as sympathetic to Al Qaeda, the crowd started up a rousing chant of “Send her back! Send her back!”

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats say they won’t repeat the mistakes of 2016. They don’t agree on what those were, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, July 18, 2019. Democrats still don’t agree on why they lost the White House in 2016. But they have absolutely no intention of repeating their mistakes.

democratic donkey logoWhatever they were, exactly. Was it the loss of working-class white voters or urban black voters? Too much talk of Donald J. Trump or not enough? And what about those Russians?

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoIf Hillary Clinton’s decision to skip campaigning in Wisconsin was a problem, the party has that one covered. Democrats selected Milwaukee as the site of their national convention a year from now. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, states where Hillary Clinton lost after polling ahead for months, Democratic candidates pop up at coffee shops and farmers’ markets, field questions from audiences in packed high school auditoriums and clog up cellphone voice mail boxes.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump spoke repeatedly with Cohen, aides during scramble to pay Stormy Daniels, documents show, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger​, July 18, 2018.. A judge ordered the release of investigative materials involving the federal probe of payments made to protect the president's candidacy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Michael Cohen scandal just exploded – and now it involves Hope Hicks, Bill Palmer, July 18, 2019.  hope hicks djtThis week the Feds at the SDNY announced that they aren’t seeking any additional criminal charges in the investigation into Michael Cohen’s illegal payoff to Stormy Daniels. Some legal experts pointed out that this may simply be because the SDNY wants to wait until Donald Trump is out of office so it can simultaneously charge everyone involved with conspiracy. In any case, a judge just forced the entire investigation to be made public – and it’s a

bill palmer report logo headerThe documents unsealed in court this morning prove what everyone already basically knew: “Individual 1” Donald Trump was behind the payoff from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels. Trump orchestrated the entire criminal plot to keep Daniels silenced during the election, committing a felony campaign finance violation in the process. In other words, Trump committed the same crime that Cohen is currently rotting in prison for. But that’s just the half of it.

The court documents also reveal that Donald Trump’s former adviser Hope Hicks was also knee-deep in criminally conspiring with Trump and Cohen to make the payoff happen. This of course raises the question of why Hicks hasn’t been indicted and arrested. Is William Barr personally blocking the SDNY from doing so, or is the SDNY waiting until Trump is out of office because it’s easier to obtain convictions on conspiracy when everyone is charged and tried at once? We’ll see.

1100 Pennsylvania, Judges deciding Trump Org suits on partisan lines, Zach Everson, July 18, 2019. Judges are ruling along party lines in emoluments, unfair competition, and House investigation suits involving Trump’s businesses. In lawsuits regarding the emoluments clauses, an unfair competition claim, and House committee investigations involving the Trump Organization, judges appointed by Republican presidents have sided with President Donald J. Trump 100 percent of the time when deciding whether to dismiss a case or allow it to proceed. And with just one exception, jurists picked by Democratic presidents have always ruled against Trump on those same matters.

This finding is per 1100 Pennsylvania’s analysis of the cases and investigations it tracks that are related to the president’s businesses. And Based on other journalists’ accounts of oral arguments in two cases currently being reviewed by appeals courts, this partisan trend looks likely to continue.

U.S. Shoots Down Iran Drone

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, Liz Sly, July 18, 2019. President Trump said the drone came very close to the USS Boxer and ignored multiple calls to stand down.”

"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” Trump told reporters. “The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.”

Earlier, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Thursday that it was responsible for the seizure of a tanker that went missing over the weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway that controls access to the Persian Gulf and the oil that flows through it.

The tanker, based in the United Arab Emirates, and its 12-member crew were detained after they were found to be smuggling Iranian fuel, according to a statement by the Revolutionary Guard. The statement appeared to contradict an earlier claim by Iran’s Foreign Ministry that

Epstein Updatejeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

Epstein with the Trumps (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Vanity Fair, “A Lot of Powerful People...Could Go Down”: The Journalist Who Published Jeffrey Epstein’s Black Book and Jet Passenger Logs Comes in From the Fringe, Joe Pompeo, July 18, 2019. Nick Bryant started pursuing the disgraced financier around 2012. He talks about how the world finally caught up, and where the case may go from here.

With Jeffrey Epstein denied bail and prosecutors building their case in his sex trafficking indictment, one of the next shoes to drop — possibly many shoes — will invariably be: Who within Epstein’s social orbit might be implicated in the scandal one way or another? As someone involved in litigation against Epstein told my colleague Gabriel Sherman earlier this week, “It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names. It’s going to be contagion numbers.”

Ever since Epstein’s arrest on July 6, there’s been growing scrutiny of his vast network of rich and / or famous and / or powerful friends and acquaintances—or former friends and acquaintances, as it were. There’s a road map to that network in Epstein’s now-infamous black book, filled with many bold-faced names, phone numbers, and addresses, from Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Ehud Barak to Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Mick Jagger, and even Courtney Love. “It is a mosaic of Epstein’s social contacts,” the investigative journalist Nick Bryant told me.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein's intelligence operation becoming clearer, July 18, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). With each court filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's former intelligence operations become clearer as to motive and practice.

Federal prosecutors, in arguing against any bail for Epstein, who is considered an extreme flight risk, pointed out that they discovered in a safe in his 9 East 71st Street Manhattan townhouse an expired Austrian passport issued in 1982, which bears Epstein’s photograph but is in another name.

There is a reason why the James Bond theme figures so prominently in the story of Epstein’s sinister Little St. James Island, nicknamed “Pedo Island” and “Orgy Island,” and the Epstein connection to Robert Maxwell and his dodgy daughter Ghislaine. In the case of the Epstein saga, life is definitely imitating art.

MintPress News, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case, Whitney Webb (shown in her Twitter photo), July 18, 2019 (excerpted). Epstein whitney webb twitteris only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive and sophisticated operation that offers a frightening window into how deeply tied the U.S. government is to the modern-day equivalents of organized crime.

Despite his “sweetheart” deal and having seemingly evaded justice, billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested earlier this month on federal charges for sex trafficking minors. Epstein’s arrest has again brought increased media attention to many of his famous friends, the current president among them.

Many questions have since been asked about how much Epstein’s famous friends knew of his activities and exactly what Epstein was up to. The latter arguably received the most attention after it was reported that Alex Acosta — who arranged Epstein’s “sweetheart” deal in 2008 and who recently resigned as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary following Epstein’s arrest — claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for “intelligence.”

Other investigations have made it increasingly clear that Epstein was running a blackmail operation, as he had bugged the venues — whether at his New York mansion or Caribbean island getaway — with microphones and cameras to record the salacious interactions that transpired between his guests and the underage girls that Epstein exploited. Epstein appeared to have stored much of that blackmail in a safe on his private island.

Claims of Epstein’s links and his involvement in a sophisticated, well-funded sexual blackmail operation have, surprisingly, spurred few media outlets to examine the history of intelligence agencies both in the U.S. and abroad conducting similar sexual blackmail operations, many of which also involved underage prostitutes.

In the U.S. alone, the CIA operated numerous sexual blackmail operations throughout the country, employing prostitutes to target foreign diplomats in what the Washington Post once nicknamed the CIA’s “love traps.” If one goes even farther back into the U.S. historical record it becomes apparent that these tactics and their use against powerful political and influential figures significantly predate the CIA and even its precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In fact, they were pioneered years earlier by none other than the American Mafia.

In the course of this investigation, MintPress discovered that a handful of figures who were influential in American organized crime during and after Prohibition were directly engaged in sexual blackmail operations that they used for their own, often dark, purposes.

In Part I of this exclusive investigation, MintPress will examine how a mob-linked businessman with deep ties to notorious gangster Meyer Lansky developed close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) while also running a sexual blackmail operation for decades, which later became a covert part of the anti-communist crusade of the 1950s led by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), himself known throughout Washington for having a habit of drunkenly groping underage teenaged girls.

Yet, it would be one of McCarthy’s closest aides who would take over the ring in later years, trafficking minors and expanding this sexual blackmail operation at the same time he expanded his own political influence, putting him in close contact with prominent figures including former President Ronald Reagan and a man who would later become president, Donald Trump.

Samuel Bronfman and the Mob

Samuel Bronfman never planned to become a major producer of liquor but true to his family’s last name, which means “brandy man” in Yiddish, he eventually began distributing alcohol as an extension of his family’s hotel business. During Canada’s Prohibition period, which was briefer than and preceded that of its southern neighbor, the Bronfman family business used loopholes to skirt the law and find technically legal ways to sell alcohol in the hotels and stores the family owned. The family relied on its connections with members of the American Mafia to illegally smuggle alcohol from the United States.

Years later, Samuel Bronfman’s children and grandchildren, their family’s ties to the criminal underworld intact, would go on to associate closely with Leslie Wexner, allegedly the source of much of Epstein’s mysterious wealth, and other mob-linked “philanthropists,” and some would even manage their own sexual blackmail operations, including the recently busted blackmail-based “sex cult” NXIVM. The later generations of the Bronfman family, particularly Samuel Bronfman’s sons Edgar and Charles, will be discussed in greater detail in Part II of this report.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Alan Dershowitz hits the panic button in Epstein scandal, Bill Palmer, July 18, 2019. Two weeks after the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein on charges of sex trafficking of minors, the government hasn’t released any details or names allegedly associated with Epstein’s crimes. That said, we’ve spent the past two weeks watching Donald Trump erupt into an absolute panic, going to increasingly absurd lengths to try to distract from the scandal. Now Alan Dershowitz is hitting the panic button as well.

bill palmer report logo headerAlan Dershowitz’s only confirmed involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal is that he’s the defense lawyer who helped Epstein land an extremely lenient plea deal more than a decade ago. As the Epstein case has come back into focus, Dershowitz has been accused of also having had sex with an underage girl. Dershowitz has denied having ever so much as met his accuser.

alan dershowitz2Whatever the truth is about Dershowitz, right, you have to figure the Epstein probe will bring it to the surface sooner or later. In the meantime, it turns out the New Yorker is about to publish some kind of ugly expose on the matter. We don’t have any idea what specific accusations or evidence might be in this New Yorker piece, but Dershowitz is making clear that he really, really doesn’t want us to believe any of it.

Alan Dershowitz wrote an article for conservative site Newsmax today, claiming that the New Yorker is only dropping the hammer on him because of his “defense of President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the State of Israel.” Well okay then. If anything, Dershowitz is only serving to generate even more interest in whatever the New Yorker is about to publish about him. We’ll have to wait and see what it is, but it’s clear that Dershowitz considers it to be really bad for him.

U.S. 'Rule of Law'

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A ‘Train Wreck’ Was Averted at the Supreme Court, but for How Long? Linda Greenhouse (shown on the cover linda greenhouse cover just a journalistof her memoir Just A Journalist), July 18, 2019. While the rule of law prevailed in the census case, it still hangs by a thread.

The poison emanating from the White House in recent days has been so overwhelming that it’s hard to remember that something else held the country in thrall just a week ago: the prospect that President Trump would defy the Supreme Court and insist on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

There’s a strong temptation to extract a triumphalist narrative from the president’s grim-faced and rant-filled surrender last Thursday. After all, didn’t the rule of law prevail — and perhaps even emerge stronger for having been so sorely tested? Didn’t the country dodge a “constitutional train wreck,” as Harry Litman, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, wrote in The Washington Post the next day?

SCOTUSblog, First-person Opinion: Justice Stevens: Setting an example for all of us, Jeffrey L. Fisher (professor of law at Stanford Law School, special counsel at O’Melveny & Myers and law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens in 1998-99), July 18, 2019. Much has been said in john paul stevens scotus photo portraitthe past couple of days about Justice Stevens’ kindness, humility and generosity of spirit. All of it is true.

But perhaps not quite enough has yet been said about the justice’s integrity. Selecting a nominee in the wake of the Watergate scandal, President Gerald Ford was said to be guided by a single objective: to find the “finest legal mind” available. But the need to select a jurist who was above reproach must surely have been foremost in his thinking as well.

The president found that person in Justice Stevens. Never afraid to speak his mind or stand his ground — though never showy about doing so — the justice seemed to prize his independence of thought above all else. He simply endeavored to figure out the best solution to the problem each case posed, period. If he came up with an elegant resolution others had missed, all the better. He would report his discernment to the clerks with a glint in his eye … and then write it up himself. But the idea he might be swayed by some improper influence, or even fail to give due weight to a counterargument, was laughable.

I think this resolute commitment to searching and evenhanded decision-making was at least partly what has always inspired such fierce admiration among his law clerks. It was taken as a given in chambers that none of us could ever hope to live up to the justice’s example. But we could try, when we engaged with the law, to emulate his model—or at least hope we absorbed as much of his aura as possible. What seemed merely second-nature to him has always been a gleaming ideal for all of us.

Puerto Rican Scandal, Protests

washington post logoricardo rosselloWashington Post, Puerto Rico is in chaos, and some worry continued instability is a major threat, Arelis R. Hernández and Jeff Stein​, July 18, 2019. Protesters demand that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, right, mired in allegations of corruption and scandal, step down. He has refused.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Too Many Years’: Puerto Ricans Say They’ve Had Enough, Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles, July 18, 2019. After days of demonstrations demanding the governor’s resignation, a hardcore group of protesters faced off with the authorities for hours overnight. But the anger goes well beyond the governor. It amounts to a rejection of decades of leaders who have benefited at the expense of suffering people.

puerto rico flagFlags in hand, Puerto Ricans descended into the streets of San Juan on Wednesday, arriving by the thousands for several hours before the start of an enormous protest. They filled a boulevard lined with palm trees, a sea of people covering every inch from the imposing Capitol to the waterfront with a unified message: The governor must go.

On a platform with speakers, the rapper Residente offered a microphone to the artist Ricky Martin. The trap musician Bad Bunny waved a flag. The singer iLe looked over the impressive crowd and declared, “It was about damn time to wake up.”

Ostensibly, the demonstrators were protesting the arrogant and crass exchanges by the governor and his inner circle in a leaked group chat and the corruption of top politicians unveiled by a series of high-profile arrests. But the forceful display on the streets of Old San Juan amounted to a rejection of decades of scandals and mismanagement involving affluent and disconnected leaders who have time and again benefited at the expense of suffering Puerto Ricans.

Rights Abuses: Guantánamo Bay

ny times logoNew York Times, A Look Inside the Secretive World of Guantánamo Bay, July 18, 2019. Nearly two decades after it was opened to house terrorism suspects and enemy fighters, the military prison in Cuba remains shrouded in secrecy. A four-day trip put on by the U.S. military, which upheld strict photography rules, showed the base to be a mix of the mundane and extraordinary.

U.S. Health Services

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Leana Wen Quickly Lost Support at Planned Parenthood, Sarah Kliff and Shane Goldmacher, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). This week the Feds at the SDNY announced that they aren’t seeking any additional criminal charges in thThe departure of Dr. Wen as president underscored a central tension: Is Planned Parenthood a political organization or a health organization first?

Leana Wen had already made a name for herself as Baltimore’s health commissioner when Planned Parenthood hired her as its new president last fall. Dr. Wen, a 36-year-old physician, had used innovative policies to combat the opioid epidemic and delivered a widely watched TED Talk. She regularly appeared on lists of the most influential health care leaders and government officials.

But Dr. Wen’s tenure at Planned Parenthood was rocky and short, ending after eight months on Tuesday when the board of directors ousted her following several weeks of tense and sometimes acrimonious negotiations. Current and former Planned Parenthood officials describe Dr. Wen as a smart but alienating manager who wanted to significantly reorient the group’s focus away from the abortion wars and more toward its role as a women’s health provider.

abc news logoABC News, Former IT contractor for Jeffrey Epstein says he quit over concerns about revealing pictures and topless young women, Kaitlyn Folmer, July 18, 2019 (video). A former IT contractor for Jeffrey Epstein who said that he ended their business relationship over personal concerns about gaggles of apparently unsupervised young women on the embattled financier's private island.

He told ABC News that his reluctance to continue working there was underscored by what he said was an extensive collection of photos of topless women displayed throughout the island's compounds.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump spoke repeatedly with Cohen, aides during scramble to pay Stormy Daniels, documents show, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger​, July 18, 2019. A judge ordered the release of investigative materials involving the federal probe of payments made to protect the president's candidacy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Michael Cohen scandal just exploded – and now it involves Hope Hicks, Bill Palmer, July 18, 2019.  hope hicks djtThis week the Feds at the SDNY announced that they aren’t seeking any additional criminal charges in the investigation into Michael Cohen’s illegal payoff to Stormy Daniels. Some legal experts pointed out that this may simply be because the SDNY wants to wait until Donald Trump is out of office so it can simultaneously charge everyone involved with conspiracy. In any case, a judge just forced the entire investigation to be made public – and it’s a

bill palmer report logo headerThe documents unsealed in court this morning prove what everyone already basically knew: “Individual 1” Donald Trump was behind the payoff from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels. Trump orchestrated the entire criminal plot to keep Daniels silenced during the election, committing a felony campaign finance violation in the process. In other words, Trump committed the same crime that Cohen is currently rotting in prison for. But that’s just the half of it.

The court documents also reveal that Donald Trump’s former adviser Hope Hicks was also knee-deep in criminally conspiring with Trump and Cohen to make the payoff happen. This of course raises the question of why Hicks hasn’t been indicted and arrested. Is William Barr personally blocking the SDNY from doing so, or is the SDNY waiting until Trump is out of office because it’s easier to obtain convictions on conspiracy when everyone is charged and tried at once? We’ll see.

1100 Pennsylvania, Judges deciding Trump Org suits on partisan lines, Zach Everson, July 18, 2019. Judges are ruling along party lines in emoluments, unfair competition, and House investigation suits involving Trump’s businesses. In lawsuits regarding the emoluments clauses, an unfair competition claim, and House committee investigations involving the Trump Organization, judges appointed by Republican presidents have sided with President Donald J. Trump 100 percent of the time when deciding whether to dismiss a case or allow it to proceed. And with just one exception, jurists picked by Democratic presidents have always ruled against Trump on those same matters.

This finding is per 1100 Pennsylvania’s analysis of the cases and investigations it tracks that are related to the president’s businesses. And Based on other journalists’ accounts of oral arguments in two cases currently being reviewed by appeals courts, this partisan trend looks likely to continue.

#MeToo Claim Against Spacey Dropped

kevin spacey house

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Kevin Spacey Is Not Vindicated, Spencer Kornhaber, July 18, 2019. The criminal case alleging the actor (portrayed above) assaulted a busboy in 2016 has been dropped. But #MeToo is more than a reckoning taking place in court.

Help me. Among the text messages sent by a then–18-year-old busboy on the night in 2016 when he alleges Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted him, that one sentiment — a plea for rescue — recurred at least five times. At a Nantucket bar, the man had been talking with Spacey, who bought him a number of drinks and, according to the accuser, pulled down the man’s zipper and started fondling him. The man texted his girlfriend throughout the incident, expressing shock, confusion, and drunkenness. At one point, he wrote that he got an autograph and “a hell of a [story].” At other times, he wrote, “Help,” “Help,” and, “Seriously help.”

The text messages and other communications by the accuser — he filmed part of the encounter on Snapchat, too — were integral to two legal sagas: the man’s civil suit alleging damage from Spacey’s “explicit sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct,” and a criminal charge against the actor citing indecent assault and battery. Both cases have now unraveled.

Spacey’s Nantucket case is one of the few high-profile criminal cases to emerge from the #MeToo movement. It has thus been freighted with significance, and all along, figures who’ve been skeptical of the movement have also voiced skepticism about these particular allegations (the popular podcast host Joe Rogan, for example, called them “horseshit”). Inevitably, the dismissal of Spacey’s case will be portrayed as a setback for #MeToo, and some fans of the actor are already saying he’s “vindicated.” The truth is that the case, and the dozens of other accusations against Spacey, demonstrate why #MeToo is not only — or even primarily — a courtroom battle.

Global News Roundup

ny times logoNew York Times, The United States is sending about 500 more troops to Saudi Arabia as a show of force toward Iran, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 18, 2019. The United States is sending hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia in what is intended as the latest show of force toward Iran, two Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

The roughly 500 troops are part of a broader tranche of forces sent to the region over the past two months after tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated.

Since May, a spate of attacks have left six oil tankers damaged in the Gulf of Oman, with Washington accusing Tehran of inciting them. Iranian officials have denied that claim. The downing of an American drone in June by an Iranian surface-to-air missile only heightened tensions, prompting President Trump to approve military strikes against Iran before abruptly pulling back.

ny times logojapan flag stdNew York Times, Suspected Arson at Kyoto Anime Studio Kills 33, July 18, 2019. Officials said more people were feared to have been killed in the blaze in Japan. At least 36 others were injured. Reports said a man had ignited flammable liquid at the building.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The brain drain we all feared’: Many USDA workers to quit as research agencies move to Kansas City, Ben Guarino, July 18, 2019. Two-thirds of employees at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and more than half of employees at the Economic Research Service will decline to move to the Midwest.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $15, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jeanna Smialek, July 18, 2019. The bill would more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has not risen since 2009. But its prospects are dim in the Senate.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Punishes Turkey by Canceling Sale of Jets, Katie Rogers and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). The White House informed Turkey, a NATO ally, on Wednesday that the United States would not sell it F-35 stealth fighter jets, in retaliation for the country’s purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

IPresident 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, Barr and Ross Held in Contempt Over Census Dispute, Nicholas Fandos, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross were rebuked for their refusal to turn over key documents. The House voted us census bureauWednesday evening to hold Attorney General William P. Barr, below left, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over key documents related to the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Repeal Obamacare Tax Once Seen as Key to Health Law, Abby Goodnough, July 18, 2019 (print ed). In the heat of the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration officials argued that including a steep tax on high-cost health insurance plans would hold down soaring health care costs by prompting employers to rein in such plans and force employees to spend more of their own money on their care. On Wednesday, that feature, once considered central to Obamacare, was dealt a blow by an unlikely foe: Democrats.

9/11 Victim Funding Hold-up

New York Post, Jon Stewart rips Rand Paul for ‘outrageous’ 9/11 victims fund holdup, Tamar Lapin, July 17, 2019. Jon Stewart on Wednesday evening tore into Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee for effectively blocking an extension of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. Earlier Wednesday, the lawmakers slowed down the process of passing the bipartisan bill that would provide relief for first responders, their families and others sickened at Ground Zero.

“It’s absolutely outrageous, and you’ll pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling,” the ex-host of “The Daily Show” said on Fox News’ “Special Report.”

Lee (R-Utah) placed a procedural hold on the bill, effectively blocking it from going up for a vote. Shortly after that, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) requested a unanimous consent agreement on the Senate floor, only to have the motion swatted down by Paul (R-Ky.).

“Rand Paul presented tissue-paper avoidance of the $1.5 trillion tax cut that added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit and now he stands up at the last minute, after 15 years of blood, sweat, and tears from the 9/11 community, to say that it’s all over now and we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community,” Stewart charged.

The reauthorization bill will eventually pass the Senate despite the roadblock created by Paul and Lee, Stewart said.

After the move, a spokesperson for Paul said the senator is “not blocking anything,” just trying to figure out how to pay for the extension. A spokesperson for Lee said the senator wants a last-second look at the legislation over concerns of fiscal misuse.

Since leaving his TV show, Stewart has advocated for 9/11 first responders. He delivered blistering testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee last month, blasting members for not showing up to a hearing on reauthorizing the fund.

Personal Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Up to 4 million people are leaking secrets through browser extensions. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Geoffrey A. Fowler​, July 18, 2019.  Your prescription. Your flight. Your tax return. An investigation shows that people have been unknowingly leaking personal and corporate information through Chrome and Firefox browser extensions that they may have installed themselves.

My latest investigation into the secret life of our data is not a fire drill. Working with an independent security researcher, I found as many as 4 million people have been leaking personal and corporate secrets through Chrome and Firefox. Even a colleague in The Washington Post’s newsroom got caught up. When we told browser makers Google and Mozilla, they shut these leaks immediately — but we probably identified only a fraction of the problem.

The root of this privacy train wreck is browser extensions. Also known as add-ons and plug-ins, they’re little programs used by nearly half of all desktop Web surfers to make browsing better, such as finding coupons or remembering passwords. People install them assuming that any software offered in a store run by Chrome or Firefox has got to be legit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic leaders warn campaigns to delete FaceApp ‘immediately,’ Hannah Denham and Drew Harwell, July 18, 2019 (print ed.). Millions of users, including Drake, LeBron James and the Jonas Brothers, have posted photos of themselves altered by the app to make them look years older.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion; No, the Democratic Party hasn’t lurched to the left, Rahm Emanuel (former mayor of Chicago and White rahm emanuel wHouse Chief of Staff, shown in file photo), July 18, 2019 (print ed.). The most hyped theme of the 2020 election cycle is that the Democratic Party has lurched suddenly and dramatically to the left.

Not only has the party not lurched, but also the presumption that Democrats are undergoing some sort of ideological transformation may undermine our opportunity to defeat President Trump next year. The central question is how we’re going to help our nominee win states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. To avoid an electoral disaster, we need to burst the misunderstandings around three destructive myths.

When people talk about the Democratic “base,” they tend to think of the party’s liberal wing. That’s a mistake. Roughly half of self-identified Democrats describe themselves as “moderate” or “conservative.” Even as “the Squad” grabs the spotlight, moderate Democratic lawmakers such as Conor Lamb (Pa.), Lauren Underwood (Ill.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.) are primarily responsible for today’s Democratic majority in the House. And that’s key: Our nominee will need the voters in their districts to win a sufficient number of purple states in next year’s election.

Public Health

washington post logoWashington Post, As lawyers zero in on drug firms, a reckoning may be coming, Lenny Bernstein and Christopher Rowland, July 18, 2019. Nearly 2,000 communities hurt by the opioid crisis are suing drug companies for staggering sums to cover the costs of treatment, education and law enforcement.

July 17

Impeachment Vote

washington post logoU.S. House logoWashington Post, House votes to kill impeachment resolution against Trump, avoiding a direct vote on whether to oust the president, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, July 17, 2019. House has voted to scuttle the impeachment resolution. The vote is likely to rankle the Democratic Party’s left wing, which has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment.

The House vote today, spurred by Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), is likely to fail. Democratic leaders are expected to use a procedural vote to effectively kill the resolution.

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

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

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

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

House v. Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bill palmer report logo headerNot only that, but it is shockingly easy to decide which is which, more than I would have imagined possible back in the days when the question was hypothetical, when I honestly believed it would always remain hypothetical. That perception is aided greatly by continuity: there is an unbroken link, from the death of Hitler to the present day, of a chain of people who insist they continue to carry the torch of Nazism.

These days the torches are being carried both metaphorically and literally. Those torch bearers are overwhelmingly for Trump. To follow Trump today is to tell anyone who will listen that you would have followed Hitler had you been alive in the 1930s and 40s. I’m not interested in denials that you wouldn’t, either. You know who you are and your credibility is as dead as Donald Trump’s.

donald trump twitterThe Nazi industrial-scale murder of Jews and gypsies and homosexuals and “unsavoury characters” in concentration camps didn’t really enter its phase of full scale production until well after the start of World War II.

Last year, when the separation of immigrant families, part of Steven Miller’s despicable “zero tolerance” program, was universally condemned, the Trump administration appeared to climb down from it as an act of appeasement. For a time everyone was fooled.

We now know that, not only is the policy still in force, Trump and company have doubled down on the policy. Children are continuing to be held in isolation from the care of their responsible guardians and in conditions that are becoming more and more deplorable by the minute. Conditions in these concentration camps are filthier than ever for everyone in them. So much so that guards have taken to wearing protective and surgical masks to fend off the disgusting smell.

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Supreme Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

El Chapo Narcotics Sentence

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

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

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

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

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

Transitions: Notre Dame Fire

notre dame paris

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

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

Migrant Center Profiteers?

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

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

Epstein Scandal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Labor Nominee

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

U.S. Courts, Police, Civil Rights

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

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

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

U.S.-Iran Tensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr just blew it, Bill Palmer, July 17, 2019. The Feds at the SDNY rather aggressively pursued the Donald michael cohen ap file croppedTrump – Michael Cohen campaign finance fraud investigation, to the point that they accused Trump of being “Individual 1” in the criminal conspiracy, even as they put Cohen, right,  in prison. Now suddenly the SDNY says the investigation is over, and no additional charges are being brought at this time. This has William Barr’s fingerprints all over it – but if so, he may have just blown it.

It very much appears that William Barr used his position as Attorney General to force the SDNY to bring an end to its Trump-Cohen probe, because the SDNY was taking this case seriously, and no one but Barr was in a position to forcibly tell the SDNY otherwise. But if Barr thought that shutting down the probe would protect Donald Trump by sweeping the whole thing under the rug, the opposite is about to happen tomorrow.

bill palmer report logo headerThe federal judge in the case has ruled that because the Trump-Cohen probe is ending with no additional charges being brought, the entirety of the probe’s findings must be made public tomorrow. In other words, we’re now just hours from getting the full scoop on what role Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and other members of the Trump Organization played in the criminal scandal. This will help to boost House Democrats’ impeachment case significantly.

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner appeared on MSNBC this afternoon and explained that the Feds like to bring all conspiracy charges at once, in order to maximize the odds of landing convictions. Because the Feds at the SDNY can’t bring federal charges against Donald Trump until he’s no longer in office, they were likely planning to wait until that time before bringing conspiracy charges against anyone involved. In such case, the details of the probe could conceivably have remained under wraps until that time. If Barr forced the probe to be shut down, he’s unwittingly responsible for the fact that the dirt on Trump is about to be released tomorrow.

 July 16

Trump Goes Racist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary On GOP Racism As Tool

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

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

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

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

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

lee atwater graphic

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

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

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

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

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandal

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

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

Impeachment Charges Loom: Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DC Media / White House

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

CNN, Kamala Harris says Russian bots are targeting her. It's more complicated than that, Donie O'Sullivan, July 16, 2019. Sen. Kamala Harris has claimed her presidential campaign is being targeted on social media by Russian bots. But while US intelligence officials say Russian disinformation campaigns targeting Americans continue, verified evidence of attacks on specific candidates has yet to publicly emerge.
Harris' claims come as "Russian bots" have become a catchall description, for some, of any disinformation spread online.

Democrats could even potentially view the perception that they have been targeted by Russian trolls as politically advantageous -- another way to contrast themselves to President Donald Trump, who has publicly sowed doubt about the veracity and implications of Russian cyber meddling, despite warnings from intelligence officials.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that the company had no evidence that Harris was the target of state-backed bots. Facebook would not say if it had found any Russian activity relating to Harris or other Democratic candidates.

Both Twitter and Facebook infamously failed to detect expansive disinformation campaigns run from Russia in 2016. Faith in the companies' ability to detect covert information campaigns may be justifiably low and it may very well later emerge that some of the attacks on Harris emanate from Russia. However, the senator appears to have insufficient evidence to make the assertion as she did.

In the years since America learned Russia had run a vast cyber and social media offensive targeting the 2016 US presidential election, politicians, media outlets, researchers and academics have sometimes incorrectly attributed nefarious online activity to Russia. Disinformation campaigns run by domestic actors, Iran and other nation-states can sometimes be overshadowed by the propensity to falsely attribute activity to Russia.

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

National Law Journal, Commentary: Draining the Reservoir: The Steady Erosion of Credibility at the DOJ, Matthew Collette, July 16, 2019.
Norms are being smashed as the department sends career attorneys for cringe-worthy appearances to defend administration positions.

Working at the U.S. Department of Justice is like joining a storied sports franchise with a long history of excellence, like the Yankees or the 1980s Lakers. The obvious difference is that DOJ lawyers often take a pay cut to join, but the value they glean is intrinsic. The best part of the job is being able to stand up in court and say these words: “I represent the United States.”

U.S. Crime, Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Trump Goes Racist (Continued)

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

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

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

July 15

Epstein Bond Hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Forbids Aide's Testimony

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More On Epstein Scandal

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

Excerpt continued from above:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More On U.S. Migrant Battles

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

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

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

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

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

Mueller Probe / Michael Flynn

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transition: Computer Pioneer Dies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News / Press Freedom

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

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

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

Global News: Sudan

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

July 14

Trump Watch

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

donald trump twitterHere’s what Donald Trump tweeted:

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

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

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

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

Epstein Scandal

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

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

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

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

U.S. Migrant Detentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Legislatures / Gerrymandering

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

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

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

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

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

Elites Bedazzled By Epstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 13

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 12

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals 

virgina roberts dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Caves On Census Citizen Plan

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Media / Trade Wars

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

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

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

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

Global Affairs: Turkey-U.S. Rift

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

Global Affairs: Jared Kushner

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

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

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

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

New Orleans Flood Warnings

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

More Sex Charges Against R. Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 11

Mass U.S. Migrant Arrests Planned

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

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

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

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

Trump Team Subpoenas

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

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

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

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

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

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nicole junderman johnny vedmore graphic

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

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

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

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

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

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

wang zhenhua jail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump 'Social Media Summit Today'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other coverage:

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

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

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

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

#MeToo Claim By NYC Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

News Media / #MeToo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK-Iran Tension

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

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

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

More On Epstein Cover-up

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alex acosta labor dept building ultraviolet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

#MeToo: Trump

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

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

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

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

donald trump arianne zucker billy bush access hollywood

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

 Media / Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Craig Prosecution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More U.S. Corruption Probes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Migrant Policy

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

 Global Sanctions China / Iran / U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Trade War?

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

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

More On Epstein Scandal

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

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

.

kamala harris caricature black agenda report dcma

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

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

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

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

U.S. Health Care, Courts

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

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

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

U.S. Migrant Arrests

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

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

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

Migrant Trafficking

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

U.S. Politics

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

Mueller Probe

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

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

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

Legal Schnauzer, The big news on former special counsel Robert Mueller is not about yesterday's hearings; it's about a law professor's analysis that shows the Mueller Report is riddled with "historic" errors -- of both fact and law, Roger Shuler, July 25, 2019.  The most significant Robert Mueller news did not come yesterday when the former special counsel testified before two Congressional committees about his investigation of the Russia-Trump scandal. It came two weeks ago when a respected law professor showed the Mueller Report is riddled with errors, both of fact and law.

Jed Shugerman, a professor of law at Fordham University, wrote an article at the Daily Beast (dated July 10, 2019), titled Opinion: Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia. Sub-title on the article was "The special counsel will testify before Congress (in two weeks). He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors."

We see no signs that any Democrat at yesterday's hearing questioned Mueller in a way that clarified the errors in his report. And according to Shugerman, the errors were many; in fact, Shugerman published a blog post yesterday morning that outlined at least 10 major errors in the Mueller Report.

How did these errors affect the public's ability to understand possible Trump-era criminality? Here's how Shugerman puts it in the Daily Beast article:

Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport.

The problem is not who is reading it — the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and, based on the facts he found, he should have identified Trump campaign felonies.

Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Opinion: Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia, Jed Shugerman, July 10, 2019. The special counsel will testify before Congress next week. He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors. Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport.

The problem is not who is reading it — the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and, based on the facts he found, he should have identified Trump campaign felonies.

Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

Trump Watch

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

#MeToo At Harvard

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

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

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

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

July 9

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

william barr djt swearing in feb 14 2019 wh tia dufour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Team Obstruction

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

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

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

More U.S. Justice Scandals

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

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

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

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

Judge Blocks DOJ Census Switch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ross Perot Dies

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

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

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

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

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

Gun Control: Virginia

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

john hickenlooper msnbc Custom

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

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

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

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

U.S. Health Care, Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOJ Russia Probe Report

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

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

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

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

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

July 8

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Was a ‘Terrific Guy,’ Donald Trump Once Said. Now He’s ‘Not a Fan.’ Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 9, 2019. Through a mutual appreciation of wealth and women, and years of occupying adjacent real estate in Palm Beach and on Page Six, the lives of the two men routinely intersected for decades — until the connection turned from a status symbol into a liability, and Mr. Trump made sure to publicize the fact that he had barred his onetime friend from his clubs.

djt epstein headshot Custom“In those days, if you didn’t know Trump and you didn’t know Epstein, you were a nobody,” said Alan Dershowitz, the longtime Harvard University Law School professor who later served on Mr. Epstein’s defense team when he was charged with unlawful sex with minors in 2006. It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald J. Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.

The year was 1992 and the event was a “calendar girl” competition, something that George Houraney, a Florida-based businessman who ran American Dream Enterprise, had organized at Mr. Trump’s request.

“I arranged to have some contestants fly in,” Mr. Houraney recalled in an interview on Monday. “At the very first party, I said, ‘Who’s coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.’ It was him and Epstein.”

Mr. Houraney, who had just partnered with Mr. Trump to host events at his casinos, said he was surprised. “I said, ‘Donald, this is supposed to be a party with V.I.P.s. You’re telling me it’s you and Epstein?’”

But while Mr. Trump has dismissed the relationship, Mr. Epstein, since the election, has played it up, claiming to people that he was the one who introduced Mr. Trump to his third wife, Melania Trump, though neither of the Trumps has ever mentioned Mr. Epstein playing a role in their meeting. Mrs. Trump has said that her future husband simply asked for her phone number at a party at the Kit Kat Club during Fashion Week in 1998.

Mr. Epstein was never a dues-paying member of the Mar-a-Lago club, according to an official at the Trump Organization. But as a guest of a guest, he was treated like a close friend by the club’s owner and self-appointed headwaiter, Mr. Trump.

The two were photographed together there in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Trump always in a tie, Mr. Epstein always without. And in Manhattan, they attended many of the same dinner parties, like the one that Mr. Epstein hosted for Prince Andrew, where the guest list also included Ron Perelman and Mort Zuckerman, among others.

Since Mr. Trump’s decision to enter the presidential race in 2015, his aides and allies have been eager to minimize any connection to Mr. Epstein, knowing that Mr. Epstein’s relationship with Mr. Clinton would be investigated at a time Hillary Clinton was likely to be his opponent.

Roger J. Stone Jr., the former Trump adviser, wrote in his book The Clintons’ War on Women, which was published during the campaign, that Mr. Trump “turned down many invitations to Epstein’s hedonistic private island and his Palm Beach home.” Once when Mr. Trump visited Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach home, Mr. Stone wrote about the scene of underage girls he witnessed there.

“The swimming pool was filled with beautiful young girls,” Mr. Trump later told a Mar-a-Lago member, according to Mr. Stone. “‘How nice,’ I thought, ‘he let the neighborhood kids use his pool.’”

Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide to Mr. Trump, said he raised concerns about the candidate’s involvement with Mr. Epstein before Mr. Trump officially began his presidential campaign. But Mr. Trump assured Mr. Nunberg that he had barred Mr. Epstein from entering his clubs after Mr. Epstein had tried to recruit a woman who worked at Mar-a-Lago.

Mr. Trump appeared fully aware of what a liability his onetime Palm Beach pal had become.

Mr. Nunberg said that in early 2015, he was beckoned into Mr. Trump’s office at Trump Tower in Manhattan, along with Corey Lewandowski, then his campaign manager, and Michael D. Cohen, then Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, after David J. Pecker of The National Enquirer had just left the building.

Mr. Trump showed the two men a copy of a new issue of The Enquirer that had yet to hit the stands, with pictures of Mr. Epstein’s private island. Mr. Trump was gleeful about Mr. Epstein’s connection to the Clintons and hinted there would be more to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

Above the Law, Jeffrey Epstein’s Arrest Forces Us To Ask: Which Dirtbag Lawyers In This Case Will Face Their Own Music? Joe Patrice, July 8, 2019.  Along the way, Epstein's conduct was enabled by a who's who of lawyers we've called out.

Jeffrey Epstein was ostensibly a hedge fund manager who molested underaged girls and allegedly ran a human trafficking operation for the rich and powerful. A few years back, he pleaded guilty to a watered down version of his crimes and served 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail. Or at least some of the 13 months… he was allowed to leave and go to his office for 12 hours a day. Epstein even got a non-prosecution agreement that stifled evidence of the wide-ranging nature of his activity.

With his arrest at the behest of the SDNY USAO, Epstein may finally face some measure of justice. There aren’t any statutes of limitations to deal with when it comes to child exploitation, and the way the original plea went down may itself be cause for charges.

The accused always deserve a robust defense, and while lawyers have to be cognizant of their competing obligations or protect their credibility with clients, generally speaking lawyers shouldn’t be knocked for zealously representing clients within the bounds of the law. Yet what the Epstein case reveals is the sickening quasi-law created by the outsized and largely unchecked power of prosecutors. A world where the rich and powerful and their professional mouthpieces spend less time arguing the finer points of law and fact, and more time negotiating how “we can all just get along” with pedigreed perpetrators. If this case goes forward, every single one of these lawyers should face scrutiny — if not legal repercussions — for their role in enabling Epstein all these years.

What’s really amazing is how the Venn diagram of “lawyers who enabled a sexual predator” and “lawyers we routinely blast here at Above the Law” is a perfect circle.

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta: At least someone else is getting prosecuted over this and the odds are it’s Trump’s alexander acosta o cropped CustomSecretary of Labor. The case belongs to the Public Corruption Unit instead of the folks who routinely prosecute child exploitation. The last time I remember a sex case inexplicably ending up in the hands of PCU, NY Governor Eliot Spitzer got tangled up in a prostitution bust. So some government official is getting tagged in this matter and since Acosta has already been flagged for potential criminal conduct in the way he handled Epstien’s original plea, he’s the best bet.

As the local U.S. Attorney in the first attempt to bring Epstein to justice, Acosta (shown at right) conspired with Epstein’s legal team to keep the case out of the public eye, sealing records right and left and not even allowing the victims any input into the deal. A deal that, as a reminder, just gave the guy a half-day county lockup for a year. A judge has already deemed the agreement founded upon material omissions from Acosta’s office.

One might think having a cabinet secretary tied to a child predator would be a tremendous black eye for Trump personally, but the White House has some other problems in this case. Like the way Donald Trump himself shows up in Epstein’s “Little Black Book” or how his public takes on Epstein amount to this:

Alan Dershowitz: Dersh [shown at right with Epstein] served as one of the high-end counsel who secured the sweetheart deal from Acosta. Again, there’s nothing Jeffrey Epstein and Alan Dershowitzwrong with zealously representing the accused, if you really consider leaning on a weak-willed social climber of a prosecutor to give your client a slap on the wrist “representing” in the way our ethical rules conceive of that term.

Of course, Dershowitz also has his own ongoing issues stemming from the Epstein matter, having been accused by some of Epstein’s victims as a willing participant who had sex with underaged girls. Dershowitz vigorously denies these claims and recently demanded that the women accusing him sue him for defamation so he can have the whole matter settled in a court of law. Since then, he’s been working very hard to keep this whole matter from being settled in a court of law.

Even if Dershowitz is entirely cleared of any direct involvement in the scheme — and we’ll be watching that case closely — Epstein’s arrest should be an occasion for everyone to revisit how unsavory this deal was and how it should taint everyone involved.

Cy Vance: In a shock to no one, Manhattan’s bumbling, star-f**ker DA is also knee deep in this travesty. Vance, right, who routinely squelches cyrus vance jrcriminal probes into the rich and powerful — like when his own people told him they had an open-and-shut case against the Trump children or when he let Harvey Weinstein go for years after the NYPD got Weinstein on tape seemingly admitting to crimes — oversaw Epstein’s sex offender status in New York. For a jurisdiction so committed to its stock portfolio-based brand of law and order that it stuffs Riker’s to capacity and holds kids in there awaiting trial for years, when it came to a guy accused of pimping almost 100 underaged girls, Vance wanted people to know this rich guy couldn’t possibly be a threat.

In typical Vance fashion, his office is shoving the individual prosecutor under the bus and proclaiming Vance was merely asleep at the switch, but a lot of folks aren’t buying it.

Some law enforcement sources don’t believe Vance had no clue that his office had a sex-offender case involving a Manhattan mogul with close ties to Democrats.

“This is very unusual,” one said. “There is no way Vance didn’t know. The question is why — and who asked for the favor.”

ken starr baylorKen Starr: The man who wasted millions of government resources on tracking down an affair and then turned Baylor into a disgraceful safe haven for rapists was also on Epstein’s dream team of attorneys securing that plea deal.

Ironically, Bill Clinton is among those accused of having taken multiple trips on Epstein’s private plane known as the “Lolita Express,” presumably not because of a deep Nabokov appreciation. Who knows if Clinton was really involved in illegal activity or just using the plane during its “off-underaged-brothel-hours,” but it’s astounding that once there’s an actual allegation of criminality against Clinton, Starr is the one involved in keeping it under wraps.

Bill Barr: This brings us to the current Attorney General, right, who will presumably try to scuttle the SDNY investigation if it starts to creep william barr new oanywhere near Acosta or Trump. He is, after all, the head of the Justice Department and has that power, but it would involve a wild reversal on one of the few commitments he made during his confirmation hearings. Back then, Barr declared that he would recuse himself from decisions that directly implicated his former firm, Kirkland & Ellis.

You’ve probably already guessed this, but do you know which Biglaw firm did the heavy lifting for Dershowitz and Starr in their efforts to get Acosta to bail out Epstein? That’s right! Kirkland & Ellis partner Jay Lefkowitz. Lefkowitz was old buddies with Acosta, so he seemed like the perfect person to lean on his friend to get a favorable deal.

Everywhere you turn, there’s another lawyer ensnared by Epstein — both the established criminal behavior and the allegations he’s facing now. Attorneys making a mockery of the criminal justice system by turning it into a country club locker room, prosecutors going along with this farce to keep themselves in good stead with a rich and politically connected abuser, and potentially another run at obstruction from the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

No matter where this case goes from here, there are a lot of lawyers who deserve heaps of scorn.

Trump Watch: Iran 'Bombing'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Political Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.-Iran Tensions

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

New PM For Greece

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

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

News Media

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

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

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

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

Media News / Trump

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch: Iran 'Bombing'

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump graduated from Penn in 1968. Before long, a legend was born. A 1973 article in the New York Times said Trump graduated “first in his class” from the Wharton School and then quoted his father as saying, “Donald is the smartest person I know.” In fact, Trump’s name was not among top honorees at commencement. Nor was he on the dean’s list his senior year, meaning he was not among the top 56 students in his graduating class of 366.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gov. Cuomo approves new law allowing release of Trump’s N.Y. state tax returns​, Jeff Stein, July 8, 2019. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed legislation Monday that allows Congress to review President Trump’s state tax returns, giving House Democrats another potential tool for accessing the president’s closely guarded financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has suggested he will not pursue Trump’s state returns, saying he is focused on obtaining documents held by the Internal Revenue Service. Last week, Neal filed a lawsuit against the IRS and Treasury Department over their denial of his request for Trump’s tax returns.

Some New York lawmakers have pushed the new law as a way to grant Congress greater oversight over the president. It gives certain congressional bodies the authority to request the state returns, provided those requesting the returns cite a “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Swalwell drops out of presidential race, will seek reelection to House, John Wagner and David Weigel​, July 8, 2019. eric swalwell o SmallThe California congressman, right, became the first major Democrat to exit the crowded race for the White House. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Monday became the first major Democratic presidential candidate to exit the race, as he announced he would suspend his campaign and focus instead on trying to win reelection to Congress next year.

Swalwell, who made last month’s debate stage but risked not qualifying to participate in the second debate this month, has not registered over 1 percent in national polling. He will face a primary challenge in his bid to return to his House seat for a fifth term.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats, stop embracing losing issues and focus on getting rid of Trump, Richard Cohen, July 8, 2019. The Democratic Party is on a tear. One by one, its candidates have embraced losing issue after losing issue.

First came reparations for slavery, a noble idea lacking only popular support and practicality and possibly amounting to yet another attempt to right a wrong with money. Before that, the various candidates raised their hands in support of Medicare-for-all, which could strip millions of people of their private insurance plans. That is sure to be characterized by Trump as socialized medicine with the sick growing old and dying, covered in cobwebs while waiting to see the doctor. GOP strategists must be hyperventilating over all the goodies arrayed before them. This is a campaign even Trump could win.

The Democratic Party has a possibly fatal inability to prioritize. The urgent challenge is to rid the nation of Trump, not to mollify this or that identity group or wrestle over issues that could not be solved when they were relevant — such as busing

Mueller Probe Follow up

robert mueller testifying flickr

National Law Journal, Judge Warns Prosecutors About Public Statements in Case Against Russian Firm, C. Ryan Barber, July 8, 2019.  US District Judge Dabney Friedrich admonished prosecutors for statements about an indicted Russian company, but she declined to initiate contempt proceedings. "Nothing about the government's conduct to date suggests a flagrant disregard for the court's authority," Friedrich said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller III (shown in a file photo via Flick testifying) violated court rules in public statements about a Russian firm accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, a federal judge in Washington has ruled, while stopping short of disciplining either Justice Department leader.

dabney friedrich nbcIn a July 1 opinion, unsealed Monday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich [a Trump nominee shown at right in an NBC photo] said Barr and Mueller inappropriately linked a defendant, Concord Management and Consulting, to the Russian government, even though prosecutors have not expressly drawn a connection between the firm and the Kremlin. Friedrich, citing language in the Mueller report and Barr’s public comments on the Russia investigation, said the statements violated a court rule that prohibits lawyers in criminal cases from sharing information or opinions that could compromise the fairness of a trial.

Some of the statements could be viewed as ambiguous individually, Friedrich said in her ruling. But taken together, the statements “drew a clear connection between the defendants and a foreign government accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.” Friedrich said in her ruling: “The government’s statements were also prejudicial for another reason: they provided an opinion about the defendants’ guilt and the strength of the evidence.”

The dispute had unfolded largely under seal until Monday. Friedrich referenced a closed-door hearing in May at which she ordered ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.” Friedrich said the lack of any “bad faith” by prosecutors counseled against proceeding with a criminal contempt action.

Concord Management, represented by a defense team from Reed Smith, had argued in April that Barr and Mueller should be held in contempt for releasing “prohibited information and opinions” in the 448-page report on the special counsel investigation and public statements that followed its release.

Describing the report and Barr’s public statements as a “broadside,” Reed Smith partner Eric Dubelier argued that the attorney general and special counsel had effectively proclaimed that Concord Management, along with other Russian companies and individuals charged in the case, participated in an interference campaign led by the Kremlin. “This despite the fact that the indictment contains no such allegation,” Dubelier said.

July 7

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein busted by feds at New Jersey airport, Wayne Madsen, July 7, 2019 (subscription required). Epstein, who, according to a joint report by WMR and the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, allegedly raped a 12-year old girl named Maria and a 13-year old, Katie Johnson, the latter a pseudonym, has been charged by federal prosecutors in New York with one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

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

Secret UK View Of Trump Revealed

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gets slam dunked by UK Ambassador to the United States, Bill Palmer, July 7, 2019. The Daily Mail published secret memos in which UK Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch used words like “inept” and “insecure” and “incompetent” to describe Trump. The Daily Mail is a tabloid, but the UK government has since confirmed to CNN that the leaked memos are in fact the real thing. So now what?

bill palmer report logo headerDarroch is a professional diplomat, so it’s literally his job to pretend in public that an idiot like Donald Trump is not an idiot. He’s the last person who would publicly criticize Trump, no matter how he felt. These memos reveal that he felt compelled to document Trump’s idiocy in private, while discussing with his government how to deal with Trump. Darroch may or may not lose his job over this leak, as it could be difficult for him to continue interfacing with the U.S. government now that it’s been exposed that he thoroughly insulted the President of the United States. But to be clear, Darroch was just doing his job.

This incident serves as the latest reminder that Donald Trump is so uniquely and cartoonishly bad at this, America’s allies have been placed in a no-win situation when it comes to trying to work with him or work around him. On the other hand, America’s enemies have had little problem figuring out how to use Trump’s ineptness and idiocy to gain a leg-up on the United States.

More U.S. Privacy Losses

washington post logoWashington Post, DMV databases become part of unprecedented surveillance infrastructure, Drew Harwell​, July 7, 2009. The FBI and ICE have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through hundreds of millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show.

Trump Migrant Roundup?

washington post logoICE logoWashington Post, Fear of immigration raids builds as agency’s plans move forward, Nick Miroff, Maria Sacchetti, Arelis R. Hernández and Josh Dawsey, July 7, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said his administration will begin the “family operation” soon. His threats have left many immigrants living in the United States illegally fearful of venturing outside.

U.S. Politics

joe biden bernie sanders kamala harris june 28 2019 screengrab Custom

Democrats Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, left to right, during the June 28, 2019 presidential nomination debate in Miami (Screengrab from NBC video)

Axios, Joe Biden's reboot: A "wrap the bow" strategy, Jonathan Swan, July 7, 2009. On Tuesday, Joe Biden told his advisers he wanted to give a speech in South Carolina to address, and preempt, the mounting attacks on his record concerning race and civil rights. Sources close to Biden told me he was still rewriting the draft on Saturday in the car en route to Sumter, South Carolina, where he gave the speech to a mostly black audience.

• "Given the coverage we got coming out of the debate ... we could die by death by a thousand cuts here," said a source familiar with the thinking in Biden’s camp.

• "So it was either you wrap it all up in a bow and you say, 'Look, this is who I am. Barack Obama picked me, so if it was good enough for Barack Obama it's good enough for me' ... or we could have fought each one of these battles individually."

• "This was an attempt to wrap it all up in a bow."
Between the lines: Biden's interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his speech on Saturday signaled a more assertive approach from the Democratic front-runner.

• In Biden's Sumter speech, he emphasized his close relationship with Obama, defended himself against Sen. Kamala Harris' busing attack, expressed regret for his comments about his work with segregationists, and pitched a progressive vision for criminal justice reform — trying to preempt attacks on his support for the 1994 crime bill.

Media News

RT, Trump invites cartoonist who penned ‘anti-Semitic’ Soros sketch to White House, liberals furious, July 7, 2019. Progressives and liberals took to Twitter to vent, after President Donald Trump invited right-wing cartoonist Ben Garrison to an upcoming White House social media summit. Garrison has been accused of anti-Semitism.

The guest list for Trump’s social media summit, due to take place this Thursday, looks tailor-made to trigger and enrage his opponents. Trump cheerleader Bill Mitchell will be in attendance, as will pro-Trump memesmith ‘Carpe Donktum,’ and now self-described “renegade cartoonist” Ben Garrison.

New York Daily News, Crowd at bar breaks into ‘F--k Trump’ chant during live Fox News report about women’s World Cup (WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE), David Matthews, July 7, 2019. A live Fox News broadcast was interrupted by soccer fans scream "F*** Trump." The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Netherlands in the final of the World Cup in France and one cable channel’s attempt to capture fan reactions went a bit sideways. Fox News did a live report from Wallace Bar, a sports bar in Lyon, where the crowd started chanting an obscene phrase that drowned out correspondent Greg Palkot.

#MeToo Book

washington post logoWashington Post, The trailblazers and turning points along the road to #MeToo, Danielle Kurtzleben (politics reporter at NPR), July 7, 2019 (print ed.). Book review: Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment by Linda Hirshman. How did we get here?

In Reckoning, Linda Hirshman tantalizingly offers to answer those questions. She starts in 1968 in Chappaquiddick, Mass., with Ted Kennedy’s infamous car wreck that killed Mary Jo Kopechne, and journeys through a packed half-century of feminist history — the earliest harassment cases, Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the 2008 primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Donald Trump’s election, the #MeToo movement, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh — landing at the 2018 midterm elections.

U.S. Women Win World Cup

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. wins Women’s World Cup title with 2-0 defeat of Netherlands, Steven Goff and Emily Giambalvo, July 7, 2009. The U.S. has won the World Cup four times: in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019. Their performance in France sparked larger conversations about gender, equity and patriotism.

July 6

Epstein Arrested For Trafficking: Report

Daily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Arrested For Sex Trafficking of Minors: Sources, Pervaiz Shallwani, Kate Briquelet, Harry Sieg, July 6, 2019. daily beast logoBillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. The arrest comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

For more than a decade, Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposés in the press. But despite the attention cast on his alleged sex crimes, the hedge-funder has managed to avoid any meaningful jail time, let alone federal charges.
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The new indictment, which will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court, will allege that Epstein, right, sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for "massages" and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district's human-trafficking officials and the FBI.

Several employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls for Epstein's abuse, and some victims eventually became recruiters themselves, according to law enforcement. The girls were as young as 14, and Epstein knew they were underage, according to details of the arrest and indictment shared by two officials.

Epstein's attorney Martin Weinberg declined to comment when reached by The Daily Beast on Saturday night.

“It’s been a long time coming—it’s been too long coming,” said attorney David Boies, who represents Epstein accusers Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Sarah Ransome. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.

“We hope that prosecutors will not stop with Mr. Epstein because there were many other people who participated with him and made the sex trafficking possible," he told The Daily Beast.

 Trump Edicts

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawyers affirm government will seek to add census citizenship question, Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner​​, July 6, us census bureau2019 (print ed.). President Trump earlier in the day said he is considering issuing an executive order, among other options, as a way to get the question onto the 2020 Census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump official suggests census question could help with ‘burden’ of illegal immigration, Colby Itkowitz and Maria Sacchetti, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). It wasn't clear what Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, meant. The administration has said the question's goal is to gain information on voters.

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Obama Is Still a Target Two Years Into Trump’s Presidency, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, July 6, 2019 (print ed.).djt obma headshots palmer report file Mr. Trump faults his predecessor on North Korea, Iran, Turkey, NATO and the border. “I call it the ‘Obama-Biden mess,’” Mr. Trump said.

Since 2011, when he explored running for president against Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump has had a singular obsession with the 44th president.

He repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s citizenship as part of the false “birther” conspiracy. As president, Mr. Obama struck back at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2011, when he roasted the reality television star as a lightweight while Mr. Trump sat grim-faced.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris tries to turbocharge her campaign but faces lingering questi, Chelsea Janes, July 6, 2019. Her presidential campaign is making changes in an effort to turn a breakout debate moment into lasting momentum. But the Democratic senator has had to clarify some policy stances, reviving earlier concerns about whether she is providing a clear vision of what she stands for.

Trump, Barr v. CIA?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Donald Trump and William Barr are crossing another line, Michael Morell (shown right ina JIP file photo, deputy director of the CIA michael morell jip may 18 2015 Smallfrom 2010 to 2013 and twice its acting director), July 6, 2019. There’s a reason the Justice Department hasn’t assessed the CIA’s judgment before.

From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. The president and his political aides have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats to our nation even harder.

cia logoBut, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice Department, as reported by several news organizations, the president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing another line.

I see no problem with a Justice Department review of whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies lived up to their legal and regulatory responsibilities as to how they handled any information related to U.S. persons — U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals. There are strict rules in this regard — the most important promulgated by multiple attorneys general over time — and, in our divisive political environment, it would be beneficial to our democracy for the country to know whether the rules were followed or not.

What I am arguing is that the Justice Department has no standing to review the CIA’s analytic judgment. The whole idea is inappropriate and dangerous. It is certainly unprecedented, and there are good reasons it has never been done before

U.S. Natural Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Another Powerful Earthquake Hits Southern California, Thomas Fuller, Neil Vigdor and Derrick Bryson Taylor, July 6, 2019. A second big earthquake hit Southern California, this one stronger than the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck a day before. Seismologists warned that the latest earthquake would most likely be followed by more seismic activity. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rattled Southern California on Friday night, one day after the strongest recorded quake there in 20 years struck — and seismologists warned that further episodes are expected.

The United States Geological Survey reported that the latest earthquake’s epicenter was in the Mojave Desert, 11 miles from Ridgecrest, Calif. — near where a 6.4-magnitude quake had hit about 36 hours earlier. Since Thursday’s earthquake, the area had been jolted by a series of rolling aftershocks, including one of a 5.4-magnitude that roused Californians on Friday morning.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Floods Keep Coming, Cities Pay Residents to Move, John Schwartz, July 6, 2019. The United States spends more on helping people rebuild after disasters than preventing problems. Nashville is leading an effort to change that by helping people move out of flood zones.

Civilians Killed In Libyan War

washington post logoWashington Post, Carnage at migrant center in Libya highlights peril for those blocked from Europe, Sudarsan Raghavan, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). Thousands of African migrants who have endured deprivation and even torture in a bid to reach Europe are now facing even greater peril, trapped in the middle of the renewed warfare that has gripped this capital city for three months.

More than 10,000 migrants who have set out across the Mediterranean over the past year have been returned to Libyan detention centers after stringent European anti-migration policies took effect, aid officials say, while many others have been blocked from even setting sail.

On Tuesday night, an airstrike shattered a detention camp in a Tripoli enclave, killing at least 53 migrants. The strike, which also left more than 130 wounded at the Tajoura detention facility, inflicted the most civilian casualties in a single day since combat erupted between a renegade Libyan commander, Khalifa Hifter, and militias aligned with the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.

Global News: Brexit

ny times logoNew York Times, The 0.3% of U.K. Voters Who Will Pick the Next Prime Minister, Benjamin Mueller, July 6, 2019. Older, whiter and more right-wing than average, Conservatives who will choose their party’s next leader are adamant about one thing: Brexit at any cost.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion:Choosing subcontractors based on their political connections has become acceptable in D.C., Colbert I. King, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). A proposed $215 million contract to oversee sports gambling pending before the D.C. Council will channel up to $116 million over five years to a small circle of politically connected D.C. companies billed as subcontractors. Should it occur, the council’s approval of that contract negotiated between the city’s chief financial officer and the D.C. Lottery operator, Intralot, might well be regarded as an act of legislative malpractice.

Lawmakers, however, may be headed in that direction if they follow the lead of Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and adhere to the strategy devised by Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), the scandal-scarred (but still) chairman of the council’s finance committee.

July 5

Palmer Report, Commentary: Appeals Court to Donald Trump: hit the road Jack! Bill Palmer, July 5, 2019. Even as Donald Trump continues to violate too many federal laws to count, and continues to defy every attempt at constitutional oversight in the process, one of the key cogs in curtailing his authoritarian overreach has been the court system.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter Donald Trump couldn’t get Congress to fund his border wall fantasy, he decided to simply begin redirecting federal funds from other projects. The trouble: that’s illegal unless Congress signs off on it. Accordingly, Congress dragged Trump into court over the matter. The lower court has already blocked Trump’s move. Now the appeals court is doing the same.

The appeals court in San Francisco has voted to stop Trump from misappropriating $2.5 billion dollars in federal funding, according to the New York Times. This is crucial, because Trump isn’t finding support for these kinds of moves at any Judicial Branch level – which means that the odds are against Trump once this inevitably reaches the Supreme Court. There are five conservative Justices on the Supreme Court, but they’ve voted against Trump’s unconstitutional stunts as often as they’ve voted with Trump.

Trump's July Fourth Speech

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The Age of Stupidity, Wayne Madsen, July 5, 2019 (subscription required). For a nation that was founded by some of the most intelligent people who then lived on the planet – Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, to name but a few – the United States has plummeted into a new age, not one of enlightenment, but one of stupidity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blames teleprompter after July 4 flub about airports, Revolutionary War, Gillian Brockell, July 5, 2019.  President Trump broke with decades of tradition Thursday by not only attending the Independence Day celebration on the Mall in Washington but making a speech as part of his ‘Salute to America.’

It wasn’t the usual lock-her-up-no-collusion-fake-news fare though. With the aid of a teleprompter, the president spoke for 45 minutes about U.S. history, especially military history, or as he described it, “the greatest story ever told, the story of America.”

Historians ⁠— at least the ones fact-checking the president on Twitter ⁠— were not impressed. One likened the speech to “an angry grandpa reading a fifth grader’s book report on American military history.”

Others tweeted their reactions in GIFs.

Trump opened with an account of the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

“On this day, 243 years ago, our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to declare independence and defend our God-given rights.”

As most history undergrads could tell you, this isn’t quite true. The Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. On July 4, they approved the final text of the declaration. They signed it with their John Hancocks on Aug. 2.

There were inaccuracies like this peppered throughout the speech ⁠— the president still seems to not know exactly who “Douglass, Frederick Douglass, the great Frederick Douglass” is ⁠— but Trump was especially befuddled when he described the creation of the U.S. Army.

In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief. The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our army manned the [unclear], it [unclear] the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under “the rockets red glare,” it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant.

There is a lot to unpack here.

First, it’s clear the president was having some issues reading the teleprompter, which led to a number of errors. For example, British General Cornwallis was of London; he was defeated at Yorktown. The Continental Army wasn’t named after Washington; it’s possible Trump substituted “named” for a different verb in the text of the speech.

On Friday, Trump confirmed he had problems with the teleprompter, telling journalists: “I guess the rain knocked out the teleprompter, so it’s not that, but I knew the speech very well, so I was able to do it without a teleprompter. But the teleprompter did go out. And it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it.”

But that doesn’t explain the apparent conflation of two wars fought three decades apart. In the first part, Trump mentions Valley Forge, crossing the Delaware and Yorktown, all of which occurred during the Revolutionary War. Then he says, “And at Fort McHenry ...” and describes the battle in which the national anthem was written. This battle was fought in 1814 during the War of 1812.

Then there’s the claim the Army — in either 1775 or 1814 or some time in between? — “took over the airports.” Odd considering that earlier in the speech Trump noted the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP, Justin Amash (member of U.S. Congress, representing Michigan), below right, July 5, 2019 (print ed.). In recent years, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.

justin amash blue shirtMost Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

These same independent-minded Americans, however, tend to be less politically engaged than Red Team and Blue Team activists. Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedBut we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.

Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.

Democratic 2020 Primary

ny times logoNew York Times, A Sprawling Democratic Primary, and No One to Shape It, Reid J. Epstein, July 4, 2019. Twenty-four candidates is too many, some say. And with a leadership vacuum at the top, the party is having trouble sorting it out. John Deeth is the sort of Iowa activist who keeps up with every new twist in the Democratic presidential primary, but there was no way he was going to devote two evenings to watching the first round of debates last week.

Instead Mr. Deeth, a 55-year-old from Iowa City who has volunteered for every Democratic caucus since 1992, spent one debate night watching “Goodfellas” and the other at the grocery store.

“Until this field is narrowed down to serious people, I’m not going to spend four hours watching them,” Mr. Deeth said. “I’m not going to suffer through Andrew Yang.”

Mr. Deeth’s frustration highlights a central challenge the Democratic Party faces as it tries to identify the strongest candidate to take on President Trump: The slate of 24 contenders is too unwieldy for a constructive debate, many activists and strategists say, and too large for most voters to follow. And with a leadership vacuum at the top of the party, there is no one to elevate candidates with an endorsement, or help steer third-tier candidates out of the race when they’ve reached their plausible expiration date.

Of the party’s living former presidential nominees, just Walter Mondale has weighed in on the race, endorsing a fellow Minnesotan, Senator Amy Klobuchar. The rest are keeping their distance from the messy primary, which post-debate polling shows has bifurcated between a top tier of five candidates and everyone else vying just to qualify for the party’s fall debates.

Down With Tyranny, Commentary: Gillibrand Is Better Off Polling Less Than 1%, Howie Klein, July 5, 2019. If someone asked me which presidential candidate has a political father who's in a crazy religionist cult, I would have said "Tulsi Gabbard," and I would have been correct... but not complete.

Did you know that another candidate --also who isn't going anywhere in this race-- has a father connected to a insane cult, an insane cult her step-mother is involved with too? Kirsten Gillibrand has mostly managed to avoid any public discussion of NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"). Unlike Tulsi, who was basically raised inside her father's crazy cult, Gillibrand seems to have succeeded in keeping away from her father's. Don't worry; neither is getting anywhere near the presidency or vice-presidency. Nationally, Tulsi is polling at 1.0% and Gillibrand is polling at 0.5%.

Presumably, if Gillibrand ever got beyond 1% the story of her father's cult-problem would make its way into the media. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen wrote about the cult in terms of Gillibrand's anti-Franken rampage because... well, it's, among other things, a sex slave cult... and the sex slaves are all women.

More On Trump's Fourth of July Rally

lincoln memorial 5 57p.m on july 4 2019 earthcam

washington post logoWashington Post, A divided America gathers as Trump puts stamp on Fourth, Peter Jamison, Samantha Schmidt, Hannah Natanson and Steve Hendrix, July 5, 2019 (print ed.). Crowds were pulled in opposite directions on a polarized Mall, with “Make America Great Again” caps bedecking the throngs near the Lincoln Memorial and protest Baby Trump balloons amid the masses near the Capitol. But the ties that unify the nation were also on display.

Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation, feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp — speaking of “one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny” from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles, with military jets passing overhead — his presence thrilling supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.

On a sweltering, storm-tossed day, crowds were pulled in opposite directions on a polarized Mall, with “Make America Great Again” caps bedecking the throngs near the Lincoln Memorial and Baby Trump balloons bobbing in protest amid the masses gathered near the U.S. Capitol. There were even two separate fireworks shows, along with plenty of rhetorical firecrackers being tossed where the two sides mixed.

U.S. Media News

Associated Press, Storied African-American newspaper becoming digital only, Staff report, July 5, 2019. he publisher of the storied African American newspaper Chicago Defender has announced it will no longer publish a print version.

In announcing the move to digital-only beginning July 11, Real Times Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson said Friday the newspaper has made significant investment in digital media because of changes in the publishing landscape.

Jackson noted the Defender currently prints 16,000 newspapers. He says the newspaper reaches at least ten times more people on its digital platform. Jackson says Real Times’ other newspapers, the Michigan Chronicle and the New Pittsburgh Courier, will continue to offer a print version.

Global Affairs: Bolton Fading?

The Atlantic, Analysis: Trump Couldn’t Ignore the Contradictions of His Foreign Policy Any Longer, Thomas Wright, July 5, 2019. The president moves to straighten out his own foreign policy—and leaves his hawkish national security adviser on the sidelines.

John Bolton was sent to the capital [of Outer Mongolia], Ulaanbaatar, while President Donald Trump stepped into North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un. Trump was accompanied by loyalists—Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, Jared and Ivanka Trump — and a new adviser, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who is credited with talking the president out of striking Iran as his Cabinet had recommended.

Trump invited Kim to the White House, and reports swirled that the United States would settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea instead of denuclearization. In response, Bolton tweeted, “Neither the NSC staff or I have discussed or heard of any desire to ‘settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea.’ This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences.” The words NSC staff or I were doing a lot of work, implying that others in the administration were behind the move. We now know that Stephen Biegun, the State Department’s special envoy to North Korea, briefed reporters on Pompeo’s plane back from Korea that the administration was considering a “complete freeze” to unlock the talks.

U.S. Elections

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If the Supreme Court won’t protect our democracy, voters will, Eric H. Holder Jr. (shown at right, U.S. attorney general from eric holder2009 to 2015), July 5, 2019 (print ed.). Over the past decade, the conservative Supreme Court has reshaped the American political system in ways that fundamentally undermine voting rights and equal representation in our nation. In a trio of cases, the court has unwisely removed protections needed for a well-functioning democracy. These deeply flawed rulings — intentionally or naively — shift power away from the people and toward entrenched special interests and the already powerful.

Most recently, five conservative justices determined last week that federal courts have no role reining in partisan gerrymandering. In doing so, the court has torn at the fabric of our democracy and put the interests of politicians ahead of the voters. Map manipulation allows politicians to pick their voters so a party with minority views and support can illegitimately govern with majority power. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her powerful and prescient dissent, the partisan gerrymanders in Maryland and North Carolina “debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

We know from learned experience that the impact of this decision is potentially significant. As a result of the Citizens United decision in 2010, our system is now awash with unregulated money that protects those interests with means. And because of the Shelby County ruling in 2013, the ability to proactively stop discriminatory voting practices from taking effect no longer exists. Within days of the Shelby County decision, conservative state legislatures unleashed a wave of unnecessary and discriminatory voter ID laws, voting roll purges and poll closures targeting minority and poor communities.

My organization, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, will continue to bring racial gerrymandering claims in the federal courts and partisan gerrymandering cases in the state courts. An affiliate of the NDRC is supporting a state-based partisan gerrymandering case in North Carolina that seeks to strike down the maps for both chambers of the General Assembly.

Politics-linked Sex Scandal CLaims

Miami Herald, Dershowitz v. Boies: Jeffrey Epstein case unleashes war between two legal Goliaths, Emily Michot and Julie K. Brown, July 5, 2019. A Miami Herald investigation into Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein's sexual pyramid scheme targeting underage girls – miami herald logoand why he's a free man today (video background by Emily Michot and Julie K. Brown).

It’s a high-stakes war between two of the country’s most powerful lawyers. Their feud, simmering for years, involves accusations of extortion, surreptitious recordings, unethical conduct and underage sex trafficking.

Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz has filed four bar complaints in three states — all of which have been dismissed — in a quest to disqualify lawyer David Boies and one of his partners who represent a woman accusing Dershowitz of sexually abusing her when she was underage, newly filed court records show.

The pugnacious Dershowitz, 80, and the equally zealous Boies, 78, have been sparring for decades. In recent years, both have suffered damage to their storied legacies, making this latest clash between the two legal titans one of the most important of their half-century careers.

perversion of justice miami herald logoDershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard law school and one of the nation’s most iconic civil libertarians, has defended such notorious clients as Claus Von Bulow, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson. But after four decades of legal accolades, he is now facing a sex scandal and is forced to clear his own name at a time when he’s being confronted by a barrage of attacks on social media as one of the most fervent legal defenders of President Donald Trump.

Boies has embraced high-profile liberal causes and made history with landmark court cases: He represented Al Gore in the Florida recount dispute in the 2000 election, which he lost; successfully defended press freedom in a lawsuit involving “60 Minutes;” and in 2013 secured a Supreme Court victory overturning a California ban on same-sex marriage.

But Boies’ image has also been tarnished in recent years by his aggressive, and often ruthless, representation of controversial clients such as Hollywood film mogul and accused sex predator Harvey Weinstein and Elizabeth Holmes, founder of a blood-testing company that allegedly defrauded investors and clients.

Dershowitz’s bar complaints — disclosed here for the first time — provide a window into the behind-the-scenes legal drama between two of the world’s most brilliant lawyers. It also reveals new details about an explosive sex trafficking case involving Dershowitz’s former client, Jeffrey Epstein, a New York multimillionaire who, according to investigators, molested more than three dozen girls in Palm Beach in the years 1999-2006.

Daily Beast, Proud Boys Rally Rocked by Sex, Cocaine Allegations, Will Sommer, July 5, 2019. Top speakers are fleeing and one-time allies are feuding as the gathering of MAGA faithful teeters. A far-right rally scheduled for downtown Washington on Saturday has been thrown into disarray by dramatic allegations centering on cocaine, a love triangle, and the far-right Proud Boys men’s group. “The Proud Boys? More like the Joke Boys,” Republican congressional candidate Omar Navarro, a key player in the bizarre feud, told The Daily Beast.

The drama has torn apart one-time allies prominent on the pro-Trump internet and cost the so-called “Demand Free Speech” rally at least one speaker, after other prominent right-wing celebrities already cited other reasons for not appearing. While the rally was meant to protest the banning of conservative figures from social media, the surrounding drama has cast a shadow over the event.

On one side of the fight: Navarro, a perennial challenger to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) whose losing campaigns against the liberal stalwart have become a cause celebre on the right.

On the other: the Proud Boys, the all-male group of self-described “Western chauvinists,” and DeAnna Lorraine, a self-styled MAGA relationship expert and Navarro’s ex-girlfriend.

The clash became public late on Wednesday night, when Navarro tweeted that Lorraine had been using cocaine and “sleeping with the proud boys.” Navarro declared that he would no longer speak at Saturday’s rally, which was organized in part by top Proud Boy leaders.

“I found this girl I dated is doing cocaine and sleeping with the proud boys I cannot agree with the drug lifestyle they follow,” Navarro tweeted.

Navarro’s withdrawal from Saturday’s rally comes after the event has already lost other speakers. Former Pizzagate conspiracy theory promoter Mike Cernovich had also been on the event’s bill, but said earlier this week that he wouldn’t attend. Fellow former Pizzagate advocate Jack Posobiec has also suggested he may not attend, despite being listed as a speaker on the rally’s website.

In his tweets, Navarro made a series of allegations, claiming that Lorraine had, through the Proud Boys, threatened him “because I said I would expose the cocaine use including hers.” (Lorraine has denied using cocaine, while the Proud Boys describe themselves as “pro-drug.”)

In his tweets, Navarro made a series of allegations, claiming that Lorraine had, through the Proud Boys, threatened him “because I said I would expose the cocaine use including hers.” (Lorraine has denied using cocaine, while the Proud Boys describe themselves as “pro-drug.”)

July 4

Trump's Fourth of July Rally In DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by Trump, Michael D. Shear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Fourth of July in the U.S. capital is usually celebrated without political overtones: a parade, a concert and fireworks over the Mall. But President Trump added a speech with military commanders, tanks and thousands of troops to create a made-for-television moment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s July 4 Celebration Unsettles Military, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Eric Schmitt and Maggie Haberman, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s plan to deploy battle tanks in Washington for the July 4 celebration has prompted worries about politicization of the military.

With trouble spots from Iran to North Korea, the military’s role in a Fourth of July celebration in Washington should be the least of the Pentagon’s worries.

Yet some retired and active-duty military officers, and, privately, even some Defense Department personnel said the participation of the military in President Trump’s “Salute to America” appears to politicize the armed forces on a day when the nation traditionally toasts its independence in a nonpartisan environment.

“Put troops out there so we can thank them — leave tanks for Red Square,” said Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general and former head of United States Central Command, who until earlier this year served in the Trump administration as a special envoy to help resolve disputes in the Persian Gulf.

Trump GOP Critic Quits Party

Roll Call, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP, declares independence, Simone Pathé, July 4, 2019. Amash was only Republican to say justin amashTrump committed impeachable offenses.  Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the first GOP lawmaker to say that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, is leaving the Republican Party.

“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote in a Thursday op-ed in The Washington Post that does not mention Trump.

A libertarian who was elected to the House in 2010, Amash has often been at odds with leadership of his own party. On the House floor, he has voted with a majority of Republicans 84 percent of the time he's been in Congress, compared with 94 percent for the average House Republican, according to CQ's Vote Watch. He's supported Trump just 63 percent of the time compared with 95 percent for the party average.

Amash helped found the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus but left the group in June after it condemned his remarks about Trump and impeachment.

That stance also earned him several primary challengers in Michigan’s 3rd solidly Republican District, which backed Trump by 9 points in 2016. Amash won his fifth term representing the district last year with 54 percent of the vote.

The president bid Amash good riddance on Twitter, calling him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress” and “a total loser!”

In his op-ed, Amash describes how his parents were Republicans and he grew up supporting GOP candidates. His father was a Palestinian refugee who came to the U.S. when he was 16.

Trump's Edict On Census

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Will Look to Add Citizenship Question to Census, Alan Rappeport, Maggie Haberman and Michael Wines, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). Justice Department officials reversed course and said they were hunting for a way to restore the citizenship question on orders of President Trump. A day earlier, the officials said that the census forms were being printed without the question. A day after pledging us census bureauthat the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation.

President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and said on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add it despite a Supreme Court decision last week rejecting the move.

It was the second time that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to move forward with the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

U.S. Courts / Official Corruption

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal Could Backfire Prosecurors, Nick Corasaniti, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by the defendants convicted in the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor. That signals justices are open to weakening the ability of federal prosecutors to go after what they determine to be political malfeasance.

Federal prosecutors have often relied on a powerful criminal statute to bring high-profile corruption cases, including the college admissions scandal that ensnared Hollywood celebrities and a string of bribery investigations that targeted college basketball programs.

But now, a key theory of that statute could be gutted because of a challenge by two defendants in another well-known case — “Bridgegate,” the September 2013 closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan and New Jersey, to punish a mayor for refusing to offer a campaign endorsement.

The United States Supreme Court, in a decision that surprised legal experts, last week agreed to hear an appeal of the defendants’ corruption convictions in a move that could significantly weaken the ability of prosecutors to go after what they determine to be political malfeasance.

The court’s decision to take on the appeal by the defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, suggests that the justices are open to overturning their convictions, legal experts said, and follows other rulings that have chipped away at federal corruption laws. At issue in the case is a fraud theory used to prosecute under the mail and wire fraud statutes known as a “right to control.” It rests on the idea that the owner of an asset is defrauded when somebody uses that asset and lies about what they are using it for. In the college admissions scandal, for example, prosecutors said offers of acceptance to universities were misused.

Allied War Pressures On Iran, Syria

washington post logoWashington Post, British marines seize tanker suspected of carrying Iranian oil bound for Syria, Liz Sly, July 4, 2019. British Royal Marines in fast boats and helicopters on Thursday seized a supertanker suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria near the Mediterranean peninsula of Gibraltar, the first such detention of a ship under the terms of European sanctions targeting supplies to Syria.

This is the first time a European country has sought to impound deliveries of fuel to Syria, which has been subjected to E.U. sanctions since the ongoing conflict there erupted in 2011. Iran has regularly supplied fuel to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime throughout the war, as part of Tehran’s effort to sustain his hold on power.

Gibraltar said the oil was destined for Syria’s Baniyas refinery on the Mediterranean coast. As a government-owned entity, it was added to the E.U. sanctions list in 2014. Some European diplomats questioned, however, whether the sanctions could be legally applied to third countries and not just E.U. member states.

The U.S. sanctions imposed in November went further than the E.U. measures, targeting shipping owners and insurers associated with oil deliveries to Syria as well as the suppliers. They prompted a dramatic curtailment of Iranian supplies earlier this year and acute shortages of fuel, which prompted widespread grumbling among Syrians.The Gibraltar incident could trigger new tensions between Britain and Spain over the peninsula’s status. Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, Spain’s acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said Spanish authorities were “looking into how this [operation] affects our sovereignty.”

Britain has considered Gibraltar, in southern Spain, to be part of its territory since the 1700s. Spain disputes those claims, which have become a major obstacle in negotiations over Britain’s departure from the E.U. Spain and Britain are part of the E.U.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Loves American Coffee and Restaurants. Is He a Credible Negotiator for Iran? Farnaz Fassihi and David D. Kirkpatrick, July 4, 2019. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a resident of the United States on and off for nearly 30 years, is the Iranian most closely associated with the 2015 nuclear deal. Now, with the deal on the brink of collapse, he’s under fire both at home and in Washington, which is weighing sanctions on him.

July 3

U.S. Border Scandalsborder inspector general report june 10 2019 scene in Mcallen

This photo shows caged immigrants at a U.S. detention facility on June 10 in McAllen, Texas (Homeland Security Inspector General's report).

ny times logoNew York Times, Squalid Conditions at Border Centers Detailed in Government Watchdog Report, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Overcrowded conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, a new report said. ICE logo

The disturbing findings include standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.

July Fourth Preparations

Vanity Fair, Commentary: "Surreal”: How the Royal Trumps Are Trying to Conquer July Fourth and Everything Else, Emily Jane Fox, July 3, 2019. President Trump is taking over the National Mall with tanks while Prince Jared and Princess Ivanka, fresh from global star turns, are invading the Hamptons—with not a word about the border.

The Blaze, ABC, CBS, and NBC announce they will snub President Trump's 'Salute to America' celebration, Breck Dumas, July 3, 2019. Major networks opting to run shows like 'Jeopardy!' in lieu of live coverage of the Fourth of July event. Major U.S. media networks ABC, CBS, and NBC announced Wednesday that they are all snubbing President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" celebration on the Fourth of July and plan to stick with regularly scheduled shows rather than provide live television coverage of the event.

The Daily Mail reported that the networks will stick with planned nightly newscasts and shows, such as "Jeopardy!" and "Inside Edition," in lieu of airing the Independence Day event featuring a speech from the president. However, the three networks will offer live footage over its respective online and streaming platforms.

In reporting details of President Trump's planned show honoring America's armed forces, CBS News noted the president was carrying forward with the event "despite widespread criticism over the distracting from the holiday."

U.S. Politics 

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump and the Republican National Committee said they raised $105 million, Outdoing Obama, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee on Tuesday said they had raised $105 million in the second quarter of this year, dwarfing what President Barack Obama raised in the equivalent period during his re-election campaign.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The campaign and the R.N.C. said they had a combined $100 million in cash on hand, and that they had raised more money online in the second quarter than in the first half of 2018. The staggering total figure can be plowed into television and digital advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts and other activities related to the 2020 election.

rnc logoMr. Trump and his committees raised $54 million, they said, and the R.N.C. raised $51 million. The campaign officials did not say how many individual donors had contributed, or how many gave money in increments of $200 or less. The official report, which will include spending, will be filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 15.

In 2011, during the same period, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign raised $47 million, and the Democratic National Committee brought in $38 million, Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s fund-raising haul is a testament to the more professional operation that his campaign has been running, primarily out of Arlington, Va. In 2016, Mr. Trump poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign. But he also raised a considerable amount from small donors online.

Wall Street on Parade, Commentary: Paul Weiss, the Law Firm that Has Represented Citigroup through Serial Fraud Charges, Is the Number One Donor to Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, July 3, 2019. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps meticulous tabs on political campaign flows, as of this morning, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – which has represented Citigroup through more than two decades of serial fraud charges – is the number one campaign donor to the Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris.

As the Center notes, the money isn’t coming from the law firm itself, but from its “PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.”

The campaign ad for Harris reads like this: “Kamala Harris has spent her entire life defending our American values. From fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system to taking on the Wall Street banks for middle class homeowners, Kamala has always worked For The kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePeople.”

But here we are in the early days of the Democratic primary campaign, when the big money has not even yet entered the fray, and Harris (shown during the debate last week) has already collected $140,475 from the folks at Paul Weiss.

Paul Weiss has offices in New York, Wilmington, Washington D.C., London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Toronto, and Tokyo. Harris hails from California. Why are Paul Weiss lawyers so interested in financing her campaign?

As it turns out, they’re not all that interested. Numerous law partners at Paul Weiss are hedging their bets and contributing simultaneously to other Democratic Presidential candidates.

cory booker headDonations from Paul Weiss also rank number one in the Presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (shown at left); number three in the Presidential campaign of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; number six in the Presidential campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; and number 9 in the Presidential campaign of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

deutsche bank logoThe name Paul Weiss has become synonymous with getting serial miscreant mega banks on Wall Street off the hook or bargaining down the charges. In May of this year, we reported that the Chief Judge for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote a decision finding that the U.S. Justice Department had outsourced a criminal investigation to the target of the investigation – Deutsche Bank – and Deutsche Bank’s outside law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Press Crackdown: Brazil

The Guardian, Outcry after reports Brazil plans to investigate Glenn Greenwald, Dom Phillip, July 3, 2019. Federal police reportedly asked glenn greenwald hsmoney laundering unit to investigate the ‘financial activities’ of the US journalist.

Brazil’s Bar Association, journalists and opposition lawmakers have reacted with outrage to reports that the country’s federal police plan to investigate the bank accounts of an American journalist who published leaked conversations between prosecutors and the graft-busting judge who is now Jair Bolsonaro’s justice minister.

The rightwing site the Antagonist (O Antagonista) reported on Tuesday that federal police had asked a money-laundering unit at Brazil’s finance ministry to investigate the “financial activities” of Glenn Greenwald.

brazil flag wavingPolice declined to comment on the allegation but confirmed an investigation had been launched into the hacking of cellphones that led to the leaks.

“This seems to me like an attempt to intimidate the journalist,” said Kennedy Alencar, a leading political commentator on CBN Radio.
Brazil reels at claims judge who jailed Lula collaborated with prosecutors
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“If there is an investigation for doing journalism it is illegal and it is an attempt at intimidation,” said Pierpaolo Bottini, a professor of penal law at the University of São Paulo who heads the press freedom unit at the Brazilian Bar Association.

Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, won a Pulitzer prize for leading the Guardian’s reporting on National Security Agency (NSA) spying revealed by Edward Snowden before co-founding the Intercept website in 2014.

Last month, the publication’s Brazilian edition launched the first in a string of bombshell articles which appeared to show prosecutors in the sweeping Operation Car Wash corruption inquiry colluding with Sérgio Moro, the judge who became a hero in Brazil for jailing powerful businessmen, middlemen and politicians.

The leaked records – which the Intercept said it received from an anonymous source – have had an explosive impact on Brazilian politics and dominated headlines for weeks.

Epstein Sex Scandal Cover-up

jeffrey epstein sex offenderMiami Herald, An appeals court seemed poised to unseal Jeffrey Epstein records. So where are they?, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Three months have passed since a judicial panel in New York heard arguments to unseal documents that could reveal whether federal prosecutors covered up evidence that New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and others were running an underage sex trafficking operation.

miami herald logoIn March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seemed poised to release some documents in the case. The records involve Epstein’s one-time partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of helping him recruit and sexually exploit girls and young women in various locations around the United States and abroad in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The appeals panel gave all parties in the case until March 29 to file additional pleadings. Several challenges were subsequently filed, but the court has yet to make a final ruling.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe Miami Herald — one of the intervenors in the case — has submitted a letter to the court urging the judges to follow through on the case in the wake of a controversial Justice Department decision last week. In a 35-page motion, filed June 24, federal prosecutors in Georgia declared that they would not set aside Epstein’s federal non-prosecution agreement.

The Georgia decision dealt another blow to Epstein’s victims who have been fighting for a decade to have the deal thrown out and to pressure the Justice Department to prosecute the 66-year-old multimillionaire on sex trafficking charges. It also means that the Justice Department has no intention of allowing Epstein’s victims and the public to examine the facts of Epstein’s case and reach their own conclusions, the Herald argues in the letter.

perversion of justice miami herald logoMiami Herald, Epstein Scandal Video Summary, Marta Oliver Craviotto, Emily Michot, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (5 min. miami herald logovideo). The girls who were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and the cops who championed their cause remain angry over what they regard as a gross injustice, while Epstein's employees and those who engineered his non-prosecution agreement have prospered.

U.S. Military Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Navy SEAL Chief Is Found Not Guilty of Murder, Dave Philipps, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). In a war-crimes trial that roiled the elite Navy SEALs and drew the attention of President Trump, a decorated eight-tour SEAL platoon leader was found not guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder of a captive ISIS fighter and attempted murder of civilians in Iraq.

edward gallagherBut the platoon leader, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, was convicted of one charge: posing for photos with the teenage captive’s dead body.

Chief Gallagher, 40, right, who was serving with SEAL Team 7, became a rallying cause of some Republicans in Congress and members of the conservative media. Mr. Trump said on Twitter in March that he would have the chief released from pretrial confinement “in honor of his past service to our country.”

Because the maximum sentence Chief Gallagher could now face is four months, and he has spent more time than that in pretrial confinement, he was expected to go free on Tuesday.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats sue for Trump’s tax returns, Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade​, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied multiple requests for the records, which the president refused to release during the 2016 presidential campaign.

irs logoHouse Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking access to President Trump’s tax returns, accusing the Trump administration of an “extraordinary attack” on Congress in preventing the disclosure of the president’s personal financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed the lawsuit against the steven mnuchin wInternal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department after months of feuding with the administration over the returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who have denied Democrats’ demands for the returns, are named as defendants.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Pick to Lead F.A.A. Faces Scrutiny From Senate Democrats, David Gelles, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s choice to lead the Federal Aviation Administration is facing resistance from Senate Democrats, adding more uncertainty to an agency already under pressure after the deadly crashes of two Boeing jets.

faa logoStephen Dickson, whom Mr. Trump tapped to lead the F.A.A. in March, retired from Delta Air Lines last fall after 27 years at the company. A former pilot who rose to become senior vice president for flight operations, Mr. Dickson was initially seen as a safe pick to head the F.A.A., which has been without a permanent administrator for over a year.

But in recent weeks, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has the power to advance Mr. Dickson’s nomination, have seized on Mr. Dickson’s involvement in a whistle-blower case at Delta. The Democrats are looking into claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating against a pilot who raised safety concerns, with some senators now suggesting he may be unfit for the F.A.A. job.

Republicans on the committee are still publicly supporting Mr. Dickson, and could vote to advance his nomination to the full Senate as early as next week. But the party-line split, a rarity for this agency, raises the prospect that the F.A.A. could become yet another partisan battleground.

Trump's July 4 Display

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen (WMR), Opinion: On the anniversary of U.S. independence, a Nazi shadow is cast across the land, Wayne Madsen, July 3, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). During an ego-fellating interview with Donald Trump in Japan, Fox News opinion show host and unofficial Trump national security adviser Tucker Carlson and Trump discussed America’s homeless population and agreed that it should be called “filth.”

This sort of language goes far beyond the fascist antics of Trump politicizing Washington, DC’s annual Independence Day ceremony and turning into a political rally and military show-of-force for his crackpot and racist supporters.

Calling homeless people “filth” – Trump did add that some homeless are mentally ill, a wink and a nod to them being useless members of society – comes right out of the playbook of Nazi genocide engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Dr. Josef Mengele.

washington post logoWashington Post,