August

Aug. 9

 

July

July 30

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Formerly sealed documents in Maxwell-Epstein case ordered released, Wayne Madsen, left, July 30, 2020. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered released sealed documents from a 2016 defamation lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Ghislaine Maxwell, the now-indicted former assistant to international underage female sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Although the civil case was settled in 2017 it generated a number of documents, including emails, as well as depositions by Giuffre and other abuse victims. Maxwell sought to block the release of the sealed documents on the grounds that they would embarrass her. Judge Preska ruled, "the court finds any minor embarrassment or annoyance resulting from Ms. Maxwell's mostly non-testimony ... is far outweighed by the presumption of public access."

jean luc brunelThe sealed documents reportedly provide additional details concerning the activities of Epstein; Maxwell; and Jean-Luc Brunel, right, the French owner of two Epstein-financed modeling agencies, Karin Models and MC2 Model Management. Brunel is the subject of an international criminal investigation involving the FBI and French National Police. Brunel has not been seen in public since the suspicious Manhattan jail cell death of Epstein in August 2019. Brunel was named in Giuffre's lawsuit against Maxwell. Giuffre said Epstein had bragged to her in claiming that he had slept with over 1,000 of "Brunel's girls."

In 1989, Brunel and his brother, Arnaud Brunel, founded the Next Management Company modeling agency, a subsidiary of the Next Management Corporation, which was founded the previous year as a New York corporation.

Steven Mnuchin The individual listed as the New York Department of State process or agent for the Next Management Corporation is none other than Steven Mnuchin, left, Donald Trump's Secretary of Treasury. Mnuchin, in typical Trump administration fashion, has denied knowing that he was the agent for the Brunel brothers' company or even having ever met either of the Brunels.

However, WMR conducted a search of the New York Department of State (DOS) corporation filings and discovered Mnuchin listed as the DOS Process for not only Next Management Corporation but its follow-on identity, Next Time Corporation. Mnuchin cannot honestly claim he had no knowledge of a business relationship with the Brunels that spanned at least a decade.

July 24

djt michael cohen

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Orders Cohen to Be Released, Citing Retaliation Over Tell-All Book, Benjamin Weiser and Alan Feuer, July 24, 2020 (print ed.). A judge agreed that federal officials had returned Michael Cohen to prison because he wanted to publish a book about President Trump. A federal judge on Thursday ordered that Michael D. Cohen be released into home confinement and said he should be allowed to finish writing a book that has been billed as a “graphic” tell-all memoir about Mr. Cohen’s former boss, President Trump.

alvin hellerstein SmallThe judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein, right, of Federal District Court, found that prisons officials had acted against Mr. Cohen because of his desire to write the book when they returned him to prison this month after he had been released on a medical furlough.

“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory,” the judge said. “And it’s retaliation because of his desire to exercise his first amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others.”

Mr. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, sued U.S. officials on Monday night, claiming federal officials sent him back into custody to prevent him from completing the book. In court papers, he said the book would paint Mr. Trump as a racist and will offer revealing details about “the president’s behavior behind closed doors.”

mary trump cover

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mary Trump just beat Donald Trump again, Bill Palmer, July 24, 2020. Donald Trump did his best to try to keep his niece Mary Trump from releasing her tell-all book – but bill palmer report logo headeras is so often the case with Donald Trump, his best wasn’t very good. He failed in court, and her book ended up being released ahead of schedule. Mary Trump’s book debuted at #1 overall on the Amazon sales charts. Now it turns out Mary’s book sales were even stronger than we thought – and it hit Donald Trump where it hurts:

Here's something pretty cool: In one week, Mary Trump's book Too Much and Never Enough sold more hardcover copies than The Art of the Deal has in the 33 years since it was published.

— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 23, 2020 (primary author and co-author with Donald Trump of The Art of the Deal)

July 21

Top Headlines

Race, Brutality Protests

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

Trump Watch

 

Top Stories

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Case Numbers Are Far Higher Than Reported in Parts of U.S., C.D.C. Says, Staff Reports, July 21, 2020. The European Union agreed to a $857 billion stimulus package to fight the pandemic recession that includes steps to help less wealthy countries. The deal sent a strong signal of solidarity even as it exposed deep new fault lines in a bloc reshaped by Britain’s exit. Here’s the latest.

cdc logo CustomThe number of people infected with the coronavirus in different parts of the United States is anywhere from two to 13 times higher than the reported rates for those regions, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings suggest that large numbers of people who did not have symptoms or did not seek medical care may have kept the virus circulating in their communities. The study is the largest of its kind to date, although a subset of the data was released last month.

“These data continue to show that the number of people who have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 far exceeds the number of reported cases,” Dr. Fiona Havers, the C.D.C. researcher who led the study, said in an email. “Many of these people likely had no symptoms or mild illness and may have had no idea that they were infected.”

The researchers analyzed samples from people who had routine clinical tests, or were inpatients at hospitals, in 10 cities and states for evidence of prior coronavirus infection. The team released early data for six of the sites in June, and for all 10 locations Tuesday in the journal JAMA. They also released data from later times for eight sites to the C.D.C.’s website on Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Trump, Paul Krugman, right, July 21, 2020 (print ed.).“Slow the testing down,” he said, and it’s happening. We’re paul krugmannow at the stage of the Covid-19 pandemic where Donald Trump and his allies are trying to suppress information about the coronavirus’s spread — because, of course, they are. True to form, however, they’re far behind the curve. From a political point of view (which is all they care about), their disinformation efforts are too little, too late.

Where we are: In just a few days millions of Americans are going to see a drastic fall in their incomes, as enhanced unemployment benefits expire. This calls for urgent action; but avoiding economic calamity was always going to be hard, because Republicans in general have balked at providing the aid workers idled by the pandemic need.

But now it turns out that there’s another obstacle to action: An intra-G.O.P. dispute over funding for testing and tracing of infected individuals. Even Senate Republicans support increased testing, which is desperately needed given our current situation: Surging cases have created a testing backlog, and test results are taking so long to come back that they’re effectively useless.

But Trump officials are opposed to any new money for testing. They’re barely even trying to offer excuses for their opposition, since Trump himself explained the strategy a month ago at his Tulsa rally: When you expand testing, he declared, “you’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”

Virus Updates, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates, U.S. marks another record-setting day as Trump complains about coronavirus case counting, Staff reports, July 21, 2020 (print ed.). Surgeon general argues against federal mask mandate, citing controversy over federal troops in Portland; reliminary trial shows new treatment prevents 79 percent of covid-19 patients from needing ICUs; Senate GOP coronavirus bill leaves out many priorities for Democrats and Republicans, but talks have just begun.

american flag upside down distressSunday marked the 41st straight day that the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus infections in the United States trended upward. Six months after the novel coronavirus reached America, more than 3.7 million cases have been detected, and at least 137,000 people have died. Globally, the global death toll has surpassed 600,000, fueled in part by recent surges in states such as Texas, Florida and California.

President Trump — who aides say no longer attends coronavirus task force meetings because he does not have time — showed himself to be particularly misinformed about the basics of the virus that has been ravaging the nation. He told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday that “young people that would heal in a day” made up many of the new cases.

“They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test,” Trump said.

Race, Brutality Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Occupation of American Cities Has Begun, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 20, 2020. Protesters are being snatched michelle goldberg thumbfrom the streets without warrants. Can we call it fascism yet?

The month after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Yale historian Timothy Snyder published the best-selling book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century.” It was part of a small flood of titles meant to help Americans find their bearings as the new president laid siege to liberal democracy.

One of Snyder’s lessons was, “Be wary of paramilitaries.” He wrote, “When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.” In 2017, the idea of unidentified agents in camouflage snatching leftists off the streets without warrants might have seemed like a febrile Resistance fantasy. Now it’s happening.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. prepares to deploy federal agents to Chicago as Trump threatens action in other cities, Nick Miroff and Mark Berman, July 21, 2020 (print ed.). The president defended the use of federal agents in Portland, Ore., where they have engaged in nightly clashes with racial justice protesters.

Homeland Security officials said Monday they are making preparations to deploy federal agents to Chicago, while President Trump threatened to send U.S. law enforcement personnel to other Democratic-led cities experiencing spates of crime.

Trump made the pronouncement as he defended his administration’s use of force in Portland, Ore., where agents have clashed nightly with protesters and made arrests from unmarked cars. Calling the unrest there “worse than Afghanistan,” Trump’s rhetoric escalated tensions with Democratic mayors and governors who have criticized the presence of federal agents on U.S. streets, telling reporters at the White House that he would send forces into jurisdictions with or without the cooperation of their elected leaders.

“We’re looking at Chicago, too. We’re looking at New York,” he said. “All run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by the radical left.”

djt michael cohen

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Cohen’s book to allege Trump made racist comments about Obama and Nelson Mandela, lawsuit says, Shayna Jacobs, July 21, 2020. The book manuscript being drafted by President Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, above left, alleges that Trump has made racist comments about his predecessor Barack Obama and the late South African leader Nelson nelson mandela 2008 wMandela (shown at right in 2008), according to court filings made public Monday night that contend Cohen was sent back to prison this month as retaliation.

The filings from Cohen’s attorneys seek his immediate release from federal custody following his rearrest July 9, less than two months after he was allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence on home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His lawsuit alleges that Cohen’s First Amendment rights were violated when he was detained at the federal courthouse in Manhattan during a meeting with probation officers, who had asked him to sign a gag order prohibiting him from speaking to the media or publishing a book while serving the rest of his sentence.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Another Trump failure: His campaign against voting by mail, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 21, 2020. President Trump is out of sync with supermajorities of Americans on jennifer rubin new headshota range of issues, from reopening schools to police reform to the Confederate flag. He operates in the right-wing media bubble, absorbing the utterly untrue pablum of talk radio and Fox News’s evening lineup (Disclaimer: I am an MSNBC contributor). It should therefore surprise no one that he is wildly out of step when it comes to voting by mail.

Pew Research released a poll Monday showing nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans favor early voting or absentee voting for “any voter without requiring a documented reason, while a third say early and absentee voting should only be allowed with a reason.” Even 44 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners — despite a steady diet of Democratic-Republican Campaign logosanti-absentee voting messages from their party’s leaders — remain in favor of no-excuse voting early or by absentee, along with 83 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaners.

Likewise, 60 percent of voters say “changing election rules to make it easier to register and vote would not make elections any less secure, while 37% say that elections would be less secure if it were easier to register and vote. These views are little changed from 2018.” Nearly 60 percent of Republicans, however, have convinced themselves that making it easier to register and vote (without saying what the changes would be!) would make elections less secure.

World News

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Fred Trump Sr. -- Nazi and war profiteer, Wayne Madsen, below left, July 21, 2020. According to informed sources familiar with Fred Trump Sr.'s construction and apartment rental and construction businesses during World War II, the father of Donald Trump was not merely a pro-Nazi and likely an agent for the German Gestapo and Abwehr military intelligence, but also a notorious war profiteer.

 

mary trump rverto Peter Serling Daily Beast 

Mary Trump (Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photo by Peter Serling).

Daily Beast,  Mary Trump: What Really Shocked Me About My Family and the KKK, The New Abnormal with Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson, July 21, 2020. The president’s niece joins The daily beast logoNew Abnormal to give us a peek behind the Trump family veil. From KKK rallies to Donald Trump’s sleeping habits, Mary Trump holds nothing back.

Mary Trump had a giant barrel of tea to spill about her family on today’s episode of The New Abnormal by The Daily Beast.

She claims her uncle Donald Trump “was protected at every turn from his incompetence, from his total inability to handle money.” And the Republican Party picked up where the media and the investment banks left off.

Remember her grandfather Fred, the family patriarch who got arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally?

Mary was surprised by that news, but “not because my grandfather wasn’t anti-Semitic.”

Nope, Mary was shocked her grandfather took time away from making money to join a KKK event. But of course, he was “perfectly happy being racist and anti-Semitic in his own house and his place of work.”

Mary Trump held nothing back as she spoke with Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast. She even commented on Trump’s sleeping habits, alleging that the late-night tweeter-in-chief doesn’t sleep because “because Daddy wouldn't approve.”

“So that’s maybe why he drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day and is up until three in the morning tweeting,” she said.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Fred Trump Sr. -- Nazi and war profiteer, Wayne Madsen, below left, July 21, 2020. According to informed sources familiar with Fred Trump Sr.'s construction and apartment rental and construction businesses during World War II, the father of Donald Trump was not merely a pro-Nazi and likely an agent for the German Gestapo and Abwehr military intelligence, but also a notorious war profiteer.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention pipe dream crashes and burns, Bill Palmer, July 21, 2020. Donald Trump cares so much about his own narcissism, and rnc logoso little about the lives of his own supporters, he’s still trying to figure out how to hold an in-person Republican National Convention during a worsening pandemic. Trump has already moved it from North Carolina to Florida – even though Florida is now the coronavirus epicenter of the world – simply because the state’s corrupt Governor Ron DeSantis will let him do whatever he wants.

bill palmer report logo headerBut even if DeSantis is willing to let Donald Trump murder people for political reasons, the local Sheriff isn’t. Mike Williams, the Sheriff for Duval County, where the convention would be taking place, is telling Politico that he and his officers “can’t pull it off” from a law enforcement or security standpoint. He says they’re not even close to having a plan for pulling it off.

This isn’t some partisan move; Sheriff Williams was elected as a Republican. He’s simply taking the side of reality, whereas Donald Trump is operating in a haze of delusional fantasy.

Considering how ugly things will get if Trump does hold an in-person Republican National Convention, he’s probably better off if it does get canceled. With the Sheriff throwing up his hands, the odds of it getting canceled just went up significantly. Of course Trump could try moving it to yet another city – but time is running short to even attempt such a move.

July 20

Top Stories

Law, Crime, Courts

 

Top Stories

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 washington post logoWashington Post, The crisis that shocked the world: America’s response to the virus, Joel Achenbach, William Wan, Karin Brulliard and Chelsea Janes, July 20, 2020 (print ed.). How the world’s richest country got into this dismal situation is a complicated tale that exposes the flaws and fissures in a nation long proud of its ability to meet cataclysmic challenges.

american flag upside down distressSix months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country’s ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet.

Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends bungled handling of pandemic with falsehoods and dubious claims, Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez, July 20, 2020 (print ed.). The president was visibly rattled and at times hostile during a Fox News interview.

djt i dont take responsibility at allPresident Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that the rising number of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus “is what it is,” defended his fumbled management of the pandemic with a barrage of dubious and false claims, and revealed his lack of understanding about the fundamental science of how the virus spreads and infects people.

fox-news-logo Small.pngMaking one of his biggest media appearances in months — an hour-long, sit-down interview with “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace — Trump was visibly rattled and at times hostile as he struggled to answer for his administration’s failure to contain the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 137,000 lives in the United States.

On a range of other topics, including the racial justice movement and the Confederate flag, the president positioned himself firmly outside the political mainstream. And Trump suggested he might not accept the results of November’s general election should he lose because he predicted without evidence that “mail-in voting is going to rig the election.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Threatens to Send Federal Law Enforcement Forces to More Cities, Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Monica Davey, July 20, 2020. As military-clad agents patrol Portland and head to Chicago, President Trump suggested that he would follow suit in New York, Detroit and other cities.

As military-clad agents patrol Portland and head to Chicago, President Trump suggested that he would follow suit in New York, Detroit and other cities. Governors and other officials compared his actions to authoritarianism and vowed to pursue legislation or lawsuits to stop him.

Ghislaine Maxwell, left, Donald Trump and future First Lady Melania Trump

Ghislaine Maxwell, left, Donald Trump and future First Lady Melania Trump

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump's dirty secrets closet slowly opening, Wayne Madsen, July 20, 2020. The more one peers into Donald Trump's closet of past and present relationships, the more one discovers that Trump's association with the late pedophile and investor Jeffery Epstein and his consort, Ghislaine Maxwell, went beyond the mere social and involved shady business operations.

July 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to continue legal battle over tax returns after Supreme Court defeat, Shayna Jacobs, July 15, 2020. President Trump intends to pursue his legal fight against the Manhattan district attorney over access to his tax records, according to a court filing.

Trump recently lost his bid to have the grand jury subpoena tossed on the grounds that as sitting president he has absolute immunity from state court proceedings. The Supreme Court decision last week favored efforts by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office was investigating Trump and his business over hush money payments made to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign, including to pornography actress Stormy Daniels.

Vance’s office, which is facing a looming statute of limitations should he decide to pursue a felony case, suggested it would not allow the new matters to drag on. It said in Wednesday’s filing that it could enforce the subpoena immediately but would give the president until July 27 to file his new claims before doing so.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two crimes benefited Trump’s campaign in 2016. The president has worked to block scrutiny of those schemes, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 15, 2020. A porn star was paid to keep silent about her alleged dalliance years earlier with a presidential candidate, which a judge has agreed was an illegal violation of campaign finance laws. The private emails of Democrats were stolen and published, which prosecutors have said was an illegal intervention into the U.S. political system by foreign operatives.

The two crimes were undertaken to help Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. They led to the indictment or conviction of 13 men, including Trump’s personal attorney.

But for nearly four years, Trump has bullied, browbeaten and litigated his way out of efforts to pin down whether he had involvement in or knowledge of the illicit actions that were undertaken to help his presidential campaign.

Legal experts said his commutation last week of the sentence of confidant Roger Stone, who had been convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to interact with WikiLeaks while it was publishing the hacked Democratic emails, was part of a pattern in which Trump flexed the powers of his office and his platform to evade scrutiny of his actions.

It is a pattern that vexed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who devoted substantial space in his report on election interference to Trump’s tactics but ultimately declined to come to a conclusion as to whether they constituted crimes, an ongoing source of frustration to Democratic lawmakers and some legal experts. And it has emerged as an issue for Trump’s reelection as critics accuse him of corrupting the government and the justice system to serve his personal needs.

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 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In op-ed, ex-CDC directors slam Trump for politicizing science, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher and Richard Besser, July 14, 2020. Four former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention co-wrote an op-ed published by The Washington Post. The administration is undermining public health.cdc logo Custom

As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back to school and all of us back to work safely amid a pandemic that is only getting worse, public health experts face two opponents: covid-19, but also political leaders and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of this date, the CDC guidelines, which were designed to protect children, teachers, school staffers and their families — no matter the state and no matter the politics — have not been altered. It is extraordinary for guidelines to be undermined after their release. Through last week, and into Monday, the administration continued to cast public doubt on the agency’s recommendations and role in informing and guiding the nation’s pandemic response.

The four of us led the CDC over a period of more than 15 years, spanning Republican and Democratic administrations alike. We cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence.

mary trump

Dr. Mary Trump, clinical psychologist, niece of Donald J. Trump, and author of a best-selling book about her family released on July 14 after the family failed to stop it via a court fight that resulted in a New York state court ruling July 13 enabling her to publish the book and speak publicly about it (Photo by Peter Serling via Simon & Schuster).

NBC News, Mary Trump's book reveals Trumpworld's web of lies — and the enablers who protect it, Nina Burleigh (author of The Trump Women: Part of the Deal), July 14, 2020. Trump’s niece becomes the first family member to openly break ranks, but only the latest critic to face threats for doing so. There's no doubt Mary Trump's uncle knows what she knows about him.

Lawsuits, nondisclosure agreements and emotional or financial blackmail kept the lid on the secrets of Trumpland for years. But the political career of President Donald Trump, a self-described billionaire, has brought an increase in attention. Now as more and more insiders bust out their own books, Trump and his attorneys are playing an increasingly wild and desperate game of whack-a-mole to keep dissidents, including some very close to home, silent.

mary trump coverIn Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the Most Dangerous Man, officially released on Tuesday, Trump's niece, Mary Trump, becomes the first family member to openly break ranks but only the latest of many critics to face threats for doing so.

Mary Trump's book is the literary equivalent of an ambulance siren.

The book is the literary equivalent of an ambulance siren. Mary Trump (Peter Serling / Simon and Schuster;, a clinical psychologist, describes her uncle as a man whose personality was damaged early by his sociopathic father, Fred, and his fragile, absent mother, Mary Anne, and whose retinue of enablers have allowed him to fail up while shielding his profound impairments from the public eye.
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The book's shocking bits have already been picked over and reported: She was a secret source for family financial documents behind The New York Times' investigation that revealed that a "potential tax fraud" enriched the Trump siblings; Trump paid someone to take his SAT test; Trump ogled and praised her breasts.

But the disturbing thesis of the book has gotten less attention so far because it is too complex for a bullet point or a tweet. Mary Trump argues that her uncle has been "institutionalized" his entire life, from his father's rigid house to military school to the Trump Organization and now the White House. In Washington, he is, for the first time in his life, subject to close scrutiny but still surrounded by enablers who have everything to lose if he is exposed as a fake and a fraud.

"The walls of his very expensive and well-guarded padded cell are starting to disintegrate," she writes. "The people with access to him are weaker than Donald is, more craven, but just as desperate."

These desperate people will use whatever means are at their disposal — courts, lawyers, intimidation, loss of employment and even, apparently, prison — to bolster Trump's increasingly fragile facade. She writes that the president's own siblings find him odious and ridiculous by turn and that they knew he was unfit for office but still kept quiet — and even tried to silence her in court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Did Mueller Ever Stand a Chance Against Trump and Roger Stone? Nick Akerman, July 14, 2020 (print ed.). I was a Watergate prosecutor. I know why he didn’t. The robert mueller full face filecommutation last week of Roger Stone’s sentence is the latest of multiple, brazen efforts to make the fulfillment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation all but impossible.

The efforts by President Trump have amounted to a cover-up — and they were often made possible by his ability to control the Justice Department and by the lack of independence of the Mueller investigation. It demands a renewed look at how we empower independent counsels — regrettably, history has shown us that, under extraordinary circumstances, they are needed to conduct proper oversight of abuse by the executive branch.

We were lucky to get the Mueller report, but Mr. Mueller, right, was acting under restraints. Unfortunately history tells us that we Newwill need special counsels in the years ahead, under extraordinary circumstances, and like we did with Watergate, that office should have true independence to protect our country and Constitution.

Nick Akerman, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, was an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Under-counting the number of dead and mass graves and cremations: The whiff of Nazi Germany, Wayne Madsen, July 14, 2020. Impeached president Donald Trump has already been caught lying about the number of coronavirus infections in the United States, so it stands to reason that he would also lie about the actual death count.

America's top government infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned in May that the nation's death count from Covid-19 was likely being under-counted due to people dying at home who did not receive medical treatment or who were untested or failed to obtain test results before dying of the virus or a co-morbidity heightened by the virus.

Trump pulled a death count caper in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, claiming the 3,000 death toll on the island was a "made-up figure" dreamed up by “the Democrats.” According to former Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Trump wanted to "sell" off Puerto Rico after the hurricane devastated the island.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The one constant in Trump’s presidency: Tomorrow will be worse, Dana Milbank, right, July 14, 2020 (print ed.). Whenever you are asked to dana milbank Customname the lowest moment of the Trump presidency, one answer is almost always correct: Tomorrow.

As the nation ricochets between chaos and calamity, the one reliable constant is the near certainty that things will get worse.

On Friday night, President Trump commuted the sentence of longtime adviser Roger Stone, convicted by a jury of multiple felonies for lying to federal investigators to protect Trump in the Russia probe. Trump’s clemency came the same day Stone made the corrupt bargain explicit by saying he resisted “enormous pressure to turn on” Trump.

On Saturday, Trump’s White House launched a public broadside attempting to discredit its own chief infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, because Fauci sounded renewed alarms about the coronavirus, which has killed at least 132,000 in the United States and is accelerating out of control. Then, on Sunday, as Florida reported a breathtaking 15,300 new cases of the virus in a single day, and other states reported overwhelmed hospitals and climbing death tolls, Trump tweeted a defense of his decision to play golf during his 276th visit to one of his golf clubs during his presidency.

On Monday, Trump retweeted a TV clip in which one of his allies, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), accused the left of “cultural genocide,” an echo of white nationalists’ claims of “white genocide,” and saying “the organizers of Black Lives Matter, who pledge allegiance to the destruction of America, have a lot more in common with the Confederate generals that they hate than they would like to admit.” This followed Trump’s “white power” retweet and another instance of his campaign allegedly appropriating Nazi symbols.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Brad Parscale hits a rough patch as Trump’s campaign manager, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey,July 14, 2020 (print ed.). Parscale, above, is brash and self-promoting as Trump’s campaign manager. But he’s increasingly out of favor with his boss, and others in the campaign are gaining influence.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ivanka Trump just made a total mess for herself, Bill Palmer, July 14, 2020. By the time Tuesday night rolled around, Ivanka Trump had already thoroughly embarrassed ivanka trump goya pose resized july 14 2020herself by rolling out a “Find Something New” campaign which encouraged unemployed Americans to simply find a new career by magic wand or something. The Trumps never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, so Ivanka found a way to humiliate herself even further.

Ivanka Trump posted this tweet – and yes, it’s real:

Ivanka Trump
@IvankaTrump


If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.

That’s right, Ivanka Trump is now doing straight up product placement, like something out of The Price Is Right, to try to reward a brand that’s facing widespread boycotts because its CEO came out in support of a sinking Donald Trump. The thing is, Ivanka just stepped in it. This idiotic photo of her will be thrown back in her face for as long as she’s in the public eye.

nsa headquarters strategic culture foundation

Headquarters of the National Security Agency in Maryland.

The Corbett Report via YouTube,

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.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> #PropagandaWatch: Conspiracy Theorists Are Wrong!!! . . . Even When They're Right! James Corbett, right, james corbettJuly 14, 2020 (13:34 min. video). The host reviews Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, a new book by Pulitzer-winning Washington Post national security reporter Barton Gellman.

Corbett found remarkable the book's description of the FIRSTFRUITS scoop in 2005 by independent journalist Wayne Madsen' about an operation at the National Security Agency (NSA), where Madsen had worked for a year many years previous on detail from his work as a Navy intelligence officer.

In 2005, Madsen, below left, reported based on sources that an operation codenamed FIRSTFRUITS was targeting journalists and their sources, an undertaking at odds with the historic and supposed ban at NSA on spying on Americans.

Madsen's revelations were ignored by other journalists but were confirmed nearly a decade later in mainstream media accounts, including those based on the 2013 revelations of former NSA and CIA analyst Edward Snowden. Gellman was awarded a Pulitzer along with two others, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian and independent filmmaker Laura Poitras, based on their reporting of Snowden's revelations.

Corbett writes that Gellman unwittingly reveals in his account his own deep biases in favor of establishment theories and sources.

"Then came the day," Corbett quotes Gellman as writing, "I found my name in the Snowden archives" as well as verifacation that the NSA had a database called FIRSTFRUITS focused on journalists, as Madsen had reported, and located in the NSA's Denial and Deception unit within the agency's Signals Intelligence Unit.

July 10

 

 

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court says N.Y. prosecutor may see Trump’s financial records, Robert Barnes, July 10, 2020 (print ed.). The Supreme Court ruled that a Manhattan prosecutor is entitled to see President Trump’s private and business financial records, ending an intense legal battle waged by the president to keep them secret.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Trump’s assertion that he enjoys absolute immunity while in office, allowing a New York prosecutor to pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records.

In a separate case, the court sent a fight over congressional subpoenas for the material back to lower courts because of “significant separation of powers concerns.”

“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence,’” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the New York case, citing an ancient maxim. “Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”

In both cases, the justices ruled 7 to 2, with Trump nominees Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh joining the majorities. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

While the court said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had the authority to subpoena the records from Trump’s private accounting firm, it also sent the case back to a district court for more work.

The information is part of a grand jury investigation, so the joint decisions dash the hopes of Trump opponents that the information will be available to the public before the election.

Read the Supreme Court’s opinion: Trump v. Vance

Vance is investigating whether the Trump Organization falsified business records to conceal hush payments to two women, including pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed they had sex with Trump before he took office. Trump has denied those claims.

washington post logoWashington Post, Much of eastern Oklahoma remains Indian land, Supreme Court rules, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, July 10, 2020 (print ed.). The 5-to-4 ruling has implications for 1.8 million residents, including in much of Tulsa.

The Supreme Court said Thursday that a large part of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation, a decision with implications for nearly 2 million residents.

The land at issue contains much of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city. The question for the court was whether Congress officially eliminated the Creek Nation reservation when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the court said that Congress “has not said otherwise” and that the land promised to the Creek Nation is still a reservation.

“If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law,” wrote Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was joined by the court’s liberal justices.
“To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law, both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right.”

The case was brought by Jimcy McGirt, who was convicted in state court of molesting a child. Because the crime occurred on the land in question, McGirt said that state courts have no jurisdiction and that the federal government would have to prosecute.

Oklahoma and the federal government contended that laws passed between 1890 and 1907 gave the state jurisdiction over the land. The state said that there are thousands of similar cases and that a ruling in favor of McGirt would not only throw the criminal justice system in turmoil but also disrupt taxing powers and other municipal jurisdictions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The long political fight over Trump’s tax returns is likely over. Trump may have won, Philip Bump, July 10, 2020 (print ed.). In a pair of decisions released on Thursday, the Supreme Court handed President Trump apparent losses on the question of whether he might protect his personal financial records from scrutiny.

In Trump v. Vance, the court ruled that the Manhattan district attorney had the authority to subpoena those records as part of a criminal investigation. In Trump v. Mazars, it declined to reject out-of-hand an effort by House Democrats to obtain similar records, instead pushing a decision back to lower courts.

It was a broad rejection of Trump’s assertions of the breadth of his power as chief executive, and the president made clear his displeasure in a string of furious tweets shortly after the decisions were released. Beyond the big-picture argument about constitutional authority — an argument Trump almost certainly embraces only as it pertains to checks on himself — the Vance ruling in particular poses a threat to the president. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has already pledged to push forward with a probe, which might result in criminal charges against Trump or the Trump Organization.

But as a political fight, it looks like the battle for Trump’s tax returns is over. And there’s good reason to think that Trump won.

It’s worth remembering that Trump repeatedly assured the public that he would release his tax returns if elected. Those assurances predated his actual 2016 candidacy by years. When he explored a possible 2012 run, for example, he assured CNN’s John King that he would “be doing my tax returns at the appropriate time.” Later in that same cycle, he tried to use his tax returns as leverage, offering to release them if President Barack Obama released his college transcripts.

As his formal announcement neared in early 2015, he insisted he'd release his taxes.

July 7

Top Headlines

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

 

Top Stories

ny times logo

New York Times, Fact Check: Trump Falsely Claims ‘99 Percent’ of Virus Cases Are ‘Totally Harmless,’ Roni Caryn Rabin and Chris Cameron, The president dismissed the severity of the Democratic-Republican Campaign logospandemic, downplaying the effect of the disease even as infections surge across the Sunbelt and rebound in California.

His remarks about a virus that has already claimed nearly 130,000 lives were perplexing. The coronavirus is surging across the Sunbelt states and has rebounded in California. At least 2.8 million Americans are known to be infected, and public health officials have said the real number of infections may be 10 times higher.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Defends Confederate Flag and Falsely Accuses Bubba Wallace of Hoax, Maggie Haberman, July 7, 2020 (print ed.). In a culture-war appeal to his conservative base, President Trump criticized NASCAR and falsely accused a Black driver of engaging in a hoax involving a noose.

bubbal wallacePresident Trump mounted an explicit defense of the Confederate flag on Monday, suggesting that NASCAR had made a mistake in banning it from its auto racing events, while falsely accusing a top Black driver, Bubba Wallace, right, of perpetrating a hoax involving a noose found in his garage.

Mr. Trump’s reference to the Confederate flag, and its role in a sport whose mostly white fans Mr. Trump remains popular with, was the latest remark by the president focused on culture wars as he tries to rally his culturally conservative base behind his struggling re-election effort.

The president has increasingly used racist language and references in his appeals to supporters as he portrays himself as a protector of the history of the American South. He has called the phrase “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate,” and he has repeatedly tried to depict pockets of violence during protests against entrenched racism as representative of the protest movement as a whole.

He delivered official speeches over the weekend that also emphasized defending American heritage, though he avoided explicit references to totems of the Confederacy.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What if Trump loses but insists he won? Max Boot, July 6, 2020. On his present trajectory, President Trump is heading for a whopping defeat in November. The Economist says there’s nearly a 99 percent chance that Joe Biden will win more popular votes and around a 90 percent chance that he will win more electoral college votes. But what if Trump won’t concede defeat? That is a nightmare scenario for our democracy that could make the 2000 showdown over Florida’s hanging chads seem like a grade-school dispute by comparison.

Trump is already laying the foundation to dispute the election outcome with his incessant claims that “Mail-In Ballots will lead to MASSIVE electoral fraud and a RIGGED 2020 Election.” Election officials label such concerns as “preposterous” and “false.” But they will serve as an excuse for the Republican Party to purge voter-registration rolls, limit mail-in ballots, close polling stations in minority areas and challenge in-person voting by minorities. Whatever it takes to win.

It’s doubtful that anything Trump does will produce a popular-vote victory; he lost by nearly 3 million votes in 2016 and will probably lose by a greater margin this year. But it won’t matter if, by election night, he is within spitting distance of an electoral college victory.
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I recently took part in a “war game” to see what would happen under those circumstances. The session was organized by the Transition Integrity Project, a nonpartisan group founded by Rosa Brooks of Georgetown Law School and Nils Gilman of the Berggruen Institute. The scenario we were given predicted a narrow Biden victory in the electoral college: 278 to 260. Various participants played the role of the Trump campaign, the Biden campaign, Republican and Democratic elected officials, the news media, and other key players to see what would happen next.

I was on Team Trump. followed by a sharp exclamation. There was a brief silence. Then, deafening bangs — roughly 10 — rang out in quick succession.

 

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Vowed to ‘Drain the Swamp,’ but Lobbyists Are Helping Run His Campaign, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael LaForgia and Hailey Fuchs, July 7, 2020 (print ed.). Lobbyists like David Urban, whose connections start at the very top, are thriving as they help the president’s re-election effort while aiding corporate clients.

The chief executive of the arms maker Raytheon, under pressure to overcome a congressional hold on major sales in the fall of 2018, wanted to sit down with one of the few people who david urbancould solve the problem — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

But the State Department would not schedule the meeting. So Raytheon turned for help to David Urban, right, perhaps the best-connected lobbyist in President Trump’s Washington.

The story behind Mr. Pompeo’s meeting with Raytheon, which has not been previously reported, is emblematic of the outsize influence wielded in Washington by Mr. Urban and a small group of other lobbyists and operatives who backed Mr. Trump when most of the K Street establishment was keeping its distance. Those relationships became lucrative after Mr. Trump won a surprise victory on Election Day and rewarded early loyalists with key posts, continued access or both.

Media / Political News

washington post logoWashington Post, Tell-all book by President Trump’s niece to be published two weeks earlier on July 14, Michael Kranish, July 7, 2020 (print ed.). A highly anticipated book by Mary L. Trump, the niece of President Trump, will be published two weeks earlier than planned after a court last week allowed Simon & Schuster to continue distributing copies. The book will be published on July 14 mary trump coverbecause of intense interest in it, the publisher announced Monday.

While the publisher last week was released from a temporary restraining order, Mary Trump is still under the order and is contesting it. In the meantime, her publisher released the book jacket and a news release that promised a sweeping indictment of the president’s psychological makeup.

“From this explosive book,” the news release said, “we learn how Donald acquired twisted behaviors and values” such as that “cheating is a way of life,” “taking responsibility for your failures is discouraged” and “qualities like empathy, kindness and expertise are punished.” It did not provide specifics, leaving that for the book’s publication.

The back cover of the book, also released Monday, said that “Donald is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving.” It says that Donald Trump feared his father’s rejection and “suffered deprivations that would scar him for life.”

 

July 6

Top Headlines

 

Top Storiesdjt i dont take responsibility at all

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Elected officials blame rush to reopen as coronavirus cases hit record for 27th day, Staff reports, July 6, 2020. Companies are hiring their own epidemiologists to deal with covid-19; Austin mayor says he’d consider ‘last resort’ stay-at-home order if needed; White House chief of staff says ‘vast majority of people’ safe from coronavirus.

djt hands up mouth open CustomWith the number of novel coronavirus cases soaring in the United States, many elected officials are beginning to acknowledge that rushing to reopen was a mistake. Alarming indicators continued to mount over the Fourth of July weekend, with the rolling seven-day average for daily new cases hitting a record high for the 27th day in a row on Sunday.

“We’re right back where we were at the peak of the epidemic during the New York outbreak,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday, during an interview with “Face the Nation” on CBS.

Nearly 2.9 million coronavirus cases have been reported nationwide. At least 127,000 people have died of the virus in the United States.

Here are some significant developments:

  • As the United States reported 43,347 new cases Sunday, Arizona and Nevada reported their highest numbers of coronavirus-related hospitalizations to date. Seven-day case averages in 12 states hit new highs, with the most significant increases reported in West Virginia, Tennessee and Montana.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump turned July Fourth into a partisan event. The damage could be long-lasting, Dan Balz, July 6, 2020 (print ed.). The president is losing the war against the novel coronavirus, and his reelection campaign is struggling. In response, he has decided to start a different war.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017President Trump, with two speeches in two days, has turned the Fourth of July from a joyful and unifying patriotic celebration of America’s founding values into a partisan political event. The damage could outlast his presidency.

From near the base of Mount Rushmore on Friday night and from the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday night, Trump tried to write himself into the history of America as an implacable wartime president. His enemy, however, is not the Nazis of the 20th century or terrorists of the 21st century. Instead, it appears to be those in America who disagree with him — a caricatured blue America.

Trump knows his reelection campaign is in trouble. He sees the fight against this enemy of his creation as his pathway to victory in November. His political weapon of choice is exaggerated and at times racist rhetoric designed to pit Americans against Americans. Never in our lifetimes has the Independence Day holiday been used for such divisive and personal ends. 

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A vicious culture war is all Trump has left, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 6, 2020 (print ed.). Trump’s vile speeches at Mount Rushmore on Friday and at the White House ej dionne w open neckon the Fourth of July signal that he sees one and only one possible path to victory: He will tear an already riven nation to pieces.

He will use the classic methods of racist politicians to tie a resurgent movement for racial equality to “a wave of violent crime” and efforts to “destroy” our “very civilization.” It is all, he says, part of a “left-wing cultural revolution . . . designed to overthrow the American Revolution.”

The man who has been selling right-wing nationalism dares to say his opponents advocate “a new far-left fascism.” The politician who has defended Confederate monuments scrambles for cover behind Abraham Lincoln and quotations from Martin Luther King Jr.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump has completely psychotic meltdown about NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, Bill Palmer, right, July 6, 2020. This morning Palmer Report pointed out that Donald Trump is bill palmerno longer running for President; he’s running for mayor of Crazy Town. Whether through spiteful intention of psychological failing, Trump’s behavior is becoming more psychotic by the day – to the point that it’s as if he’s now trying to cost himself votes. Now Trump is demonstrating exactly what we were talking about.

Trump posted this tweet today:

Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!

To be clear, Trump is flat out lying about what happened. It was NASCAR officials who found the noose in Bubba Wallace’s stall and alerted law enforcement. It turned out the noose had bill palmer report logo headerbeen hanging there as a garage door pull-down for at least a year and hadn’t been hung specifically to target Wallace, but photos released of the scene make clear that it bubbal wallacewas definitely a noose.

Of course facts and truth have never mattered to Donald Trump. But here’s what is different. Even as openly racist as Trump was in 2016, he tried to do it in a way that allowed moderately racist voters to convince themselves that Trump wasn’t actually a racist, so they could still feel comfortable voting for him. Now, however, there’s no strategy to Trump’s racism. His tweet about Bubba Wallace, right, will cost him the votes of some white moderate conservatives – but he’s either too far gone to understand this, or too far gone to care.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Strategic Empathy’: How Biden’s Informal Diplomacy Shaped Foreign Relations, Michael Crowley, Updated July 6, 2020. To voters unsettled by President Trump’s disruptive approach to the world, Mr. Biden is selling not only his policy prescriptions but also his long track record of befriending, cajoling and sometimes confronting foreign leaders — what he might call the power of his informal diplomatic style.

“I’ve dealt with every one of the major world leaders that are out there right now, and they know me. I know them,” he told supporters in December.

joe biden headshotBrett McGurk, a former senior State Department official for the campaign against the Islamic State, said Mr. Biden had been an effective diplomat by practicing “strategic empathy.”

Mr. Biden is a foreign-policy pragmatist, not an ideologue; his views have long tracked the Democratic mainstream. For a decade before the Iraq War, he was known as a hawk, but more recently he has become a chastened skeptic of foreign intervention. In lieu of grand strategy, he offers what more than 20 current and former American officials described in interviews as a remarkably personal diplomacy derived from his decades in the glad-handing, deal-making hothouse of the Senate. It is an approach grounded in a belief that understanding another leader — “what they want and what they need,” in the words of James Rubin, a former Biden aide who later served as the State Department spokesman — is as important as understanding his or her nation.

Race, Police Brutality Protestsdjt rushmore anna moneymaker nyt

President Trump at Mount Rushmore for a Fourth of July celebration on Friday evening (Photo by Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump got his crowd and his fireworks, and peddled his fiction, Robin Givhan, July 6, 2020 (print ed.). The president reveled in the dramatic majesty of Mount Rushmore — and ignored the complicated American story.

The setting for President Trump’s early Fourth of July celebration was magnificent, as the Black Hills of South Dakota tend to be. The scene was also full of painful history, willful ignorance and deliberate fearmongering.

Friday night, in an amphitheater in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, a military band played smooth jazz on snare drums and trumpets as the country sank under the rising number of covid-19 infections. Thousands of unmasked guests, awaiting the arrival of the president, sat shoulder to shoulder in black folding chairs tethered together in a kind of coronavirus djt maga hatchain of denial.

The VIPs would, of course, be seated separately onstage — not six feet apart, but not amid the storm of exhalations, coughs, vociferous cheers and sneezes.

And just to add to the upside-down, inside-out madness of the mass gathering, Ivanka Trump, presidential adviser and daughter, tweeted a reminder to be safe over the holiday weekend by social distancing and wearing a mask. Her nearest and dearest did not listen to plea.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump will accept a ‘steady’ few hundred deaths a day as the cost of reelection, Philip Bump, July 6, 2020. His ability to convince America that it should do the same depends on a deeply flawed argument. President Trump presents his approach to the coronavirus pandemic as being rooted in optimism. He’s said so explicitly, arguing that it’s his role to offer hope to the public. This motivation is reflected in nearly everything he says about the virus: that there will soon be a vaccine, that it will go away, that there are or will be drugs which can ameliorate its worst effects.

This isn't really optimism, though. It's safer to describe it as a disinterest in addressing negative consequences over the long term. Trump fights no battle that lasts much beyond the following day's sunrise. One effect is to hype short-term victories which will obviously soon be shown to be hollow, like Trump's repeated predictions about how low the death toll from the pandemic would be.

So we get the administration's new approach to the pandemic, one which resembles the final moments of a climactic battle scene in an action movie. The protagonist, after fending off enemy after enemy, sees the finish line in sight. So he puts his shoulder down and makes a mad rush for perceived safety. In this case, the finish line is Election Day. In this case, the enemy is Americans who've died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

President Trump presents his approach to the coronavirus pandemic as being rooted in optimism. He’s said so explicitly, arguing that it’s his role to offer hope to the public. This motivation is reflected in nearly everything he says about the virus: that there will soon be a vaccine, that it will go away, that there are or will be drugs which can ameliorate its worst effects.

This isn't really optimism, though. It's safer to describe it as a disinterest in addressing negative consequences over the long term. Trump fights no battle that lasts much beyond the following day's sunrise. One effect is to hype short-term victories which will obviously soon be shown to be hollow, like Trump's repeated predictions about how low the death toll from the pandemic would be.

So we get the administration's new approach to the pandemic, one which resembles the final moments of a climactic battle scene in an action movie. The protagonist, after fending off enemy after enemy, sees the finish line in sight. So he puts his shoulder down and makes a mad rush for perceived safety. In this case, the finish line is Election Day. In this case, the enemy is Americans who've died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

ny times logoNew York Times, As the Virus Surged, Florida Partied. Tracking the Revelers Is Tough, Patricia Mazzei, July 6, 2020. Tracing the contacts of every positive case has become unrealistic in Florida, especially among elusive partygoers reluctant to answer questions.

 Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s cold indifference, Robert Harrington, July 6, 2020. I like to listen to experts. I also like to listen to people with experience.

So when a coronavirus patient and their doctors say, “Trust me, you don’t want to get this bug,” I believe them the first time I hear it. When patient after patient after patient reaches for hyperbole to describe how dreadful COVID-19 is, how uncomfortable, how devastating, how it’s their worst nightmare, worse by far than any sickness they have ever had, I wouldn’t dream of contradicting them.

bill palmer report logo headerYet, according to Donald Trump, 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” This contradicts everything the experts say, and everything that people who have had the disease say. Trump says it because he wants it to be true, and he’s coldly indifferent to any suffering or death it may cause. All he cares about is perception. If enough fools believe him then they will return to work and he can get the economy back to where it was — just in time for the election. He doesn’t care if they’re risking their lives for him. As far as Trump cares, they can go ahead and die.

By the way, Trump endures no cognitive dissonance by saying that most coronavirus is harmless, even though he also said earlier that coronavirus is a “terrible plague from China” and warned Beijing “must be held accountable” for its spread around the world. Such contradictions don’t phase Trump in the least. He wants it both ways. He wants everyone to be fooled into thinking it’s no big deal and he wants to blame China for it.

He says what he needs to say moment to moment to give him (in his view) his best chance for re-election.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Are you ready to go back?’ After covid-19, a poultry worker fears a return to work, Michael E. Miller, July 6, 2020. Many of his co-workers at Perdue Farms in Georgetown, Del., had also fallen ill. One friend died. Then, at an appointment in late May, his doctor told him, “According to those recommendations, the government thinks you’re ready to return to work tomorrow.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Rush to reopen led to new cases that threaten to overwhelm hospitals, officials say, Robert Barnes and Derek Hawkins, July 6, 2020 (print ed.). Local officials issued dire warnings about the spread of infections, blaming outbreaks on early reopenings and saying the virus was rapidly outpacing containment efforts.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Leading Iraqi researcher assassinated outside his house in Baghdad, Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck, July 6, 2020. Hisham al-Hashimi was among the world’s leading experts on the Islamic State group and an adviser to the Iraqi government.

Environment / Energy / Climate

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders shutdown of Dakota Access pipeline, citing environmental risks, Juliet Eilperin, Steven Mufson and Brady Dennis, July 6, 2020. A federal judge said officials failed to make a complete analysis of the pipeline's environmental impacts. The decision marks the second setback for President Trump's infrastructure push in two days. Decisions affecting Atlantic Coast, Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines dismay oil and gas industry, mark victory for tribal and environmental activists.

A series of recent legal defeats and business decisions have stymied three multi-billion dollar pipeline projects around the country, setting back President Trump’s three and-a-half year effort to expand oil and gas development in the United States.

The reversals demonstrate both the enduring power of environmental laws that the Trump administration has been trying to weaken as well as the tenacity of environmental, tribal and community activists who have battled the projects on forested land and in federal courtrooms.

In a surprise decision Monday, a federal judge ruled the Dakota Access pipeline — which Trump approved within a month of taking office — must be shut down by Aug. 5, saying federal officials failed to do a complete analysis of its environmental impacts. The day before, two energy companies behind the controversial, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline abandoned their six-year bid to build it, saying the $8 billion project has become too expensive and faces an uncertain regulatory environment. And an April decision by a federal judge in Montana dealt a blow to the Keystone XL pipeline and raised questions about whether the Army Corps of Engineers will have to conduct more extensive environmental reviews for other projects.

Media / Political News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: McEnany butchers her defense of Trump’s Bubba Wallace tweet, Aaron Blake, July 6, 2020. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was pressed Monday on President Trump’s tweet that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace should have “apologized” for his handling of an incident in which a noose-like rope appeared in his garage at a race.

In the process, though, McEnany misstated several key facts about the situation and offered an implausible argument for Trump’s motivation to tweet it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook, Google, Twitter halt review of Hong Kong requests for data, Rachel Lerman, July 6, 2020. The social media giants said they would pause reviewing such requests from Hong Kong until they had reviewed the new national security law imposed by the Chinese government.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Redskins’ minority owners look to sell stakes in team amid ongoing turmoil, Liz Clarke, Mark Maske and Les Carpenter, July 6, 2020 (print ed.). Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick W. Smith are “not happy being a partner” of Daniel nfl logoSnyder, one person familiar with the deliberations said.

Rothman is chairman and CEO of Black Diamond Capital, a private investment company. Schar is chairman of NVR Inc., the nation’s fifth-largest home builder. Smith is chairman, president and CEO of FedEx, which in 1999 signed a 27-year, $205 million naming-rights deal for what is now known as FedEx Field.

 

July 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump turned July Fourth into a partisan event. The damage could be long-lasting, Dan Balz, July 5, 2020. The president is losing the war against the novel coronavirus, and his reelection campaign is struggling. In response, he has decided to start a different war.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017President Trump, with two speeches in two days, has turned the Fourth of July from a joyful and unifying patriotic celebration of America’s founding values into a partisan political event. The damage could outlast his presidency.

From near the base of Mount Rushmore on Friday night and from the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday night, Trump tried to write himself into the djt maga hathistory of America as an implacable wartime president. His enemy, however, is not the Nazis of the 20th century or terrorists of the 21st century. Instead, it appears to be those in America who disagree with him — a caricatured blue America.

Trump knows his reelection campaign is in trouble. He sees the fight against this enemy of his creation as his pathway to victory in November. His political weapon of choice is exaggerated and at times racist rhetoric designed to pit Americans against Americans. Never in our lifetimes has the Independence Day holiday been used for such divisive and personal ends.antagonize people with whom they disagree or achieve some other goal.

Social media companies have in recent weeks shut down a handful of fake accounts created by white supremacist groups posing as antifa operatives in a bid to undermine peaceful protests.

In response to messages from The Post, the person managing the Left Behind USA account identified himself as 39-year-old Alan Jeffs, a lifelong Democrat-turned-anarchist from Pittsburgh who now lives in Des Moines.

The Post examined real estate, court and voter records, as well as other public documents, but could find no such person.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s push to amplify racism unnerves Republicans, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, July 5, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has left little doubt through his utterances the past few weeks that he sees himself not only as the Republican standard-bearer but as a leader of a modern grievance movement animated by civic strife and marked by calls for “white power.”

President Trump’s unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination, crystallized by his harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement Friday night at Mount Rushmore, has unnerved Republicans who have long enabled him but now fear losing power and forever associating their party with his racial animus.

donald trump twitterAlthough amplifying racism and stoking culture wars have been mainstays of Trump’s public identity for decades, they have been particularly pronounced this summer as the president has reacted to the national reckoning over systemic discrimination by seeking to weaponize the anger and resentment of some white Americans for his own political gain.

Trump has left little doubt through his utterances the past few weeks that he sees himself not only as the Republican standard-bearer but as leader of a modern grievance movement animated by civic strife and marked by calls for “white power,” the phrase chanted by one of his supporters in a video the president shared last weekend on Twitter. He later deleted the video but did not disavow its message.

On Friday night at Mount Rushmore, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the party’s leadership, and other top Republicans were seen applauding as Trump spoke.

Trump’s repeated championing of monuments, memorials and military bases honoring Confederate leaders has run up against the tide of modernity and a weary electorate that polls show overwhelmingly support the Black Lives Matter movement — a slogan that Trump said would be “a symbol of hate” if painted on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Hollywood PoliTrivia Commentary: How Trump pissed off the "Chairman of the Board," Wayne Madsen, left, July 5, 2020. Donald Trump's bid to become one of the "regulars" within the Hollywood celebrity circuit failed miserably.  Perhaps, no one was more irritated at Trump than "Old Blue Eyes," the "Chairman of the Board" and influential celebrity kingmaker, Frank Sinatra.

In his truly bizarre speech on July 3 at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Trump announced that he was signing an Executive Order establishing a "National Garden of American Heroes," featuring statues of famous Americans, including Elvis Presley and the man who despised Trump, Sinatra.

 

July 4 

djt rushmore anna moneymaker nyt

President Trump at Mount Rushmore for a Fourth of July celebration on Friday evening (Photo by Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message, Annie Karni, July 4, 2020 (print ed.). Down in the polls and failing to control a raging pandemic, the president cast himself as waging battle against a “new far-left fascism” that imperils American values and seeks to erase history.

Standing in a packed amphitheater in front of Mount Rushmore for an Independence Day celebration, President Trump delivered a dark and divisive speech on Friday that cast his struggling effort to win a second term as a battle against a “new far-left fascism” seeking to wipe out the nation’s values and history.

With the coronavirus pandemic raging and his campaign faltering in the polls, his appearance amounted to a fiery reboot of his re-election effort, using the holiday and an official presidential address to mount a full-on culture war against a straw-man version of the left that he portrayed as inciting mayhem and moving the country toward totalitarianism.

republican elephant logo“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Mr. Trump said, addressing a packed crowd of sign-waving supporters, few of whom wore masks. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

Mr. Trump barely mentioned the frightening resurgence of the pandemic, even as the country surpassed 53,000 new cases and health officials across the nation urged Americans to scale back their Fourth of July plans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ahead of July 4th, Trump exploits racial, social divisions, David Nakamura, Ashley Parker, Colby Itkowitz and Maria Sacchetti, July 4, 2020 (print ed.). In a dark speech at the foot of Mount Rushmore's monument, President Trump focused on what he described as a “left-wing cultural revolution” that aims to rewrite U.S. history and erase its heritage. (Excerpt continued below.)

washington post logoWashington Post, America on its 244th birthday: Dark skies, canceled parades, but also new hope, Marc Fisher, July 4, 2020. Frightened and isolated by the novel coronavirus, many Americans see protests over racial inequality as a step toward national renewal.

american flag upside down distressAs statues tumble and a frightening virus spreads through the land, far fewer splashes of color will burst onto the night skies across America on the Fourth of July. Instead of parades and picnics, the nation’s 244th birthday will be a muted celebration by people who are frustrated and strained, yet intriguingly, persistently hopeful about the future.

A triple whammy of deadly disease, wholesale economic paralysis and a searing reckoning with racial inequality has largely canceled the nation’s birthday bash. But despite depression-level unemployment and pervasive sadness, polling and interviews across the country reveal an enduring — even renewed — reservoir of optimism, a sense that despite the coronavirus and perhaps as a result of protests in big cities and small towns alike, the United States can still right itself.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Get ready for a brutal spike in coronavirus deaths, Robert Harrington, July 4, 2020. It’s a common fallacy to say all statistics lie. Statistics don’t lie, people who know how to deliberately misconstrue statistics sometimes do. It’s understandable human nature to say, for instance, “all politicians are corrupt.” They are not, and to suggest they are is to risk falling for the common error that one politician is as bad as another.

It doesn’t apply any more than the notion that one neighbor is as bad as another, or one boss, or one employee, or one gardener is as bad as another. It’s this lazy and dangerous and irresponsible kind of mental shortcut that gave us Donald Trump in the first place. One has to be careful if one is to be accurate.

bill palmer report logo headerEven so, when we look at the statistics governing coronavirus, enigmas emerge that defy the intuitive. So it’s a reasonable question to ask, if the number of coronavirus cases are increasing, positivity rate is increasing, hospitalizations are increasing, why is the death rate staying flat or even decreasing? While that’s a very good thing on its face and cause for cautious relief, it ought to make you nervous. Such paradoxes don’t seem sustainable.

And indeed they are not. Naturally, many armchair hypotheses have been advanced on the internet to answer the question, and some of them seem very strong at first glance. That we’re getting better at treatment, or more young people are getting it and they have a well-known capacity to survive it, are two possible explanations. Even Donald Trump’s notion that “we’re testing more people” has some merit, in that the revelation that there are far more cases out there than we thought might suggest that the COVID-19 mortality rate is significantly lower than we originally thought.Tempting as it may be to accept these as explanations, while some even have merit in accounting for a small percentage of statistical noise, they are all wrong.

The numerous outbreaks in the United States are happening rapidly and all over but at widely varying stages because of widely varying starting points. The coronavirus deaths are therefore not flattening nor decreasing; they are gathering like a huge wave that is going to hit America with a colossal number of COVID deaths in the next six to eight weeks. Meanwhile Donald Trump is sending out his spokespeople to lie about coronavirus and gaslight the American people.

The latest Trump shill is Peter Navarro, explaining that coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab and that “hundreds of thousands of infected people” were then sent to America and Italy and other places to spread the infection. It’s bad enough that another great tragedy is coming, but that the man who is supposed to be protecting the American people from harm is instead placing them in harm’s way with cowardly, virulent lies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ahead of July 4th, Trump exploits racial, social divisions, David Nakamura, Ashley Parker, Colby Itkowitz and Maria Sacchetti, July 4, 2020 (print ed.). (Excerpt continued from above.)

At the foot of Mount Rushmore’s granite monument to his presidential forebears, President Trump on Friday delivered a dark speech ahead of Independence Day in which he sought to exploit the nation’s racial and social divisions and rally supporters around a law-and-order message that has become a cornerstone of his reelection campaign.

Trump focused most of his address before a crowd of several thousand in South Dakota on what he described as a grave threat to the nation from liberals and angry mobs — a “left-wing cultural revolution” that aims to rewrite U.S. history and erase its heritage amid the racial justice protests that have roiled cities for weeks.

djt rushmore anna moneymaker nytPraising presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, the men carved into the cliffs behind him, Trump declared that their legacies are under assault from protesters who have defaced and torn down statues. As he has done with increasing fervor in recent weeks, the 45th president denounced not just rioters and vandals but also much of the social movement that propelled the mass demonstrations in response to the killings of black men at the hands of police.

The president, who recently signed an executive order aimed at punishing those who destroy monuments on federal property, referred to “violent mayhem” in the streets, even though many of the mass demonstrations have been largely peaceful.

He warned that “angry mobs” were unleashing “a wave of violent crime” and using “cancel culture” as a weapon to intimidate and dominate political opponents — in what he compared to “totalitarianism.”

And Trump asserted that “children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe the men and women who built it were not heroes but villains.”

His address was capped by a fireworks display above the federal monument in what White House officials have touted as a weekend of celebrations around Independence Day that will continue with the president presiding over another fireworks event in Washington on Saturday.

Though the Mount Rushmore trip was billed as an official White House event, the president made an overt appeal to his partisan supporters in attacking liberals. His appeal came as he has faced tumbling public approval over his handling of the mass protests and the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump got his crowd and his fireworks, and peddled his fiction, Robin Givhan, July 4, 2020 (print ed.). The president reveled in the dramatic majesty of Mount Rushmore — and ignored the complicated American story.

The setting for President Trump’s early Fourth of July celebration was magnificent, as the Black Hills of South Dakota tend to be. The scene was also full of painful history, willful ignorance and deliberate fearmongering.

Friday night, in an amphitheater in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, a military band played smooth jazz on snare drums and trumpets as the country sank under the rising number of covid-19 infections. Thousands of unmasked guests, awaiting the arrival of the president, sat shoulder to shoulder in black folding chairs tethered together in a kind of coronavirus chain of denial.

The VIPs would, of course, be seated separately onstage — not six feet apart, but not amid the storm of exhalations, coughs, vociferous cheers and sneezes.

And just to add to the upside-down, inside-out madness of the mass gathering, Ivanka Trump, presidential adviser and daughter, tweeted a reminder to be safe over the holiday weekend by social distancing and wearing a mask. Her nearest and dearest did not listen to plea.

 

June

June 27

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TheHill.com, Mueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case, Tal Axelrod, June 27, 2020. George Nader, a central witness in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and a former informal foreign policy adviser to the White House, was sentenced to 10 years in prison over his conviction on child sex charges.

Judge Leonie Brinkema handed down the decade-long sentence Friday after Nader pleaded guilty in January to two charges relating to sexual exploitation of children.

Nader, former high-profile adviser to top U.S. and Middle Eastern officials, had admitted to possessing child pornography that showed sexual abuse of minors and bringing an underage boy to the U.S. for sex. The crimes were committed prior to the 2016 race, during which he worked with President Trump’s transition team and was seen at high-level meetings.

The Justice Department had agreed as part of its plea deal with Nader to only seek the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

jared kushner head shotNader was known to have interacted with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, left, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and played a role in arranging Trump’s maiden foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

The meetings with Trump’s campaign caught the eye of Mueller’s team, who stopped him for questioning in 2018 and discovered several explicitly sexual videos of minors on his phone. He was ultimately arrested in 2019.

Nader has long faced accusations of pedophilia. Charges were first dropped against him in 1984, but he later pleaded guilty in 1991 to transporting child pornography, according to CNN. He was later convicted in 2003 in the Czech Republic for sex with several underage boys.

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Washington Post, Opinion: The recklessness of Tucker Carlson, Karen McDougal, Erik Wemple, June 26, 2020. On his highly rated prime-time program, Fox News host Tucker Carlson commonly faults others for not properly loving America — for not sufficiently adoring its freedoms, opportunities and promise. He even goes as far as to say that Democrats “hate” the place.

Among the reasons Carlson should indeed appreciate this country: His brand of tendentious broadcasting enjoys generous protection under the First Amendment. A case now making its way through federal courts, though, may test that proposition.

fox news logo Smalltucker carlson djtIn a complaint filed in December, former Playboy model Karen McDougal (shown above with Trump) sued Fox News over a “Tucker Carlson Tonight” segment in which the host accused her of “extortion” in her dealings with Donald Trump.

“Two women approach Donald Trump and threaten to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money,” argued Carlson in a December 2018 segment. “Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

One of the reasons that the sequence outlined by Carlson doesn’t make any sense is that it’s false. Those “two women” are Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a. Stormy Daniels) and McDougal, both of whom received hush money for keeping quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.

In McDougal’s case, she didn’t “approach Donald Trump”; through an attorney, she approached American Media Inc., whose holdings included the National Enquirer; AMI paid karen mcdougal playboy McDougal $150,000 for the rights to the story as well as columns on fitness. Then the company essentially buried the story. Trump and his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, were coordinating the whole “catch and kill” operation with AMI executive David Pecker.

In her lawsuit, McDougal (shown iat right on a Playboy cover) alleged that Carlson’s representations were “intentionally false and made with reckless disregard for the truth.” Those words are deliberate: Under First Amendment law, there’s a high bar for defaming a public figure such as McDougal. The “actual malice” standard requires proof that the offending, false statement was made knowingly or with “reckless disregard" for the truth.

Lawyers for Fox News argue that the suit fails on at least two levels. For one, they point to the heavy requirements to prove “reckless disregard” under First Amendment law. That very issue lies at the center of a defamation case filed by former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin against the New York Times in 2017, over an editorial alleging that her political action committee had somehow incited the murderous rampage of Jared Lee Loughner in 2011. It wasn’t true. To prove, however, that the editorial page acted with reckless disregard, Palin would have to show "more than a departure from reasonably prudent conduct,” according to an opinion from Justice John Paul Stevens in the 1989 Supreme Court case Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton. "There must be sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication.”

Serious doubts? Tucker Carlson doesn’t do serious doubts.

In last week’s oral argument, federal Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil (a longtime Federalist Society member nominated by Trump) pushed attorney Eric Bernstein, representing McDougal, to cite facts proving that Carlson had acted with actual malice. “I believe that the facts supporting that he was reckless is that he — first of all, Fox has reported on this story before and no one has ever said any of the things that he was saying that night, which is that my client approached and threatened [Trump],” said Bernstein, who later said Carlson had concocted the tale out of “thin air.”

Yet the judge continued to press: “Don’t you need to allege facts to support it? It’s not enough to just recite the standard under the case law,” said Vyskocil.

June 25

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Daily Beast, Judge Tosses Trump Family Attempt to Block Mary Trump’s Tell-All, Lachlan Cartwright and Asawin Suebsaeng, June 25, 2020. A Queens County Surrogate Court Judge cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s attempt to block niece Mary’s tell-all. A New York judge has tossed an application by President Donald Trump’s brother to try and halt the publication of his niece’s book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s filing that rendered it “fatally defective”—including that it was based on the official disposition of patriarch Fred Trump Sr.’s estate, which wrapped up in 2001 and is thus for legal purposes “nonexistent.” That settlement included a confidentiality clause that niece donald trump twitterMary Trump signed, and which the elder Trumps have argued prevents her from publishing the sort of titillating family secrets her memoir is set to contain.

But Kelly asserted that his court could not provide the declaratory judgment blocking the book that Robert sought, and recommended the Trump brother try his luck in the New York State Supreme Court, which oversees civil and criminal matters. The Surrogate Court strictly handles the wills and assets of the deceased.

Daily Beast, Trump Brother Was in ICU Just Before Suing Over Tell-All, Lachlan Cartwright and Asawin Suebsaeng, June 25, 2020. Robert Trump, Donald’s younger brother, spent at least 10 days in a neuro intensive care unit just before launching legal action to stop the publication of his niece’s book.

Robert, 72, had been at Mount Sinai hospital’s neurosciences intensive care unit (NSICU) in New York since at least June 11th, being treated for a serious condition. He was discharged on Sunday and, despite his stay in the hospital, he wasted no time in filing and signing complicated legal documents aided by his celebrity attorney Charles Harder and releasing a statement.

On its website Mount Sinai boasts that its 16-bed NSICU specializes in “state of the art, compassionate care of patients who suffer from subarachnoid hemorrhage, acute ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, subdural hematomas, coma, tumors of the brain and spine, severe or prolonged seizures, neuro-infections, [and] spinal cord injury among others.”

Robert did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday and his attorney, Harder, declined to comment.

Mary Trump’s high-powered legal team, which includes the renowned First Amendment attorney Theodore Boutrous of the law firm Gibson Dunn, are expected to file their response in the coming days.

June 24

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

 Trump Watch

World News

 Police Brutality, Race Protests

More On U.S. 2020 Politics

Media News

U.S. Jobs, Economy

 

Top Stories

June 24

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washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court orders judge to dismiss criminal case against Flynn, Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2020. The decision blocks U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan from holding a hearing to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser.michael flynn arms folded

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cannot scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and must dismiss the case, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision, the court (portrayed above in a building shared with the district court) said it is not within the judge’s power to prolong the prosecution or examine the government’s motives for its reversal in the politically charged case. Flynn, below left, twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador before the Justice Department moved in May to dismiss the charges.

“This is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao, a recent nominee of the president, who was joined by Judge Karen LeCraft emmet sullivan 2012Henderson (also a Republican nominee).

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means Sullivan cannot hold a hearing set for July 16 to formally hear the government’s john gleeson Customrequest to dismiss Flynn’s case.

Sullivan, also a Repubican nominee and shown at left, refused to immediately sign off on the Justice Department’s plans, and instead appointed a former federal judge to argue against the government’s position and help him decide how to proceed.

John Gleeson, right, the former New York judge and mob prosecutor, characterized the government’s move as a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” and “highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: N.Y. N.J. and Conn. order quarantine for travelers from Florida, other states hit hard by coronavirus, Teo Armus, Katie Shepherd, Jennifer Hassan, Rick Noack, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Knowles, Miriam Berger, Hamza Shaban and Kim Bellware, June 24, 2020. The governors of the tri-state area jointly announced the travel advisory, which requires a 14-day quarantine for visitors from states whose infection rates meet certain thresholds indicating “significant community spread,” according to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D). Nine states currently meeting that threshold, Cuomo said: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

New coronavirus cases continued to rise in many parts of the United States, as seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — reported record-high numbers of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Thirty-three states and U.S. territories reported a higher rolling average than last week.

Even as case numbers climb, reports circulated that the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas, prompting a top federal official to respond that testing was on the rise.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has recorded more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 119,000 deaths, while the global number of cases has soared past 9 million.

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Longtime Trump friend and Republican operative Roger Stone, seeking to avoid prison after conviction on seven felonies, is shown above left.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Officials Outline Claims of Politicization Under Barr, Nicholas Fandos, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, June 24, 2020. Two career officials accused the attorney general and other political appointees of interfering in law enforcement to advance his interests and the president’s. Political appointees intervened in law enforcement to advance the interests of President Trump and Attorney General William Barr, the officials testified.

aaron zelinkskyTwo Justice Department officials recounted to Congress in stinging detail on Wednesday how political appointees had intervened in criminal and antitrust cases to advance the personal interests of President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr.

Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, right, a prosecutor who worked on the Russia investigation, told the House Judiciary Committee that senior law enforcement officials had john eliasstepped in to overrule career prosecutors and seek a more lenient prison sentence for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. “because of politics.”

“In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people based on politics, and we don’t cut them a break based on politics,” said Mr. Zelinsky, who testified by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. “But that wasn’t what happened here. Roger Stone was treated differently because of politics.”

John W. Elias, a senior career official in the antitrust division, charged (in testimony here) that his supervisors improperly used their powers to investigate the marijuana industry and a deal between California and four major automakers at the behest of Mr. Barr. He likened their efforts to burdensome harassment meant to punish companies for decisions the attorney general and the president opposed.

ny times logojoe biden 2020 button CustomNew York Times, Biden Takes Dominant Lead as Voters Reject Trump on Virus and Race, Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Matt Steven, June 24, 2020. Joe Biden is ahead of President Trump by 14 points, with a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters, a New York Times/Siena College poll found. Some traditionally Republican-leaning groups have shifted away from Mr. Trump, who now appears to be the underdog in his fight for a second term.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Democrats block GOP policing bill, stalling efforts to change practices, Seung Min Kim, June 24, 2020. Democrats said the bill fell far short of addressing racism in policing and responding to the national outcry for change.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a Republican-drafted bill aimed at overhauling the nation’s policing practices amid a national outcry for a systematic transformation of law enforcement — spelling a potential death knell to efforts at revisions at the federal level in an election year.

On a 55-to-45 vote, the legislation written primarily by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) failed to advance in the Senate, where it needed 60 votes to proceed. Most Democratic senators said the bill fell far short of what was needed to meaningfully change policing tactics and was beyond the point of salvageable.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Pushes Anew to Divide Americans by Race, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is leaning hard into his decades-long habit of falsely portraying some black Americans as dangerous or lawless. And he is doing it during one of the most tumultuous periods in decades.

President Trump, trying to appeal to his predominantly white base, has repeatedly pushed inflammatory language, material and policies.

President Trump has repeatedly pushed inflammatory language, material and policies in recent days that seek to divide Americans by race as he tries to appeal to his predominantly white base of voters four months before Election Day rather than try to broaden his support.

Trailing in national polls and surveys of crucial battleground states, and stricken by a disappointing return to the campaign trail, Mr. Trump has leaned hard into his decades-long habit of falsely portraying some black Americans as dangerous or lawless. And he has chosen to do so at one of the most tumultuous periods in decades as Americans protest recent episodes of police brutality against black people that have highlighted the nation’s long history of racial injustice.

ny times logoNew York Times, E.U. May Exclude U.S. as It Reopens Borders, Citing Failures on Virus, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers seen by The New York Times.

european union logo rectangleThat prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam.

Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world have been excluded from visiting the European Union — with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or “essential travel” —- since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1.

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Prosecutor testifies on alleged politicization inside Barr’s Justice Department, Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian, Matt Zapotosky and Colby Itkowitz, June 24, 2020. The House Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony Wednesday from a federal prosecutor and another witness who have accused Attorney General William P. Barr and his top deputies of acting “based on political considerations” and a desire to appease President Trump.

Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland formerly detailed to the Russia investigation by special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, told the panel that prosecutors involved in the criminal trial of Trump’s friend Roger Stone experienced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence.

Zelinsky was joined by John Elias, an official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, who said that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers simply because of his “personal dislike” of the nature of their underlying business.

Also appearing are former U.S. attorney general Michael B. Mukasey and former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer, who has publicly called on Barr to step down.

In his testimony, Ayer said Barr “poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law,” while Mukasey dismissed allegations that the Justice Department has become politicized under Barr.

Meanwhile, Barr has accepted an invitation from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to appear for a “general oversight hearing” on July 28, Barr’s spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said in a tweet Wednesday. According to a Judiciary Committee spokesman, the Justice Department contacted the panel on Tuesday regarding a date for Barr’s testimony to avoid a subpoena for the attorney general.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate confirms 200th judicial nominee from Trump, a legacy that will last well beyond November, John Wagner, June 24, 2020. A divided Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump’s 200th judicial nominee, a milestone that reflects the breakneck speed at which he and fellow Republicans have moved to create a legacy that will endure regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections.

On a largely party-line vote of 52 to 48, the Republican-led chamber approved the nomination of Cory Wilson of Mississippi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, elevating yet another conservative judge to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

With Wilson’s confirmation, Republicans also reached a benchmark vigorously pursued by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): For the first time in more than four decades, there are no longer any vacancies on the nation’s appellate courts, the judicial level where most of the major rulings are handed down.

Yahoo News, House hearing on William Barr quickly descends into chaos, Dylan Stableford, June 24, 2020. A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly descended into chaos Wednesday moments after the first witness, former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, called current Attorney General William Barr “the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law.”

william barr new oWhen Ayer exceeded the five minutes allotted for his opening statement, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, began loudly tapping his desk as Ayer was attempting to conclude his remarks.

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for “regular order” to allow Ayer to finish his statement.

“We’re way beyond regular order,” Gohmert snapped.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., urged Nadler to call for the sergeant at arms to “stop the disruption of this meeting.”

“I can’t hear this witness,” Johnson said. “This is a very important witness.”

“Well, he’s way beyond his time,” Gohmert said. “And if there’s no rules about when you can talk, there’s no rules about when you can noise.”

The Republican congressman resumed tapping his desk as Democrats asked Nadler to have Gohmert removed from the panel.

Nadler did not, and Ayer concluded his remarks over the sound of Gohmert’s tapping.

Tuesday’s hearing was convened to examine Barr’s actions as attorney general, including his handling of the Mueller report as well as his role in forcing out Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who had been conducting separate investigations that could yield unfavorable results for the President Trump.

June 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, without evidence, accuses Obama of ‘treason,’ Felicia Sonmez, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, the president did not offer any evidence or details to back up his accusation against his predecessor. The president has frequently accused others of “treason,” but Monday marked the first time that he has leveled that claim against the man who preceded him in the Oval Office.

“On Obama and the spying situation, this idea that they were spying on your campaign — you’ve been asked before about what crime would have been potentially been committed,” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody said.

“Treason,” Trump responded. He added: “It’s treason. Look, when I came out a long time ago, I said they’ve been spying on our campaign. ... It turns out I was right. Let’s see what happens to them now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fixated on defending his physical and mental health, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). After months attacking Democratic opponent Joe Biden’s acuity and strength, the president finds himself being mocked by critics for incidents including “the ramp and the water” at West Point.

June 21

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Photo via Twitter of President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, showing empty blue seats in upper decks. Tulsa's fire marshall announced attendance at 6,200 for the 19,000 seat area, far below Trump estimates of up to a million attendees and also substantially below estimates of many cable pundits Saturday night who estimated the area was two-thirds or half-filled.

ny times logoNew York Times, TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally, Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning and Sheera Frenkel, June 21, 2020. Did a successful prank inflate attendance expectations for the president’s rally? 

TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After the Trump campaign’s official account @TeamTrump posted a tweet asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones on June 11, K-pop fan accounts began sharing the information with followers, encouraging them to register for the rally — and then not show.

The trend quickly spread on TikTok, where videos with millions of views instructed viewers to do the same, as CNN reported on Tuesday. “Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally, and I can’t go,” one woman joked, along with a fake cough, in a TikTok posted on June 15.

Thousands of other users posted similar tweets and videos to TikTok that racked up millions of views. Representatives for TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It spread mostly through Alt TikTok — we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism,” said the YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, who participated in the social media campaign. “K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”

Many users deleted their posts after 24 to 48 hours in order to conceal their plan and keep it from spreading into the mainstream internet. “The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn’t want the Trump campaign to catch wind,” Mr. Daniel said. “These kids are smart and they thought of everything.”

Twitter users on Saturday night were quick to declare the social media campaign’s victory. “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted in response to Mr. Parscale, who had tweeted that “radical protestors” had “interfered” with attendance.

June 20

Top Headlines

Courts, Crime, Injustice

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration in standoff with Manhattan U.S. attorney, Devlin Barrett, June 20, 2020. geoffrey berman sdnyThe Trump administration announced late Friday that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, who has overseen a number of investigations involving the president and his political campaign, will be leaving that job, though Berman fired back that he had not resigned and intends to stay in the job to ensure the cases continue unimpeded.

The surreal Friday night standoff marks the latest battle over the Trump administration’s management of the Justice Department. Democrats have decried what they charge has been the politicization of the department under President Trump and his attorney general, William P. Barr.

william barr at dojBarr, left, announced the personnel change in a statement, saying the president plans to nominate the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, for the job.

Berman’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in a campaign finance case that has already led to charges against two of Giuliani’s associates.

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Rallies Are Back, as Is His ‘What Do You Have to Lose?’ Candidacy, Matt Flegenheimer, June 20, 2020. President Trump will speak to a crowd tonight. To summarize his worldview, some ex-associates say, look to the waiver: “guests voluntarily assume all risks.”

Supporting President Trump — or even taking him at his word — has always been an exercise in risk tolerance.

djt maga hat“What do you have to lose?” he asked black voters in 2016, suggesting their lives were so bleak that he was worth the gamble.

“What do you have to lose?” he asked coronavirus patients this spring, suggesting their options were so few that an unproven treatment, hydroxychloroquine, probably couldn’t hurt.

And now, as the nation grapples with the dual menaces of racism and a relentless virus, the once-rhetorical questions of Trump-branded risk management have given way to fine-print legal disclaimers about what might happen if people listen to him.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomOn Saturday, Mr. Trump is scheduled to rally at a packed indoor arena in Tulsa, Okla. Many health authorities say it is a terrible idea. And what attendees have to lose, the campaign claims, is any right to hold the host responsible.

“By clicking register below,” reads a message on the Trump 2020 website, directed at those planning to be there, “you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

As an encapsulation of the Trumpian worldview, some former associates say, there is perhaps no beating “guests voluntarily assume all risks.”

But then, an air of danger has been embedded in Mr. Trump’s appeal from the start, the risk its own kind of reward for many supporters in his first whirring slot machine of a presidential campaign.brad parscale fox

daily beast logoDaily Beast, The Tulsa Rally is the First Big Beta Test of the Trump 2020 App, Which Knows Where You Are and Who You Know, Anne Nelson, Published June 20, 2020. When the virus forced Trump to suspend his rallies, he lost access to the “juggernaut” that’s supposed to keep Trumpists hooked, and help the campaign find more of them.

This month Trump decided to resume his mass rallies starting in Tulsa, less than a mile from the site of the infamous 1919 race massacre there—and originally scheduled it for Juneteenth. The venue is an enclosed arena, although the spike in COVID cases there raised questions about his motivations. We know he misses the energy of his crowds, and that Oklahoma is one of the reddest states in the union. But there’s another strategic reason for propelling the rallies forward.

Trump needs them to propel the “juggernaut” 2020 Trump mobile app that campaign manager Brad Parscale, shown above, has boasted about, that uses a service called geofencing to send messages to smartphone users in a given location, then track their locations and access their address books.

The plan is to harness the enthusiasm of the rally to get thousands of attendees to download the app, which requires them to enter their phone numbers and zip codes, and urges them to provide their email and home addresses as well.

Parscale explained to CNN that once this information is provided, the campaign can combine it with the voter file from the Republican National Committee. This enhances the campaign’s ability to microtarget voters—that is, engage them on multiple communications platforms with tailored messages based on their specific concerns.

Courts, Crime, Injustice

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center is portrayed with businessmen Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, who were arrested last year while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Tries to Fire U.S. Attorney in Trump-Related Cases, but He Won’t Go, Benjamin Weiser, William K. Rashbaum, Nicole Hong, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). The United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, had been leading the inquiry into Rudolph Giuliani. The clash sets up a crisis in the Justice Department.

Mr. Trump’s purge of officials has intensified in the months since the Republican-led Senate acquitted him in the impeachment trial. He has fired or forced out inspectors general with independent oversight over executive branch agencies and other key figures from the trial.

 Justice Department log circularSeveral dismissals have come late on Friday nights, a time that many White Houses have used to disclose news that they would prefer receive little attention.

Mr. Berman’s office has taken an aggressive approach in a number of cases that have vexed the Trump administration, from the prosecution and guilty plea obtained from Mr. Cohen to a broader investigation, growing out of that inquiry, which focused on Mr. Trump’s private company and others close to him.

Over the last year, Mr. Berman’s office brought indictments against two close associates of the president’s current lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and began an investigation into Mr. Giuliani himself, focusing on whether his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities.

Read New York Times profile of Geoffrey Berman from 2017: "A Canny Mind With Humor." 

Mr. Berman’s office also conducted an investigation into Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, subpoenaing financial and other records as part of a broad inquiry into possible illegal contributions from foreigners.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan is perhaps the most famous federal prosecutor’s post in the country. The office, through Democratic and Republican administrations, has long prized a tradition of independence from the Justice Department and Washington. It has even been nicknamed the “Sovereign District of New York.”

Mr. Berman worked there in the 1990s as a prosecutor, but he took over the office under unusual circumstances.

A Republican who contributed to the president’s campaign and worked at the same law firm as Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Berman was never formally nominated for the position by Mr. Trump or confirmed by the Senate, as is normal protocol for United States attorneys.

Mr. Barr also announced that on his recommendation, Mr. Trump had appointed Craig Carpenito, the current U.S. attorney for New Jersey, to serve as acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan while the Senate considers Mr. Clayton’s nomination. Mr. Barr said Mr. Carpenito’s appointment would be effective July 3.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump just ousted U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman from the SDNY, Bill Palmer, June 19, 2020. When you count up all the people who have been fired, the people who have resigned amid scandal, and the people who have resigned in protest, the Donald Trump administration has been hemorrhaging even more key personnel than usual lately. Tonight a key player is resigning: Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY. So what’s this about?

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, let’s be clear: this doesn’t look like a legitimate resignation. It came too abruptly. The Trump regime has already picked out a replacement too quickly. And because Berman’s tenure likely would have ended in January anyway, there has to be a specific reason he’s not simply finishing his term.

There are only two reasons for Trump to oust Berman from the SDNY and replace him with someone more friendly to Trump. The first is that Trump wants to have the SDNY bring a phony criminal case against one of his adversaries. The second is that Trump is trying to stop an existing criminal case against one of his friends from proceeding.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the SDNY, which has federal jurisdiction in Manhattan, was responsible for the arrests of Lev and Igor, and is expected to arrest Rudy Giuliani eventually. In addition, if the Feds were to bring criminal charges against the Trump Organization, or members of Donald Trump’s family, it would likely happen through the SDNY. John Bolton’s new book also reveals that Trump meddled in an SDNY case against a Turkish firm as a political favor. In any case, something corrupt is likely playing out here.

Because confusion always arises whenever the SDNY is mentioned, it’s worth keeping mind that the SDNY is part of the federal government, and has nothing at all to do with any state-level charges that would come from the State of New York.

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller’s team wondered whether Trump lied to them, newly disclosed parts of report show, Devlin Barrett, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). Robert S. Mueller III’s staff noted how President Trump’s answer on a key point differed from the testimony of his former campaign aides.

June 19

Top Headlines

Racial Injustice Protests

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

Bolton Book Reactions

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Top Stories

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ny times logoNew York Times, White House analysis: Seizing the Presidency to Suit His Own Needs, Peter Baker, right, June 19, 2020 (updated). In a new book, John R. Bolton portrays Donald Trump peter baker twitteras a president who sees his office as an instrument to advance his own personal and political interests over those of the nation.

One day in the summer of 2018, John R. Bolton commiserated with John F. Kelly over the burdens of working for President Trump. Mr. Kelly, then the White House chief of staff, had just had another argument with the president in trying to stop him from using the power of his office to punish a political foe. It did not go well.

“Has there ever been a presidency like this?” Mr. Kelly asked plaintively.

john bolton room where cover Custom“I assured him there had not,” Mr. Bolton recalls in his new book.

That is self-evidently true and yet it bears repeating every once in a while. After more than three years of the Trump presidency, it has become easy to forget at times just how out of the ordinary it really is. The normalization of Mr. Trump’s norm-busting, line-crossing, envelope-pushing administration has meant that what was once shocking now seems like just another day.

Which is why Mr. Bolton’s damning book stands out even among the proliferation of volumes about this president. In 494 pages, the former national security adviser becomes the first person with daily access to Mr. Trump’s Oval Office to catalog the various ways that he has seized the presidency to suit his own needs, much to the consternation of not just liberal critics but a lifelong, left-bashing, conservative stalwart like Mr. Bolton.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton’s book reveals extent of Ivanka Trump scandal, Robert Harrington, June 19, 2020. Of the Bolton disclosures being reported in the press, an intriguing one is that Trump defended Mohammed bin Salman, right, the suspected mastermind behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a deliberate effort to distract attention away from his daughter Ivanka’s email scandal.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudIt turns out a contemporaneous story about Ivanka using her personal email account for government business before she was actually working for the government was circulating at the time. As you may recall, during the 2016 presidential campaign, it emerged that Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to conduct State Department business from home. This caused a great deal of counterfeit horror and screeching, histrionic pearl-clutching among Republican criminals at the bill palmer report logo headertime.

Many pretended to believe she should go to prison for it, which caused Trump’s drooling, low-information, low-IQ base to actually believe it. It’s little wonder that Trump, who was among the idiots calling for Hillary’s imprisonment for an offense so minor he would have laughed at it privately, was the biggest proponent of the movement to “lock her up” for it.

So when his daughter committed a similar (admittedly) minor offense, one that realistically should merit nothing stronger than a rebuke from the State Department, Trump naturally wanted to create a diversion.

Perhaps he was unaware that such hypocrisies don’t get noticed any longer, or that the real crime was the conflict of interest represented by the 18 trademarks Ivanka received from China while Donald Trump was conducting trade negotiations with that country. Appearance is what matters. But even Ivanka’s trademark conflict of interest came to nothing, because the Trumps get away with everything — in case you haven’t noticed.

Racial Injustice Protests

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washington post logoWashington Post, A top State Dept. official resigns over Trump’s response to racial tensions, Seung Min Kim, June 19, 2020. The resignation letter submitted by the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs served as an indictment of President Trump’s stewardship from one of the administration’s highest-ranking African Americans and an aide who was viewed as loyal and effective in her job.

A senior State Department official who has served in the Trump administration since its first day is resigning over President Trump’s recent handling of racial tensions across the country — saying that the president’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, right, mary elizabeth taylor o Customassistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, submitted her resignation Thursday. Taylor’s five-paragraph resignation letter, obtained by The Washington Post, serves as an indictment of Trump’s stewardship at a time of national unrest from one of the administration’s highest-ranking African Americans and an aide who was viewed as loyal and effective in serving his presidency.

“Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Taylor wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.”

Taylor, 30, was unanimously confirmed to her position in October 2018 and is the youngest assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in history and the first black woman to serve in that post.

She has been a pivotal behind-the-scenes figure in the administration. Tapped for her legislative expertise and strong relationship with senators because of her work for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Taylor served as the White House’s deputy director for nominations before joining the State Department.

In her White House role, she helped shepherd more than 400 presidential appointments through the Senate, including those of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Pompeo.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Tulsa and the Many Sins of Racism, Paul Krugman, right, June 19, 2020 (print ed.).The ugly story didn’t end with the abolition of slavery. When Trump campaign officials scheduled a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 19, they sent what looked like a signal of approval to white supremacists. For June 19 is Juneteenth, a day celebrated by African-Americans to mark the end of slavery. And Tulsa was the site of the 1921 race massacre, one of the deadliest incidents in the long, violent offensive to deny blacks the fruits of their hard-won freedom.

It’s now being claimed that the Trump campaign didn’t understand the date’s significance, but I don’t believe that for a minute.

But let’s talk about Tulsa and how it fits into the broader story of racism in America.

Joe Biden has declared that slavery is America’s “original sin.” He’s right, of course. It’s important, however, to understand that the sinning didn’t stop when slavery was abolished. If America had treated former slaves and their descendants as true citizens, with full protection under the law, we would have expected the legacy of slavery to gradually fade away.

Bolton Book Reactions

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Targets China Crackdown, Bolton Revelations Muddle the Message, Steven Lee Myers, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). A new law aimed at punishing Chinese officials involved in mass internments of Uighurs and other minorities came as John Bolton accused President Trump of supporting Beijing’s crackdown. China lashed out at the United States on Thursday after President Trump signed into law a bill that would allow him to impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of more than one million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

USTR seal Custom 2The rebuke came after China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, held an unusual meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii that underscored the depth of discord between the two countries. The Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China on a variety of fronts, especially its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s incarceration of members of minority groups in Xinjiang has become another increasingly contentious, if complicated, issue between the two countries. New accusations by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, have muddied the issue even further.

On Wednesday, the same day Mr. Trump signed the legislation, Mr. Bolton accused the president of once supporting Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, published in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump had questioned why the United States would impose sanctions on the Chinese officials involved.

In a private meeting with Mr. Xi at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan last year, Mr. Bolton wrote, the president even accepted the rationale of Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, for the creation of a vast system of camps and surveillance in Xinjiang.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Mr. Bolton wrote. 

John Bolton hands up CSIS

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Bolton Is the Model of a Trump Sellout, John Gans, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). He is a creature of the administration, not a critic of it. At a moment when everyone is looking for heroes, Mr. Bolton’s lonely, self-interested crusade against Mr. Trump says volumes about where Washington finds itself.

I spent the last few years researching and writing a book about the National Security Council, and I have had a lot of time to think about what makes John Bolton tick. Like many others, I wondered whether he’d testify in the impeachment hearing into Mr. Trump’s misconduct with Ukraine; whether his book would ever come out; why he was seen randomly walking around Doha, Qatar; and what each of his cryptic tweets (and retweets) meant.

Dr. John Gans, the director of communications and research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, is the author of “White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War.” John Bolton is shown in a file photo speaking at a Washington, DC. think tank.

June 18

Top Headlines

Bolton Book Reactions

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to Bolton book, Josh Dawsey, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The memoir by former national security adviser John Bolton portrays an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief.

President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping (shown above in a file photo) to help him win the 2020 U.S. election, telling Xi during a summit dinner last year that increased agricultural purchases by Beijing from American farmers would aid his electoral prospects, according to a damning new account of life inside the Trump administration by former john bolton room where cover Customnational security adviser John Bolton.

During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about China critics in the United States. But Bolton writes in a book scheduled to be released next week that “Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘unfit for office,’ lacks ‘competence,’ Bolton says in TV interview, John Wagner, June 18, 2020. Former national security adviser John Bolton says in a television interview that President Trump is “unfit for office” and lacks the “competence to carry out the job.”

Bolton made the comments to ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz (shown with Bolton above) as the former administration insider sought to promote a new book that Trump claimed in a tweet early Thursday is “made up of lies & fake stories.” Excerpts of the interview aired Thursday.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Can’t Immediately End DACA, Supreme Court Rules, Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, June 18, 2020. Blow to Trump, Who Vowed to End Program to Shield Young Immigrants. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects people brought to the United States as children by shielding them from deportation and letting them work. 

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration may not immediately proceed with its plan to end a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.

The court’s ruling was a blow to one of President Trump’s central campaign promises — that as president he would “immediately terminate” an executive order by former President ICE logoBarack Obama that Mr. Trump had called an illegal executive amnesty for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s four more liberal members in upholding the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” the chief justice wrote. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

washington post logoWashington Post, 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment insurance last week, Eli Rosenberg, June 18, 2020. The rate of joblessness of this recession remains one of the worst in decades. Another 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the economy.

us labor department logoThe numbers remained at historic levels: the previous record before the coronavirus was 695,000 in 1982. Since the coronavirus began earlier this year, there have been 13 straight weeks where more than a million people have filed for unemployment for the first time.

The numbers come as the country’s reopening is in nearly full swing in many states across the country. Yet the reopenings are complicated by continuing coronavirus outbreaks across the country; more than 20 states are currently seeing their number of cases rise, week by week.

The unemployment rate remains the highest its been since the Great Depression. The official rate for May was 13.3 percent, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that it would have been closer to 16.3 if not for an error its workers are making in the data collection process.Washington Post, Perspective: The debate over Confederate symbols isn’t about preserving or erasing history. It’s about our values, Theresa Vargas, June 18, 2020. Do we care more about statues standing than people falling?

ny times logoNew York Times, Live U.S. Updates: States Face Rising Cases as Trump Says Virus Is ‘Fading Away,’ Staff reports, June 18, 2020. Oklahoma, where President Trump is planning a djt 2020 hat Customrally on Saturday, reported a record number of new coronavirus cases. Lacking guidance from the federal government, Arizona and Texas reversed course over masks. Here’s the latest.

      • U.S. states struggle with a shifting pandemic as federal guidance falls silent.
      • Stocks on Wall Street fall as the weekly tally of U.S. jobless claims again exceeds a million.
      • Antibodies may last only two months, especially in people who didn’t show symptoms, a new study finds.
      • Beijing’s outbreak prompts a backlash against salmon.
      • Reversing course, Arizona and Texas allow some local governments to require masks.
      • ‘We can’t stay inside forever’: Here’s how New Yorkers are stretching the rules. 

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive investigation and commentary: Last laugh -- Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States, Wayne Madsen, left, June 18, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2020. Thanks to some well-placed sources in the Philadelphia German-American community, WMR has been successful in discovering important details concerning the pre-World War II and wartime activities of Fred Trump, Sr.

The biography of Donald Trump's father is almost non-existent in the years between the elder Trump's arrest at a Ku Klux Klan march on Memorial Day in 1927 and his landing contracts with the U.S. Navy to build barracks and other Navy housing at key U.S. and Canadian troop embarkation ports in Chester, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; the Brooklyn Army Base at 58th Street; Staten Island, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; and Newport News, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk, Virginia.

Bolton Book Reactions

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department seeks emergency order to block publication of Bolton’s book, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The Justice Department on Wednesday sought an emergency order from a judge to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming White House memoir, escalating a legal battle against the former Trump aide even after many of his book’s most explosive details had spilled out into public view.

john bolton room where cover CustomThe move came after the administration filed a civil suit against Bolton on Tuesday, targeting the proceeds of the book and asking a court to order him to delay its scheduled June 23 release. Less than 24 hours later, the Wall Street Journal released an excerpt of the memoir, and lengthy accounts were published by other news organizations.

Justice Department log circularWednesday’s move sought to formally enjoin Bolton from allowing his book to be published, a legal strategy experts said was unlikely to succeed, particularly given that the book has already been printed and shipped to warehouses and copies distributed to the media for review.

In a statement, Bolton’s publisher called the court filing “a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.’’

Still, the legal show of force could satisfy President Trump, who urged aides Wednesday to seek to block the publication of the book, despite warnings that the prospects of victory in such a suit would not be strong, according to people familiar with his remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Five Takeaways From John Bolton’s Memoir, Peter Baker, June 18, 2020. The Room Where It Happened describes Mr. Bolton’s 17 turbulent months at President Trump’s side through crises and foreign policy challenges.

Mr. Bolton, who did not testify during House proceedings and whose offer to testify in the Senate trial was blocked by Republicans, confirms many crucial elements of the Ukraine scheme that got Mr. Trump impeached in December. He also asserts that the president was willing to intervene in criminal investigations to curry favor with foreign dictators. And he says that Mr. Trump pleaded with China’s president to help him win re-election by buying American crops grown in key farm states.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) An offer of firsthand evidence on the Ukraine matter. The book offers firsthand evidence that Mr. Trump linked his suspension of $391 million in security aid for Ukraine to his demands that Ukraine publicly announce investigations into supposed wrongdoing by Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the heart of the impeachment case against the president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Lincoln Project just seized the moment and destroyed Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. On Wednesday, the widely-hated John Bolton revealed that Donald Trump privately begged the Chinese government to help him alter the outcome of the 2020 election. While no one wants to hear from Bolton right now, his new book is bill palmer report logo headernonetheless helping to confirm the evidence we’ve seen all along that China owns Trump from top to bottom.

Now the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group that keeps finding ways to get under Donald Trump’s skin, has seized the moment. Hours after the latest Trump-China bombshell surfaced, the group released this new ad (if the video below won’t load on your device, go here instead).

MeidasTouch, Political Video: “Quid Pro Trump,” Staff report and video (Principals: Ben Meiselas, Brett Meiselas and Jordan Meiselas), June 18, 2020. The new MeidasTouch video “Quid Pro Trump,” hashtag #QuidProTrump (and available for free via YouTube here, was inspired by news concerning former United States national security advisor John Bolton’s new book.

In the book, Bolton described how Donald Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election.

China FlagOn almost every issue from trade to national security, Trump has talked a big game when it comes to China but ultimately he has caved to the demands and will of China at each turn. We now learn from John Bolton, who has served at the highest levels of previous Republican administrations, that Trump was yet again seeking quid pro quos for himself at the expense of the country, this time from China.

While the video focuses on the recent breaking news relating to China, the hashtag #QuidProTrump is intended to emphasize that at all turns Trump has placed his own interests above the interests of this country. Trump does not negotiated or represent the United States. He represents Donald Trump and the failing enterprise know as Trump Inc. From Russia, to Ukraine, to China, Trump has turned our country into a pinata for foreign countries to whack around and take what it wishes so that Trump can seek out things for his own personal gain. Donald Trump is Quid Pro Trump! #QuidProTrump.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: We’re way beyond impeachment now, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen Donald Trump’s approval rating plunge, thus proving that at least some Trump supporters are indeed capable of giving up on him once they’ve finally had enough of his antics. This suggests that if John Bolton had testified during the impeachment process, it could have driven Trump’s approval rating down, and prompted Republican Senators to selfishly decide to oust Trump in the hope of keeping their own political prospects alive.

bill palmer report logo headerBut that was a lifetime ago. We’re now just four and a half months away from election day. Even if John Bolton’s belated revelations do end up driving Donald Trump’s approval rating all the way into the kind of gutter that might have prompted Senate Republicans to oust him last year, it’s all but impossible to imagine them ousting him at this late date. Even if impeachment were fast tracked, the Republicans would be ousting a sitting Republican President sometime after their own party’s convention.

john bolton china allegation graphic CustomSo this raises the question of what these Republicans in the Senate and House will do if Donald Trump’s numbers keep dropping, and putting the Republicans’ election prospects in danger. Will we see Mitch McConnell privately use the threat of ouster to try to pressure Trump into announcing that he’s not running again? Will a demoralized Trump be willing to give up on the presidency and take his chances with a jury? Will we see some Republicans in moderate states and districts try to opportunistically turn against Trump as part of their reelection efforts? Is there a chance that would work?

The concern for now is that a lot of these House and Senate Republicans are so married to Donald Trump, with so little time to try to figure out how to divorce themselves before the election, they’re just going to decide they’re stuck with him. And in that case, how far will they go to try to prop up Trump’s failing candidacy? In any case, at this point, impeachment isn’t the remedy for Trump’s crimes. Prison is. If Trump loses the election, there’s little doubt left that he’ll end up behind bars. That merely makes the stakes even higher.

June 16

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  ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Sues to Try to Delay Publication of Bolton’s Book, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner, June 16, 2020. The Trump administration sued theformer national security adviser John R. Bolton, above, on Tuesday to try to delay the publication of his highly anticipated memoir about his time in the White House, saying it contained classified information that would compromise national security if it became public.

The book, The Room Where It Happened, is set for release on June 23. Administration officials have repeatedly warned Mr. Bolton against publishing the book.

Mr. Bolton “had negotiated a book deal allegedly worth about $2 million and had drafted a 500-plus-page manuscript rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world,” the Justice Department said in a lawsuit against Mr. Bolton filed in federal court in Washington.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, has said that his client acted in good faith and that the Trump administration is abusing a standard review process to prevent Mr. Bolton from revealing information that is merely embarrassing to President Trump, but not a threat to national security.

On Monday, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Bolton of violating policies related to classified information by moving ahead with the book.

But the book has already been printed and bound and has shipped to warehouses, which could make it more difficult for the administration to stop Mr. Bolton’s account from becoming public.

Mr. Bolton submitted the manuscript to the administration for review in January. At the time, the impeachment inquiry was underway into whether Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine constituted an abuse of power.

Democrats asked Mr. Bolton to testify voluntarily in the House impeachment inquiry, but he declined, and they never sought a subpoena, fearing a protracted court fight. Mr. Bolton offered to testify in the impeachment trial in the Senate, where Republicans control the majority. They declined to call him.

June 14

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President Trump outside the parish rectory of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged during a night of unrest near the White House (Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times). “He did not pray,” said Mariann E. Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington. “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Lafayette Square clash, still reverberating, becomes an iconic episode in Trump’s presidency, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). With his triumphal stride to historical St. John’s Episcopal Church, made after federal authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters, he had hoped to dispel the narrative of him hiding in the secured White House bunker. The results have been politically calamitous.

President Trump, besieged by a long season of crisis, wanted to create an iconic moment.

Less than one hour after federal authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, the president emerged with military leaders from the fortified White House — the air still thick with the acrid smell of tear gas — to pose for pictures holding a Bible in front of a historical church.

The moment was indeed iconic. But it spawned yet another crisis for the president.

The succession of images from Lafayette Square on June 1 has reverberated for nearly two weeks — a harrowing cable news split-screen that now has enduring consequences for Trump and outsize symbolism for a nation broken after yet another black man died in the custody of police.

washington post logoWashington Post, Scant evidence of antifa shows how sweeping the protests for racial justice have become, Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). The group of anti-fascist protesters the Trump administration has labeled a menace has mostly been nonexistent, experts and law enforcement officials say, amid largely peaceful protests.

In the two weeks that saw an uprising against racial injustice and police brutality spread from the streets of Minneapolis to cities across America, the specter of violent, left-wing militants invoked by President Trump and a chorus of conservative voices has yet to materialize.

Instead, multiracial crowds have appeared in every corner of the United States, as the president sent more than a dozen tweets blaming clashes with police on antifa, the label associated with anti-fascist protesters who infamously sparred with far-right figures after his election in 2016. He went so far as to say he would designate antifa as a “terrorist organization,” though he does not have the legal authority to apply that label to a domestic group.

The nation’s top law enforcement officials joined the president’s attacks. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray directed blame for violence tinging the protests over the killing of George Floyd at “anarchists like antifa and other agitators.” Attorney General William P. Barr claimed, but did not offer, “evidence that antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.”

But the group the Trump administration has labeled a menace has mostly been nonexistent, experts and law enforcement officials say, and certainly has not been orchestrating what have been largely peaceful protests. Despite warnings of antifa incursions in scores of cities, there is no evidence linking outbursts of violence to an organized left-wing effort. And those associated with the autonomous groups that went up against far-right figureheads four years ago — and whose roots go back to earlier left-wing causes — say there is no such centralized organization.

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daily beast logoDaily Beast, Revealed: The Family Member Who Turned on Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, June 14, 2020. The president’s niece Mary Trump is set to publish a tell-all this summer—and to reveal that she was a primary source for The New York Times’ investigation into Trump’s taxes. Donald Trump’s niece, his deceased brother’s daughter, is set to publish a tell-all book this summer that will detail “harrowing and salacious” stories about the president, according to people with knowledge of the project.

Mary Trump, 55, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr. and Fred Trump Sr.’s eldest grandchild, is scheduled to release Too Much And Never Enough on August 11th, just weeks before the Republican National Convention.
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One of the most explosive revelations Mary will detail in the book, according to people familiar with the matter, is how she played a critical role helping The New York Times print startling revelations about Trump’s taxes, including how he was involved in “fraudulent” tax schemes and had received more than $400 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real-estate empire.

As she is set to outline in her book, Mary was a primary source for the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, supplying Fred Trump Sr.’s tax returns and other highly confidential family financial documentation to the paper.

Details of the book are being closely guarded by its publisher, Simon & Schuster, but The Daily Beast has learned that Mary plans to include conversations with Trump’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, that contain intimate and damning thoughts about her brother, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mary Trump has kept out of the public eye and has not spoken publicly in decades—but in 2000, amidst a bitter family court battle over Fred Trump Sr.’s will, she told the New York Daily News, "Given this family, it would be utterly naive to say it has nothing to do with money. But for both me and my brother, it has much more to do with that our father [Fred Jr.] be recognized," she said.

Fred Trump Jr., the firstborn son and once the heir apparent to his father’s real estate empire, worked for Trans World Airlines after turning his back on the family business.

He died in 1981 aged just 42 from a heart attack owing to complications from his alcoholism, leaving behind a son, Fred the 3rd, and daughter Mary, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine’s political wars get nastier — and could worsen as U.S. election nears, David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). Two presidents, in the United States and Ukraine, wanted to go after their rivals. Here’s what happened when their interests coincided.

ukraine flagUkraine’s politics has always been a bare-knuckle affair with smears, low blows and, at times, threats of criminal prosecution or even violence. But it’s getting even messier and more unpredictable.

President Volodymyr Zelensky (shown above with President Trump) faces declining ratings, a vast economic crisis, the continuing pandemic and stalling reform efforts after losing his control over the parliament. The last thing he needed is more pressure on Ukrainian politics as the U.S. election in November draws nearer.

Business Insider, Trump blames 'very slippery' ramp with 'no handrail' after videos showed him walking unsteadily after his West Point speech, Michelle Mark, June 14, 2020. President Donald Trump tweeted indignantly on Saturday in reaction to videos that showed him unsteadily walking down a ramp after giving a speech to the graduating class at West Point earlier that day.

The tweet, sent just before 11 p.m. EST on Saturday night, explained that the ramp had been slippery and that Trump didn't want to fall while descending.

"The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery," he tweeted. "The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!"

Videos posted online showed him walking slowly and carefully down the ramp. Other videos had showed him struggling to lift a glass of water to his mouth. 

The incidents provoked a strong reaction on social media, including mockery and speculation about his health. The hashtags #TRUMPstroke and #TrumpIsNotWell trended in the US on Saturday evening.

Earlier this month, the White House released the results of Trump's annual physical and said he "remains healthy."

Palmer Report, Opinion: What if Donald Trump’s collapsing health really does finish him off? Bill Palmer, June 14, 2020. Donald Trump’s arm doesn’t work right. He’s struggling to walk. He looks startlingly frail. He can barely give a speech off a teleprompter anymore. It’s raising all kinds of questions about whether he’s suffering from a stroke or a neurological disorder – and it almost has to be something along those general lines. There’s another question we’re going to have to consider: what if Trump’s collapsing health finishes him off before voters can?

bill palmer report logo headerI’m not saying Trump is going to croak before the election. Because he’s gone to such severe lengths to cover up his health, we don’t even know specifically what’s wrong with him, or what the prognosis is. All we know, from observing him during his public appearances, is that it’s severe and it’s getting worse.

Trump has never been a particularly functional president at any point. He’s always done the bare minimum. On some level he’s always faked being president. But if he keeps declining like this, there will come a point where he and his babysitters won’t be able to fake it anymore. Trump is already polling so badly, he’s on track to cost the Republicans the Senate. How much worse will his numbers get if he keeps coming off as senile and dying in public?

Mitch McConnell surely has a threshold at which he’ll decide to pressure Donald Trump into not seeking reelection. Mike Pence surely has a threshold at which he’ll decide to pull the plug with the 25th Amendment. We don’t have any way of knowing if either of those thresholds will be reached before election day. But if Trump keeps behaving like this in public, we just might find out.

Even as we continue to work hard to finish Donald Trump off in November, we now have to consider at least the remote possibility that Trump’s collapsing health will have taken him out of the 2020 race by then, and that we’ll be facing Pence or some other Republican in November. It’s too early to start game planning for that scenario just yet. But it’s something to keep in the backs of our minds if Trump keeps coming off a like senile dying man in public.

June 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump reschedules Juneteenth rally in Tulsa amid criticism, John Wagner​, June 13, 2020.The president said he responded to the wishes of “many of my African American friends and supporters” by changing the date of the event from Juneteenth, the observance of the end of slavery in the United States.

President Trump announced Friday that he is rescheduling his first campaign rally in months following criticism that it was set for set for Juneteenth, the observance of the end of slavery in the United States, in a city that experienced one of the country’s worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.

In a late-night tweet, Trump said he is pushing the “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa back a day, to June 20, in response to “many of my African American friends and supporters.”

“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal,” Trump wrote. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents.”

In a television interview recorded Thursday, Trump said the date had not been chosen deliberately but dismissed concerns about the timing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updatees: At West Point, Trump praises military for fighting coronavirus, protecting 'rule of law,' Derek Hawkins, Miriam Berger,Meryl Kornfield, Brittany Shammas and Karla Adam, June 13, 2020. President Trump on Saturday morning delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in a socially distanced ceremony, as health officials caution that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The warning comes as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the South and West have spiked, with several states, including Texas and North Carolina, reporting record numbers of new infections in recent days.

Daily MailOnline, 'It was a long and steep ramp!' Trump fires back after critics mocked his 'baby steps' and two-handed water sip at West Point graduation address, Keith Griffith, June 13, 2020.  President Donald Trump's has defended himself after he appeared to struggle lifting a glass of water and descending a staircase at his graduation speech at West Point.

During the speech on Saturday, Trump used two hands to sip from a glass of water, and then gingerly descended a ramp as he looked at his feet and took what appeared to be 'baby steps'.

'The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery,' Trump said in a tweet.

'The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!'

Trump did not address criticism that he drank his water 'sippy cup style' as he delivered the address at the nation's premiere military academy.

It is not the first time that Trump has used two hands to sip from a cup of water, an odd tic that has led some to question whether he has a medical issue.

'This is a persistent neurological sign that, combined with others, would be concerning enough to require a brain scan,' Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist, wrote on Twitter in response to the West Point footage.

'Recent videos make it clear that there is something medically wrong with Trump. The way he walks, how he holds a glass of water, his slurred words, his lapses in thought. What is the White House hiding?' tweeted Jon Cooper, a top fundraiser for Joe Biden.

Trump insists he is in perfect health and the White House recently released an annual physical that claimed he is in good shape for his age. He turns 74 on Sunday.

Trump's habit of sipping water with two hands has been noted since at least 2017, when he cradled a glass while delivering his national security strategy in front of military service members in Washington, D.C. In another 2017 speech, Trump gulped from a water bottle with two hands while touting a trade deal with Japan.

On Saturday, Trump urged West Point's graduating class Saturday to 'never forget' the legacy of soldiers before them who fought a bloody war to 'extinguish the evil of slavery.'

Trump's appeal to remember history came as his own relationship with the military is under strain from the unrelenting criticism he and Pentagon leaders have faced over their response to protests that erupted after George Floyd´s death in Minneapolis.

It also came hours after Trump made what amounted to a rare concession for him: He rescheduled a campaign rally planned for Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. The day marks the end of slavery in the U.S., and Tulsa was the scene of a fiery white-on-black attack in 1921.

'What has historically made America unique is the durability of its institutions against the passions and prejudices of the moment,' Trump told more than 1,100 graduates at an unusual outdoor ceremony held during a pandemic.

'When times are turbulent, when the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal.'

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s West Point speech today was a complete disaster, Daniel Cotter, June 13, 2020. Donald Trump insisted on having a live commencement at West Point, requiring cadets who graduated to return to the campus and quarantine in the process. The cadets are spread out on the field instead of in the bleachers.

This could have been done virtually. There is no point to having the cadets show up to hear this lifeless, lusterless speech by Trump. He is rattling on about all kinds of stuff, including his bill palmer report logo headertypical nonsense of how much money his administration has provided to the military, and other inane statements. When the cadets clap, you can barely hear them. It is a publicity stunt by an attention hungry president who shows no compassion or care for the health and welfare of his fellow Americans. Among the things they heard while sitting in a place, far removed from their families:

• Coronavirus, the invisible enemy, that came to our shores from a place far away, a country called China
• America is not the policemen of the world
• Football team beat Navy.

We don’t know what was the (west) point of this commencement address. Maybe a precursor to his rallies starting in a week. As the New York Times wrote about what this required: “Graduating cadets…at West Point have lived in Covid-19 quarantine for the past two weeks…ordered back to campus after the president abruptly announced…that he wanted to go through with his previously planned commencement address.”

Trump also told the cadets that we will only engage when we can win. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson observed on MSNBC that someone must have gotten to him and given him a ton of valium and demanded he stick to the teleprompter and that he adhered to the script. Trump also regaled the cadets with his own overstated record. Again, endangering 1,100 cadets for this lethargic speech for an unknown purpose makes no sense.

May

May 26

U.S. 2020 Elections / Politics

 

ny times logoNew York Times, What Biden and Trump Could Learn from Obama, McCain and 2008, Adam Nagourney, May 26, 2020. Barack Obama and John McCain were rocked by a national emergency during the 2008 campaign. There are lessons there for Joe Biden and President Trump.

With its staggering death toll, surging unemployment and economic devastation, the Covid-19 crisis confronting the nation today is far more cataclysmic than the 2008 meltdown.

But Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain faced a series of choices — on leadership, empathy and tone, on executing political strategy and navigating fast-moving events on Wall Street, Main Street and Washington — that are relevant and even illuminating as President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. try to navigate another campaign playing out against the backdrop of a national emergency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: In Praise of Fallible Leaders, Paul Krugman, May 26, 2020 (print ed.). We need a president who can admit it when he’s wrong.

Last week Joe Biden made an off-the-cuff joke that could be interpreted as taking African-American votes for granted. It wasn’t a big deal — Biden, who loyally served Barack Obama, has long had a strong affinity with black voters, and he has made a point of issuing policy proposals aimed at narrowing racial health and wealth gaps. Still, Biden apologized.

And in so doing he made a powerful case for choosing him over Donald Trump in November. You see, Biden, unlike Trump, is capable of admitting error.

Everybody makes mistakes, and nobody likes admitting having been wrong. But facing up to past mistakes is a crucial aspect of leadership.

Trump’s pathological inability to admit error — and yes, it really does rise to the level of pathology — has been obvious for years, and has had serious consequences. For example, it has made him an easy mark for foreign dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who know they can safely renege on whatever promises Trump thought they made. After all, for him to condemn Kim’s actions would mean admitting he was wrong to claim he had achieved a diplomatic breakthrough.

But it took a pandemic to show just how much damage a leader with an infallibility complex can inflict. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Trump’s inability to acknowledge error has killed thousands of Americans. And it looks likely to kill many more before this is over.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Beware of the new Trump-Rove alliance, Wayne Madsen, May 26, 2020. George W. Bush political dirty tricks and battleground state election rigging mastermind Karl Rove has been enlisted by the White House and the Trump re-election campaign to assist in a strategy to overcome presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's consistent lead in the polls.

Rove, who, in 2016, called Trump a "complete idiot" and "graceless and divisive," only to later meet with Trump at casino tycoon Steve Wynn's home in Manhattan, has been in regular contact with Trump presidential adviser Jared Kushner and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump sure doesn’t want this, Bill Palmer, May 26, 2020. Donald Trump spent the weekend playing golf while he was supposed to be managing a pandemic, complaining about the widespread criticism he’s receiving for playing golf, and complaining that he had to go a couple months without playing golf. Trump had so little interest in yesterday’s Memorial Day ceremonies, he showed up severely late, and made clear with his body language and tone of voice that he didn’t want to be there.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump doesn’t want any of this. He doesn’t want to be President anymore. He arguably never did. He certainly never wanted to put in the work required, which is why he’s only ever done the absolute bare minimum that he thought he could get away with. Sure, he likes the power, the control, the ability to bully people, the opportunity to embezzle government money. But Trump clearly does not want to be President.

So why doesn’t he just announce that his first term has been such a tremendous success, he doesn’t need a second term? The short answer is that he can’t. The minute he’s no longer President, he gets indicted and arrested. Even if he manages to weasel himself out of the federal charges, he’s definitely going down on the far more straightforward state charges – which he can’t even try to pardon himself on.

That said, at this point even Trump seems to understand that he’s likely to lose his reelection bid. So why not offer to resign, or not to seek reelection, as part of some kind of plea deal? It’s the only play he has left. Of course it may be too early for that. Trump still has to hold out hope that as the election grows closer, he’ll get lucky and find himself in contention. But if and when that doesn’t happen, is Trump really willing to bet his life on his slim reelection odds? Even if he wins, he sure doesn’t want to be doing this job anymore. It’s a prison sentence for him either way.

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New York Post, Trump threatens to move Republican National Convention out of North Carolina, Mark Moore, May 26, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump (shown above in a file photo) pressed the Democratic governor of North Carolina on Monday to “guarantee” that he will allow “full capacity” at this summer’s Republican National Convention, dangling the economic blow Charlotte would take if the event were held elsewhere.

rnc logo“I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” the president wrote on Twitter.

djt maga hatTrump said Republicans “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”

“This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!,” Trump continued.

He said the RNC would spend millions of dollars “building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space. Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August.”

Roy Cooper 2019Cooper’s office put out a statement saying state health officials “are working with the RNC and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte.” Roy Cooper is shown in a file photo.

“North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” it said.

North Carolina, which has more than 22,000 coronavirus cases, entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Friday, with Governor Roy Cooper describing it as a “modest” approach.

Cooper’s executive order replaced the stay-at-home orders with “safer-at-home” guidelines, The Charlotte News and Observer reported.

May 25

Top Stories

Washington Post, On weekend dedicated to war dead, Trump tweets insults, promotes baseless claims and plays golf, Anne Gearan, May 25, 2020 (print ed.). As the death toll in the coronavirus pandemic neared 100,000 Americans this Memorial Day weekend, President Trump derided and insulted perceived enemies and promoted a baseless conspiracy theory, in between rounds of golf.

donald trump twitterIn a flurry of tweets and retweets Saturday and Sunday, Trump mocked former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight, ridiculed the looks of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and called former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton a “skank.”

He revived long-debunked speculation that a television host with whom Trump has feuded may have killed a woman and asserted without evidence that mail-in voting routinely produces ballot stuffing.

He made little mention of the sacrifice Americans honor on Memorial Day or the grim toll of the virus.

In fact, Trump’s barrage of social media attacks stood in sharp contrast to a sober reality on a weekend for mourning military dead — the number of Americans whose lives have been claimed by the novel coronavirus has eclipsed the combined total of U.S. deaths from wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump plans to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday and visit Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where the 1814 battle that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” was fought. The city’s Democratic mayor had discouraged the visit, saying it sent conflicting messages about the importance of staying home and protecting other Americans.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Trump Tweets and Golfs, but Makes No Mention of Virus’s Toll, Peter Baker, right, May 25, 2020 (print ed.). Coronavirus deaths in the United States approached a staggering 100,000, a number the president once predicted would never be reached.

As President Trump’s motorcade pulled into his golf club in Virginia on an overcast Sunday, a small group of protesters waited outside the entrance. One held up a sign.

“I care do U?” it read. “100,000 dead.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers have said that he does, but he has made scant effort to demonstrate it this Memorial Day weekend. He finally ordered flags lowered to half-staff at the White House only after being badgered to do so by his critics and otherwise took no public notice as the American death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached a staggering 100,000.

While the country neared six digits of death, the president who repeatedly criticized his predecessor for golfing during a crisis spent the weekend on the links for the first time since March. When he was not zipping around on a cart, he was on social media embracing fringe conspiracy theories, amplifying messages from a racist and sexist Twitter account and lobbing playground insults at perceived enemies, including his own former attorney general.

Washington Post, Opinion: Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president? Paul Waldman, May 25, 2020. At various times over the past three and a half years, many of us have asked what would happen if President Trump truly went over the edge or if his behavior became so frightening that his unfitness for the most powerful position on Earth could no longer be denied.

But the human capacity for denial is apparently almost infinite. Let’s review what our president has been up to in the past few days:

With the death toll from covid-19 about to top 100,000, Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of tributes to the dead, sympathy for their families, or acknowledgement of our national mourning. By all accounts he is barely bothering to manage his administration’s response to the pandemic, preferring to focus on cheerleading for an economic recovery he says is on its way, even as he feeds conspiracy theories about the death toll being inflated. This weekend, he went golfing.

In a Twitter spasm on Saturday and Sunday, Trump retweeted mockery of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) looks, along with a tweet calling Hillary Clinton a “skank.”

Eager to start a new culture war flare-up, he urged churches to open and gather parishioners in a room to breathe the same air, threatening that he would “override” governors whose shutdown orders still forbade such gatherings. The president has no such power.

He all but accused talk show host Joe Scarborough of murdering a young woman who died in 2001 in the then-congressman’s district office, bringing untold torture to her family from the conspiracy theorists who will respond to his accusation.

He has repeatedly insisted that the upcoming election is being “rigged” because states run by both Republicans and Democrats are making it easier to vote by mail, seeking to delegitimize a vote that has yet to occur, despite the substantial evidence that mail voting advantages neither party.

The truth is that Trump is not much more despicable of a human being than he has always been; it’s just that standard Trumpian behavior becomes more horrifying when it occurs during an ongoing national crisis. It is reality that changed around him, and he was incapable of responding to it.

 

May 24

Top Headlines

New York Times, Trump Sows Doubt on Voting, Keeping Some People Up at Night, Reid J. Epstein, May 24, 2020.  A group of worst-case scenario planners — mostly Democrats, but also some anti-Trump Republicans — have been gaming out how to respond to various doomsday options for the 2020 presidential election.

  • In October, President Trump declares a state of emergency in major cities in battleground states, like Milwaukee and Detroit, Democratic-Republican Campaign logosbanning polling places from opening.
  • A week before the election, Attorney General William P. Barr announces a criminal investigation into the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
  • After Mr. Biden wins a narrow Electoral College victory, Mr. Trump refuses to accept the results, won’t leave the White House and declines to allow the Biden transition team customary access to agencies before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Far-fetched conspiracy theories? Not to a group of worst-case scenario planners — mostly Democrats, but some anti-Trump Republicans as well — who have been gaming out various doomsday options for the 2020 presidential election. Outraged by Mr. Trump and fearful that he might try to disrupt the campaign before, during and after Election Day, they are engaged in a process that began in the realm of science fiction but has nudged closer to reality as Mr. Trump and his administration abandon longstanding political norms.

The anxiety has intensified in recent weeks as the president continues to attack the integrity of mail voting and insinuate that the election system is rigged, while his Republican allies ramp up efforts to control who can vote and how. Just last week, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold funding from states that defy his wishes on expanding mail voting, while also amplifying unfounded claims of voter fraud in battleground states.

washington post logoWashington Post, One final viral infusion: Trump’s move to block travel from Europe triggered chaos and a surge of passengers from the outbreak’s center, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Aaron C. Davis, May 24, 2020 (print ed.). In the final days before the United States faced a full-blown epidemic, President Trump made a last-ditch attempt to prevent people infected with the coronavirus from reaching the country.

“To keep new cases from entering our shores,” Trump said in an Oval Office address on March 11, “we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.”

Across the Atlantic, Jack Siebert, an American college student spending a semester in Spain, was battling raging headaches, shortness of breath and fevers that touched 104 degrees. Concerned about his condition for travel but alarmed by the president’s announcement, his parents scrambled to book a flight home for their son — an impulse shared by thousands of Americans who rushed to get flights out of Europe.

european union logo rectangleSiebert arrived at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago three days later as the new U.S. restrictions — including mandatory medical screenings — went into effect. He encountered crowds of people packed in tight corridors, stood in lines in which he snaked past other travelers for nearly five hours and tried to direct any cough or sneeze into his sleeve.

When he finally reached the coronavirus checkpoint near baggage pickup, Siebert reported his prior symptoms and described his exposure in Spain. But the screeners waved him through with a cursory temperature check. He was given instructions to self-isolate that struck him as absurd given the conditions he had just encountered at the airport.

“I can guarantee you that people were infected” in that transatlantic gantlet, said Siebert, who tested positive for the virus two days later in Chicago. “It was people passing through a pinhole.”

The sequence was repeated at airports across the country that weekend. Harrowing scenes of interminable lines and unmasked faces crammed in confined spaces spread across social media.

The images showed how a policy intended to block the pathogen’s entry into the United States instead delivered one final viral infusion. As those exposed travelers fanned out into U.S. cities and suburbs, they became part of an influx from Europe that went unchecked for weeks and helped to seal the country’s coronavirus fate.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump has to worry about what Ann Coulter just did to him, Bill Palmer, May 24, 2020. As a general rule I refuse to write about what Ann Coulter says, because nearly every time she opens her mouth it’s in order to purposely and calculatedly say something stupid, for the purpose of drawing attention to herself and selling more of her books. I only make an exception when Coulter occasionally says something that gives away what’s happening on Donald Trump’s side of the fence – and today is one of those days.

bill palmer report logo headerCoulter has feuded with Trump on Twitter before, but usually only on specific issues, and in ways that they both know can ultimately be glossed over later. But Coulter is doing something different today. She’s posted about a dozen scathing anti-Trump tweets, pointing out his crimes in the Trump-Russia scandal, explaining how he screwed up the Alabama Senate election, and apologizing for having believed that Trump was going to be remotely competent.

Coulter is clearly hoping Trump will attack her in return, and he probably will. But while this is yet another attempt at publicity, it’s not some one-off feud. Coulter is trying to clearly establish herself as an anti-Trump conservative who thinks Trump is a complete idiot across the board. So why do this? She must have calculated that the bulk of her own far-right audience is turning against (or will end up turning against) Trump, and she’s looking to very loudly get out ahead of it.

It’s easy to think of Ann Coulter as a dope because she says so many stupid things. But she’s spent years playing this game (and winning, in terms of book sales) by saying the precise kinds of stupid things that are calculated to drive sales of her books. Four years ago she correctly bet that the smart money on the far right was to be made by loudly supporting Trump. Now she’s betting that going forward, the smart money on the right is to be made by loudly slamming Trump. She deserves absolutely no credit for any of this, of course. But here’s hoping she’s betting correctly, and that Trump is going down.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s projection is showing, Bill Palmer, May 24, 2020. For all his erratic and maniacal behavior, Donald Trump is consistently predictable in certain ways. For instance, he’s so deeply lost in a haze of projection that whenever he randomly accuses an adversary of something awful, it usually turns out Trump himself is guilty of that same exact thing.

That brings us to Donald Trump’s behavior over the past few days. For instance, Trump just said that he doesn’t think Joe Biden can bill palmer report logo headerremember what he said or did yesterday. If you follow Biden, you know that he gets roughly as tongue-tied these days as he did in his youth, but he’s still plenty sharp. Trump’s false assertion that Biden is so far gone he can’t remember what he was doing yesterday? That sounds like Trump admitting that he can’t remember what he was doing yesterday – and if you follow Trump’s behavior, it’s pretty clear that he’s in severe cognitive decline.

djt smiling fileIn another disturbing example, Trump tripled down last night on his insistence that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough once murdered an intern. This is absolutely not the case, and Trump is certainly not helping his cause by continuing to make this false accusation. But considering Trump’s sense of projection, it does make you wonder if Trump has gotten violent with his own female employees in the past, and that’s why he’s so obsessively trying to pin this same crime on Scarborough.

The point of projection is to try to steer blame and attention away from yourself by pinning your failings on others.

But Donald Trump keeps getting worse at this. At this point he’s being so blatant and oddly specific about it, he’s practically telegraphing what we should go digging for in his past, in his medical records, and so on. Trump can’t even do projection right anymore. His mind really does seem to be failing – as he seemed to acknowledge when when he essentially admitted that he can no longer remember what he’s doing from one day to the next.

May 17

Trump Reprisals Continue

state dept map logo Small

Washington Post, With firing of State Dept. inspector general, Trump ramps up retaliatory purge, Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung, Lisa Rein and Hannah Knowles, May 17, 2020 (print ed.). The termination of Steve A. Linick again showed the president challenging norms of U.S. governance in his push to rid the federal bureaucracy of officials he considers insufficiently loyal to or protective of him and his administration.

President Trump accelerated his retaliatory purge of public servants by firing the State Department’s inspector general, who had played a minor role in the president’s impeachment proceedings and was said to have begun investigating alleged misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

steve linick 2013 CustomActing on Pompeo’s recommendation, Trump abruptly terminated Steve A. Linick, left, late Friday night, again challenging established norms of American governance in his push to rid the federal bureaucracy of officials he considers insufficiently loyal to or protective of him and his administration. Trump replaced Linick with Stephen J. Akard, a trusted ally of Vice President Pence and the diplomat who directs the Office of Foreign Missions. He also replaced the acting inspector general at the Department of Transportation on Friday night.

Inspectors general serve as internal government watchdogs conducting oversight of federal agencies — and although they technically are political appointees, their independence has long been protected. Trump’s move — his fourth such firing during the coronavirus pandemic — drew swift condemnations from Democrats and at least one Republican on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decried what she termed a "dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat, Robert Menendez (N.J.), jointly launched an investigation Saturday into Linick’s firing.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump Ousted State Dept. Watchdog at Pompeo’s Urging, Catie Edmondson and Michael D. Shear, May 17, 2020 (print ed.). Congressional Democrats opened an investigation into what they said "may be an act of illegal retaliation" by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The lawmakers said Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, had opened an investigation into Secretary of State’s conduct.

mike pompeo portraitSecretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, urged President Trump to fire the official responsible for fighting waste and fraud in his department, a White House official said Saturday, a recommendation certain to come under scrutiny after congressional Democrats opened an investigation into what they said "may be an act of illegal retaliation."

Mr. Trump told Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday night that he was ousting Steve A. Linick, who led the office of the inspector general at the State Department, and replacing him with an ambassador with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, immediately called the decision to remove Mr. Linick an "outrageous act" meant to protect Mr. Pompeo from accountability.

By Saturday, Mr. Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Mr. Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of politically motivated firing of inspectors general."

In letters to the White House, the State Department and Mr. Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Mr. Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Mr. Pompeo and that Mr. Pompeo had responded by recommending that Mr. Linick be fired. The lawmakers did not provide any more details, but a Democratic aide said that Mr. Linick had been looking into whether Mr. Pompeo improperly used a political appointee at the State Department to perform personal tasks for him and his wife.

Since starting his current job in April 2018, Mr. Pompeo has come under growing public scrutiny for what critics say is his use of the State Department’s resources for personal endeavors. Mr. Menendez has called for Mr. Pompeo to explain how he can justify frequent trips to Kansas, his adopted home state, using State Department funds and aircraft. He has brought his wife, Susan Pompeo, on many trips abroad, telling others she is a "force multiplier" for him. And CNN reported last year that congressional officials were looking at potential misuse of diplomatic security personnel for personal errands. That did not result in the opening of a formal inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s slow-motion Friday night massacre of inspectors general, Aaron Blake, May 17, 2020 (print ed.). The unprecedented spate of removals and their timing have reinforced how President Trump is rather obviously seeking to undermine independent oversight of his administration.

The Friday news dump — also known as the Friday night news dump — is a political trick with plenty of precedent. Wait till the vast majority of the news business clocks out for on the week, and announce something you’d rather they not cover as much. People won’t be reading as much news at that point anyway, and perhaps it’ll be dismissed as old news by Monday morning.

Few are as blatant about using this tactic, though, as the Trump White House.

News broke late Friday night that Trump had removed the inspector general for the State Department, Steve Linick. It’s the third time in six weeks that such a move has been announced on a Friday night, with each inspector general having done something to pretty obviously alienate Trump. The unprecedented spate of removals has reinforced how Trump is rather obviously seeking to undermine independent oversight of his administration — and the timing of each of them only reinforces that.

djt tweet kayleigh supergirl Custom

The impeached Donald Trump retweeted on Saturday the above image of his new communications director.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There goes that argument, Bill Palmer, May 17, 2020. This past week’s Supreme Court arguments were made remotely via audio conference, so we’ll just have to assume that Donald Trump’s attorneys had a straight face when they argued that Trump is simply too busy in his role as President of the United States to bother answering a subpoena from Congress, or from a grand jury.

bill palmer report logo headerBut if Trump’s attorneys told him to play along with the ruse this week by acting like he was busy, then Trump didn’t get the memo, or he didn’t know how to read the memo. Trump spent Saturday tweeting a video of himself poorly superimposed into the movie Independence Day, and tweeting a disturbing image of his new White House Press Secretary in some kind of Supergirl cosplay costume.

Again, this is at a time when Donald Trump’s attorneys are trying to convince the Supreme Court that he’s too busy with the duties of the office to comply with a lawful subpoena. John Roberts will cast the deciding vote using the same methodology he always uses: whatever he thinks is going to make him a power broker, as opposed to what the Constitution says.

Roberts saved Obamacare because he wanted to create an environment where the left and right cater their cases to him, because he craves power. We’ll see what side he comes down on this time. But if Roberts is looking for an excuse to vote against Donald Trump, these idiotic tweets are in fact a solid legal argument that Trump isn’t too busy with his duties to answer the subpoena.

May 14

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Investigation Into The Prophecies of Q, Adrienne LaFrance, June 2020. American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase. This article is part of "Shadowland," a project about conspiracy thinking in America.

Conspiracy theories are a constant in American history, and it is tempting to dismiss them as inconsequential. But as the 21st century has progressed, such a dismissal has begun to require willful blindness. I was a city-hall reporter for a local investigative-news site called Honolulu Civil Beat in 2011 when Donald Trump was laying the groundwork for a presidential run by publicly questioning whether Barack Obama had been born in Hawaii, as all facts and documents showed. Trump maintained that Obama had really been born in Africa, and therefore wasn’t a natural-born atlantic logo horizontalAmerican—making him ineligible for the highest office. I remember the debate in our Honolulu newsroom: Should we even cover this 'birther" madness? As it turned out, the allegations, based entirely on lies, captivated enough people to give Trump a launching pad.

[With] Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the "deep state," the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. fox news logo SmallAs of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

The power of the internet was understood early on, but the full nature of that power — its ability to shatter any semblance of shared reality, undermining civil society and democratic governance in the process — was not. The internet also enabled unknown individuals to reach masses of people, at a scale Marshall McLuhan never dreamed of. The warping of shared reality leads a man with an AR-15 rifle to invade a pizza shop. It brings online forums into being where people colorfully imagine the assassination of a former secretary of state. It offers the promise of a Great Awakening, in which the elites will be routed and the truth will be revealed. It causes chat sites to come alive with commentary speculating that the coronavirus pandemic may be the moment QAnon has been waiting for. None of this could have been imagined as recently as the turn of the century.

QAnon is emblematic of modern America’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories, and its enthusiasm for them. But it is also already much more than a loose collection of conspiracy-minded chat-room inhabitants. It is a movement united in mass rejection of reason, objectivity, and other Enlightenment values. And we are likely closer to the beginning of its story than the end. The group harnesses paranoia to fervent hope and a deep sense of belonging. The way it breathes life into an ancient preoccupation with end-times is also radically new. To look at QAnon is to see not just a conspiracy theory but the birth of a new religion.

What might have languished as a lonely screed on a single image board instead incited fervor. Its profile was enhanced, according to Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins of NBC News, by several conspiracy theorists whose promotion of Q in turn helped build up their own online profiles. By now, nearly three years since Q’s original messages appeared, there have been thousands of what his followers call "Q drops" — messages posted to image boards by Q. He uses a password-protected "tripcode," a series of letters and numbers visible to other image-board users to signal the continuity of his identity over time. (Q’s tripcode has changed on occasion, prompting flurries of speculation.) As Q has moved from one image board to the next — from 4chan to 8chan to 8kun, seeking a safe harbor — QAnon adherents have only become more devoted. If the internet is one big rabbit hole containing infinitely recursive rabbit holes, QAnon has somehow found its way down all of them, gulping up lesser conspiracy theories as it goes.

It’s impossible to know the number of QAnon adherents with any precision, but the ranks are growing. At least 35 current or former congressional candidates have embraced Q, according to an online tally by the progressive nonprofit Media Matters for America. Those candidates have either directly praised QAnon in public or approvingly referenced QAnon slogans. (One Republican candidate for Congress, Matthew Lusk of Florida, includes QAnon under the "issues" section of his campaign website, posing the question: "Who is Q?")

djt as chosen oneQAnon has by now made its way onto every major social and commercial platform and any number of fringe sites. Tracy Diaz, a QAnon evangelist, known online by the name TracyBeanz, has 185,000 followers on Twitter and more than 100,000 YouTube subscribers. She helped lift QAnon from obscurity, facilitating its transition to mainstream social media. (A publicist described Diaz as "really private" and declined requests for an interview.) On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #QAnon have garnered millions of views. There are too many QAnon Facebook groups, plenty of them ghost towns, to do a proper count, but the most active ones publish thousands of items each day. (In 2018, Reddit banned QAnon groups from its platform for inciting violence.)

Adherents are ever looking out for signs from on high, plumbing for portents when guidance from Q himself is absent. The coronavirus, for instance — what does it signify? In several of the big Facebook groups, people erupted in a frenzy of speculation, circulating a theory that Trump’s decision to wear a yellow tie to a White House briefing about the virus was a sign that the outbreak wasn’t real. On March 9, Q himself issued a triptych of ominous posts that seemed definitive: The coronavirus is real, but welcome, and followers should not be afraid. The first post shared Trump’s tweet from the night before and repeated, "Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming." The second said: "The Great Awakening is Worldwide." The third was simple: "GOD WINS."

A month later, on April 8, Q went on a posting spree, dropping nine posts over the span of six hours and touching on several of his favorite topics — God, Pizzagate, and the wickedness of the elites. "They will stop at nothing to regain power," he wrote in one scathing post that alleged a coordinated propaganda effort by Democrats, Hollywood, and the media. Another accused Democrats of promoting "mass hysteria" about the coronavirus for political gain: "What is the primary benefit to keep public in mass-hysteria re: COVID‑19? Think voting. Are you awake yet? Q." And he shared these verses from Ephesians: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."

Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become an object of scorn among QAnon supporters who don’t like the bad news he delivers or the way he has contradicted Trump publicly. In one March press conference, Trump referred to the State Department as the "Deep State Department," and Fauci could be seen over the president’s shoulder, suppressing a laugh and covering his djt anthony fauciface. By then, QAnon had already declared Fauci irredeemably compromised, because WikiLeaks had unearthed a pair of emails he sent praising Hillary Clinton in 2012 and 2013.

Sentiment about Fauci, right, among QAnon supporters on social-media platforms ranges from "Fauci is a Deep State puppet" to "FAUCI is a BLACKHAT!!!"—the term QAnon uses for people who support the evil cabal that Q warns about. One person, using the hashtags #DeepStateCabal and #Qanon, tweeted this: "Watch Fauci’s hand signals and body language at the press conferences. What is he communicating?" Another shared an image of Fauci standing in a lab with Barack Obama, with the caption "Obama and ‘Dr.’ Fauci in the lab creating coronovirus [sic]. #DeepstateDoctor." The Justice Department recently approved heightened security measures for Fauci because of the mounting volume of threats against him.

In the final days before Congress passed a $2 trillion economic-relief package in late March, Democrats insisted on provisions that would make it easier for people to vote by mail, prompting Q himself to weigh in with dismay: "These people are sick! Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing."

The most prominent QAnon figures have a presence beyond the biggest social-media platforms and image boards. The Q universe encompasses numerous blogs, proprietary websites, and types of chat software, as well as alternative social-media platforms such as Gab, the site known for anti-Semitism and white nationalism, where many people banned from Twitter have congregated. Vloggers and bloggers promote their Patreon accounts, where people can pay them in monthly sums.

There’s also money to be made from ads on YouTube. Q evangelists have taken a "publish everywhere" approach that is half outreach, half redundancy. If one platform cracks down on QAnon, as Reddit did, they won’t have to start from scratch somewhere else. Already embroiled in the battle between good and evil, QAnon has involved itself in another battle — between the notion of an open web for the people and a gated internet controlled by a powerful few.

U.S. Crime, Courts, Congress

washington post logoWashington Post, Court asks retired judge to oppose Justice Dept. effort to drop Flynn case and examine if ex-Trump adviser committed perjury, Michael Flynn Harvard 2014Spencer S. Hsu, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, May 14, 2020 (print ed.). Michael Flynn’s sentencing judge Wednesday asked a former federal judge to oppose the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the former Trump national security adviser’s guilty plea and examine whether Flynn should face a contempt hearing for perjury.

The judge asked whether Flynn, right, should face contempt for perjury after he pleaded guilty to a crime of which he now claims to be innocent.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s appointment of retired New York federal Judge John Gleeson, right, comes one day after Sullivan put on hold the Justice Department’s bid to drop charges against Flynn, saying he expects independent groups and legal experts to argue against the move.

"The Court exercises its inherent authority to appoint The Honorable John Gleeson (Ret.) as amicus curiae to present arguments in opposition to the government’s Motion to Dismiss," Sullivan wrote in a two-page order.

john gleeson Custom"It is further ORDERED that amicus curiae shall address whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury."

The unusual order plunges the Flynn case even deeper into uncharted legal waters, in which the Justice Department has taken a posture more common to defense lawyers, the judge has appointed another judge to see if other crimes occurred, and the president’s supporters demand the immediate dismissal of the entire case.

The department was already under fire from those inside its ranks and thousands of alumni who felt the institution was being politicized and bent to the will of Trump. Sullivan’s order threatens to unearth even more, potentially unflattering details of how the department’s political leaders came to decide they should walk away from a case involving an ally to the president.

john gotti mug shotsAs a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, Gleeson is best known for putting the late mob boss John Gotti, left, behind bars. As a federal judge from 1994 to 2016 appointed by Bill Clinton, Gleeson was not shy about criticizing the Justice Department, and one lawyer who practiced before him called him "a purist." In a 2013 drug case, he sharply criticized the department’s policies in trying to extract heavy prison sentences as part of guilty pleas, which he called "unsound and brutally unfair" and "the sentencing equivalent of a two-by-four to the forehead."

In a commentary article Monday, Gleeson observed the Justice Department has made conflicting statements to the court, which has "the authority, the tools and the obligation to assess the credibility of the department’s stated reasons for abruptly reversing course."

"The law provides that the court — not the executive branch — decides whether an indictment may be dismissed. The responsible exercise of that authority is particularly important here, where a defendant’s plea of guilty has already been accepted. Government motions to dismiss at this stage are virtually unheard of," Gleeson wrote.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. Flynn’s defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason said while the order is not a definitive sign of what Sullivan will ultimately do with Flynn’s case, it is the clearest indication yet he is not willing to go along easily with the Justice Department’s request.

"I think it’s hard to say what he might ultimately do, but I think it’s clear that he’s not simply going to take the government’s motion at face value, and he wants to probe the reasons for this reversal after two years, and I think that’s completely understandable," Eliason said. "Judges don’t like to be manipulated."

Eliason said Sullivan’s contemplation of holding Flynn in contempt for perjury exposed what has long been a flaw in Flynn’s argument that his plea should be undone. The former national security adviser admitted in court under oath three times before two different judges that he lied to the FBI. His assertion now that he did not actually do that means he lied to the court.

"They can’t have it both ways," Eliason said. "If they’re going to say now he didn’t lie to the FBI, then he lied to the judge. So you could be prosecuted for perjury for that. But presumably Barr’s DOJ is not going to prosecute him for perjury, so another option is the judge could hold him in contempt for lying to the judge."

In 2009, Sullivan appointed a lawyer as a special prosecutor to investigate whether government lawyers who won a short-lived conviction in the case of former Senator Ted Stevens should be prosecuted for criminal conduct. At the time, the judge declared he had "never seen mishandling and misconduct" like it from the Justice Department.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-F.B.I. Official Is Said to Undercut Justice Dept. Effort to Drop Flynn Case, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Updated May 14, 2020.  A key former F.B.I. official cast doubt on the Justice Department’s case for dropping a criminal charge against President Trump’s former Michael Flynn Harvard 2014national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, right, during an interview with investigators last week, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Department officials reviewing the Flynn case interviewed Bill Priestap, the former head of F.B.I. counterintelligence, two days before making their extraordinary request to drop the case to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. They did not tell Judge Sullivan about Mr. Priestap’s interview. A Justice Department official said that they were in the process of writing up a report on the interview and that it would soon be filed with the court.

FBI logoThe department’s motion referred to notes that Mr. Priestap wrote around the bureau’s 2017 questioning of Mr. Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during that interview. His lawyers said Mr. Priestap’s notes — recently uncovered during a review of the case — suggested that the F.B.I. was trying to entrap Mr. Flynn, and Attorney General William P. Barr said investigators were trying to "lay a perjury trap."

That interpretation was wrong, Mr. Priestap told the prosecutors reviewing the case. He said that F.B.I. officials were trying to do the right thing in questioning Mr. Flynn and that he knew of no effort to set him up. Media reports about his notes misconstrued them, he said, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

The department’s decision to exclude mention of Mr. Priestap’s interview in the motion could trouble Judge Sullivan, below left, who signaled late on Tuesday that he was skeptical of the department’s arguments.

emmet sullivan 2012Mr. Priestap and the Justice Department declined to comment. Mr. Priestap told investigators that he did not remember the circumstances surrounding the notes that he took, and that he was giving them his interpretation of the notes as he read them now, according to a person familiar with his interview.

The U.S. dropped its criminal case against President Trump’s first national security adviser. It was the latest reversal in a case full of them.

Former prosecutors and defense lawyers called the department’s position hypocritical and troubling.

"If it is accurate that the F.B.I. official provided context around those notes, which is materially different from what they suggest, this could be a game changer in terms of how the court views the motivations behind the request to dismiss the case," said Edward Y. Kim, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

The department’s decision to drop the Flynn case was a stunning reversal, widely regarded as part of an effort by Mr. Barr to undermine the Russia investigation. The prosecutor who led the case, Brandon L. Van Grack, withdrew from it, and only the interim U.S. attorney in Washington, Timothy Shea, a longtime adviser to Mr. Barr, signed the motion.

Both Mr. Van Grack and Jocelyn Ballantine, another prosecutor on the case, were upset with Mr. Barr’s decision to drop the charge and his overall handling of the Flynn review, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Mr. Barr, who has long said that he had misgivings about the decision to prosecute Mr. Flynn, asked the top federal prosecutor in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, earlier this year to scrub the case for any mistakes or improprieties.

Mr. Priestap’s notes were among the documents that Mr. Jensen found. The prosecutors already on the case, Mr. Jensen’s team and the F.B.I. disagreed about whether they were exculpatory and should be given to Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, right. Mr. Jensen prevailed and gave them to Ms. sidney powellPowell, who declared that they would exonerate her client, people familiar with the events said.

Mr. Priestap played a central role in the F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and was involved in high-level discussions about whether to question Mr. Flynn, whose phone calls to the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, had aroused investigators’ suspicions.

Mr. Jensen and Ms. Ballantine, herself a veteran prosecutor, interviewed Mr. Priestap along with another prosecutor, Sayler Fleming, and an F.B.I. agent from St. Louis who was there to memorialize the encounter.

Justice Department investigators spoke with Mr. Priestap while they were embroiled in a debate that began last month about whether to drop the Flynn case.

Mr. Jensen and officials in Mr. Shea’s office pushed to give Mr. Flynn’s lawyers copies of the notes and other documents they had recently found. Mr. dana boenteVan Grack and Dana Boente, left, the F.B.I. general counsel, argued against disclosing them.

Eventually the F.B.I. agreed to release the documents because they contained no classified or sensitive material, even though they believed they were not required to share them with the defense, according to an email from lawyers in Mr. Boente’s office on April 23.

By the beginning of May, Mr. Jensen recommended to Mr. Barr that the charge be dropped, and the team began to draft the motion to dismiss it.

Mr. Van Grack and Ms. Ballantine, the prosecutors on the case, acknowledged the facts but vociferously disagreed with Mr. Jensen’s legal argument that Mr. Flynn’s lies were immaterial to the larger investigation into Russian election interference, according to department lawyers familiar with their conversations.

Roll Call, Burr steps aside as Intelligence chairman as stock sale scandal grows, Chris Marquette, May 14, 2020. Sen. Richard M. Burr will step down as chairman of the Intelligence Committee pending a federal investigation into his stock trades that followed a confidential briefing on the coronavirus pandemic before the financial markets cratered.

richard burr o Small"Senator Burr contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision to step aside as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the pendency of the investigation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow."

The announcement comes after the Los Angeles Times reported late Wednesday night the FBI served a warrant on Burr, right, at his Washington residence. The federal agents seized the North Carolina Republican’s cell phone to examine communications between him and his broker.

Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million in his securities holdings on Feb. 13, after the panel began receiving daily coronavirus briefings, ProPublica first reported.

Additionally, NPR obtained a recording on Feb. 27 in which Burr offered a private assessment of the adverse economic impact from the coronavirus — a contrast to his more upbeat public comments.

william barr at doj

Palmer Report, Talk about missing the target, Bill Palmer, May 14, 2020. Anyone who has paid even a modicum of attention to the Michael Flynn criminal case is well aware that Emmet Sullivan is the last judge who could ever be convinced to simply let the case go. Unfortunately for Bill Barr, above, he’s either been paying way too little attention to the criminal cases he’s trying to rig, or he thinks way too much of his own abilities.

Judge Sullivan has previously openly accused Flynn of having sold out his country. Sullivan was outraged when he learned that the DOJ only wanted to give Flynn six months. Now that the DOJ wants to let Flynn walk, even though Flynn has pleaded guilty and confessed to his crimes under oath in detail, Sullivan is hitting the roof.

bill palmer report logo headerI saw this coming. Most of you reading this saw it coming. How did Bill Barr not see this coming? None of us could have predicted the specific remedies that the judge is invoking, from amicus briefs to the appointment of a retired judge to take over the case against Flynn. But we all know there was right around a zero percent chance that Sullivan was going to let Barr do this. Some other federal judge, such as TS Ellis, might have let this slide. Emmet Sullivan? Of course not.

The question is how Bill Barr ended up missing so badly here. Did he really not do his homework? Is he too big for his britches? Or did an increasingly delusional Donald Trump push Barr so hard on this, Barr had no choice but go through with it, knowing it would blow up like this? In any case, what a surreal swing and miss.

Palmer Report, Surreal new twist in Donald Trump’s unraveling Michael Flynn stunt, Bill Palmer, right, May 14, 2020. If Donald Trump and Bill Barr really thought bill palmerthey could convince Judge Emmett Sullivan to simply drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn, they severely misjudged their man. Not only is Sullivan keeping the case intact, he’s seeking amicus briefs from everyone who has a legal opinion on the matter, and he’s appointed a retired judge to essentially take over the prosecution.

Now there’s a new twist.

Michael Flynn’s former attorneys – the ones who helped steer him toward a guilty plea and cooperative plea deal before he ousted them and hired his current loon instead – have now decided that they want to weigh in on Flynn’s guilt. From the court filing (see here), it’s not clear which side they intend to come down on.

bill palmer report logo headerThey were Flynn’s defense lawyers, and they still have attorney-client privilege with him, so they can’t exactly reveal evidence of his guilt that isn’t already out there. But when you consider that these lawyers helped Flynn take the formal position that he was guilty, it’s hard to imagine they’re going to now argue that he was innocent.

In any case we’ll see what happens here. Because Trump and Barr have pulled a stunt that’s basically never happened before by trying to withdraw a criminal case after a guilty plea has been entered, Judge Sullivan gets to decide how he wants to make precedent about how this works. None of this appears to be going on Trump’s favor.

djt tump int hotel

washington post logoWashington Post, Court revives lawsuit targeting President Trump’s business dealings at D.C. hotel, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, May 14, 2020. A federal appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit seeking to block President Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington from accepting payments from foreign and state governments.

In a divided decision, the court refused to dismiss the novel lawsuit that accuses the president of illegally profiting from foreign and state government patrons at his D.C. hotel. The case, brought by the top lawyers for Maryland and the District of Columbia, is one of a set of lawsuits alleging the president’s private business transactions violate the Constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments ban.

"We recognize that the President is no ordinary petitioner, and we accord him great deference as the head of the Executive branch," Judge Diana Motz wrote for a majority of judges. But the court denied Trump’s request to dimiss the lawsuit, saying it would not "grant the extraordinary relief the President seeks."

The ruling from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is at odds with a decision in March in a separate, similar case that barred individual members of Congress from suing the president over his private business.

The split rulings suggest the Supreme Court will have the final word in the cases involving the rarely tested emoluments provisions intended to prevent foreign and state officials from having undue influence on U.S. leaders, including the president.

At the 4th Circuit, a full complement of 15 judges in December took a second look at the lawsuit from Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine. An initial three-judge panel of the same court had tossed the lawsuit and said the attorneys general did not have legal grounds, or standing, to sue. But the full court agreed to rehear the case and to decide whether to take the extraordinary step to dismiss it midstream as the president’s lawyers requested.

Unlike past presidents, Trump has retained ownership of his private business and can benefit from it financially. His sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump run the company.

The emoluments case centers on the president’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest Washington, where foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, have booked rooms and events since Trump entered the White House.

Trump’s Justice Department lawyers say the president is not violating the emoluments clauses because the language bars only payments in exchange for official action or as part of an employment relationship.

Individual members of Congress barred from suing President Trump over business dealings

A District Court judge in Maryland disagreed and interpreted the provisions to ban U.S. officials from accepting any profit, gain or advantage from foreign officials. The judge signed off on more than a dozen subpoenas for Trump’s closely held financial records to determine which foreign and state governments have paid the Trump Organization and how much.

May 8

washington post logoWashington Post, White House tightens its grip on virus information, Toluse Olorunnipa, May 8, 2020 (print ed.). The president has sought to block or downplay information about the severity of the pandemic as he urges a return to normalcy. Several Republican governors are following his lead.

President Trump in recent weeks has sought to block or downplay information about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic as he urges a return to normalcy and the rekindling of an economy that has been devastated by public health restrictions aimed at mitigating the outbreak.

djt hands up mouth open CustomHis administration has sidelined or replaced officials not seen as loyal, rebuffed congressional requests for testimony, dismissed jarring statistics and models, praised states for reopening without meeting White House guidelines and, briefly, pushed to disband a task force created to combat the virus and communicate about the public health crisis.

Several Republican governors are following Trump’s lead as an effort takes shape to control the narrative about a pandemic that has continued to rage throughout a quickly reopening country. With polls showing most consumers still afraid to venture out of their homes, the Trump administration has intensified its efforts to soothe some of those fears through a messaging campaign that relies on tightly controlling information about a virus that has proven stubbornly difficult to contain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump labels Americans as ‘warriors’ in risky push to reopen, David Nakamura, May 8, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump praised American farmers as the "warriors" in his trade war with China that was harming their exports. He used the same term to describe the Republican lawmakers who spent political capital to defend him in the impeachment fight.

Now, as he pushes to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has identified a new group of "warriors" to enlist in battle: the American public.

Trump unveiled the moniker this week — during a trip to a face-mask manufacturing facility in Phoenix on Tuesday and again in an Oval Office photo op with nurses Wednesday — suggesting it is no longer just medical workers on the front lines who must respond against the lethal illness.

"I’m actually calling now . . . the nation warriors," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We have to be warriors. We can’t keep our country closed down for years."

The president’s use of the term has capped a weeks-long rhetorical effort to frame the crisis through battlefield language. Trump has called himself a "wartime president" and cast the virus as an "invisible enemy" that is "smart" and "tough." In recent days, he has taken to comparing the national emergency to other moments in American history when the nation’s collective spirit and bravery helped overcome threats from a challenging foe, including World War II.

Yet in his efforts to rally public support, Trump — as he did with the farmers and GOP lawmakers — is again shifting the burden and potential repercussions of his decisions onto those whom he is enjoining in the fight, in this case most other Americans.

May 5

Pandemic Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, President erupts at George Conway for video about the ‘deadly virus Trump ignored,’ Fred Barbash, May 5, 2020. George T. Conway III, prominent attorney and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has been trying with only modest success to provoke President Trump’s Twitter wrath for the better part of his presidency. He finally succeeded close to 1 a.m. Tuesday.

george conway postWhat set Trump off was a video, sponsored by the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump Super-PAC that Conway, right, co-founded with other Republicans and former Republicans. The video, released Monday, lays responsibility squarely at Trump’s doorstep for the severity of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, including the deaths and economic damage.

Considered a classic of the genre, the Reagan reelection ad showed happy prosperous Americans, smiling, going to work and getting married. It ended with the words: "It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?"

Considered a classic of the genre, the Reagan reelection ad showed happy prosperous Americans, smiling, going to work and getting married. It ended with the words: "It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?"

"Mourning in America" is dystopian, showing dilapidated houses, a worried man in a hospital corridor, head in hands, a sick person being wheeled donald trump twitteron a gurney, vacant industrial buildings, a man applying for unemployment compensation, crowds of Americans lined up wearing masks and scenes from a Trump speech.

It concludes with these words: "There’s mourning in America. And under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker, sicker and poorer. And now, Americans are asking, ‘If we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?’"

Tens of thousands nationwide have died from the "deadly virus Trump ignored," says the video, called "Mourning in America," inspired by former president Ronald Reagan’s famous "Morning in America" 1984 campaign ad.

Trump responded at 12:46 a.m. Tuesday, firing off a string of tweets attacking those associated with the Lincoln Project as "LOSERS" before turning his wrath on Conway.

"I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface," Trump tweeted, "but it must have been really bad."

"RINO" stands for "Republicans in name only." The Lincoln Project was established by Republican Conway, former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, and Republican operatives John Weaver and Rick Wilson, among others. Evan McMullin, whom Trump called "Evan ‘McMuffin’ McMullin," is a former CIA officer who ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election.

"Reed Galvin" is presumably a reference to Reed Galen, a former Republican strategist and Lincoln Project co-organizer. Jennifer Horn is former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Conway, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s opinion section, has been denouncing Trump throughout most of his presidency, sometimes in biting personal terms, describing him as mentally impaired and unfit for office.

Most recently, Conway mocked Trump’s comments about the use of disinfectant to treat covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. After Trump, in a since-deleted tweet, appeared to mistake the Pulitzer Prize for the "Noble prize," misspelling Nobel, Conway changed his Twitter display name to "George Conway, Noble Committee Chair."

May 4

Public Health Top Stories

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Privately, Administration Projects Daily Deaths to Nearly Double in May, Staff reports, May 4, 2020. 3,000 Deaths Per Day Are Forecast as Some States Reopen.

The Trump administration is projecting that the daily toll would rise steadily over the next several weeks, according to an internal document obtained by The Times. President Trump stepped up criticism of China, part of an international response to the outbreak. The F.D.A. said that companies selling antibody tests must prove their accuracy within 10 days. Here’s the latest.

As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks. The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double the current number of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.

The numbers underscore a sobering reality: While the United States has been hunkered down for the past seven weeks, significant risks remain. And reopening the economy will make matters worse.

"There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow," the Centers for Disease Control warned.

The projections confirm the primary fear of public health experts: that a reopening of the economy will put the nation back where it was in mid-March, when cases were rising so rapidly in some parts of the country that patients were dying on gurneys in hospital hallways as the health care system was overloaded.

"While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t work as well as we expected," Scott Gottlieb, Mr. Trump’s former commissioner of food and drugs, said Sunday on the CBS program Face the Nation. "We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we’re just not seeing that."

On Sunday, Mr. Trump said deaths in the United States could reach 100,000, twice as many as he had forecast just two weeks ago. But his new estimate still underestimates what his own administration is now predicting to be the total death toll by the end of May — much less in the months to come. It follows a pattern for Mr. Trump, who has frequently understated the impact of the disease.

See related Washington Post story below in next section Washington Post, Draft report predicts covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Pandemic Toll: 67,222 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S.; At least 1,153,000 cases have been reported, Joe Fox, Brittany Renee Mayes, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro, Data as of May 4 at 8:12 a.m. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2killed at least 67,000 people in the United States.

The country’s earliest covid-19 fatality was thought to be a 58-year-old man near Seattle, whose death was announced Feb. 29.

But on April 22, officials in California announced that tissue from two people who had died in early and mid-February in Santa Clara County had tested positive, signaling that the virus may have spread in the country weeks earlier than was previously thought.

U.S. Pandemic Politics

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, offering support to lockdown protesters, says it’s safe for states to reopen, Felicia Sonmez, Meryl Kornfield and Katie Mettler, May 4, 2020. He also projected that the U.S. death toll may be as high as 100,000, scaling up his earlier estimate of 65,000.

President Trump on Sunday sought to reassure Americans that it is safe for states to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, offering support to protesters who have railed against the lockdowns across the country.

"I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches . . . [if] you stay away a certain amount," Trump said during a Fox News Channel town hall at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (shown above).

Trump said that it’s possible to "satisfy both" anti-lockdown protesters and those who are afraid to resume public life. He noted that Americans have been wearing face masks and social distancing in recent weeks and said that "you’re going to have to do that for a while," even as states reopen their economies.

He scaled up the estimate he has used for the number of expected dead — projecting that the U.S. toll may be as high as 100,000, up from his prior prediction of 65,000 — while emphasizing that he takes the novel coronavirus seriously and noting that three of his friends have died after contracting it.

Trump’s comments come as governors continue to grapple with reopening pains amid ongoing pushback against coronavirus restrictions. They also come as the administration is ramping up its efforts to blame China for the virus, which has now taken the lives of more than 67,000 people in the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Draft report predicts covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1, William Wan, Lenny Bernstein, Laurie McGinley and Josh Dawsey, May 4, 2020. More than 3,000 people are projected to die daily of the disease by that date, according to the projections. A draft government report projects covid-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day by June 1, a staggering jump that would be accompanied by more than 3,000 deaths each day.

The document predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning about May 14, according to a copy shared with The Washington Post. The forecast stops at June 1, but shows both daily cases and deaths on an upward trajectory at that point.

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly disavowed the report, though the slides carry the CDC’s logo. The creator of the model said the numbers are unfinished projections shown to the CDC as a work in progress.

The work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete, according to Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who created the model.

He said he didn’t know how the update was turned into a slidedeck by government officials and shared with news organizations. The data was first reported by the New York Times.

"I had no role in the process by which that was presented and shown. This data was presented as an FYI to CDC … it was not in any way intended to be a forecast," Lessler said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Fox News town hall disaster just opened up a whole new can of worms for him, Bill Palmer, right, May 4, 2020. What bill palmera lot of people don’t understand is that Fox News is a for-profit corporation like any other major news outlet. The only difference is that Fox has a business centered around feeding convenient lies to conservatives in order to rile them up and keep them tuned in. But even Fox has to maintain relative credibility with its gullible audience, or it risks losing them.

When Donald Trump agreed to do a coronavirus town hall on Fox News last night, he and his handlers must have been expecting a series of softball questions. After all, Fox News viewers are the people who like him. Perhaps he thought he’d get asked questions about how successful he is, or what an amazing job he’s done with the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the audience questions were are all fairly reasonable and topical.

bill palmer report logo headerFox could have cherry picked questions that were about how great Trump is – surely a few were submitted – but that’s clearly not where Fox’s audience is. Even these gullible conservatives are worried about treatments and vaccines, food and income, and the importance of what’s going on right now. Donald Trump must not have expected these questions, because he had no idea how to answer almost any of them.

fox news logo SmallAt one point Donald Trump was telling a bizarre and inaccurate story about World War I. He’d been asked about nursing homes. At another point Trump began rambling about airline bailouts. He’d been asked about how to save an individually-run business with no employees. His answers didn’t even match the questions.

It’s not just that Donald Trump made himself look really inept in the eyes of an unusually sober Fox News audience. The real problem for Trump is that even a lot of Fox viewers seem to be looking for serious solutions and governmental competence right now – and Trump has absolutely no idea how to deliver that or even address it. Serious moments require serious leaders, and Trump is more of a failing carnival barker than ever.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There is no letter! Bill Palmer, May 4, 2020. Last night Donald Trump announced on live national television that Joe Biden recently wrote him a letter of apology over the way the coronavirus crisis has been handled. Because Trump was talking to a pair of Fox News nitwits, they didn’t bother to challenge him on this seemingly blatant lie.

Fortunately, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has confirmed what we pretty much instinctively already knew: there is no such letter. Donald Trump is making it up. That’s right, the sitting President of the United States just falsely claimed that his current general election opponent has sent him a written letter of apology. In any other time, this would be a major scandal. But because the bar is set so low for Trump and he has so many other scandals going on, there probably won’t even be a widespread call for Trump to turn over this supposed letter or admit he’s lying.

bill palmer report logo headerBut there should be. This week we saw multiple major media outlets make the ludicrous assertion that Joe Biden should turn over the entire contents of his Senate archive at the University of Delaware in the name of "transparency," simply because a false allegation was made against him, even though there is zero expectation that the archive will contain anything relevant to the false allegation. It’s a fishing expedition and nothing more. The media is hoping to poke around in Biden’s archives, find some random thing that it can mischaracterize into a scandal, and drum it up for ratings.

Since Donald Trump can’t produce this supposed letter that he claims he received, we think he should have to turn over the full contents of his archives, along with his bank account, tax returns, and personal vault for good measure, or else he’s not being transparent, is he. If we’re going to invent ludicrous standards of transparency, we should at least apply them to the candidate who’s lying about everything and whose entire life has been one big long scandal.

Trump Team Corruption?

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Before pandemic, Trump’s stockpile chief put focus on biodefense. An old client benefited, Jon Swaine, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Aaron C. Davis​, May 4, 2020. Robert Kadlec’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services made a deal to buy up to $2.8 billion of smallpox vaccine from a company that once paid him as a consultant, a connection he did not disclose on a Senate questionnaire when he was nominated.

After Robert Kadlec was confirmed as President Trump’s top official for public health preparedness in 2017, he began pressing to increase government stocks of a smallpox vaccine. His office ultimately made a deal to buy up to $2.8 billion of the vaccine from a company that once paid Kadlec as a consultant, a connection he did not disclose on a Senate questionnaire when he was nominated.

Under the agreement struck last year with Emergent BioSolutions, Kadlec’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services is paying more than double the price per dose it had previously paid for the drug. Because Emergent is the only licensed maker of the vaccine, Kadlec’s office arrived at the price through negotiations with the company rather than through bidding.

The 10-year contract is part of an effort by Kadlec to bolster the nation’s stockpile of defenses against biological and chemical weapons, a focus he made a priority over preparing for a natural pandemic, an examination by The Washington Post found. Kadlec, a decorated veteran and biodefense expert, has argued for more than two decades in government and the private sector that the nation should devote more of its resources to preparing for bioweapon attacks.

In the two years before the coronavirus pandemic, Kadlec aggressively pursued efforts to fulfill his vision for national preparedness, the Post examination found. He assumed greater control over acquisitions for the Strategic National Stockpile, which in 2018 was moved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and placed under his authority, the examination found.

Kadlec scaled back a long-standing interagency process for spending billions of dollars on stockpile purchases, diminishing the role of government experts and restricting decision-making to himself and a small circle of advisers, according to three former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

 

 U.S. Pandemic Politics

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Protester at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Coronavirus Is Becoming a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists, Neil MacFarquhar, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). White supremacists are seeking to stoke the fear and disruption caused by the pandemic to push their agenda — and to recruit.

abc news logoAmerica’s extremists are attempting to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a potent recruiting tool both in the deep corners of the internet and on the streets of state capitals by twisting the public health crisis to bolster their white supremacist, anti-government agenda.

Although the protests that have broken out across the country have drawn out a wide variety of people pressing to lift stay-at-home orders, the presence of extremists cannot be missed, with their anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic signs and coded messages aimed at inspiring the faithful, say those who track such movements.

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House, Congress clash over liability protections for businesses, Erica Werner and Tom Hamburger, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans insist that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus, while Democrats oppose blanket protections. The issue could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy.

Congressional leaders are girding for a huge fight over the reentry of millions of Americans to the workplace, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus. He appears to have the backing of top White House officials.

Democratic leaders have declared they will oppose such blanket protections, putting Washington’s power brokers on opposite sides of a major issue that could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy in the coming months. The battle has unleashed a frenzy of lobbying, with major industry groups, technology firms, insurers, manufacturers, labor unions, and plaintiffs lawyers all squaring off.

The clash is a sharp departure from the past six weeks, when lawmakers from both parties came together to swiftly approve nearly $3 trillion in emergency funds as Americans hunkered down during the pandemic. Now, lawmakers are warring over what the rules should be when millions of Americans return to the workplace.

  • Washington Post, 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen U.S., Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Robert Costa and Lena H. Sun, May 4, 2020 (print ed.).

 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Fox News town hall disaster just opened up a whole new can of worms for him, Bill Palmer, right, May 4, 2020. What bill palmera lot of people don’t understand is that Fox News is a for-profit corporation like any other major news outlet. The only difference is that Fox has a business centered around feeding convenient lies to conservatives in order to rile them up and keep them tuned in. But even Fox has to maintain relative credibility with its gullible audience, or it risks losing them.

When Donald Trump agreed to do a coronavirus town hall on Fox News last night, he and his handlers must have been expecting a series of softball questions. After all, Fox News viewers are the people who like him. Perhaps he thought he’d get asked questions about how successful he is, or what an amazing job he’s done with the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the audience questions were are all fairly reasonable and topical.

bill palmer report logo headerFox could have cherry picked questions that were about how great Trump is – surely a few were submitted – but that’s clearly not where Fox’s audience is. Even these gullible conservatives are worried about treatments and vaccines, food and income, and the importance of what’s going on right now. Donald Trump must not have expected these questions, because he had no idea how to answer almost any of them.

fox news logo SmallAt one point Donald Trump was telling a bizarre and inaccurate story about World War I. He’d been asked about nursing homes. At another point Trump began rambling about airline bailouts. He’d been asked about how to save an individually-run business with no employees. His answers didn’t even match the questions.

It’s not just that Donald Trump made himself look really inept in the eyes of an unusually sober Fox News audience. The real problem for Trump is that even a lot of Fox viewers seem to be looking for serious solutions and governmental competence right now – and Trump has absolutely no idea how to deliver that or even address it. Serious moments require serious leaders, and Trump is more of a failing carnival barker than ever.

May 2

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s head is spinning, Bill Palmer, May 2, 2020. Over the past twenty-four hours Donald Trump has seemed to insinuate that the phony allegation against Joe Biden is both credible and fake. Last night Trump’s lapdog Lindsey Graham went on Fox News and dct underage wmr tweetstrongly defended Biden against the allegation, suggesting that Team Trump wants nothing to do with it – even amid reports that the Trump campaign was testing out a TV ad aimed at legitimizing the phony allegation. So what’s going on?

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s pretty clear that Donald Trump and his team don’t know what to do with this phony Biden scandal. That’s not surprising. It wasn’t invented for Trump’s benefit. It was invented by "Bernie or Bust" fanatics masquerading as journalists, in a desperate last-ditch attempt at taking Biden down, under the delusional belief that this would somehow result in Bernie Sanders being the nominee instead. Nevermind that Sanders has dropped out and strongly endorsed Biden; now that Bernie has formally divorced himself from the "Bust" crowd, they’ve become even more deranged in their behavior.

Joe Biden aced his interview about the fake scandal yesterday, meaning it’s not going to have the impact that the "Bust" crowd was hoping for.

Biden has a 100% chance of being the nominee. Sanders isn’t going to withdraw his endorsement and magically reenter the race, no matter how much time his more deranged supporters spend fantasizing over this.

Bernie’s reasonable supporters are already lined up behind Biden. Yet now this Biden vs Trump race has a fake Biden scandal that could end up djt pedo graphic IMG 3170 Custombeing more of a problem for Trump than for Biden.

The mere existence of the phony Biden scandal has prompted the media and the public to recall that Donald Trump has dozens of credible accusers.

If Trump and his team start trying to promote the Biden scandal, it could backfire on them, as everyone is reminded of who the actual sexual criminal is in this race. On the other hand, as the focus shifts more toward Trump’s status as a sexual predator, he and his team could feel compelled to try to play up the fake Biden allegation in the hope of shifting the focus back.

There’s a reason Donald Trump’s head is spinning as he tries to figure out how to handle this. When a fake scandal is invented about a Democratic candidate, it’s usually invented by the Republicans, meaning they get to come up with a fake scandal that specifically works in their favor.

This is a fake scandal about a Democratic candidate that was invented by the fringe left to keep the Democrat from getting to the general election to begin with, so it’s not at all a good fit for what Trump needs right now. No wonder he’s not sure what to do with it.

April

April 28

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Roger Stone WikiLeaks conspiracy just took a remarkably ugly turn involving Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, April 29, 2020. Roger Stone is scheduled to report to prison in just a few days, unless Donald Trump is stupid enough to pardon him first, which would hand the Democrats a compelling talking point in the 2020 election about how Trump is a criminal. Even as we wait to see what Trump does, the whole thing just got a lot more complicated.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was always fairly clear that Robert Mueller was only able to charge Roger Stone for a fraction of his crimes, before Bill Barr managed to shut Mueller down. Accordingly, multiple major news outlets went to court to obtain the search warrants in the Stone case, and today they succeeded. Sure enough, there was a whole lot more going on with Stone than what he was charged with.

The search warrants reveal that Roger Stone and Julian Assange were communicating in 2017, after the election. Stone assured Assange that if he was pursued by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, Stone would "bring down the entire house of cards" by taking it to the "highest level of government." Stone is clearly referring to his closest friend Donald Trump; the only question is whether Stone really was communicating with Trump about this, or if Stone was bluffing.

Either way, these warrants reveal that Roger Stone isn’t just some guy who lied under oath and then tried to intimidate the witnesses against him. He’s a guy who was conspiring with an international cyberterrorist against the United States. This makes it a lot harder for Donald Trump to sell the notion of pardoning Stone, because the blowback would be tremendous.

On the other hand, if Roger Stone has dirt tying Donald Trump to Julian Assange, then Trump has to worry about Stone leaking it if Trump doesn’t pardon him. Trump is now in a rather complicated no-win situation, with just days to decide whether to pardon Stone or let him report to prison. These search warrants also make clear that Attorney General Bill Barr committed felony obstruction of justice when he forced Mueller off the job before Stone could be charged with the rest of his crimes. Barr is going to end up needing a pardon of his own, or he’ll end up in prison as well.

April 26

Public Health Top Stories

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jonathan swan twitterAxios Sneak Peek, White House to shift to economic message, Jonathan Swan, right, April 26, 2020. The White House plans to shift its coronavirus messaging toward boosting the economy and highlighting "success stories" of businesses, reducing its public emphasis on health statistics, according to two officials familiar with the planning.

Driving the news: The Coronavirus Task Force — and the doctors who've become household names, Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci — "will continue but take a back seat to the forward-looking, 'what's next' message," a White House official told Axios.

• President Trump is expected to make fewer, shorter appearances at press conferences, as we reported on Friday.
• Nothing's ever set with Trump, and these decisions will be made day by day. But on Saturday, for the first day in weeks, the White House didn't hold a press briefing and the president made no public appearances.

What we're hearing: "Expect to see a pivot from the White House in the days ahead, focusing on the economy and a more hopeful, forward-looking message," one of these officials said.

washington post logoDonald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Washington Post, 13 hours of Trump: The president fills briefings with attacks and boasts, but little empathy, Philip Bump and Ashley Parker, April 26, 2020. A Post analysis reveals a president using the White House lectern to vent and rage.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump expands battle with World Health Organization far beyond aid suspension, John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Souad Mekhennet​, April 26, 2020 (print ed.). The president's aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the WHO on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions said.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: The White House attempts to humiliate CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Erik Wemple, April 25, 2020.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s latest coronavirus stunt is unconscionable, Bill Palmer, right, April 26, 2020. Donald Trump is guilty of so many kinds bill palmerof atrocities, it’s difficult to keep track of them all, let alone quantify them. The two common themes about his darkest of stunts is that they’re all about him, and that he doesn’t care who gets hurt or killed in the process.

The coronavirus crisis in the United States is entirely due to the dishonesty and negligence of Donald Trump. Legal experts are already saying he’s committed negligent homicide against the Americans who have died. Lately he’s been trying to drive the death toll higher in a general sense by urging the nation to reopen before it’s safe to do so. Now he’s pulling one specific stunt that should get him arrested on the spot.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has decided that he’s going to give the commencement address at the West Point graduation ceremony – in the middle of a pandemic. He’s aiming to force the graduates to travel from their homes back to the academy, just for an in-person graduation ceremony, just so he can give the speech. How risky is this? The New York Times says that waivers will need to be involved, because the military has already banned all personnel from travel.

This is sick beyond words. Donald Trump will be putting these kids’ lives at risk just so he can stroke his own ego. Regardless of whatever social distancing measures might be taken in a gathering this large, the coronavirus will spread among the cadets in attendance. Many will get sick, and statistically speaking, some will die. Trump is trying to pull this stunt with the military because it’s the one entity that can’t legally say no to him. After Trump loses the election, he needs to be placed on military trial for this stunt.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion / Parody: Trump is exhibiting all the symptoms of a hydroxychloroquine overdose, Dana Milbank, right, April 26, 2020 (print ed.). My study hasn’t dana milbank Custombeen peer reviewed yet, but my evidence — based on a hunch that originated in my gut — is very strong: President Trump has overdosed on hydroxychloroquine.

Trump, who claims a "natural instinct for science" not from formal training but because his late uncle was a scientist, once used this innate ability to determine that climate change was a hoax and that windmills cause cancer.

More recently he mobilized the U.S. government to make sure thousands of covid-19 patients were treated with the antimalarial clorox graphic Customhydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin — because Trump’s instinct told him the drug cocktail would be a "phenomenal" "game changer."

Sadly, evidence from all over suggests that the drugs cause heart problems and worsen death rates.

No matter! The stable genius dropped his hydroxychloroquine hypothesis faster than you can say "snake oil" and is now touting a new miracle cure for the virus: injecting the lungs with bleach (graphic at right), alcohol or other common disinfectants, possibly along with massive doses of heat and ultraviolet light.

djt smiling fileNoting that disinfectants kill the virus "in a minute" on inanimate surfaces, Trump asked: "Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside? Or almost a cleaning? … It would be interesting to check that."

Government scientists dutifully promised to investigate the boss’s lung-bleaching idea.

As it happens, I, too, have a natural instinct for science (my brother is a urologist) and I have used it to conclude that hydroxychloroquine abuse has caused Trump and some top aides and allies to suffer a condition we experts refer to as acute nuttiness.

First, it is scientifically obvious from Trump’s enthusiasm for hydroxychloroquine that he has been using it himself. While taking the drugs, he has not succumbed to coronavirus. He has concluded, therefore, based on his study population (N=1), that the drugs prevent coronavirus 100 percent of the time.

U.S. Media / Politics News

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everyone piles on as illiterate Donald Trump goes berserk about "Noble Prizes," Bill Palmer, April 26, 2020. Donald Trump is having a bad day today. He’s screwed up his press briefings so badly, he’s had to stop holding them. He hasn’t been able to golf or hold rallies for some donald trump twittertime now. He’s stuck home alone, with a pathetic existence and a failing presidency, and nothing left but his infamous Twitter account. You can guess how this went. Also, he’s illiterate and he’s an idiot, which doesn’t help his cause.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was bad enough that Trump had just finished posting an illiterate rant about a "hamberger" before deleting it. He then decided to tackle the trickier topic of Pulitzer Prizes, which he now thinks are Nobel Prizes. Or as Trump thinks they’re called, "Noble Prizes." Trump tweeted this:

"When will all of the "reporters" who have received Noble Prizes for their work on Russia, Russia, Russia, only to have been proven totally wrong (and, in fact, it was the other side who committed the crimes), be turning back their cherished "Nobles" so that they can be given to the REAL REPORTERS & JOURNALISTS who got it right. I can give the Committee a very comprehensive list. When will the Noble Committee DEMAND the Prizes back, especially since they were gotten under fraud? The reporters and Lamestream Media knew the truth all along Lawsuits should be brought against all, including the Fake News Organizations, to rectify this terrible injustice. For all of the great lawyers out there, do we have any takers? When will the Noble Committee Act? Better be fast!"

Not only is Trump threatening retaliation against the reporters who won the Nobel Prizes, he also appears to be threatening the Nobel Committee. Wait til he finds out there are five separate Nobel Committees.

Also, wait til he finds out it’s not a "Noble Prize." He’s going to be really upset when he finds out journalists win the Pulitzer Prize, not the Nobel Prize or the Noble Prize. This guy is totally, totally losing it – and the day is barely half over.

Pandemic Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, White House officials weigh replacement of HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, April 26, 2020. Frustrations have grown over his handling of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, as well as of his removal last week of a top vaccine official in his agency, which created an uproar.

White House officials are discussing whether to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, as frustrations have grown over his handling of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, as well as of his removal last week of a top vaccine official in his agency, which created an uproar.

alex azar o cropped CustomSeveral top White House aides are discussing Azar’s removal and have mused over possible replacements, but President Trump has not weighed in, said five people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

It remains unclear whether the president will want to replace his top health official amid a pandemic, because it could signal more chaos and turmoil in the administration’s response, which has come under repeated fire. More than 53,000 Americans have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 900,000 U.S. cases have been reported as of Sunday.

Over the past several weeks, Azar has rarely appeared at the daily White House coronavirus news briefings and has been largely sidelined from Mike Pencethe response. He oversaw that effort until Feb. 26, when he was replaced by Vice President Pence, right, amid anger over the continued lack of coronavirus testing and conflicting messages from health officials about the threat of the virus.

His agency, however, is still responsible for crucial aspects of the pandemic response, such as leading the search for treatments and vaccines and distributing $100 billion worth of relief to hospitals that was allocated by Congress.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

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ny times logoNew York Times, Nervous Republicans See Trump Sinking, and Taking the Senate With Him, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, April 26, 2020 (print ed.). Ominous new polls and the president’s erratic briefings have the G.O.P. worried about a Democratic takeover in November.

rnc logoPresident Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

The scale of the G.O.P.’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Mr. Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.

republican elephant logoDemocrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Mr. Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super PACs plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.

Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Coronavirus and the Price of Trump’s Delusions, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 26, 2020. A cult of personality is no match for a pandemic.

In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that a second wave of coronavirus infections this coming winter "will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," because it will coincide with flu season. He also called the protests against stay-at-home orders "not helpful."

Donald Trump was apparently not pleased, tweeting that Redfield was "totally misquoted by Fake News @CNN." On Wednesday evening, after another rant about fake news, Trump brought Redfield onstage at his daily press briefing, where Redfield had the unenviable task of trying to explain his remarks, which he acknowledged were quoted accurately, without contradicting the president. The fall and winter might be "more difficult and potentially more complicated" due to the confluence of coronavirus and influenza, Redfield said, but that didn’t mean the second wave would be "worse."

Trump, meanwhile, spoke of the crisis in the past tense, as something America is now emerging from, suggesting that all the country will face in the future is "some embers of corona." The day before, the country had recorded around 2,200 deaths, making it one of the deadliest days of the pandemic in the United States.

Over the last three and a half years, Americans have had to accustom themselves to a relentless, numbing barrage of lies from the federal government. In one sector after another, we’ve seen experts systemically purged and replaced with toadying apparatchiks. The few professionals who’ve kept their jobs have often had to engage in degrading acts of public obeisance more common to autocracies. Public policy has zigzagged according to presidential whim. Empirical reality has been subsumed to Trump’s cult of personality.

But as long as the economy was decent and many of the crises Trump created were far away, the immediate costs of Trump’s narcissistic governance have been, for most citizens, more psychic than material. That changed with the coronavirus. Today the lies are no longer about the size of the audience at Trump’s inauguration, the fruits of sucking up to North Korea or the findings of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. Now the bill for a president with a tyrant’s contempt for truth and competence has come due

April 25

Pandemic Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Dire Warnings and Aggressive Pushback as Trump Promotes Sham Cures, Katie Rogers, Christine Hauser, Alan Yuhas and Maggie Haberman, Updated April 25, 2020. Responding to the criticism from public health officials around the country, the president said he was playing a trick on reporters.

In Maryland, so many callers flooded a health hotline with questions that the state’s Emergency Management Agency had to issue a warning that "under no circumstances" should any disinfectant be taken to treat the coronavirus. In Washington State, officials urged people not to consume laundry detergent capsules. Across the country on Friday, health professionals sounded the alarm.

Injecting bleach or highly concentrated rubbing alcohol "causes massive organ damage and the blood cells in the body to basically burst," Dr. Diane P. Calello, the medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, said in an interview. "It can definitely be a fatal event."

Even the makers of Clorox and Lysol pleaded with Americans not to inject or ingest their products.

djt quizzical uncredited palmer CustomThe frantic reaction was prompted by President Trump’s suggestion on Thursday at a White House briefing that an "injection inside" the human body with a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol could help combat the virus.

"And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute," Mr. Trump said after a presentation from William N. Bryan, an acting under secretary for science at the Department of Homeland Security, detailed the virus’s possible susceptibility to bleach and alcohol.

"One minute," the president said. "And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that."

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, right, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was sitting to the side in the White House briefing room, blinking deborah birx profile palmer Customhard and looking at the floor as he spoke. Later, Mr. Trump asked her if she knew about "the heat and the light" as a potential cure.

"Not as a treatment," Dr. Birx said, adding, "I haven’t seen heat or light —" before the president cut her off.

Mr. Trump’s remarks caused an immediate uproar, and the White House spent much of Friday trying to walk them back. Also Friday, the Food and Drug Administration warned that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs that the president has repeatedly recommended in treating the coronavirus, can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients and has resulted in some deaths.

The F.D.A. said the drugs should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems.

"Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines," Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, said in a statement criticizing the coverage of Thursday night’s briefing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump comments prompt doctors, and Lysol, to warn against injecting disinfectants, Allyson Chiu, Katie Shepherd and Brittany Shammas, April 25, 2020 (print ed.). After a presentation Thursday that touched on the disinfectants that can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air, President Trump pondered whether those chemicals could be used to fight the virus inside the human body.

"I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute," Trump said during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. "And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."

The question, which Trump offered unprompted, immediately spurred doctors, lawmakers and the makers of Lysol to respond with incredulity and warnings against injecting or otherwise ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic.

"My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea," Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Washington Post. "This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous."

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Donald Trump suddenly went soft on China, Bill Palmer, April 25, 2020. For awhile there, Donald Trump was trying to gain the cheapest of political points by referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus." It was a blatant attempt at scapegoating Chinese-Americans and Asian-Americans over the virus, in the hope of stirring up xenophobia within his racist base, thus distracting them from his own failures.

bill palmer report logo headerThen a couple weeks ago Trump suddenly stopped calling it the "Chinese Virus" and instead delivered a monologue about how Asian-Americans shouldn’t be blamed for this. This was a good development, of course. But as Palmer Report pointed out at the time, a bad person like Trump only does something like that when he has ulterior motives. Now we’re getting some answers.

Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars to a Chinese government-controlled bank, and he’s scheduled to have to make a huge payment on that loan soon, according to an eye opening new report from Politico. Based on the fact that six of Trump’s top revenue-producing properties are currently shut down in the pandemic, and the recent reporting that he’s already reduced to begging Deutsche Bank to push back his payments, it’s more clear than ever that Trump has no cash on hand.

No wonder Donald Trump suddenly went soft on China. President Xi must have reminded him that China owns him, and that it can seize control of his buildings if he loses the election and can’t pay up. Again, it’s a good thing that Trump has stopped calling it the "Chinese Virus." But it’s disturbing to think that Trump only stopped using that racist term because China reminded him that it literally owns him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump expands battle with World Health Organization far beyond aid suspension, John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Souad Mekhennet​, April 25, 2020. The president's aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the WHO on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions said.

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Salon, Psychologist John Gartner: Trump is a "sexual sadist" who is "actively engaging in sabotage," Chauncey DeVega, April 25, 2020. Leading psychotherapist and author on Trump's worsening sadistic "addiction" to causing harm, pain and death.

As of Friday, the coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 50,000 people in the United States. That number is likely to be an undercount, and it's possible we will never have a true reckoning.

At almost every juncture, Donald Trump has made decisions about the coronavirus pandemic that have led to more death. His behavior is that of a person who has no care or concern for the health, safety and welfare of the American people. Nothing could epitomize that more perfectly than his grotesque suggestion this week that "injecting" disinfectants or household cleaning products might kill the coronavirus. This would seem comical, and entirely unbelievable, if it had not actually happened.

In 2016 the Obama administration told then President-elect Trump and his advisers of the high likelihood that a pandemic would strike the nation and advised the incoming administration to take appropriate steps to reduce its impact. Obama officials also left their Trump counterparts a step-by-step guide on how to respond to a pandemic. Trump and his inner circle ignored that guidance.

Last November, the U.S. military warned Donald Trump that the country was likely to be afflicted with a devastating pandemic originating in China.

In January 2020, the Trump administration was told by its own experts that the coronavirus would spread beyond China and become a global pandemic. Again, Trump chose inaction.

Trump has deprived Democratic-led regions of the country from receiving needed medical supplies. He also waited months to begin using the Defense Appropriation Act to compel American companies to produce more ventilators, masks and other emergency equipment.

Late last year, Americans working with the World Health Organization began to warn Trump and his administration about the coronavirus pandemic. These doctors and other medical professionals were ignored.

In these examples and many others, Trump and his inner circle ignored or purged experts and other truth-tellers, and lied about, misrepresented, deflected or denied the dire threat to the American people posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Considered in total, Trump and his regime have shown themselves to be incompetent, callous, malevolent and deeply cruel in their response to the coronavirus crisis (as well as to a plethora of other issues).

But to merely document the Trump regime's deadly failures in response to the coronavirus pandemic is to ignore the most important question: What were Trump and his advisers' underlying motivations?

This forensic question must be answered if we are ever to have a full accounting of the coronavirus, and see justice done for the sick, the dead and the dying as well as the damage done to the broader American community.

Media critic (and former Salon writer) Eric Boehlert summarizes the importance of determining Donald Trump's motives this way:

As I stressed last week, the media's preferred storyline that suggests Trump is simply incompetent doesn't add up because Trump has made the wrong decision every single time in terms of how crises like this are supposed to be dealt with. (i.e. Be consistent, transparent, factual, and credible.) It's increasingly not believable for the press to suggest Trump has been distracted or inept during this crisis, in part because of the level of White House uselessness has become so staggering.

Maybe Trump's vengeful. Maybe he wants to wreck the economy to create investment opportunities? He's under the thumb of a foreign entity? He wants to cause panic and cancel the November elections? He's a fatalist? Who knows. And honestly, the specific "why" isn't what matters now. What matters is asking the difficult questions and pondering what the Trump presidency is truly about, no matter what lurks in the shadows….

Now the press needs to shift some of its focus and ask the truly alarming questions about Trump and his motives. Because we still don't know why he essentially ordered the federal government to stand down for the virus invasion.

Psychologist and psychotherapist John Gartner, contributor to the bestselling book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" and co-founder of the Duty to WARN PAC, has an answer: Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist. Our president's mental pathologies inexorably compel him to hurt and kill large numbers of people — including his own supporters.

Dr. Gartner taught for many years at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, and has private therapeutic practices in Baltimore and New York, specializing in the treatment of borderline personality disorders. In our most recent conversation, he explains that sadism and violence are central to Trump's malignant narcissism and his decision-making about the coronavirus pandemic. Gartner also warns that Donald Trump is an abuser locked into a deeply dysfunctional relationship with the American people and that, like other sadists, Trump enjoys causing harm and suffering.

Ultimately, Gartner concludes that Donald Trump is engaging in "democidal behavior" and cautions that the tens of thousands of dead (so far) from the coronavirus pandemic are not simply collateral damage from Trump's policies, but rather the logical outcome of Trump's apparent mental pathologies and the poor decisions that flow from them.

April 24

April 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration, Karen world health organization logo CustomDeYoung, Lena H. Sun and Emily Rauhala, April 20, 2020 (print ed.). The presence of U.S. scientists in Geneva undercuts president’s argument that the WHO failed to communicate with Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry, Jonathan O'Connell, April 20, 2020. The federal government gave national hotel and restaurant chains millions of dollars in grants before the $349 billion program ran out of money Thursday, leading to a backlash that prompted one company to give the money back and a Republican senator to say that "millions of dollars are being wasted."

Thousands of traditional small businesses were unable to get funding from the program before it ran dry. As Congress and the White House near a deal to add an additional $310 billion to the program, some are calling for additional oversight and rule changes to prevent bigger chains from accepting any more money.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a chain that has 150 locations and is valued at $250 million, reported receiving $20 million in funding from the small business portion of the economic stimulus legislation called the Paycheck Protection Program. The Potbelly chain of sandwich shops, which has more than 400 locations and a value of $89 million, reported receiving $10 million last week.

republican elephant logoShake Shack, a $1.6 billion burger-and-fries chain based in New York City, received $10 million. After complaints from small business advocates after the fund went dry, company founder Danny Meyer and chief executive Randy Garutti announced Sunday evening that they would return the money.

They said they had no idea that the program would run out of money so quickly and that they understood the uproar.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has tried to defend the program in recent days, wrote on Twitter that he was "glad to see" Shake Shack return the money.

In all, more than 70 publicly traded companies have reported receiving money from the program, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) criticized the program, saying that "companies that are not being harmed at all by the coronavirus crisis have the ability to receive taxpayer-funded loans that can be forgiven."

JPMorgan explained that larger companies may have been served more quickly because its commercial banking unit, which serves larger clients, was able to complete "most of the applications it received" while many more applications poured in from traditional small businesses.

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 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s testing czar was forced out of job developing vaccine projects in 2015, Michael Kranish, April 20, 2020.  A performance evaluation at Texas A&M in 2015 said he was "more interested in promoting yourself" than the health science center where he worked.

Brett Giroir, right, the federal official overseeing coronavirus testing efforts, says that his experience working on vaccine development projects at Texas A&M University helped prepare him for this historic moment. He once said that his vaccine effort was so vital that "the fate of 50 brett giroir Custommillion people will rely on us getting this done."

But after eight years of work on several vaccine projects, Giroir was told in 2015 he had 30 minutes to resign or he would be fired. His annual performance evaluation at Texas A&M, the local newspaper reported, said he was "more interested in promoting yourself" than the health science center where he worked. He got low marks on being a "team player."

Now President Trump has given Giroir the crucial task of ending the massive shortfall of tests for the novel coronavirus. Some governors have blasted the lack of federal help on testing, which they say is necessary to enact Trump’s plan for reopening the economy.

  • Washington Post, U.S. stocks tumble amid steep drop in oil prices, Jacob Bogage and Thomas Heath, April 20, 2020. The three major U.S. indexes flashed red following a two-week rally, as U.S. crude prices hit 20-year lows on falling energy use and storage capacity issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Head of Government, Leans Into Antigovernment Message, Maggie Haberman, April 20, 2020. With his poll numbers fading after a rally-around-the-leader bump, the president is stoking protests against stay-at-home orders.

First he was the self-described "wartime president." Then he trumpeted the "total" authority of the federal government. But in the past few days, President Trump has nurtured protests against state-issued stay-at-home orders aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.

djt hands up mouth open CustomHurtling from one position to another is consistent with Mr. Trump’s approach to the presidency over the past three years. Even when external pressures and stresses appear to change the dynamics that the country is facing, Mr. Trump remains unbowed, altering his approach for a day or two, only to return to nursing grievances.

Not even the president’s re-election campaign can harness him: His team is often reactive to his moods and whims, trying but not always succeeding in steering him in a particular direction. Now, with Mr. Trump’s poll numbers falling after a rally-around-the-leader bump, he is road-testing a new turn on a familiar theme — veering into messages aimed at appealing to Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the legally enforceable stay-at-home orders.

djt maga hatWhether his latest theme will be effective for him is an open question: In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday, just 36 percent of voters said they generally trusted what Mr. Trump says about the coronavirus.

But the president, who ran as an insurgent in 2016, is most comfortable raging against the machine of government, even when he is the one running the country. And while the coronavirus is in every state in the union, it is heavily affecting minority and low-income communities.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Stop Airing Trump’s Briefings! Charles M. Blow, right, April 20, 2020 (print ed.). The media is allowing disinformation to charles blow customappear as news.

Around this time four years ago, the media world was all abuzz over an analysis by mediaQuant, a company that tracks what is known as "earned media" coverage of political candidates. Earned media is free media. The firm computed that Donald Trump had "earned" a whopping $2 billion of coverage, dwarfing the value earned by all other candidates, Republican and Democrat, even as he had only purchased about $10 million of paid advertising.

Simply put, the media was complicit in Trump’s rise. Trump was macabre theater, a man self-immolating in real time, one who was destined to lose, but who could provide entertainment, content and yes, profits while he lasted. The Hollywood Reporter in February of 2016 quoted CBS’s C.E.O. as saying, "It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS," because as The Reporter put it, "He likes the ad money Trump and his competitors are bringing to the network."

I fear that history is repeating itself.

For over a month now, the White House has been holding its daily coronavirus briefings, and most networks, cable news channels and major news websites have been carrying all or parts of them live, as millions of people, trapped inside and anxious, have tuned in.

The briefings are marked by Trump’s own misinformation, deceptions, rage, blaming and boasting. He takes no responsibility at all for his abysmal handling of the crisis, while each day he seems to find another person to blame, like a child frantically flinging spaghetti at a wall to see which one sticks.

He delivers his disinformation flanked by scientists and officials, whose presence only serves to convey credibility to propagandistic performances that have simply become a replacement for his political rallies.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but we are also in the middle of a presidential campaign, and I shudder to think how much "earned media" the media is simply shoveling Trump’s way by airing these briefings, which can last up to two hours a day.

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Pro-gun activists use Facebook to promote protests of orders to remain at home, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm​, April 20, 2020 (print ed.).​ Three far-right provocateurs are behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine demonstrations, offering the latest evidence that some seemingly organic protests are engineered by a network of conservative activists.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: With no good answer for lost month of virus preparation, Trump snaps at another female reporter, Amber Phillips, April 20, 2020 (print ed.). When President Trump was asked at Sunday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing why he didn’t warn Americans in February that the virus was spreading and implement social distancing earlier, Trump’s response was to go back to late January, when he issued the travel restrictions on Chinese people coming to the United States.

In other words: More than two months into this crisis, Trump doesn’t have an answer for why he didn’t do more in this crucial window to prepare the country for the coronavirus.

On Sunday, Trump got defensive when a reporter asked him why his administration had not done more to prepare. He told CBS’s Weijia Jiang to "lower her voice" and to take it "nice and easy."

April 19

Public Health Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration, Karen world health organization logo CustomDeYoung, Lena H. Sun and Emily Rauhala, April 19, 2020. The presence of U.S. scientists in Geneva undercuts president’s argument that the WHO failed to communicate with Washington.

More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials.

cdc logo CustomA number of CDC staffers are regularly detailed to work at WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.

The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s charge that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. live updates: Governors in U.S. Hot Spots Plead for More Testing, Staff reports, April 19, 2020. New York and New Jersey, epicenters of the outbreak in the United States, say they can’t reopen their economies without wider tests for the virus.

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Media Matters, Commentary: Fox News promotes protests against social distancing, Matt Gertz, April 19, 2020 (first published April 16). Introduction by John Whitehead: This is (still) as serious as it gets. Lives are on the line with how this coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is covered. It's clear that right-wing media are not just failing this test, but failing it badly.

Over the last few days, Fox News has enthusiastically promoted protests against social distancing orders. Hosts and other network figures have promoted and encouraged viewers to join in.

On Saturday, Fox aired the above map of planned protests. The entire affair is very similar to how the network promoted Tea Party protests in 2009. In fact, the map (shown below) was even similar.

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There's substantial evidence that some of these protests are astro-turfed. But even taking into account that some people really do feel this way, the fact is that polls show that the vast majority of Americans are more worried about governments opening things too quickly.

As Media Matters president Angelo Carusone told Vox, Fox News and right-wing media didn't create these protests, but they are legitimizing them, whitewashing extremist ties, and bringing them to a larger audience, both in terms of pushing people to participate and pushing other media outlets to cover them. The goal is to change public opinion about the pandemic.

The difference this time is that this is about science, not politics. And these protests -- and those like Fox that promote them -- only help spread the virus.

Fox News triggered Trump's all-caps endorsement of protests against his own guidelines for re-opening the economy

President Donald Trump endorsed conservative protests against social distancing measures in three states immediately after Fox News aired a segment on the efforts. Trump, who was apparently watching the segment, responded to it in real-time by expressing support for the protests, sending multiple tweets saying, "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!," "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!," "LIBERATE VIRGINIA."

Earlier this week, Fox hosts cheered on protests by conservative activists against Michigan’s stay-at-home order. As Matt Gertz noted at the time: "If Trump sees Fox’s protest coverage and endorses the effort, social distancing will become even more politically polarized. The hard-won progress in the fight against the virus could evaporate in an instant, leaving behind a shattered economy and an influx of COVID-19 deaths."

This is not hyperbole. We've already seen data indicate that there may be a surge in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin after Republicans and the Supreme Court forced that state's voters to go to the polls.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, As U.S. nears 750,000 confirmed cases, conservatives protest coronavirus restrictions, Staff reports, April 19, 2020. Pence says Trump’s ‘LIBERATE’ tweets were meant to encourage governors to ‘safely and responsibly’ reopen states.

  • Pelosi: State protests of stay-at-home orders are a ‘distraction’
  • Pope Francis says ‘selfish indifference’ in pandemic response would be worse than virus itself
  • Boris Johnson missed five initial emergency meetings about coronavirus, reports say

Newsday, Opinion: An early casualty of the coronavirus pandemic has been the loss of easy access to public information, Miranda S. Spivack, Updated April 19, 2020. In Hawaii, Gov. David Ige suspended the open meetings and open records laws. In California, numerous governments and public agencies, including San Francisco, announced suspension or substantial delays in providing public records.

In Ohio, the state labor department stopped issuing daily unemployment figures. In the District of Columbia, the city council approved a measure that allows agencies to suspend fulfilling public information requests during "days of a Covid-19 closure."

"Many state agencies are releasing data on Twitter," said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, an open-government advocacy group. "That’s better than nothing, but it means there is a ton of data being released in a very disjointed way."

The picture is even bleaker at the federal level. The FBI quickly shut down its record division and refused to accept any electronic request for records, insisting instead on paper inquiries.The White House ordered that high-level meetings about the coronavirus be classified. The Army stopped providing data on soldiers who are infected with the virus, saying the information could fall into the hands of the nation’s enemies.

Federal officials have declined to identify nursing homes where residents are ill from the virus. The $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that President Donald Trump signed into law on March 27 includes a provision that exempts the Federal Reserve from holding public meetings, a remarkable development because the agency will play a key role in shepherding the federal monetary response to the pandemic — and will be able to do so away from the public.

It is obvious that some delays and detours are necessary as governments adjust to the new normal and step up their public health response. But the virus in the United States also should be an opportunity for governments to rethink how they maintain — and yes — enhance the ability of the public to track government actions and data whenever possible in real time. Daily briefings are good, but there is so much more that governments can do to keep the public informed, especially during a public health crisis of this magnitude.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign decides to focus on Biden rather than try to promote his pandemic response, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Annie Linskey and Toluse Olorunnipa, April 19, 2020. Both Democrats and Republicans shifted their strategies after polling showed declining approval ratings for President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

President Trump’s campaign is preparing to launch a broad effort aimed at linking Joe Biden to China, after concluding that it would be more politically effective than defending or promoting Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision by top campaign advisers, which has met pushback from some White House officials and donors, reflects polling showing a declining approval rating for Trump among key groups and growing openness to supporting Biden in recent weeks, according to officials familiar with the data who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The shift represents a remarkable acknowledgment by aides to a self-described "wartime president," leading during what might have been a rally-around-the-flag moment, to ­effectively decide it is better to go on the attack than focus on his own achievements. Campaign polling found more than three-quarters of voters blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak, underscoring the potential benefits of tying the presumptive Democratic nominee to ­Beijing.

The planned China push, which has already been embraced by pro-Trump outside groups, comes as both the Trump and Biden campaigns have been anxiously recalibrating their plans in response to the most catastrophic economic and health crisis in the United States in generations. The two title contenders for the 2020 elections are finally set, but neither campaign, with their mismatched strengths and weaknesses, knows what the election arena will look like.

washington post logoWashington Post, #FloridaMorons trends after people flock to reopened Florida beaches, Meryl Kornfield and Samantha Pell, April 19, 2020 (print ed.). Aerial snapshots of people flocking to a reopened beach in Jacksonville, Fla., made waves on the Internet on Saturday.

Local news aired photos and videos of Florida’s shoreline dotted with people, closer than six feet apart, spurring #FloridaMorons to trend on Twitter after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gave the go-ahead for local beachfront governments to decide whether to reopen their beaches during a news briefing Friday. Duval and St. Johns counties have reopened their beaches, while Miami-Dade County officials said they are considering following suit.

On the same day that Florida reported 58 deaths from the coronavirus — its highest daily toll since the pandemic began — DeSantis told reporters that it’s essential that Floridians get exercise outdoors.

 Media / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Coronavirus Story Isn’t About the President, Ben Smith, April 19, 2020. Trump has begun his corona campaign. We don’t have to play along, our columnist writes.

Did you hear? The president said some things today. Mean things! About someone I know … I can’t quite remember the details, or whether it was today or yesterday, or what day of the week it is, anyway.

President Trump has figured out the answer to one of the less important questions of 2020: How do you run a presidential campaign amid a pandemic? He can’t hold rallies, he can’t kiss babies, he can’t shake hands, not that he likes doing that anyway. And he can’t talk about anything else.

What Mr. Trump can do, it turns out, is host rolling, raucous, two-plus-hour daily television variety shows to keep his connection with the faithful and, incidentally, to variously entertain and appall the rest of the homebound American public. He can rally gun owners in Virginia as well as angry suburbanites in Michigan. He can attack the news media to make sure it’s paying attention.

This is it — the corona campaign. The most effective form of direct presidential communication since Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats. Mr. Trump wanted to start a radio show, my colleague Elaina Plott reported, but really, television was the medium that made him and the one he knows and loves. Get used to it, because given its power, he’s not going to stop in November, win or lose. He’ll most likely broadcast on his favorite medium until the day he dies.

So how do we, citizens and — to stick to my particular beat here at The Times — journalists, handle this?

April 13

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washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court for first time to hold arguments via teleconference next month, Robert Barnes, April 13, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has forced a change at the Supreme Court that justices have long resisted: live audio of the court’s oral arguments, including President Trump’s legal battle to prevent congressional committees and a New York prosecutor from obtaining his financial records.

The court announced Monday that it will hold oral arguments via teleconference for the first time in its history next month, on a set of cases that had been postponed in March and April.

Supreme Court Public Information Officer Kathleen Arberg said audio of the teleconference hearing will be released through a network pool, and thus immediately available on media platforms. She said it is not likely to be posted live on the court’s website due to concerns over the site’s capacity to handle such high volume.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, Reopening economy by May 1 may be unrealistic, say experts, including some in administration, Felicia Sonmez, Taylor Telford and Elise Viebeck, April 13, 2020. The comments by officials came as the number of confirmed U.S. cases stood at more than 550,000 and the number of deaths passed 21,000.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump retweets call to fire Fauci after virus expert says earlier measures ‘could have saved lives,’ Katie Shepherd, April 13, 2020. Right-wing commentators rebuked the infectious disease expert after his criticism. President Trump retweeted a call to fire his top infectious President Donald Trump officialdisease specialist Anthony S. Fauci on Sunday evening, amid mounting criticism of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The call, with the hashtag "FireFauci" came from a former Republican congressional candidate, DeAnna Lorraine, who amassed 1.8 percent of the vote in an open primary challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this year.

It followed an interview with National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Fauci on CNN’s "State of the Union, in which he said a stronger early response by the administration to the outbreak "could have saved lives," but also characterized the decision to implement social distancing guidelines as "complicated."

"Obviously, it would have been nice if we had a better head start, but I don’t think you could say that we are where we are right now because of one factor," Fauci said on CNN Sunday. "It’s very complicated."

washington post logoWashington Post, Who’s getting hundreds of billions in aid? The public may be in the dark, Peter Whoriskey and Heather Long, April 13, 2020. The stimulus allows the Trump administration to loan $349 billion to small businesses without naming the companies receiving the loans.

The names of businesses that collectively will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief from the federal government may not be disclosed publicly, an omission that critics say could make the massive spending program vulnerable to fraud and favoritism.

The $2.2 trillion Cares Act approved by President Trump last month requires that the names of recipients of some forms of federal aid be published, but those requirements do not extend to significant portions of the relief.

Chief among the omissions is the $349 billion expected to be doled out to small companies in chunks as large as $10 million. The rescue legislation does not compel the Small Business Administration to disclose the identity of the recipients. So far, the agency has said it received about 487,000 applications totaling $125 billion in requests.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: How false hope spread about hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 — and the consequences that followed, Elyse Samuels and Meg Kelly, April 13, 2020.

"But I think it could be, based on what I see, it could be a game changer."

— President Trump, at a White House news briefing, March 19, 2020

"Hydroxychloroquine — I don’t know, it’s looking like it’s having some good results. That would be a phenomenal thing."

— Trump, at a White House news briefing, April 3

"What do you have to lose? I’ll say it again: What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it."

— Trump, at a White House news briefing, April 4

"It’s this powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this. Some very strong signs."

— Trump, at a White House news briefing, April 5

The world is looking for answers in the search for a treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives across the globe. President Trump has repeatedly touted the anti-malarial medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as that much-needed solution.

Even before Trump started talking about the drugs, studies abroad sparked interest in them as a potential cure. News about the drugs spread quickly online, percolated to the media and the White House.

Scientists have since pointed to major flaws in those original studies and say there is a lack of reliable data on the drugs. Experts warn about the dangerous consequences of over-promoting a drug with unknown efficacy: Shortages of hydroxychloroquine have already occurred, depriving lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients of access to it. Doctors say some patients could die of side effects. Other potential treatments for covid-19 could get overlooked with so much concentration on one option.

The Fact Checker video team has reconstructed how the claim spread online and illustrates the troubling consequences of such misleading hope in the drugs.

April 11

ny times logoNew York Times, Despite Earlier Warnings, Trump Was Slow to Act on Virus, Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes, April 11, 2020. President Trump was slow to absorb the scale of the virus’s risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message and protecting gains in the economy. Dozens of interviews and a review of records revealed a fuller picture of the extent of Mr. Trump’s halting response.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump casts himself as pandemic patron, personalizing the government’s spread of cash and supplies, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, April 11, 2020 (print ed.). Day after day, the task President Trump seems to relish most is spreading cash and supplies across a beleaguered nation.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump often speaks of federal payments coming to many Americans as an act of his own benevolence, calling the bipartisan stimulus legislation "a Trump administration initiative" and reportedly musing about printing his thick-and-jagged signature on the government checks.

Trump touts the deployment of the USS Comfort to New York Harbor in personal terms, saying it was his choice to allow the hulking Navy hospital ship to be used to for coronavirus patients — and even traveling to "kiss it goodbye" before its trek north.

And Trump talks about the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators and medical equipment being shipped to hard-hit states as if it were his own storage unit, with governors saying they recognize that in turn they are expected to tread gingerly with him or risk jeopardizing their supply chain.

djt virus trump did it CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: This is a complete disaster on every level, Robert Harrington, April 11, 2020. Testing is the key. We know this because Germany and South Korea made testing a priority, and that is why they have the fewest rates of new cases and the fewest deaths per capita than any other nations on earth. Large numbers of tests followed by rigorous protocols for mandatory quarantine of infected persons has kept the numbers of deaths low. With fewer people infected, Germany and South Korea can focus their resources on care and treatment.

Germany performs 500,000 tests per week. South Korea performs 150,000 tests a week. South Korea is reporting barely 100 new cases a day, while America has twenty times that number in deaths alone. And South Korea had its first reported case on the same day the United States did.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Trump puts it, "We have a great testing system. We have the best testing system in the world." That’s almost true, except for two problems. America has an abysmal testing system. America has the worst testing system in the world and ranks dead last. Otherwise whatever is left of that statement is correct. And, thanks to Trump, America’s testing system is about to get worse. Donald Trump has just moved to end federal funding for coronavirus testing sites this week. You read that right.

Ironically, by Easter Sunday, the day for which Donald Trump issued coronavirus a deadline to get out of Dodge, America will have the highest death toll due to coronavirus in the entire world. Coronavirus has just surpassed every other cause of death in the USA. Mass graves are being dug in New York and filled with coronavirus victims every day. The death rate due to coronavirus in the USA is also among the highest in the world and currently stands at around 4%. You can unequivocally lay those deaths at the feet of Donald Trump. Not content to be a "mere" child rapist, Donald Trump has now graduated to murder.

Should the COVID-19 coronavirus mutate, as the Spanish Flu did twice in 1918, America could be in for a calamity for which it is not remotely prepared. "We … are giving out millions of tests, and every day we’re doing it exponentially," Trump says. Setting aside his vagary about "doing it exponentially," whatever that means, the United States is not "giving out" millions of tests.

Rarely does a social tragedy underline how deadly dangerous is the difference between political theory and factual reality. If nothing proves that Donald Trump is "not just like" Joe Biden, this is it. Biden would have listened to the scientists, he would have made testing a priority because he would have seen that Germany and South Korea were superbly ahead of everyone else precisely because they made testing a priority.

Above all, Biden wouldn’t have become jealous of those countries and allowed his ego to refuse to learn from them, simply because the idea didn’t originate with him first. Biden would not have allowed thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of Americans to needlessly die because, unlike child rapist and murderer Trump, he is capable of listening to what the experts say, and he is capable of learning from them.

History News Network via AlterNet, Author interview on sadism, crime and a love of lies: What 3,500 lawsuits reveal about Trump’s true nature, Interview by Robin Lindley of author James Ziren, April 11, 2020. American presidents before Donald Trump had some record of public achievement in politics, government or the military before they were elected. Donald Trump lacked any of those credentials, but brought his astounding history of involvement in thousands of lawsuits to the nation’s highest office. This trove of cases from more than 45 years reflects Trump’s contempt for ethical standards and for the US Constitution and the rule of law, the foundation of American democracy.

As a perennial litigant, Trump weaponized the law to devastate perceived enemies, to consolidate power, to frustrate opposing parties, as former federal prosecutor and acclaimed author James D. Zirin illuminates in his compelling and disturbing history of Trump’s use and abuse of the law, Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits (All Points Books).

Mr. Zirin is a distinguished veteran attorney who spent decades handling complex litigation. He is also a self-described "middle of the road Republican." Plaintiff in Chief stands as his response to Trump’s disrespect for law and our legal system. He stresses that the book is a legal study, not a partisan takedown.

In his book, Mr. Zirin scrupulously documents Trump’s life in courts of law. Based on more than three years of extensive research, the book examines illustrative cases and how they reflect on the character and moral perspective of the current president. The details are grounded in more than 3,500 lawsuits filed by Trump and against Trump. Litigation usually involves sworn affidavits attesting to accuracy and testimony given under oath if a trial occurs, so Mr. Zirin is able to reference page after page of irrefutable evidence of Trump’s legal maneuvering, misstatements, hyperbole, and outright lies.

As Mr. Zirin points out, Trump learned how to use the law from his mentor, the notoriously unprincipled lawyer and fixer Roy Cohn whose motto was "Fuck the law." Trump took Cohn’s scorched earth strategy to heart and used the law to attack others, to never accept blame or responsibility, and to always claim victory no matter how badly he lost.

In his book, Mr. Zirin scrupulously documents Trump’s life in courts of law. Based on more than three years of extensive research, the book examines illustrative cases and how they reflect on the character and moral perspective of the current president. The details are grounded in more than 3,500 lawsuits filed by Trump and against Trump. Litigation usually involves sworn affidavits attesting to accuracy and testimony given under oath if a trial occurs, so Mr. Zirin is able to reference page after page of irrefutable evidence of Trump’s legal maneuvering, misstatements, hyperbole, and outright lies.

As Mr. Zirin points out, Trump learned how to use the law from his mentor, the notoriously unprincipled lawyer and fixer Roy Cohn whose motto was "Fuck the law." Trump took Cohn’s scorched earth strategy to heart and used the law to attack others, to never accept blame or responsibility, and to always claim victory no matter how badly he lost.

washington post logoWashington Post, Watchdog: Mnuchin acted ‘properly’ on Trump’s tax returns, Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Tom Hamburger, April 11, 2020 (print ed.).  House Democrats had sued in court over the Treasury Department's refusal to disclose the president's returns. Report could complicate Democrats’ efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns, as prospects dim for obtaining filings before November elections.

steven mnuchin wTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left,  followed internal protocols when he refused to give President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, Treasury’s office of inspector general found in a report obtained by The Washington Post on Friday ahead of its public release.

Richard K. Delmar, deputy inspector general of the Department of Treasury, wrote in a letter to House Democrats that Mnuchin "properly" irs logoprocessed the demands for Trump’s returns and followed the guidance of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Lawyers for the legal counsel’s office wrote in a June 2019 opinion that House Democrats’ demands for Trump’s return should be denied because they did not serve a legitimate "legislative purpose."

"The core of our inquiry is that the [Treasury] Department processed the request properly, that it sought legal guidance from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, determined that it was bound by that office’s advice, and based on that advice determined not to provide the returns and tax information sought," Delmar’s one-page letter states.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Secret Service has protected Trump family members on 4,000 trips in three years, Philip Bump, April 11, 2020 (print ed.). jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookThat figure excludes trips focused on Trump or the first lady. In 2018 and 2019, President Trump's family took more than three times as many Secret Service-protected trips as Obama's family did from 2010 to 2016.

Once Trump took office, his position on trips (and on Obama’s golf habit) shifted dramatically, though the rhetoric of many of his supporters didn’t. While the media tracked Trump’s regular trips to his privately owned properties in Florida and New Jersey, Trump’s supporters regularly defended secret service logoTrump by pointing to the frequency and cost of Obama’s trips.

Data compiled by the Treasury Department, which oversees the Secret Service, shows the distribution of protected trips within the administration from 2010 to 2016. The figures, obtained and published by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, show that Obama, then-first lady Michelle Obama and their family took about 4,700 trips from 2010 to 2016. Just under 1,000 of those were for members of the president’s family, excluding Michelle. Most of the protected trips that were taken over that period were by former officials, including former presidents and their families.
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(The Secret Service defines a protected trip as "any instance that an individual protectee spends time within the jurisdiction of a single USSS field office, other than the protectee’s home district.")

The data obtained by CREW extended into Trump’s own term in office. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, members of the presidents’ family took 4,560 trips — the bulk of them in the past two years.

U.S. Politics

 ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Trump Has Emergency Powers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About, Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle, April 11, 2020. Given that they could make their first appearance in the coronavirus crisis, Congress should insist on having full access to them.

The past few weeks have given Americans a crash course in the powers that federal, state and local governments wield during emergencies. We’ve seen businesses closed down, citizens quarantined and travel restricted. When President Trump declared emergencies on March 13 under both the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act, he boasted, "I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about."

The president is right. Some of the most potent emergency powers at his disposal are likely ones we can’t know about, because they are not contained in any publicly available laws. Instead, they are set forth in classified documents known as "presidential emergency action documents."

These documents consist of draft proclamations, executive orders and proposals for legislation that can be quickly deployed to assert broad presidential authority in a range of worst-case scenarios. They are one of the government’s best-kept secrets. No presidential emergency action document has ever been released or even leaked. And it appears that none has ever been invoked.

Given the real possibility that these documents could make their first appearance in the coronavirus crisis, Congress should insist on having full access to them to ensure that they are consistent with the Constitution and basic principles of democracy.

Elizabeth Goitein is a co-director and Andrew Boyle is a lawyer at the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

April 9

Denver Post, Editorial: Trump is playing a disgusting political game with our lives, Editorial Board, April 9, 2020. President Donald Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives. For the good of this nation during what should be a time of unity, he must stop.

In just the latest example of his gross display, the president tweeted on Wednesday:

Trump had only days before prevented Colorado Gov. Jared Polis from securing 500 ventilators from a private company, instead, taking the ventilators for the federal government. Polis sent a formal letter pleading for medical equipment, but the president took the time to make clear he was responding to a request from Gardner. We are left to believe that if Colorado didn’t have a Republican senator in office, our state would not be getting these 100 ventilators. How many ventilators would we be getting if we had a Republican governor and a second Republican senator? Would that indicate we had more Republican lives in our state worth saving for Trump and resources would start flowing? Should Utah be concerned that Sen. Mitt Romney voted to remove the president from office?

This behavior comes, of course, weeks after Trump informed states they would have to compete against one another in the procurement of medical supplies at a time of global shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government should be procuring medicine, masks, and ventilators and distributing them to states on a set formula based on population, rate of infection and need. Instead, Trump’s messaging makes it feel as though he will watch with glee from the White House as people suffer in states being led by his enemies. If that’s not the case, then the president needs to act as though he’s working on behalf of all of us, not just those who voted for him or cow-towed to his corrupt administration.

On March 27, Trump informed Americans that he had told Vice President Mike Pence, who is running the coronavirus task force, not to call governors in states that are not appreciative.

"I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington; you’re wasting your time with him," Trump said. "Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens.’ You know what I say: ‘If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.’ He’s a different type of person; he’ll call quietly anyway."

Trump should not target Democratic governors like Polis, Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan during this difficult time. Regardless of the personal feuds that may exist between the president and these elected officials, their constituents, the ones who would benefit from resources, are blameless.

It’s far too early to reflect on the performance of Trump’s administration during this crisis, but on this one urgent point — the immediate allocation resources to states — we felt it essential to speak up immediately. We find it hard to believe decisions are being made on such a morally bankrupt basis, but Trump is doing this nation no favors by giving us the impression that politics will drive his administration’s response to a virus that has already killed thousands of Americans and will kill thousands more.

April 7

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Strategic Culture Foundation, Historical Commentary: Libertarian Leaders – A Recipe for Lethal Government Incompetence and Criminality, Wayne strategic culture logoMadsen, April 7, 2020. Throughout the world in countries that elected right-wing anti-government libertarian leaders – from the United States and Brazil to the United Kingdom and Australia – incompetence and lack of preparedness for the Covid-19 pandemic will directly lead to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. The political rhetoric of those leaders who practice "barbarian laissez-faire" policies have been exposed by Covid-19 as worthless pablum designed to enthrall their unthinking supporters.

Donald Trump’s penchant for believing in conspiracy theories and his blatant xenophobia and racism clouded his judgement on the outbreak of Cobid-19 as a "Chinese" problem. Trump and his fellow right-wing allies around the world pushed back against a need for mandatory stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and social distancing.

Trump’s disdain for international cooperation and science, as well as his "America First" dogma, resulted in several factors that led to an unforeseen epidemic blossoming in Wuhan, China to transform into a global and extremely deadly and disruptive pandemic.

The Trump administration was criminally derelict in abandoning several units and programs initiated by past administrations to combat a global pandemic. These include the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense; the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), which conducted modeling as recommended by the 2006 National Strategy for Pandemic Implementation Plan; and the federal government’s PREDICT program that worked with 60 worldwide laboratories, including that in outbreak city Wuhan – which originally identified SARS-CoV-2, the novel Covid-19 – and 1,200 other viruses.

Pandemics on the scale of Covid-19 are believed by many to have wiped out or contributed to the downfall of entire civilizations, the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Byzantine empires, as well as the Athens hegemon.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What’s going on with Donald Trump’s health now? Bill Palmer, April 7, 2020. Donald Trump’s press conference on Monday was about as much of a disaster as usual. He hurled a racist tirade at an Asian reporter. He appeared to think that a longtime White House correspondent who’s been asking him questions for years, was some new guy. But I want to take you back to something that Trump said on djt hands up mouth open CustomSunday’s press conference.

I know it’s a little late by now, but it could be important. Someone pointed out to me that on Sunday, Donald Trump said this about hydroxychloroquine: "I’ve used it for certain reasons." This guy gets so lost in word salad, he may have been trying to say something else entirely. But what if he really did intend to say this?

bill palmer report logo headerIt would only leave two possibilities. The first, and distinct one, is that he’s lying about having taken the drug because he’s trying to make the argument that everyone should be taking it, as part of whatever grift he’s running. But what if he has taken it in the past, for "certain reasons" that he’s never wanted us to know about, and he just gave something away?

If Trump has taken hydroxychloroquine in the past, it would mean he has a pretty severe underlying health issue that would require such a risky drug – and there are only a relative handful of things that it’s prescribed for. Even if we rule out the possibility that he has malaria or lupus, he could be taking it for severe arthritis.

In any case, Donald Trump just claimed that he’s taken a dangerously powerful drug in the past that’s only prescribed for severe chronic health issues, yet his doctors continue to claim he’s in near-perfect health. That alone serves to underline how disqualifying it is that Trump still refuses to release any legitimate medical records. He often comes off as half dead. What, if anything, is he hiding?

April 6

Trump-Kushner 'Grand Theft?'

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: Kushner's Grand Theft Ventilator scheme, Wayne Madsen, left, April 6, 2020 (subscription required). The government of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley was shocked when the Trump administration seized over 150 ventilators ordered and pre-purchased by Barbados from five different foreign sources.

jared kushner head shotThe United States has also reportedly seized medical equipment and supplies destined for Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela because of draconian sanctions placed on the three nations by the Trump administration. Jared Kushner's team has also blocked 3M Corp. from sending PPE (personal protective  equipment) shipments to Canada, even though the firm relies on a pulp supplier in British Columbia to produce masks.

In a recent televised White House press briefing, Kushner, right, told the nation that the Strategic National Stockpile of medical equipment and supplies belonged to the Trump administration and not to the states.

1100 Pennsylvania, Investigation: President visited his businesses 20 times since first reports of what's now known as coronavirus, Zach Everson, April 6, 2020. President Donald J. Trump made at least 20 visits to his properties since Dec. 31, 2019, when Chinese officials first reported a cluster of cases of respiratory illness, according to 1100 Pennsylvania’s analysis. Over that span he called on four different Trump businesses: Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Doral, and the D.C. hotel.

Dec. 31, 2019: "Chinese health officials reported a cluster of cases of acute respiratory illness in persons associated with the Hunan seafood and animal market in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province." – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [bold added throughout].

Miracle 'Cure' Scandal?

djt rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani, a familiar voice in Trump’s ear, promotes experimental virus treatments, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Jon Swaine, April 6, 2020 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani, shown above in a file photo, is one of many pro-Trump voices who downplayed the severity of the virus, then embraced possible cures.

Giuliani, who was in the center of the impeachment storm earlier this year as an unpaid private attorney for President Trump, has cast himself in a new role: as personal science adviser to a president eager to find ways to short-circuit the coronavirus pandemic.

In one-on-one phone calls with Trump, Giuliani said, he has been touting the use of an anti-malarial drug combination that has shown some early promise in treating covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, but whose effectiveness has not yet been proved. He said he now spends his days on the phone with doctors, coronavirus patients and hospital executives promoting the treatment, which Trump has also publicly lauded.

"I discussed it with the president after he talked about it," Giuliani said in an interview. "I told him what I had on the drugs."

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ignoring Expert Opinion, Trump Again Promotes Unproven Drug, April 6, 2020. Michael Crowley, Katie Thomas and Maggie Haberman, April 6, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s advocacy of the anti-malarial drug has created tensions in his administration, and fears among doctors that it could unnecessarily expose patients to risks. President Trump prevented Dr. Anthony S. Fauci from answering a question on hydroxychloroquine on Sunday during a coronavirus task force briefing,

President Trump doubled down Sunday on his push for the use of an anti-malarial drug against the coronavirus, issuing medical advice that goes well beyond scant evidence of the drug’s effectiveness as well as the advice of doctors and public health experts.

Mr. Trump’s recommendation of hydroxychloroquine, for the second day in a row at a White House briefing, was a striking example of his brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda.

Standing alongside two top public health officials who have declined to endorse his call for widely administering the drug, Mr. Trump suggested that he was speaking on gut instinct and acknowledged that he had no expertise on the subject.

Saying that the drug is "being tested now," Mr. Trump said that "there are some very strong, powerful signs" of its potential, although health experts say that the data is extremely limited and that more study of the drug’s effectiveness against the coronavirus is needed.

"But what do I know? I’m not a doctor," Mr. Trump added.

"If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early," Mr. Trump said, noting again that the federal government had purchased and stockpiled 29 million pills of the drug. "We are sending them to various labs, our military, we’re sending them to the hospitals."

Mr. Trump, who once predicted that the virus might "miraculously" disappear by April because of warm weather, and who has rejected scientific consensus on issues like climate change, was undaunted by skeptical questioning.

"What do you have to lose?" Mr. Trump asked, for the second day in a row, saying that terminally ill patients should be willing to try any treatment that has shown some promise.

anthony fauci CustomWhen a reporter at Sunday’s briefing asked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, right, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to weigh in on the subject, Mr. Trump stopped him from answering. As the reporter noted that Dr. Fauci, who has been far more skeptical about the drug’s potential, was the president’s medical expert, Mr. Trump made it clear he did not want the doctor to answer.

"You know how many times he’s answered that question? Maybe 15 times," the president said, stepping toward the lectern where Dr. Fauci was standing.

The president’s advocacy for the drug hydroxychloroquine has created tensions in his administration, and fears among doctors that it could unnecessarily expose patients to risks.

djt rudy giuliani headshots Custom

Palmer Report, Analysis: The real story behind Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and hydroxychloroquine manufacturing, Bill Palmer, right, April 6, 2020. We’ve bill palmerlearned by now that whenever Donald Trump frantically pushes anything, it’s part of some scam aimed at personally benefiting him. As Trump has gotten further into cognitive decline, we’ve also seen that he’s increasingly easily influenced by the scammers around him. This brings us to the question of why Trump is frantically pushing a drug called hydroxychloroquine as a supposed coronavirus miracle cure.

To be clear, no one knows whether hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for coronavirus or not. There have only been limited studies, and experts have had no clear agreement on what the results mean. If you take hydroxychloroquine and you get better, does that mean it worked, or were you going to get better anyway? The drug has potentially fatal side effects, so for now, it may only be worth taking if you’re going to die without it anyway. Scientists and doctors will have more to say about this as they see more data. But for now, Trump is pushing the drug in a manner that’s not consistent with anything scientists are seeing. So why?

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two key pieces of circumstantial evidence. The first is that Rudy Giuliani (above) is pushing hydroxychloroquine even more frantically than Donald Trump is. We’ve already seen that Rudy has a way of getting Trump to listen to him when it comes to dastardly stupid schemes, such as when Rudy talked Trump into criminally conspiring with Ukraine in a way that got him impeached.

michael cohen ap file croppedThe second thing to consider is that if Trump and Giuliani are indeed plotting to personally profit from this drug, there’s got to be a drug manufacturer, distributor, or reseller in on the scheme. Two and a half weeks ago, a drug company named Novartis announced on its website that it would donate up to 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients – right around the time Trump started pushing it as a miracle cure.

This of course does not mean Novartis is guilty of anything.

But Michael Cohen, right, has claimed that Novartis tried to hire him to lobby Donald Trump. Now this same company says it’s donating a massive amount of an untested coronavirus drug, at the same time Trump is essentially saying "Look, I found a miracle cure, I’ve fixed the coronavirus crisis!"

Novartis needs to explain why it made this donation, who was involved in the decision, what if any conversations it had with those in Donald Trump’s personal orbit, and what if anything was promised in return for this donation. This is a deadly serious matter, and we have to get to the bottom of it.

Trump Retribution

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Inspector general fired by Trump sends warning signal for American democracy, Aaron Blake, April 6, 2020. Michael Atkinson weighed in Sunday on his firing as intelligence community inspector general, suggesting it's part of a Trump plot to undermine independent michael atkinson ooversight.

President Trump’s controversial decision to fire the inspector general who forwarded the Ukraine scandal whistleblower complaint to Congress has flown somewhat beneath the radar. Such is the case when you’re dealing with a global pandemic and the White House conveniently announces something late Friday night.

But Michael Atkinson doesn’t seem to want people to miss the point: that this is part of an effort to undermine independent oversight of the Trump administration.

Atkinson responded to his firing Sunday in an unusual letter — unusual because inspectors general generally don’t comment on such things. He made clear he is a nonpartisan official and carried out his duties independently. He said he believed that’s exactly why he was fired.

"It is hard not to think that the president’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial inspector general," Atkinson said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ousted inspector general says ‘it’s hard not to think’ he was fired by Trump for doing his job, Ellen Nakashima, April 6, 2020 (print ed.). Michael Atkinson, right, handled the whistleblower complaint that helped lead to the president’s impeachment.

uss theodore roosevelt carrier Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, He Led a Top Navy Ship. Now He Sits in Quarantine, Fired and Infected, Eric Schmitt and John Ismay, April 6, 2020 (print ed.). Colleagues say the downfall of Capt. Brett E. Crozier, right, was charging headlong into the Trump administration’s narrative that it had everything in the brett crozier navy captain Customcoronavirus pandemic under control.

For days, he fended off fears that the contagion would spread unchecked through his crew. Then last week, the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who had appealed to his superiors for help, was fired.

By Sunday, friends said, he had come down with the coronavirus himself.

The military has long adhered to a rigid chain of command and tolerated no dissent expressed outside official channels. Capt. Brett E. Crozier, the skipper of the aircraft carrier, knew he was up against those imperatives when he asked for help for nearly 5,000 crew members trapped in a petri dish of a warship in the middle of a pandemic.

us navyBut colleagues say the mistake that could cost Captain Crozier his career was charging headlong into the Trump administration’s narrative that it had everything under control.

Pentagon officials said that although President Trump never ordered Captain Crozier dismissed, he was displeased with the captain’s actions and let the Navy know — a sentiment Mr. Trump made very public on Saturday when he lashed out at the captain.

Friends and colleagues say Captain Crozier, 50, is at peace with a decision that most likely ended a career that vaulted him from the United States Naval Academy to the prestigious job as captain of one of the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers.

Raw Story, LISTEN: Sailors yell profanities at Trump’s acting Navy secretary while he trashes fired captain, Brad Reed, April 6, 2020. Angry sailors can be heard yelling profanities at Trump acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly while he trashed their former captain who got fired for sending out a dire warning about the threat COVID-19 posed to the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

In a recording of Modly’s speech posted by Task & Purpose, an angry sailor can be heard shouting, "What the f*ck?!" after Modly described former USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier as "stupid" and "naive."

Another sailor can be heard yelling, "He was trying to help us!" after Modly complained that Crozier’s actions had created a big controversy in Washington, D.C.

Other sailors can be heard yelling unintelligibly after Modly accused Crozier of committing a "betrayal" of the sailors on board his ship. Video footage released last week showed sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt giving Crozier hearty cheers after he was removed from his post.

April 3

Trump Watch

djt impeachment graphic

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just decided to fire the Inspector General in the middle of the night during a pandemic, Bill Palmer, April 3, 2020. With everything that’s going on right now, you’d think Donald Trump would have better things to do than to carry out old petty michael atkinson ogrudges. Then again, he isn’t bothering to do anything useful about the coronavirus crisis anyway, so he has plenty of time on his hands for deranged things. Sure enough, he just fired the Inspector General in the middle of the night.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has fired U.S. intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, right, tonight. If you’re trying to place the name, Atkinson played a key role in Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal. When someone in the intel community discovered what Trump was up to, that person reported it to Atkinson, who reported it to Congress.

Politico says that Trump’s official excuse for firing Atkinson is that he’s lost confidence in him – but of course this is the most thinly veiled of generic excuses. Trump can fire the Inspector General without needing a reason, but he can’t do it for retaliatory reasons, or to try to cover up his own crimes, which is what Trump is doing here.

This is pretty clearly an illegal firing on Donald Trump’s part. He’s hoping that by doing it late on a Friday night, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, it’ll get lost in the news cycle. But this firing is an impeachable crime all by itself.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Trump’s son-in-law michelle goldberg thumbhas no business running the coronavirus response. Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.

According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist.

"I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity," Kushner reportedly said. "I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators." (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)

jared kushner head shotEven now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner, left, could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: "People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections, which are not the realistic projections."

Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.

Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. "Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response," said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump regime caught altering DHS website after Jared Kushner’s press conference meltdown, Daniel Cotter, April 3, 2020. At Thursday’s press briefing, the guest of the day was the fool who is assigned much, but is effective in nothing. His best qualifications are having been born into a New York real estate family and having married into the family of Donald J. Trump. His name is Jared Kushner.

Kushner made the statement at the press conference: "The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use."

bill palmer report logo headerLike his daddy-in-law, nobody knew what the hell he was talking about when he said it is "our stockpile"- was he saying that it belonged to the federal government or the Trump family? Anyone with a computer, or a cell phone, or a brain knows this is not true. If you go to the Public Health Emergency webpage, which is an official page of the United States Department of Health and Human Services agency, you will find it states:

"When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously."

"When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously."

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

Palmer Report, Opinion: I think I figured it out, Bill Palmer, right, April 3, 2020. We’ve all been chewing on three questions. 1) Why is Donald Trump bill palmerrefusing to fully invoke the Defense Production Act, which could solve all the medical supply shortages? 2) Why is Trump forcing states to outbid each other for the medical supplies they’re buying from foreign governments? 3) Why has the Trump regime been sending U.S. medical supplies overseas all along, when they’re needed here?

bill palmer report logo headerTo decipher any mystery involving Donald Trump, you have to apply two rules. One is that he’s always running a petty con for personal financial gain. The other is that with Trump, it’s always even more treacherous than you imagined. When you apply all of this to the three questions above, I think I’ve figured out what he may be up to.

First, Trump makes sure there’s a scarcity of medical supplies by refusing to order them into mass production. Then Trump sends the federal government’s existing stockpile to foreign countries. Then the individual states, which he’s made desperate for supplies, end up bidding each other through the roof for these supplies. Who’s profiting? The foreign entities – and Trump is the one giving them the djt doesnt listenopportunity to turn that profit.

I’ve come to suspect that Donald Trump is sending our medical supplies to corrupt foreign governments, so they can turn around and sell those supplies back to the states at a huge profit.

Then these foreign governments owe Trump a personal favor. We’ve already seen Trump use this kind of leverage to try to push Ukraine into making up fake scandals about Joe Biden. Why wouldn’t Trump be doing the same with the medical equipment he’s sending overseas? Someone with broader investigative resources than mine should try to get to the bottom of this, because there has to be something to it. With Trump, there always is.

April 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump now says he knew the virus ‘could be horrible’ when he was saying things like ‘it’s going to disappear,’ Amber Phillips, April 2, 2020 (print ed.).  But he didn’t want to tell Americans sooner because he didn’t want to be "negative."

On Tuesday, a somber President Trump acknowledged that under the best-case scenario, 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die of coronavirus. "It’s not the flu," he said, in stark contrast to when he compared it repeatedly with the flu in March.

Now that the president seems to have come around to the gravity of the health crisis, what does he think about his weeks of downplaying a virus he now says is serious? What about not advising social distancing weeks earlier, even though there is widespread agreement among public health experts that Americans should have been isolating sooner than mid-March?

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump those questions repeatedly Tuesday. On this front, Trump had not changed: He was unwilling to admit error.

Let’s start with Trump downplaying the virus. Acosta asked him: "Is there any fairness to the criticism that you may have lulled Americans into a false sense of security? When you were saying things like it’s going to go away and that sort of thing?"

Trump’s answer basically came down to: He did not want to deliver the bad news about how serious the virus could be. What’s more, he said he knew ahead of time it could be this bad (or even worse, killing millions with no government intervention whatsoever), but he did not want to tell Americans that at the time.

"I want to give people a feeling of hope. I could be very negative. I could say ‘wait a minute, those numbers are terrible. This is going to be horrible,’" he said. "Well, this is really easy to be negative about, but I want to give people hope, too. You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country."

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service signs contract this week to rent golf carts in town of Trump club, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, April 2, 2020. The Secret Service this week signed a $45,000 contract to rent a fleet of golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it secret service logoneeded them quickly to protect a "dignitary" in the town of Sterling, home to one of President Trump’s golf clubs, according to federal contracting data.

The contract was signed Monday and took effect Wednesday, records show. The Secret Service paid a West Virginia-registered company, Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles, to rent 30 carts until the end of September.

The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an "emergency order," does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida.

March

March 31

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A phone call with Trump can open doors for executives, celebrities and others with coronavirus asks, James Hohmann, March 31, 2020. But the president doesn’t talk to everyone.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) called President Trump over the weekend to ask a favor. Battelle, a company headquartered in his state, was struggling to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sterilize face masks in bulk so that they can be reused by health workers. So Trump called up FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. "And within a very short period of time," the president said, "they got the approval."

Trump proudly told this story during his news conference in the Rose Garden on Sunday and then he retold it again on Monday evening. He’s trying to demonstrate that he’s a hands-on leader singularly focused on combatting the novel coronavirus and eager to cut through red tape. These kinds of anecdotes have become standard fare during his daily briefings, and they illustrate his view of presidential leadership as the death toll of the pandemic exceeds 3,000 people in the United States. That is more than the number of people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, during the terrorist attacks.

The 73-year-old, who famously loves to kibitz on the phone, is known for reaching out to cable news hosts, rich friends and assorted associates at all hours to shoot the breeze. Cooped up in the White House for weeks now, except for a brief trip to Virginia on Saturday, Trump appears to be working the phones even harder than usual. Corporate executives, governors, celebrities and foreign leaders looking to get something from the U.S. government seem especially eager to secure a telephonic audience with the president.

The president has also implied that phone calls with friends in New York who have been stricken by the coronavirus helped shape his decision to extend social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Trump said on Monday that he has "some friends who are unbelievably sick who thought they were going in for a mild stay." One friend – whom he has not named – has gone into a coma because of complications from the virus.

Trump said he spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about the origins of the coronavirus for more than an hour late Thursday night and welcomed his advice on how to combat it in the United States. "It was fascinating to me," Trump told reporters the next day. "You know, they have a whole … different form of government, to put it mildly. He's developed some incredible theories, and all of that information is coming over here. A lot of it’s already come. The data. We call it ‘data.’ And we're going to learn a lot from what the Chinese went through. Our relationship with China is very good."

The Trump White House discontinued the longstanding bipartisan practice of releasing readouts whenever a president speaks with a foreign leader. Often this means we’re dependent on another government to disclose the call or we get Trump’s unique spin on it.

Vogue, Donald Trump’s New Gray Hair Is Just His Latest Political Tactic, Lauren Valenti, March 31, 2020. Donald Trumps New Gray Hair Is Just His Latest Political Tactic.

If you tuned into President Donald Trump’s daily press briefing yesterday evening and got the sense that there was something different about him, you’re not alone. As he stood outside of the White House to update the country on the COVID-19 crisis, Trump—and yes, his hair—had Twitter abuzz.

To start, gusts of wind were once again having their way with his feathery crop, prompting him to address those long-standing rumors that he wears a toupee. "My hair is blowing around, and it’s mine," said Trump. "That’s one thing you can’t get away with—if it’s not yours, then you’ve got a problem if you’re president." While Trump’s need to make every situation about himself was no surprise, Twitter users were more intrigued by his conspicuous hair color change.

Overnight, Trump’s signature flaxen hair had been replaced by a new bright silver shade. Of course, a number of theories were floated about the motive behind his newly blanched hair. One Twitter user theorized that Trump was seeking a more dignified look for the 2020 race, which would certainly align with his brazen political strategizing in the face of a global crisis. Another wondered if it was a symptom of practicing social distancing and being unable to see his hair colorist. If it’s the latter, did Trump take matters into his own hands with a box of Just for Men? Or is it that, after ignoring public-health officials and downplaying the life-threatening nature of COVID-19, the stress of the situation is finally setting in and turning him gray?

Historian Alexis Coe, author of New York Times best seller You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, thinks the latter is unlikely. While Coe acknowledges the long-held truth that being president ages a person, she doesn’t believe Trump’s silver hair is a sudden physical manifestation of emotional strain as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the U.S. but rather a studied strategy. "What I think might be happening is a kind of manipulation of the American public in which he is attempting to show citizens that he is suffering as well," she explains. "It’s about optics—Trump is trying to distract from his late, dangerous, and sometimes fatal messaging around coronavirus."

March 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump just comes out and says it: The GOP is hurt when it’s easier to vote, Aaron Blake, March 30, 2020. Democrats "had levels of voting" in their stimulus proposal, Trump said, "that if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

President Trump on Monday morning became the latest in a procession of Republicans to say making it easier for more people to vote would hurt his party politically.

In an interview on "Fox & Friends," Trump referenced proposals from Democrats in the coronavirus stimulus negotiations that would have vastly increased funding for absentee and vote-by-mail options. The final package included $400 million for the effort, which was far less than what Democrats had sought.

"The things they had in there were crazy," Trump said. "They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Trump didn’t expand on the thought. But he clearly linked high turnout to Republicans losing elections. The most generous reading of his comment is that he was referring to large-scale voter fraud resulting from the easier vote-by-mail options; Trump has in the past baselessly speculated about millions of fraudulent votes helping Democrats in the 2016 election. The more nefarious reading would be that allowing more people to participate in the process legally would hurt his party because there are more Democratic-leaning voters in the country.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This can’t possibly be Donald Trump’s 2020 strategy, Bill Palmer, March 30, 2020. Considering that Donald Trump yelled "you people" at a black woman yesterday, and brag-tweeted about how his pandemic press conferences are getting higher ratings than The Bachelor, there’s really no reason to think he’s working with any viable or coherent 2020 strategy at all.

bill palmer report logo headerThat said, if he’s settled on a campaign message, it appears to be "I’m doing great because only hundreds of thousands of Americans will die in this pandemic instead of millions of Americans." If this is what he’s really going with, I’m so horrified from a human perspective, I want to throw up. But even from a strictly political perspective, I don’t see how he can make this work.

Yes, Presidents can see a lot of death on their watch and, under the right circumstances, come out ahead for it. Abraham Lincoln lost plenty of Americans in the Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt lost plenty of Americans in the Depression, and again in World War II. They’re both on monuments. But in both instances, the majority of people believed that A) the deaths were necessary, and B) the President did everything possible to keep them to a minimum.

When the death toll in the United States starts reaching five and six figures, are the majority of Americans really going to look back at how Donald Trump has handled this and conclude that having him as President resulted in fewer deaths than there otherwise would have been? That’s an awfully tough sell.

We’ve all seen the inaction, the incoherency, the psychopathy on display. His base may or may not stick with him, but they’re the minority to begin with. What’s always mattered is how the average American sees this. His approval rating saw a rather small crisis spike, and is already falling. Now that the death toll is rapidly reaching horrifying proportions, most Americans will look back critically at Trump’s handling of this and conclude that he screwed it up in every way possible.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Russia’s Troll Farm Is Changing Tactics Before the Fall Election, Davey Alba, March 30, 2020 (print ed.). The Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which interfered in the 2016 election, is using different methods to hide itself better.

Ahead of November’s election, American intelligence officials and others are on high alert for mischief from Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

Remember it?

The Kremlin-backed group was identified by American authorities as having interfered in the 2016 election. At the time, Russians working for the group stole the identities of American citizens and spread incendiary messages on Facebook and other social media platforms to stoke discord on race, religion and other issues that were aimed at influencing voters.

To avoid detection, the group has since evolved its tactics. Here are five ways its methods have shifted. Before The troll farm published posts with many spelling, grammar and syntax errors.

March 25

Global Health Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate, White House reach deal on $2 trillion stimulus package, Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, March 25, 2020. Bill to send money directly to many Americans is largest bailout in history. The bill would aid small and large businesses hard hit by the economic downturn. The Senate plans to vote on it this afternoon.

us senate logoThe Senate plans to vote Wednesday afternoon on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

The Senate reconvenes at midday, and a vote could come shortly after that.

steven mnuchin w"This is a very important bipartisan piece of legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business and people across America," Mnuchin, right, told reporters early Wednesday morning. "We couldn’t be more pleased."

He said he had "spoken to the president many times today; he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have."

The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states.

The legislation ensures that these taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms owned by President Trump, other White House officials or members of Congress. This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been impacted, cannot seek taxpayer assistance.

Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals.

It would significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four month, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks, flooding a system that isn’t designed to cope with a sudden wave of applicants.

As the bill was coming together in the final days, Democrats fought to make numerous changes. For example, the White House and Republicans agreed to allow an oversight board and create a Treasury Department special inspector general for pandemic recovery to scrutinize the lending decisions and detect abusive or fraudulent behavior.

"Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it’s fair to the American people," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

After Senate passage, the next step is a little less clear. The House is out of session, so action there could take longer, depending on whether lawmakers can agree to pass the bill by "unanimous consent," which would require agreement from all members of the chamber.

But some liberals and conservatives have already hinted they could oppose it.

"This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people," wrote former Tea Party Republican and now Independent congressman Justin Amash of Michigan. "It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor."

March 5

Raw Story, Commentary: Donald Trump Jr goes down in flames trying to smear, Travis Gettys, March 5, 2020. Do you have a mirror?’ President Trump's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, cashed in to the tune of between $25 million to $50 million.

President Donald Trump’s eldest son circulated a report smearing Joe Biden’s younger son, and left other social media users wondering whether he had the capacity of self-awareness. The president’s son, who currently runs Trump Organization, was met with bafflement and ridicule.

March 1

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s odds of going to prison just went way up, Bill Palmer, right, March 1, 2020. Thanks to his thirty point massive blowout win in South Carolina last night, Joe Biden is now in the driver’s seat in the Democratic primary race. We’re seeing supporters of the other mainstream Democratic candidates starting to shift to Biden, in the hope that Biden can take down erratic bumbler Bernie Sanders, and then take down maniacal criminal Donald Trump. As of last night, Trump’s odds of spending the rest of his life in solitary confinement just went up significantly. Bear with me here.

bill palmer report logo headerJoe Biden publicly stated a few weeks ago that he definitely wants Kamala Harris involved in his administration, but he had to talk with her about which role she’d want. There’s wide expectation that Biden will pick either Harris or Stacey Abrams as his running mate. If he picks Abrams, then Harris is probably a lock for Attorney General. And if Harris is VP, then Biden would most likely pick Adam Schiff or some other proven prosecutor as Attorney General.

Harris, Schiff, and anyone else in their league would – without any doubt – bring a federal criminal case against Donald Trump (shown in a Palmer Report graphic) and his co-conspirators. djt prison palmer reportMoreover, they’d build the kind of comprehensive case that would be sure to nail Trump on some rather complex charges. They’d also be able to employ the kind of legal savvy required to work around any attempt Trump might make at trying to pardon himself on certain charges on his way out of the White House. Putting Trump in prison would be a major task, but a solid Attorney General with a strong prosecutorial background would pull it off.

In other words, if Joe Biden becomes the nominee, he’ll probably beat Donald Trump, and if he does, Trump will almost definitely go to prison. New York will go after Trump on state charges one way or the other. But he’s broken a wider variety of federal laws, and so it’s crucial that there also be a strong federal case made against him.

 

February

Feb. 27

Global Public Health

Inside DC

Global Public Health

djt mcconnell ryan pence

Vice President Michael Pence, right, with Donald Trump and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, left, and House Speaker Paul Ryan in a White House file photo.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: When a Pandemic Meets a Personality Cult, Paul Krugman, right, Feb. 27, 2020. The Trump team confirms all of our worst fears; President Trump on Wednesday addressed the evils associated with the coronavirus. Among them: the reporters asking questions.

So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats. Besides, it’s no big deal, and people should buy stocks. Anyway, we’ll get it all under control under the leadership of a man who doesn’t believe in science.

cdc logo CustomFrom the day Donald Trump was elected, some of us worried how his administration would deal with a crisis not of its own making. Remarkably, we’ve gone three years without finding out: Until now, every serious problem facing the Trump administration, from trade wars to confrontation with Iran, has been self-created. But the coronavirus is looking as if it might be the test we’ve been fearing.

And the results aren’t looking good.

The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began several years ago. Almost as soon as he took office, Trump began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading in turn to an 80 percent cut in the resources the agency devotes to global disease outbreaks. Trump also shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council.

Experts warned that these moves were exposing America to severe risks. "We’ll leave the field open to microbes," declared Tom Frieden, a much-admired former head of the C.D.C., more than two years ago. But the Trump administration has a preconceived notion about where national security threats come from — basically, scary brown people — and is hostile to science in general. So we entered the current crisis in an already weakened condition.

And the microbes came.

ny times logoNew York Times, Health officials will now have to clear all statements about the virus with Vice President Mike Pence, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, Feb. 27, 2020. Government health officials and scientists will have to clear statements with the vice president’s office, one of three people designated as the administration’s primary coronavirus official.

The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to clear all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump announced Wednesday evening that Mr. Pence would coordinate the government’s response to the public health threat even as he played down the immediate danger from the virus that is spreading rapidly across the globe. Mr. Pence was scheduled to lead a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force on Thursday.

Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.

Mr. Pence, right, said Thursday that he had selected Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the director of the United States effort to combat H.I.V. and AIDS, to serve as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, enlisting an experienced scientist and physician to manage the response to the potential spread of the virus.

The announcements from the White House were intended to show that Mr. Trump and those around him are taking the potential threat to the health of Americans seriously. Aides said the president wanted governors and members of Congress to have a single point-person to communicate with, eliminating any jockeying for power in a decentralized situation.

But with Mr. Pence’s announcement, Dr. Birx becomes the third person to be designated as the administration’s primary coronavirus official.

Mr. Trump said that "Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me." Mr. Pence said it will be Dr. Birx. Meanwhile, Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, remains the chairman of the government’s coronavirus task force.

washington post logoWashington Post, HHS whistleblower says workers without protective gear or proper training met coronavirus evacuees, Lena H. Sun and Yasmeen Abutaleb​, Feb. 27, 2020. The whistleblower alleges she was improperly reassigned after raising concerns with HHS Secretary Alex Azar's office.

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services sent more than a dozen workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear, according to a whistleblower complaint.

The workers did not show symptoms of infection and were not tested for the virus, according to lawyers for the whistleblower, who is a senior HHS official based in Washington who oversees workers at the Administration for Children and Families, a unit within HHS.

The whistleblower is seeking federal protection because she alleges she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after raising concerns about the safety of these workers to HHS officials, including those within the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. She was told Feb. 19 that if she does not accept the new position in 15 days, which is March 5, she would be terminated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mike Pence was criticized for his handling of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. He will lead the U.S. coronavirus response, Meryl Kornfield, Feb. 27, 2020. When President Trump announced that Vice President Pence would lead federal efforts against the spread of the coronavirus, he said mike pence oPence, right, was the right person for the task because of his experience.

"He’s got a certain talent for this," Trump said at a White House briefing about the virus, which has infected nearly five dozen people in the United States so far.

The announcement has cast light on Pence’s record as a lawmaker and his handling of a major public health crisis during his time as governor of Indiana. The worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history happened on his watch in 2015, which critics blamed on Pence’s belated response and his opposition to authorizing a needle-exchange program.

In 2011, as a member of Congress, he voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, a Planned Parenthood clinic that had been the only HIV-testing center in Scott County, Ind., closed after public health spending cuts, HuffPost reported.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dow plunges more than 1,100 points, extending losses in brutal week, Rachel Siegel and Thomas Heath, Feb. 27, 2020.  The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have all fallen at least 10 percent from their recent highs amid fears the outbreak will bring the economy to a grinding halt.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. markets having worst week since ’08 financial crisis, enter correction territory, Rachel Siegel and Thomas Heath, Feb. 27, 2020. The Dow Jones industrial average started the day with a plunge of hundreds of points, and all three major indexes were down more than 10 percent from their most recent highs.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Patient in California Was Not Tested for Days, Roni Caryn Rabin and Sheri Fink, Feb. 27, 2020. Restrictive federal criteria meant there was a delay of several days, despite doctors’ suggestions. The patient may be the first person to be infected in the United States china flag Smallwithout a known source.

A California coronavirus patient had to wait days to be tested because of restrictive federal criteria, despite doctors’ suggestions.

The patient, who has tested positive, may be the first person to be infected through community spread in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

cdc logo round CustomC.D.C. officials said it was possible the patient was exposed to a returning traveler who was infected. At the moment, however, the new case appears to be one in which the source of infection is unknown, suggesting that the virus may be transmitted within the community.

Following mounting bipartisan criticism that the administration’s response to the spread of the coronavirus had been sluggish, President Trump on Wednesday named Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the government’s response, even as he repeatedly played down the danger to the United States of a widespread domestic outbreak.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence just blew it royally, Bill Palmer, Feb. 27, 2020. Yesterday Donald Trump announced that he was putting Mike Pence of all people in charge of the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Palmer Report pointed out that because this was a suicide mission one way or the other, it appeared Trump was looking to set up Pence as the scapegoat when it all goes wrong. But as it turns out, Pence is wasting no time screwing things up of his own accord.

bill palmer report logo headerAs his first major move in response to the coronavirus, Mike Pence announced today that he’s adding Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow to his response team, according to Marketwatch. Wait, what? Why in the name of all that is holy would the Secretary of the Treasury and a White House economic adviser be in charge of responding to a medical emergency? This would be a boneheaded move even if these two guys weren’t idiots.

Mnuchin is best known for illegally blocking Donald Trump’s tax returns from being turned over to investigators. Larry Kudlow is best known as a guy Donald Trump and Mike Pence logowho can’t put a complete sentence together, and whose economic predictions turn out to be incorrect 100% of the time. Kudlow also went on television a few days ago and falsely claimed that the coronavirus had been "contained" in the United States, on the same day the CDC was confirming the irs logoopposite. So sure, let’s put this flaming clown jackle in charge of the virus response.

It’s not difficult to see what Mike Pence is trying to do here. He’s relying on economic advisers instead of medical experts because he cares a lot less about how many Americans might end up dying, and a lot more about whether the stock market will keep plunging. And by picking two of Donald Trump’s most cartoonish loyalists, Pence is kissing up to Trump in the hope that Trump won’t scapegoat him when it all inevitably goes wrong.bo joe biden farewell jan 12 2017

President Obama and Vice President Biden exchange a formal farewell near the end of their terms at a White House ceremony on Jan. 12, 2017.

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama demands South Carolina TV stations pull misleading ad attacking Biden, Michael Scherer and Anu Narayanswamy, Feb. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Former president Barack Obama on Wednesday called on South Carolina television stations to stop running an ad from a super PAC supporting President Trump that uses Obama’s words out of context in a misleading attack on former vice president Joe Biden.

The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump group, circulated an ad that falsely suggests that words Obama spoke in the narration of his own book were meant to describe Biden.

The group, which placed a similar amount of anti-Biden advertising in Nevada earlier this month, reported to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday spending more than $250,000 in South Carolina to oppose Biden.

"This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers," Katie Hill, Obama’s communications director, said in a statement. "In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate."

Hill said Obama has "several friends" in the Democratic presidential primary, "including, of course, his own esteemed Vice President." She also said Obama has "no plans to endorse in the primary."

In an attempt to sway black voters in the state, the ad begins with a narrator saying "Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama."

The ad then runs audio of Obama reading an unrelated passage from his 1995 book, "Dreams from My Father," about a conversation he had with a barber in Chicago when he was a community organizer.

The Obama passage, which describes the mistreatment of black voters by politicians, refers to complaints about "plantation politics" and the history in Chicago of Democratic politicians expecting black votes despite poor housing, poor job opportunities and police brutality.

The ad repurposes a similar attack the Committee to Defend the President ran last year in several states with many black politicians, including Georgia, Michigan and Louisiana, according to PolitiFact. Similar tactics, aimed at decreasing black turnout for Democrats, were used in a radio ad by another pro-Trump super PAC, Great America Alliance, in the 2017 special House election in Georgia.

"Donald Trump and his allies are absolutely terrified that Joe Biden will defeat him in November. Trump even got himself impeached by trying to force another country to lie about the vice president," said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign. "This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the president’s lackeys."

Separately, Republican activists in South Carolina have boasted about a plan called Operation Chaos to encourage Trump backers to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in Saturday’s primary. The South Carolina GOP has canceled the state’s Republican primary this year.

 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi signals she’s gearing up for a big swing at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Feb. 27, 2020. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has impeached Donald Trump, and in the process she’s educated the voting public about his status as a corrupt criminal. The GOP Senate predictably didn’t remove him. But if anyone thinks Pelosi and the House are done with Trump, they haven’t been paying attention.

bill palmer report logo headerAwhile back, Palmer Report pointed out that Pelosi and the House still had multiple court battles brewing over additional evidence against Donald Trump. One is over the Mueller grand jury transcripts. Another is over Trump’s tax returns. These battles take time, and there’s no way to magically speed up the glacial pace at which the courts operate. But these battles are finally close to coming to a head.

Donald Trump recently began demanding on Twitter that two liberal Supreme Court Justices recuse themselves from these cases, for no good reason. djt nancy pelosiIn so doing, Trump tipped off that he fears Chief Justice John Roberts may not vote with him on these matters, and that he may lose by a 5-4 margin. Roberts likes to play both sides in order to increase his own power base, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up siding with Trump in one case, and with Pelosi in the other case.

To give you an idea of how we’re getting closer to a resolution in these cases, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats just filed a hundred page brief with the Supreme Court on the matter of Donald Trump’s financial records. The House is gearing up to take a big swing at Donald Trump with whatever they end up obtaining from these ongoing court battles. It won’t be this month or next, but it’s surely coming before the election.

Feb. 25

U.S. Constitutional Crisis

Roger Stone Case

More On U.S. Justice

U.S. Constitutional Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 70 former U.S. senators: The Senate is failing to perform its constitutional duties, Feb. 25, 2020. Congress is not fulfilling its constitutional duties. Much of the responsibility rests on the Senate. We are writing to encourage the creation of a bipartisan caucus of incumbent senators who would be committed to making the Senate function as the Framers of the Constitution intended.

us senate logoAs their first priority, the Framers explicitly entrusted all legislative responsibility in Article I of the Constitution: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." To the extent that Congress doesn’t function as the Framers intended, policymaking is left to the less democratic executive and judicial branches.

This does not have to be viewed as a judgment on today’s Senate leadership; instead, it’s a bipartisan act of shared responsibility and accountability for how we arrived at this point. We, who once held the office you now hold and who are confident that service in the U.S. Senate is as high a calling for you as it was for us, will stand up for you against any partisan opposition. We will do so publicly and repeatedly in whatever available forums. And we are convinced that many ordinary Americans will stand up for you as well, as they share our concern for the state of our government.

The following signers are all former U.S. senators:

Dean Barkley (I-Minn.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), David Boren (D-Okla.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), Bill Brock (R-Tenn.), Hank Brown (R-Colo.), Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), James Buckley (R-N.Y.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Jack Danforth (R-Mo.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Daniel Evans (R-Wash.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.), Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Gary Hart (D-Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Gordon Humphrey (I-N.H.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Bennett Johnston (D-La.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Robert Krueger (D-Tex.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Donald Riegle (D-Mich.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John Walsh (D-Mont.), John Warner (R-Va.), Lowell Weicker (I-Conn.), and Tim Wirth (D-Colo.).

ny times logoNew York Times, Dems, You Can Defeat Trump in a Landslide, Thomas L. Friedman, Feb. 25, 2020. You can promise voters something our narrow-minded president won’t. If this election turns out to be just between a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath, we will be in a terrible, terrible place as a country. How do we prevent that?

That’s all I am thinking about right now. My short answer is that the Democrats have to do something extraordinary — forge a national unity ticket the likes of which they have never forged before. And that’s true even if Democrats nominate someone other than Bernie Sanders.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The Purge, Daniel Cotter, Feb. 25, 2020.  Donald J. Trump is a terrible man. He and his administration have been in the process daily of dismantling our republic, if we can keep it, all the while yelling, "WITCH HUNT" at every turn, accusing everyone not with him of some grand conspiracy. Turns out, the real witch hunt taking place the last three years has been by IMPOTUS.

bill palmer report logo headerIn an explosive exclusive by Axios, Trump's "Deep State" hit list outlines the search and purge that Trump has been engaged in for the entire time as president. No previous United States administration has been this paranoid, this nefarious, not even the Nixon administration. In the article, the reporter, Jonathan Swan, right, jonathan swan twitterwrites:

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

While Trump's distrust has only intensified since his impeachment and acquittal, he has long been on the hunt for "bad people" inside the White House and U.S. government, and fresh "pro-Trump" options. Outside advisers have been happy to oblige.

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Swan goes on to detail a number of memos, including one about Jessie Liu, shortly before her nomination as United States Associate Attorney General was pulled. Trump’s supporters immediately jumped to defending him, asserting that this was normal for every administration. But that is not correct.

We continue to live daily in a dangerous time, and Palmer Report has been calling the alarm on the potential nominee for the Democratic presidential nomination. We must make sure that nominee is the one that can win in November, or we will continue to see the acceleration of an administration that is out of control. Even George Conway has apologized on Twitter about voting for Trump, stating:

I supported and voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I was angry at Never Trumpers for opposing him and not giving him a chance. But their predictions about him turned out to be chillingly correct—indeed, perhaps understated how bad he’d be. I apologize to them, as you should.

We must do everything in our power to remove this dangerous man from the White House come January 2021.

Daniel is a lawyer writing and teaching about SCOTUS, and is the author of the book "The Chief Justices" about the SCOTUS as seen through the center seat.

Roger Stone Case

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls Stone juror ‘totally biased’ as prosecutors, defense debate new trial, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 25, 2020. As President Trump fumed on social media, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson made clear she was concerned about attacks by Trump and others on jurors.

President Trump on Tuesday injected new political drama into the legal debate over whether Roger Stone deserves a new trial, tweeting as a hearing in the matter was ongoing that the jury forewoman who voted to convict his longtime friend and confidante was "totally biased."

Trump’s comments came just as the judge in the case had rebuked him and others over their attacks on the juror, and it seemed to put the president at odds with his own Justice Department.

As the president fumed on social media, federal prosecutors were in federal court in the District arguing against Stone’s bid for a new trial based on the alleged political bias of the jury forewoman. Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, has warned him publicly and privately to stop tweeting about Justice Department criminal cases and told people close to Trump he was considering quitting over the matter.

"There has rarely been a juror so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case," Trump wrote. "Look at her background. She never revealed her hatred of ‘Trump’ and Stone. She was totally biased, as is the judge. Roger wasn’t even working on my campaign. Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!"

Minutes later, he seemed to add an attack on the judge, re-tweeting a link that Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano had tweeted with the headline, "Roger Stone judge’s bias may have jeopardized entire trial: former Democratic Party lawyer."

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ended the hearing without a ruling, saying she would take the matter under advisement. She seemed to question aggressively Stone’s defense team over the jury forewoman’s social media, and allowed questions to be posed to three jurors, including the forewoman.

Stone filed his request for a new trial on February 14 — the day after Trump repeatedly attacked the forewoman of the jury, who ran for Congress as a Democrat.

Though he did not name her, his comment referred to Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress. Hart had identified herself as the forewoman of the jury in a Facebook post, saying she couldn’t "keep quiet any longer" in the wake of the Justice Department move to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Stone from the seven to nine years recommended by front-line prosecutors.

The judge did not seem entirely receptive to the arguments of Stone’s team — in particular that the forewoman was so biased that she could have tainted the jury.

She seemed to draw a distinction between animus against Stone and commentary on other political topics, and noted that the forewoman did not hide in her questionnaire that she had views on Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I was a juror in the Stone trial. Attacking our foreperson undermines us, Seth Cousins, Feb. 25, 2020. Lost amid the avalanche of allegations about the trial and sentencing of Roger Stone are some critical facts and a striking irony: The jury foreperson, who has been the subject recently of numerous ad hominem attacks, was actually one of the strongest advocates for the rights of the defendant and for a rigorous process. She expressed skepticism at some of the government’s claims and was one of the last people to vote to convict on the charge that took most of our deliberation time.

Stone received a fair trial. But events since his trial threaten to undermine the equal administration of justice.

In November, I joined 13 of my fellow citizens as jurors and alternates in the case of United States v. Roger Stone. After several days of testimony and argument — and eight hours of deliberation — we returned guilty verdicts on all seven charges of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress. Federal prosecutors recommended on Feb. 10 that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison. Early the next day, President Trump tweeted his outrage, and soon the Justice Department announced that the sentencing recommendation would be amended. All four prosecutors handling the case withdrew in protest.

Our foreperson wrote in support of the prosecutors on her personal Facebook page, revealing that she had been on the jury and was its foreperson. Since then, she has been attacked, including by the president, as though she was personally responsible that Stone had been found guilty and that the verdict was thus unfair. The president and others have called the trial and sentencing decision a "miscarriage of justice." Amid the onslaught of criticism of a U.S. citizen who fulfilled her civic duty as a juror and exercised her First Amendment right to free expression, Stone has used the manufactured controversy to demand a mistrial on the basis of jury misconduct and even to demand that the judge recuse herself for bias in favor of the jury.

These events raise serious concerns for me not merely as a juror in the trial but also for the threat to our bedrock principles.

Elected officials have no business attacking citizens for performing their civic duty.

Our foreperson wrote in support of the prosecutors on her personal Facebook page, revealing that she had been on the jury and was its foreperson. Since then, she has been attacked, including by the president, as though she was personally responsible that Stone had been found guilty and that the verdict was thus unfair. The president and others have called the trial and sentencing decision a "miscarriage of justice." Amid the onslaught of criticism of a U.S. citizen who fulfilled her civic duty as a juror and exercised her First Amendment right to free expression, Stone has used the manufactured controversy to demand a mistrial on the basis of jury misconduct and even to demand that the judge recuse herself for bias in favor of the jury.

These events raise serious concerns for me not merely as a juror in the trial but also for the threat to our bedrock principles.

Elected officials have no business attacking citizens for performing their civic duty.

More On U.S. Justice System

washington post logosonia sotomayor in scotus robe1Washington Post, Trump criticizes Sotomayor, Ginsburg in tweets, seeks their recusal from ‘Trump-related’ cases, Meagan Flynn, Feb. 25, 2020. President Trump went after Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a pair of tweets late Monday night, days after Sotomayor, right, issued a dissent critical of both the Trump administration’s legal strategy and the court’s majority for enabling it.

Tweeting just before appearing in a welcome ceremony at the Indian ceremonial president’s residence in New Delhi, Trump cited a Laura Ingraham segment on Fox News titled, "Sotomayor accuses GOP-appointed justices of being biased in favor of Trump." He then called on Sotomayor and also Ginsburg to recuse themselves in "all Trump, or Trump related, matters!"

"Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way?" Trump said of Sotomayor. "She never criticized Justice Ginsberg [sic] when she called me a ‘faker'. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related matters! While ‘elections have consequences’, I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States Supreme Court!"

supreme court headshots 2019

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump tips off how worried he is about what’s coming next, Bill Palmer, Feb. 25, 2020. Donald Trump is surely the world’s worst poker player. For all his erratic behavior, he can be consistently relied upon to give away what he’s really thinking. For instance, late last night he posted this Twitter thread which seems on the surface to be yet another aggressive abuse of power, but is instead actually a telltale sign of what he’s worried about most:

bill palmer report logo headerTo be clear, this is utterly deranged and profoundly corrupt on Donald Trump’s part. He’s trying to intimidate two Supreme Court Justices into recusing themselves, for no legitimate reason, in upcoming cases that involve him. Not only is this corrupt, it’s felony obstruction of justice. But it’s also, very obviously, not going to work. Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg obviously are not going to recuse themselves. And there’s no apparatus for Trump somehow magically forcing them to do so. It simply will not happen. Now ask yourself why Trump is even trying to make it happen.

If Trump thought he had five Supreme Court votes in the upcoming cases involving his tax returns, the Mueller transcripts, and his ability to pardon himself on his way out the door, he wouldn’t be worried about trying to force any of the other four Justices to recuse themselves. Trump’s rant is a dead giveaway that he’s worried he doesn’t have five votes. He’s only confident he has four. If he could magically prompt two recusals, he would win with a 4-3 ruling. But again, unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have a magic wand. Donald Trump is clearly afraid John Roberts will vote with the liberals on this matter, which Roberts does a significant minority of the time.

John Roberts can’t be trusted to do the right thing. But Trump can’t count on him to do the wrong thing either, because Roberts instead always does the opportunistic thing. We can’t count on Trump losing these Supreme Court rulings over his fate, but Trump appears to be well aware that he can’t count on winning them either.

Feb. 23

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

 

Trump Power, Payback

Axios, Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list, Jonathan Swan, right, Feb 23, 2020. The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen jonathan swan twittersources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

While Trump's distrust has only intensified since his impeachment and acquittal, he has long been on the hunt for "bad people" inside the White House and U.S. government, and fresh "pro-Trump" options. Outside advisers have been happy to oblige.

In reporting this story, I have been briefed on, or reviewed, memos and lists the president received since 2018 suggesting whom he should hire and fire. Most of these details have never been published.

A well-connected network of conservative activists with close ties to Trump and top administration officials is quietly helping develop these "Never Trump"/pro-Trump lists, and some sent memos to Trump to shape his views, per sources with direct knowledge.

Members of this network include Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Republican Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen.

The big picture: Since Trump's Senate acquittal, aides say the president has crossed a psychological line regarding what he calls the "Deep State." He feels his government — from Justice to State to Defense to Homeland Security — is filled with "snakes." He wants them fired and replaced ASAP.

"I think it's a very positive development," said Rich Higgins, who served on Trump's National Security Council in 2017. H.R. McMaster removed Higgins after he wrote a memo speculating that Trump's presidency faced threats from Marxists, the "Deep State," so-called globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans. (This was long before the full scope of the FBI's Russia investigation was known to Trump and his aides.)

Higgins told me on Sunday he stands by everything he wrote in his memo, but "I would probably remove 'bankers' if I had to do it over and I would play up the intel community role — which I neglected."

Let's get to the memos.

1. The Jessie Liu memo: Shortly before withdrawing the nomination of the former D.C. U.S. attorney for a top Treasury role, the president reviewed a memo on Liu's alleged misdeeds, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Ledeen wrote the memo, and its findings left a striking impression on Trump, per sources with direct knowledge. Ledeen declined to comment.

A source with direct knowledge of the memo's contents said it contained 14 sections building a case for why Liu was unfit for the job for which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin selected her, including:

  • Not acting on criminal referrals of some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accusers.
  • Signing "the sentencing filing asking for jail time" for Gen. Michael Flynn (a friend of Ledeen's).
  • Holding a leadership role in a women's lawyers networking group that Ledeen criticized as "pro-choice and anti-Alito."
  • Not indicting former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.
  • Dismissing charges against "violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration."

Neither Liu nor the White House responded to requests for comment.

Between the lines: The Liu memo is not the first such memo to reach the president's desk — and there's a common thread in Groundswell, a conservative activist network that's headed by Thomas and whose members include Ledeen.

Sources leaked me details of two other memos from people associated with the Groundswell network that also caused a stir inside the White House over the past year.

Thomas has spent a significant amount of time and energy urging Trump administration officials to change the personnel inside his government. This came to a head early last year.

Members of Groundswell, whose members earlier led the successful campaign to remove McMaster as national security adviser, meet on Wednesdays in the D.C. offices of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has led the fight against the Mueller probe.

Judicial Watch's president is Tom Fitton. He's a regular on Fox News, and Trump regularly retweets his commentary on the "Deep State."
Conservative activists who attend Groundswell meetings funneled names to Thomas, and she compiled those recommendations and passed them along to the president, according to a source close to her.

She handed a memo of names directly to the president in early 2019. (The New York Times reported on her group's meeting with Trump at the time.)

2. The Groundswell memo: The presidential personnel office reviewed Thomas' memo and determined that some names she passed along for jobs were not appropriate candidates. Trump may revisit some given his current mood.

Potential hires she offered to Trump, per sources with direct knowledge:

  • Sheriff David Clarke for a senior Homeland Security role.
  • Fox News regular and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino for a Homeland Security or counterterrorism adviser role.
  • Devin Nunes aide Derek Harvey for the National Security Council (where he served before McMaster pushed him out).
  • Radio talk show host Chris Plante for press secretary.
  • Federalist contributor Ben Weingarten for the National Security Council.

What we're hearing: These memos created tension inside the White House, as people close to the president constantly told him his own staff, especially those running personnel, were undermining him — and White House staff countered they were being smeared.

john mcentee Custom3. The State Department memo: In one extraordinary incident last year, President Trump passed along another action memo to his then-head of presidential personnel, Sean Doocey (since pushed to State and replaced with former body man John McEntee, right). People familiar with the January 2019 memo say it came from conservatives associated with Groundswell. Though nobody I’ve spoken to has claimed credit for it.

According to sources briefed on the incident, the memo was, in large part, an attack against Doocey. The memo accused him and a colleague in the State Department of obstructionism and named several State Department officials who needed to be fired.

This list named former deputy secretary John Sullivan, deputy undersecretary for management Bill Todd, and undersecretary for political affairs David Hale, who later testified in the impeachment hearings. (Todd and Hale are career foreign service officers, serving in positions typically reserved for career officials.) Sullivan is now the U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes veiled threat toward Schiff over classified briefing on Russian 2020 election interference, Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 23, 2020. President Trump on Sunday made a veiled threat toward House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, claiming without evidence that the California Democrat had leaked information from a classified briefing in which a senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected.

"Somebody please tell incompetent (thanks for my high poll numbers) & corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to stop leaking Classified information or, even worse, made up information, to the Fake News Media," Trump tweeted. "Someday he will be caught, & that will be a very unpleasant experience!"

Trump’s tweet comes more than a week after the intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, told members of Schiff’s committee during a bipartisan briefing that Russia has "developed a preference" for Trump and views his administration as more favorable to its interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Responding to news of Russian interference, Trump sends chilling message to U.S. intelligence, Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Intelligence officers pride themselves as apolitical fact-finders who follow the rule of "speak truth to power." But President Trump has tacked on a new coda: "Do so at your peril."

In ousting his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, last week after a revealing briefing on foreign election interference, Trump has reminded members of the intelligence community that he views the information they bring him through a deeply personal lens.

Trump upbraided Maguire in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, saying that the intelligence community had handed Democrats political ammunition during a bipartisan briefing a day earlier about efforts to secure the 2020 election. A senior career intelligence officer who worked for Maguire told lawmakers that Russia had "developed a preference" for Trump. She also described other steps Russia is taking, including assistance to the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Feb. 22

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

Reports On Trump Power, Payback

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 22, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

john mcentee CustomJohnny McEntee, right, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump wants to block ‘traitor’ Bolton’s book entirely, claiming most conversations are classified, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Feb. 22, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump told his staff he will seek to stop the book’s publication, said people familiar with the conversations. The president’s private arguments contrast with the traditional point-by-point process used to protect sensitive secrets.

President Trump has directly weighed in on the White House review of a forthcoming book by his former national security adviser, telling his staff that he views John Bolton as "a traitor," that everything he uttered to the departed aide about national security is classified and that he will seek to block the book’s publication, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

djt john bolton CustomThe president’s private arguments stand in contrast to the point-by-point process used to classify and protect sensitive secrets and appears to differ from the White House’s public posture toward Bolton’s much-anticipated memoir. The National Security Council warned Bolton last month that his draft "appears to contain significant amounts of classified information," some of it top secret, but john bolton full cropped Custompledged to help him revise the manuscript and "move forward as expeditiously as possible."

"We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security," Ellen Knight, senior director of the council’s records office, wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to Bolton’s attorney.

But the president has insisted to aides that Bolton’s account of his work in Trump’s White House, The Room Where It Happened, should not see the light of day before the November election, according to the two people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

Bolton’s book has promised to unveil key first-person moments between Bolton and Trump that were at the heart of the president’s handling of Ukraine, a saga that led to his impeachment by the House.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If good men like Joe Maguire can’t speak the truth, we should be deeply afraid, William H. McRaven, Feb. 22, 2020 (print william mcraven 2012ed.). William H. McRaven, right, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

Over the course of the past three years, I have watched good men and women, friends of mine, come and go in the Trump administration — all trying to do something — all trying to do their best. Jim Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Sue Gordon, Dan Coats and, now, Joe Maguire, who until this week was the acting director of national intelligence.

I have known Joe for more than 40 years. There is no better officer, no better man and no greater patriot. He served for 36 years as a Navy SEAL. In 2004, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and was chosen to command all of Naval Special Warfare, including the SEALs. Those were dark days for the SEALs. Our combat losses from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the highest in our history, and Joe and his wife, Kathy, attended every SEAL funeral, providing comfort and solace to the families of the fallen.

But it didn’t stop there. Not a day went by that the Maguires didn’t reach out to some Gold Star family, some wounded SEAL, some struggling warrior. Every loss was personal, every family precious. When Joe retired in 2010, he tried the corporate world. But his passion for the Special Operations soldiers was so deep that he left a lucrative job and took the position as the president of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a charity that pays for educating the children of fallen warriors.

In 2018, Joe was asked to be the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, a job he knew well from his last assignment as a vice admiral. He accepted, but within months of his arrival came the announcement of Coats’s departure as director of national intelligence. Maguire didn’t seek to fill the job; he was asked to do it by the president. At first he declined, suggesting that Sue Gordon, Coats’s deputy, would be better suited for the job.

joseph maguire headshotBut the president chose Maguire (left0. And, like most of these good men and women, he came in with the intent to do his very best, to follow the rules, to follow the law and to follow what was morally right.

Within a few weeks of taking the assignment, he found himself embroiled in the Ukraine whistleblower case. Joe told the White House that, if asked, he would testify, and he would tell the truth. He did. In short order, he earned the respect of the entire intelligence community. They knew a good man was at the helm. A man they could count on, a man who would back them, a man whose integrity was more important than his future employment.

But, of course, in this administration, good men and women don’t last long. Joe was dismissed for doing his job: overseeing the dissemination of intelligence to elected officials who needed that information to do their jobs.

As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign, Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan, Feb. 22, 2020 (print ed.). U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill also have been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump.

"I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president," Sanders said in a statement. "My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.

"In 2016, Russia used Internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the Internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters."

Feb. 21

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

Roger Stone Headlines

 

Reports On Trump Power, Payback

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump set off by intelligence assertion that Russia favors him, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan, Feb. 21, 2020 (print ed.). A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments.

joseph maguire 9 26 19 testimony CustomAfter learning of that analysis, which was provided to House lawmakers in a classified hearing, Trump grew angry at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing Maguire (shown in a file photo) and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference. The intelligence official’s analysis and Trump’s furious response ­ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

It was not clear what specific steps, if any, U.S. intelligence officials think Russia may have taken to help Trump, according to the individuals.

Russian FlagIn Moscow, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, dismissed the U.S. intelligence analysis.

"These are new paranoid reports, which, to our deep regret, will continue to grow in number as the election day approaches," Peskov said Friday. "Naturally, they have nothing to do with the truth."

Trump announced Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany. The shake-up at the top of the intelligence community is the latest move in a post-impeachment purge. Trump has instructed aides to identify and remove officials across the government who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.

Maguire, a career official who is respected by the intelligence rank and file, was considered a leading candidate to be nominated to the post of DNI, White House aides had said. But Trump’s opinion shifted last week when he heard from a Republican ally about the official’s remarks.

 ny times logoNew York Times, House Alerted to Russian Election Meddling in Briefing That Angers Trump, Adam Goldman, Julian E. Barnes, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Feb. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Russia is aiding President Trump in the 2020 election, intelligence officials said in a secret briefing to lawmakers. Mr. Trump, complaining that Democrats might weaponize the news, berated the outgoing acting intelligence chief for allowing the briefing to happen.

Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

joseph maguire headshotThe day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, Mr. Trump berated Joseph Maguire, left, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump cited the presence in the briefing of Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant.

During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.

That intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, is an aide to Mr. Maguire who has a reputation of delivering intelligence in somewhat blunt terms. The president announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and long an aggressively vocal Trump supporter.

Part of the president’s anger over the intelligence briefing stemmed from the administration’s reluctance to provide sensitive information to Mr. Schiff. He has been a leading critic of Mr. Trump since 2016, doggedly investigating Russian election interference and later leading the impeachment inquiry into the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he’s considering Rep. Douglas A. Collins for permanent DNI post, Ashley Parker, Feb. 21, 2020. President Trump told reporters Thursday evening that he was considering Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), right, as his permanent Director of National Intelligence.

doug collins o CustomThe move would not only fill a post that has not been permanently filled since Daniel Coats resigned last summer, but would help Trump and his fellow Republicans avoid what is already shaping up to be a messy intraparty fight for the Georgia Senate seat, where Collins is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the party’s primary.

Collins is just one of several candidates he’s considering, said the president, who spoke to reporters as he flew from Colorado to Nevada as part of a four-day swing out West.

Earlier this week, Trump announced that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, would replace Joseph Maguire as the acting intelligence director. But both Trump and Grenell have said he is not expected to become the permanent chief, a post which requires Senate confirmation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Will Richard Grenell Destroy the Intelligence Community? Jonathan Stevenson (senior fellow at the International Institute for richard grenell CustomStrategic Studies), Feb. 21, 2020. President Trump selected an unqualified loyalist as his top spy. We know what happens next.

A crazy optimist might have hoped that the impeachment trial, gutted though it was by Senate Republicans, would chasten rather than embolden President Trump, prompting a new judiciousness in his execution of his duties. Forget about that. His naming of Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, as acting director of national intelligence has completely dashed any such hopes.

Mr. Grenell, shown at right on his Twitter photo, has no experience as an intelligence officer at any level, nor has he overseen a large government bureaucracy.

He has served in government only as communications director for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the George W. Bush administration, and since May 2018 as ambassador to Germany. (In the interim, he founded and ran a public affairs consultancy, advising and commenting on Fox News.)

ny times logoNew York Times, A White House aide accused of writing the anonymous Op-Ed is being reassigned to the Energy Department, Michael Crowley, Feb. 21, 2020 (print ed.). The White House is transferring a senior national security aide who fell under suspicion of writing an anonymous insider account of dissent within the Trump administration, the latest of several senior personnel moves stemming from questions of loyalty to President Trump.

Victoria Coates, Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, will move on Monday to the Department of Energy, where she will serve as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, announced on Thursday the staff shift in a statement, saying her move was intended to "ensure the close alignment of energy policy with national security objectives." The move was first reported by Axios.

But current and former administration officials said Ms. Coates, who managed Middle East and North Africa issues on the National Security Council, had been targeted by a whisper campaign among some pro-Trump conservatives that she was Anonymous, an official who wrote a September 2018 Op-Ed essay for The New York Times that was expanded into a book that was published last year.

Roger Stone Stories

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months for lying to Congress, witness tampering, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky and Tom Jackman​, Feb. 21, 2020 (printed.). Implementation of the sentence, which came amid turmoil between the Justice Department and President Trump over the penalty, will be delayed as the judge weighs Stone’s request for a new trial.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser, to serve three years and four months in prison for impeding a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

amy berman jacksonThe penalty from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, right, comes after weeks of infighting over the politically charged case that threw the Justice Department into crisis, and it is likely not to be the final word. Even before the sentencing hearing began, Trump seemed to suggest on Twitter he might pardon Stone. With the proceedings ongoing, Trump questioned whether his ally was being treated fairly.

In a lengthy speech before imposing the penalty, Jackson seemed to take aim at Trump, saying Stone "was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the president." She also appeared to call out Attorney General William P. Barr, saying intervention to reduce career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation was "unprecedented." But she said the politics surrounding the case had not influenced her final decision.

"The truth still exists; the truth still matters," Jackson said, echoing prosecutors’ closing arguments at trial. "Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the foundations of our democracy. If it goes unpunished it will not be a victory for one party or another; everyone loses."

She added, "The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party."

Trump, meanwhile, weighed in publicly from afar — again bucking Barr’s public and private warnings to stop talking about Justice Department criminal cases. In a tweet, the president compared Stone to former FBI director James B. Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Trump has suggested that each of them should be charged.

"‘They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.’ @CNN," Trump wrote during the hearing, tagging the news network. "OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?"

Overnight, Trump also hinted he couldpardon Stone, tweeting a video clip in which Fox News host Tucker Carlson said, "President Trump could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon, and there are indications tonight that he will do that." Carlson noted a series of pardons and commutations the president granted this week.

Stone, 67, was convicted by a federal jury in November on seven counts of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about hacked Democratic emails related to Clinton.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Strange scenes at Roger Stone’s sentencing raise even more questions about William Barr

Related stories:

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ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Is Sentenced to Over 3 Years in Prison, Sharon LaFraniere, Feb. 20, 2020. Mr. Stone, President Trump’s friend and former campaign adviser, was convicted of lying to investigators under oath and trying to block witness testimony.

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime friend of President Trump’s, was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry in a bid to protect the president.

The case against Mr. Stone, 67, who has known and advised Mr. Trump for years, had become a cause célèbre among the president’s supporters. Mr. Trump has attacked the prosecutors, the jury forewoman and the federal judge overseeing the trial, casting his former campaign adviser as the victim of a vendetta by law enforcement.

Hours after the sentencing, Mr. Trump lashed out again at the authorities for prosecuting Mr. Stone and claimed his trial was unfair, but he said he would not intervene using his clemency powers at this point.

"I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed on a president of the United States," he said at an event in Las Vegas for former convicts easing back into society. "I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do because I’d love to see Roger exonerated — and I’d love to see it happen — because personally I think he was treated unfairly."

Instead, he said he would wait to see how the case is ultimately resolved, leaving a clear impression that he would issue a pardon or commutation if he were unsatisfied. "We will watch the process and watch it very closely," Mr. Trump said. "And at some point, I will make a determination. But Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process. OK?"

Mr. Stone was convicted of lying to congressional investigators and trying to block the testimony of a witness who would have exposed his lies to the House Intelligence Committee. At the time, the panel was investigating whether Mr. Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The case ignited a broader controversy as former and current government lawyers accused Mr. Barr of failing to protect the department from improper political influence from the White House. In an open letter, more than 2,000 former Justice Department employees have called for Mr. Barr to resign, claiming "interference in the fair administration of justice" by both the attorney general and the president.

In a television interview last Thursday, Mr. Barr said he had decided to recommend a more lenient punishment for Mr. Stone based on the merits of the case. He also asked the president to stop publicly opining about the department’s criminal cases, saying it was making his job "impossible."

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Barr Did for Roger Stone Is Like Nothing I’ve Seen Before, Noah Bookbinder (executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), Feb. 20, 2020. Has the Trump Department of Justice ever asked for a lower sentence for someone who wasn’t a presidential ally?

The sentence that Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed on Mr. Stone, while lower than the guideline range that the career prosecutors recommended, is not unusual; in 2018, federal judges imposed sentences outside the guidelines in about a quarter of all cases nationwide. As Judge Jackson said in Thursday’s hearing, she made this decision based on her own assessment of the relevant facts, and she likely would have imposed a sentence below the guideline range irrespective of Mr. Barr’s intervention. This is exactly what the law requires.

william barr new oMr. Barr, right, and those carrying out his wishes did not really dispute the facts and the law as carefully laid out by the career prosecutors. Instead, they presented a litany of the arguments that Mr. Stone’s own lawyers had made for ignoring the guidelines and giving him lenient treatment.

So the career prosecutors made exactly the kind of recommendation prosecutors are expected to make in our system, and one that the Trump administration specifically encourages them to make. In contrast, doing what the attorney general did, calling for a sentence "far less" than that called for by the guidelines, is generally frowned upon by the Justice Department.

As a former federal corruption prosecutor and senior staffer at the United States Sentencing Commission, I can say unequivocally that what Mr. Barr and his team did was something I have never seen before. It calls into question his fitness to play a leading role in our nation’s justice system. The top prosecutor in the land must demonstrate a commitment to protecting the rule of law, not the president and his allies.

Feb. 20

Trump Power, Payback

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House assembles team of advisers to guide clemency process as Trump considers more pardons, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Neena Satija, Feb. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The group, led by President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been meeting since late last year to discuss a revamped pardon system.

The White House is moving to take more direct control over pardons and commutations, with President Trump aiming to limit the role of the Justice Department in the clemency process as he weighs a flurry of additional pardon announcements, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump, who granted clemency Tuesday to a group of 11 people that included several political allies and supporters, has assembled a team of advisers to recommend and vet candidates for pardons, according to several people with knowledge of the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The group, essentially an informal task force of at least a half-dozen presidential allies, has been meeting since late last year to discuss a revamped pardon system in the White House. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser (shown above left), is taking a leading role in the new clemency initiative and has supported the idea of putting the White House more directly in control of the process that in past administrations has been housed in the Justice Department, officials said.

Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who served on Trump’s impeachment defense team, is also playing a significant role, vetting applications for potential pardon recipients. Kushner has personally reviewed applications with White House lawyers before presenting them to Trump for final approval, according to two senior administration officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Against wishes of Barr, Trump fires off more tweets about Justice Department, John Wagner, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Feb. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The tense equilibrium between the president and the attorney general may be tested again Thursday by the sentencing of longtime Trump friend Roger Stone.

Justice Department logoPresident Trump continued to test his relationship with Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday by amplifying conservative allies demanding he "clean house" at the Justice Department and target those involved in the Russia investigation that once threatened his presidency.

The grievances shared by Trump in a flurry of morning tweets included claims of a "seditious conspiracy" against him, and attacks on a "criminal gang" at the FBI and the Justice Department.

william barr new oA day after it was revealed that Barr, right, told people close to Trump that he had considered quitting, the president and his attorney general seemed to reach a detente of sorts. Officials inside the Justice Department said they were watching the situation closely, mindful that a new string of tweets or comments could quickly upend the situation, but there were no indications that Barr would leave imminently. The attorney general did not mention the controversy when he spoke during an event Wednesday at FBI headquarters.

• Washington Post, Attorney for Julian Assange claims that congressman offered pardon on behalf of Trump
• Washington Post, Trump freed Alice Johnson in 2018. This week, he granted clemency to three of her friends.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Drove Trump’s Clemency Orders: Friendship, Fame and Connections, Peter Baker, J. David Goodman, Michael Rothfeld and Elizabeth Williamson, Feb. 20, 2020 (print ed.). One of the pardons that President Trump issued Tuesday came together in just hours. The process was an ad hoc scramble that bypassed formal procedures.

Early Tuesday morning, Bernard B. Kerik’s telephone rang. On the line was David Safavian, a friend and fellow former government official bernard kerik portraitwho like Mr. Kerik (shown at right) was once imprisoned for misconduct. Mr. Safavian had life-changing news.

Mr. Safavian, who had ties to the White House, said that he was putting together a letter asking President Trump to pardon Mr. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other charges. Mr. Safavian needed names of supporters to sign the letter. By noon.

Mr. Kerik hit the phones. Shortly after 10 a.m., he reached Geraldo Rivera, the Fox News correspondent and a friend of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Rivera, who described Mr. Kerik as "an American hero," instantly agreed to sign the one-page letter. Mr. Kerik called Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, and when Mr. Safavian reached Mr. King around 10:30, he too agreed to sign.

At 11:57 a.m., Mr. Kerik’s phone rang again. This time it was the president.

"He said, ‘As we speak, I am signing a full presidential pardon on your behalf,’" Mr. Kerik recalled in an interview on Wednesday. "Once he started talking and I realized what we were talking about, I got emotional."

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Is Set to Be Sentenced in Case That Has Drawn Scrutiny, Sharon LaFraniere, Feb. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The sentencing is playing out amid upheaval at the Justice Department and a virtual standoff between the president and the attorney general. Roger J. Stone Jr., the Republican political consultant who for years portrayed himself as the dirty trickster of American politics, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday morning for obstructing a congressional inquiry in a bid to protect President Trump.

roger stoneThe case against Mr. Stone, 67, right, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, has become a cause célèbre among the president’s supporters. Mr. Trump has attacked the prosecutors, the jury forewoman and the federal judge overseeing the trial, casting his former campaign adviser as the victim of a vendetta by law enforcement.

Mr. Stone was convicted in November of lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness who would have exposed his lies to the House Intelligence Committee. At the time, the panel was investigating whether Mr. Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.

His sentencing is playing out against an extraordinary backdrop of upheaval at the Justice Department and a virtual standoff between the president and Attorney General William P. Barr over Mr. Trump’s comments about the case.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump has attacked the Roger Stone trial and the judge as biased. She seems unlikely to be ruffled, Sharon LaFraniere
Feb. 20, 2020. Amy Berman Jackson, right, is no stranger to working under pressure.

amy berman jacksonAs a federal prosecutor three decades ago, she was in the final hours of a momentous murder trial when prospective jurors for her next trial — an armed robbery case against three defendants — showed up in the same courthouse.

Rather than delay that case, she broke away from the murder trial long enough to pick the jury for it. Then she returned to deliver her closing argument against the murder defendant. And while those jurors weighed their verdict, she delivered her opening statement about why the armed robbery defendants should be convicted.

All before lunch.

Now a federal judge in Washington, Ms. Jackson faces another high-stakes morning on Thursday when she sentences Roger J. Stone Jr., President Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser, for obstructing a congressional investigation.

Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, DC (Justice Department photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Imagine That Donald Trump Has Almost No Control Over Justice, Cass R. Sunstein (professor at Harvard Law School, author and former Obama White House official), Feb. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Congress should transform the department into an independent agency untouched by the president’s whims.

In view of the intensifying controversy over the politicization of the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr and its potential weaponization at the hands of President Trump, it is worth reviving a proposal that has not been seriously discussed since the Watergate era: Congress should transform the Justice Department into an independent agency, legally immunized from the president’s day-to-day control.

The United States government has two kinds of agencies. Most of them are "executive." They are essentially the president’s agents and subject to his will. This is true for the president’s cabinet, including the Departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation — and Justice.

Other agencies are made "independent" by law. Their heads are appointed by the president, but it is generally agreed that he cannot direct them to do as he wishes or control their day-to-day operations. This is true for the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Communications Commission. It is also true for the Federal Trade Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Social Security Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

Many people think that under the Constitution, the executive branch is "unitary," in the sense that the president must be in control of all those who carry out federal law. But since 1935, the Supreme Court has rejected this view, allowing Congress to ensure that these agencies, and many others, operate independently of the president.

Feb. 19

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

WikiLeaks, Pardon, Russian Hacking

U.S. 2020 Election Headlines

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Trump Power, Payback Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Post-impeachment, Trump declares himself ‘chief law enforcement officer’ of America, Toluse Olorunnipa and Beth Reinhard, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Through pardons and tweets, President Trump has directly intervened in an array of criminal matters.

During his Senate impeachment trial, Democrats repeatedly asserted that President Trump is "not above the law." But since his acquittal two weeks ago, analysts say, the president has taken a series of steps aimed at showing that, essentially, he is the law.

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit.

"I’m allowed to be totally involved," he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. "I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved."

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ny times logoNew York Times, A Complete List of Trump’s Pardons and Commutations, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Heather Murphy and Mariel Padilla, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). The president granted full pardons to seven people and commutations to four others on Tuesday. Here’s who they are.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)President Trump pardoned seven people on Tuesday, including the "junk bond king" Michael R. Milken and Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. He also commuted the sentences of Rod R. Blagojevich, a former governor of Illinois, and three others.

The Constitution gives presidents what the Supreme Court has ruled is the unlimited authority to grant pardons, which excuse or forgive a federal crime. A commutation, by contrast, makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction. Both are forms of presidential clemency.

Here are the 11 people who benefited from the executive grants of clemency that Mr. Trump signed Tuesday.

Commutations

    • Rod R. Blagojevich
    • Tynice Nichole Hall
    • Crystal Munoz
    • Judith Negron

Pardons

    • Edward DeBartolo Jr.
    • Ariel Friedler
    • Bernard B. Kerik
    • Michael R. Milken
    • Paul Pogue
    • David Safavian
    • Angela Stanton

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Grants Clemency to 3 White-Collar Criminals and Ex-Governor, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael D. Shear, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois (shown at left in a 2017 photo in prison), who was rod blagojevich 2017convicted of trying to essentially sell a vacated Senate seat.

The president also pardoned Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, the financier Michael Milken and Edward DeBartolo, a former N.F.L. owner.

"Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich," Mr. Trump told reporters just before boarding Air Force One for a four-day trip to the west coast where he is scheduled to hold three campaign rallies. "He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him."

Mr. Kerik, right, the former New York City police commissioner, was convicted of tax fraud and lying to the government. And he said bernard kerik portraithe had also pardoned Mr. Milken, the investment banker who was known in the 1980s as the "junk bond king" and who has fought for decades to reverse his conviction for securities fraud.

Mr. Trump commuted the former governor’s sentence on Tuesday after saying for years that he was considering intervening in Mr. Blagojevich’s case. By commuting the sentence, the president would free Mr. Blagojevich from prison without wiping out the conviction. Republicans have advised the president against it, arguing that Mr. Blagojevich’s crime epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.

The president’s decision came the same day that he pardoned Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt and eventually surrendered control of his team.

ed debartolo jr file CustomMr. DeBartolo, the scion of a prominent real estate development family who created one of the National Football League’s greatest dynasties, was prosecuted after agreeing to pay $400,000 in brand-new $100 bills to Edwin W. Edwards, the influential former governor of Louisiana, to secure a riverboat gambling license for his gambling consortium.

Mr. DeBartolo avoided prison but was fined $1 million and suspended for a year by the N.F.L. He later handed over the 49ers to his sister Denise DeBartolo York. His nephew Jed York currently runs the team, which made it back to the Super Bowl this year only to fall to the Kansas City Chiefs.

In conversations with advisers, Mr. Trump has also raised the prospect of commuting the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr, his longest-serving adviser, who was convicted in November of seven felony charges, including tampering with a witness and lying under oath in order to obstruct a congressional inquiry into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Asked about a pardon for Mr. Stone on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said "I haven’t given it any thought."

Mr. DeBartolo, often called Eddie D., controlled the franchise for 23 years, presiding over the 49ers’ golden era in the 1980s and 1990s when the team won five Super Bowl championships under coach Bill Walsh with legendary players like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice. Despite his felony conviction, Mr. DeBartolo was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mr. Trump made no immediate comment Tuesday on his decision but left it to his deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, to announce the pardon to reporters. Joining Mr. Gidley at the announcement was a host of N.F.L. legends who supported Mr. DeBartolo, including Mr. Rice, Mr. Lott, Jim Brown and Charles Haley.

"Eddie was like that 12th man that was on that football field," Mr. Rice told reporters. "You know that this guy, you know, he wanted us to win. ed debartolo 5 super bowl wins wAnd I think he’s the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls. So today is a great day for him. I’m glad to be here and be a part of that."

Along with Mr. Brown, Mr. DeBartolo (shown at right with SuperBowl tropies in a file photo via WikiMedia) was among the hosts of a pre-inauguration party in 2017 that honored people close to Mr. Trump at the time, including Michael D. Cohen, his personal attorney who later went to prison for campaign finance violations and tax evasion, and Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" who joined the White House staff before later being fired. Mr. Trump promoted the event on Twitter at the time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention, Fred Barbash, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). The extraordinary move follows President Trump’s tweets about the Roger Stone case and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

The head of the Federal Judges Association is taking the extraordinary step of calling an emergency meeting to address the intervention in politically sensitive cases by President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, the Philadelphia-based judge who heads the voluntary association of around 1,100 life-term federal judges, told USA Today that the issue "could not wait." The association, founded in 1982, ordinarily concerns itself with matters of judicial compensation and legislation affecting the federal judiciary.

supreme court buildingOn Sunday, more than 2,000 (updated total) former Justice Department employees released a public letter calling on Barr to resign over the Stone case.

A search of news articles since the group’s creation revealed nothing like a meeting to deal with the conduct of a president or attorney general.

Rufe, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

The action follows a week of turmoil that included the president tweeting his outrage over the length of sentence recommended by career federal prosecutors for his friend Roger Stone and the decision by Barr to withdraw that recommendation.

In between, Trump singled out the judge in the Stone case, Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington, for personal attacks, accusing her of bias and spreading a falsehood about her record.

"There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about," Rufe said to USA Today. "We’ll talk all this through."

Trump began disparaging federal judges who have ruled against his interests before he took office, starting with U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. After Curiel ruled against Trump in 2016 in a pair of lawsuits detailing predatory marketing practices at Trump University in San Diego, Trump described him as "a hater of Donald Trump," adding that he believed the Indiana-born judge was "Mexican."

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Tampa mob celebrates presidential pardon, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 19, 2020. Florida's Tampa Bay wayne madesen report logomob doubtless celebrated the February 19 presidential pardon issued by impeached president Donald John Trump for Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., the heir to his father, Eddie DeBartolo, Sr.'s, Youngstown, Ohio-based DeBartolo Corporation business empire.

The empire, according to federal law enforcement, had links to mobsters Carlos Marcello, Meyer Lansky, and the Tampa-based father-son duo Santos Trafficante Sr. and Jr.

DeBartolo, Sr. was also reportedly closely tied to the Mafia families that ran the Pittsburgh and Cleveland rackets. DeBartolo, Sr. had a major presence in Florida and his banks and front companies were, according to the FBI, connected to drug money laundering.

washington post logoWashington Post, Blagojevich declares himself ‘a freed political prisoner,’ thanks Trump, Susan Berger and John Wagner, An unrepentant Rod Blagojevich expressed "everlasting gratitude" Wednesday to President Trump for commuting his 14-year prison sentence and declared himself "a freed political prisoner" as he spoke to reporters outside his home in Chicago.

"From the beginning to the end, this was persecution masquerading as prosecution," the former Democratic governor of Illinois said of his legal ordeal, which resulted in a conviction on corruption charges in 2011 related to trying to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, among other campaign finance violations.

Blagojevich, who had been serving time in a federal correctional facility in Colorado, appeared alongside his wife and two daughters at a news conference in which he frequently dabbed his chin, explaining that he was bleeding from his first "normal" shave in about eight years.

The former Illinois governor, who had served eight years on corruption charges related to trying to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, spoke to reporters after returning home to Chicago.

"We want to express our most profound and everlasting gratitude to President Trump," Blagojevich said, suggesting that the Republican president had nothing to gain politically by granting clemency to a Democrat.

Blagojevich, who quoted scripture and Martin Luther King Jr. at various points, described himself a "Trumpocrat" and said he would vote for Trump if he can — seemingly uncertain as to whether his ex-felon status would permit that.

Blogojevich was greeted by cheers of "Welcome home, governor!" and "love you." A banner ran below the family’s front porch, signed by neighbors, that said, "Thank you Mr. President." Reporters and TV cameras surrounded the house, and helicopters could be overheard on a 24-degree, sunny day.

Forbes, Trump Has Now Shifted $1.9 Million From Campaign Donors To His Business, Dan Alexander, Feb. 19, 2020. President Trump Holds Rally In New Hampshire Day Before State's Primary; Supporters go wild as President Trump arrives for a "Keep America Great" rally.

Billionaire Donald Trump still has not donated a cent of his own to his 2020 campaign, opting to fund the effort with money from supporters around the country. At the same time, Trump’s private companies are continuing to charge the campaign for expenses like rent and consulting, according to the latest federal filings. That means that since January 20, 2017, the day Trump officially declared his intent to run for reelection, his campaign has put $1.9 million of donor money into the president’s private business.

"This is a man, who when he first said he was going to run for office, was saying that he was going to do this all out of his own pocket," said Karl Sandstrom, a Democrat who served as a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission from 1998 to 2002. "And now he’s taking money from others and putting it in his pocket."

Forbes first reported on this arrangement more than a year ago, when Trump had already shifted $1.1 million from his campaign to his business. The amount of money has continued to swell since then.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lindsey Graham has no idea what he’s doing, Ron Leshnower, Feb. 19, 2020. Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News on Monday night, complaining, "You’re not trying to uphold the rule of law. You’re trying to take a good man down because you hate Trump." Graham was referring to Attorney General William Barr and using a tired, twisted defense. It’s like saying you want the police to find the people who vandalized your home because you hate them–not because they engaged in wrongdoing. The silver lining is that when sycophants like Graham resort to arguing "you’re doing this because you hate Trump," it means they’re losing bigly.

bill palmer report logo headerLate last week, Barr claimed in an interview with ABC News that he won’t be bullied and that Trump’s tweets are making it "impossible" for him to do his job. Whether or not this was an act of staged resistance, Barr’s comments backfired. Exactly what job Barr is doing has come under increasing scrutiny as a groundswell of pushback against Barr’s mockery of justice is underway. Former U.S. Attorney and DOJ official Harry Litman chillingly described the unprecedented nature of the situation in a tweet Monday night: "This is mind-blowing. I’ve never heard of anything like it. We are in full on crisis mode."

On Sunday, DOJ alumni published an open letter, which now bears over 2,000 signatures, calling for Barr to resign after interfering in the sentencing of Roger Stone, who was convicted in November on seven counts of witness tampering and lying to Congress. Yesterday, the Federal Judges Association, an independent group of over 1,000 jurists, revealed it is calling an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis. According to an analysis by the Washington Post of news articles since the association’s founding in 1982, there has been "nothing like a meeting to deal with the conduct of a president or attorney general."

At Barr’s confirmation hearing a mere 13 months ago, he claimed, "Nothing could be more destructive of our system of government, of the rule of law or the Department of Justice as an institution than any toleration of political interference with the enforcement of the law." He went on to say that Americans need to be sure that there are places in government "where the rule of law, not politics, holds sway and where they will be treated fairly based solely on the facts and the evenhanded application of the law. The Department of Justice must be that place." Through these words and his subsequent actions, Barr has crafted a convincing case for his immediate resignation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Milken, the ‘junk bond king,’ was a key character in the ‘decade of greed,’ Reis Thebault, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Michael Milken, the "junk bond king" who was charged with insider trading in the 1980s, was granted clemency by President Trump on Tuesday, making him the latest wealthy and well-connected offender bestowed such a benediction under this administration.

michael milken CustomA key character in the "decade of greed," Milken, right, helped create the market for high-yield securities, known as junk bonds, as an executive at the now-shuttered firm Drexel Burnham Lambert. He was at one point the highest-paid man in Wall Street history, and his rapaciousness made him an inspiration for Gordon Gekko, the villain in the 1987 film "Wall Street."

In 1990, Milken pleaded guilty to six felony counts, including securities fraud, mail fraud and aiding in the filing of a false tax return. He was fined $600 million and sentenced to 10 years in prison at a minimum-security facility but was released after serving two years and cooperating with government investigators.

Since emerging from prison, Milken has survived prostate cancer and remade himself as a major philanthropist, contributing millions to cancer research and public health organizations. He also founded the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on economic policy.

Before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday, Trump praised Milken, saying he has "gone around and done an incredible job for the world, with all of his research on cancer."

washington post logoWashington Post, Charges unraveled legacy of ex-N.Y. commissioner Bernard Kerik, Michael Brice-Saddler, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump on Tuesday pardoned Bernard Kerik, the once-heralded New York police commissioner whose legacy was unraveled by a bevy of allegations that landed him in prison, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.

bernard kerik today show 11 4 13Kerik, an Army veteran, joined the New York Police Department in 1986 and was named the 40th police commissioner of New York at the turn of the millennium, working closely with then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. He rose to prominence and was celebrated as a hero for heading the department during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He is shown at right in a screenshot from an appearance on NBC's Today Show following his release from prison.

He was one of 11 high-profile figures to whom the president granted clemency Tuesday. Others included Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 2000 to failing to report a felony, and Michael Milken, the notorious "junk bond king" charged with insider trading in the 1980s.

"Bernard Kerik courageously led the New York Police Department’s heroic response to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, as Commissioner of the New York Police Department," the White House wrote in its statement Tuesday announcing Kerik’s clemency. "He embodied the strength, courage, compassion, and spirit of the people of New York and this great Nation as he served alongside first responders at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attack."

His leadership during one of the nation’s darkest hours resonated with many, including President George W. Bush, who in 2004 nominated Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland Security. But within days, amid media scrutiny, Kerik withdrew his acceptance of the nomination and confessed that he had not paid taxes for a nanny whose immigration status was in question.

The admission was followed by a cascade of allegations against the well-known commissioner: chief among them that he had not reported gifts he had received as a New York City official, including from a construction company suspected of involvement in organized crime. Kerik was indicted in 2007 after pleading guilty the year before to misdemeanors centered on the allegations.

In 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including two counts of tax fraud and lying to White House officials while being considered for the homeland security position, the Associated Press reported at the time. The judge in the case, Stephen C. Robinson, sentenced Kerik to four years in federal prison — exceeding federal sentencing guidelines, which recommended 27 to 33 months — asserting that Kerik had used the aftermath of 9/11 for personal gain and later made "a conscious decision to essentially lie to the President of the United States to get a cabinet position."

On Tuesday, the White House wrote that since his conviction, Kerik had become an advocate for criminal justice, with a focus on prisoner reentry reform. In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Kerik said there are "no words to express my appreciation and gratitude to President Trump."

"With the exception of the birth of my children, today is one of the great days in my life," he wrote. "Going to prison is like dying with your eyes open. Its aftermath of collateral consequences and the permanent loss of many of your civil and constitutional rights are personally devastating."

Known now as a frequent Mar-a-Lago guest and Fox News pundit, Kerik made an appearance on the network as recently as Monday night. A senior administration official told The Washington Post that a number of people lobbied the president on Kerik’s behalf, including Giuliani, now Trump’s personal attorney, and Newsmax Media chief executive Christopher Ruddy.

Background: Washington Post, Most Trump clemency grants bypass Justice Dept. and go to well-connected offenders, Beth Reinhard and Anne Gearan, Feb. 3, 2020. Most of Trump’s grants of clemency have gone to ­well-connected offenders who had not filed petitions with the pardon office or did not meet its requirements, The Post review shows.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr has told those close to Trump he is considering quitting over the president’s tweets about Justice Dept. investigations, Feb. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr has told people close to President Trump — both inside and outside the White House — that he is considering quitting over Trump’s tweets about Justice Department investigations, three administration officials said, foreshadowing a possible confrontation between the president and his attorney general over the independence of the Justice Department.

So far, Trump has defied Barr’s requests, both public and private, to keep quiet on matters of federal law enforcement. It was not immediately clear Tuesday if Barr had made his posture known directly to Trump. The administration officials said Barr seemed to be sharing his position with advisers in hopes the president would get the message that he should stop weighing in publicly on the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigations.

"He has his limits," said one person familiar with Barr’s thinking, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others, to discuss internal deliberations.

Late last week, Barr publicly warned the president in a remarkable interview with ABC News that his tweets about Justice Department cases "make it impossible for me to do my job." Trump, White House officials said, is not entirely receptive to calls to change his behavior, and he has told those around him he is not going to stop tweeting about the Justice Department. They said Trump considers highlighting what he sees as misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department as a good political message.

Over the weekend, more than 2,000 former department employees signed a public letter urging Barr to resign over his handling of the Stone case and exhorted current department employees to report any unethical conduct to the inspector general. Jan Miller, who was the U.S. attorney for Central Illinois from 2002 until 2005 under President George W. Bush, said he signed in part to remind rank-and-file Justice Department employees that "they’re not alone."

"I’m sure it’s a very difficult time to be a line prosecutor in the department right now," Miller said.

Trump also reprised old attacks on the Mueller investigation.

WikiLeaks, Pardon, Russian Hacking

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump ‘Offered Assange Pardon’ if He Covered Up Russian Hack, Nico Hines, Feb. 19, 2020. A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives.

The claim that Rohrabacher acted as an emissary for the White House came during a pre-extradition hearing in London. The claim that Rohrabacher acted as an emissary for the White House came during a pre-extradition hearing in London.

Assange has argued that he should not be extradited to the U.S. because the American case against him is politically motivated. He spent almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in Central London claiming that he would be jailed in the U.S. if he wasn’t granted asylum. He was kicked out of the embassy last year.

His lawyers told the court that Trump’s alleged offer to pardon Assange proved that this was no ordinary criminal investigation.

Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Julian Assange just dropped a bomb on Donald Trump’s head, Bill Palmer, Feb. 19, 2020. Donald Trump has been playing a dangerous game by dangling pardons at his own criminal co-conspirators but never coming through for them. Sure, Paul Manafort is still dutifully rotting away in solitary, and Roger Stone is hanging in there for now. But when Trump started pardoning criminals yesterday and he only included people who had paid him off, while ignoring his own co-conspirators, one of them decided to strike back.

Julian Assange, who will never taste freedom at this point and has nothing to lose, is now revealing that Donald Trump offered him a pardon in exchange for keeping quiet about Russia’s involvement in the WikiLeaks plot to hack the DNC and swing the election in Trump’s favor. We’re not inclined to take anything Assange says at face value, but his lawyers have provided specific details to the Daily Beast, including the fact that the pardon offered was relayed through Russia-loving former GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. So what happens now?

By outing the fact that Donald Trump offered a pardon that never came through, Assange is giving up any hope of ever getting that pardon, because Trump pretty much can’t do it now that everything is out in the open. Perhaps Assange is looking to harm Trump’s 2020 prospects in the hope that he can cut a cooperating plea deal with the next administration. Or perhaps at this point Assange – who by all accounts is a frail and withdrawn shadow of his former self – just wants revenge.

Either way, this has to be seen as bad news for Donald Trump. There’s no possible way Julian Assange is doing this to try to secretly help Trump, because this wouldn’t be the approach he’d take at all. Trump appears to have made an enemy out of Assange by offering him a pardon and then reneging on it, and now Assange is going after him. What happens if someone like Roger Stone, who knows far more of Trump’s dirt, also concludes that no magic pardon is coming?

Feb. 18

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

Trump Power, Payback

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes Donald Trump’s big pardon head-fake with Roger Stone, Bill Palmer, Feb. 18, 2020. Thus far today Donald Trump has pardoned former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, commuted the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. There could end up being more names by the time the day is over.

So what’s Trump doing? He’s creating pardon hysteria, of course, because he’s trying to convince Roger Stone (above at left) that a pardon is magically coming for him as well.

Here’s the thing, though. Donald Trump does this same thing every time one of his co-conspirators is about to be arrested, or about go to prison. Trump knows that if he pardons some random unrelated people at just the right time, he can count on the media to opportunistically start putting the ratings-friendly narrative that pardons are magic wands and that Trump is about to pardon his co-conspirator as well.

bill palmer report logo headerThe media has spent three years trying to keep you glued to your television by inaccurately painting pardons as magic wands, and then convincing you that Trump is about to pardon everyone at any moment. The pundits always tell you that the irrelevant pardons are a "trial balloon" and that he’s "laying the groundwork" or "creating cover" for pardoning his co-conspirator. But it never, ever, ever happens – because pardons of co-conspirators are complicated and they don’t work the way they’re portrayed on cable news.

Trump played this same game with Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen when they were going down. Manafort took the bait. Cohen didn’t. Flynn still can’t make up his mind what to believe. But the bottom line is that he’s never once ever pardoned one of his co-conspirators. There’s a chance Trump could pardon Stone, who surely has even worse dirt on Trump than the others do, and could seek ugly revenge. But if it does happen, it’ll be the first time the pundits have ever been right about a Trump pardon in three years – and then only by coincidence.

If Trump pardons a co-conspirator, it’ll trigger a legal battle over the scope of pardon power, which could result in Trump being blocked from trying to pardon himself and his kids on his way out the door. Is Trump so afraid of Stone’s dirt, he’s willing to risk going to prison himself? Trump can also only pardon federal charges. Stone has a secondary residence in NYC, which was raided when he was arrested. If Stone is pardoned, New York can bring state charges against him, even if Florida won’t. So Stone’s pardon might not even keep him out of prison.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks Stone Prosecutors and Judge, Ignoring Barr’s Admonishment, Sharon LaFraniere, Feb. 18, 2020. President Mr. Trump continued his attacks as a judge said Roger Stone’s sentencing would go on as scheduled. The case has prompted turmoil within the Justice Department. Roger Stone’s sentencing will go on as scheduled, a judge said as she vowed to hear out concerns from the defense. The case has prompted turmoil within the Justice Department.

Mr. Trump renewed his attacks on law enforcement on Tuesday, denouncing the prosecutors and judge in the case of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. just days after Attorney General William P. Barr warned that the president’s criticisms were making it "impossible" to do his job.

Justice Department log circularUndeterred, Mr. Trump kept up his barrage on Twitter. He directly quoted a "Fox & Friends" legal analyst, Andrew Napolitano, who has insisted that the president "has every right to speak to" the attorney general about the Stone case. Mr. Trump has alleged bias by the jury forewoman and echoed calls for the judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, to reconsider it.

"Judge Jackson now has a request for a new trial based on the unambiguous & self outed bias of the foreperson," Mr. Trump wrote, quoting Mr. Napolitano.

But Mr. Stone’s sentencing will go on as planned on Thursday despite last-ditch motions by his defense lawyers for a new trial, Judge Jackson said hours later on Tuesday. She said she would allow the defense to file an amended motion for a new trial, give the government a chance to respond and schedule a hearing if warranted. Defense lawyers are trying to argue that juror misconduct led to an unfair trial.

The handling of Mr. Stone’s case has generated tumult in the Justice Department after Attorney General William P. Barr scrapped the prosecution team’s sentencing recommendation in favor of a much lighter one, leading four government lawyers to withdraw from the case. Mr. Trump also attacked the initial sentencing request.

The president also again assailed the lawyers, saying that if he were not president, he would sue them. Two of the four worked for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election led to the indictments of Mr. Stone and five other former Trump aides.

Mr. Stone, 67, was convicted in November of seven felony charges, including tampering with a witness and lying under oath in order to obstruct a congressional inquiry into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller’s inquiry ultimately found insufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the campaign of conspiring with the Russians.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump raises possibility of suing those involved in prosecuting Roger Stone, John Wagner, Feb. 18, 2020. President Trump on Tuesday raised the possibility of suing those involved in prosecuting the Roger Stone case after sharing the opinion of a Fox News commentator who said it is "pretty obvious" that Stone, Trump’s longtime political confidant, should get a new trial.

Trump’s morning tweets marked his latest efforts to intervene in the case of Stone, who faces sentencing this week on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress.

roger stoneDefense lawyers for Stone, right, demanded a new trial Friday, one day after Trump suggested that the forewoman in the federal case had "significant bias."

Trump was referring to Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress. Hart has identified herself as the forewoman of the jury in a Facebook post, saying she "can’t keep quiet any longer" in the wake of a Justice Department move to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Stone from the seven to nine years recommended by front-line prosecutors.

In his tweets on Tuesday, Trump quoted at length Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and Fox News commentator, who argued that Stone should receive a trial based on "the unambiguous & self outed bias of the foreperson of the jury."

"Pretty obvious he should (get a new trial)," Trump quoted Napolitano as saying. "I think almost any judge in the Country would order a new trial, I’m not so sure about Judge Jackson, I don’t know."

Napolitano was referring to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over Stone’s case and who has drawn Trump’s ire on Twitter for her treatment of another ally of his, Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman.

In his latest tweets — which began about an hour after Napolitano appeared on "Fox & Friends" — Trump also derided prosecutors in the Stone case as "Mueller prosecutors," a reference to those who worked for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russian in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump called that investigation "fraudulent," adding: "If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL."

All four career prosecutors handling the case against Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings last week — and one quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation. Two of those prosecutors had worked for Mueller.

Stone has been a friend and adviser to Trump since the 1980s and was a key figure in his 2016 campaign, working to discover damaging information on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

More than 2,000 former department employees signed a public letter over the weekend urging Attorney General William P. Barr to resign over his handling of the case and exhorted current department employees to report any unethical conduct. At Barr’s urging, the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memo suggesting that Stone should receive less prison time.

 djt feb 7 2020 william moon white house photo

Donald Trump, with tanning make-up revealed, returns to White House from Trump white nationalist rally in North Carolina on Feb. 7, 2020 (Photo by William Moon).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We knew what Barr would do. Now it’s too late to stop him. Annie L. Owens, Feb. 18, 2020 (print ed.). The attorney general’s radical view of the executive branch was apparent during his Senate confirmation.

Last week, Attorney General William P. Barr overruled the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s ally Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress, after the president tweeted that the original recommendation was "horrible" and "very unfair." Barr also ordered a review of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s prosecution — which, like Stone’s, was initiated by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and conducted by career Justice Department attorneys.

djt william barr doj photo march 2019These developments are the latest evidence that Barr’s loyalty to Trump threatens the Justice Department’s independence, and they have shaken the public’s faith in the rule of law.

But Barr’s attempts to politicize the Justice Department could have been stopped before they began: during his Senate confirmation. Even then, it was clear that Barr’s radical pro-executive branch worldview was contrary to Congress’s institutional interests and made Barr a dangerous pick for a president who, as Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) warned, "views the Justice Department as an extension of his political power."

A little over a year ago, I was serving as a senior counsel on the minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helping Democrats sound the alarm about Barr’s troubling record. A former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (an office in which I also later served), Barr had espoused an extreme view of executive power that exalted the presidency to a position of inviolability rather than treating Congress as a coequal branch.

This theory, which the Supreme Court has never endorsed, grants the president virtually unchecked authority while seriously hamstringing Congress’s ability to hold the president accountable, including its ability to guard against political interference in law enforcement.

Annie L. Owens is a Litigator with the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center. She was previously a Senior Counsel for the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an Attorney-Adviser in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept., in wrestling with how to handle Giuliani, tightens rules for Ukraine-related probes, Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 18, 2020. The deputy attorney general and U.S. attorney in Brooklyn must now sign off before any investigations are expanded.

The Justice Department revealed Tuesday that law enforcement officials running Ukraine-related investigations must seek approval before expanding their inquiries — a move that could have implications for Rudolph W. Giuliani, as President Trump’s personal attorney pushes for scrutiny of the president’s political foes while facing a federal probe into his own conduct.

The directive from Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen was disclosed in a response to Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) after the House Judiciary Committee chairman demanded clarity on how the Justice Department is reviewing information from Giuliani, who has urged law enforcement to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son for their dealings in Ukraine.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote to Nadler that the department had tapped two U.S. attorneys to assist in the process — Scott Brady in Pittsburgh to receive and assess new information, and Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn to help coordinate personnel throughout the Justice Department involved in Giuliani’s case and others with a focus on Ukraine. An accompanying internal memo, circulated by Rosen in January, says that he and Donoghue must approve expansions of any inquiries.

Such a move could be viewed as putting another layer of approval in place if prosecutors wanted to widen their Giuliani probe, although Rosen wrote in his memo that the aim was to "avoid duplication of efforts."

Taking information from Giuliani is particularly fraught for the department because the president’s personal lawyer is under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan in a case that has led to campaign finance charges against two of Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The pair helped Giuliani try to conduct investigations in Ukraine and lobbied for the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Prosecutors have in recent weeks contacted witnesses and sought to collect additional documents in that case.

Politico, Top intel office lawyer who handled Ukraine whistleblower complaint resigning, Kyle Cheney, Feb. 18, 2020. Jason Klitenic, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will depart early next month.

The top lawyer for the intelligence community, whose decision to block a whistleblower's complaint about President Donald Trump and Ukraine from reaching Congress helped jumpstart the impeachment inquiry, is resigning from his post, officials confirmed.

Jason Klitenic, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will depart early next month, according to an agency spokeswoman. His exit comes as the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, nears a March 11 deadline to depart as well. Federal law prevents Maguire from serving in an acting capacity beyond that date, meaning a new director must be nominated and confirmed by then, or Trump must pick a new acting official.

Klitenic made a personal decision to return to private practice, the spokeswoman said. He became the subject of scrutiny in September when he consulted with the Justice Department and determined that a whistleblower complaint deemed "urgent" by an internal watchdog would not be provided to Congress. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) demanded access to the complaint after learning it had been blocked — and that it likely pertained to Trump or his senior advisers — and the furor that ensued led to a cascade of support for impeachment in the House.

The Trump administration's initial refusal to provide the complaint, as well as a string of media reports suggesting the complaint described wrongdoing by Trump in his posture toward Ukraine, ultimately led Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry in late September. Within days of her decision, Maguire testified to Congress and the whistleblower complaint was released publicly. Trump also decided to release the readout of a July 25 call with Ukraine's president that became a central piece of evidence in the impeachment inquiry.

Schiff first asked the DNI for the whistleblower complaint after the agency's inspected general characterized it as an "urgent" and credible matter. Typically federal laws trigger a requirement that such complaints are forwarded to Congress. But in a Sept. 13 letter, Klitenic replied that rather than honor the inspector general's assessment, DNI consulted with the Justice Department, which overruled the inspector general and determined the complaint did not meet the threshold required to share it with lawmakers.

"Based on those consultations, we determined that the allegations did not fall within the statutory definition of an 'urgent concern' and that the statute did not require the complaint to be transmitted to the intelligence committees," Klitenic wrote on Sept. 13.

He also argued that the whistleblower had no legal right to approach Congress directly with his concerns. "We believe that it is important to apply the statute as it was written, because reading it to give a complainant a unilateral right to forward a complaint to the congressional intelligence committees would raise serious constitutional questions," Klitenic argued.

Klitenic's letter also hinted at Trump's role in the complaint, noting that it involved "confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community." Schiff said at the time that such a description could only apply to Trump or his top aides.

Feb. 17

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

 

Trump Power, Payback Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, More than 1,100 ex-Justice Department officials call for Barr’s resignation, Devlin Barrett, Feb. 17, 2020 (print ed.). More than 1,100 former Justice Department employees signed a public letter Sunday urging Attorney General William P. Barr to resign over his handling of the william barr new ocase of President Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone — and exhorted current department employees to report any unethical conduct.

The letter is the latest sign of a crisis of confidence inside the department. Four prosecutors quit the Stone case last week after Barr, right, and other Justice Department leaders pushed for a softer prison recommendation for Stone, who is due to be sentenced this week.

The four prosecutors had originally recommended a prison sentence of seven to nineyears for Stone after he was convicted of lying to Congress and obstruction. The president publicly attacked that recommendation, and at Barr’s urging the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memo suggesting Stone should receive less prison time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s quest to rewrite history of the Russia probe, Philip Rucker, Feb. 17, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

President Donald Trump officialThe U.S. intelligence community long ago produced evidence of Russia’s illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election to try to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy. Then the special counsel investigating the matter detailed myriad ways President Trump sought to stymie the probe. And then Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress about Trump’s conduct — and warned of Russia’s continued interest in thwarting U.S. elections.

But it is Trump who is trying to have the last word.

Seven months after Mueller’s marathon testimony brought finality to the Russia investigation, Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

Turbocharged by his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial and confident that he has acquired the fealty of nearly every Republican in Congress, Trump is claiming vindication and exoneration not only over his conduct with Ukraine — for which the House voted to impeach him — but also from the other investigations that have dogged his presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Eric Trump said the Secret Service stays free at Trump clubs. Doesn’t look like it, Editorial Board, Feb. 17, 2020 (print ed.). No one disputes that Secret Service protection is essential and expensive. But revelations about exorbitant rates that the Secret Service has been charged to protect President Trump at his private properties raise the question of what interest is being furthered. Is it the safety of the president or the bottom line of his private holdings?

secret service logoAn investigation by The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey found 103 payments from January 2017 to April 2018 from the Secret Service to Trump companies, totaling more than $471,000. Among the charges were $650 per night for agents to use rooms "dozens" of times in 2017 at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and $17,000 a month to rent a three-bedroom cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminister in New Jersey for three months in 2017.

The full extent of what the Trump Organization is charging the government is not known because the Secret Service has not listed them in public databases, even though it is typically required for charges in excess of $10,000. Nor has the agency filed the required twice-yearly reports on its spending to Congress. Since 2016, it has filed just two reports and those were not complete; the lines for Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago were both left blank. Post reporters were able to provide a glimpse into the arrangements by compiling documents that came out piecemeal from public records requests of other news organizations and watchdog groups and by talking to people who have seen some receipts.

Feb. 16

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

Trump Power, Payback Stories

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s quest to rewrite history of the Russia probe, Philip Rucker, Feb. 16, 2020. President Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

The U.S. intelligence community long ago produced evidence of Russia’s illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election to try to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy. Then the special counsel investigating the matter detailed myriad ways President Trump sought to stymie the probe. And then Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress about Trump’s conduct — and warned of Russia’s continued interest in thwarting U.S. elections.

But it is Trump who is trying to have the last word.

Seven months after Mueller’s marathon testimony brought finality to the Russia investigation, Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

Turbocharged by his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial and confident that he has acquired the fealty of nearly every Republican in Congress, Trump is claiming vindication and exoneration not only over his conduct with Ukraine — for which the House voted to impeach him — but also from the other investigations that have dogged his presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Internal reviews and re-investigations feed suspicion inside Justice Dept., Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Critics are concerned that agency leaders are trying to please President Trump regarding cases in which he is personally or politically invested.

The Justice Department in the Trump era has repeatedly tasked U.S. attorneys from far-flung offices to parachute into politically explosive cases in Washington, raising concerns among current and former officials that agency leaders are trying to please the president by reviewing and reinvestigating cases in which he is personally or politically invested.

After a tumultuous week for federal law enforcement in which Attorney General William P. Barr declared he could not do his job if the president kept tweeting about criminal cases, and officials revealed they had dropped one politically charged case while adding new prosecutors to others, several current and former officials expressed alarm at what they characterized as a troubling pattern.

"The power to investigate is the power to destroy," said Gregory A. Brower, a former U.S. attorney and former senior FBI official. The current approach to sensitive cases, he said, "gives the appearance of politics coming into play whenever the president has a perceived political enemy. . . . The ability to simply point to a pending investigation against a person can have devastating effects on that person and can have a potential political benefit to the person orchestrating the investigation."

On Friday, prosecutors said they would no longer pursue a criminal case against Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI director who has long been a target of Trump’s vitriol.

The decision infuriated the president, according to a senior White House official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail internal discussions. Trump ranted privately to associates about the announcement, telling one he’s always known McCabe was a "bad guy."

While the president is angry over the decision not to charge McCabe with lying to investigators during a leak investigation, he is unlikely to fire Barr over the matter, people familiar with the matter said.

washington post logoWashington Post, In tweetstorm, Trump likens himself to a king, shares mayor bathroom audio, Colby Itkowitz, Feb. 16, 2020 (print ed.).  Amid a presidential tweetstorm Saturday morning, President Trump shared a passage from a two-week-old news article likening him to a vengeful king. Trump on impeachment: ‘It’s been a very unfair situation’

Trump tweeted a section of a Feb. 1 New York Times story about his impeachment in which reporter Peter Baker wrote, "Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, "you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down. A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail."

The actual quote from Baker’s story says "a king," which Trump changed to "the King." He also added his own commentary, appending "The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!" to the end of the tweet.

The president’s tweet was part of an assortment of unrelated commentary and videos he shared before he headed to his private golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He credited Fox News’s Laura Ingraham with a gripe over the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who Trump views as a political enemy for authorizing an investigation into the president’s possible obstruction of justice.

He retweeted a video of an alleged antifa member threatening physical harm to San Francisco Republican John Dennis, who is running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

And the president shared a five-year-old video of the Republican mayor of Georgetown, Tex., accidentally leaving his microphone on when he left a public meeting to use the bathroom.

In the last example, Trump retweeted Paul Samuel, or @PaulSam27131285, of Biggleswade, England, who shared the old clip on Friday with the comment, "THIS IS HILARIOUS."

It’s unclear whether Trump was aware that the majority of Samuel’s other tweets are dedicated to mocking the U.S. president.

"I have no doubt that @realDonaldTrump will be recorded as the most corrupt POTUS in US history," Samuel tweeted Saturday morning with an altered image of Trump with a pig’s snout.

The original video, which went viral in 2015, showed Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross excusing himself to use the bathroom. But he forgot to turn off his microphone, broadcasting his bodily functions to the meeting. The video shows a council member in the midst of discussing infectious diseases breaking into laughter.

Trump, who has long used Twitter to communicate his thoughts and grievances, has been on a retweeting spree of late, sharing commentary from a California sex therapist, a clip from the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" parodying Trump supporters — which the president seemed to interpret as genuinely positive — and a video of jaguars lying in the sun.

Feb. 15

Trump Power, Payback Headlines

2020 U.S. Politics

Trump Power, Payback Stories

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump thinks the Justice Department is his personal grudge squad, Sally Yates (served as deputy attorney Sally Yatesgeneral from January 2015 to January 2017), Feb. 14, 2020. The imperative of Justice Department independence from political influence has deep roots. After the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Griffin Bell sought to reestablish Justice’s independence and ensure that the department would be "recognized by all citizens as a neutral zone, in which neither favor nor pressure nor politics is permitted to influence the administration of the law." The nation had lost faith in the Justice Department and the rule of law, so during the Carter administration Bell instituted strict limits on communications between the White House and Justice to prevent any "outside interference in reaching professional judgment on legal matters."

Since Bell’s tenure, attorneys general in Democratic and Republican administrations alike have issued largely similar policies to adhere to the course Bell mapped for the department to live up to its promise of impartial justice.

Until now.

While the policy is ostensibly still in effect, it is a hollow ode to bygone days. From virtually the moment he took office, President Trump has attempted to use the Justice Department as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies. He ran off Jeff Sessions after Sessions’s recusal in the Russia investigation rendered Sessions useless to protect him. The president has attempted to order up investigations of his perceived political enemies and enlist the department to protect his friends. With every blow, the wall of Justice independence has wobbled a bit more. This week, it teetered on the verge of collapse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr-Trump relationship facing its gravest threat yet, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, william barr new oFeb. 15, 2020 (print ed.). Officials watched warily as the president defied the attorney general’s entreaty about tweeting and the Justice Department said it would not charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Another case Trump meddled in. Another unorthodox intervention from Barr
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Winter is coming for Bill Barr, Dana Milbank, Feb. 15, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Opinion How democracy dies: In full view of a public that couldn’t care less, Max Boot, Feb. 15, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: There is no one to stop Trump now, George Conway, Feb. 15, 2020. When the subject of Attorney General William P. Barr comes up these days, it’s hard not to think of John S. McCain. Not the late senator, mind you, but the USS John S. McCain, the naval destroyer named after his father and grandfather.

It was an incident involving this ship that, as much as anything else, captures how the Trump administration — and its attorney general — operates. It explains Barr’s intervention into the criminal sentencing of Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, felon Roger Stone, and much, much more.

The McCain was docked at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan in May 2019, when the 7th Fleet issued a directive that had originated from conversations with the White House Military Office. The president was coming to Yokosuka on Memorial Day, and so, accordingly: "USS John McCain needs to be of sight." So sailors were ordered to hang a tarp over the vessel’s name, and they removed any coverings that bore the words "John S. McCain."

Palmer Report, Opinion: 'Banana Republic,' Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 15, 2020. Considering how overwhelmingly corrupt Donald Trump and Bill Barr are, it’s a good thing they’re not particularly skilled at it. Sure, they’ve each been committing crimes left and bill palmerright since taking their respective offices. But Trump is limping along with a near-fatally low approval rating, and Barr just keeps finding new ways to strike out. Now they’ve succeeded in severely pissing off a judge.

By September of last year, Palmer Report and others were already pointing out that the supposed indictment of former FBI official Andrew McCabe didn’t appear to actually exist, and that Bill Barr had simply leaked a phony story to the media just to make Trump’s socks roll up and down. By November of last year it was pretty clear that this was eventually going to blow up in Barr’s face. Now that day has arrived.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Barr’s DOJ admitted to a federal judge yesterday that there wasn’t going to be any indictment or prosecution of McCabe, the judge promptly lambasted Barr and his people over the matter. Judge Reggie Walton, a conservative by any measure, went so far as to blast them for running a "banana republic" because it was clear that Barr had been taking his marching orders in the case from Trump.

Therein lies the problem for both these guys. Donald Trump is so narcissistic, or impulsive, or just plain deranged, he can’t simply sit back and let Bill Barr do his corrupt dirty work for him. Trump has to tweet insults and threats and complaints in the direction of Barr’s targets, leaving Barr without even a sliver of deniability. Meanwhile Barr is so middling at this, the best he could come up with was to pretend McCabe had been indicted. Trump and Barr won’t stop trying their bumbling yet corrupt antics. As always, vigilance is the key to containing the damage they can do, until we can throw them out in the election.

washington post logorudy giuliani recentWashington Post, Federal prosecutors took new steps in probe related to Giuliani, say people familiar with case, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 15, 2020 (print ed.). The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan contacted witnesses, even as the Justice Department vets the Trump attorney’s claims about Joe Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, William Taylor Jr., a key impeachment witness, quietly returns home to Trump’s Washington, Greg Jaffe, Feb. 15, 2020 (print ed.). Those who testified against the president are trying to figure out their place in the Washington left behind following his acquittal.

2020 U.S. Politics

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: New Illegal Quid Pro Quo: Trump Demands New York State Halt All Legal Actions and Investigations Against Him as webster tarpley 2007the Price of Restoring Trusted Traveler/Global Entry at New York Airports, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Feb. 15, 2020. Blatant Extortion in Broad Daylight Threatens Slide into Dictatorship! Growing Support Among Democrats for Declaring the Prevention of One-Man Rule as the Overarching Theme of the Next Presidential Debate on February 19 in Las Vegas.

No Time Left for Business as Usual with Trick Questions from Corporate Anchors and Endless Regurgitation of Stump Speeches; Field Must Focus on Saving Democracy and the Rule of Law as the Business at Hand.

Democrats Must Also Dial Back Cutthroat Competition Among Leaderless Group of Candidates with Online Goons Blending with Russian Bots, and Set Up Criteria for Policies That Are Unacceptable: No More Reckless Talk of Stripping 150 Million Health Insurance Policies or Wiping Out Whole Industries in Next Decade; Historic Party Leaders Should Convene A Steering Committee to Provide Standards and Guidance.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump mocks the faith of others. His own religious practices remain opaque, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Julie Zauzmer and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 15, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump does not regularly talk about religion with many of his advisers, who said they knew little about how he views God. But evangelical pastors have described him as a "baby Christian" and said he had a moment of conversion.

Feb. 14

Trump Powers, Payback

Inside DC

U.S. Politics

 

Trump Powers, Payback

Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, DC (Justice Department photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump declares ‘legal right’ to seek intervention in criminal cases, Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner, Feb. 14, 2020. President Trump bucked Attorney General William P. Barr’s public request for the president "to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."

donald trump twitterA day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly warned President Trump not to tweet about the Justice Department [whose headquarters is shown above], Trump did just that, declaring that he has the "legal right" to ask his top law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case.

In his tweet, Trump quoted Barr from a television interview Thursday in which he asserted that the president had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case.

"This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!" Trump added in his own voice.

The public rebuke of the president by a sitting member of his Cabinet arose from a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, which had been accused this week of buckling to an angry tweet the president issued after learning of prosecutors’ initial prison recommendation for his longtime friend, Roger Stone.

Trump has publicly and privately raged in recent months about wanting investigations of those he sees as enemies, including former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, former FBI director James B. Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Installs Outside Prosecutor to Review Case Against Michael Flynn, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, Feb. 14, 2020. The scrutiny into the case against Mr. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser (shown above at left), could trigger more claims of interference. Attorney General William Barr has also assigned prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases.

william barr new oAttorney General William P. Barr, right, has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter.

The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors.

Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Justice Department log circularJeffrey A. Rosen.

Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations.

The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries.

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew McCabe, Ex-F.B.I. Official, Will Not Be Charged in Lying Case, Adam Goldman, Feb. 14, 2020. The decision to decline to charge Mr. McCabe with lying to investigators appears to be a move to distance the Justice Department from the president.

Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump, will not face charges in an investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a media leak, his defense team said on Friday.

Andrew McCabeThe decision by prosecutors in Washington ends a case that had left Mr. McCabe (shown at right in a file photo) in legal limbo for nearly two years. It also appears to be a sign that Attorney General William P. Barr wants to show that the Justice Department is independent from Mr. Trump: The notification came a day after Mr. Barr publicly challenged the president to stop attacking law enforcement officials on Twitter and said the criticisms were making his job more difficult.

The prosecutors informed Mr. McCabe’s lawyers of their decision by phone on Friday morning, the lawyers, Michael R. Bromwich and David Schertler, said in a statement.

"We said at the outset of the criminal investigation, almost two years ago, that if the facts and the law determined the result, no charges would be brought," they said. "We are pleased that Andrew McCabe and his family can go on with their lives without this cloud hanging over them."

The president’s relentless criticism of the Justice Department likely complicated the prosecution of Mr. McCabe. His supporters viewed the investigation as politically motivated and inextricably tainted by Mr. Trump’s relentless attacks.

The lack of charges is likely to anger Mr. Trump, who has long believed he was targeted illegally by Mr. McCabe and other former senior F.B.I. officials who opened the investigation in 2016 into whether his campaign conspired with Russia’s election interference operation.

roger stone cnn breitbart

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Right’s Big Lie About Roger Stone, Michelle Goldberg, right, Feb. 14, 2020. Trump allies are saying Stone (shown in a 2016 CNN screenshot) didn’t really threaten a witness. They’re wrong.

Randy Credico (below at left in a screenshot from an appearance on MSNBC) is the witness from Robert Mueller’s investigation who Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s longtime adviser, has been convicted of threatening.

A few months ago, Credico texted me, "If Stone goes to jail I’m a walking dead man." On Thursday, after the president’s intervention to get Stone a lighter sentence convulsed the Justice Department, I spoke to Credico, a left-wing comedian and activist, and he elaborated on what randy credico ari melber screenshot Customhe’d meant. "The guy goes to prison and I’m to blame, and you’re being called a rat, you’re worried about somebody with a red hat, a MAGA hat, doing a Jack Ruby on you," he said.

His fear has national implications, because a central question in the Stone sentencing is whether Credico truly felt endangered when Stone promised to cause him harm. Despite what the administration’s defenders say, the answer is yes.

I’ve known Credico since 2002, although not terribly well. We met when I was reporting on New York’s monstrous Rockefeller drug laws, which put people in prison for 15 years or more for low-level drug offenses. Credico introduced me to people whose lives had been destroyed by these sentences. (The campaign against the Rockefeller laws is also how Credico got to know Stone, a libertarian on drug laws.) Credico told me his father was incarcerated for a decade for cracking safes and came out a badly damaged man, sparking Credico’s lifelong hatred of prison as an institution. He texted me on Wednesday, "I would ask for leniency for Hannibal Lecter."

All this represents a terrifying new nadir in the Trump presidency. Under Barr, the Justice Department is becoming a tool of presidential vendettas, protecting people who commit crimes on Trump’s behalf while launching investigations into his enemies, including an inquiry into years-old leaks that appears to be focused on James Comey. Barr has even set up an intake system for Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to feed dirt gathered from Ukraine to the Justice Department, all while Giuliani is himself reportedly under criminal investigation for his shady foreign activities.

It was out of a combination of anxiety and idealism that, following Stone’s conviction, Credico wrote to the judge in the case, asking that she show Stone mercy.

"I don’t want to see a guy go to prison because of me, it’s going to be on my conscience, plus it’s going to anger a lot of people out there who called me a rat," he told me. Now, because of that letter, Credico finds himself near the center of the unfolding scandal over Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr’s intervention in Stone’s sentencing. His words are being used by Trump allies to argue that the prosecutors in the Stone case went overboard. "Unfortunately, they’re exploiting it for their own agenda," he said of his letter.

william barr hand out

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says Trump’s tweets make it ‘impossible for me to do my job,’ Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 14, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr (shown above in a file photo) has been under siege since an internal dispute over the prosecution of President Trump’s friend Roger Stone spilled into public view.

Attorney General William P. Barr pushed back hard Thursday against President Trump’s criticism of the Justice Department, saying, "I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody."

In an interview with ABC News, Barr said presidential statements and tweets "about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity."

The attorney general’s comments are almost certain to anger the president, who has heaped criticism on some current and former Justice Department officials over prosecutions and investigations involving the president’s former associates and alleged leaking by government officials. Barr said he was prepared to accept the consequences of speaking out against the president.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Policy on New York’s ‘Trusted Travelers’ Is Unconstitutional, Laurence H. Tribe (right, professor of constitutional laurence tribelaw at Harvard Law School), Feb. 14, 2020. People should never be punished for things they haven’t done.

The Department of Homeland Security recently decided to bar New York residents from federal programs that allow "trusted travelers" expedited transit through airports and border checkpoints. The Trump administration is defending the decision as a rational response to New York’s enactment of a law denying federal immigration authorities free access to the state’s motor vehicle records.

In truth, the department’s decision is spiteful retaliation against people who reside in a state that declines to bend to the administration’s immigration priorities. Whatever its other virtues or vices, the decision offends constitutional norms that are neither liberal nor conservative but simply American.

New York wasted no time in filing a federal suit to block the Department of Homeland Security’s move. The state’s lawsuit raises a number of plausible process-based objections and seeks to take advantage of legal doctrines usually associated with right-leaning judges. But it misses an opportunity to frame the case more fundamentally, in terms of principles grounded in personal responsibility and a refusal to punish people for the sins of others.

New York argues that the department’s move was hasty and arbitrary and imposes unjustified and even irrational pressure on the state to cooperate with federal authorities by sharing data they say they need to protect the nation while facilitating travel.

The state’s arguments have some force, but their premises might have limited appeal to judges deferential to executive power in matters involving immigration and allegedly implicating national security. Moreover, federal courts across the ideological spectrum might well sympathize with the administration’s claim that it cannot safely administer the expedited transit programs without access to personal information uniquely available through state motor vehicle records.

ny times logoNew York Times via MSN News, Justice Dept. Is Investigating CIA Resistance to Sharing Russia Secrets, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes, Feb. 14, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump administration officials investigating the government’s response to Russia’s election interference in 2016 appear to be hunting for a basis to accuse Obama-era intelligence officials of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis about Moscow’s covert operation, according to people familiar with aspects of the inquiry.

john durhamSince his election, President Trump has attacked the intelligence agencies that concluded that Russia secretly tried to help him win, fostering a narrative that they sought to delegitimize his victory. He has long promoted the investigation by John H. Durham, right, the prosecutor examining their actions, as a potential pathway to proving that a deep-state cabal conspired against him.

Questions asked by Mr. Durham, who was assigned by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize the early actions of law enforcement and intelligence officials struggling to understand the scope of Russia’s scheme, suggest that Mr. Durham may have come to view with suspicion several clashes between analysts at different intelligence agencies over who could see each other’s highly sensitive secrets, the people said.

CIA LogoMr. Durham appears to be pursuing a theory that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result — and was nefariously trying to keep other agencies from seeing the full picture lest they interfere with that goal, the people said.

But officials from the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency have told Mr. Durham and his investigators that such an interpretation is wrong and based on a misunderstanding of how the intelligence community functions, the people said. National security officials are typically cautious about sharing their most delicate information, like source identities, even with other agencies inside the executive branch.

Mr. Durham’s questioning is certain to add to accusations that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies, Justice Department log circularlike Mr. Brennan, who has been an outspoken critic of the president. Mr. Barr, who is overseeing the investigation, has come under attack in recent days over senior Justice Department officials’ intervention to lighten a prison sentencing recommendation by lower-level prosecutors for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr.

Appearing on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on Thursday evening, Mr. Brennan was asked to respond to this article. He both dismissed Mr. Durham’s apparent line of inquiry and portrayed it as dangerous.

"It’s kind of silly," Mr. Brennan said. "Is there a criminal investigation now on analytic judgments and the activities of C.I.A. in terms of trying to protect our national security? I’m certainly willing to talk to Mr. Durham or anybody else who has any questions about what we did during this period of 2016."

But, Mr. Brennan added, "It clearly, I think, is another indication that Donald Trump is using the Department of Justice to go after his enemies any way he can."

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the heck did Rudy Giuliani just do? Bill Palmer, Feb. 14, 2020. Yesterday we saw some serious developments in the Ukraine extortion scandal. Donald Trump, who is growing more recklessly stupid by the day, flat out admitted that he sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to stir up trouble. Rudy then went on Fox News and insisted that he hadn’t been in Ukraine for years, before immediately turning around and admitting that he’d just been there three weeks ago.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as all of these serious developments were playing out, there was also the reality that Rudy Giuliani is really far gone at this point. How far gone? Sometime after midnight last night, he tried to do a Google search for images of Steve Bannon, but instead he accidentally tweeted his Google search.

rudy giuliani recentNot surprisingly, he ended up deleting it. If you’re wondering, Rudy did end up finding an image of Steve Bannon, and he tweeted it about twenty minutes later. The trouble: he picked a photo of Bannon sitting in front of a television turned to CNN, and the crawler across the bottom of the screen was quoting someone who had called Donald Trump "idiotic." So good job, Rudy! Keep in mind that Trump is still relying on witless buffoons like this guy to try to carry out his schemes. It’s possible to be dangerously corrupt while also being absurdly inept at that corruption.

U.S. Politics

djt acquitted photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s authoritarian style is remaking America, Ishaan Tharoor, Feb. 14, 2020. An unleashed Trump is testing the rule of law and foundations of U.S. democracy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump allies take aim at Buttigieg’s sexuality, a possible sign of things to come, Amy B Wang and Chelsea Janes, Feb. 14, 2020 (print ed.). Rush Limbaugh’s suggestion that "America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy" could be a taste of what Pete Buttigieg will face if he is the Democratic presidential nominee.

• Washington Post, Trump fundraiser costs $580,600 per couple, the most expensive of his reelection bid

Feb. 13

Trump Powers, Payback

MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show, Opinion: With the rule of law failing under Trump, just diagnosing the problem isn't enough, Feb. 13, 2020 (27:52 msnbc logo Custommin. video).  Rachel Maddow looks at the importance of institutions in preserving democracy when the rule of law starts to fail, and asks what citizens should do when sounding the alarm about those failures isn't enough to stop them.

 Washington Post, Trump attacks federal judge, prosecutors in Twitter tirade defending Roger Stone

Inside DC

World News

U.S. 2020 Elections

Media News

Ohio State Sex Scandal

 

Trump Powers, Payback

washington post logoamy berman jacksonWashington Post, Trump attacks federal judge, prosecutors in Twitter tirade defending Roger Stone, Allyson Chiu, Feb. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The timing of the online attack prompted many to accuse President Trump of attempting to intimidate U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, right, and secure a more lenient sentence for his longtime confidant Roger Stone.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Stone Case, Prosecutors Say They Fear Pressure From Trump, Katie Benner, Charlie Savage, Sharon LaFraniere and Ben Protess, updated Feb. 13, 2020. Attorney General William Barr’s move to lessen a sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, right, showed a marked change at the Justice Department. To career prosecutors, the case raised fresh fears of what is to come as the agency executes dramatic shifts in response to President Trump’s demands.

roger stoneTo career prosecutors around the country, the Stone case raised new fears of what is to come. Until now, according to conversations with more than a dozen career lawyers in some of the 93 U.S. attorney’s offices, they had watched other divisions in the Justice Department execute significant shifts in response to Mr. Trump while the work of prosecuting crimes was largely unaffected by the politics of the moment. Now career prosecutors said they worried they might face more pressure.

Justice Department logo"In essence, the leadership of the Justice Department has commandeered the sentencing in a politically sensitive criminal matter, reversing the position uniformly accepted and promoted by the career prosecutors," said David Laufman, a partner at Wiggin and Dana and a former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence and export control section.

The withdrawal of the prosecutors sent a clear signal, said Greg Brower, a former prosecutor who once headed the F.B.I.’s congressional affairs office. "They all disagreed" with how top Justice Department officials intervened, he said.

"Beyond that," Mr. Brower said, "they likely also believed there are ethical considerations that forced their decision."

Prosecutors across the United States, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals, said this week that they had already been wary of working on any case that might catch Mr. Trump’s attention and that the Stone episode only deepened their concern. They also said that they were worried that Mr. Barr might not support them in politically charged cases.

william barr hand out

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says Trump’s tweets make it ‘impossible for me to do my job,’ Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky,  Attorney General William P. Barr (shown above in a file photo) has been under siege since an internal dispute over the prosecution of President Trump’s friend Roger Stone spilled into public view.

Attorney General William P. Barr pushed back hard Thursday against President Trump’s criticism of the Justice Department, saying, "I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody."

In an interview with ABC News, Barr said presidential statements and tweets "about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity."

The attorney general’s comments are almost certain to anger the president, who has heaped criticism on some current and former Justice Department officials over prosecutions and investigations involving the president’s former associates and alleged leaking by government officials. Barr said he was prepared to accept the consequences of speaking out against the president.

djt acquitted photo

ny times logoNew York Times, As a Post-Impeachment Trump Pushes the Limits, Republicans Say Little, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Feb. 13, 2020 (print ed.). After expressing confidence that Mr. Trump might be chastened by impeachment, Republican senators appear unwilling to grapple with the man who emerged.

In the week since the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of two impeachment charges, lawmakers in his party have watched as he has purged key players in the case against him, including the ambassador to the European Union and two White House National Security Council aides, and put in motion plans to banish others he considers insufficiently loyal. They have listened as he has called for one of those officials, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, to be investigated by the Pentagon.

They have read his tweets and heard his comments heaping scorching criticism on the Justice Department for "a horrible and very unfair" attempt to put Mr. Stone in prison for seven to nine years based on a conviction for lying to Congress and trying to block witness testimony. Mr. Trump cheered on William P. Barr, the attorney general, for intervening, while castigating the federal judge overseeing the case.

And they have been forced to reckon with the fact that, far from obscuring his actions or offering innocent explanations, Mr. Trump has been open and unapologetic about his efforts to take revenge on his perceived enemies and assist those he considers loyal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The degradation of William Barr’s Justice Department is nearly complete, Editorial Board, Feb. 13, 2020.
Mark this as another big step in the erosion of standards at Attorney General William P. Barr’s Justice Department.

The department on Tuesday suggested a light sentence for President Trump’s old friend Roger Stone, by overturning a previously filed and tougher proposal. It did so over the strong objections of four career line prosecutors, all of whom resigned from the case; one left the department entirely.

This extraordinary intervention played out publicly after Mr. Trump tweeted his displeasure over the initial recommendation that Mr. Stone spend seven to nine years in prison for obstructing Congress and witness tampering, which was in line with the department’s sentencing guidelines.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: This is a revolting assault on the fragile rule of law, Chuck Rosenberg, Feb. 13, 2020 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats ask Secret Service for details about its payments to Trump’s company, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Feb. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The House Oversight committee letter follows a Washington Post report that the Secret Service had been charged up to $650 per night at Mar-a-Lago.

U.S. House logoThe House Oversight Committee on Wednesday asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to President Trump’s private company after The Washington Post revealed that the Secret Service had been charged as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump clubs.

secret service logoIn a letter to the Secret Service, signed by Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the committee asked for records of payments to Trump properties, and copies of contracts between the Secret Service and Trump clubs.

Last week, The Post reported that the Secret Service had been charged nearly $400 and as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and charged $17,000 a month for a cottage that agents used at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. President Trump still owns his companies. These payments show he has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of kids are bullied, Hannah Natanson, John Woodrow Cox and Perry Stein, Feb. 13, 2020. President Trump’s words, those chanted by his followers at campaign rallies and even his last name have been wielded by students and school staff members to harass children more than 300 times since the start of 2016, a Washington Post review found.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-White House chief of staff John Kelly takes issue with Trump for ousting Vindman, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 13, 2020. Former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, right, laid bare an array of misgivings Wednesday night about President Trump’s John Kellypolicies and actions, including his ouster of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council aide and impeachment witness.

Vindman, who raised concerns about a July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukraine's leader for investigations that could benefit him politically, "did exactly what we teach them to do," Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, told an audience at the Drew University Forum lecture series in Morristown, N.J.

Over the course of 75 minutes of remarks and questions and answers, Kelly, who left the White House early last year, also defended the news media, questioned Trump’s handling of North Korea, criticized Trump for intervening in a military justice case and took issue with his descriptions of immigrants, according to accounts in the Atlantic and local news media that were confirmed by a person with knowledge of the event.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Kelly just validated the argument that got Trump impeached, Greg Sargent, Feb. 13, 2020. President Trump unloaded on his former chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday, claiming he couldn’t fire Kelly "fast enough" and that he was "in over his head" in the White House. Curiously, Trump also blasted Kelly by claiming that "he just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he has a legal and military obligation to do."

It’s not clear what, precisely, Trump was referencing in bringing up Kelly’s supposed tendency to spill secrets. But it is clear that Trump was enraged because of this piece in the Atlantic, which reported on a talk that Kelly gave, in which he vividly demonstrated why Trump is unfit for the presidency.

In that talk, Kelly criticized Trump’s hate-rhetoric about immigrants and his handling of North Korea. Most importantly, he defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council official who powerfully testified against Trump’s corrupt call pressuring Ukraine to do his political bidding, as part of his extortion scheme. Trump has since ousted Vindman as punishment.

There’s been a lot of chatter about this Kelly episode, yet it seems to have largely avoided the most important point: Trump’s former chief of staff fully validated the case against Trump that got him impeached, in a way that has real significance, coming from someone who worked alongside Trump inside the White House for nearly two years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate passes measure limiting Trump’s actions against Iran without Congress’s approval, Karoun Demirjian​, Feb. 13, 2020. A bipartisan Senate majority voted to pass a resolution Thursday limiting President Trump from ordering future strikes against Iran without first seeking Congress’s explicit permission, in a pointed rebuke of his administration’s resistance to involving the legislative branch in foreign policy decisions many fear could lead to all-out war.

us senate logoEight Republicans joined all Democrats in voting 55 to 45 for the measure from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), which invokes the War Powers Act to block Trump from engaging in hostilities without consulting Congress except in cases where self-defense is required against a clear, imminent attack.

Trump is expected to veto the measure, which he warned Wednesday on Twitter would "show weakness" and "sends a very bad signal."

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York Attorney General Tish James just slam dunked Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Feb. 13, 2020. This morning Donald Trump flat out admitted on Twitter that he was meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today, in an attempt at forcing the state to back off its pursuit of him in his various criminal scandals. As the day went on, multiple major media outlets reported that Trump offered to let New York remain in the Global Entry program if it dropped its legal cases against him.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only is this an outrage, it’s a felony. It’s precisely the kind of quid pro quo that Donald Trump attempted in his Ukraine scandal. This kind of corrupt behavior is nothing new from Trump, but he’s no longer trying to even give himself any cover or deniability. Of course Trump is as stupid and clueless about these things as ever, because he was ringing the wrong bell.

letitia james public advocateNew York Attorney General Tish James, right, tweeted this in response: "When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down. Until then, we have a duty and responsibility to defend the Constitution and the rule of law. BTW, I file the lawsuits, not the Governor." That’s right, because Donald Trump doesn’t bother to do his homework, he doesn’t even know that the New York Attorney General is elected independently of the Governor, and that she’s not in any way under the Governor’s influence when it comes to these kinds of legal pursuits.

Donald Trump is also surely worried about the widely documented New York grand jury that’s spent the past several months targeting Donald Trump for indictment on state level charges. This grand jury has subpoenaed Trump’s financial records and is a confirmed plaintiff in the court battles over those records. Trump will be indicted in New York at some point, and if he loses in November, he will be arrested and placed on criminal trial. No wonder he’s panicked about what the state is doing to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court orders Pentagon to halt work on Microsoft’s JEDI cloud contract after Amazon protests, Aaron Gregg​, Feb. 13, 2020. Defense Department lawyers had planned to "go live" with the long-awaited cloud computing network on Friday. But the court order will force it to halt work.

amazon logo smallA federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to halt work on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing network, known as JEDI, as it considers allegations that President Trump improperly interfered in the bidding process. The order comes just one day before the Defense Department had planned to "go live" with JEDI.

The JEDI contract, worth up to $10 billion over 10 years, was awarded to Microsoft in late October after a last-minute intervention from the White House prompted Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to reexamine the department’s approach. The contract is meant to create a powerful, centralized computing system for U.S. military agencies.

microsoft logo CustomAmazon’s market-leading cloud computing division is suing the Defense Department in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, arguing the president’s involvement skewed the playing field in its rival’s favor. The company alleges the Defense Department made numerous errors as it weighed bids from Amazon and Microsoft. And it accused Trump of launching "repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks" against Amazon to act on a grudge against the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

Feb. 12

Trump Powers, Payback

washington post logoamy berman jacksonWashington Post, Trump attacks federal judge, prosecutors in Twitter tirade defending Roger Stone, Allyson Chiu, Feb. 12, 2020. The timing of the online attack prompted many to accuse President Trump of attempting to intimidate U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, right, and secure a more lenient sentence for his longtime confidant Roger Stone.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump escalates campaign of retribution as Republican senators shrug, Philip Rucker and Paul Kane, Feb. 12, 2020 (print ed.). On Tuesday, he railed about decorated combat veteran Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified about the president’s conduct with Ukraine, and suggested the Defense Department should consider disciplining him.

Trump provided fresh evidence that he feels emboldened and will say and do as he pleases after the Republican-controlled Senate voted last week to acquit him in the impeachment trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats ask Secret Service for details about its payments to Trump’s company, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Feb. 12, 2020. The House Oversight committee letter follows a Washington Post report that the Secret Service had been charged up to $650 per night at Mar-a-Lago.

The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to President Trump’s private company after The Washington Post revealed that the Secret Service had been charged as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump clubs.

secret service logoIn a letter to the Secret Service, signed by Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the committee asked for records of payments to Trump properties, and copies of contracts between the Secret Service and Trump clubs.

Last week, The Post reported that the Secret Service had been charged nearly $400 and as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and charged $17,000 a month for a cottage that agents used at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. President Trump still owns his companies. These payments show he has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Trump seeks judicial powers for DHS, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 12, 2020 (subscription required). As an increasingly dictatorial Donald John Trump moves to politicize the Department of Justice by interfering in criminal cases, not many eyes in Washington are trained on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Christopher Krebs, the director of the relatively new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), are pushing for judicial authority for CISA to issue subpoenas to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), forcing them to turn over to CISA the true identities of anonymized customers.  ICE logo

Politico, Opinion: A Conservative Judge Draws a Line in the Sand With the Trump Administration, Kimberly Wehle, Feb. 12, 2020. Outraged the attorney general had ignored a court order, he authors a blistering opinion rebuking William Barr for overstepping his constitutional authority.

frank easterbrook fullPresident Donald Trump has defanged Congress’ oversight authority. That became clear when the Senate acquitted the president of obstruction. But one conservative judge isn’t willing to let the executive branch steal power from his branch of government.

In a jaw-dropping opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on January 23, Judge Frank Easterbrook, right — a longtime speaker for the conservative Federalist Society and someone whom the late Justice Antonin Scalia favored to replace him on the U.S. Supreme Court — rebuked Attorney General William Barr for declaring in a letter that the court’s decision in an immigration case was "incorrect" and thus dispensable.

Barr’s letter was used as justification by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the federal agency that applies immigration laws) to ignore the court’s ruling not to deport a man who had applied for a visa to remain in the country.

As Washington reels from the surprise withdrawals of Roger Stone‘s prosecutors, apparently triggered by Trump’s intervention in the upcoming sentencing of his long-time adviser, the Easterbrook broadside offers another window into the way the Trump administration is violating the division of power between the executive and judicial branches.

The 7th Circuit case involved an undocumented immigrant, Jorge Baez-Sanchez, who was subject to removal from the United States after being convicted of a crime.

Baez-Sanchez applied for a special visa allowing him to remain in the U.S. if he was also a victim of a crime. An immigration judge twice granted Baez-Sanchez a waiver. But the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the immigration judge’s decision, claiming that only the attorney general personally could grant waivers — not immigration judges. Baez-Sanchez appealed to the 7th Circuit, which disagreed and remanded the case with a directive that the Department of Homeland Security comply with the immigration judge’s waiver. When it refused, Easterbrook, a 35-year veteran of the court, had had enough of the willful disregard for judicial authority.

Kimberly Wehle is a law professor, former assistant United States Attorney and author of the book, "How to Read the Constitution — And Why." JIP editor's note: Judge Easterbrook was this editor's law professor teaching antitrust at the University of Chicago School of Law, where Easterbrook has long taught law following his work as an assistant attorney general at during the 1980s in the Bush Justice Department.

 

Feb. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump proposes $4.8 trillion election-year budget with big domestic cuts, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner​, Feb. 11, 2020 (print ed.). An overview of the proposal, obtained by The Post, calls for eliminating the deficit in 15 years instead of 10, a longtime GOP fiscal target. Three years of spending increases and tax cuts have pushed that goal out of reach.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s budget reveals a tremendous fraud, Dana Milbank, right, Feb. 11, 2020. Remember when he said he would eliminate the federal debt, or at least halve it, during his presidency?

His new budget proposes to add another $3.4 trillion by 2024 to the debt on top of the $3 trillion Trump has already added, by piling on $1-trillion-a-year budget deficits during a peacetime expansion. Under Trump’s latest plans, the debt would keep mushrooming until at least 2035 — by his administration’s own rosy projections.

In 2015, he promised not to touch Medicaid, either. Now he wants to cut it by $920 billion.

He was going to give Americans health care "much better" than Obamacare. But he has proposed no such thing and now his budget calls for cutting spending on the program by $844 billion.

Oh, and remember his vows that his tax cuts would grow the economy by 4 percent, 5 percent or even 6 percent? Last year it grew at 2.3 percent, and his new budget, even with the rosiest of assumptions, projects 2.8 percent for this year. Yet the budget would also devote another $1.4 trillion to extending those tax cuts, primarily for the rich.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. to Seek Shorter Sentence for Roger Stone, Overruling Its Prosecutors, Katie Benner, Feb. 11, 2020. President Trump had complained that the recommendation of seven to nine years in prison for his former adviser and longtime friend was a "miscarriage of justice."

roger stoneThe Justice Department will back off its sentencing recommendation for Roger J. Stone Jr., right, President Trump’s former campaign adviser and longtime friend, a senior department official said Tuesday, with senior department officials intervening to overrule front-line prosecutors who tried the case.

The move is highly unusual and is certain to generate allegations of political interference. It came after federal prosecutors in Washington asked a judge late Monday evening to sentence Mr. Stone to seven to nine years in prison on seven felony convictions for trying to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened Mr. Trump. Early on Tuesday, Mr. Trump declared the sentencing recommendation "horrible and very unfair," as he described here and below:

"This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020"

Both the sentencing recommendation and the president’s tweet took officials at Justice Department headquarters by surprise, according to a Justice Department log circulardepartment official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Stone case was ongoing.

The recommendation was higher than what the United States attorney’s office had told Justice Department officials it would suggest, according to the official, and the department decided soon after the filing to override the prosecutors’ decision.

The department had not discussed the recommendation with the White House or Mr. Trump, the official said.

"The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses," the official said.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation On Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and The Mafia: Trump's mob talk comes from his time in Atlantic City, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. 11, 2020 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission).  Impeached President Donald John Trump’s legacy in Atlantic City as the proprietor of three casinos -- the Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel, the Trump Marina Hotel Casino, and the Trump Taj Mahal – is one of the mob.

The skim, the transfer of a small percentage of a casino’s pre-tax profits to organized crime syndicates, was pioneered by Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky in Las Vegas. The skim arrived in Atlantic City at the same time as did the first casino opening. And controlling the Atlantic City skim was the boss of the Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and South Jersey rackets, Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, and his nephew, lieutenant, and mob underboss, Philip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti.

Scarfo hid the money from the skim by plowing it into newly-incorporated legitimate businesses and the buying of property through Scarfo’s primary business, Scarf, Inc. It was a business practice that Trump also knew very well in the method of creating thousands of limited liability corporations and other corporate shells all interwoven with the Trump Organization.

washington post logojerome powellWashington Post, Fed Chair Powell warns Congress that $1 trillion budget deficits are unsustainable, Heather Long​, Feb. 11, 2020. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell is telling Congress Tuesday that now would be a good time to reduce the federal budget deficit, which is expected to top $1 trillion this year.

"Putting the federal budget on a sustainable path when the economy is strong would help ensure that policymakers have the space to use fiscal policy to assist in stabilizing the economy during a downturn," Powell said in prepared remarks to the House Committee on Financial Services.

Feb. 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s resilience causes Democrats to sound the alarm, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Feb. 9, 2020 (print ed.).  Trump’s resilience causes Democrats to sound the alarm.

Anxiety is coursing through the Democratic Party as President Trump emerges from his impeachment proceedings as a potent threat for djt staff nypost cover july 29 17reelection, with party leaders and activists uncertain about how to beat the incumbent and worried about a nominating race that remains crowded and is growing more acrimonious.

While Democrats see Trump as a corrosive figure and a threat to the nation, they also see the president and his well-funded campaign tailoring a reelection bid around the strong economy and visceral appeals to his ardent supporters.

Trump’s robust political standing came into view this past week, as he claimed vindication from his acquittal in his Senate trial despite damaging House testimony about his conduct with Ukraine — and set off on a path of retribution by ousting some officials who were witnesses. At the same time, his Gallup approval rating ticked up to 49 percent, its highest point yet.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Joe Manchin fires back at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Feb. 9, 2020. Joe Manchin might be a red state Democrat who joe manchin cropped Customlikes to vote with the Republicans when it’s not going to affect the outcome, but Manchin did his patriotic duty by voting to convict and remove Donald Trump when it counted. Now Trump has decided that Manchin, right, is his enemy, and he wants revenge. The thing is, Manchin isn’t hesitating to fire back.

Trump unleashed on Joe Manchin on Saturday:

"Can’t say I mind the fact that the great people of West Virginia are furious at their puppet Democrat Senator, Joe Manchin. They will never forget his phony vote on the Impeachment Hoax. bill palmer report logo headerAll he had to do is read the Transcripts, sadly, which he wouldn’t understand anyway. But, just like the people of West Virginia will no longer look at weak & pathetic Joe Manchin the same (I got the Pension Bill approved, Manchin couldn’t do it), the wonderful people of Utah will never look at "grandstander" Mitt Romney with anything but contempt & disgust!"

To be clear, there’s no evidence that any of this is actually happening, outside of Trump’s imagination.

But Manchin isn’t taking it lying down. He fired back at Trump: "Pres. Trump – no Democrat has worked harder in a bipartisan way in the hopes that you would succeed. The people of WV know exactly who has worked day & night for the last 5 years to secure their healthcare & pensions & it wasn’t you. I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath. Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence."

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Trump & Sanders cults: Similar tactics, same idol worship, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 9, 2020. While there are significant policy differences between the presidential campaigns of Donald John Trump and Bernie Sanders, they share in common political cult followings that idolize their political heroes.

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump’s budget expected to show how far he has cast aside some 2016 promises, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner, Feb. 9, 2020 (print ed.). It will look much different from his 2016 platform, as he abandons promises to balance the budget, protect Medicaid from cuts and make Mexico pay for the wall.

djt maga hatThe budget proposal President Trump will release Monday is expected to lay bare how much he has adjusted to the political and practical limits of Washington, with some of his biggest campaign promises from 2016 cast aside and replaced with more limited policy ambitions.

On immigration, health care, infrastructure and the deficit, the final budget pitch of Trump’s first term will look much different from the campaign platform he offered four years ago.

The border wall that he promised would be paid for by Mexico is instead being financed by billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars, and the administration’s budget request to Congress is expected to seek even more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Vindman’s ouster leaves chill among witnesses, career federal workers, David Nakamura and Greg Miller, Feb. 9, 2020.  Officials and political appointees who testified in President Trump's impeachment hearings remained worried about their future.

He had been publicly vilified by President Trump, marched out of his national security office across from the White House, so Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, left, wanted only to get his mind off politics as he settled in to watch a television show with his grade-school-age daughter Friday evening.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Then his wife returned home with some news: Much of the country had just watched as former vice president Joe Biden implored the audience to give a standing ovation in Vindman’s honor at the nationally televised Democratic presidential debate in Manchester, N.H.

"Stand up and clap for Vindman. That’s not who we are! We’re not what Trump is!" Biden thundered in the name of the Army officer whom Trump had hours earlier ousted from the White House National Security Council in retaliation for his testimony in the House Democrats’ impeachment probe.

To Vindman, the gesture was appreciated, but it felt "surreal" that he has become a lightning rod for the nation’s sharp political polarization in the Trump era, according to a person familiar with the events surrounding his ouster, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. After all, as a military officer, Vindman had been trained to avoid overt displays of partisanship or politics.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Trump’s quest for revenge could mean the end of whistleblowing, Walter M. Shaub Jr., Feb. 9, 2020.

More On U.S. Politics

djt roy cohn wheres my roy cohn

OpEdNews, Film Review: "Where's My Roy Cohn?": A U.S. Coup by Nihilists, Mobsters, Pedophiles and Blackmailers, Mike Rivage-Seul, Feb. 9, 2020. Recently, I spent two weeks in Tijuana working with Al Otro Lado (AOL). I've written about that experience here, here, and here.

AOL is a legal defense service for refugees seeking asylum mostly from gang-rule in Mexico and Central America. The emigrants want escape from countries whose police forces and allied power holders are controlled by ruthless drug rings whose only goal is accumulation of money and social dominance.

roy cohn wheres my row cohn poster sony picturesAs I did my work helping clients fill out endless forms concocted by those who would illegally exclude them, everything seemed so hopeless. I wondered how those gangs achieved such power? Isn't it a shame, I thought, that entire countries are now controlled by criminal mobs with names like "MS 13," "Nueva Generacion," and "18?" How sad for these people!

Then, during my flight home to Connecticut, I happened to watch the documentary "Where's My Roy Cohn?" (WMRC). It introduced viewers to the dark and criminal mentor of Donald Trump.

On its face, the film illustrated the absolute corruption of the U.S. government as the unwavering servant of the elite as the only people who count.

But in the light of my experience in Tijuana, it made me realize that our country too is literally controlled by shadowy gangs to an extent even worse than what's happening south of our border. I mean, the United States of America now has the most prominent protege of Roy Cohn, right, an unabashed mafioso, actually sitting in the Oval Office!

Both Cohn and, of course, his disciple turn out to be absolute nihilists without principle or any regard for truth.

The film made clear how both men tapped into a similar nihilist strain within huge numbers of Americans who identify with the Republican Party and ironically with the Catholic faith and Christian fundamentalism. Nonetheless, WMRC wasn't explicit enough in probing either Cohn's corruption, that of Donald Trump or of our reigning system's complex of government, education, church and mainstream media.

It failed to show how the phenomena of Roy Cohn and Donald Trump represent mere surface indications of a profoundly anti-democratic coup d'e'tat that has gradually unfolded in our country over the last 40 years. The actuality of this takeover was revealed most clearly in the recent impeachment proceedings. They provided a kind of last straw undeniably exhibiting how nihilist "Christians" have seized power in perhaps irreversible ways.

To see what I mean, begin by watching "Where's my Roy Cohn?" for yourself. It not only details Cohn's life as an infamous New York mafia consigliere. It also shows how he started his career in crime as the 23-year-old advisor of the equally villainous Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. (McCarthy, of course was the force behind the nation-wide communist scare of the early 1950s.)

However, most importantly WMRC describes the film's subject as the mentor of Donald Trump. By both their admissions, each recognized in the other a kindred spirit. Each used mafia and friends in high places (from Ronald Reagan to New York's Cardinal Spellman) to enrich himself in terms of power and money. In the end, the alliance brought Trump to "the highest office in the land."

washington post logoWashington Post, Meet the 71-year-old staging a one-man protest in his Trump-loving retirement community, Brittany Shammas, Feb. 9, 2020 (print ed.). For most of his life, Ed McGinty kept his political beliefs to himself.

Raised Irish Catholic in Philadelphia, the 71-year-old retired real estate broker has always been a Democrat, just like his parents before him. But the last time he remembers being especially politically motivated was when Hubert Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon in 1968. After that, he’d wake up the morning after Election Day, find out George W. Bush or another Republican had won and say, "Okay, well, back to work."

Then Donald Trump was elected.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logo"When Trump won, it changed the whole ballgame for me," McGinty told The Washington Post. "I thought to myself, ‘This was supposed to be a joke. What’s wrong with these people?’ "

In the three years since then, the once-quiet political observer has transformed into the best-known Trump protester in The Villages, a sprawling, meticulously planned and maintained retirement community that lies about 45 miles northwest of Orlando. McGinty’s daily vigil with signs blasting the president as a "SEXUAL PREDATOR" (among other things) has drawn ire in the Trump-loving Florida town he has called home since 2016. It has also brought viral fame.

For his one-man protest against the president, McGinty has been berated as a baby killer and a "dumb a--," decried in letters to the editor of a local news site and hit with an anonymous, handwritten threat — a sign that even a town that is described as Disney World for retirees and markets itself as "Florida’s Friendliest Hometown" is not immune to the divisiveness of this political era.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Political idolatry is the enemy of religious faith, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Feb. 9, 2020. If you wonder why young people are leaving organized religion in droves, look no further than last week’s National Prayer Breakfast.

Many who care about religion and its fate have condemned President Trump’s vindictive, self-involved, God-as-an-afterthought speech at the annual gathering. By contrast, his backers were happy to say "Amen" as they prepared to exploit religion in one more election.

My Post colleague Michael Gerson, a beacon of moral clarity in the conservative evangelical world, noted that Trump’s address was a tribute to his "remarkable ability to corrupt, distort and discredit every institution he touches."

Gerson is right, but I confess that there has always been something troubling about the prayer breakfast. The gatherings encourage the suspicion that many politicians are there not because of God but because of their own political imperatives. They want to tell the world how religious they are and check the faith box on the advice of their political advisers. You worry that this is as much about preening as praying.

In his always crude but always revealing way, Trump has exposed the underside of long-standing political habits and practices. He is not the first politician to exploit religion. He just does it in a way so at odds with the core tenets of the Christian faith he claims to uphold that he pushes the hypocritical aspects of public religion to a breaking point.

Feb. 8

Post-Impeachment Headlines

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fires Gordon Sondland, the second impeachment witness to be removed from his post Friday, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Feb. 8, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump fired two of the most prominent witnesses in the impeachment inquiry within hours of each other Friday evening, moves that amounted to retribution against those he holds responsible for his attempted removal.

gordon sondland oGordon Sondland, left, the ambassador to the European Union, said he was informed of Trump’s intention to recall him on Friday. Earlier in the day, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother were both removed from their posts at the National Security Council.

Earlier Friday, Trump said his impeachment by the House should be "expunged" because it was a "total political hoax." Trump continued to target House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), the only Republican who voted to convict him in the Senate trial that ended Wednesday with his acquittal.

The crux of the case against Trump was the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Col. Vindman and the Trumpification of the National Security Council, John Gans (Dr. Gans is the author of White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War), Feb. 8, 2020 (print ed.). His removal is petty and vindictive. It’s also part of a bigger plan.

The dismissal is just one part of a campaign by the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, to trumpify one of the most powerful and important institutions in government.

Over the last six months, while impeachment dominated the news, Mr. O’Brien undertook the first restructuring of the council in a generation. He cut 60 to 70 positions, about a third of the staff, many of them career professionals. He also directed that the National Security Council focus less on transnational issues like global economics and nonproliferation, and more on bilateral and geographic priorities. In all, Mr. O’Brien’s trumpification of the staff will hamper the United States’ ability to meet the world’s challenges, and hamstring the next president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year, filings show, Amy Brittain, Ashley Parker and Anu Narayanswamy, Documents reveal that the couple earned immense income from other enterprises while working in the Trump administration.

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Donald Trump (graphic by Palmer Report)

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump’s properties, David A. Fahrenthold​, Feb. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Since Trump took office, he has visited his own properties on 342 days, always accompanied by Secret Service agents. Trump’s company has charged the Secret Service $650 per night for rooms at Mar-a-Lago, and $17,000 a month for a cottage in Bedminster. Taxpayers foot the bill.

secret service logoPresident Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms agents use while protecting him at his luxury properties — billing U.S. taxpayers at rates as high as $650 per night, according to federal records and people who have seen receipts.

Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment.

Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that.

At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Secret Service was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate, $396.15, dozens more times in 2018, according to documents from Trump’s visits.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Fallout from Trump’s impeachment reaches Senate races, Paul Kane, Feb. 8, 2020. Democrats are targeting GOP senators in Maine, Arizona and North Carolina who voted to acquit Trump. Republicans are emerging from the trial with their own level of confidence.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: What the New Hampshire debate tells us and what it doesn’t, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 8, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Think Iowa was a mess? Black voters deal with similar chaos all the time, Andrew Gillum, Feb. 8, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Opinion: This vulgar man has squandered our decency, Dana Milbank, Feb. 8, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Opinion: McConnell and the GOP Senate are accomplices to Trump’s wrongdoing, Nancy Pelosi, Feb. 8, 2020.

Feb. 7

Post-Impeachment Headlines

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djt acquitted photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rips critics and considers ways to target his perceived enemies, Josh Dawsey​, Feb. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Some of the president’s aides are discussing whether to remove or reassign administration officials who testified during the impeachment inquiry.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Trump marks end of trial with raw, angry rant

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump preparing to push out national security official who testified in House inquiry, Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa and Greg Miller, Feb. 7, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is preparing to push out a national security official who testified against him during the impeachment inquiry after he expressed deep anger on Thursday over the attempt to remove him from office because of his actions toward Ukraine.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, — a National Security Council aide who testified during House Democrats’ impeachment hearings — will be informed in the coming days, likely on Friday, by administration officials that he is being reassigned to a position at the Defense Department, taking a key figure from the investigation out of the White House, according to two people familiar with the move who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss personnel decisions.

Vindman had already informed senior officials at the NSC that he intended to take an early exit from his assignment and leave his post by the end of the month, according to people familiar with his decision, but Trump is eager to make a symbol of the Army officer soon after the Senate acquitted him of the impeachment charges approved by House Democrats.

• Washington Post, With trial over, Trump fires at political foes
• Washington Post, Analysis: Trump marks end of trial with raw, angry rant

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: You From New York? You’re First on Trump’s Revenge List, Editorial Board, Feb. 7, 2020. If you live in the state, you won’t be able to enroll in Trusted Traveler Programs. Fresh from his impeachment acquittal by Senate Republicans, President Trump has shifted into payback mode.

In his combative State of the Union address Tuesday, Mr. Trump launched a broadside against one of his favorite targets: "sanctuary cities," those jurisdictions that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.

He singled out New York and California for particular contempt, spinning nightmarish tales of violent crimes he attributed to those states’ liberal immigration laws. And he touted legislation that would allow the victims of crimes committed by certain foreign nationals to sue sanctuary cities and states.

For those familiar with the president’s anti-immigrant musings, it was a familiar refrain. But this time, he was not content merely to engage in fearmongering. Mr. Trump was in the mood to punish those who would defy him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: President to head to North Carolina as fallout continues from his Senate trial, John Wagner, Feb. 7, 2020. Sen. Paul draws ethics complaint for naming alleged whistleblower. President Trump is scheduled to head to North Carolina on Friday on his first trip out of Washington since being acquitted in a Senate trial on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress that centered on his conduct toward Ukraine.

An economic event will offer a glimpse of how much Trump plans to continue to focus on his impeachment while fallout from the trial continues, including reports that he is preparing to push out a national security official who testified against him. At events Thursday, Trump railed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), the only Republican who voted to convict him.

The crux of the case against Trump was the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president. 9:15 AM: Gingrich says Trump should not pay any attention to Pelosi, his ‘mortal enemy’

Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker, offered some advice Friday to Trump on how to handle the current occupant of that job in the wake of his acquittal.

"My advice to the president would be really simple," Gingrich said. "Don’t pay any attention to Pelosi, because she’s your mortal enemy. . . . There’s not much point in the president wasting time with her."

During an appearance on Fox News, Gingrich also chided Pelosi for cutting short Trump’s introduction at the State of the Union, noting that he introduced President Bill Clinton four times during his tenure as speaker, saying each time that it was "my distinct honor and personal privilege" to do so. Cutting those words "was almost like a declaration of war," Gingrich said.

Feb. 6

Impeachment Headlines

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U.S. 2020 Elections

World News

U.S. Political History

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

djt cpac 2017 gage skidmore

ny times logoNew York Times, TRUMP ACQUITTED IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Romney Breaks Ranks in Senate Vote Largely on Party Lines, Nicholas Fandos, Feb. 6, 2020 (print ed.). After a three-week trial, senators voted against charges that President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election. Mr. Trump faced a symbolic rebuke from within his party as Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, below left, voted to convict the president for abuse of power.

mitt romney wAfter five months of hearings, investigations and cascading revelations about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, a divided United States Senate acquitted him on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election, bringing an acrimonious impeachment trial to its expected end.

us senate logoIn a pair of nearly party-line votes whose outcome was never in doubt, the Senate fell well short of the two-thirds margin that would have been needed to remove Mr. Trump (shown above in a file photo by Gage Skidmore), formally concluding the three-week-long trial of the 45th president that has roiled Washington and threatened the presidency.

It was the third impeachment trial of a president and the third acquittal in American history, and it ended the way it began, with Republicans and Democrats at odds over Mr. Trump’s conduct and his fitness for office, even as some members of his own party conceded the basic allegations that undergirded the charges, that he sought to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rivals.

But in a sign of the widening partisan divide testing the country and its institutions, the verdict did not promise finality. Democratic leaders immediately insisted the result was illegitimate, the product of a self-interested cover-up by Republicans, and promised to continue their investigations of Mr. Trump.

The president, vindicated in what he has long called a politically motivated hoax to take him down, prepared to campaign as an exonerated executive. And both parties conceded that voters, not the Senate, would deliver the final judgment on Mr. Trump when they cast ballots in just nine months.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump celebrates acquittal at White House (video), John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz, Feb. 6, 2020. President expresses no contrition, calls Democratic leaders ‘vicious and mean;’ Moderate Democrats confront Pelosi over speech-tearing; For Clinton, reaction to acquittal was very different from Trump’s; House swiftly kills GOP resolution of disapproval against Pelosi; Trump thanks family, departs East Room with first lady.

djt impeached nydailynews cover dec.19 2019 CustomPresident Trump celebrated his Senate acquittal Thursday at a White House event that stretched more than an hour, expressing no contrition and calling Democratic leaders "vicious and mean" while portraying his impeachment as the continuation of scrutiny he has faced since he announced his run for the presidency in 2015.

"We've been going through this now for almost three years. It was evil, it was corrupt," he told a packed East Room crowd. Trump expressed no remorse related to the allegation that he inappropriately pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, despite some Republican senators calling his actions wrong.

"This is a day of celebration because we went through hell," he said.

Shortly before he spoke, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chided Trump for his comments lashing out at Democrats and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at the bipartisan, multi-faith National Prayer Breakfast. Romney was the only Republican to vote for Trump’s conviction.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi laces into Trump, defends tearing up his State of the Union speech, Mike DeBonis​, Feb. 6, 2020. An indignant Nancy Pelosi signaled Thursday she was in no mood to reconcile with President Trump and his congressional Republican allies a day after the Senate voted to acquit him of impeachment charges.

Instead, the House speaker launched into a fierce attack on Trump’s State of the Union address, his record on the economy and health care, his response to the months-long impeachment process and the swipes he leveled Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast targeting the faith of his political enemies.

And the California Democrat defended her decision to publicly tear up a copy of Trump’s speech Tuesday night in the moments after he concluded his speech, saying she did not "need any lessons from anybody, especially the president of the United States, about dignity."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rips critics and considers ways to target his perceived enemies, Josh Dawsey​, Feb. 6, 2020.  Some of the president’s aides are discussing whether to remove or reassign administration officials who testified during the impeachment inquiry.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Trump marks end of trial with raw, angry rant

mitt romney senate floor ap Custom

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (shown via the Senate camera via Associated Press)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitt Romney’s real gift to the Resistance may be bigger than Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Feb. 6, 2020.  When Mitt Romney voted to convict and remove Donald Trump, he was doing the morally correct thing. There’s also a strong argument to be made that Romney did more to help than hurt his own political ambitions.

bill palmer report logo headerYou can decide for yourself how pure you think his motives were. But the bottom line is that it was a clear win for the Resistance. It cost Trump what could have been the rare positive news cycle for him. It took away his argument that impeachment was partisan. And it handed the Democrats the 2020 narrative that Senators from both parties agree he’s a crook. But there may be an even bigger angle.

The fatalists out there don’t want to hear this, but Donald Trump is very likely to lose in 2020. His biggest swings, such trying to secretly conspire with Ukraine to rig the election, are hurting him instead of helping him. Acquittal won’t make him a smarter criminal, so the odds of success of his eternally dimwitted schemes aren’t likely to go up. In fact Romney just bet big on the premise that his conviction vote will help finish off Trump’s weak 2020 chances. But there’s a far more difficult battle at play here.

us senate logoIt’ll be very difficult for Donald Trump to win in 2020. It’ll be even more difficult for the Republicans to take the House. But the one thing the Republicans still have going for them is that they have pretty strong odds of hanging onto the Senate. Just because of the math involved, the Resistance will have a far harder time taking the Senate than it will in finishing Trump off. But Romney just made that at least incrementally easier.

Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, and a few other Republican Senators from purple states are up for reelection this year. Their math told them that voting to acquit Trump gave them better 2020 odds than voting to convict him. But they were also counting on being able to argue that impeachment was a partisan farce. Now that Mitt Romney has very loudly voted to convict, other Republicans like Collins will spend 2020 being asked why they refused to see what Romney saw. That’s a huge landmine for them. This gives the Democrats an opening to take the Senate in November – and that may be Romney’s real gift to the Resistance.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats at a crossroads after Trump’s acquittal, torn between investigations and sole focus on policy, Rachael Bade and Paul Kane, Feb. 6, 2020 (print ed). One of the first decisions they face is whether to subpoena John Bolton as the party faces a muddled presidential field with no obvious front-runner to take on a president who has emerged seemingly unscathed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, What Will Finally Defeat Donald Trump? Editorial Board, Feb. 6, 2020 (print ed.). He can do whatever it takes to win re-election, and the Republican Party will have his back.

On Tuesday night, President Trump delivered the most harshly partisan State of the Union speech in memory.

He was not wrong about everything, as when he boasted about the overall strength of the economy or praised the selflessness of American troops. But when he was wrong, as he often was, he was poisonously wrong. He grotesquely caricatured the criminality of undocumented immigrants, rewrote the history of his assaults on Americans’ health care and drastically inflated the number of jobs expected to be created by the new trade bill.

Worse than the distortions and deceptions, which Americans have come to expect from this president, Mr. Trump hijacked the House chamber, turning what should be a unifying moment, or at least an attempt at a unifying moment, into a campaign rally, corrupting the role presidents have played there as representing the whole nation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear, Sherrod Brown (right, Democratic senator from Ohio), sherrod brown o 2009Feb. 6, 2020 (print ed.). One journalist remarked to me, "How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?"

History has indeed taught us that when it comes to the instincts that drive us, fear has no rival. As the lead House impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has noted, Robert Kennedy spoke of how "moral courage is a rarer republican elephant logocommodity than bravery in battle."

Playing on that fear, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought a quick impeachment trial for President Trump with as little attention to it as possible. Reporters, who usually roam the Capitol freely, have been cordoned off like cattle in select areas. Mr. McConnell ordered limited camera views in the Senate chamber so only presenters — not absent senators — could be spotted.

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ny times logoNew York Times, At National Prayer Breakfast, Trump Lashes Out at Impeachment Foes, Peter Baker, Feb. 6, 2020. A day after his acquittal, President Trump used an appearance at the national prayer breakfast to lash out at his "dishonest and corrupt" political rivals. Mr. Trump’s speech was an overtly political talk at what is traditionally a bipartisan affair, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting nearby. He will make a formal statement at the White House at noon Eastern.

djt maga hatPresident Trump, a day after being acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial, used a national prayer breakfast on Thursday to lash out at his political opponents, accusing them of being "very dishonest and corrupt people" who are trying to destroy him and the country.

Explicitly rejecting the message of tolerance offered at the National Prayer Breakfast just moments before he took the lectern, Mr. Trump — without naming them — singled out Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was sitting just a few feet away at the head table, and Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican from Utah who voted to convict him, accusing them of hypocrisy for citing their faith while supporting his impeachment.

"As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation," Mr. Trump told an audience of religious leaders and followers. "They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country."

He praised "courageous Republican politicians and leaders" who "had the wisdom, fortitude and strength" to vote against the two articles of impeachment charging him with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress. He then seemed to target Mr. Romney, who cited his faith in announcing his decision to vote for conviction.

"I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong," Mr. Trump said. Then, in a clear reference to Ms. Pelosi, who has said she prays for Mr. Trump, the president said, "Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that’s not so."

Mr. Trump’s speech was as overtly a political talk as any president has made at the National Prayer Breakfast, traditionally a bipartisan affair where members of both parties put aside their disagreements for an hour or two to focus on their shared beliefs. When he arrived, he held up two newspapers with banner headlines that said, "Acquitted" and "Trump Acquitted." In addition to his outburst on impeachment, Mr. Trump cited rising stock markets, boasted about his approval rating in the latest Gallup poll and urged the audience to vote in the fall.

The Republican identification with Trump is total. Again and again, histrionic Republican congressmen equated hatred of the president with hatred of themselves and hatred of the sacred 63 million. They spoke of Trump with an awe and a maudlin devotion bordering on religious; Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, declared that Trump had been given less due process than Jesus Christ himself.

If Trump is a martyr, who are his persecutors? You could watch the debate with the sound off and understand. All day, Republican speeches delivered by old white men alternated with Democratic speeches from women, people of color and young people. White men make up 90 percent of the Republican caucus and 38 percent of the Democratic one, and the day dramatized the representational gulf in the starkest visual terms.

Palmer Report, Nancy Pelosi uses State of the Union invite to twist the knife against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 20, 2019. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has found a whole new way to twist the knife against Donald Trump, simply by doing her job in a particularly auspicious way.

bill palmer report logo headerNancy Pelosi just sent Donald Trump a letter inviting him to deliver his State of the Union address on February 4th. The letter emphasizes things like Congress being "co-equal" and the branches "acting as checks on each other." In other words, she’s reminding him that she has all kinds of constitutional power over him. But the letter itself, which is a formality, is secondary to the timing.

Donald Trump is pushing Mitch McConnell hard for a swift Senate impeachment trial and acquittal. But McConnell can’t make that happen unless he makes at least some concessions to Pelosi about the fairness of the trial, or she’ll keep sitting on the articles of impeachment. Now Trump suddenly faces the very real possibility of having to give his State of the Union address at a time when he’s been impeached but hasn’t been acquitted.

If that happens, Donald Trump will use his speech to go embarrassingly bonkers. He’ll viciously attack House members to their faces during the address. He’ll further alienate the voters in the middle, who don’t like him much but haven’t decided whether or how to vote in 2020, who will decide his fate.

If Trump’s handlers want to avoid such a scene, they’ll have to convince him not to show up for the State of the Union at all, which would also make him look bad. Or they’ll have to convince McConnell to cave to Pelosi, which would mean Trump’s own people testifying against him during the Senate impeachment trial, so it can take place before the speech.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Team Celebrates Acquittal at (Where Else?) His Washington Hotel, Katie Rogers, Feb. 6, 2020. Several current and former Trump advisers gathered to mingle and toast the president’s acquittal in the Senate.

Well, where else were they going to go?

One mile from the scene of President Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial, members of his defense team, family and administration gathered Wednesday evening at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. They turned its marbled lobby into something of a hive bursting with "Keep America Great" hats, well-done steaks and bottles of red wine.

"I think it’s clearly a validation of the fact that the president never committed a crime," Corey Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, said as he flashed a blue piece of paper from his wallet. It was a Senate gallery ticket; he had watched the vote as it happened.

"We’ve had a very good week," Mr. Lewandowski said, "between the debacle in Iowa" — referring to assorted fumbles that left the Democratic results in the 2020 caucuses in a state of suspended uncertainty — "the State of the Union speech and then the acquittal of the impeachment proceedings."

Everyone else seemed to have gotten the message. Mr. Lewandowski was only one of several current and former Trump advisers who had gathered at the hotel to mingle and drink. On Tuesday, a photograph of an airplane full of Trump campaign surrogates returning from Iowa sailed around the internet. By Wednesday, roughly half them appeared to have passed through the hotel at some point to celebrate the verdict with plenty of booze and slightly bitter undertones.

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Will Come Back to Haunt Trump and His Enablers, Neal K. Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer (law professors at neal katyal oGeorgetown), Feb. 6, 2020. The president was acquitted by the Senate, but the American people are smarter.

The vote to acquit President Trump was a dark day for the Senate. Uninterested in hearing from witnesses (and likely scared by what they would say), uncritical of outrageous legal arguments made by the president’s lawyers and apparently unconcerned about the damage Mr. Trump has done to the integrity of America’s elections, a majority of senators insisted on looking the other way and letting him off the hook for a classic impeachable offense: abuse of public office for private gain.

But while the Senate got it wrong, the American people learned what’s right. This impeachment was about much more than the final vote of 100 senators. It was a process, and that process yielded a public education of extraordinary value. While the Senate may emerge from the process weakened, the American people, on the whole, emerge from it strengthened by a sharpened sense of what’s right and what’s wrong for an American president; of what it means for a political party to show moral courage; of what it looks like when dedicated public servants speak truth no matter the consequences; and of the importance of whistle-blowers for ensuring accountability.

The past few months have shown Americans a president who abused the public trust for his personal benefit. Before this process, we suspect, few Americans had dwelled on the question of when it crosses the line for a president to exploit for private political gain the tools of national power placed in his or her hands.

But impeachment has forced Americans to confront it — a question, it turns out, that was central to the framers’ decision to include impeachment in our Constitution. And Americans overwhelmingly reject what Mr. Trump did, with 75 percent saying in December that his Ukraine extortion scheme was wrong (a view that even some Republican senators have endorsed). That’s huge: For all that divides Americans today, this is a dominant consensus on what it means to abuse public office and distort American democracy.

Feb. 5

Impeachment Headlines

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U.S. 2020 Elections

Trump 'State of Union' Speech

Iowa Democratic Results

World News

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, TRUMP ACQUITTED IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Romney Breaks Ranks in Senate Vote Largely on Party Lines, Nicholas Fandos, Feb. 5, 2020. After a three-week trial, senators voted against charges that President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election. Mr. Trump faced a symbolic rebuke from within his party as Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted to convict the president for abuse of power.

After five months of hearings, investigations and cascading revelations about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, a divided United States Senate acquitted him on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election, bringing an acrimonious impeachment trial to its expected end.

In a pair of nearly party-line votes whose outcome was never in doubt, the Senate fell well short of the two-thirds margin that would have been needed to remove Mr. Trump, formally concluding the three-week-long trial of the 45th president that has roiled Washington and threatened the presidency.

It was the third impeachment trial of a president and the third acquittal in American history, and it ended the way it began, with Republicans and Democrats at odds over Mr. Trump’s conduct and his fitness for office, even as some members of his own party conceded the basic allegations that undergirded the charges, that he sought to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rivals.

But in a sign of the widening partisan divide testing the country and its institutions, the verdict did not promise finality. Democratic leaders immediately insisted the result was illegitimate, the product of a self-interested cover-up by Republicans, and promised to continue their investigations of Mr. Trump.

The president, vindicated in what he has long called a politically motivated hoax to take him down, prepared to campaign as an exonerated executive. And both parties conceded that voters, not the Senate, would deliver the final judgment on Mr. Trump when they cast ballots in just nine months.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Resumes Impeachment Debate, With Acquittal Expected, Vote Likely to Be Largely Along Party Lines, but Romney Will Back Removal, Peter Baker and Mark Leibovich, Feb. 5, 2020. The Senate is set to vote on the two articles of impeachment at 4 p.m. Eastern, handing President Trump an all but certain acquittal. "The case was made." Mitt Romney is the first Republican to say he will vote to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power. Follow for updates and analysis.

The Senate is expected to vote at 4 p.m. Eastern to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial. Senator Mitt Romney plans to vote to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power, becoming the first Republican to support removing Mr. Trump from office.

Here’s what you need to know:

mitt romney senate floor ap Custom

• Romney (shown via the Senate camera via Associated Press) will vote to convict Trump of abuse of power, the first Republican to support removing the president.
• House Democrats are ‘likely’ to subpoena John Bolton after the impeachment trial ends.
• Doug Jones, who was seen as a possible Democratic defector, ‘reluctantly’ decides to vote to convict Trump.
• The votes are expected about 4 p.m.
• Trump avoided impeachment in his State of the Union address, but he may have his say after the votes.
• ‘It’s my hope we’ve finally found bottom.’ Senators lament a broken institution.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said Wednesday that he would vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, making him the first Republican to support removing Mr. Trump for his bid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

mitt romney w"I think the case was made," Mr. Romney said in an interview in his Senate office on Wednesday morning. At the beginning of his speech in the chamber, he appeared to choke up.

Mr. Romney said he would vote against the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, arguing that House Democrats had failed to exhaust their legal options for securing testimony and other evidence they had sought. But the first-term senator said that Democrats had proven their first charge, that the president had misused his office for his own personal gain.

"I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made," Mr. Romney added, appearing by turns relieved and nervous — but also determined — as he explained his decision. "And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion."

Notwithstanding Mr. Romney’s position, the Senate is expected to acquit Mr. Trump of both impeachment charges in a vote later Wednesday afternoon. But the defection of Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is a dramatic capstone on the evolution of a party that has thoroughly succumbed to the vice-grip of Mr. Trump.

Speaking slowly and deliberately from the Senate floor, Mr. Romney said that his decision was made out of an "inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it."

Mr. Romney, who has been critical of Mr. Trump at various points since 2016, said he was acutely aware that he would suffer serious political ramifications for his decision, particularly in light of the strict loyalty the president has come to expect from elected officials of his own party. No House Republican voted to impeach Mr. Trump in December. (Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican of Michigan who fled the party over his differences with Mr. Trump, voted in favor of both articles.)

U.S. 2020 Elections

Roll Call, Trump’s speech rolled out Republicans’ blueprint for general election, Nathan L. Gonzales, Feb. 5, 2020. Democrats must present contrast to Trump without looking out of touch on humming economy.

For an hour-and-a-half, President Donald Trump used his third State of the Union speech to remind Republicans why they supported him in the past and why they will stand with him in November.

republican elephant logo"From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy — slashing a record number of job killing-regulations, enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts, and fighting for fair and reciprocal trade agreements," boasted Trump. "Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most of all, pro-American."

This is the message Republicans want the president to focus on over the next seven months as they cling to their Senate majority and dream of retaking the House. This is the president vulnerable GOP members and upstart GOP challengers want to appear with on the campaign trail.

Trump 'State of Union' Speech

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump touts economy, policies as he seeks to move on from trial, David Nakamura, Feb. 5, 2020. President faces lawmakers amid tense political atmosphere. In his final State of the Union before the election, President Trump radiated a sense of vindication.

washington post logoWashington Post, With chants, walkouts and a ripped-up speech, bitter partisanship dominates address, Ashley Parker, Feb. 5, 2020. The speech, largely delivered as written, struck tones reminiscent of the president’s rallies.

He didn’t hurl insults, lead "Lock her up!" chants or stride onto the dais to the opening thrums of "God Bless the U.S.A." blaring from speakers. But President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night amounted to a more subdued version of one of his raucous campaign rallies.

He boasted that his accomplishments were like nothing ever seen before, promoted divisive policies — even prompting audible boos at points — and added reality-show flourishes to the speech he delivered in the historic House chamber.

He goaded the Democrats, began the evening with an apparent snub of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and offered a boastful accounting of the previous three years that could easily double as the campaign promises he plans to deploy in the coming one.

nancy pelosi djt handshake refused feb 4 2020 screenshot Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi shreds Trump’s speech, reflecting a tumultuous year, Mike DeBonis​, Feb. 5, 2020. Explaining the decision behind her gesture, the House speaker said, "It was the courteous thing to do."

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump persists in using claims that have been fact-checked repeatedly, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Sarah Cahlan, Feb. 5, 2020. Here's a roundup of 31 dubious statements by the president. President Trump’s State of the Union speech once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures. Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them. Here, in the order in which he made them, are 31 statements by the president.

As is our practice with live events, we do not award Pinocchio ratings, which are reserved for complete columns.

"I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been."

The president can certainly brag about the state of the economy, but he runs into trouble when he repeatedly makes a play for the history books. Our database of Trump claims shows he has made a variation of this claim some 260 times. There are several metrics one could look at, but the current economy falls short, according to experts we consulted. The unemployment rate reached a low of 3.5 percent under Trump, but it was as low as 2.5 percent in 1953. Trump has never achieved an annual growth rate above 3 percent, but in 1997, 1998 and 1999, the gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

But even that period paled against the 1950s and 1960s. Growth between 1962 and 1966 ranged from 4.4 percent to 6.6 percent. In 1950 and 1951, it was 8.7 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

  • Washington Post, Rush Limbaugh awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Washington Post, Critic’s Notebook: Congressional Democrats wore their white hot fury
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Gretchen Whitmer proves normal and decent can pay off, Jennifer Rubin

More On Impeachment Trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why I’m Voting to Acquit President Trump, Rob Portman (Republican senator from Ohio), Feb. 5, 2020. Impeachment will end in the Senate. It’s time to take up consensus issues. On Wednesday I will join a majority of my Senate colleagues in opposing the impeachment of President Trump brought by the House of Representatives.

For four months, since the release of the memorandum of the call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, I have consistently said that Mr. Trump’s request for an investigation of Joe Biden and any effort to tie the release of military aid to investigations were improper and shouldn’t have happened. However, I do not believe these actions rise to the level where it would be necessary to remove a president from office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: After Acquittal, It’s Anything Goes for the Republicans, Caroline Fredrickson (author of The Democracy Fix), Feb. 5, 2020. The party’s new doctrine: What’s good for Trump is good for America. Rather than reining in a president who clearly abused his power for personal gain, most Republicans have conceded to Mr. Trump’s overarching defense: that his re-election would serve the public interest. That argument was enough, for his Senate allies, to override campaign finance laws and the norms of governance that have prevailed in our country until this presidency.

This defense is a natural outgrowth of the unitary executive theory, a legal doctrine advanced by apologists for the imperial presidency, including Attorney General William Barr. It was Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor representing Mr. Trump, who gave this idea its most outrageous frame: "Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest," he said. "And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment."

If this were simply verbiage in service of his client, one might almost forgive Mr. Dershowitz for his claim. But Republican senators and other party leaders have embraced this theory as if our Constitution was in fact a pact to establish a monarchy. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a close ally of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, declared that Mr. Dershowitz had said the president’s actions were not impeachable, "and I don’t disagree with that."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, Susan Collins, Trump is never going to learn, Ruth Marcus, Feb. 5, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is not going to change. Not now, not ever. "Chastened" is not in his vocabulary; pivoting to presidential is not in his repertoire. If there is anything the country should have learned in the age of Trump, it is this.

So of all the amazing things that Republican senators have said in defense of their impending votes to acquit Trump, it is that a president susan collins official Smallwho has been unwilling to or incapable of learning lessons will somehow have learned a lesson by being . . . not punished by them.

The latest to join this self-delusion caucus is Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. "I believe that the president has learned from this case," she told CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell on Tuesday, expanding on a floor speech in which she announced — surprise — her vote to acquit. "​The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson."

O’Donnell wasn’t buying it. "​But the president says he did nothing wrong. Why do you think he learned something?" she asked.

"He was impeached," Collins repeated, in a demonstration of the eternal sunshine of the spotless senatorial mind. "And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future."

john bolton light suit Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: We Told you so, Bill Palmer, Feb. 5, 2020. Once the Republican Senate made its decision not to allow any witnesses to testify against Donald Trump in his sham impeachment trial, Palmer Report pointed out that this meant Bolton would all but certainly end up soon testifying to the House instead. Sure enough, it turns out that’s what is indeed happening.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is telling CNN today that the House will "likely" subpoena John Bolton to publicly testify before the committee. He’s not providing the specific date yet. But today’s timing is interesting. On the same day that the Senate is preparing to acquit Trump without even holding a real trial, House is officially letting it be known that it’s calling the crucial witness that the Senate refused to call. It also sends an unmistakable signal that the House is just getting started in exposing Trump’s crimes.

This raises the question of why the House didn’t subpoena John Bolton to testify back when it was holding House impeachment hearings. In hindsight it’s pretty obvious that Bolton wasn’t willing to testify back then, and that subpoenaing him would merely have resulted in a months-long court battle that would have stalled out the impeachment process. But now that Bolton’s new book is available for preorder, he’s clearly going to want to promote it – and testifying on television is a huge free marketing opportunity.

Donald Trump will surely announce that he’s going to magically "block" John Bolton from testifying to the House, but that’s not a real thing. Trump can ask the court for an emergency injunction preventing Bolton from testifying, but no judge will go for it, and Bolton will testify on whatever date he’s supposed to. Trump has only succeeded in preventing witnesses from testifying who didn’t want to testify to begin with. Bolton clearly wants to testify, meaning Trump can’t stop him. We told you this was coming.

U.S. Politics / Media

Palmer Report, Opinion: Palmer Report editorial note, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 5, 2020. So we’re having a bit of a week. From the start of the bill palmerimpeachment process we’ve known that the Republican Senate would end up corruptly acquitting Donald Trump, but now we have to stomach watching it happen. We’ve been waiting months for voting to get underway in the Democratic primary process, and the Iowa caucus was such a calamity, we’re still not sure who won – even as we realize the state is too non-representative of the party’s diversity to have gone first anyway. So yeah, it hasn’t been a fun one.

bill palmer report logo headerBut I’ll tell you something. I think our resolve might be stronger than ever. Earlier this week I got tired of so many media pundits trying to take advantage of our vulnerable mindset this week by trying to convince us that the sky is falling and Trump is magically winning. So I started calling out every instance of this hysteria and fatalism that I encountered. I was afraid I’d get a lot out pushback from Resistance members who have simply had it and are ready to give up. Instead I saw something else.

The more I’ve pushed against the fatalism this week, both on the Palmer Report website and on social media, the more people have gotten on board. This shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but Palmer Report’s numbers have gone up this week, not down. This suggests that Resistance members have had it – they’ve had it with the fatalism, and the the idea that we somehow can’t win.

We won the fight to save Obamacare. We’ve helped expose various Trump criminal scandals that have landed some of his top henchmen in prison, leaving him shorthanded for whatever corrupt schemes he’s plotting next. We won the midterms overwhelmingly. We impeached Trump. We’ve fought the good fight well enough that Trump is saddled with an upside down approval rating that leaves him facing a very difficult 2020 road. We’ve done all of this not by sitting around and insisting that the worst possible case scenario is going to happen, but by fighting for the best case scenarios. We’ve only won some of the battles we’ve fought, but that’s left America far better off than if we hadn’t bothered to fight any of them.

So hello to the new people who have stumbled across Palmer Report this week. If you ask the people who have been around for awhile, they’ll tell you that my analysis and predictions are sometimes the precise opposite of what you’re hearing from every other pundit out there, but those are the instances where I tend to be proven the most accurate. Thanks to all of you longtime readers who have stuck it out and are still fighting for the soul of this country. This week is a grinder – but now more than ever, we’re still winning this fight.

Feb. 4

U.S. 2020 Elections Headlines

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

 

U.S. 2020 Elections Excerpts

iowa caucus delegate results 2020 msnbc Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Sanders, Buttigieg leading in early results, Staff Writers, Feb. 4, 2020. In an early Iowa caucus vote count, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a slight popular vote lead, while former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg led among a measure of state delegates.

With 62 percent of precincts counted, Sanders earned 26 percent of the popular vote; Buttigieg hit 25. By both measures, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) is in third place with 20 percent of the vote, and former vice president Joe Biden placed fourth at 13 percent.

The results were released nearly a day after the caucuses were held, thanks to widespread reporting issues. The Iowa Democratic Party blamed inconsistencies in reporting for the delay.

[Iowa Live Results from the 2020 Democratic Caucuses]

The candidates who were actively competing in Iowa included Sanders; Biden; Buttigieg; Warren; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and investor Tom Steyer.

Many of the candidates have already moved on to New Hampshire, which holds its primaries in a week.

● Nevada Democrats say they will not use mobile app at the center of Iowa confusion

● With eyes of the world on Iowa, another hiccup in American democracy.

● An epic breakdown in Iowa casts a spotlight on the caucus system.

Trump 'State of Union' Speech

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump touts jobs, immigration policies, foreign relations, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis, Feb. 4, 2020. Tensions on display as Trump declines Pelosi handshake and Democrats react to claims in speech.

President Trump made a prime-time appeal for the success of his divisive and turbulent stewardship, projecting confidence that a strong economy and a reset of U.S. standing in the world has put the nation on the right path.

Trump faced his Democratic adversaries as the Republican-controlled Senate is expected Wednesday to acquit him of House charges that he abused power and sought to obstruct Congress.

This story will be updated.

President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night in the House chamber where he was impeached in December.

Trump’s prime-time address came on the eve of the final day of his impeachment trial, which is expected to wrap up Wednesday with an acquittal in the Republican-led Senate.

"Three years ago, we launched the Great American Comeback," Trump said. "Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results."

  • Trump calls Soleimani strike retaliation, makes no mention of self-defense
  • Trump doesn’t mention climate change but wants to plant a trillion trees
  • Trump’s remarks on guns prompt protest among Democrats
  • Trump awards Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom

washington post logoWashington Post, Iowa Caucuses Live Updates: Technical snags fuel chaos at caucuses, Matt Viser and Toluse Olorunnipa, Feb. 4, 2020. State Democratic officials to release results later today.

Iowa Democratic Party promises results ‘as soon as possible today;’ Iowa caucuses descend into a debacle as delay leaves outcome uncertain; Sen. Durbin says it’s time for Iowa caucuses to end; Ernst, Grassley defend Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status; DHS offered to test caucus app but Iowa Democrats declined, acting secretary says; Howard Dean says Iowa shouldn’t be first caucus anymore.

dnc square logoThe long-anticipated Iowa caucuses turned into a debacle Monday night when technical problems delayed the results, prompting presidential candidates to depart before the outcome was clear, spurring one campaign to challenge the integrity of the process and producing a muddled situation instead of what Democratic leaders hoped would be a decisive beginning to their attempt to oust President Trump.

Hours after voters at more than 1,600 caucus sites declared their presidential preferences, Democratic officials were scrambling to explain why no results had been released and when they might materialize. As midnight neared, state party leaders met hastily with the campaigns — a phone call that ended abruptly, according to someone familiar with it — and sought to reassure the public about the reliability of a caucus system that has long been criticized as quirky and byzantine.

democratic donkey logo"The integrity of the results is paramount," Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said as candidates, voters and activists waited in frustration and reports circulated about problems with the app that caucus officials used to transmit the results. McClure added: "This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."

But it was a difficult culmination of a year of relentless campaigning by dozens of candidates and hundreds of volunteers in Iowa. The delay raised the prospect that some campaigns would continue to question the results for weeks, complicating an already tumultuous nomination fight.
Technical problems spurred one campaign to challenge the integrity of the process and produced a muddled situation instead of what Democratic leaders hoped would be a decisive beginning to their attempt to oust President Trump.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 takeaways from Trump’s State of the Union address, Aaron Blake, Feb. 4, 2020.​ Impeachment wasn’t mentioned Tuesday night, but bad blood spilled over. President Trump delivered his third State of the Union Tuesday night at a key juncture in his presidency: It came on the eve of his likely acquittal in the impeachment trial, the 2020 Democratic nominating process saw its first results mere hours before the speech, and Trump’s poll numbers have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks.

Here are some takeaways from the speech.

1. Impeachment bad blood spills over. You wouldn’t know from Trump’s speech that he was about to wrap up his Senate impeachment trial — he didn’t mention "impeachment" once — but that didn’t mean it didn’t loom over the proceedings.

Indeed, the speech began by Trump not shaking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) offered hand. Trump simply handed her a copy of his speech, as presidents do, and turned around. It’s not clear if that was an intentional snub, but it was, at best, an awkward way to start the night. [No Trump handshake for Pelosi pic.twitter.com/7SFqtrTczM @RiegerReport].

There was even a brief protest by Democrats. When Trump mentioned lowering prescription drug costs, they stood and chanted "HR-3," putting three fingers in the air. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has declined to take up a House-passed bill on that topic. It was a scene you don’t usually see in these speeches, and it was difficult to divorce from the events of the past four months.

2. A (repeatedly) overstated economic case. There is no question that the U.S. economy is strong and is a feather in Trump’s cap as he confronts a reelection campaign. But in his speech Tuesday, Trump offered plenty of trademark hyperbole — and false claims.

"The years of economic decay are over," Trump said toward the beginning of his remarks, saying he "moved rapidly to revive the economy."

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Make-or-Break Night That Could Break Iowa, Matt Flegenheimer and Sydney Ember, Feb. 4, 2020. The state has often had to defend the uncommon power it wields over national politics. Its precarious standing appeared to take another hit.

Maybe the technology failed. Maybe just the humans in charge of it. Whatever the culprit, the results pages — reloaded obsessively by campaigns and their supporters through the night — remained farcically bare as Monday slid into Tuesday.

And with no hard numbers to reckon with, no cold math to disprove the dream, no fewer than five candidates marched onstage to deliver something resembling a victory speech.

"Iowa," Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., declared, "you have shocked the nation."

No argument there.

Feb. 3

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senate to hear closing arguments today from House managers, Trump’s lawyers, John Wagner, Feb. 3, 2020. The Senate is poised to hear up to four hours of closing arguments Monday in the impeachment trial of President Trump, following last week’s vote not to call witnesses regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

us senate logoSenators will hear from both the House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), and Trump’s lawyers, led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. The trial is expected to end Wednesday with an acquittal.

Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The crux of the case against him is the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

Feb. 2

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

washington post logous senate logoWashington Post, Trump’s impending acquittal could have profound ramifications for future presidents, Philip Rucker, Feb. 2, 2020.  Historians and legal experts say the Senate is poised to lower the bar for permissible conduct on the part of the nation’s leaders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Republicans defend vote to bar new evidence as Trump acquittal vote nears, Felicia Sonmez and Rachael Bade​, Feb. 2, 2020. In interviews, several key Republicans — including Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) — argued that while Trump’s behavior was problematic, it was not impeachable.

Senate Republicans on Sunday acknowledged President Trump was wrong to pressure Ukraine for his own political benefit, even as they defended their decision to prohibit new evidence in the impeachment trial while pressing ahead with the president’s all-but-certain acquittal.

The remarks from key Republicans — including Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) — came after the Trump administration revealed the existence of emails that could shed light on the president’s reasons for withholding military aid to Ukraine.

"I’m going to vote to acquit," Alexander said in an interview on NBC News’s "Meet the Press." "I’m very concerned about any action that we could take that would establish a perpetual impeachment in the House of Representatives whenever the House was a different party than the president. That would immobilize the Senate."

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, Inside the Senate trial: How McConnell and enough Republicans blocked witnesses, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade, Feb. 2, 2020. Sen. Mitt Romney, a near-lone GOP voice in seeking witnesses for the trial, was an outlier in a party bound to President Trump and unwilling to challenge him. That political reality helped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hold his conference together.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Senate impeachment trial was rigged! Dana Milbank, right, Feb. 2, 2020 (print ed.). In the end, they didn’t dana milbank Customeven pretend to take their oaths seriously.

Senators were instructed "to be in attendance at all times" during President Trump’s impeachment trial. But as the Democratic House managers made their last, fruitless appeals Friday for the Senate to bring witnesses and documents, several of the body’s 53 Republican senators didn’t even bother to show up.

"A trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth," lead manager Adam Schiff pleaded.

joni ernst oThirteen GOP senators were missing as he said this. Sens. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), left, and Ron Johnson (Wis.) chewed gum.

Manager Val Demings (Fla.) reminded them that this would be the "only time in history" that an impeachment trial was held without witnesses or relevant documents.

us senate logoTwelve Republican senators were missing. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) joined in the chewing.

This was an ugly end to an ugly trial. It began with bold promises by the president’s lawyers to prove there was no quid pro quo in his dealings with Ukraine. When former national security adviser John Bolton’s manuscript, with firsthand evidence of the quid pro quo, made that impossible, key Republicans fell back to a new position: Trump’s guilt doesn’t matter.

Now that the Senate has accepted the White House argument that Trump’s cheating in the election is "perfectly permissible," why wouldn’t Trump continue to cheat? Why would anybody have faith that the 2020 election will be on the level?

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: More Money, More Problems for Democracy, Editorial Board, Feb. 2, 2020. Countering private campaign funding with public campaign funding is the most viable way to limit the political influence of the wealthy. There is a straight line from the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case to a dinner party the president attended at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in April 2018.

The dinner has attracted attention because Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani — took the opportunity to press Mr. Trump to remove Marie Yovanovitch as the American ambassador to Ukraine as part of a plan to make money from natural gas. That, in turn, is part of the larger saga that has resulted in Mr. Trump’s impeachment for his later efforts to compel Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

But the dinner also provides a clear view of the ways in which the wealthy seek to influence politicians and politicians gather donations, particularly in the wake of Citizens United. That ruling, handed down almost exactly 10 years ago, allows corporations to spend freely on electioneering, provided the money is not given directly to a candidate or a political party. It is the most famous in a set of recent Supreme Court rulings that have made it far easier for wealthy individuals and corporations to translate their economic power into political power.

The economic inequalities of modern America increasingly are manifest in our politics, too.

At the dinner, donors willing to spend lavishly in support of Mr. Trump’s re-election had the chance to seek the president’s help in placing their own interests above the public interest.

A billionaire whose steel-making company donated $1.75 million to secure his place urged the president to tighten restrictions on steel imports and to let truck drivers work longer hours.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: For Better or Worse, Trump Will Get His Favorite Things on Super Bowl Sunday, Will Leitch, His pregame interview with Sean Hannity offers unfettered airtime in front of a huge national audience. This Sunday afternoon, before the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, President Trump will speak with Sean Hannity on Fox, the network airing the Super Bowl. As you might suspect, this interview will be a much more insular enterprise. Mr. Trump speaks regularly with Mr. Hannity, who is seen as an informal but influential adviser, and Mr. Hannity has been in return a staunch, unyielding defender of the president.

It will mark the third time Mr. Trump will do the traditional interview before America’s annual television holiday; he spoke to Mr. O’Reilly in 2017, took 2018 off because the game was aired on NBC, and famously told Margaret Brennan of CBS that he wouldn’t allow his son Barron to play football because it’s "really tough" and "a dangerous sport."

This year’s Super Bowl comes at an amazing moment, a confluence of political circumstances and events that give this particular bully pulpit a power and a spotlight it hasn’t had in years. With impeachment, the Iowa caucuses and the State of the Union all on deck, Mr. Trump will have a stage, and a famously pliant interviewer, that is unparalleled in American culture. He couldn’t ask for a more ideal year for it to be Fox’s turn to air the game.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘S.N.L.’ Imagines the Impeachment Trial That Could Have Been, Dave Itzkoff, Feb. 2, 2020. On Super Bowl weekend, Alec Baldwin returned to play President Trump in an episode that also featured several football-themed sketches. If you ended the week hoping that President Trump’s impeachment trial would go on longer, this weekend’s opening "Saturday Night Live" sketch imagined just such a scenario: a parade of self-serving witnesses that wasn’t necessarily an improvement.

This week’s episode, hosted by J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and featuring the musical guest Luke Combs, began with a voice-over lamenting that the president’s trial "wound up consisting of two weeks of dry debate and posturing, and will conclude without any witness testimony or new evidence." Instead, the sketch promised "the trial you wish had happened."

Feb. 1

Impeachment Headlines

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Impeachment Trial Excerpts

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Block Impeachment Witnesses, Clearing Path for Trump Acquittal, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Democrats Fail in Push to Bolster Case; Final Vote Is Expected Wednesday; The motion to consider more witnesses and documents failed, 49 to 51. Only Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney joined Democrats in favor. Senators said they had settled on a schedule that would end President Trump’s trial on Wednesday, after closing arguments early next week.

The Senate brought President Trump to the brink of acquittal on Friday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, as Republicans voted to block consideration of new witnesses and documents in his impeachment trial and shut down a final push by Democrats to bolster their case for the president’s removal.

In a nearly party-line vote after a bitter debate, Democrats failed to win support from the four Republicans they needed. With Mr. Trump’s acquittal virtually certain, the president’s allies rallied to his defense, though some conceded he was guilty of the central allegations against him.

The Democrats’ push for more witnesses and documents failed 49 to 51, with only two Republicans, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, joining Democrats in favor. A vote on the verdict is planned for Wednesday.

As they approached the final stage of the third presidential impeachment proceeding in United States history, Democrats condemned the witness vote and said it would render Mr. Trump’s trial illegitimate and his acquittal meaningless.

"America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, when the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial," said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. "If the president is acquitted, with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial."

Even as they prepared to vote against removing him, several Republicans challenged Mr. Trump’s repeated assertions that he had done nothing wrong, saying they believed he had committed the main offense of which he was accused: withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

Still, those Republicans said, they were unwilling to remove a president fewer than 10 months before he is to face voters.

"If you are persuaded that he did it, why do you need more witnesses?" said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, a critical swing vote on the issue whose late decision to oppose considering new evidence all but sealed Mr. Trump’s swift acquittal. "The country is not going to accept being told that they can’t elect the president they want to elect in the week the election starts by a majority for a merely inappropriate telephone call or action." 

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate set to acquit Trump next week after bid for witnesses is defeated, Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Final vote on articles of impeachment planned for Wednesday. Soon the questions surrounding Trump’s actions toward Ukraine will move from the Senate floor to the campaign trail, where voters instead will weigh the evidence in the heat of the 2020 presidential election.

The Senate voted to bar new evidence in the impeachment trial Friday, paving the way for President Trump’s acquittal even as several top Republicans acknowledged that his actions toward Ukraine were not appropriate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The day that sealed things for Trump’s impeachment, Amber Phillips, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The Senate won’t hear from witnesses, so now it’s the beginning of the end of President Trump’s trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Endangered Republicans go all-in on Trump, rallying to his side in the final days of impeachment fight, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans are calculating that a strong economy and an energized pro-Trump base are their only credible path to victory in November.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Republicans agree it was no ‘perfect call’ — but will vote to acquit Trump anyway

• Washington Post, Analysis: ‘A permanent asterisk’: Acquittal at hand, Democrats sow doubt about Trump trial, Mike DeBonis, Feb. 1, 2020.
Top Democratic leaders are arguing that a trial without witnesses should not allow Trump to claim vindication.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Bolton faces potential legal battles in standoff with White House over his book, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Derek Hawkins, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). John Bolton could face legal challenges as he pushes ahead with a book describing conversations he claims to have had with President Trump while serving as his national security adviser, experts said, setting the conservative icon on a potential collision course with the administration he once served.

john bolton surrender is not an optionBolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, is still scheduled to be released in March, even after the National Security Council warned his attorney last week that it will have to be revised because it contained "significant amounts" of classified material. Bolton’s lawyer has disputed that.

Amid the standoff, details about the contents of his manuscript are continuing to leak out, with the New York Times reporting Friday that Trump directed Bolton in May to call the Ukrainian president and urge him to meet with Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Trump denied Bolton’s account. "I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, to meet with President Zelensky," the president said in a statement.

As Trump and his GOP allies have lambasted Bolton, the former national security adviser has sounded a defiant note. During a private appearance in Austin on Thursday, he defended administration officials who testified during the impeachment proceedings.

"The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have — I think, is very nearly the reverse — the exact reverse of the truth," Bolton said, according to Austin’s KXAN television station.

Palmer Report, Prediction: John Bolton will testify to the House, Bill Palmer, Feb. 1, 2020.  Back when the Republican Senate was still deliberating witnesses, Palmer Report pointed out that there were only three possible outcomes. 1) John Bolton would testify to the Senate during the impeachment trial. 2) Bolton would testify to the House after the trial. 3) Bolton would pick a respected TV talk show and "testify" that way.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat did we base this on? John Bolton has a new book to promote, and no book author ever turns down a chance to appear on television to promote their new book. Whatever you think of how Bolton has handled himself up to this point, and whatever you think of him in general, he’s going to end up talking about Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal on television.

On Friday evening, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell took things a step further. He flatly stated that John Bolton will end up testifying under oath to the House. He’s right of course. It’s impossible to imagine a scenario in which Nancy Pelosi and the House don’t call Bolton to testify in televised public hearings. And again, whatever you think of Bolton’s other motivations, he’s not going to turn down the opportunity to promote his book by testifying.

Republican Senators know darn well that one way or the other, John Bolton will end up spilling his guts about Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal in front of the television cameras. The GOP Senators made the calculation that they’ll be better off if Bolton doesn’t do it to their faces. So be it. They’ve placed their bets. Now we get to help make sure it all goes horribly wrong for them heading into 2020.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The president asked his national security adviser last spring in front of other senior advisers to pave the way for a meeting between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine’s new leader.

More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

john bolton surrender is not an optionMr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.

In a brief interview, Mr. Giuliani, below left, denied that the conversation took place and said those discussions with the president were always kept separate. He was adamant that Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Mulvaney were never involved in meetings related to Ukraine.

rudy giuliani recent"It is absolutely, categorically untrue," he said.

Mr. Bolton described the roughly 10-minute conversation in drafts of his book, a memoir of his time as national security adviser that is to go on sale in March. Over several pages, Mr. Bolton laid out Mr. Trump’s fixation on Ukraine and the president’s belief, based on a mix of scattershot events, assertions and outright conspiracy theories, that Ukraine tried to undermine his chances of winning the presidency in 2016.

As he began to realize the extent and aims of the pressure campaign, Mr. Bolton began to object, he wrote in the book, affirming the testimony of a former National Security Council aide, Fiona Hill, who had said that Mr. Bolton warned that Mr. Giuliani was "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up."

Mr. Trump also repeatedly made national security decisions contrary to American interests, Mr. Bolton wrote, describing a pervasive sense of alarm among top advisers about the president’s choices. Mr. Bolton expressed concern to others in the administration that the president was effectively granting favors to autocratic leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, right, and Xi Jinping of China.

recep erdogan with flagThe New York Times reported this week on another revelation from Mr. Bolton’s book draft: that Mr. Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., right, and his son Hunter. That account undercuts a key element of the White House impeachment defense — that the aid holdup was joe biden oseparate from his requests for inquiries. Mr. Trump has denied the conversation took place.

Since that Times article, people who have reviewed the draft have further described its contents, including details of the May meeting. Mr. Bolton’s manuscript was sent to the White House for a standard review process in late December.

Its revelations galvanized the debate over whether to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, but late on Thursday, Republicans appeared to have secured enough votes to keep any new testimony out of Mr. Trump’s trial and to move toward a quick acquittal in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The White House has sought to block the release of the book, contending that it contains classified information. The government reviews books by former officials who had access to secrets so they can excise the manuscripts of any classified information. Officials including Mr. Trump have described Mr. Bolton, who was often at odds with Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney, as a disgruntled former official with an ax to grind.

lev parnas joseph bondi msnbc

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Parnas lawyer offers McConnell info ‘directly relevant’ to trial, Steve Benen, Feb. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The lawyer for Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate who helped execute Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this afternoon, sending him a letter signaling what Parnas would say if he’s allowed to testify in the trial as a witness under oath. From the letter (pdf):

"If Lev Parnas was called as a witness, he would provide testimony based upon personal knowledge, corroborated by physical evidence including text messages, phone records, documentary evidence, and travel records, which is directly relevant to the president’s impeachment inquiry. This would include, but is not limited to, the genesis of his relationship with President Trump and the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his actions in Ukraine on behalf of the president, as directed by Mr. Giuliani.

"Mr. Parnas would testify to the efforts he and a handful of Republican operatives engaged in over a period of months, to remove Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and gather ‘dirt’ on Joe and Hunter Biden. Mr. Parnas would testify that those holding various roles in this plot included GOP super PAC America First, President Trump, Vice President Pence, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devin Nunes, Nunes’ Staffer Derrick Harvey, Journalist John Soloman, Attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, Mr. Giuliani, and others. He is prepared to review and explain relevant phone records, text messages, and other evidence in connection with these activities."

Joseph Bondy’s letter, which was also directed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), went on to say Parnas would be able to detail "the thousands of micro-steps he took in connection with this plan" to gather information on the Bidens. This would include, according to today’s correspondence, "the times and places where he had overheard [Trump] speaking Mr. Giuliani, and the occasions on which he interacted directly with the president."

Jan. 31

Impeachment Headlines

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World News Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts  

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senate rejects measure to call witnesses in final major step before vote on verdict, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Michael Brice-Saddler, Jan. 31, 2020. Vote ensures that the impeachment trial will be the first ever without witnesses; Hillary Clinton says Republicans put Trump’s interests over the American people; Hoyer says GOP senators have tainted legacy by voting for a ‘sham’ trial; Yovanovitch has submitted retirement papers; McConnell says trial will conclude ‘in coming days'; Schumer calls vote for no witnesses ‘a grand tragedy.’

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 31, 2020. The president asked his national security adviser last spring in front of other senior advisers to pave the way for a meeting between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine’s new leader.

More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

john bolton surrender is not an optionMr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.

In a brief interview, Mr. Giuliani, below left, denied that the conversation took place and said those discussions with the president were always kept separate. He was adamant that Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Mulvaney were never involved in meetings related to Ukraine.

rudy giuliani recent"It is absolutely, categorically untrue," he said.

Mr. Bolton described the roughly 10-minute conversation in drafts of his book, a memoir of his time as national security adviser that is to go on sale in March. Over several pages, Mr. Bolton laid out Mr. Trump’s fixation on Ukraine and the president’s belief, based on a mix of scattershot events, assertions and outright conspiracy theories, that Ukraine tried to undermine his chances of winning the presidency in 2016.

As he began to realize the extent and aims of the pressure campaign, Mr. Bolton began to object, he wrote in the book, affirming the testimony of a former National Security Council aide, Fiona Hill, who had said that Mr. Bolton warned that Mr. Giuliani was "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up."

Mr. Trump also repeatedly made national security decisions contrary to American interests, Mr. Bolton wrote, describing a pervasive sense of alarm among top advisers about the president’s choices. Mr. Bolton expressed concern to others in the administration that the president was effectively granting favors to autocratic leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, right, and Xi Jinping of China.

recep erdogan with flagThe New York Times reported this week on another revelation from Mr. Bolton’s book draft: that Mr. Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., right, and his son Hunter. That account undercuts a key element of the White House impeachment defense — that the aid holdup was joe biden oseparate from his requests for inquiries. Mr. Trump has denied the conversation took place.

Since that Times article, people who have reviewed the draft have further described its contents, including details of the May meeting. Mr. Bolton’s manuscript was sent to the White House for a standard review process in late December.

Its revelations galvanized the debate over whether to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, but late on Thursday, Republicans appeared to have secured enough votes to keep any new testimony out of Mr. Trump’s trial and to move toward a quick acquittal in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The White House has sought to block the release of the book, contending that it contains classified information. The government reviews books by former officials who had access to secrets so they can excise the manuscripts of any classified information. Officials including Mr. Trump have described Mr. Bolton, who was often at odds with Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney, as a disgruntled former official with an ax to grind.

Naples Daily News, Ahead of Naples visit, ex-Trump chief of staff John Kelly reiterates call for witness testimony at impeachment trial, Dave john kelly o dhsOsborn, Jan. 31, 2020. Witnesses should be allowed to testify in the impeachment trial of President Trump, former chief of staff Gen. John Kelly said Friday.

Kelly, right, said he agrees with three-fourths of Americans in a recent poll who say witnesses should be allowed at the trial held this week in the U.S. Senate.

"I do think it’s a mistake not to have key witnesses, on both sides," Kelly said in a telephone interview ahead of his March appearance in Naples at a conference. "As a private citizen, I would love to see some witnesses.

"If you don’t have witnesses, one side of the aisle will forever say the whole thing was a sham, that the process never allowed witnesses to come in on both sides of the issue and state their opinions in their cases."

The Senate is expected to vote Friday on whether to subpoena witnesses. Kelly has said he believes John Bolton, a former Trump national security adviser.

Bolton, in the book titled "The Room Where It Happened," reportedly writes in it that Trump told him he would withhold military aid from Ukraine until the country launched investigations into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Kelly said the country remains split, as polls have shown, on whether Trump should've been impeached at all.

"The good news is, right, wrong or indifferent, the impeachment process is almost over," he said.

Kelly joined the Marines in 1970. He served as Trump's chief of staff from July 31, 2017, to Jan. 2, 2019. Other positions he's held in government in recent years include six months in 2017 as Homeland Security director; head of U.S. Southern Command — based in Doral, Florida — under President Obama from 2012 to 2016.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Alexander says he will oppose calling witnesses in win for GOP push for acquittal, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) put the Democrats one vote closer to calling additional witnesses late Thursday night after the Senate adjourned, announcing she will vote with them on Friday.

lamar alexander oMinutes later another closely watched Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), right, made it unlikely the vote will pass, but could tie if all members of the Democratic caucus and two more Republicans vote yes.

Senators reconvened for a second day of questions to House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers ahead of a crucial vote expected Friday on whether to call witnesses to testify about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are pressing to call witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republicans do not want to extend the proceedings into unpredictable territory and are angling for a swift acquittal of Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Dershowitz’s view would destroy our constitutional system, Justin Amash (Independent former Republican who represents Michigan’s 3rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives), Jan. 31, 2020. Of course abuse of power is impeachable. In our constitutional republic, it must be.

Speaking from the Senate floor in the impeachment trial of President Trump this week, Alan Dershowitz presented the American people with a vision of Congress’s impeachment power that is sharply at odds with the Constitution, the deliberations of the Framers and the history of impeachments.

His claim — central to Trump’s defense — is that "purely noncriminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses." Although he says a "technical" crime is not required, he means only that criminal conduct can still be impeachable even if it cannot be prosecuted for some jurisdictional or procedural reason.

The Constitution states that the president "shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Dershowitz asserts that by including the word "other" before "high Crimes and Misdemeanors," the Framers intended to limit impeachment to "criminal-like conduct akin to treason and bribery."

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate appears ready to reject witnesses in Trump impeachment trial, Acquittal vote possible today, Mike DeBonis, Seung Min Kim and David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 31, 2020. The final outcome of President Trump’s Senate trial has never been in doubt. Instead, the main drama has been how much more Republican senators want to learn about what he did before deciding whether he should be convicted.

The impeachment trial of President Trump is headed for a critical vote Friday that will determine whether the Senate hears from witnesses over allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to launch investigations for his own political benefit.

susan collins oBut Senate Republicans are increasingly confident no new testimony will be heard and they can start on a sprint toward Trump’s acquittal.

On Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said she will break with Republican leadership and vote to hear witnesses. But Collins still needs three other Republicans to vote with her if new evidence is to be allowed and it was unclear late Thursday night who, if anyone, in the party would join her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: If Republicans give Trump his coverup, his acquittal will be worthless, Editorial Board, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).Senators face a historic decision Friday: whether to shut down the trial of President Trump without hearing what they know would be us senate logoessential evidence. Mr. Trump has denied for months that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine’s president in an effort to force politicized investigations, including of former vice president Joe Biden.

The president’s lawyers have insisted that there is no firsthand testimony to the contrary. Yet, now, senators know that former national security adviser John Bolton can supply that testimony and that he is prepared to appear if called.

  • Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin Opinion: Republicans are pursuing acquittal in the worst possible way, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).
  • Washington Post, Dana Milbank Opinion: The trial hurtles toward Trump’s acquittal — at a terrible cost, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).
  • Washington Post, George Conway Opinion: Don’t let the defense fool you. This impeachment is all about corruption, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.). djt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi strikes back, Bill Palmer, Jan. 30, 2020. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hasn’t made a lot of noise during Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, because she hasn’t needed to. I

It’s up to Senate Republicans to decide how they want to handle the no-win situation of either giving Trump a witness-free sham trial that voters will punish them for, or letting witnesses testify against Trump and then making themselves look even more absurd by acquitting him. Then Pelosi can make whatever countermove she wants.

bill palmer report logo headerIf Republican Senators don’t do their jobs, Nancy Pelosi can simply hold a public House hearing and let John Bolton testify. Or she can launch new articles of impeachment if she wants. Or she can simply sit back while Bolton does the TV talk show circuit, thus decimating Trump and the GOP Senators who acquit him. Pelosi holds all the cards; she just has to wait for the GOP to finish playing its losing hand. Interestingly, Pelosi spoke up today, tweeting this about the trial:

You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation.

If Republican Senators choose a cover-up, the American people and history will judge it with the harshness it deserves.

What stands out here is that, unlike the fatalists in the Resistance who keep insisting that "Trump is getting away with it all," Pelosi is flat out saying that Trump’s acquittal won’t count, and that this won’t have been a trial. It’s a tricky game to try to guess precisely what she plans to do about it if the Senate doesn’t call witnesses. But she appears to be making a point of reminding everyone that she holds all the power here.

Jan. 30

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

World Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts   mike purpura cspan Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s legal team advances broad defense against impeachment, Erica Werner, Karoun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 30, 2020. Attorneys argue that nearly any action is not impeachable if it’s in the public interest. The assertion from Alan Dershowitz, one of the attorneys representing President Trump, seemed to take GOP senators by surprise, and few were willing to embrace his argument.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senators to pose more questions ahead of crucial vote on witnesses, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. us senate logo30, 2020. Republicans angling for a swift acquittal of Trump; Schiff says White House is trying to ‘muzzle’ Bolton; Pelosi calls for chief justice to be tiebreaker on potential 50-50 vote; Schumer blasts Dershowitz argument on quid pro quos; Trump la